HVAC- heating, ventilation, and air conditioning- It is a system that provides different types of heating and cooling services to residential and commercial buildings. Its function is to provide thermal comfort, humidity control and acceptable indoor air quality.
The majority of home and smaller commercial air conditioning systems circulate a compressed gas refrigerant in a closed “split” system to cool and condition inside air. The refrigerant has to be re-cooled and condensed, and outside air is the medium most often used to accomplish this. The term “split” simply means that components are divided into inside and outside portions as opposed to being located together in a “package” unit.
The refrigerants, widely recognized by the trademark “freon” (which is a registered trademark of the DuPont company for refrigerants), helps cool and dehumidify the inside air. In a “forced air” system, an internal blower circulates the conditioned air through ducts to the rooms where the cooler air is needed. The air ducts generally run either below the ceiling and inside the rooms (conditioned air) or in the attic (unconditioned air). An outside fan pulls air across the external parts of the system to cool and condense the refrigerant.
ENERGY STAR is a program that was created by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help businesses and individuals make energy efficient purchases.
This program places the ENERGY STAR label, a small blue and white logo, on items that meet superior energy efficiency standards. This label provides an easy way for consumers to identify quality, high-efficiency products.
Air conditioning is a matured technology so most of the popular brands work well. Many of them use parts made by the same manufacturers. So, the main considerations are the price, warranty, attractiveness, noise, etc. Some manufacturers offer anywhere from a 10-12 year warranty on all parts while others offer only 1 year.
Whatever you decide, the most important consideration is the contractor you use. For your protection, make sure you use a licensed contractor for your installation. A licensed contractor using best refrigerant practices and procedures can save you time and money! You may buy the best system in the world but if it is not properly installed, you will actually be buying nothing but a big headache for years to come.
The benefits of air conditioning are to give a comfortable environment at work or at home throughout the seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. An Air Conditioning unit can have two functions – heating/cooling and humidity control. With an auto changeover switch on most new units, you set the temperature and the unit will cool or heat as required automatically.
Most systems have a lifetime of 10 to 15 years, with gas furnaces lasting 20-25 years. As your equipment gets older, its efficiency can decrease dramatically. You may notice that it gets noisier and needs repairs more often. If you live near bodies of water or the ocean, your system’s life expectancy may be drastically shortened due to the harsh environment. If your system is over 10 years old, you should have your system checked for maintenance or replacement.
A Heat Pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that works year-round to keep you comfortable.
During warmer months, a heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. It extracts heat from inside the home and transfers it to the outdoor air. In colder weather, however, the process reverses—the unit collects heat from the outdoor air and transfers it inside your home.
Even when the air outside feels extremely cold, the air still contains some heat. The heat pump pulls the heat from this cold outdoor air and sends it inside to warm your home. When there’s not enough heat in the outside air to meet the demand of the thermostat setting, an electric heater supplements the outdoor air to warm the home. Extremely efficient, this process produces two to three times more heat than the energy it uses.
However, keep in mind, if you do not use much heat and you are thinking about replacing your system, a heat pump is more expensive to purchase up front and you will only receive a return on the heating portion of your investment when the system is in the heat mode. Additional electrical requirements may also come into play when switching to a straight cool/electric heat system.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, this unit of measure is used to measure cooling or heating capacity; 1 BTU is the amount of heat required to raise (or lower) the temperature of 1 pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit. There are 12,000 BTU’s in 1 Ton of Cooling.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It measures air conditioning and heat pump cooling efficiency, which is calculated by the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same time frame. A higher SEER rating means greater energy efficiency.
When you schedule your regular maintenance visit with a qualified heating technician, they will test your system to make sure it is running at optimal levels. But there are some ways you can determine whether or not your system is working efficiently on your own. Abnormally high heating bills are one of the indicators that your system is running at low efficiency levels, but keep in mind that how well your home is insulated and sealed and whether your filters are clean will also play a role in heating costs.
You can also tell by how warm your house stays throughout the winter. If some rooms are colder than others, or if you find that you are turning up the thermostat more often, your heating system may not be running very efficiently. Check your thermostat setting. Is your heating system achieving the desired temperature setting you are requesting on the thermostat? If not, call one of our HVAC professionals to inspect and test your heater.
There are five main questions that need to be considered when deciding to either replace or repair your heating and cooling system:
How old is your system? If your system is more than ten years old, it may be wiser to invest in new, higher efficiency equipment, which could cut your energy costs by up to 40%. What is the efficiency level of your current system? What was the efficiency when the system was new? Unfortunately, replacing parts of your old system will not improve the efficiency. If the energy savings of using a higher efficiency system will cover all or part of the cost of investing in new equipment, you should seriously consider replacement of the old system. What is the overall condition of your system? If your system is in solid condition, it could be wiser to simply repair it. But if your system breaks down often, you should consider replacing it. Consider the 50% Rule. The 50% Rule- If the cost of repair vs. replacement of your system is less than half of its value and you haven’t been suffering the financial burden of frequent service calls to keep your system up and running, repair may be easier on your checkbook . Ask your technician to calculate the efficiency and energy usage of your system to help make a determination.
Putting a new system in a home that has not had central air and heat before will require the installation of ductwork, insulation, refrigerant piping, electrical service, wiring, thermostat, condensate piping, flue piping, flue terminations, chimney liner, slabs, filter, driers, registers, grills, drain pans and evaporator coil. Beyond equipment, the most important component installed with a new system, however, is the duct-work.
Duct-work is composed of two parts, supply and return. Supply duct is attached to the outflow of the new system, delivering air to each zone in a home. The amount of air reaching each zone is determined by the size of supply duct-work connecting it to your system. Your dealer will help you determine the size of all the supply duct-work in your home.
The second part of the duct-work, the return duct, attaches to the inlet of the new system and draws air out of the spaces to be heated or cooled. Attached to the return duct is the filter. The filter should be placed as near to the furnace or air handler as possible. Duct-work can be either fiberglass or metal and must be properly sized in order to evenly distribute the proper amount of air to each room.
A ductless mini split system is composed of an indoor air handler/evaporator (fan coil), and outdoor condensing unit and an approximate 2.5-3″ conduit that accommodates the power (wiring), refrigerant line sets and a PVC condensate line (drain). s an indoor fan, referred to as the head, and an outdoor compressor unit. Many styles of air handler/evaporator (fan coil) are readily available depending upon your projects needs. Ductless units can be either 1:1 Single mini-split systems or Multi-split systems that can heat/cool multiple rooms.
Ductless split systems can replace a traditional central ducted system or be used in addition to a central ducted system. It works in much the same way as a traditional air conditioner or heat pump, using an outdoor condensing unit, indoor air handler/evaporator (fan coil) with an outdoor condenser, attached to refrigerant line sets and a condensate drain line.
The condenser is installed outside the home or business typically on a code approved surface. The conduit is then run from the outdoor unit to the individual room within the structure that you choose, even an attic or garage. Depending upon the system design, the use of wall-mounted interior units, ceiling mounted units, recessed fa coils, floor mounted air handlers are then installed and secured in the appropriately desired spaces to control cooling, heating and humidity as needed and designed.
One or a series of indoor units and refrigeration lines are used to transfer the cooled air from the outdoor condenser to the indoor units of your choice. It works in reverse with heated air in the winter. Units can be placed in any rooms you like and because each unit is individual, you control the specific temperature in that room instead of needing to set one thermostat for the entire house. As a result, you save money by cooling or heating only the space you are using. One of its greatest advantages is TRUE ZONING!
Installation of a ductless mini split air conditioner is more complicated than a window unit but far less complicated than installing a central air conditioner. But, don’t let that fool you. Ductless systems are very sensitive pieces of equipment and are quite unforgiving when mistakes are made. Small mistakes lead to HUGE problems with ductless systems. It is always best to have any AC system installed by licensed, trained professionals. Homeowner installations and using unlicensed individuals most often will void the manufacturer warranty on your new investment. Call us for a certified installation with one of our manufacturer trained technicians – we will make sure that the installation was done correctly. We will evacuate, pressure test, perform a thorough vacuum and charge with your system with refrigerant as needed for your particular installation followed by start up and commissioning reports on your system.
In general, the sound generated by a ductless air handler (sometimes referred to as a head) is equivalent to whispering in a library (between 21 and 30 decibels). The sound from an outdoor unit is more like normal conversation (60 decibels) but is less than a conventional air conditioning condenser.
Fuses and circuit breakers should not blow or trip. Check the breaker in your electrical service panel to identify which areas in your home/office the tripped breaker supplies service to. Check to see if the breaker feels warm to the touch. (NEVER touch wires or wire connections in your service panel. High voltage is present) Breakers should not be warm or hot to the touch. In the event the breaker is warm/hot to the touch, this could possibly be an indicator of a weak breaker. Contact a licensed electrician. Should the breaker feel ok to the touch, you could try to reset the breaker or replace the fuse. If the breaker or fuse trips/blows again, you will need to contact a licensed AC contractor like ourselves to diagnose the problem safely and correctly. There could possibly be an issue with a loose electrical wire, the unit could have shorted to ground, or the compressor could have failed. Electricity is nothing to play with- ALWAYS use a licensed electrician or AC contractor as indicated.
First, disconnect any additional devices that may have caused the breaker to overload and trip. Breakers are mechanical devices and must be turned all the way off before turning back on. Remember this is a mechanical device, so this may require several attempts. If this fails to reset the breaker, or the breaker feels “Sloppy” when resetting, there may be a more serious problem. Call a licensed electrician.
Yes. This is a common occurrence when large motor/compressor loads start. These devices cause a minor momentary voltage drop, demonstrating itself as the blinking in your lights. This has no negative effect on the electrical equipment within your house.
Furnaces are rated by the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratio, which is the percent of heat produced for every dollar of fuel consumed,or how efficiently a furnace converts gas into heating energy. Its AFUE rating is measured as a percentage.
Like the miles-per-gallon rating on your automobile, the higher the AFUE rating, the lower your fuel costs. An AFUE of 90% means that 90% of the energy in the fuel becomes heat for the home and the other 10% escapes up the chimney and elsewhere. According to the EPA- AFUE doesn’t include the heat losses of the duct system or piping, which can be as much as 35% of the energy for output of the furnace when ducts are located in the attic, garage, or other partially conditioned or unconditioned space. All furnaces manufactured today must meet at least 80% AFUE in the south and 90% AFUE in the North. If your furnace is 10 – 15 years old, it very well may fall below the current furnace minimum and waste energy- costing you money.
When shopping for high-efficiency furnaces and boilers, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. If you live in a cold climate, it usually makes sense to invest in the highest-efficiency system. In milder climates with lower annual heating costs, the extra investment required to go from 80% to 90% to 95% efficiency may be hard to justify.
This doesn’t mean that you should only select a furnace based on its AFUE rating. The efficiency rating is just one factor to consider when looking for a new furnace.
Generally you can buy your filter from any source. Check with a filter vendor or the documentation that came with your furnace to be sure. However, ductless filters currently are O.E.M. (original equipment manufacturer) parts and are not available generically.
Check the documentation that came with your furnace. Recommendations vary based on a number of factors: the type of filter that you use, how many pets you have, whether anyone in your home has allergies, etc. If you use disposable fiberglass panel or electrostatic panel filters, you should change them anywhere from once a month to once every three months. Pleated filters generally last from 3 months to 6 months, again, always check your filter monthly, no matter what type filter you use. Filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to change, so there is little reason to wait. If you don’t change or clean your filter often enough the filter can get clogged with dust and other airborne particles, forcing your furnace to work harder to maintain airflow. This will reduce your furnace’s efficiency and can cause damage.
There are five basic types of automatic and programmable thermostats:
- Digital- Non Programmable
- Remote Access
Most range in price, call and ask us which is best for you. Think thermostats don’t matter? Think Again! Thermostats control half of your home’s energy use. That is more than appliances, computers, stereos and lighting combined!
MERV is an acronym that stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value
What is a MERV Rating? MERV Rating is a filter comparison system designed by an industry group called the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Simply put, it’s a rating scale designed to allow consumers to easily compare the performance of one filter to another.
Why is there a MERV Rating? It is designed to measure a filter’s ability to capture and hold particles and pollutants. The higher the MERV rating, the more particles – dust mites, pet dander, air allergens, etc – your filter will remove from the air. Of course, screening out more particles from your air makes your air handler work a bit harder, so you may see a modest increase in power consumption by your air conditioning or furnace unit when choosing a higher MERV Rating.
How a MERV Rating benefits you? Matching the right MERV rating to your needs will improve your home’s air quality and will extend the life of your furnace or air conditioner.