Frequently Asked Questions
What does HVAC stand for?
HVAC (pronounced h-vack or spelled out) stands for Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning. The three functions of HVAC are closely interrelated, as they all work to serve you and your family with comfort, good indoor air quality, and reasonable costs for installation, operation, and maintenance. HVAC systems provide your home with proper ventilation, reduced air infiltration, and stable pressure relationships between spaces in your house. Your heating and air technician is also known as an HVAC contractor, and will be able to offer you expert heating repair advice and service.
How does my HVAC system move air throughout my home?
Your heating and air conditioning system moves air throughout your home through the use of a fan that draws indoor air into the vents. The air then travels through your air ducts to your system’s air handler, which returns the air into the conditioned space through vents or registers in the wall, ceilings, or floors.
How often should I replace the filter?
There’s no clear cut answer – how frequently you should replace your filter depends on how much your HVAC system operates and what your individual climate is like. A good place to start is to check your filters once a month, by holding the used filter up to the light and comparing it with a clean one. If the light is obscured by the dust and dart particles caught by the filter, it should be changed. Keep a record for a year, and then start replacing the filter accordingly. At the very least, filters should be changed at the start of the heating and cooling seasons, and then in between based on need. It’s also a good idea to have your HVAC system checked at the beginning of each heating/cooling system to insure that it’s operating properly.
Why should I replace my working furnace or air conditioner?
Your current furnace or AC may still be working, but if it’s more than 12 years old, you should think about replacing it with a newer, high-efficiency system. A new HVAC system could save you up to 50% on energy costs, as well as save you money on heating repairs in the long run. A new system will also provide you with a better level of comfort in your home.
What the heck is a SEER and EER?
SEER is an abbreviation for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.” This U.S. government standard energy rating reflects the overall efficiency of your cooling system. Since January 2006, all residential AC systems sold in the U.S. must have a rating of at least 13 SEER. EER, on the other hand, is an abbreviation for “Energy Efficiency Ratio,” and doesn’t take the season into consideration. Instead, EER is based on the system’s energy efficiency at the peak of its operation. Both SEER and EER should be considered when choosing and purchasing cooling products. These ratings are a ratio of the cooling output divided by the power consumption and measure the performance of the cooling system. According to the federal government’s ENERGY STAR program for high-efficiency central AC systems, in order to qualify, the system must have a SEER of at least 14.
We are replacing our AC unit this season, what advice can you give me?
Because the life expectancy of an HVAC system is around 12 years, purchasing a new system can be one of the biggest financial decisions you will make. When you’re looking for an HVAC contractor, be sure to choose a company based on the quality of their products and customer service – not solely on price. Though price is important, the name brand of the equipment is not nearly as important as who will be installing your new HVAC system. When replacing your system, you should also keep in mind that the duct system that you are connecting to has a tight seal with the proper amount of return air. And with the new higher-efficiency AC units, you should be certain to replace your system with an accurately-sized unit – otherwise you may end up with a house that is cool, but humid. Do your research, select quality HVAC contractors, and find someone you can trust. You’ll have a successful replacement installation that will offer you years of comfort, and the lowest overall cost.
What do you mean by a “ton” of refrigeration?
Confusingly enough, a “ton of refrigeration” doesn’t refer to weight, as the unit is typically used in everyday language. Instead, a ton of refrigeration refers to 12,000 B.T.Us per hour (British Thermal Units/Hour) of cooling effect. In other words, a condensing unit that has a cooling capacity of 60,000 B.T.U.s/hour is said to have a capacity of five tons.
Why can’t you add coolant to my system without checking for a leak or repairing an existing leak?
Because of the severe damage that refrigerants can cause to the ozone layer, it has been illegal to release coolants into the atmosphere (intentionally or accidentally) since July 1, 1992. When refrigerants like chloroflorocarbons (CFCs) are removed, they should be recycled in order to clean any contaminants, and then returned to a usable condition.
How does the Clean Air Act impact heating and cooling systems?
The Clean Air Act impacts the HVAC industry by encouraging the use and development of ozone-friendly substitutes for chemicals called hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). HCFCs contain chlorine, which aids in the depletion of the ozone layer. For over four decades, R-22 has been the chemical refrigerant of choice. R-22 is in the HCFC category and is widely used in heat pumps and AC condensing units to heat and cool homes. Today, an ozone-friendly refrigerant called R-410A is used.
What is radon?
Radon is an invisible, radioactive atomic gas that results from the radioactive decay of radium, which may be found in rock formations beneath buildings or in certain building materials themselves. Radon is probably the most pervasive, serious hazard for indoor air quality in the United States and is likely responsible for thousands of deaths from lung cancer each year. Proper testing can be done for the presence of radon and measures taken to minimize it effects.