Back to HVAC 101
- HVAC F.A.Q. -
What does HVAC stand for?
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.
What regular maintenance do heating and air conditioning systems need?
The most important part of HVAC maintenance aspect is maintaining unrestricted air flows. Dust, dirt, and debris are an HVAC system's worst enemies. Whether it's an indoor or outdoor unit, you must keep all filters clean and heat exchangers and coils free of restrictions.
We recommend that your heating and cooling system be checked and serviced twice a year; ideally a spring and autumn tune-up. Also we recommend that you change your filter regularly, depending on the type of filter you have. This alone can eliminate many of the most common problem that need fixing can significantly reduce the likelihood of a serious breakdown. A Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning maintenance agreement is your assurance that these maintenance needs are met regularly and that any potential problems are promptly identified.
Why do I need to change my filter regularly?
Regular filter replacement helps your heating and cooling system operate at peak levels and improves indoor air quality. It is important to change filters regularly to ensure proper airflow and to keep your home free from dust, allergens and germs. Depending on the type of filter you have, you may require weekly or monthly filter replacements. Your Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning service technician or installation technician will recommend the ideal filters and replacement schedules for your unit(s).
How often should I replace my filters?
In general, Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning recommends that you replace your disposable filters at least once a month. If you have washable filters, they should be cleaned once a month. Your Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning technician will recommend a replacement schedule that delivers the optimum efficiency and filtration for your specific system. With a Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning maintenance agreement, we clean and inspect your HVAC system twice each year. Part of the service includes changing the filters or servicing your filtering system. Unless you have special circumstances, our service should be adequate. We recommend that you visually check filters and filtering equipment monthly. If filters look dirty, they need to be cleaned or replaced.
Should I have a filter in both my return air supply & in the furnace at the same time?
No. If you have a filter in both it restricts your airflow. One problem is the furnace will run hotter. With the restricted airflow there is less airflow across the furnace's heat exchanger, causing it to run hotter. This also means less airflow to the house, so it takes the furnace longer to heat the home. Both of these issues mean the furnace runs less efficient, and also puts greater wear on the furnace. With restricted air flow, the system has to work harder to deliver the warm or cool air to every room in the house. When the air can't get to the rooms that are most used in the house, the typical reaction is to lower the thermostat a few degrees. This causes the system to run longer and more frequently; increasing electric bills to meet the demand.
In addition to changing my filters, what maintenance should I do on my heater and/or air conditioner?
Most maintenance should be performed only by a qualified service technician. But here are some things that you can do to assure optimal performance:
How often should I have maintenance done on my air conditioner?
You should have maintenance done on your air conditioning system twice a year - spring and autumn being the best times. This not only ensures maximum efficiency, it enables us to foresee any possible problems that may occur in the near future.
Is there anything I should check prior to calling for service?
Check to be sure that the air conditioner or furnace is plugged in. Check that the breakers and the disconnects are turned on and be sure the thermostat is set correctly. Also make a note of any strange noises or smells.
How do I know if my system is working properly?
Is it making strange noises? Is it cooling or heating all areas of your home sufficiently? Has it been taking longer to cool down or heat up? Have your utility bills been rising for no apparent reason? Any of these are signs that you may have a problem that needs service. In most cases, the longer you delay, the worse any underlying problems will get. So be sure to contact Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning to check out your system whenever you notice anything out of the ordinary.
How are the sizing capacities of heating and cooling systems measured? Heating and cooling systems are sized according to their tonnage. One (1) ton equals 12,000 BTU/H. Residential systems can range from 1 to 5 tons.
How important is it to get the right size of heating and cooling equipment? Sizing HVAC equipment is very important from the standpoints of both comfort and energy use. Heating and cooling equipment that are over-capacity will not run as frequently or as long when it does run. In both cases, this may mean poor humidity control. It could also result in temperature variations or noticeable cycling. Over-capacity equipment will not be as energy efficient as properly matched capacity either. On the other hand, equipment that is under-sized, will obviously result in loss of comfort during temperature extremes.
What size HVAC system should I have?
Unfortunately, there's no simple rule of thumb for determining the ideal size of system for each home. For example, depending upon the construction of your home, one (1) ton of air conditioning can cool anywhere from 300 to 800 square feet of home. The only way to insure the size of the system you purchase will be large enough to heat or cool your home, but not any larger than you need, is to have your home's individual heating and cooling needs evaluated by a licensed professional. A Weakland’s Heating & Air Conditioning Estimator will perform a FREE detailed In-Home Energy Analysis to determine a selection of systems that will work best for your home's needs and your budget.
Is a system with more capacity better?
No. A larger system with more capacity delivers less comfort and costs more to operate. An air conditioner is at its least efficient when it is first turned on. A system with too much capacity will run in numerous short cycles, turning on and off repeatedly, therefore causing it to be less efficient. Also keep in mind that an air conditioner only removes humidity when it's running, so a system with shorter run cycles does'’t remove humidity from the air very well.
How do I know if my A/C unit is big enough?
Bigger is not always better; it's performance and efficiency that count. Before purchasing a replacement system you should always make sure your system is sized properly to match your needs and budget. Your Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning Specialist will thoroughly assess your home and comfort requirements to determine the proper size and make the appropriate recommendation.
How is the efficiency of heating and cooling equipment measured?
When purchasing a furnace, heat pump or air conditioner, ALWAYS ask about its Efficiency Ratings. They will tell you will tell you how efficiently the unit uses fuel (gas, oil or electricity). The most-frequently used efficiency ratings are:
How can I increase the efficiency and life of my home's heating and cooling systems?
A few quick tips:
Should I close the registers and doors to areas of the home that I do not use on a regular basis? No. Every system is designed to cool a certain number of square feet. By closing registers and doors in certain rooms, you disrupt and decrease the systems' airflow and efficiency. Your system will have to work harder to cool less space, making it cycle more and become less efficient.
How long should my air conditioning system run in a cycle? There is no exact answer for how long your system should run during each cycle. The average air conditioner is sized to remove the heat from your home as fast as it comes in, on a 110° day. Therefore, ideally, on a 110° day the system should be able to keep up with the incoming heat, but not gain on it and be able to turn off. The cooler it is below 110°, the more the system will cycle on and off.
Should I try to keep my air conditioning system from running too much?
Generally speaking, a unit that is either on or off is less expensive than one that keeps cycling on and off repeatedly. Every time your system starts up, it will use a lot of electricity and not produce much cooling. That's why a smaller system is often more economical to operate: even though it runs nonstop and may deliver less comfort, it will usually consume less power than a larger system that cycles on and off.
What air temperature should my air conditioner produce?
The air temperature produced by your system depends on the temperature of the air going into it. Generally, the air produced should be 18-20 degrees below what enters the system. So if the entering air is 80 degrees, the exiting air should be about 60-62 degrees. However, that only works on a system that has been running at least 15 minutes on a warm, dry day with a home that is about 80 degrees inside. On a milder day, with an indoor temperature in the low 70's, the air coming out may only be 15-17 degrees cooler than what enters.
At what temperature should I set my thermostat?
Temperature settings depend on the time of year and your personal preferences. In the summer, the average temperature setting is 78 - 80 degrees. In the winter 68 -72 degrees is the norm. Remember, when leaving your house, try to avoid drastic temperature changes. Do not set your temperature back more than 5 degrees; this will cause your unit to work harder to achieve the desired temperature setting.
What are the advantages of a programmable thermostat?
Because they are electronic, programmable thermostats are more accurate and efficient than thermostats that contain mercury. Plus, they allow you to automatically control the temperature in your home at different times of day without ever touching your thermostat.
Is variable speed equipment superior and/or necessary?
Variable speed refers to a furnace's or air handler's indoor blower motor. Different speeds control the flow of air throughout your home. Variable speed blowers automatically change speeds to meet the different airflow needs of the heating and cooling cycles. Variable speed motors can save energy and are excellent for customizing comfort levels in different zones of your home. A variable speed motor can also help clean the air and control the humidity.
What is two-stage heating?
Two-stage heating means a furnace has two levels of heat output: high for cold winter days and low for milder days. Two-stage furnaces start in the first stage, instead of reaching full capacity all at once. That means there is no sudden blast of air. The low setting meets household heating demands 80% of the time, allowing a two-stage unit to run for longer periods and provide more even distribution of heated air. Because the furnace operates mostly in its lower-capacity first stage, it burns less fuel than a furnace that always runs at full capacity and then has to shut off when the heating demand has been met.
Why is my HVAC system freezing up? There are several things that can cause your HVAC system to freeze up. Most need to be corrected by a qualified HVAC technician. Making sure the filter is clean or replaced and making sure the airflow is not restricted are about the only things you can check or handle yourself.
What is I.A.Q.?
I.A.Q. stands for Indoor Air Quality. Today, various products are available as add-ons to your existing heating and cooling system to improve the quality and healthiness of the air inside your home. These items include
How important is air quality and what factors need to be considered?
An air quality system can greatly improve both your comfort and your health. The areas of air quality to consider are (1) purification, (2) filtration, (3) humidity control, and (4) ventilation. A wide number of air quality features come standard with many new heating and air conditioning systems; others can easily be added to existing systems. Contact Weakland’s Heating & Air Conditioning to discuss your air quality options.
Do electronic air cleaners really work?
Electronic air cleaners can greatly improve home air quality and comfort levels. If you suffer from allergies or have pets, they're a must. Some electronic air cleaners can even remove dust particles and pollen as small as .10 micron. Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning offers a variety of air filtration devices. Talk to your Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning Comfort Specialist to discuss your options.
Should I be concerned about carbon monoxide in my home?
Very concerned. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas produced during the combustion of fuels. It's colorless, odorless, tasteless…and lethal. Even trace amounts can impair your brain function and impact your health. Cracks, leaks, obstructions and other malfunctions in your heating system can cause carbon monoxide to develop and accumulate.
Short-term exposure to carbon monoxide usually results in flu-like symptoms: nausea, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Long-term exposure can eventually lead to unconsciousness or death. Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning recommends the following to minimize carbon monoxide risk:
Today's modern heating systems burn cleaner than older systems, minimizing or eliminating your risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Contact Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning for more information.
How important is it to have a quiet heating and air conditioning system?
Extremely important. Sound intensity is measured in units called decibels (dB). A normal conversation is about 60-70 dB. A telephone dial tone produces 80 dB; a lawn mower produces 107 dB or more. Sustained exposure to sound levels of 90-95 dB may lead to hearing loss, so it's important to own the quietest heating and cooling system you possibly can.
What is the ideal indoor humidity level?
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends a household humidity level between 30 and 60 percent.
Why are humidifiers used more in heating than cooling?
The average comfort range for relative humidity in a home is from 35 to 45%. When cool outdoor air enters your home, it tends to dry out as it warms up, which can cause static electricity build-up and sinus problems. A humidifier will add moisture back into the air and minimize these problems during the winter months.
Are there any air conditioning systems that are safe for the environment?
Yes. Several manufactures have developed new systems that contain environmentally-friendly refrigerants such as R-410A (also known as Puron). Puron is a chlorine-free coolant that is safe for the Earth's ozone-layer and delivers superior cooling than traditional refrigerants. In fact, by 2010, systems that use Freon and other refrigerants will be phased out and replaced with Puron-based systems. And by 2020, no more Freon can be manufactured.
Why can't I just change my outdoor unit to Puron equipment without having to change my indoor Freon evaporator coil?
The two pieces of equipment use different refrigerant and the two refrigerants do not mix and will cause your new compressor to fail prematurely.
How do I know whether my heating and cooling equipment needs replacement or just repair?
Not an easy question to answer, but here are some factors to consider:
At Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning, we can work with you to prepare a side-by-side cost-benefit analysis so that you can compare whether it is more advantageous for you to keep your current system or replace with a newer one.
It's been years since I shopped for a new heating and cooling system. What changes in technology and equipment do I need to know about?
If you're deciding on a new system and have not kept up with advances in the industry, you will be amazed at the number of choices that you have to make. Today's comfort systems offer a surprising number of options and combinations - from individual heaters and air conditioners to integrated or "hybrid" systems. Systems can vary widely in terms of energy efficiency. The ability of systems to monitor conditions and adjust automatically has increased dramatically. And a wider variety of air quality add-ons are available than ever before. These changes make the replacement decision even more complex than ever, so you can see how important it is to find a HVAC company that will work with you to develop a system for your situation and budget. At Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning, our goal is to be a company that will partner with you to not only install a system that is appropriate for your situation, but then help you keep the system operating at peak performance.
When should I replace my existing heating and/or air conditioning unit system?
All systems and units are different. Here are some rough lifespan guidelines to help you decide whether fixing or replacing is the right decision:
Keep in mind that these are just guidelines. Some units last longer than that with regular maintenance and replacement of parts. But if a unit has been repaired repeatedly, or has been run excessively, it might make more sense to replace it even sooner. Paying for repairs to an old or inefficient system often simply prolongs the inevitable. An older system that breaks down once is likely to break down again...and again. That means more emergency service calls or, worse yet, the risk of damage to your home or to other components of your heating and cooling system.
There's also an ongoing cost factor to consider. Restoring your old system will only bring it back to its current level of energy efficiency. After you've recovered from the repair bills and the frustration of system breakdowns, you still won't save on your energy bills.
Some replacement systems can cost less than the cost of repeated repairs. And in many cases, installing a new heating and cooling system can actually pay for itself in energy savings within a relatively short time. Also, when replacing a heater or air conditioner, it is usually best to replace both units at the same time. This way, you’ll save on installation costs and both units can be serviced on the same maintenance schedule and have the same approximate lifespan.
What should I look for when choosing a new heater or air conditioning unit?
Here are some general rules of thumb when you are ready to replace your existing equipment:
If energy prices continue to escalate, what would be most effective in controlling home comfort costs?
Here's checklist of options:
If your current system is in need of replacement, your efficiency options are expanded and the potential for savings compared to your existing system can be quite dramatic. Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning can provide the consultation and information about all options and system combinations that might be right for your situation.
How much does a new replacement system cost?
Due to the many different makes, models and customer needs, price is an issue that can only be solved by doing a thorough evaluation of your home and existing equipment. At Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning, there is no charge for an in-house replacement proposal.
What do I do if I can't afford a new HVAC system?
Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning offers several financing options. Your Weakland's Heating & Air Conditioning Estimator can recommend the financing plan that's best for your needs.
Why is it important to have N.A.T.E. certified technician servicing your home?
One of the biggest problems in the heating and air conditioning industry is the lack of trained professional technicians. Poorly trained service technicians and shoddy installation are the two primary reasons that consumers need to keep having a repairman come to their home. North American Technician Excellence, Inc. (N.A.T.E.) is the leading independent certification body for technicians in the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) industry. They establish the industry's standards for excellence and administer the training, testing and validation procedures for meeting those standards.