FAQs – Home Air Conditioning Information
No matter the type of HVAC system they use, most home and business owners find that they have air conditioner questions from time to time. If you’re considering purchasing a new unit or have maintenance concerns, you can use this HVAC FAQ to inform and educate yourself. Of course, we are always happy to answer any other air conditioner questions you might have.
Q: How Can I Size A New Air Conditioner?
A: Choosing an air conditioning unit that is the right size for your home or office helps to ensure that you’ll be comfortable without wasting energy. In order to choose a correctly sized unit, you’ll need to calculate the total square footage of the area that you’re going to cool. If your building’s ceilings are more than eight feet high or if you have unique cooling needs, ask an HVAC contractor to complete load calculations for you. Once you’ve determined how many square feet you want to cool, you can look at a chart that describes how many British Thermal Units (BTUs) of cooling power are needed to keep your space comfortable. Remember that you’ll never be cool enough if you choose a unit that is too small, but you’ll probably be too cold if you choose a unit that is too large.
Q: What Do HVAC Efficiency Ratings Like SEER, MERV and AFUE mean?
A:The efficiency ratings listed on HVAC units and systems are designed to help consumers choose environmentally friendly, energy-saving appliances. Pay close attention to the following ratings to ensure that you’re making a wise purchasing decision:
- AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) ratings are given to furnaces and boilers. The AFUE rating is designed to describe how much fuel is used and wasted by a unit to produce heat. Look for units with AFUE ratings of at least 90. This means that the unit uses 90 percent of its fuel to produce heat while wasting only 10 percent of its fuel.
- HSPF (heating seasonal performance factor) ratings are used to gauge the heating efficiency of heat pumps. Look for units that have received a rating of at least 8.6. Units with higher ratings are more efficient.
- SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) ratings are given to heat pumps and air conditioners. SEER ratings of 13 or higher indicate efficient units. Shop for units with higher ratings to secure bigger energy savings.
- The Energy Star rating program helps consumers identify energy-efficient home appliances. Look for products that are Energy Star approved and that list information about average annual operating costs on their labels.
- MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) ratings are given to HVAC filters. These ratings describe how well filters remove pollutants from the air. For residential use, look for filters with a rating between seven and 12.
Q: How Can I Find Out if I Currently Have A Warranty on My Furnace, Air Conditioner or HVAC System?
A: This question comes up all of the time. It makes sense because you may be able to save money on maintenance and repairs if your unit is still under warranty. Check the paperwork that came with your unit to determine what type of warranty it has and whether or not it is still in effect. If you don’t have the original paperwork that came with your unit, your HVAC dealer should be able to help you find warranty information. Be sure to have the unit’s serial number and model number on hand when you call your HVAC dealer.
Q: I Need to Replace My Outdoor Heating or Cooling Unit. Do My Indoor Units Also Need To Be Replaced?
A: Many home and business owners who need to replace an outdoor heating or cooling unit wonder if it’s important to replace indoor units at the same time. While your indoor units will likely still work if you don’t replace them right now, you’ll face a decrease in system efficiency and overall comfort. Replacing both indoor and outdoor units at the same time is the best way to ensure great energy savings. You’ll be able to pick units that were designed to work together in order to provide reliable service in your home or business. If you’re concerned about the cost of replacing both system components, talk with your HVAC dealer about manufacturer-backed financing.
Q: Should I Choose A Ductless, Central Air or Heat Pump System for My Home?
A: Choosing the right type of HVAC system for your home or business is essential. If you’ve already started shopping for a new system, you’ve likely run across three primary options. Evaluate the features of benefits of each type of system before making a purchasing decision:
- Ductless systems consist of outdoor heating and cooling units paired with indoor air handling units via a small refrigerant line. These systems are easy to install and offer extremely efficient service. Ductless systems are ideal for new construction and can also be used in buildings with existing ductwork.
- Central air systems rely on ductwork to carry treated air from a heating or cooling unit to the rest of your home. These systems can provide for very efficient service when correctly installed and maintained. They are not ideal for existing homes without ductwork as having ducts installed can be time consuming and expensive.
- Heat pumps can be used with either ductless or central heating and cooling systems. These highly efficient devices can produce both hot and cold air, meaning that you’ll only need to purchase one unit to take care of your comfort needs for the whole year.
Q: What is The Expected Operating Life of My Air Conditioner?
A: Most modern air conditioners are designed to offer between 10 and 12 years of regular, reliable service. Remember that the operating life of your air conditioner will vary depending upon how frequently you use the unit and how good you are at keeping up on maintenance tasks. Units that are well maintained may provide reliable service for more than 12 years.
Q: What Are Some Ways I Can Improve Circulation and Air Quality in My Home?
A: If your home always seems stuffy or if you’ve noticed an increase in respiratory problems, it might be time to start thinking about ventilation and air purification solutions. Homeowners who are concerned about poor indoor air quality (IAQ) should consider installing air purifiers, which use special filters to remove particle pollutants from the air. Be sure to use filters with MERV ratings of at least seven for the best results. Those homeowners who want to improve in-home circulation and air quality should consider ventilation systems. These systems help to encourage the flow of clean, treated air throughout a building. Most ventilation systems can be fitted with air-purifying filters and can be integrated directly with your current heating and cooling system.
Q: What Thermostat Setting Should I Choose to Stay Comfortable While Saving Energy?
A: Most homeowners know that choosing the right thermostat setting is a great way to save energy. However, it can be difficult to decide which setting will allow you to save energy without getting too hot or too cold. Most consumer advocates suggest that homeowners set thermostats to 68 degrees during the heating season and 78 degrees during the cooling season. This will help to control energy costs and may even prolong the life of your HVAC system. Remember that you can also save energy by using heating and cooling programs to control your HVAC system around the clock.
Q: What is Causing My Air Conditioner to Turn On and Off All The Time?
A: During a cooling cycle, an air conditioner’s compressor turns on so that refrigerants can be used to cool warm air. It is normal for the unit to turn on and off during the day as your cooling needs are met. However, if you notice that your unit turns on and off frequently, you should turn its power off at the breaker and conduct a visual inspection. Check to see if coils, fans and other unit components are dirty. If they are, clean them according to manufacturer directions. You may also need to clean or replace the unit’s air filter. If you’ve completed these tasks and your unit still cycles on and off frequently, call an HVAC technician. Your unit is likely suffering from a mechanical problem that should be repaired by a professional.
Q: Should My Air Conditioning Unit Leak Water?
A: If you own an air conditioner, you will likely see water leaking from the unit from time to time. In most situations, this water leakage is caused by condensation that occurs while the unit is on and is totally normal. However, if you notice excess water leaking from your unit, you may need to change its positioning. Your unit should be placed on a slight downward tilt away from your home. If tilting your unit doesn’t solve the problem of water leakage and buildup, call your HVAC dealer. You may need to empty a drip pan or have a technician inspect your unit.
Q: My Air Conditioner Keeps Freezing Up. What is Causing This Problem?
A: Air conditioner freeze ups can be incredibly inconvenient. If your unit has frozen up, you’ll need to cut off its power at the breaker box and remove the outside cabinet to see if ice is built up around coils and other unit components. If you can, gently remove this ice. You can run your AC unit in fan-only mode or can run a heat pump on a low heating program. Once the unit is completely free of ice, plug it back in and try using it again. If the unit doesn’t turn back on or freezes up again within a few days, call an HVAC technician. Your freeze up may be caused by low refrigerant levels. Remember that you should never check refrigerant levels or attempt to add refrigerant to your unit on your own. Doing so can be very dangerous.
Q: Can You Take Care of Freon Replacement?
A: Home and business owners whose HVAC units use Freon have become concerned that their units can no longer be serviced with this refrigerant, which is being phased out of manufacture in the U.S. and many other countries. Thankfully, we can still provide Freon replacement and service for units that were made before 2010. If your HVAC unit was made after 2010, it cannot be serviced with Freon. Pay close attention to the type of refrigerant that your unit uses, particularly if you recently moved into a home that already has an HVAC system. Many appliances that use Freon can be converted so that they can use newer refrigerants. These new refrigerants are just as effective as Freon, which is being phased out because it can do serious damage to the environment.
Q: Why Should I Have An Air Conditioning Tune-up Completed?
A: Most home and business owners know that regular maintenance and service can extend the operating life of HVAC units. It’s important to remember that great maintenance practices can also help to increase system efficiency. During an air conditioner tune-up, an HVAC technician will thoroughly inspect and clean your unit. After the unit has been inspected, cleaned and lubricated, the technician will calibrate your air conditioner so that it works according to manufacturer specifications. Doing so can help to increase unit efficiency and provide for a more comfortable home or business environment. During an air conditioner tune-up, your technician will also point out any unit issues that call for further maintenance or repair.
Q: What is The Purpose of Duct Cleaning? Should I Have it Done?
A: Duct cleaning has become increasingly popular with home and business owners. During a duct cleaning appointment, an HVAC technician will examine your building’s ductwork. After the technician has ensured that there are no vermin or rodent infestations and that your ductwork is structurally sound, cleaning will begin. The technician will carefully remove dirt, pollen, mold, mildew and other debris from your ducts. If your ducts are prone to dirt or mold buildup, your technician may suggest spraying a light coating inside the ducts to help repel pollutants.
If you are still unsure about having duct cleaning performed, think about the quality of the air that you breathe in your home. If you’ve noticed an increase in respiratory problems while at home, smell outside odors inside your house on a regular basis or have noticed mold buildup in your home, it is a good idea to have this type of cleaning completed. Duct cleaning can help to improve indoor air quality and may eliminate allergens that can trigger respiratory attacks in individuals who suffer from asthma, allergies or COPD.