HVAC Tips

hvac-tips-fanWhen you have a big air conditioning problem – like an air conditioner that quits during the hottest day of summer – it goes without saying that you’ll call for service. Smaller air conditioning problems are easier to ignore, but this is the last thing you should do. By calling for service as soon as you notice the symptoms of an ailing cooling system you can prevent the expense and inconvenience of a big repair job. You’ll also avoid the higher utility bills that typically accompany a poorly functioning air conditioning system. You should have your air conditioner checked when you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Decreased air flow from the registers
  • Strange noises coming from the air conditioner
  • Moldy odors coming from the ductwork when the air conditioner is running
  • The air conditioner cycles on and off more frequently than it used to
  • The breaker for the air conditioner in the electrical panel keeps tripping (or the fuse keeps blowing)
  • Ice appears on your air conditioner or piping, either inside or outside the house
  • Your outdoor fan in the air conditioner won’t come on

If you notice any of the above symptoms, call us today to have your air conditioning checked and serviced to avoid larger problems down the road.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Should I Repair or Replace my current HVAC system?
A.
While many of the “costs” associated with your current comfort system may be intangible (reliability problems, uneven temperatures, excessive noise, lack of comfort, etc), some homeowner’s may focus more on the hard costs associated with repair vs. replacement. Here are some often overlooked items to consider:

  1. Furnaces lose approximately 1% of their efficiency for every year of operation. So if your 15 year old furnace was 80% efficient when it was installed, it may only be 65% efficient now. Furnaces over 15 – 20 years old were typically only 65% – 75% efficient when they were installed.
  2. Most air conditioners and heat pumps installed before January, 2006 cost up to 20% more to operate than today’s LOWEST efficiency models. Purchasing a higher efficiency model can generate even greater energy savings.
  3. The cost of repair today may not be your only repair cost in the near future. Often, as comfort systems age, you’ll find yourself making multiple repairs in a short period of time to address component failures. When deciding whether to repair or replace, use the cost to FULLY RESTORE your comfort system along with likely future repairs, as your basis for comparison, not just the cost of today’s required repair.

hvac-tips-faqQ. Does the contractor I choose really make a difference?
A.
According to leading consumer and trade magazines, the US Department of Energy, the heating and cooling contractor you choose does make a difference. The same equipment can be installed in the same home by two different contractors, and there can be a difference in comfort, equipment efficiency, and overall life.

Q. How should I choose a heating and cooling contractor?
A.
Look for contractors that are N.A.T.E. certified, and factory trained and certified. They should do a Manual J heat load analysis to properly size any new equipment. Make sure they are licensed, bonded and insured, and ask for proof of this. Be sure they permit all applicable work. Check their record with the state Attorney General’s office, Better Business Bureau and referral services like Angie’s List. Lastly, seek referrals from friends, family and neighbors with similar values and needs. If they’ve been happy, odds are that you’ll be happy.

Q. Do I really need a permit to install my new comfort system?
A.
Yes. Not only are they required by law, but a permit also allows for third-party inspection of your new system. This ensures that your system meets all local code requirements, and will operate safely.

Q. How do I know what size unit our house needs?
A.
According to The Department of Energy and industry standards, the only way to properly size a home heating or cooling system is to complete a Manual J heat load analysis. This takes into account many factors such as size and structure of the house, climate, air infiltration, the number and type of windows installed, insulation, appliances, and even the number of people living in the house.

Q. What do equipment rating numbers mean?
A.
The U.S. government requires an efficiency rating of all air conditioning and heating equipment. The rating reflects the percentage of energy used efficiently, with higher ratings indicating higher-efficiency.

Q. What does AFUE stand for?
A.
Gas heating appliances are rated according to their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency; the higher the AFUE rating, the more efficient the unit. The minimum rating for Energy Star compliance is 90 AFUE. The highest efficiency furnaces will meet or exceed 95 AFUE.

Q. What is a SEER?
A.
Air conditioning equipment is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER; The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit. The minimum rating for Energy Star compliance is 14 SEER. The highest efficiency air conditioners can meet or exceed 20 SEER.

Q. What does HSPF stand for?
A.
Heat pump equipment in the heating mode is rated by the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, or HSPF; the higher the HSPF rating, the more efficient the unit. The minimum rating for Energy Star compliance is 8.2 HSPF. The highest efficiency heat pumps will meet or exceed 9 HSPF.

Q. Should a thermostat be set to “auto” or “on”?
A.
If set to “auto”, the fan operates only when the temperature requires it. This is the most efficient setting. However, there are advantages to using the “on” setting. Air is constantly filtered through the unit’s filter, and the constantly circulating air results in a more even temperature throughout the house.

Q. What is the operating cost comparison between a gas and propane furnace?
A.
Depending on fuel prices, a gas furnace is about 40% less expensive.

Q. Will a furnace run on propane?
A.
Yes, using a propane conversion kit.

Q. Why is natural gas better than oil heat?
A.
Gas is cleaner, more efficient, and less expensive (up to 50%).

Q. What is the benefit of a multi-stage furnace?
A.
It warms more gently, only using the higher stages when needed.

Q. What is a “variable speed” blower fan?
A.
Variable speed “smart fans” are very quiet, and can alter air flow based on the needs of your home, creating more even temperatures and increased comfort. They also allow for constant airflow, providing increased filtration of the air in your home with low overall energy consumption.

Q. How much electricity is needed to run an air conditioner?
A.
220 volts. If you do not have this service available, we can arrange for an electrician to install it.

Q. What is the difference between an Air Conditioner and a Heat Pump?
A.
Air conditioners work by transferring heat from inside your home to outside, effectively lowering the indoor temperature. Heat pumps work exactly the same way in the summer, but in the winter they can reverse the temperature exchange, providing one of the most efficient forms of heat available.

Q. Do Heat Pumps heat well?
A.
Heat pumps heat more gently and evenly than furnaces, so if you’re used to a blast of hot air from your vents, you’ll have to get used to the new type of heat. They are, however, one of the most efficient forms of heat available, and work best when you set them to maintain a constant indoor temperature.

Q. Can I heat my home with just a Heat Pump?
A.
No. Heat pumps gradually lose efficiency as the temperature drops. They typically need some help to heat your home when the outdoor temperature drops below about 35-degrees. This can be from a gas furnace (hybrid system), or an electric furnace or air handler.

Q. I turned my thermostat to cool, but my home won’t cool down. What’s wrong?
A.
Locate your outdoor AC unit and check to make sure that it is running when your thermostat calls for cooling. If it is not running, or if it is running but is not cooling your home, turn it off at the thermostat and have it inspected by a qualified technician immediately.

Q. Where should I set my thermostat for central AC in the summer?
A.
Generally, you should set your thermostat where you feel comfortable.

Q. How much will a new comfort system cost?
A.
That depends on the type of system you want, the size of the system required, and the condition of the work area, ductwork and other factors affecting the installation. We can give you an exact price after a consultation with one of our Consultants.

Q. Can I buy a comfort system from you and install it myself?
A.
No. Pittman Heating and Air Conditioning stands behind every comfort system we sell. We can’t do that if you install it.

Q. If I buy a comfort system somewhere else, will you install it?
A.
No. Pittman Heating and Air Conditioning stands behind every comfort system we install. We can’t do that without the support of the manufacturer, and a clear history of the equipment we are installing.