Hvac Systems

HVAC systems are found in almost all homes and offices. But people using them or are thinking of buyingones for their homes have endless question hovering in theirminds. Here are answers to some frequentlyasked questions.

Q. What does HVAC imply?

Well it stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.

Q. Whychanging the filter is so significant?

Clean fitters enable smoothfunctioning of the HVAC unit. It ensures a clean and maximum air flow. It also prevents dust, allergens,germs, mould spores from infesting the air in your living space.Some filters need monthly replacement while some may need weeklyreplacement. It depends on the make. Monthly replacement of filters is highly recommended. If you have washable filters, they should be washed once a month.

Q What should you do before calling a maintenanceservice?

Beforeyou give a service call, turnon your furnace or AC. Check if the thermostat is set correctly. Check for any strange noise or smell coming from the unit. Seeifthe heating and cooling of the house is sufficient. Also check if the procedures are taking longer time than needed. If you notice any abnormality in these aspects you should inform the repair service provider about it. You should also keep your power bills of the last few months handy. If you noticed an abrupt rise in them without any reason, bring it to their attention. Do not delay when there is a problem, it will only compound it.

Q. Does the system need a regular maintenance? What can you do to maintain it?

Yes, surely. Regular maintenance and cleaning is mandatory to ensure a long life of a HVAC system. The worst enemies of HVACs are dust, dirt, debris, and even microbial growth. These can infest the filters as well as the ducts. You should ensure that you clean the filtesr as well as the ducts on regular intervals. Besides changing filters, you can also carry out some other acts of maintenance at home. Make sure that your outdoor units are not cluttered with debris, dried leaves, and weeds. They play havoc with the air flow. Be very careful when trimming weeds. It could end up snipping the control wiring. Keep your pets at bay from the unit. Pet urine can do irreversible damages.

However, HVACs cannot be properly cleaned at home as you will not have access to many components. You can have a maintenance contract with reputed service providers who will do routine check-up as well as clean-up of the unit. A system should be tuned up twice a year, ideally a spring and autumn tune-up.

Q. Why size of a HVAC system is so important?

Remember in the HVAC sector, nothing is more important than size. The size of the system should be optimal according to the size of your house. A too big system will cycle off and on. It will not run for long and this will do a greater wear and tear and reduce energy efficiency. A heating and cooling system consumes a lot of electricity every time it starts. On the other hand smaller systems will run non-stop but use less power. Buying a too small system will not bring the desired output in heating and cooling. Both oversized and undersized systems would results in poor humidity control. The bigger one will remove too much humidity rendering a damp feeling in the room. The smaller one will not be able dehumidify efficiently.

The size of the system will depend both on the size and the construction of your home. A one ton of air conditioning should be able to cool 300 to 800 square feet of home.

Disclaimer: Although the size quoted above is a typical average size that can be seen across USA, it can vary due to the variables associated with each individual project.

Q. How are the capacities of heating and cooling systems measured?

The capacities of heating and cooling systems are calculated in B.T.U.H. (British Thermal Units per Hour). Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps are also rated in tonnage. 12,000 BTUH equals one (1) ton.

Q. How is the efficiency of heating and cooling equipment measured?

When buying a heating and cooling unit, it is essential to ask for its energy efficiency. Energy efficiency of a unit signifies how much of the fuel or the electricity it uses to render the desired outcome. Here are some of the units of measuring energy efficiency:

SEER: It stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. This tells you the amount of cooling a system will produce for per dollar spent on electricity. Usually a SEER rate ranges from 13 to 17. The higher the rate is, the more efficient the system is. Moreover it will have a lower operational cost.

HSPF: It stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor: Just like SEEER, it calculates the ratio of heat production for per dollar of power for a heat pump. The ratings range from 6.8 to 10.

AFUE: It stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency ratio. It measures the proportion of heat produced for every dollar of fuel. The higher the rate, the lower thefuel cost. Furnaces manufactured today must meet at least 78%AFUE. Furnaces with 90% and above efficiencyrate are consider highly efficient.

MERV: It stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It calculates the size of the holes in the filter that allow air to pass through. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the holes. Smaller holes imply an efficient system.

This is provided by the Environmental Protection Agency to HVAC products. It show whether the product meets or exceeds guidelines for high-efficiency performance against the minimum standards prescribed by the government.

Q. What is optimal temperature that an efficient air conditioner should be able to produce?

The temperature produced by a system depends on the temperature of the air going into it. Ideally a system should be able to drop the temperature of the air that enters it by 15°-20° below what enters the system. This is however, true for a dry sunny day, when the indoor air temperature is about 80°. On a milder day when the temperature inside is about 70°, the air coming out should be 50-55°.

Q. How to increase the efficiency of your system?

Although the efficiency will depend on the capacity of the machine, but here are afew things that you can practice to increase the output-

Always keep the blowers on. These fans help in heating andcooling more evenly. They allow constant air movement in the area and facilitate better filtration.

Always have heavy draperies and proper shutters on the windowsanddoors. This is to stop too much exposure of sunlight which heats up rooms unusually.

Don’t close doors and registers when running you HVAC. By closing them you are actually disrupting the systems’ airflow and efficiency. Your system starts working harder to cool less space than it is designed to. It will cycle onand off and will be less efficient consequently.

Q. What are the advantages of a programmable thermostat?

These thermostats donot require you to adjust them. They control the temperature in the house at different times according to the temperature outside. They are more accurate compared to thosecontaining mercury.

Q. Is variable speed equipment superior and/or necessary?

These refer to speed of the blower motor. Thesecontrol the flow of air according to the needs in various zones of the house. Variable speed motors can use 1/7th the energy. They arebetter cleaner of the air and remove humidity more efficiently.

Q. What is I.A.Q.?

I.A.Q. stands for Indoor Air Quality. The respiratoryailmentshave increased by manifolds. This is generally on account of increasing environmental pollution. Therefore many add-ons are availabletoday to improve the quality of the air you breath inside the house. They are Electronic- or Media-Type Air Filters,Whole-House Humidifiers, Air-to-Air Heat-Recovery Ventilators and many more.

Q. What are possible causes of cracks in a heat exchanger?

A heatexchanger is likely to develop cracks after a natural phase of wear and tear. However if it overworks or stresses it can develop these soon. Dirty air filters, blocked vents, and burners that are not functioningproperly can cause detrimental stress, which can crack the heat exchanger. The worst consequence of crackedheatexchanger is carbon monoxide leakage.

Q. Is carbon monoxide leakage an alarming concern?

Yes. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a greenhouse gas produced when fuels are burnt in the furnace. The odorless, colorless gas can be lethal.Even traces of it canimpact you brain function. It limits the body’sability to inhale oxygen. It can lead to unconsciousness and gradual death. Cracks, leaks, and obstruction in the heating system can lead to leakage of carbon monoxide in your home. You can do the following to prevent leakage of carbon monoxide.

• You should keep the furnace under regularmaintenance to prevent release of carbon monoxide.

• You furnace, chimney and, vents shouldbe cleared of all obstructions. Always keep them free of birds, squirrels and rats that make thesetheir homes and infest them with urine and droppings.

• Install a carbon monoxide detector which is easily available in stores today.

• Open your windows even in winter seasons for some time to vent out carbon monoxide.

• If you use an older model with apilot light, check it from time to time. If it is produces 80% bluish flame then it is fine. If the flame is mostlyorange in color then it needs to be looked at.

Q. Is noise froma system aworryingissue?

Yes, definitely. Firstly it is a symptom of malfunctioningunit, which will become more andmorecomplex if not addressed quickly. Secondly sustained exposure to sound levels of 90-95 dB may lead to hearing impairment.

Q. What are new technologicaladvances in heating and cooling solutions?

If it has been quite for some time since you shopped for your last HVAC, then you should know there arewider ranges of choices now. There are amazing options and combinations in heating and cooling devices. There are newer types of systems with higher energy efficiency at more competitive process. There are systems whichcan sense outside conditions and adjust automatically. There are numerousadd-ons today to improve air quality.

Q. At what intervals a heating and cooling unit need replacement?

These will depend on a variety of factors such as model , brand, run time climate,maintenance, and many more.However, here is a average life span of various heating and cooling systems:

• Average Lifetime of an Air Conditioner: 12-15 yrs.
• Average Lifetime of a Furnace: 15-20 yrs.
• Average Lifetime of a Boiler: 15-20 yrs.

Keep in mind that these are just guidelines. It will vary according to the level of maintenance and replacement of parts. However, if you have an old system that is frequently generating repair bills, replacement is always recommended. By repeatedly repairing it you are just prolonging the inevitable. It is wise to replace a heater and air conditioner at the same time. This will save you separate installation costs. Moreover, both units will have the same maintenance schedule and same approximate lifespan.

Disclaimer: This information here is intended to be used for reference purposes only; it is not a professional advice.Always contact your local certified professional for assistance to your specific needs.

Q. What should be in your checklists whenyou have to change yourheater, air-conditioner or heat pump?

Here is alist of things that you should consider when making replacement:

• Always try to buy from a manufacturer who has a brand image aboutits product quality, durability and servicing.

• Select models with high efficiency rating to bring sufficient comfort indoors and to save on energy bills.

• Do not pickup product from Sale. Know your needsand choose accordingly.

• Remember the size of the system should be according to square footage of your house.

How can I reduce my energy costs?

Here are a few suggestions to do so:

Own amodern efficientsystem – If you have old system, it is better to replace it with new one. This can economize energy bills by one-third.

Temperature adjustment – When going out of home for several hours, adjust the thermostat to 5–8 degrees (down in winter, up in summer). This can save energy.

Adjust the direction of the blades of ceiling fans – Always have fans at the ceiling even if you have HVAC cooling the whole house. Change the direction of the blades to anti-clockwise in summer and clockwise in winter. This willpush warm air of the celling downwards in the room in winter.

Have annual maintenance performed – Keep an annual maintenancecontract for the system. This will ensureroutinecheck-up and clean-up. It willkeep it efficient.

Prevent obstruction in vents and ducts - The obstruction always putspressureon the system from operating smoothly. Blocked vents will preventproper air flow and circulation. Do not keep carpets or draperies on vents. You can close the vents in rooms that are not being used. Have a programmable thermostat which can adjust temperature according to theneed automatically.

Q: How can you find out if you are overspending in your power bills?

This cannot be done just by comparing electric bills of various months. This is because the weather does notremain the same. In one month you willend up overusing the system and in the nextone it will undergo moderate use. The best way todetermine it,is through dividing the amounton yourenergy bill for amonth with thesquarefootage of your house. Do not include garages or unfinished basements. This will tell you the cost you aregenerating for heating per square feet. You can show the result to your energy provide who can tell you the cost per foot in the same period in your region. You can then compare and know.

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