How often should I change my air filter during the spring and summer months?
A typical 1″ throw away should be changed bout once every two months. An electronic filter should washed every month. Some high efficiency 5″ filters such as an April Aire filter can be changed annually.
How can I be sure I have enough filtration?
Filtration has two main purposes. The first is to protect the air conditioning system from building up deposits in the system decreasing the performance of the system and causing equipment failure. The second is for human comfort. A higher efficiency filter can be installed to catch more dust and pollen or to purify the air and absorb odors. And some filters can do a combination of the above. Basic 1″ filtration is sufficient for protecting the equipment. Past that, filter selection should be base on your needs.
What types of high efficiency filters are available?
Several types of high efficiency filters are available that accomplish different tasks and have varying maintenance requirements. There are electronic filters that use 115 volts that primarily target small particulate matter. These are very effective but have to be cleaned monthly to keep its efficiency high. There are also throw-away type 4″ or 5″ thick media filters that are just as effective as electronic but only have to replaced once per year. This filter must be installed and maintained with care as they can restrict air-flow over time. On the larger systems two filters may be needed. The highest form of this type of filter is the HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) filter. These filters are replaced every two to three years, however, they are so restrictive they can only filter a potion of the total amount of air going through the system. An additional high efficiency filter may be needed in conjunction with a HEPA filter. Some filters incorporate the above throw-away media with an ultraviolet light. The UV light kills bacteria and some even create ozone which is effective against neutralizing odors. The light bulbs and media need to be replaced annually. Lastly, there are charcoal filters which absorb odors. These filters are the most effective against odors but are the most expensive to maintain and require frequent replacement.
Will programmable thermostats save me money on energy bills?
Yes, these thermostats can save energy by lowering or raising the temperature of a house while away during the day or set back at night. However, it is not recommended to set the temperature more than 4 or 5 degrees as it may take the system several hours to catch up if the system is set back too high.
Should I cover my outdoor unit during the winter to keep it free from leaves?
No, the outdoor unit is made to withstand the elements. Actually, damage can occur by covering the unit by trapping moisture inside the unit and causing corrosion in the electrical components. It is best to have the unit serviced in the spring and allow a technician to clean the leaves and/or pine straw out of the air conditioner.
Should my outdoor heat pump run during the winter?
Yes, it is normal for an outdoor heat pump to run during the winter as it is the primary heating and air conditioning source for all of the seasons.
Is it normal for steam to come out of my heat pump during the winter?
Yes, this is called the defrost cycle in the winter operation. A heat pump will accumulate ice in the winter. In order for the heatpump to remove the ice it will go into the defrost cycle which sends the hot gas refrigerant through the coil which melts the ice. Once the ice has melted the unit will go into its normal operation.
What causes the odor when I us my air conditioning for the first time each summer?
For the majority of homes the first air conditioning operation will wash the indoor coil with condensate and remove dust and other particulates that have accumulated over the winter. If the odor persists it could be what is called the “Dirty Sock Syndrome”. Studies show this may be caused from bacteria living on the coil surface. Cleaning the coil and UV lights have proved effective, however, replacement has been the only remedy in some rare cases.
If my air conditioner isn’t cooling does that mean I need a new unit?
Many minor service problems can diminish the cooling process such as a dirty filter, outdoor condenser, and indoor evaporator coil. Another cause could be caused by a leak in the system. It is advisable to have a service technician evaluate the systems performance and either repair the system or recommend a replacement or upgrade.
If the outdoor unit of my heat pump needs replacing, should I also replace the indoor component?
Heat Pumps should be replaced as a matched system using the same manufacturer. If a system is not properly matched then service problems such as freezing or failing in the heat mode could occur. If the system is only a couple of years old then you might be able to replace the unit with a like manufacturer and model number.
When is the best time of year to replace my air conditioner?
It is advisable to replace the system as soon as the system fails. If you wait until it gets hot you may have to wait because of the volume of business most heating and conditioning companies get during this time. Also, many manufacturers give incentives to buy in the off season.
Is there an ideal temperature setting for summer comfort or is it ok to turn the thermostat up to speed cooling?
Studies show the majority of people feel comfortable with a cooling temperature of 75 degrees and a heating temperature of 70 degrees. Also, most houses are designed on this standard. However, individual comfort standards may very. It is advisable to tell the system designer these preferences in order to design a system that will meet all of your needs.
Can my air conditioning help control my humidity problems?
Yes, an air conditioner not only cools the air but also removes humidity in the air. However, an air conditioning system cannot be responsible for removing all of the required humidity, as it does not run all of the time. Variable speed indoor motors and two speed air conditioners remove several more times the humidity as regular single speed units but a whole house dehumidifier may be required for extreme humidity problems.
How much money could I expect to save by replacing my old air conditioner with a newer, more efficient model?
Savings are based on the size of the equipment, temperature settings, and the equipments run times. A system that is more than 20 years old should be about a 6 SEER unit. If you were to replace that unit with a 12 SEER unit then you should expect to save about half of the cooling portion of electrical bill. For smaller homes with one or two systems the cooling portion of the bill in the summer constitutes about 60%. So, on a $200.00 bill your cooling portion would be about $120.00. Therefore you could save about $60.00 for that month. Obviously this is a rule that does not apply in all situations but is a general guide. Also, higher efficiency product brochures will give examples of savings. These brochures can be requested or seen on web manufactures websites.
Should I be running my system’s fan on auto or continuously?
Running the fan all of the time will increase the amount of filtration and will tend to even the temperatures throughout the house. However, a constant fan operation will also raise the humidity in the house during the cooling season unless a separate dehumidifier is used. It is normally advisable to run the fan continuously in the winter but not in the summer unless some sort of additional dehumidification is used.
How can using my ceiling fan help control my home’s indoor comfort?
Ceiling fans can help circulate and mix in areas such that have tall ceilings that tend to stratify the air. They can also help to keep the air moving while the system is off to help maintain your comfort.
What can I do myself if my system quits working before I call for a service technician?
The first thing to do is make sure the thermostat is set properly and has good batteries if required. Check to see if the filter has been recently changed. You can also check to see if the electrical breakers for the air conditioner and furnace have tripped. If it is tripped and immediately trips again after resetting a service technician should be called. Also, you can check that the furnace door is seated in place, a loose door will not engage the door safety switch. In addition, check for standing water in the emergency drain pan or an overflowing condensate pump. Both cases will cause the system to shut down if they have safety switches. A technician should be called if these problems are present. Lastly, if ice is present on the larger refrigerant line the system should be shut down immediately and a service technician called. Freezing lines can cause a compressor failure and is caused by a leak in the system or a dirty filter and/or indoor evaporator coil.
Should I convert my air conditioning system over to the new environmentally friendly refrigerant?
The benefits of a new R-410A refrigerant over the existing R-22 refrigerant it that it is better for the environment. But, R-410A units are only available in the higher SEER (seasonal efficiency ratings) 12 and above. If your budget does not allow a higher efficiency system or you only want to replace one component on your current system then you can still have confidence in your R-22 purchase. R-22 will still be manufactured until 2020. Only the equipment using R-22 will no longer be made after 2010. Eventually, the new refrigerant will be the standard and much cheaper and the older R-22 refrigerant will become more expensive as it is phased out.
Should I replace my indoor evaporator coil when I replace the outdoor air conditioner?
It is usually advisable to replace the indoor coil with the outdoor unit especially if the newer unit is of a higher efficiency value. This will ensure the new air conditioner will work properly and efficiently. If the system is more than 10 years then the coil should definitely be replaced because older coils were usually less efficient and had metal drain pans that would rust and eventually leak.
How long should my air conditioner last?
Around 15 years, this is an average as some units may not last that long do to heavy usage or mechanical problems along the way. A good installation and the proper sizing will greatly contribute to the longevity of an air conditioner. There are air conditioners still running today that are between 20 and 30 years old. Heat Pumps tend to have slightly shorter life spans as they run all year around.