- Why should I replace my existing heat pump or central air conditioner?
If your heat pump or air conditioner is old, inefficient or in need of repair, it might be time to consider replacing it. Newer systems can be up to 60% more efficient than systems manufactured as little as ten years ago, so if you're concerned about utility bills or facing an expensive repair, replacing your system might be the more affordable, long-term option. If you're planning on financing the purchase, don't forget to consider the monthly savings on your utility bill when determining the actual cost of a replacement.
- How expensive are air conditioning and heat pump systems?
It varies. Many factors impact the cost of an air conditioner and heat pump system, including the size of your home, the type and condition of the ductwork installed and accessories you might need such as a thermostat or an electronic air cleaner. Your local dealer can help you find the right system to meet your needs.
- How do I select the right heating/cooling system?
First, you should confirm with your your retailer that the capacity of the new air conditioning and heating system will meet your real needs. Your dealer will provide a load calculation for your home. You can also ask the dealer to provide an energy analysis to determine operating cost. Some products can reduce air stratification and uneven temperatures from room to room. If you have allergies, an indoor unit with an ECM motor will allow you to circulate the air in your home continuously while filtering the air for about the same cost as operating a standard light bulb. Finally, know your budget and the efficiency of the system being proposed. A system that costs more initially may have monthly savings over time that offsets the cost.
- What is involved in replacing an old system?
Aside from the placement of the new air conditioning or heating equipment, your dealer will inspect several items and determine whether or not these items also need to be supplied or replaced. Some of the items include: ductwork, insulation, refrigerant piping, electrical service, wiring, thermostat, condensate piping, flue piping, flue terminations, chimney liner, slabs, filter, driers, registers, grills, drain pans and evaporator coil.
- What is involved in installing a new system?
If an air conditioning and heating central system is being added to the home for the first time, most of the items noted in the previous question and answer may be required to install the new system. Besides the equipment, the most significant component is ductwork. The ductwork needs to be properly sized to deliver the right amount of air to each room. The ductwork consists of supply and return ductwork. Your dealer will determine the size of the ductwork going into a space by the amount of air that needs to be delivered to the space.
- How long can I expect a new system to last?
If you have a qualified technician perform the regular preventive maintenance and service suggested for your air conditioning and heating unit, industry averages suggest that an air conditioner should last 12-15 years and a gas furnace can last 20-25 years.
- What are some preventive maintenance things I should be aware of?
With the proper attention, heating and air conditioning systems can keep you comfortable for years. Heat pumps, oil-fired furnaces and boilers need a yearly professional tune-up. Gas-fired equipment, on the other hand, burns cleaner and can be serviced every other year. A close inspection will uncover leaks, soot, rust, rot, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires. The inspection should also cover the chimney, ductwork or pipes, dampers or valves, blower or pump, registers, the fuel line and the gas meter or oil tank — as well as every part of the furnace itself.
Next, the system should be run through a full heating cycle to ensure that it has plenty of combustion air and chimney draft. Finally, cleaning the burner and heat exchanger to remove soot and other gunk will prevent such buildup from impeding smooth operation. A check of the heat pump should include an inspection of the compressor, fan, indoor and outdoor coils and refrigerant lines. Indoor and outdoor coils should be cleaned, and the refrigerant pressure should be checked.
Tuning up the distribution side of a forced-air system starts with the blower. The axle should be lubricated, blades cleaned and lower motor checked to insure the unit isn't being overloaded. The fan belt should be adjusted so it deflects no more than an inch when pressed.
While thermostats rarely fail outright, they can degrade over time as mechanical parts stick or lose their calibration. A technician can recalibrate the thermostat but electronic thermostats cannot be recalibrated.
A neglected in-duct humidifier can breed mildew and bacteria, not to mention add too much moisture to a house. A common mistake with humidifiers is leaving them on after the heating season ends. Don't forget to pull the plug, shut the water valve and drain the unit. A unit with a water reservoir should be drained and cleaned with white vinegar, a mix of one part chlorine bleach to eight parts water or muriatic acid. Mist-type humidifiers also require regular cleaning to remove mineral deposits.
Most houses with forced-air furnaces have a standard furnace filter made from loosely woven spun-glass fibers designed to keep it and its ductwork clean. They need to be changed monthly (1’’ filter) and for the 4’’ to 6’’ filter every 2 season.
A maze of heating and air conditioning ducts runs inside the walls and floors of most homes. As the supply ducts blow air into the rooms, return ducts inhale airborne dust and suck it back into the blower. Add moisture to this mixture and you've got a breeding ground for allergy-inducing molds, mites and bacteria. Many filters commonly used today can't keep dust and debris from streaming into the air. To find out if your ducts need cleaning, pull off some supply and return registers and take a look. If a new furnace is being installed, you should probably invest in a duct cleaning at the same time, because chances are the new blower will be more powerful than the old one and will stir up a lot of dust.
- Should I change my indoor coil?
If you're replacing your air conditioner or heat pump, the answer is most likely yes. The efficiency ratings that are advertised for an air conditioner or heat pump are based on the performance as part of a matched system and the refrigerant changes from HFFC to HFC.
- Where do I get replacement parts?
Contact an authorized dealer for air conditioning or heating parts.
- What is SEER?
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio; a measure of cooling efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps. The higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the unit. Energy efficiency equates to lower electrical bills. The current minimum SEER rating is 13.
- What is a ductless mini-split system?
A ductless mini-split air conditioning and/or heating system is comprised of an indoor unit called the evaporator and an outdoor unit called the condensing unit. The evaporator is connected to the condensing unit by copper tubing and electrical wiring which is passed through a 2 ½” – 3” hole. Basically, it is a small central air unit with the flexibility of cooling or heating one room or more.
- Can I install this myself?
No. Only an authorized certified HVAC contractor can install air conditioning or heating units.
- What are the advantages of installing a ductless mini-split over a central air system?
- With central air, you must cool an entire home when only one room may need cooling. On the other hand, ductless mini-splits can cool or heat specific areas (without heating or cooling the whole home).
- 18,000 BTU is a typical minimum central air unit. With ductless mini-splits, you can use 9,000 or 12,000 BTUs.
- Most 3-ton homes are not zoned or require complex zoning systems, which makes it very expensive for the homeowner. With ductless mini-splits, multiple evaporators make zoning as simple as setting a remote control.
- Energy wasted in long lengths of uninhabited ductwork means higher energy bills. Less than 5% cooling loss occurs in insulated refrigerant lines compared with up to 25% through ducts.
- Retrofitting homes requires cutting holes in walls, floors, ceilings or decreasing closet space with ducts. Ductless mini-splits require just a 3 or 4” diameter hole in the outside wall.
- I want to cover-up the line sets running on the outside of my house. What can I do?
You must install cover-up at the time of installation.
- Can I paint the ductless mini-split unit?
No, painting the evaporator isn't recommended. If for any reason a problem occurs with the unit in the future, the warranty will become null and void.
- Can I purchase from an online dealer?
No, the warranty will become null and void.
- How should I clean the plasma filter of an I.A.Q. system?
The plasma filter has a life span of 6 to 8 years and should be washed every 400 hours of use. The filter easily detaches to be washed with mild detergent. The filter is not dishwasher safe. A LED light on the indoor evaporator unit will notify you when it is time to clean the filter. If the light is ignored, the unit will automatically shut down after 100 additional hours of use until the filter is washed.
- How long does it take to install a ductless mini-split?
Depending on the size of the air conditioning or heating system, it usually only takes a few hours to a full day to install.
- Do I need to clean the unit? If so, how?
Detailed instructions for maintenance can be found in each model’s owner’s manual.
- Can an air exchanger provide humidity?
An air exchanger does not produce humidity. It is used to evacuate excess humidity in the winter. The use of a humidifier may be required.
- I have an indoor pool, what type of unit can I install?
In this case, you must contact a ventilation specialist.
- Can I use the same ventilation system for my crawlspace and my house?
An independent ventilation system is required for a crawlspace, therefore different from the system used for your house.
- For new constructions, are there any requirements or norms I should know about?
Yes, there are ventilation reuqirements and norms. It's important to find out from your municipality which ones apply to your project. They are responsible for ensuring the norms are applied.
- How come humidity levels are not lower in the summer?
Your home’s humidity level depends on outdoor conditions. The use of a dehumidifier or air conditioner may be required.
- I have a ventilation system, why do I still have some condensation in my windows?
You could have condensation for a variety of reasons, including window quality, indoor temperatures, window obstructions (blinds, curtains, etc.), dominant winds, drastic outdoor temperature changes.
- My contractor is out of business, can a new contractor service my system?
Yes. However, only the manufacturer’s warranty still applies. Beware of “in-house” warranties offered by contractors; you should always make sure it will be honoured by the manufacturer.
- My system requires maintenance. How do I proceed?
First, you must contact the supplier who installed your air conditioning and heating system. If this isn't possible, find one in your region by consulting a list of authorized dealers.
- My indoor unit is dripping from the inside?
Check the pump drain to see if it's clogged.
- What type of system is ideal for my home?
If you have venting ducts, a central heat pump or air conditioner can be installed. If your heating system consists of electric baseboards or hot water radiators, a mini-split system is a good choice. If you're a tenant, a portable or window unit will suit your needs.
- How much surface can a system cover?
It depends on a variety of factors, including the construction type, year of construction, building orientation, etc. It's best to contact a specialist who will know what to recommend.