Is there a spacious unfinished basement lurking below your home, while your family lives upstairs in cramped quarters? Don’t let the current appearance of that dark, damp dungeon below your floors prevent you from gaining the space you need to enjoy your home to the fullest. Basement finishing is one home improvement project that offers a great return on investment – about 70 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine. Finishing the space you already have typically costs less than adding on to your home, as per square foot construction costs are around 10 to 15 percent lower for remodeling a basement versus building a room addition. Whether you’ll be hiring a general contractor to tackle the renovation of your basement, or you’ll be going the DIY route, you will need to consider if your current heating and air conditioning systems can accommodate the additional space and how to keep their components accessible when developing a basement finishing floor plan. Keep Heating and Air Conditioning Components Clear Unfinished basements typically house furnaces, air handlers, and other HVAC components. When designing a floor plan for your finished basement, you’ll want to develop a way to enclose your appliances for aesthetic and functional reasons, without closing them off entirely. Many finished basements incorporate a utility or mechanical room to conceal this equipment from the new living areas. Because you will be creating a confined space which houses a gas furnace and possibly other gas appliances, the enclosure must be properly ventilated per gas code requirements. The amount of cubic feet needed to properly vent your furnace will depend on the BTU output of the appliance, as defined in the National Fuel Gas Code. Your local building codes may also dictate your furnace and other heating and air conditioning system components be accessible for future inspection, repair, or replacement. Not only is this a possible requirement, it’s an all-around good idea. Protect yourself in the event of future problems by planning a mechanical room which offers adequate space for a technician to work around the equipment, as well as openings large enough to remove your old furnace and install a new heating system. HVAC Code and Permit Considerations for Finishing Basements While local building codes vary, the codes which apply to finishing your basement as a living area likely have some heating and cooling considerations, especially when gas furnaces are involved, as mentioned above. If basement windows are not available or existing windows are not adequate for providing the required amount of natural ventilation, you may be required to install a mechanical ventilation system for the health and safety of occupants. Unfinished basements typically are not conditioned, which means no ductwork would be ran to basement areas supplying heating or cooling. Your building office may require detailed drawings which show where existing equipment, supply, and return ducts are located as well as where new duct runs, registers, and other duct system components will be installed. Your municipality may also require you to obtain a building permit when expanding your existing heating and air conditioning duct system or installing a new furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner. Determine the Needed System Size A skilled heating and air conditioning contractor will help you determine the size heating and cooling system which is needed to condition your home plus the additional finished basement space, or just the basement space if you’ll be adding supplemental HVAC equipment. They’ll perform a Manual J load calculation to determine the BTUs needed to heat and cool the space. Will Your Old Heating and Air Conditioning Systems Work Properly? When finishing the basement, you’ll be adding several hundred square feet to your living areas, adding that much more space for your heating and air conditioning systems to heat and cool. You’ll need to determine if your current systems can handle the additional demand, or if you’ll require additional capacity; if so, do you upgrade your existing systems or add supplemental systems to accommodate the new space? Heating and cooling equipment is sized in tons – as in BTUs, not pounds. To determine the size of your existing heating and air conditioning equipment, in many cases, you can look to the system’s model number. There are 12,000 BTUs per ton. A model with ‘024’ or ‘24’in the number is a 2-ton unit, as 24,000 BTU/12,000 BTU = 2 tons. ‘030’ or ‘30’ equals 2.5 tons, ‘036’ or ‘36’ equals 3 tons, and so on. The size of existing equipment may also be found by searching the equipment’s model number on the manufacturer’s website. Upgrade Versus Add On If your home’s existing heating and air conditioning systems aren’t the capacity needed to condition the added space of your finished basement, you have two options: upgrade your existing heating and cooling system to a larger capacity system, or add a second heating and cooling system which will condition the space of the basement only. Which is the better choice really depends on your situation and preferences. If your current heating and air conditioning systems are relatively new, you may not wish to upgrade at this time. If you’re experiencing the need for frequent air conditioner repairs or furnace breakdowns, upgrading to a higher capacity system with improved efficiency and performance may make the most financial sense. Should you extend your current system or upgrade to new forced air equipment, you’ll still need to run ductwork to your basement living areas. Adding a second furnace or air conditioner to serve just the basement will also come with the cost of running additional duct work, though space may not be available to house an entire second duct system and HVAC components in your mechanical room. Ductless mini-split systems are a preferred option for heating and cooling finished basements. These heat pump systems do not require ducts to be ran, cutting costs and conserving space. Their indoor air handling units can be strategically placed where space allows, and multiple indoor units can be connected to a single exterior condenser. Basement Indoor Air Quality Issues Basements are notorious for moisture issues. When finishing your belowground space, it’s important that you protect your hard work and the health of your family by installing moisture control solutions. Simply installing a dehumidifier isn’t the solution – on its own, a dehumidifier could actually cause moisture problems in a finished basement, pulling moisture through basement walls. As you finish your basement, be sure to incorporate proper drainage and waterproofing measures to keep moisture out of your underground living areas while also preventing mold growth. Work with a heating and cooling professional to find a dehumidifier that is appropriate for treating your basement area. Basement bathrooms and kitchen spaces should be equipped with exhaust fans to expel excess moisture. Finishing your basement can give your family the increased square footage needed to enjoy certain activities and relax… but no one will be relaxing comfortably in your basement if your heating and air conditioning systems were overlooked during the remodeling process. HVAC.com connects homeowners like you to heating and cooling contractors in your area who will provide the expert guidance and quality services you need when tackling your basement finishing project. Get started today at HVAC.com.
Posted by Will Housh on July 27
Air conditioning is a luxury many of us take for granted these days, as it is a standard piece of equipment in most U.S. homes now. It has impacted our lives in many ways that we don’t necessarily think about, because most of us are fortunate enough to live in a home with an air conditioning unit. Cooling technology has advanced greatly to improve our comfort and health; let’s take a look at air conditioning, then and now!
Before residential air conditioning, homes were hot. In the heat of the summer, homes were not the comfortable, cool sanctuary they are today. Families slept outside to catch a cool breeze because closed-up homes were too hot. Windows were opened as much as possible to provide some ventilation to the household. Sweating was inevitable, along with body odor. (yuck!)
People were limited in ways to keep cool. Hand fans were popular throughout history. In the early 1900s, electric fans first appeared in U.S. homes.
The modern air conditioning unit was invented by Willis Carrier in 1902, and textile mill engineer Stuart Cramer was the first to coin the term “air conditioning” in 1906. Air conditioning was first installed residentially in 1914; the unit was 7 feet high, 6 feet wide, and 20 feet long! Obviously, the size of the system were quite costly and only could be installed where space was ample; wealthy people with large homes were really the only ones who could access it. Early air conditioners cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 in their time — $120,000 to $600,000 in today’s dollars!
In 1931, H.H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman invented the first room air conditioner. The unit sat on the ledge of a window, just as modern room air conditioners often do. Even so, these systems were still very expensive. For example, the 1938 Chrysler air conditioner cost $416; the average hourly wage was $0.64, so it took 650 hours of work to be able to afford this purchase.
Post WWII, air conditioning became something of a status symbol. Window air conditioner units were a hot commodity, with over one million units sold in 1953. In the 1970s, central air conditioning systems made their way into homes, using Freon-12 (also known as R-12) as coolant.
Residential air conditioning has come such a long way in the past 100 years. Early air conditioner units were loud, lacked efficiency, and were expensive to operate. Today’s air conditioning manufacturers have taken great strides to develop cooling technology that is efficient and convenient, providing consumers with seemingly endless equipment choices. Air conditioning has also become more environmentally friendly as research has shown that Freon is linked to ozone depletion; currently, R-22 refrigerant is being phased out and environmentally-friendly R401A refrigerant is the new standard.
Air conditioning units have become much more affordable over the years, leading to their widespread use in American homes. Today, more than 80 percent of homes in the United States have an air conditioning unit. The addition of the air conditioner has changed architecture, making it possible to have windowless buildings and dwellings without patios.
Air conditioning didn’t just change the nation’s comfort — it has also played a significant role in lowering the number of heat-related deaths. Between 1960 and 2004, the number of heat-related deaths in the United States was a staggering 80 percent less than between 1900 and 1959. Air conditioning saves lives, providing respite from dangerous outdoor temperatures.
Now that many of us are fortunate enough to have air conditioner units, it’s important to understand how they work! Have you ever looked at your system and wondered what all of the numbers and letters mean? If you have, you’re not alone! Unless you’re a trained professional, you will likely not understand a lot of the labeling on your system. We will go over a few common items on your heating and air conditioning unit’s nameplate so that you can better understand what you’re seeing when you read it.
To begin, we have the model number. This is usually printed on a label on the system, which is often located on the inside of the access panel or it will be on the inside or outside wall of the unit. Frequently, this will also be where the serial number will be located. The model number usually indicates the heating or cooling capacity, but on newer systems the cooling capacity can also be stated separately.
The model number will indicate the tonnage of the air conditioning or heat pump system. Tonnage is a unit of measure that is used to describe the cooling or heating capacity of a system. A ton of cooling is based upon how much heat is needed to melt one ton (which is 2000 lbs.) of ice in 24 hours. A ton of cooling equals 12,000 BTU/hour. BTU is short for British Thermal Unit. For example, if a system is 30,000 BTU/hour, it is said to be a 2.5 ton system. Within the model number, there will be a number that is divisible by 12. That number will determine allow you to determine the tonnage of the system. If you see the number 30 in the model number, that will tell you that your system is 2.5 tons.
If you have a newer air conditioning unit, the cooling capacity will generally be indicated directly on the nameplate. Usually, the nameplate will be located on a sticker on the outside or inside of the unit
Also frequently listed on the nameplate is the voltage. The voltage indicates how much electricity the system uses. The voltage of a system will remain constant regardless of the load that is placed on it. However, as more of a load is placed on the system, the current will increase. As a result, the amount of watts used will increase. Additionally, you may also see how many phases your system is. For most residential applications, it will be single phase.
Another important piece of information on the nameplate will be the Rated Load Amperage, often times labeled as RLA. This is a calculation that is used to get approval by the Underwriters Laboratories for a compressor motor. You will also see the Full Load Amperage, often labeled as FLA. With an increase in load on a motor, the total amperage needed to power the motor increases. When the full load of the motor is reached, the total amperage that the motor is drawing at this point is the full load amperage, or FLA. This is a value that is used in order to size field wires and fuses.
Next, the serial number, which is usually located on the nameplate, can tell you some important information as well. While this may look like a long string of numbers and letters that do not mean anything, they sometimes can tell you the age of your system. The serial number of an air conditioning unit means different things on different systems. In general, the serial number will tell you the age of your system. If you are unsure about the serial number for your system, check out our manualspage. This page has many manuals from different brands that can help you learn more about information about your system, including the meaning of your serial number. Knowing the age of your system will go a long way to ensure its proper maintenance.
Another common and important piece of information on your system is its Energy Efficiency Ratio. This information tells you how much electricity you use to obtain a certain amount of cooling. The unit of measure for this is KW per hour of electricity used/1,000 BTU’s. You will usually be able to find this information on an Energy Guide sticker that is bright yellow and often located on the side of the system. This sticker will tell you your estimated yearly operating cost as well.
As you can see, there are many common items on that will be labeled on your air conditioning unit. While it may seem overwhelming, a simple understanding will help you make the best choice in the long-term maintenance of your system. If you have further questions about your system, browse our contractor directory and contact a professional near you!
Posted by Will Housh on July 26
Summer is here, and your cooling system will be working heavily to keep your home comfortable over the next few months. The cooling process creates condensation – normally, this exits your system and home without any issues. Occasionally, issues with your drip pan or condensate drain lines may cause water to back up into your home or HVAC equipment.
Water on the floor nearby your air handling unit/evaporator coil is a sign there is a problem with your cooling system’s condensation drain lines. The system will have a drip pan, which is typically located to the bottom of the unit. The drip pan connects to the condensate drain line, which carries water out of the home.
When the drip pan becomes full or clogged, or the condensate line is clogged, water can spill over the drip pan’s edges, onto the floor surrounding the unit. Another sign your condensate lines may be clogged is if no moisture is exiting outdoors.
Musty odors and increasing humidity inside your home are additional signs of a condensate drain system issue. If left untreated, this simple HVAC maintenance issue could lead to serious water damage inside your home.
What Causes this Problem?
Due to the moisture produced by the cooling process combined with airborne contaminants, mold and algae can form in the drip pan. The growth can clog the drip pan, or even rinse into the condensate drain lines causing a clog in the piping.
If you spot any of the tell-tale signs of a condensate line or drip pan clog, the average homeowner is more than capable of clearing simple clogs if confident. To clean your drip pan and condensate lines, follow these steps:
When it comes to HVAC maintenance, how you maintain the areas surrounding your equipment can be just as important as the maintenance of the actual systems. Poor maintenance in the immediate areas surrounding your air conditioner or furnace could decrease system efficiency, damage components, and even put your family in danger. Follow these HVAC maintenance tips to protect your heating and cooling equipment.
Restricted airflow is another major problem for heating and cooling systems. Without proper airflow through the system, equipment can become overheated, stressed and forced to consume excessive energy, and it may not be possible to deliver the conditioned air you need in the home.
Homeowners should perform HVAC maintenance monthly to ensure their systems have access to adequate airflow – it’ll improve your comfort and system efficiency. Here’s what to do:
Duct system issues and ventilation problems may also stand in the way of your HVAC systems receiving adequate airflow. These are best handled by qualified HVAC maintenance professionals who can diagnose airflow issues and perform needed repairs or equipment installations.
HVAC.com’s Contractor Directory is your go-to source for finding local HVAC maintenance pros who will provide expert airflow solutions. Search your ZIP code to find a pro near you now!
As a commercial business owner, facility costs account for a large chunk of your spending each year. Besides rent or mortgage expenses, energy costs are considerable – U.S. commercial and industrial facilities spend $400 billion on energy alone each year!
Lowering your energy spend generates savings that can be better allocated to other causes, such as expanding your business and generating new income. Looking for a place to start saving? Begin with your commercial HVAC systems.
HVAC systems, along with lighting, are the biggest energy consumers in the average commercial building. While there’s certainly something to be said for building automation systems and other technology which work to reduce energy consumption, maintaining your systems through commercial HVAC maintenance greatly impacts the amount of energy this equipment uses. Our Commercial HVAC Maintenance Checklist will show you the steps which need to be followed to keep your building’s HVAC equipment in top shape, consuming less energy and serving you longer.
Facility managers and maintenance departments can keep commercial HVAC systems running more efficiently through regular commercial HVAC maintenance. Use this commercial HVAC maintenance checklist as a guide to follow.
Preventative Commercial HVAC Maintenance
Not all businesses require the same needs from their HVAC systems. Customized commercial HVAC maintenance plans may be offered by your preferred contractor, which will provide the specific care your system needs to boost performance.
Check and Change Air Filters
Periodic System Checks
With proper commercial HVAC maintenance, your building’s heating and cooling systems can operate more efficiently year-round, generating notable energy savings for your business. Working with a trusted commercial HVAC professional, you can create a customized commercial HVAC maintenance checklist for preventative heating and cooling care tailored to the unique needs of your business.
HVAC.com connects commercial business owners and facility managers to local commercial HVAC contractors. If you haven’t worked with a commercial heating and cooling company to evaluate and maintain your commercial HVAC systems, it’s time you start. In most areas of the country, there are many contractors to choose from – here are some criteria you should look for when selecting the right commercial heating and cooling company that will best serve your business’s needs.
NATE, short for North American Technician Excellence, is an independent certifying organization serving the heating and cooling industry. Obtaining NATE certifications is a technician’s way of verifying their industry knowledge and skill – working with NATE-certified technicians provides credibility and verified capabilities.
NATE offers certifications in several areas beneficial to commercial business and building owners, including:
Buildings are unique, as well as the operations of your business – commercial HVAC plays a large role in production, as well as comfort. It is in your best interest to work with a commercial heating and cooling company who will provide individualized services that best fit your needs.
Commercial HVAC maintenance plans shouldn’t always be one-size-fits-all; choose a commercial heating and cooling company who will provide a customized maintenance and service program to keep all your heating, cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration systems performing optimally throughout the year. Your systems may require additional care due to the nature of your operations – it’s best to build a relationship with a commercial heating and cooling company who will get to know your systems and your needs to provide you with optimal solutions for improving performance and energy efficiency.
A credible commercial heating and cooling contractor will provide you with a thorough contract that details all the work they will do, as well as the dates and rates. They’re willing to take the time necessary to explain in detail what is needed, and their justifications for offering you such services.
If you work in a particular industry, it may suit you to work with a commercial heating and cooling company that possesses experience serving other businesses in your line of work. They already possess a knowledge of the types of equipment and services you need to get your job done right. Ask any contractor you’re interviewing if they have worked with businesses similar to yours, and what solutions were implemented that brought similar clients success.
HVAC.com is your resource for locating top-notch commercial heating and cooling companies in your area. Search our online Contractor Directory to find commercial service professionals serving your area.
Posted by Will Housh on July 19
Many homes and businesses throughout the country depend on humidifiers to keep indoor air healthy and comfortable. Humidifiers keep moisture balanced to protect the home, improve air quality, and keep occupants feeling more comfortable.
There are many humidification products on the market, but not all are created equally. The two categories of humidifiers that are available to homeowners are whole home humidifiers and portable humidifiers.
As with any type of equipment, there are advantages and disadvantages to everything. Ultimately, they best humidifier choice will depend on the specific indoor air quality challenges you face at home or at work.
Overall, a whole home humidifier is a better choice versus a portable humidifier.
Just because portable humidifiers are not superior for whole home humidification doesn’t mean they don’t serve a purpose. There are a few situations where using one will come in handy:
Home ventilation deals with how air circulates between the rooms in your home and the outside environment. It helps move air through your home, purifying it and removing unwanted dust, allergens, and smells. It also helps control moisture and humidity, keeping the air in your home fresh. Proper home ventilation keeps your family healthy and home comfortable. Whether it’s via a forced air system, natural ventilation, or other mechanical means — which we will get to later — home ventilation systems rid your home of airborne particles like dust and allergens that can cause serious health issues.
Additionally, ventilation systems control the humidity and moisture levels in your home, saving you from uncomfortably humid rooms and structural damage caused by excess moisture.
Depending on the age of your home, the climate you live in, and your ventilation needs, you could either have mechanical ventilation, natural ventilation or a combination of the two.
Natural ventilation uses the gaps, cracks, and small holes in your home’s structure — along with windows and passive vents — to allow air to move uncontrolled throughout your home. Usually found in older homes, these types of systems dilute the air pollutants in your home enough to keep your family healthy.
Mechanical ventilation uses things like fans, range hoods, and whole-house ventilation systems (forced air systems, etc.) to move the air throughout your home. Since much of the emphasis in home-building today is energy efficiency, many homes are built to be “airtight.” While this is good for combatting energy leakage, it often means mechanical ventilation systems are needed to circulate air throughout these “airtight” homes.
Mixed ventilation systems are actually used in most homes built over the last 30 to 40 years. Even homes in temperate climates that rely on natural ventilation for cooling use mechanical “spot ventilation” to remove excess air pollutants and moisture at the source. For example, your home ventilation system may be natural, but you most likely have range hoods in your kitchen and exhaust fans in your bathroom.
If you are experiencing poor ventilation, there are a few things you can do to help circulate the air and remove pollutants from your home:
Whole home humidifiers are one of the many indoor air quality solutions that skilled HVAC contractors provide homeowners and business owners across the country. Looking for a reliable heating and cooling contractor in your area?
Search the HVAC.com Contractor Directory today for an HVAC professional who can assist you with whole home humidifier installation and answer any questions you may have about keeping moisture levels in your home or business properly balanced. Enter your ZIP code to see a list of Certified Contractors serving your area!
Posted by Will Housh on July 18
Summer is a time to spend with friends and family, hanging around the house or traveling to favorite vacation destinations. Between planning fun trips, spending time with the kids on their summer break or making the most out of beautiful, hot summer days, one thing is for sure – HVAC preparation and maintenance often takes a backseat. Luckily, we are here to give you a few general maintenance tips for your HVAC unit to ensure it runs smoothly throughout the summer, as well as specific HVAC tips for prepping your system before leaving on vacation.
You can feel it when you walk out of your home in the morning. The sun is beating down and the humidity is up. Summer has officially arrived. With the start of summer comes the start of the season for your air conditioner. Make sure your system is ready with a few helpful HVAC tips!
The summer is hot and you are going to want to run your air conditioning to keep cool. The last thing you’d want when returning from vacation is to find your AC isn’t working properly! Here are a few helpful tips for prepping your HVAC system before heading out on vacation.
As you can see, there are a few important ways to keep your HVAC system running at its most efficient while you are out of town. Your vacation should be a time of relaxation, not worries.
By following the simple tips outlined here, you will be able relax this summer, knowing that your air conditioning system will be in good shape.
Posted by Will Housh on July 13
When shopping for a new heating or cooling system, homeowners do a lot of research on the equipment itself. Potential buyers investigate energy efficiency ratings and advanced features, which are huge selling points, distinguishing one system from another. Homeowners may even configure a payback analysis to determine how soon their new HVAC system will pay for itself, or work to estimate total monthly energy bills based on the prospective system’s energy efficiency.
All of the above is truly great to look at when shopping for a new system – but one critical element many overlook is that the HVAC installer you choose is just as important as the system itself! It doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles your new air conditioner or furnace comes with – if you hire a bad installer, those features won’t do you much good at all.
As you shop for new HVAC equipment, remember – shop for an HVAC installer as well. The one you choose will have a great impact on the heating or cooling system you purchase, as without quality installation, your new HVAC system will not do the job you expect of it.
Interviewing HVAC installers should be just as important as examining system efficiencies and features as you shop for new heating and cooling units. The performance and efficiency of any new system you purchase is pretty much in the installer’s hands – if installation is botched, your equipment will not offer the comfort and energy savings you banked on when you purchased it.
HVAC installers should always follow manufacturer instructions and industry best practices when installing new heating and cooling equipment. When installation isn’t up to these standards, many problems can result.
In most areas of the country, homeowners have many options to choose from when in need of a heating and cooling contractor. Not all you’ll come across possess the right qualities and skills to ensure your new system is installed correctly. As you evaluate local HVAC installers, your final selection should possess these key qualities.
If you’ve already determined which make of new HVAC system you’ll purchase, you want to select an HVAC installer with experience installing that brand of equipment. Experience and training teach contractors the ins and outs specific to a brand of equipment, allowing them to perform accurate installation each time.
Many equipment manufacturers have “qualified HVAC installer” programs for their brands. Qualified HVAC installers receive training and education surrounding the brand and its equipment models. This allows the manufacturer to ensure the contractor can properly install their models, and knows the pertinent information about their equipment which may vary from other brands.
These HVAC installers may also receive manufacturer-approved customer service, repair, and maintenance training, allowing them to provide not only accurate installation, but a superior customer experience and the services homeowners need over the service life of their system. Manufacturer training allows the brand to ensure the contractor is able to accurately match customers to the appropriate HVAC system for their homes, and answer any questions the customer may have about the brand’s equipment.
The North American Technician Excellence organization, or NATE, is the largest non-profit certifying organization serving the HVAC industry. NATE certification shows that an HVAC installer holds the knowledge and skill to properly install heating and air conditioning equipment, utilizing industry best practices.
To obtain NATE certification, HVAC installers must pass NATE’s rigorous exams, covering certain types of HVAC equipment and services. To maintain certification, contractors must undergo continuous education every two years, to expand their knowledge of the field and stay up-to-date with the industry’s evolving innovations, technology, and practices.
Working with a NATE-certified HVAC installer presents many advantages to consumers. A NATE-certified technician has independently pursued certification to verify their knowledge and skill. They’re committed to expanding their understanding of the industry and its advances.
NATE-certified HVAC installers protect your new HVAC systems, offering high quality installation producing increased system energy efficiency. They get the installation job completed correctly the first time – NATE-certified installers have fewer callbacks than those without certification, producing fewer warranty returns.
Customers who’ve worked with NATE-certified technicians report a better overall experience, compared to working with non-certified HVAC installers. Customer satisfaction with the HVAC system as well as the installer. When searching for an HVAC installer, NATE certification ranks only contractor reputation among qualities consumers want when hiring an HVAC pro.
Almost every state requires HVAC technicians to be licensed. If they’re not, you probably shouldn’t hire them to work on your system. Make sure to ask your technician if they are licensed, and grab the license number from them — you can then look it up through your state contractor licensing board.
Additionally, it’s good to make sure they’re insured, just in case something goes wrong while they’re working in your home. Ask if their company has both worker’s compensation and liability insurance, just in case.
Have they been working in the HVAC industry for a long time? Are they relatively new? Knowing how much experience an HVAC technician has can help you feel more comfortable about hiring them.
In addition, consider asking how they learned their skills. If you have a specific brand or type of system, determine if they have experience with that as well.
Almost every HVAC technician will give you a written estimate explaining what work will be done and how much it will cost. However, it’s important to get references, too.
Talking to past customers can give you a good idea of how the technician works. If they can’t or won’t provide references or reports from other customers, that’s a bad sign and you should most likely hire a different technician.
Your current system may be under warranty, and a good HVAC technician will follow the terms of the warranty. Or, you may be past warranty, in which case they should give you a new guarantee in writing.
It’s also good to ask about how refunds work. Make sure that you are hiring a reputable company that installs the equipment properly and fully discloses their policy. In most cases you can’t get your money back should the repair not last, however a reputable company will work with you to find a solution.
In addition, energy and cost efficiency are also important to many homeowners. If it’s something important to you and you want to know more, or if you feel your system isn’t working as efficiently as it should, bring it up with the technician to find out their recommendations.
Posted by Will Housh on July 12
Hire an air conditioning technician to perform professional preventative maintenance each year. This valuable service improves performance, prevents repairs, and protects your pocketbook – all at an affordable price. Here’s what to expect during an air conditioning maintenance check.
While you’ll want an air conditioning tech to perform this service, there are many items any homeowner can complete to keep the system in great shape throughout the year.
Air conditioners are complex mechanical systems. If you’re not familiar with how they work, it can be intimidating when problems occur. An AC repair technician can always come out to identify and fix system issues. However, there are some minor AC repairs that most homeowners can make. Tackling these minor AC repairs yourself can save you money and restore your cooling right away.
Whatever problem you’re experiencing, it’s smart to run through some basic air conditioner troubleshooting before calling in a technician.
AC Repair – System blowing hot air. This is a common AC repair complaint that may have a simple fix. Read these causes behind an AC blowing hot air; adjusting the thermostat, cleaning off the condenser unit, and changing your air filter are tasks you can do on your own. Try them before calling for AC repair.
AC Repair – System ices over. If your air conditioner ices over, it won’t be able to operate properly. Follow these steps to de-ice your air conditioner. If your system continues to ice over, or you don’t feel comfortable performing these steps, call for air conditioning repair.
If ever you are not comfortable performing an AC repair yourself, be safe – call for professional assistance! Here’s what you need to know about finding a contractor to assist you with emergency air conditioning repairs over the summer months.
Emergency air conditioning repair contractors are very buy during the summer season, tending to emergent cooling system situations. When a breakdown occurs, you may be hard pressed to find a contractor who can come out to fix your system right away. If you don’t have an existing relationship with an HVAC contractor, you may have to call around to find one who can help you out in a bind.
Do you have a preventative maintenance contract for your cooling system with a local HVAC contractor? Maintenance isn’t the only benefit of such agreements – many contractors offer priority service for emergency air conditioning repairs as a benefit to preventative maintenance agreements. Your ongoing relationship with a credible contractor could be your key to quick cooling system repairs.
When facing expensive cooling system repairs or a total system replacement, it’s always a smart idea to get more than one quote. In the busy summer months, it can be difficult to obtain these additional quotes quickly. Homeowners are more apt to choose the first contractor they call in an emergent situation, so make sure you know exactly what you’re purchasing.
If your air conditioner breaks down over night or on the weekend, you’ll need to find a contractor who offers emergency service to tend to your system. Emergency repairs typically come at a higher premium, through emergency fees or increased labor rates. With contractors’ busy schedules during the summer months, you may be able to have emergency air conditioning repairs performed sooner if you choose emergency service rather than get on a contractor’s schedule and wait for their next availability.
Start your search for an emergency air conditioning repair contractor on HVAC.com’s online Contractor Directory. Enter your ZIP code to find qualified, HVAC.com Certified Contractors who are available to provide emergency service in your area today.
Posted by Will Housh on July 11
There are many blogs and websites which promote HVAC quotes online. They may publish prices for new heating or cooling equipment, or costs associated with common system repairs. While in some cases, HVAC quotes online can give you a ballpark price, there’s really know way of knowing if that price applies to your situation.
A general HVAC quote online won’t be specific to your circumstances, which is the most important factor when designing a heating or cooling system. An HVAC quote online for a new air conditioner at $4,000 installed may sound like a good price, but do you know what it includes? Do you know what is needed to facilitate an efficient installation in your home?
The prices you see in HVAC quotes online are often for equipment only, and maybe basic installation – your installation could have additional needs. If your home requires a larger capacity unit or needs new ductwork to facilitate the new air conditioner, it’ll add more to the final price tag – there will be a big discrepancy between the HVAC quote online and the actual quote to make the equipment work for your home.
HVAC quotes online for common system repairs aren’t accurate either, for the same reason. The HVAC repair you face may be more complex, or other fixes may be needed in addition to the issue you read about on a blog.
Contractors are different, across the country. Markets vary, affecting the price. Certain climates need different HVAC equipment, which can affect the cost in your situation versus the generic quote you find online. There are so many variables in homes, businesses, and HVAC equipment – getting a personalized quote from a contractor in person is really the only way to accurately assess the cost of an HVAC project.
One reason homeowners turn to ineffective HVAC quotes online is because they don’t want to waste a contractor’s time, calling them out to complete a quote when it’s more than affordable. It’s still wise to obtain a personalized quote from a real contractor – just be honest if the price is out of your budget.
Contractors are there to help you – they’ll work to find a way to get you the equipment and services you need, in many cases. Have a frank conversation about the cost – you may be surprised at what options are available. HVAC companies are constantly offering different specials, and may have a current option which fits your needs. Or, by knowing what you’re looking for and the price point, the contractor can use this information to get back in touch when the right deal for you is available.
Performed by a qualified specialist, HVAC inspections will tell you how your home’s heating and cooling systems are functioning, and if any repairs are warranted, as well as replacement.
Simple HVAC inspections may be performed with your annual preventative maintenance service visit. It’s a great value for homeowners to have their systems assessed each year, to ensure proper functioning and efficiency. Inspections can provide a ‘heads up’ which alerts the owner of needed repairs, before operating the system does additional damage.
The cost of HVAC inspection ranges from contractor to contractor. Below, we’ll share with you the average cost of HVAC inspections, as well as what you’ll get for your money.
In 2017, the cost of HVAC inspection averages $321. On the high end, an inspection may run you as much as $475; if your home is under 1,000 square feet, you could pay as little as $200 for an inspection. Be sure to verify the cost of HVAC inspection with your chosen contractor before the inspection begins, as prices do vary between providers.
An HVAC inspection is a thorough review and testing of your home’s heating and cooling equipment, as well as any whole-home indoor air quality systems.
Contrary to popular belief, the average home inspection does not include detailed testing of HVAC systems. While basic functioning is checked, furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioners, and other HVAC systems can still function with major malfunctions, in some cases. Your home inspection generally is not detailed enough to give you the full picture of how your heating and cooling systems are performing.
Every contractor’s process may be slightly different, so it’s smart to ask your preferred professional what they include in their cost of HVAC inspection. In general, HVAC inspections usually include the following:
Upon completion of your HVAC inspection, the technician will provide you with a completed report of all elements examined and their findings. They may also include recommendations as to performance and efficiency-improving repairs which will help your systems improve function. At this time, read over the report and take the opportunity to ask for clarification or more information on any points you need.
HVAC.com connects homeowners with contractors who provide HVAC inspections locally. Use our Contractor Directory to search for an HVAC professional in your area to access the services you need!
While you’re here, search our site for the answers to all your heating, cooling, and indoor air quality related questions! We’re the world’s top resource for HVAC knowledge.
Posted by Will Housh on July 6
In the world of thermostats, Ecobee is an industry leader. Ecobee smart thermostats keep homes comfortable while maximizing energy savings and efficiency. Below, take a look at the great Ecobee smart thermostats available through HVAC.com to find the right choice for your home.
Ecobee thermostats bring innovation to the heating and cooling world, keeping users comfortable without energy waste.
With the Ecobee Smart Universal thermostat, temperature settings in your home throughout the day can be customized. With wireless connectivity, users can remotely monitor energy consumption and heating and cooling use from most anywhere. The thermostat features a full color interface with sleek design, making it easy to read and use.
The Smart Si thermostat creates a unique energy profile specifically for your home, considering your preferred settings and the weather. DataRhythm technology incorporates thousands of data points to intelligently adjust your heating and cooling use to maintain superior comfort while conserving energy.
Receive information on your home’s energy use through Home IQ. Learn how your HVAC systems are performing, stay on top of maintenance needs, and estimate your energy savings.
In addition to Ecobee smart thermostats, there are other options of smart thermostats on the market for use in homes. Smart thermostats go a step beyond a programmable thermostat, learning your preferred settings and eliminating the need for programming.
Smart thermostats learn your comfort preferences and the patterns of your household to utilize the most ideal energy settings throughout the day and while you’re away. These systems can be more efficient than programmable thermostats, as their settings are entirely unique to your needs, and can change more frequently than programmable models, if needed.
HVAC.com carries Ecobee smart thermostats and accessories for residential use. Find a Certified Contractor to install your new Ecobee smart thermostat system through the HVAC.com Contractor Directory. Search by ZIP code to find local pros in your area who shop HVAC.com’s genuine Ecobee components.