Heat Exchangers: What You Need to Know

Colder temperatures have arrived – if you haven’t fired up your heating system yet, you will be soon! A furnace is made up of many critical components, one of which is a heat exchanger. Without it, you’d have no heat – learn function of a heat exchanger, how it works, issues, and how to maintain it! What Is a Heat Exchanger? The heat exchanger is the furnace component that heats air. It is a set of metal tubes or coils that connects to the burner assembly and ends at the vent or flue pipe. Air and gas are separated within the heat exchanger to prevent mixing and exposure to harmful combustion byproducts, such as carbon monoxide.  Your heating fuel (typically natural gas, oil, or propane, though electric furnaces use electricity to warm the heat exchanger) combusts within the heat exchanger, creating heat that warms its surface. The furnace’s blower motor forces air over the heat exchanger, causing the air to increase in temperature. Once air is warmed, it circulates through the ductwork into your home. Common Issues with Heat Exchangers If the heat exchanger malfunctions, your home may not achieve the desired temperature. Not only is furnace performance an issue, but heat exchanger malfunctions can pose serious health and fire risks. Heat exchanger cracks are a serious furnace repair issue. If the heat exchanger is cracked, byproducts of the combustion process that takes place within the component can spill out. Cracked heat exchangers pose a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning – carbon monoxide is produced by combustion but is typically vented safely from the furnace out of the home, but if the heat exchanger is cracked, carbon monoxide can leak into the home. Signs your heat exchanger may be cracked or damaged include:Soot within your furnaceRust on the heat exchangerVisible cracksFlickering or moving burner flamesWater surrounding the base of the furnaceOdors resembling formaldehydeSymptoms of carbon monoxide exposure, including disorientation, nausea, and irritation of the nose or eyes Cracks and damage to a heat exchanger can be diagnosed by an HVAC technician through a visual or camera diagnostic examination. Your HVAC technician will replace the heat exchanger so your furnace will function safely. Heat exchangers offer a typical service life between 10 to 20 years – depending on the life of your furnace and other factors, you may decide to replace the entire furnace if the heat exchanger requires replacement. Replacing the heat exchanger only comes with an average cost between $600 to $1200. Care for Heat Exchangers The performance and longevity of your heat exchanger can best be enhanced through annual furnace maintenance performed by a skilled HVAC technician. During your maintenance tune-up, the heat exchanger is inspected for cracks – if minor cracks are found, your technician can repair them to prevent further damage and safety threats. During annual maintenance, your technician will also check for other issues that could lead to heat exchanger damage in the future. While normal wear and tear can lead to heat exchanger damage, airflow issues are often a cause of cracks and damage to the component. Closed or blocked vents inside the home and dirty air filters prevent restrict airflow in the heat exchanger, causing the component to overheat, leading to cracks. Identifying blocked vents and other blockages compromising airflow through the duct system can be resolved during a maintenance tune-up, and dirty air filters replaced to ensure air flows properly through your furnace. Protect your heat exchanger by keeping your air filter Change your air filter according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Most air filters last between 3 to 6 months, though filters with low MERV ratings typically require replacement every month or so. You may need to change your furnace filter more frequently throughout the winter when heating system use is constant. Always keep the vents in your home open. Keep supply and return vents clear of furniture, rugs, and other objects. Do not shut vents in attempt to save money on heating bills – doing so may cause airflow issues that create costly damage to the heat exchanger and other system components. Find Local Heat Exchanger HVAC Technicians A skilled HVAC technician is your best ally in caring for your furnace’s heat exchanger! A trusted, local HVAC company will perform annual maintenance to keep your heat exchanger and other components in top shape, as well as provide quality heat exchanger replacement to keep your family safe. Find a local HVAC contractor is easy with HVAC.com’s Contractor Directory. Enter your ZIP code to access heating and cooling companies serving your area. Look for the HVAC.com Certified Contractor seal to identify contractors who meet our high standards for technical and customer service.
Source: HVAC.com

Understanding Your HVAC System: Heating, Air Conditioning & Ventilation

Whether keeping your home cozy in the winter or cooling your office in the summer, HVAC systems are a part of everyday life. Your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system is the system or combination of system used to provide a comfortable temperature in your home and maintain high levels of air quality. As a homeowner, it is important to understand the key roles your HVAC system plays and how they operate in order to get the most out of your system. Heating The heating component of your HVAC system provides a warm climate for your home in the cooler months of the year. Today, the most popular type of heating system is the forced air system, but many homes also use radiant heat systems and geothermal heating systems, among others. In all of the systems, heat is created at a central source and distributed through the home via different means. Forced airThese systems use a furnace to heat the air and then disperse it through the house via ductwork and in-room vents. Radiant heating systemsThese use heating stoves or a boiler to disperse heat through the house via a network of electric heating coils or hot water tubing installed in the floor or ceiling. Geothermal heatingThese use the constant temperature of the ground created by absorption of the suns rays to generate heat for your home via a heat exchanger. No matter which type of system you have, your HVAC system makes your home warm and  enjoyable for you and your family during the winter months. Ventilating Your HVAC system plays an important role in maintaining the your home’s indoor air quality. Ventilation helps circulate and purify air, control moisture levels, remove unwanted smells, and prevent air stagnation. Depending on the age of your home and the HVAC system you have, this may be done either mechanically, naturally (via fans and windows), or through a combination of the two. Forced air systems, discussed above, pass the air in your home through an air filter to keep airborne particulates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and allergens out of your home. If you do not have a fixed air system, this can also be done using tools like air cleaners, air purifiers, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers. Understanding how your system keeps your home ventilated is the first step to addressing any breathing or allergy issues you and your family may be encountering throughout the year. set warm and cold in home iconAir Conditioning Your HVAC system is also in charge of keeping you cool during the warmer months. There are several different types of AC units, each with their own pros and cons. Whether you have central air (used in conjunction with forced air systems), split or ductless AC units, window AC units, or portable AC units, the process that each system uses to cool your home is similar. Your AC system circulates refrigerant that changes from gas to liquid as it collects and expels heat from your home. It passes warm vapor refrigerant through the compressor where it becomes hot refrigerant vapor and moves to the condenser. Here, the hot vapor is cooled as air from the condenser fan passes over finned coils and turns into hot liquid. The hot liquid passes through the expansion valve that creates a low pressure, cool liquid mist that runs through the evaporator coil. As the cooler liquid mist evaporates, it absorbs heat from your house’s inside air and returns it to the compressor (restarting the process). This absorbed heat is pushed outside by the system, resulting in a cooler home. Now that you understand the roles your HVAC system plays in your life, you will be better prepared to maintain your system, learn more about your system, determine what your system is missing, and purchase a new system if the time comes. Need help with your system? Hire an HVAC Contractor Since an HVAC contractor spends hours in your home working on the systems that will keep your family comfortable, it’s important to ask the right questions and know what to look for in an HVAC contractor. Here are a few tips for hiring the right HVAC contractor for your needs:  Flynt; BigStockThe most important tip I can give you is to only hire a qualified HVAC contractor. How do you know if a contractor is qualified? Ask! Before you even begin talking about the problems you’re having with your system, ask your contractor about licensing and insurance. Are they licensed by the state? Do they carry insurance? Each state has different requirements for obtaining a license to repair/replace HVAC equipment, and it’s important that any contractor you consider meets these qualifications. Ensure you understand the licensing requirements in your state, city, and/or county, and request copies of a contractor’s licenses to know you’re working with qualified people. The next most important thing to ask is whether or not the contractor’s technicians are NATE certified. The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) only certifies technicians who have undergone rigorous testing and proven themselves to be the top in the industry. While many technicians service units without the industry’s gold standard certification for excellence, don’t settle for anything other than the best when it comes to your family’s health and comfort. Price is important, but only if it’s guaranteed Pricing is always an important part of the decision to hire any contractor. When it comes to choosing your contractor, look for one who will guarantee the project pricing upfront. Now, there will be issues that no contractor will be able to find until they get in there and start servicing the unit, but good contractors will do their best to minimize those costs. A quality contractor will not try to provide an estimate over the phone. They will ask questions about the issues you are having and then suggest scheduling an in-home evaluation to determine the problems and the costs associated with the work. While assessing your project, they will build a contingency into the estimate to account for potential issues that may occur once the project is started and those unforeseen issues that push homeowners outside of their budgets. Low-price initial estimates can be enticing, but they often do not account for the kind of issues that can surprise homeowners. In order to avoid unforeseen issue sticker shock, only work with contractors who will guarantee the project price before starting the job. Place a high importance on sizing When you talk to contractors about replacing your unit, make sure they include a size assessment for your home. In addition to the other questions you’re asking, ask about the tools the contractor will use to identify the right-sized unit for your home. If they talk about using tools like a blower door test, air flow capture hoods, hygrometers, refrigerant charging scales, and computerized HVAC load calculations, then they are using the most advanced technology to ensure the right-sized unit makes its way into your home. When it comes to your HVAC system, size matters. A system that is too large or too small will undoubtedly increase your utility bills. HVAC system size has only recently — in the last decade or so — been found to play an important, and expensive, role in your home’s energy efficiency. Where To Start & How To Find A Reputable Contractor The HVAC.com team is here for you – instead of searching through the Yellow Pages or reading countless online customer reviews, browse our HVAC.com Directory to find a certified contractor near you.Find a Certified HVAC Pro
Source: HVAC.com

4 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an HVAC Technician

It’s time to give your HVAC system a checkup and schedule a maintenance visit. As a homeowner, you’re doing everything right to maintain your system and keep it healthy. Now, it’s time to hire an HVAC technician to do the job. The only problem is, you’re no HVAC expert. How do you know who to hire for the job? It’s good to talk to a few different contractors before making any decisions. Here’s what you should ask every HVAC technician before hiring them to work on your system: “Are you licensed and insured?” 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. 
 
“How much experience do you have in the industry?” 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. “Can you provide references from past customers?” 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. “How do refunds, warranties, and guarantees work?” 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. You don’t have to be an expert on HVAC systems to find a good technician. With these tips, you can hire the best person for the job and ensure your system runs smoothly and efficiently, keeping your home comfortable and saving you money. What Should You Expect When Hiring an HVAC Technician?As a homeowner, you’ve invested a lot into your HVAC system and it’s important to make sure it’s working right and running smoothly and efficiently. The key to an HVAC system’s health? Regular maintenance. However, not every homeowner knows what a maintenance visit entails. Have a technician coming soon to check on your HVAC system and perform maintenance? Here’s what to expect: You Should Expect… An Overall System Check Your HVAC technician should do an overall check of the system, including the furnace, air conditioner, heat pump, etc. During the maintenance visit, they’ll make sure everything is running smoothly and efficiently and nothing needs to be repaired or replaced. If indeed the air filter or water panel needs replaced, they’ll take care of replacing those items. A General Safety CheckYour technician will perform a general safety check on the system to look for any problems that could prove dangerous to your family or home. They will inspect your heat exchanger for cracks, pits, or rust to be certain your system is not leaking carbon monoxide that could be extremely harmful to your family and in some cases, even deadly. If you have a carbon monoxide detector, the technician will also check that to ensure it works properly and there aren’t dangerous levels of gasses in your home. Cleaning Although there are things you can clean yourself, a routine maintenance visit is a chance for the HVAC technician to clean any components of an HVAC system that you can’t. Any Necessary Repairs If there are any repairs that need to be made, the technician will complete them during the visit. Generally, these will be pretty minor, as big repairs usually get their own visit. During a routine visit, technicians will fix any small issues that have cropped up, like replacing worn out parts or tightening and aligning belts. Any Questions Answered After the maintenance visit is over, the technician should answer any questions you have. This is your chance to ask about anything going on with your HVAC system, no matter how trivial it seems. They will clearly communicate all answers so you understand what’s going on. They may also give you tips on what preventative steps you can take between visits, such as when to replace air filters and how to keep things in good working order. A Written Report At the end of the maintenance visit, the technician should give you a written report summarizing what the visit entailed and what, if any, repairs that were made. This is for your reference and in case you have any questions later. Whether you’ve just bought your first HVAC system or have been a homeowner for years, it’s always good to know what to expect when your HVAC technician comes to call. Find a Certified HVAC Pro
Source: HVAC.com

3 Common HVAC Noises: What They Mean & What You Should Do About Them

Image: olly2; BigStock  Can’t hear the TV because your vents are so loud? While some noises are normal, such as a quiet hum or the sounds of air whooshing through the vents, sometimes HVAC systems make strange noises and can become loud, disruptive annoyances in the home. This doesn’t have to be the case. Check out these common causes of noises in an HVAC system and what you can do about them: Rattling Hearing a rattling noise coming from your HVAC system could mean a few things. If it originates from the outdoor unit, chances are you have some kind of debris in the system, such as a twig. (While the grate will protect your system from most large debris, it’s still possible for small things to get through.) Turn your system off and cut the power to the unit, then remove the debris. If you see visible damage to the condenser coils, compressor, or fan, call your HVAC technician. If the rattling seems to be internal, from a furnace or other internal component, turn the system off and call your HVAC technician since removing the obstacle isn’t as simple. Hissing Hearing a hissing noise most likely means air is escaping from your system. If the noise is coming from the walls, there’s a good chance your ducts are leaking. Not only can this cause noise, it also wastes money because the air that should be circulating throughout your home is leaking into the walls. Duct repair isn’t really a repair homeowners can do on their own, so if your system is making a loud hissing noise,  call a technician. However, if the hissing is light, it could originate from your air vents. Typically when you hear this noise it is because your filter is not “set” right or you have the wrong size filter which is creating the gap in the seal. If this is the case, the air is squeezing past the filter or around it, instead of being pulled through it. This is a simple fix that starts with ensuring the filter is the right size and is placed correctly, leaving no room for gaps. Clanking An HVAC system that is running normally will make a humming noise. But if it’s clanking, that’s a sign that something is wrong. It could be loose parts, such as the blower motor fan, loose blades, or loose pipes that are rubbing together. Clanking noises are a bit more serious because  loose parts, if not addressed, can cause costly damage to your system. Your best bet is to turn the system off and call your technician. Related: 5 Warning Signs It Is Time To Replace Your Furnace Keep in mind that your HVAC system is exactly that — a system. As it works, it will make noise. Hearing the motor running or humming, as wells as the fans blowing or air moving through the vents, is totally normal. However, unnatural sounds like rattling, hissing or clanking, or the sounds becoming loud enough to be disruptive, can be signs of problems. As with anything else, regular maintenance tune-ups, changing air filters, and other general repairs are the best way to avoid this, as well as knowing what sounds are normal and which ones are cause for concern.  Tips for Prolonging the Life of Your HVAC System HVAC systems can be a costly investment, one most homeowners should only have to make a few times in their life. The average system lasts about 15 to 20 years, and there are several things homeowners can do to maximize the life of their system and get the most out of their investment. Pre-season cleaning and check-ups.It’s important to get your system cleaned and checked before the start of each season, generally once in the spring (for cooling systems) and once in the fall (for heating systems). This will catch any problems before the season starts and ensure your system runs smoothly. Schedule maintenance cleaning and check-ups early to ensure you have a quality visit from a licensed technician.Click here to find a trusted HVAC technician near you. Checking air filters regularly.Clogged or dirty air filters can restrict the flow of air to your HVAC system, which creates extra stress for it by making the system work harder. This can cause costly damage to the blower motor because it has to work harder.Checking filters regularly can help avoid the build-up of dirt or dust, ultimately causing less stress on the motor and prolonging the life of your HVAC system. Inspecting your equipment.Regularly inspecting your HVAC equipment can help catch small problems before they turn into big ones. While you’ll want a technician to inspect your ducts for air leaks and maintain your equipment, there are things you can check yourself.Keep an eye on any equipment that is vulnerable to excess corrosion or wear and tear. In the case of central air conditioning systems or heat pumps, any parts of the system that are located outside the house need to be visually checked for damage or a buildup of leaves and debris regularly. Out of sight, out of mind can’t become a habit, as the systems need checked even when not in use!In addition, every homeowner should regularly check for leaks in outdoor equipment. For example, finding an oily substance on outdoor surfaces could indicate a refrigerant leak, which can be a costly and damaging problem if not caught early. Give your system a break.For a lot of homes in America, your HVAC system runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s a lot for any system to handle. Giving it a break can help to keep your system from being overworked and prolong its life.Installing and using a programmable thermostat can help with this, because it will allow you to adjust your temperature at night or when you aren’t home to a temperature that isn’t too high or too low. This way, when you return home, it’s less work on the system to get your house back to the ideal temperature. Overall, that slight ‘break’ for your system will make a big difference when it comes to the stress on it in the long run, and will help you to get the max savings possible. There’s no way to predict or guarantee the life of an HVAC system, but with these tips you can keep your system running smoothly and efficiently, prolonging its life and helping you get the most out of your investment. Find a Certified HVAC Pro
Source: HVAC.com

HVAC Installation – What Homeowners Need to Know!

HVAC installation is a serious investment for a homeowner – an investment of not just money, but of time. Researching the systems and products you need, and the professional you need to do the work all must be done before HVAC installation occurs. To prepare for an HVAC installation, learn the types of systems available to you, how to evaluate professionals in your area, and the products needed to enhance comfort in your home. Preparing for HVAC Installation HVAC installation is something that should always be left to professionals. Even so, there are many things homeowners need to do to prepare their homes for installation, and prepare to make smart purchase decisions for their families. There are many types and models of heating and cooling systems on the market – learning the ins and outs of each will help you determine which system is the best solution for your heating and cooling needs. With information on HVAC installation and system types, you’ll make a purchase decision that makes financial sense for your family while offering the comfort you need for years to come. How to Prepare & Install Your HVAC SystemAir Conditioning 101Heating 101What Type of Carrier HVAC Equipment Do I Need?Rheem HVAC and Rheem Air Conditioners for Your HomeFurnace Repair Cost, Replacement & Installation TipsA Homeowner’s Guide to Heat Pump Systems, Installation & PricingWhat Does a New Furnace Cost?Selecting a Contractor for HVAC Installation Selecting a qualified contractor to perform HVAC installation is an important aspect of preparing for HVAC installation. The quality of installation professional you work with will impact the quality of installation performed in your home. These tips will help you interview HVAC installation professionals, learn the qualities you should look for, and how to select a professional you want to work with. Working With HVAC ContractorsWhere to Find Local AC TechniciansChoosing the Right Local Air Conditioning Installation ContractorUpdates to the HVAC Quality Installation Specification StandardHVAC Installation: Beneficial Systems Furnaces, air conditioners, and heat pumps aren’t the only HVAC systems that require installation. Equipment such as humidifiers and dehumidifiers are installed to augment indoor air quality in your home. These systems are installed by an HVAC installation professional to address humidity and contaminant problems indoors.Learn more about HVAC installation of indoor air quality equipment through the resources below. Indoor Air Quality 101HVAC Installation: Why Are Humidifiers So Important?HVAC Installation: Why Are Dehumidifiers So Important?HVAC Installation: Why Is Ventilation So Important?What Is The Difference Between Bypass and Fan-Powered Humidifiers?Five Signs You Need a DehumidifierDifferent Types of Whole-Home HumidifiersAprilaire Humidifier Replacement GuideHow Does An Air Purifier Clean Air?Air Purifiers: What They Are, How They Work & Benefits of Owning One Thermostats are an absolute necessity for all HVAC installations. The thermostat communicates with your heating and air conditioning systems, delivering the control these systems need to provide accurate temperatures throughout your home. Don’t know much about programmable thermostats or how to select one? Here’s some expert guidance to help you: Programmable Thermostats: What They Are & Which to ChooseEcobee Thermostats for Your HomeHVAC Installation VideosTackling minor HVAC installations, such as thermostat installation, may be something you feel equipped to do on your own. While HVAC system installation should always be performed by a professional, homeowners with knowledge of electrical and HVAC systems may have the necessary skills to install a new thermostat on their own. Check out HVAC.com’s video guides for installing the Honeywell Lyric thermostat: HVAC Installation: Honeywell Lyric Thermostat Part 1HVAC Installation: Honeywell Lyric Thermostat Part 2HVAC Installation: Honeywell Lyric Thermostat Part 3HVAC Installation: Honeywell Lyric Thermostat Part 4 Browse HVAC Guides
Source: HVAC.com

How Much Do Furnace Repairs Cost?

The cost of a furnace repair will depend on the type of the repair your heating system needs. Service fees typically range from $50 to $100 – the fee may be higher during emergency periods, such as overnights, holidays, or weekends. The average cost for a furnace repair is $268. Approximate Costs of Common Furnace Repairs Prices for furnace repairs will range between HVAC companies. On average, this is what you can expect to pay for common repairs on a furnace.Faulty ignitors: $300 to $400Replacing the thermostat: $20 to $200+, depending on the new model you selectFlame sensors: $80 to $250Furnace motor: $400 to $1500 furnace_repair_technicianSigns Your Furnace Requires Repair While a lack of heat or a system that won’t turn on is an obvious sign it’s time to call for furnace repair, a malfunctioning system isn’t always so easy to spot for homeowners. Certain malfunctions don’t necessarily prevent your system from operating, but doing so as they are present can worsen the issue, leading to more costly repairs or even damaging your unit beyond repair. Watch for the following signs that may indicate it’s time to call for furnace repair:New or sudden noises as the furnace starts up, operates, or ends a cycle. Grinding, screeching, hissing, rattling, or clanking are indicators that furnace components may be malfunctioning.Your furnace emits troublesome smells, such as the smell of rotten eggs (which could indicate gas leaking), electrical burning, chemical odor, or metallic smells. The slight smell of burning is normal when you first fire up your furnace for the first time each season – it’s likely just dust burning off components, that has gathered over the warmer months.Your furnace is unable to keep your home at comfortable, consistent temperature, or must run longer to maintain comfort.Your energy bills are rising without any obvious explanation, such as adding additional appliances to the home or more people in the household. To Repair or Replace a Furnace? When faced with a high furnace repair quote, you may question whether or not it makes sense to go ahead and upgrade to a new furnace. The answer will vary from one homeowner to the next, but these factors can help you make the decision for your household.Age of your furnace: Furnaces have a life expectancy of approximately 15 years – sometimes more or less depending on how well you’ve maintained your system. If your furnace is approaching 15 years of age and needs repair, it may make more financial sense to replace it instead of pouring funds into a system likely to give out for good in the near future. Older furnaces not only started out at lower efficiency ratings versus new models, but lose efficiency over time – replacing your older furnace with a new, high-efficiency model can save you money in operating costs, helping to offset the purchase cost.Cost of repairs: If the quote for furnace repair totals 50 percent of the cost of a new furnace, the better investment may be to replace the unit rather than repairing it.Frequency of repairs: Furnaces typically experience more frequent repair needs in their last two years of service life. If you’ve been seeing a lot of your furnace repair company because your system has required several fixes recently, it may be time to go ahead and purchase a new unit, as yours is more likely to fail for good in the near future. Related Content You May Be Interested InFive warning signs you may need to replace a furnaceFurnace smells homeowners should never ignoreYour fall HVAC maintenance checklistCommon heating and air conditioning questions from homeownersFurnace filters 101Furnace filter replacement scheduleWhat does a new furnace cost? Five things you need to know
Source: HVAC.com

How Much Do HVAC Quotes Cost?

HVAC Quote Cost Most companies provide HVAC quotes free of charge for new installations. For repairs, a service fee may be assessed, which typically runs between $50 and $100. Beware of websites offering free, instant quotes for new HVAC systems – to properly select the right type and capacity of equipment for your home, a contractor needs to visit your home and take measurements to effectively calculate the heating and cooling load of your house. Beware of Online HVAC Quotes for New Installation If you know exactly what you are looking for – the equipment type, brand, model, and appropriate capacity for your home – an online HVAC quote can give you access to the pricing information you want quickly and accurately… for the new equipment only. Every installation will vary, as all homes are different, and your existing components that will work with the new equipment, such as a duct system, may require modification or repair. An online HVAC quote cannot factor these elements into the price for installation, because your home hasn’t been assessed! Most homeowners aren’t familiar with the nuances of heating and air conditioning systems – and that’s perfectly fine! That’s what HVAC contractors are for. To provide you with an accurate quote, they’ll need to visit your home and assess it along with your existing HVAC components. This information will help your contractor create an accurate quote for the work you need – an online quoting service does not have knowledge of the essentials that could affect the price of your installation. Obtaining Accurate HVAC Quotes The best way to ensure you receive an accurate quote for the heating and cooling work your home requires is to have a skilled HVAC professional visit your home and provide you with one. Contractors need to assess your home and current HVAC equipment, and perform load calculations to find the equipment that is best for your home and accurately price a new system installation. If your existing system needs repairs, a skilled technician needs to perform diagnostics and pinpoint the exact issues plaguing your system to provide you with an accurate price for repair work. The Problem with Online HVAC Quotes for Repairs When an air conditioner or furnace breaks down, most homeowners do not know what the specific issue is – that’s why they call upon an HVAC contractor for help. Without specific knowledge of the system issues present, an online quote won’t be helpful. An online quote may give you a price for one type of repair, but when an HVAC professional assesses your system, an entirely different fix may be required – creating a big discrepancy in price. Online HVAC Quotes Aren’t Personalized Online HVAC quotes cannot match a quote performed by a contractor who has visited your home. They simply cannot assess your home over the Internet to determine every item and service necessary to perform installation or repair. Their prices are typically for equipment only, and do not consider the installation or repair needs that add to the cost of a project. An online quoting service cannot assess the complexity of the system problem you face to accurately quote repairs for your heating or cooling system. It may not just be one component that requires repair or replacement – they simply cannot know without having trained eyes on your system. Pricing for heating and cooling work varies, in different areas of the country and from one contractor to another. Your climate may dictate different HVAC needs than a home in another part of the country. Online HVAC quoting services simply don’t give you the entire picture when it comes to the cost of an HVAC installation or repair. Related Articles You May Be Interested In:Your ultimate guide to installing a central air conditionerWhat does a new furnace cost? Five things you need to knowFurnace repair cost, replacement, and installation tipsA homeowner’s guide to heat pump systems, installation, and pricing How to prepare and install your HVAC systemYour ultimate guide to heatingYour ultimate guide to air conditioning
Source: HVAC.com

What Does a New Furnace Cost? 5 Things You Need to Know

If you’re in the market for a new furnace, then you’re undoubtedly wondering how much it’s going to cost. Since every homeowner’s needs are different, it makes it impossible to give a “one-size-fits-all” answer. But consider these important things to get a better idea of how much your new furnace may cost: 1. Energy SourceThe most important thing to consider when determining your new furnace cost is the energy source. Typically, unit costs for electric furnaces are the least expensive, followed by gas and then oil furnaces. Check out the following chart for a better idea of furnace prices based on your energy source. It compares the average prices for a standard efficiency and a high efficiency, name brand furnace that would be best suited for use in a 1,500 to 2,000 sq. ft. home Average New Furnace Cost (Price + Installation)* * These prices are an average estimated cost and are not guaranteed. Prices will vary based on city, cost of living, brand, efficiency, warranties included, and more. 2. Furnace EfficiencyFurnaces today are much more efficient than the hulking behemoths we remember from our childhood. That means that you have a host of different options when you’re looking to purchase your new unit. Furnaces with higher AFUE ratings run more efficiently, and therefore cost more to purchase upfront, but end up saving you money in the long run on your utility costs.As you search for your new furnace, keep in mind that a jump from a standard efficiency furnace to a high-efficiency furnace can cost anywhere between $400 and $1,000 more depending on the size and energy source. 3. Size Makes a DifferenceWe’ve written before about how the right-sized furnace can save hundreds in energy costs over the years. Well, it can also save money upfront.Just like most things in this world, bigger means more expensive. Have your contractor perform a Manual J HVAC load test to determine the right-sized furnace for your home so you don’t waste money on a furnace that costs more upfront and increases utility bills over the years.Depending on the furnace’s energy source, an increase in size can have different effects on a unit’s initial price. For gas furnaces, for example, a 20,000 BTU increase costs around $600 for smaller furnaces and up to $1,500 for larger furnaces, while the same capacity increase for oil furnaces stays in the $500-$600 range no matter what the unit size. 4. InstallationInstallation costs include the time it takes to install the furnace, where it’s being installed, how difficult it is to install, and whether or not new ductwork needs to be installed.I know, I know. Your ducts are fine, just install the new furnace already! But, odds are, your new furnace will be more efficient than your old system, and that usually means new ductwork is necessary to ensure proper airflow and maximum efficiency. Like everything else when it comes to HVAC installation, it all depends on your home and the furnace you choose.The chart below gives a total price range for new furnace costs plus the installation, without any issues that may arise. If you want to make sure you budget for possible scenarios, you may want to also include a contingency budget for any unforeseen issues that may arise. 5. Do-it-yourself home energy auditsThough the cost of a new furnace is one expense to plan for, overall energy bill savings are another consideration to make as you’re considering a new furnace purchase. Home energy audits help you assess the overall efficiency of your home, and can also help you find a way to save money on your HVAC equipment. By reviewing the interior and exterior of your home you can evaluate your home’s energy efficiency and determine where you can find energy savings. Like with many projects around the house, your budget will dictate who performs your home energy audit. Depending on how much time and money you want to spend, you can either hire an HVAC professional who is energy audit certified or perform a DIY home energy audit. If you cannot afford the $500 to $800 that most homeowners spend on a home energy audit, you can perform a home test to locate some of your home’s inefficiencies on your own. The first DIY home energy audit step is to review your energy bills.Energy Star has a simple and useful tool, called the Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick, that helps you compare your energy bills to similar homes across the country. If your bills are considerably higher than similar homes or they have been steadily increasing, you may have a problem. Walk through your home and ensure that your doors and windows are free of any drafts.Poor insulation and gaps in your windows and doors let indoor air escape and outdoor air in, costing you money. Caulk and seal any drafty windows or doors.This is one of the easiest things you can do to save energy and money! What to expect during a professional audit: once you find a professional, there are several things you should expect during your two to three hour home energy audit.First, your professional will walk the exterior of the home searching for leaks or broken seals and assessing your outdoor HVAC units, window location and plants or trees that affect your home’s energy use. Next, your professional will inspect the inside of your home. Here, your HVAC pro will be looking to make sure that things like insulation, window seals, ventilation ducts and all other parts of your HVAC system are free of problems and running efficiently. As a part of the internal inspection, your professional should conduct two important tests: the blower door test and an infrared or thermographic test. The blower door test is used to measure the airflow leakages in your home. Your audit professional will attach a blower door to your front door and blow air out of your home until it has reached a standard pressure. He will then measure the air flowing back in through the blower door and other cracks in your home, establishing where potential problem areas are. Infrared scans, also called thermographic scans, are another tool energy auditors use to assess how much air your home is leaking. Often times, this test is performed during the blower door test to maximize the opportunities for finding leaks. Your professional will use an infrared scanner to determine whether or not the insulation in your home is effective and if not, where additional insulation is needed. Once your auditor has finished, you will receive a report with the findings of your home energy audit. This report will include steps you can take to increase the efficiency of your home. This is where the energy savings is recognized. In order to take advantage of your energy audit, take the recommendations of your energy audit professional seriously. Implement as many of the recommendations as you can, and I promise that your investment will pay off. Finding the right furnace and determining how best to save money on your energy bills can be a difficult process, especially when you consider all the different factors that affect how much you’ll pay for your new unit and overall heating costs. As you begin your search for the perfect furnace for your home and budget, use the information here to help you make informed decisions. And, if you need help, feel free to contact an HVAC professional by browsing HVAC.com’s Contractor Directory.
Source: HVAC.com

Furnace Filter Replacement Schedule: 6 Ways to Remember it’s That Time

Changing your furnace filter regularly has a great impact on your health, and the health of your HVAC system. Indoor air is polluted with contaminants — as much as five times more polluted than the air you breathe outdoors. The right furnace filter works to prevent contaminants from reaching your living areas, and promotes effective airflow throughout your HVAC system and your home. Your trusted, local HVAC contractor can assist you in finding the best furnace filter option to keep your home and system healthier. Also, you can contact our team of HVAC experts for assistance finding the best solution for your home. Pollutants are lurking in your home The products you use each day, the particles you track in from outdoors, even your own body — each of these sources contribute to the pollution inside your home. The average home is affected by a number of pollutants, including: • Dust mites
• Mold
• Auto Emissions
• Germs and viruses
• Dead skin
• Pet dander
• Pollen and other allergens
• Chemical fumes
• Smoke
 Your filter is your first line of defense A high-efficiency filter that is rated MERV 8 or above has the power to trap airborne contaminants before they travel through your system and back into to your living areas. This keeps your home clean and clear of particulates that can aggravate asthma and allergies, and worsen respiratory illnesses or colds. Furnace filters rated MERV 13 and above help remove illness-causing germs, viruses, and bacteria from your home, keeping everyone healthier. Make filter changes a priority Over time, the trapped contaminants build up on the filter, restricting airflow and the filter’s ability to remove new pollutants from your indoor air. A dirty filter also creates strain on your HVAC system, causing it to work harder to move conditioned air to your living areas. In turn, dirty filters cause excess energy use, increasing your energy bills. It is recommended that you change your filter according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule, though depending on the conditions of your home as well as the outdoor air quality, you may find it necessary to do so more frequently. Standard 1-inch filters need to be changed every 1 to 3 months, while high-efficiency filters should be changed approximately every 6 to 9 months. Staying on top of furnace filter changes will positively affect the health of your family and your HVAC system by improving your indoor air quality.  Six Ways to Remember it’s Time to Change Your Furnace Filter Checking on your HVAC system isn’t really how anyone likes to spend their free time, but it’s crucial to the health of your system. Keeping your system running smoothly and efficiently will help prolong its life and avoid problems, saving you trouble and money down the line. Here’s are six ways to remember it’s time to change your furnace filter: Prepare a checklist to complete over the year.The best way to get started is to prepare a checklist of home maintenance tasks and display it somewhere prominently. The list should include important tasks and when they should be completed. Include things like changing air filters, scheduling maintenance checkups, cleaning the unit, repairing ducts, etc. Create a calendar or schedule (and stick to it).Once you’ve created your checklist, create a calendar of when everything should be completed and stick to it. It can help to fall into a routine — for example, scheduling maintenance checkups in the spring or checking air filters on the first of every month.  The key is to hold yourself accountable. Falling behind on things like changing air filters or scheduling maintenance checkups can allow small problems to grow into big (and costly) ones. Set a reminder to change your air filters.Ideally, air filters should be changed every one to three months, depending on the type of filter you have. Certain high efficiency filters may only need to be changed once a year, so check your model and set an alarm accordingly.  Forgetting to change air filters can cause serious issues to your system’s blower motor. Over time, the dirt builds up on your filter, affecting the amount of air that the furnace is able to pull through the filter. In turn, this makes the blower motor work harder to get the air — increasing your electricity bill and eventually causing your blower motor to overheat and dramatically decrease its life expectancy. To help avoid this, consider setting an alarm to help remind you to change your air filters. Use your phone to create a personalized alarm to help remind yourself. Some phones even allow you to set it to go off on a schedule so you never forget. Write reminders on the filters themselves.The cardboard edge of the filter is a perfect surface for writing. If you’re a visual person, take a dark marker and write the date the filter needs to be changed directly on the cardboard. You’ll be able to see it every time you pass the filter.  You could also hide a sticky note on or near your thermostat reminding you of important tasks to be done. Time maintenance check-ups with important dates.Sure, nobody really wants to spend their birthday with their maintenance man. However, lining up yearly HVAC check-ups with important dates (like always doing it the week after your birthday, or every spring) can help you remember them. Or, consider lining up maintenance check-ups around the time changes, using “fall back” for winter maintenance and “spring forward” for summer maintenance. As you see the date approaching, it will remind you of whatever task needs to be done. Likewise, if you forget when something needs to be completed, lining it up with an important date can help jog your memory. Reward yourself for remembering.Having something to look forward to can help motivate you to complete your home HVAC tasks. And keeping your HVAC system running smoothly saves you money, so why not put a little of that earned cash toward yourself? Even something as small as ordering takeout or going to see a new movie after replacing your air filters can help motivate you to complete what might be an otherwise mundane task. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to contact a certified HVAC professional near you.
Source: HVAC.com

Your Fall HVAC Maintenance Checklist

With average costs anywhere between $150 and $425, having your HVAC system professionally cleaned may not be in the budget. While you cannot solve every issue with preventative maintenance, here are seven do-it-yourself tips you need to know to keep your system healthy: Check and replace your air filters often.The most important thing you can do at home is inspect your air filter. Dirty air filters make your HVAC system less efficient and cause undue strain on its working parts. Set a reminder each month to check your air filter and replace it if it is dirty or clogged. While the general rule is to change your filter every 30 to 90 days, they may need to be replaced more often if you have pets or open your windows often. Another thing to consider is purchasing a new high-efficiency pleated air filter. The folds in these filters trap more small particles than traditional filters, keeping your system clean and your family healthy. Keep your AC and heating systems free of debris.If you have an outdoor unit, it is important to keep the system free of debris. Check your unit every week or so  for leaves, pollen, dirt, sticks or other debris. Clear the debris from the top and sides of the system using gloves and, if necessary, a hose. This allows for maximum airflow to the fan and increases your unit’s efficiency and lifespan.In order to ensure the cleanest system possible, try to remove anything that blocks air flow to the system, leaving about two feet of space around the unit.tab62; BigStockBigStock Clean your registersTry to keep your registers and ducts clean of dust and debris. Be sure to wipe down your registers as often as possible to keep dust and debris out of your system. Give your humidifier a vacation.In order to give your system a rest in the summer, turn off your furnace humidifier’s water supply. When the cooler months approach, replace the water panel (also know as humidifier pad), set the relative humidity between 35 and 45 percent, and turn the water supply to the furnace humidifier back on. Listen for unusual noises.One more passive things you can do is to keep an ear open for odd noises when your system is running. Often times, noises in your system are created by register blockages, debris in the vents, or loose bolts on the furnace or registers. If you hear any odd noises, try to locate the source. If you can’t find the source, check out this list of common HVAC system noises, what they mean and how to fix them. If this does not solve the problem, go to tip seven. Use fans to give your system a break.Another passive way to keep your system healthy is to use fans when possible to give your system a break.On hot summer days, use ceiling fans and portable fans to circulate air through the house and help your HVAC system bring the temperature in your home down quicker. On cooler days, instead of programming your thermostat, open your windows and turn on your fans to circulate the cool air into the house and keep temperatures comfortable.Giving your system a break when you can will lengthen the life of equipment and save you money on your energy bills. Know when to call a professional.Many HVAC manufacturers require annual preventative maintenance in order to maintain the unit’s warranty. Check your warranty to determine if/when maintenance is required by an HVAC professional.If your system does require preventative maintenance, it is best to schedule your check-up for the cooling system in the spring and your heating system in the fall, before HVAC professionals get busy. HVAC professionals will check your system for problems, adjust loose bolts and wires, and address any other issues you may have. What You Can Do Yourself  From the extra task of raking leaves to sealing cracks and applying weather stripping to keep the cold out, there are many tasks on your to-do list. One more to add to your list this time of year is HVAC maintenance! Below are crucial steps that you should take to properly care for your heating system this season. This will not only keep your system in good shape, but it will help save you money in the long run!to do list DIY Outdoor System Care Clear vegetation and debris away from your exterior heat pump unit. This will ensure adequate airflow and help to prevent damage to the unit.Shut down your air conditioner for the winter. Inspect it for damage, and protect it with a cover if you choose. Turn off the outdoor switch to prevent your air conditioner from being turned on accidentally. DIY Indoor System Care Make sure any combustible products are stored away from your heating system.Inspect your air filter and replace it if needed. A clean air filter will work to reduce indoor contaminants throughout the winter season, as well as facilitate proper airflow into your home.Make sure your registers are clear of obstruction. Move heavy furniture and other items which may be blocking registers, preventing heating from reaching your living spaces and potentially straining your system.Change the water panel of your home’s humidifier. Doing so will help your humidifier function at its best throughout winter to alleviate dry air problems and ensure your home maintains proper humidity levels.Replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector. This should be done annually to protect your family from undetected carbon monoxide exposure. What You Should Leave to the professionals There are some tasks best left to the professionals. Heating systems are composed of sensitive equipment which requires maintenance to improve performance and efficiency. This fall, make it a priority to schedule professional fall HVAC maintenance. A trusted HVAC contractor will provide essential cleaning, care, and inspection to ensure your heating system can handle the important job of keeping your home comfortable through the cold months. Have a question about fall HVAC maintenance? Contact an HVAC pro by browsing our directory for a certified technician near you.
Source: HVAC.com