A Homeowners Guide to Heat Pump Systems, Installation & Pricing

There are many ways to heat a home. From furnaces to fireplaces, homeowners have many options – which one is best for your home? Perhaps you’ve heard of a heat pump, but could you tell it apart from a boiler or a furnace? In this Homeowner’s Guide, you’ll learn all about heat pump systems. Discover how they work, what type of heat pump systems are available, which heat pump system could work efficiently in your home and how much these cost. What is a Heat Pump System? Furnaces create heat, heating air by burning fuel. Heat pump systems do not create heat, as furnaces and boilers do. Instead, they transfer heat from one area to another. Because they do not create heat, these systems use less energy than furnaces and boilers do.  In addition to heating, heat pump systems are also used to cool homes. They move heat out of the home to lower indoor temperatures. Heat pumps are used as a combination heating and cooling system, or in addition to conventional heating and cooling equipment. Air-Source Heat Pump Systems To heat your home, an air-source heat pump absorbs warmth from outdoor air (don’t worry – despite feeling cold outside, abundant warmth exists in outdoor air). The heat pump absorbs heat from the outdoor air, transferring it inside your home. By moving heat indoors, the heat pump system causes your interior areas to feel warmer. To cool your home, an air-source heat pump draws the heat out of your home, sending it into the outdoor air. By removing the heat, your home feels cooler. Under optimal conditions, air-source heat pump systems can drop a home’s energy consumption by as much as 40 percent. Geothermal Heat Pump Systems Instead of moving heat energy from the air, geothermal heat pump systems use underground heat as an energy source. Sometimes called ground-source heat pump systems, geothermal systems use a ground loop to tap into ambient below-ground heat. This system of fluid-filled piping absorbs below-ground heat and moves it up to the home’s heat pump, where it is then transferred indoors to heat the home. Geothermal heat pump systems can also be water-source. This means they pull heat energy from a nearby water source with consistent temperatures, such as a lake or pond. The heat transfers into the home. To cool the home, geothermal systems draw heat from inside and transfer it into the ground or water source. Either the ground or the water, depending on the type of system you have, becomes a heat receptacle for the excess heat in your home. Geothermal heat pump systems can reduce household energy use by up to 60 percent! They offer excellent humidity control, and long service life. Is a Heat Pump System Right for My Home? Not all homes are the right home for a heat pump system. Under certain conditions, heat pumps cannot provide the expected efficiency, and another type of heating system may be optimal. Climate Air-source heat pumps only run efficiently when outdoor temperatures are above freezing. If you live in a region where temperatures drop below 32 degrees, you shouldn’t choose a heat pump as your sole source of heating. In an area where temperatures reach freezing, air-source heat pumps make good primary heating systems. You’ll want to have a backup system installed, such as a gas furnace, which can take over when temperatures reach freezing. Your heating technician can install controls which automatically shut down the heat pump if temperatures reach and drop below freezing. The controls will call for the furnace to come on, efficiently heating the home in these conditions. Geothermal heat pump systems are another alternative in areas with freezing winters. Despite freezing air, the temperatures below ground remain constant around 55 degrees. This is more than enough heat to warm your home as desired. In areas with mild winters, air-source heat pump systems are a perfect option to provide the heating you need. Depending on the specifics of your climate, you may not need a backup heating system. Ductwork If you switch to an air-source or geothermal heat pump from a conventional forced air heating and cooling system, you will likely be able to reuse your home’s existing ductwork, if it is in good shape. If you do not have ductwork installed in your home, the added expense to install ductwork may make traditional heat pump systems cost-prohibitive. A ductless mini-split heat pump system allows for heat pump use in homes without ductwork. Individual indoor units mounted on walls or ceilings connect to an outdoor condenser. Homeowners benefit from the savings heat pumps offer, as well as the system’s inherent zoned comfort control. Heat Pump Pricing There are multiple types of heat pump systems. Heat pump pricing varies from one type of system to another. The final heat pump cost depends on: Heat pump pricingLabor costsAdditional components needed for the system Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the costs involved when installing a new heat pump heating and cooling system. cost_to_install_heat_pump  Heat Pump Pricing by Equipment Type Heat pump pricing depends on many factors. The type of heat pump, its capacity, and other elements affect the cost of the unit. Below, we’ll discuss general heat pump cost and the elements which factor in. Ducted heat pumps Ducted heat pump heating and cooling systems act much like traditional central heating and cooling systems. The heat pump unit sits outdoors, and the indoor fan coil works to move conditioned air into living spaces via a duct system. A ducted heat pump system may be most affordable if your home or building has an existing duct system that is in good shape. Using existing ductwork will eliminate the need to install an expensive new duct system, which can cost thousands. Ductless heat pumps In homes or buildings where duct systems do not exist, ductless heat pump models are an option. These systems, sometimes called ductless mini-splits, include an outdoor condenser/compressor unit and one or more indoor air handlers. Ductless mini-split heat pump systems generally cost $1,500 to $2,000 per ton of cooling capacity for just the equipment, not including installation. This is approximately 30 percent more than central heating and air conditioning systems, minus the duct system. Geothermal heat pumps Geothermal heat pump cost is far more than other heat pump types, when installing the entire system. Geothermal systems require underground ground loops to harness the Earth’s natural energy. Installing one involved excavation, running hundreds of yards of piping, burying the loop, and more. This process is quite expensive. Installing a new geothermal heat pump to work with an existing ground loop is far cheaper. Heat pump pricing for the geothermal heat pump itself will cost you between $2,500 to $8,000 depending on the model, not including installation. Installing the ground loop involves excavation as well as equipment components. Expect to pay several thousand dollars for its installation. Add Installation to Heat Pump Cost The total heat pump cost is determined by the HVAC contractor and varies across the country. In addition to the heat pump pricing, the final installed heat pump cost will include labor and any needed components for the system, such as those mentioned above. The price to purchase a ducted heat pump and have it installed runs on average $5,300 according to Home Advisor, but this cost can go well over $10,000 depending on the brand, energy efficiency, labor warranty, and other features.Ductless mini-split heat pump systems run an average of $4,000 to $5,000 installed. The heat pump pricing will vary based on the number of units needed to create the desired zoning. Installing an entire new geothermal heat pump system costs between $5,000 and $8,000 per ton. Depending on the size needed to heat and cool your home or business, installation can cost $10,000 or more. Using the above information as your heat pump pricing guide, you may confidently shop for a new heat pump system as well as an HVAC installer in your area to do the job. There may be variables not mentioned above that are necessary to complete your project. Work with a heating and cooling professional you trust to ensure you’re getting the best price along with quality workmanship. HVAC.com is your go-to resource for all things heating and cooling! We’ll help you find the right heat pump system for your home or business, and match you with a qualified contractor to perform the installation. Ready to get started? Contact a  certified HVAC contractor for help with your heat pump.
Source: HVAC.com

Air Conditioning Service: Where to Find Local AC Technicians

Hot days can be stressful for home and business owners, especially when you set the thermostat to “cooling” mode, and nothing happens! Maybe your air conditioner doesn’t fire up. Maybe it does, but the air coming out is lukewarm. Or, your air conditioner makes an awful sound, or emits a horrible smell. These cooling system issues leave you thinking, “I need to find AC unit repair near me, and fast!” Finding local air conditioner service technicians is easy, if you know the right places to look. A Google search for “AC unit repair near me” will turn up pages of options in most places. But, these search results don’t show who’s best for the job – just who has the best SEO. Here are some great resources to help you pinpoint qualified local air conditioner service contractor. HVAC.com Online Contractor Directory If you’ve never needed an HVAC contractor before, knowing how and where to find one can be a challenge. In most areas of the country, there are many heating and cooling companies to choose from. How do you determine who offers the services you need and the customer service you expect? HVAC.com is the top heating and air conditioning resource site in the world. As you search for a air conditioner service contractor, check out our blogs, videos or guides to find answers to any heating, air conditioning, or indoor air quality question. Learn about the types of systems used in homes and businesses, how to vet contractors, and more which will best prepare you for working with the pros you’ll find through our directory. To find a contractor, check out HVAC.com’s Contractor Directory. Simply search your ZIP code to find HVAC.com Certified Contractors and other qualified professionals in your area who are available to diagnose and solve the cooling system problems you face, restoring comfort to your home or business in no time.  HVAC.com’s comprehensive online contractor directory allows consumers to search for local HVAC professionals.  If you’re looking for something specific, such as a contractor who services your particular brand of heating or cooling system, you may enter keywords to customize your search. Even better, if you have geo-targeting enabled on your web browser, you don’t even have to search – you’ll automatically find air conditioning service contractors in your area! We list them just below the search bar so you can quickly find a local professional who can tackle your heating, cooling, or indoor air quality challenge. Find HVAC contractors’ company information and contact details by clicking on their listing in our directory. You’ll find the company’s address, phone number, and website for easy contact. Read the company bio to learn more about their business and the services offered. Check out the contractor’s social media channels by clicking the social icons.  Helpful Tip for Choosing an Air Conditioner Service Contractor With a list of search results on your screen, how do you begin sorting them to find air conditioning service contractors you want to work with? A great place to start is looking for the HVAC.com Certified Contractor seal. The HVAC.com Certified Contractor seal tells you this HVAC company has met our strict standards for quality customer service and superior workmanship. The contractors in our directory are pre-screened, allowing us to assess the level of service and value they offer consumers like you, who depend on our directory to find HVAC contractors. When you see our Certified Contractor seal, know that directory listing is for a professional the HVAC industry professionals trust.  Air Conditioning Contractors of America A search for “AC unit repair near me” may lead you to Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). ACCA is the leading trade organization for heating and cooling professionals. ACCA represents HVAC pros throughout the country, providing technical, legal, and marketing resources for small businesses. They also work to develop industry standards that govern heating, ventilation, and air conditioning work throughout the country. Home and business owners may search ACCA’s member database to discover local air conditioner repair contractors in their area. The ACCA Find a Contractor is free! Use it to identify local HVAC professionals serving specific market segments, performing all types of heating, cooling, indoor air quality, and building performance work. Personal Recommendations Aside from the resources above, your friends and family are a great resource. Ask them, “Do you know where I can find AC unit repair near me?” If they’ve used a local professional for HVAC work before, you’ll get a trusted, personal account of the experience – good or bad. Turning to a source you know and trust is a solution many can rely on. Online review sites can be full of negative or glowing experiences – you don’t know who’s telling the truth on Yelp, you don’t know who they are! Your neighbor, coworker, or family member is someone you’ve built a relationship with. You trust their opinions on many subjects – local air conditioner repair is no different. In your search to find “AC unit repair near me,” turning to the right sources will make your search a lot easier. Reputable industry sources and your own trusted advisors can point you toward professional local air conditioner repair contractors who deliver quality workmanship and an excellent customer service experience.  Find HVAC Contractors Now Find a trusted, local HVAC contractor by using the HVAC.com Contractor Directory today. Search for professionals in your area, narrow by the services you’re in need of, and contact for installation, repair, or maintenance.
Source: HVAC.com

DIY: How to Change Your Air Filter and Clean Your Own AC Unit

Though it can be helpful to involve an HVAC contractor in the installation or repair of your air conditioning unit, there are some things you may be interested in handling yourself! If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, below are tips for changing your air conditioner’s filter, as well as cleaning the unit itself. Remember, if you ever need the help of a professional, the HVAC.com contractor directory is just a click away. Changing your Air Conditioning Filter Changing your air conditioner filter is an essential step in maintaining your air filter. Lucky for you, it is very easy to do, and inexpensive compared to the problems that can arise from dirty filters! To ease any confusion… Air Conditioner and Furnace Filters are the same thing. However, you may hear it referred to as an “air conditioner filter” or “furnace filter” depending on the season. air-conditioner-filter2 Instructions Locate the filter compartment around your furnace.Your filter compartment is probably covered with a strip of metal, which can be removed to insert or remove the filter.
Find out what size filter you’ll need for replacement.On most filters, the dimensions are noted on the side of the filter and are usually noted in inches. If the measurements are not present, you can measure the filter yourself; measure length, width, and depth, rounding each measurement up to the nearest whole inch.
Purchase a replacement filter in the appropriate size.Air filters for air conditioners range in efficiency levels, called MERV ratings; you’ll need to determine which is the best fit for your needs and system before purchasing. Higher efficiency filters may be preferable for those who live in warmer areas, dusty climates, or who are sensitive to household allergens.Install the new air filter in the proper direction.Note the direction of air flow that is marked on the edges of the old filter and install the new filter accordingly. To avoid installing filters in the wrong direction in the future, use a permanent marker to write the direction of air flow on the metal strip that covers the filter compartment for your reference.
Make yourself a reminderEach manufacturer has its own recommendation on how often you should change your filter. Lower efficiency filters will require more frequent replacement than high-efficiency filters, and filters may require more frequent replacement during periods of heavy air conditioning use. Click here to see on average how often your filter should be changed.Dispose of your old air conditioner filter.
Cleaning Your Air Conditioning Unitclean-air-conditionerCleaning your exterior condenser IMPORTANT! Turn off power to the unit at the exterior shutoff, also called a “disconnect”. Also, shut off power at your home’s electrical panel.Using a wet/dry vacuum with a soft-bristled attachment, vacuum away dirt, leaves, grass, and other debris from the fins.Remove all brush, vegetation, and debris from around the condenser.If any of the fins are bent, you can use a fin comb or other thin object to gently and carefully straighten them out. Be careful not to stick the knife more than a half-inch inside the unit or make contact with the (usually) copper tubes that carry the refrigerant.Remove the top grille, carefully lifting out the fan. Place it in a safe location and don’t pull at the electrical wires attached to it.Remove any debris from inside the unit and wipe the interior clean.From inside the unit using your garden hose, gently spray the fins. Be careful to only use moderate water pressure.Reinstall the fan.Turn the electricity to the unit back on at the outdoor switch and the electrical panel.Make sure your thermostat is set to ‘cool’ and lower the temperature setting below the current temperature to trigger the unit to turn on.After about 10 minutes, feel the tubing that runs from the condenser to the house to ensure the unit is working properly. The insulated tube should be cool to the touch and the uninsulated tube will be warmer. Cleaning your interior air conditioning components Dust and dirt can build up in your indoor air conditioning components, restricting efficiency and even diminishing your indoor air quality. Follow these steps to clean indoor areas of the system: IMPORTANT! Turn off the power to the unit at the furnace switch as well as at the main electrical panel.Remove your furnace filter and replace with a new one if necessary.Open the panel to expose the blower compartment.Gently vacuum away any dust and debris that have collected in the chamber.Locate the condensation drain tube and gently disconnect it. To prevent algae growth, you can either replace the tube or clean it using a bleach and water solution of a 1:16 ratio. Pour the solution through the tube.Clean the drain port using a soft-bristled brush or pipe cleaner to remove any debris which have collected here.Reconnect the drain tube.Turn the power back on at the furnace switch and at the electrical panel. If you are uncomfortable performing any of these air conditioner cleaning steps or have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact a trusted HVAC professional. Also, remember that your air conditioner needs professional maintenance each season as well, so don’t forget to schedule your tune-up!
Source: HVAC.com

Air Purifiers: What They Are, How They Work & Benefits of Owning One

How Indoor Air Purifiers Work Air purifiers use a system of internal fans to pull the air in your home through a series of filters that remove harmful airborne particles like dust, pollen and bacteria. The air purifier then circulate the purified air back into the room. This process repeats itself several times an hour, keeping your environment healthy.Clean Air wooden sign with sky backgroundWhy Do You Need An Air Purifier? If you don’t think an air purifier is the right choice for your home; here are 10 reasons to reconsider: Air purifiers ensure your family is breathing clean air.The EPA estimates that indoor air is two to five times dirtier than outdoor air — and sometimes up to 100 times dirtier. A good air purifier keeps you healthy. Air purifiers remove unpleasant odors.You love to cook, but your weekly fish fry makes the house smell like, well, fish. Air purifiers don’t only clean the air, they also help get rid of unpleasant and burnt food odors (not that you ever burn your food!). Air purifiers trap airborne allergens released by pets.You may love your pet, but your furry friend releases pet dander, fur and other airborne allergens into the air in your home — not to mention the smells! Air purifiers help combat these allergens by trapping them before they settle into your home. Air purifiers help neutralize smoke.Smoke stinks. Whether it’s a family member who smokes or your love for a roaring fireplace making your home smell dingy, an air purifier can help trap smoke before it ends up in your upholstery. Air purifiers trap dust.There will always be dust. No matter what you do to keep your home clean, dust accumulates. An air purifier helps trap dust before it has the chance to settle, reducing build-up and leaving you with less to clean. Air purifiers remove up to 99 percent of airborne bacteria.Small airborne particles like pollen, mold spores and other bacteria float around in the air, causing your family to get sick. By cycling the air in the room repeatedly through internal filters, an air purifier helps remove up to 99 percent of these airborne pollutants. Air purifiers combat seasonal allergens.Seasonal allergies are a problem for many people. Air purifiers help keep the allergens that make breathing uncomfortable out of your home. Air purifiers stop sickness and germs from spreading.Worried about catching your children’s flu? Your spouse’s cold? True HEPA air purifiers with UV bulbs capture and neutralize up to 99.97 percent of the airborne germs that you want to avoid. Air purifiers keep your lungs healthy.Consistent exposure to dust, pollen, dander, and other airborne particles can cause long-term breathing and health issues for you and your family. Using an air purifier in your home gives you the confidence that your lungs will be healthy for years to come. Air purifiers fit everywhere.They come in a variety of sizes and have a variety of features that will keep the air healthy in any room of the house. With features like oscillating fans, multiple speeds, and energy saving settings, air purifiers are the perfect low-cost option for keeping your family healthy. Air Purifiers and Allergy SeasonAllergy season, and that means stuffy noses, sneezing, and itchy throats. But what if walking through the door of your home meant getting a break from your allergies?  Marcus in Louisville, Kentucky writes: “HVAC.com team, Allergy season in Louisville, KY is pretty bad. I’m always uncomfortable, and I feel like I don’t really have a place I can go to get away from all the junk in the air. I’ve heard about air purifiers, but I don’t want to spend money on something that won’t actually help my situation. What kind of allergens does an air purifier actually remove from the air? Are some better than others? Which one should I buy? I need help!” Unfortunately for Marcus, he lives in one of the worst cities for spring allergies, but relief is just one air purifier purchase away. Air purifiers come in all different shapes and sizes, and with all different types of features. HEPA Filters Remove 99.97% of Particles Before we get into the different types of air purifiers on the market, let’s take a minute to discuss high-efficiency particulate arrestance, or HEPA for short. In order to be classified as HEPA, an air filter must remove no less than 99.97 percent of particles 0.3 microns or larger from your air. This standard, enforced by the Department of Energy, makes HEPA air filters the gold standard for allergen and airborne particle removal.But There are So Many Different Types Of HEPA Purifiers… Which Filter Type Is Best For My Allergies? Now, on to the good stuff. If you want to create an allergen-free space to relax this spring, here are the four types of air purifiers you’ll have to choose from and an explanation of which allergens they remove from the air: True HEPA/UV-C Air Purifiers Remove The Most AllergensTrue HEPA/UV-C air purifiers are the best you can buy. These air purifiers are typically more expensive than others, but they’re worth it for homeowners who live in high allergen areas or that have especially bad reactions during allergy season. True HEPA/UV-C air purifiers combine replaceable HEPA air filters with an ultraviolet germicidal light to trap 99.97 percent of airborne allergens and 99 percent of airborne germs and odor-causing bacteria. True-HEPA-UV-CTrue HEPA Air PurifiersTrue HEPA air purifiers use replaceable HEPA-rated filters to remove 99.97 percent of the airborne particles in your home. If you or a member of your family has a bad allergy problem, True HEPA is the minimum level of protection you should look for. They rid your home of the pollen, dust mites, and mold spores that are the main causes of seasonal allergies and help keep your home smelling fresh.Just like your HVAC system’s furnace filters, the HEPA filters in True HEPA and True HEPA/UV-C air purifiers need to be replaced at least every three months.True-HEPAHEPA-Type Air PurifiersThese air purifiers are the less-effective cousin of True HEPA air purifiers. If pollen and dust mites aren’t as big of problem in your home, these more economical air purifiers might be the best for you. The replaceable filters still trap 99 percent of small airborne particles including dust, smoke, and pet dander to help keep the air in your home cleaner, but they do not get rid of smaller particles like pollen and dust mites that may cause allergies.HEPA-typePermanent HEPA-Type Air PurifiersPermanent HEPA-Type air purifiers work just like HEPA-Type air purifiers, except they have filters that do not need to be replaced. The reusable filters require occasional cleaning to help trap 99 percent of airborne particles.Permanent-HEPA-TypeWhat About All The Other Types Of Air Purifiers? When it comes to air purifiers, there are plenty of extra options, some of which can be incorporated into the choices above. Here are some other air purifying options to watch out for when you’re shopping: Activated carbon filtersuse small, absorbent pores to capture pollutants as they pass through the filter. Since the pores chemically react to the pollutants in the air, activated carbon filters are great at removing odors, chemicals, and smoke from the air, but they do not remove dust and allergens. If you have an odor problem, look for HEPA or HEPA-Type filters with activated carbon to remove odors and purify the air. UV purifiersremove bacteria and viruses from the air. These ultraviolet germicidal lights kill airborne germs to help keep your family healthy. Like activated carbon filters, they are rarely used alone to purify air and work best when combined with HEPA or HEPA-Type air purifiers. Ionic air purifiersdon’t actually purify the air. Instead, they send streams of negative ions into the air that attach to airborne particles, making them too heavy to remain airborne. Since most surfaces are positively charged, the negatively charged particles are attracted to the surfaces in the room, and settle there. In other words, the particles may be removed from the air, but they’re still stuck in the room. Here’s The Bottom Line… Remember, your air quality needs will determine which air purifier to buy. If you’re looking to create a safe haven from seasonal allergies caused by pollen, dust mites, and mold spores, then a True HEPA or True HEPA/UV-C air purifier is the right choice for your home. If you just want to get rid of the pet dander, lint, and household dust that makes breathing a little more difficult, save some money and choose a more economical HEPA-Type air purifier.  Indoor air can be just as polluted — or more polluted — than outdoor air. Indoor air purifiers remove the pollutants from the air you breathe in your home, making it a healthier environment for you and your family. 
Source: HVAC.com

Air Conditioning in Schools – Is it Essential for Learning?

Schools are in session, starting in August and September, or sooner. Some districts do not have air conditioning in schools. This leaves students to sweat through the day. Districts across the U.S. faced these problems at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. Schools from Detroit to Los Angeles had heat-related closures. Kindergarteners through college students were affected. While uncomfortable, is the heat hampering the learning process? Research has shown that indoor air quality can impact learning. Could cooling also affect a child’s education? Should air conditioning in schools be mandatory? air conditioning in schoolsWhy is there no air conditioning in schools? A lack of cooling in the classroom stems from various problems. Many schools have air conditioners, yet they don’t work. Some school districts cite unfinished maintenance requests. Others say they don’t have the money to fix or replace their cooling systems. Some schools do not have existing air conditioners. Cooling systems were never installed in some schools. In those that wish to obtain air conditioning, the funds aren’t available. The effects of no air conditioning in schools When students and teachers are sweating, are they able to concentrate on learning? Probably not. When exposed to very cold temperatures, the brain isn’t thinking about learning. Instead, it’s reminding the body that it’s cold. It’s interrupting learning, urging the body to take action to warm up. Cooling down the body to avoid heat exhaustion consumes energy. This consumes bodily resources which could be used for learning. These physical demands can affect brain function, which impacts decision-making in learning. Studies have shown that children’s academic performance declines in higher temperatures. In hotter classrooms, headaches and heat exhaustion symptoms develop. These physical symptoms can hinder academic performance. Warm classrooms also decrease interest and alertness, distracting students. Even research performed by high school students shows that test scores fall in warmer environments! High humidity often accompanies high temperatures. Increased humidity can make students feel sleepy. Concentration tests scores are also lower in humid, hot environments. Should air conditioning in schools be mandatory? Despite the research, very few school districts have mandated temperature maximums, nor is air conditioning required in schools. Educators and parent organizations country-wide have brought attention to the need for cooling in classrooms. Without cooling, schools are forced to adapt when temperatures rise. Baltimore County schools in Maryland has a policy that non-air conditioned schools will close if the day’s heat index is expected to reach 90 degrees or above by 11 a.m. The rule was passed out of concern for unhealthy classrooms. The school system has battled state government for funding to install air conditioners. Politics seem to stand in the way of giving children comfortable and safe learning environments. A lack of air conditioning in schools has caused school officials to create contingency plans for hot weather. One L.A. school reduces students to their seven air conditioned rooms, doubling the kids in each class. Large class size is often associated with a decline in student performance. These examples are just a few of the measures taken by schools to protect students from hot weather. Installing air conditioners in schools where climate warrants their need would solve the problem. Students wouldn’t miss valuable school time. When in class, their surroundings would be comfortable and promote learning. Looking at research, it appears that the ideal temperature for classrooms is between 72 to 77 degrees. Schools in warmer climates will need cooling systems to manage classroom temperatures. To improve students’ learning abilities, it’s safe to say air conditioning in schools is needed. 7 Must-Read Air Conditioning Articles The topic of air  conditioning is an important one. Below, we’ve compiled seven additional air conditioning articles we thought you might find helpful: 5 Strategies To Lower Summer Energy Bills
Source: HVAC.com

Aprilaire Humidifier Replacement Guide

Do you have an old Aprilaire humidifier that is over warranty and beyond repair? Companies come out with new models and series of products all the time, constantly trying to make their products more user friendly, efficient and effective. However, that becomes troublesome when you look to replace your current humidifier and find that it is no longer manufactured. Below is a guide to show you what new Aprilaire humidifier model replaces your old model. 
Source: HVAC.com

Furnace Filters 101

Selecting the right furnace filter for your heating and cooling system is crucial when it comes to  producing and sustaining a healthy, clean and pure home environment. For those who don’t know, or just need a reminder, furnace filters remove dust, dirt, pollen, allergens, bacteria and other air pollutants from your home’s air – enhancing indoor air quality for you and your family. Just selecting the correct filter is not enough to guarantee safe air. You must also make sure you are following the guidelines and conditions based on your manufacture’s manual. This will ensure your system runs efficiently and effectively.Below are the most important factors to consider when selecting an air filter for your home: 
5254017-tangled-tape-measure-against-a-white-background Filter size: 
 The most typical sizes for a furnace filter are 16″ x 20″, 20″ x 25″ and 16″ x 25″ however many other sizes are available for purchase on our site. The size of your filter will be located on the side of the door on your filter cabinet.  The filter must fit snuggly in your furnace. It is important to note that you must have an exact fit for your cabinet -“close enough is not good enough” in these circumstances. A good fit prevents air from slipping around the edges of the filter. Another important note is that many manufacturers produce filters that are compatible in other companies cabinets.

Source: HVAC.com

Furnace Smells Home Owners Should Never Ignore

Weird smells circulating through your home? Is it coming from your furnace? Are you in danger? Furnace smells are indicative of many issues that are important not to ignore, both for the safety of your family and the furnace itself. Three Smells You Should Never Ignore from Your Furnace: 1.) Rotten Eggs Smell: The rotten egg odor is a profound indicator that there is a natural gas leak and should immediately be taken care of. Open doors and windows to let fresh air in and evacuate the house. Making sure to stand away from your home, call 9-1-1 and then your gas company. 2) A Burning Electrical or Metallic Smell: If you smell any odor similar to an overheated motor this could be a sign your furnace blower motor is seizing up due to worn bearings. This can lead the motor to use excessive voltage and overheat. In addition to the motor overheating it can cause the wires attached to it to melt and produce an electrical hazard. If you smell a burning electrical smell throughout your home, turn off your furnace at the thermostat and call an HVAC technician to inspect your furnace. 3.) Chemical Aroma: Odors that resemble the chemical formaldehyde scent may indicate a cracked heat exchanger, which is a very serious issue. The heat exchanger is the mechanical function inside the furnace that transfers heat from the combustion chamber to the furnace plenum. If the heat exchanger is cracked, poisonousness carbon monoxide fumes can be circulated through the home’s duct work. With that being said, treat any chemical smell with caution and respect, it is always better to be safe than sorry!
Source: HVAC.com

Do I Need to Replace My Indoor and Outdoor HVAC Unit At The Same Time?

Posted by Will Housh on August 1

Recently, we received a question from Gina in Las Vegas, Nev., that might help out anyone who is thinking about replacing an outdoor HVAC unit. She writes:

“Dear HVAC.com team,

My husband and I need to replace the outdoor heat pump unit for our home. The indoor unit is still working, but our HVAC technician said we should consider replacing both at the same time. Do we really need to replace the indoor unit as well?”

Unfortunately, the short answer is yes. You should replace your indoor air handler at the same time as your outdoor heat pump — or air conditioning unit if it’s that time of year. I know it seems like an extra, unnecessary expense, but let’s look at why:

It is a necessary evil to replace both, here’s why:

  1. Matched systems perform better.

    When outdoor ac units and heat pumps and air conditioning units are designed, they are built to work with a matched indoor unit. This matched system works in tandem to generate optimum efficiency and ideal system performance.

    Replacing an outdoor air conditioner unit without installing the matching indoor unit will work. However, you are jeopardizing the dependability of both the units and compromising your HVAC system’s efficiency, which may cost more in the long run.

    Air conditioner

  2. Efficiency ratings are based on matched systems.

    When you purchase a new HVAC unit, the heating and cooling efficiency ratings are based on matched system performance. That means if you bought a heat pump with an 18 SEER rating to help you save money on monthly bills, you won’t realize the full potential of those savings without the matching air handler.

  3. Technology has changed.

    Over the last 20 years, advances in residential HVAC technology have made outdoor and indoor HVAC units better than ever.

    When it comes to debris filtering, noise levels, and air handling performance, the units today simply outperform those installed in the past. Replacing both your indoor and outdoor units at the same time ensures that your HVAC system is running on the latest technology to make your home comfortable and your family healthy.

  4. Replacing both now will save you money long-term.

    Like I mentioned above, a mixed system will result in poor efficiency, which will cost money on energy bills. But that isn’t the only money replacing just an outdoor unit will cost you.

    Since most systems are installed as pairs, your indoor unit is probably just as old as your outdoor unit. Additionally, if your heat pump or air conditioner is 10 years old, it’s time to replace it anyway.

    If you choose to replace only the outdoor ac unit, you’ll probably have to spend the money to replace the indoor unit shortly thereafter, and that means paying installation costs twice. Replacing both ensures you will have an efficient, dependable system for a longer period of time.

  5. New units mean new warranties.

    Purchasing new HVAC equipment means a new manufacturer’s warranty and service guarantee when your equipment is installed.

    If you only replace your outdoor unit, your indoor unit’s warranty may expire before your outdoor unit’s. Additionally, some manufacturers may not extend full warranty coverage to an outdoor heat pump or air conditioner that is not attached to the matching indoor equipment. Replacing both the outdoor air conditioner unit or heat pump and the indoor unit allows you to breathe easy knowing that your entire HVAC system is covered for the same period of time.

Replacing just the outdoor unit might appear cheaper right now, but long term, it will only cost more money. Replacing both units at the same time may seem like a more costly option, but a matched design system will run more efficiently, perform better, and last longer, delivering cost savings well beyond the extra expense.

If you’re like thousands of homeowners across the country who will be faced with making the quick decision to replace their air conditioners this summer, you should consider the questions worth asking your HVAC contractor. With high temperatures, you can’t always risk being without cooling for very long — when you must replace your air conditioner in the middle of cooling season, you won’t have as much time to research and evaluate your options as you would when replacing in the off-season, where cooling isn’t critical. Just because a breakdown forces you to purchase a replacement quickly doesn’t mean you have to do so uninformed — ask your HVAC contractor these questions to help determine the right choice for your home and family.

Ask Your Contractor These 5 Questions…

  1. Which type of system is best for me?

    A good contractor will evaluate your home and discuss with you the functionality you want in order to provide you with sound advice regarding which type of system is best for your home. For example, in homes with failing or nonexistent ductwork, a multi-unit ductless mini-split system may be the right choice for you. Your contractor can answer any questions you have about using a mini-split, central AC, or heat pump in your home.

  2. What size do I need?

    Size does matter when it comes to your air conditioner — undersized and oversized units will consume excessive energy while causing comfort issues in the home. In order to determine the correct size unit and configuration for your home, your contractor should perform a Manual J cooling load calculation.

  3. Are there other things that need done to my home to accommodate installation?

    The air conditioner itself is just one piece of the cooling system — other components include your duct work, thermostat, and air handler, amongst others. Replacement or repairs to these components may be necessary to accommodate the installation of your new air conditioner and facilitate efficient operation. Your new high-efficiency air conditioner won’t offer the savings you expect if your conditioned air is leaking out the duct system! Have your contractor evaluate all the components of your cooling system to see if other work is needed.

  4. What do SEER ratings mean?

    SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the ration, the greater efficiency of the system. All air conditioners must be at least 13 SEER, but SEER ratings go all the way up to 23. If you decide to go with a heat pump, you’ll be looking at HSPF ratings (Heating and Seasonal Performance Factor). These equipment efficiency ratings will have a great impact on the energy use and operating costs of your new unit, and your contractor can help you estimate your monthly or annual costs associated with the new unit. Higher efficiency units typically cost more to purchase, but their savings can result in quick payback periods.

  5. What’s the warranty term and what does it include?

    Manufacturers’ warranties cover various parts for a specific period of time. Make sure you know what is covered on your new unit and how long the warranty lasts so you can have qualifying work performed under the warranty if needed, rather than paying out of pocket. Some manufacturers offer extended warranties for purchase, and your contractor can help you out if you wish to extend the warranty term. Quality HVAC contractors will also offer a warranty for their labor, so be sure to ask what is covered by their warranty and how long the warranty term lasts.

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Source: HVAC.com

Basement Finishing: Heating and Air Conditioning Considerations

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.
Source: HVAC.com