FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

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What does HVAC stand for?

What is a SEER rating?

What is EER?

What is the difference between EER and SEER?

What is AFUE?

What is HSPF?

What is a BTU?

What does COP stand for?

What is a MERV rating?

What is meant by a “ton” of refrigeration?

What is the difference between a single-stage, two-stage, two-stage variable speed, and modulating furnaces?

What is the difference between single-stage and 2-Stage cooling?

What is the average life expectancy of equipment?

Why should I replace my working furnace or air conditioner, or both?

What size furnace or air conditioner will I need?

Will a bigger sized system perform better?

We are replacing our AC unit this season, what advice can you give me?

How long should an HVAC system last?

How important is choosing the right contractor?

Should I replace my furnace and AC at the same time?

Do I need a humidifier?

How often should I replace the filter?

Why should I switch to a high efficiency air filter?

Do I need to purchase an indoor air quality feature such as an advanced filter system?

Why should I purchase a service agreement?

Should I have my furnace and air conditioner serviced every year?

In addition to changing my filters, what maintenance should I do on my heater and/or air conditioner?

Why should I buy Energy Star labeled equipment?

My system doesn’t work well in a couple of rooms, what should I do?

My air conditioner is very loud when I entertain outside, what can I do?

Is there anything I should check prior to calling for service?

How do I know if my system is working properly?

How can I increase the efficiency and life of my home’s heating and cooling systems?

Should I close the registers and doors to areas of the home that I do not use on a regular basis?

How long should my air conditioning system run in a cycle?

Should I try to keep my air conditioning system from running too much?

What air temperature should my air conditioner produce?

At what temperature should I set my thermostat?

What are the advantages of a programmable thermostat?

Are heat pumps efficient in Oklahoma?

During the winter, my heat pump delivers warm air, but not hot air, and will operate for long periods of time. Is that normal?

During the heating season, my heat pump makes a “whooshing” sound and I feel cool air coming from the supply registers. Is that normal?

Why does my heat pump system sometimes freeze up?

What is geothermal?

What is a hybrid system?

Should I consider a hybrid system, and why?

Is a hybrid system more efficient than a regular a/c, gas system?

What is I.A.Q?

How important is air quality and what factors need to be considered?

What is the primary function of a heat exchanger?

What are possible causes of cracks in a heat exchanger?

What are the potential dangers of operating your HVAC system with a cracked heat exchanger?

Should I be concerned about carbon monoxide in my home?

What is the ideal indoor humidity level?

Why are humidifiers used more in heating than cooling?

Are there any air conditioning systems that are safe for the environment?

How do I know whether my heating and cooling equipment needs replacement or just repair?

If energy prices continue to escalate, what would be most effective in controlling home comfort costs?

What should I look for when choosing a new heater, heat pump or air conditioning unit?

How do I know if my ductwork need to be cleaned?

Do I need to have my ductwork sealed?

 

ANSWERS

 

What does HVAC stand for?  HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.

 

What is a SEER rating?   S.E.E.R. (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) is the rating and performance standard of a cooling system developed by the U.S. government and equipment manufacturer’s to produce an energy consumption rating that is easy to understand by consumers. Basically, the lower the S.E.E.R. rating, the less efficient a cooling system is, with 14 S.E.E.R. being the lowest rating allowable by law. To see SEER chart, go to Efficiencies tab.

 

What is EER?  The EER, or energy-efficiency ratio of a cooling system, measures how efficiently the system will operate when the outdoor temperature is at a specific level (usually 95F). A higher EER means a higher efficiency.

 

What is the difference between EER and SEER?  The SEER (seasonal energy-efficiency ratio) is a measure of air conditioning system’s efficiency over an entire cooling season, as opposed to a single outdoor temperature. The EER is for year round energy efficiencies on appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers.

 

What is AFUE?  AFUE is an acronym for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. The AFUE is the most widely used measure of a boiler or furnace’s heating efficiency. It measures the amount of heat actually delivered to your house compared to the amount of fuel that you must supply to the furnace. Thus, a furnace that has an 80% AFUE rating converts 80% of the fuel that you supply to heat — the other 20% is lost out of the chimney. To see the AFUE chart, go to Efficiencies tab.

 

What is HSPF?  HSPF is an acronym for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. It is the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) standard measurement for the energy efficiency of a heat pump during heating operation. Every HVAC manufacturer must follow DOE guidelines for testing and rating the efficiency of its products.  To see the HSPF chart, go to Efficiencies tab.

 

What is a BTU?  BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, the unit of heat energy that’s necessary to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit, from 58.5 to 59.5. How does this apply to your home? Well, a 10,000 Btu air conditioner can remove 10,000 Btus of heat per hour.

 

What does COP stand for? The coefficient of performance or COP (sometimes CP or CoP) of a heat pump, refrigerator or air conditioning system is a ratio of useful heating or cooling provided to work required. Higher COPs equate to lower operating costs. This term is used to rate the efficiency of geothermal heat pumps.

 

What is a MERV rating?  The Minimum Efficiency reporting Value, also known simply as MERV, measures the performance of air purifiers, specifically large purifiers intended to clean an entire house or building. The best filter rating is 16 while the lowest is 1. To see the MERV chart, go to Efficiencies tab.

 

What is meant by a “ton” of refrigeration?  Confusingly, the unit has little to do with weight, as used in everyday language. One ton of refrigeration is the term used to refer to 12,000 B.T.U.s/hour (British Thermal Units/Hour) of cooling effect. Thus, a condensing unit with a cooling capacity of 60,000 B.T.U.s/hour is said to have a capacity of 5 tons.

 

What is the difference between a single-stage, two-stage, two-stage variable speed, and modulating gas furnaces? The difference between each of these operating modes is how the blower motor operates. Single-stage operation is the least efficient and will have a lower A.F.U.E. rating while the modulating is the most efficient and will have the highest efficiency.

A single-stage furnace, like a single-stage a/c, will operate at one speed only, 100%, thus giving only one stage of heat.

The two-stage furnace, like the two-stage a/c, will operate at two speeds only, 65% and 100%, thus giving only 2 stages of heat.

 

The two-stage variable speed furnace operates anywhere within the 65% and 100% capacity of the furnace, thus giving almost 350 stages of heat.

The modulating furnace operates anywhere between 25% and 100% capacity, thus giving almost 750 stages of heat.

What is the difference between single-stage, 2-Stage, and variable speed cooling? Variable speed air conditioning is the most efficient way to cool your home by offering many more stages of cooling, thus using far less energy while keeping the temperature of the home more consistent. The variable speed air conditioner will operate between 25% and 100% thus giving almost 750 stages of cooling.

Two-stage cooling is a method of cooling that can better manage the cooling of your home while outdoor temperatures are changing. It can also better maximize indoor comfort and energy efficiency. A 2-stage air conditioner works at two air flow speeds, 65% and 100%. The percentage shown is the working capacity of the blower motor. The a/c will always turn on at 65% capacity and will only step into its second stage (100% capacity) when the outside conditions are such that it warrants the higher air flow, but then will always step down to the first stage of 65% before shutting off. Although the a/c will operate for longer periods because of the first stage than a single stage a/c, it will use less energy than the single stage system. A 2-stage system will also keep better air flow between each room of the house, and each floor. Keeping an even air flow will also mean that the temperature will be more consistent throughout the house for maximum comfort. When operating in the first stage, the system will also be quieter, inside and out.

Single stage air conditioning only works at one air flow speed, 100%. A single-stage a/c system will experience a wider swing in temperatures, as much as 3 – 5 degrees. You may become cold before the system shuts down, and may become too warm before the system turns on.

What is the average life expectancy of equipment? Most systems have a lifetime of 10 to 20 years. As your equipment gets older, its efficiency can decrease dramatically. You may notice that it gets noisier and needs repairs more often. When a unit begins to show its age, you have two choices. You can overhaul the system or replace it. Because heating and cooling technologies improve over time, a new system designed with newer, more energy-efficient equipment makes sense, especially if your system is 10 or more years old. We can estimate the cost of a new system as well as a payback schedule that will show you how newer technology will pay you back in lower energy usage.

  • Average Lifetime of an Air Conditioner: 12-15 yrs.
  • Average Lifetime of a Furnace: 15-20 yrs.
  • Average Lifetime of a Boiler: 15-20 yrs.

Keep in mind that these are just guidelines. Some units last longer than that with regular maintenance and replacement of parts. But if a unit has been repaired repeatedly, or has been run excessively, it might make more sense to replace it even sooner. Paying for repairs to an old or inefficient system often simply prolongs the inevitable. An older system that breaks down once is likely to break down again…and again. That means more emergency service calls or, worse yet, the risk of damage to your home or to other components of your heating and cooling system.

There’s also an ongoing cost factor to consider. Restoring your old system will only bring it back to its current level of energy efficiency. After you’ve recovered from the repair bills and the frustration of system breakdowns, you still won’t save on your energy bills.

Some replacement systems can cost less than the cost of repeated repairs. And in many cases, installing a new heating and cooling system can actually pay for itself in energy savings within a relatively short time.

 

Why should I replace my working furnace or air conditioner, or both? Although a current furnace or air conditioner may be working, if it is more than 12 years old you should consider replacing it with a new high efficiency system. A new heating and air conditioning system could save up to 60% on energy costs and save you money in the long run on repairs. While these products save you money on your utility bills, they also offer a better degree of comfort within your home.

 

What size furnace or air conditioner will I need?  For proper sizing, every heating and air company that you bring into your home should perform a manual J heat load calculation. Due to many factors, your heating and cooling needs will vary. For example, the age and size of your home, the type of insulation, and ductwork all determine the unit size you will need. After a complete FREE evaluation of your home, we can make the proper suggestion for your heating needs.
Will a bigger sized system perform better? No, you don’t want your air conditioner to be too big. Air conditioners control the comfort level in your home by cooling the air and by removing humidity. An oversized air conditioner will cool your home faster, but it will use more energy and will not remove humidity adequately.

A unit that is too big for your home will have short run cycles. It may take only a short time to cool the air, but the unit shuts off before enough air blows across the indoor coil where moisture condenses into water and drains from your system. Too much moisture left in the air can lead to mold and mildew problems. These short run cycles also mean your system starts and stops more often which uses more energy and causes a lot of wear and tear. An air conditioner operates more efficiently during long run cycles.

The same holds true with heating systems. An oversized furnace will warm the house quicker, but it uses more fuel and causes greater temperature swings in the home.

We are replacing our AC unit this season, what advice can you give me?  Replacing your system is one of the biggest financial decisions you will make. It is one of the two most expensive maintenance items of your home, the other being the roof.

 

How long should an HVAC system last? The life expectancy of a basic system is around 10 years. Better brands, built better, can last 15, 20, and even 25 years. Keeping your system maintained on an annual basis is of utmost importance. Just as you’ll maintain your vehicle by changing the oil, rotating the tires, and flushing the antifreeze, maintenance of your HVAC system will keep it as close to new as possible and extend the life of your system.

 

How important is choosing the right contractor? When choosing a contractor, pick a company to install the unit based on quality and customer service, not solely on price, as a system is only as good as it is installed. The name brand of the equipment is not as important as the installing contractor. With the new higher efficiency units, you also have to be careful that you replace your system with the proper sized unit so you don’t end up with a house that is cool but has high humidity. Proper sizing will require that a load calculation be performed on your house. Look for that one company who will have your best interests at heart and not their own and you’ll have found the right contractor…Gober Heating & Air.

 

Should I replace my furnace and AC at the same time?  Yes! Today’s equipment is engineered to work in tandem as a full system, whereas, replacing one component while keeping an older component working together will result in a lower efficiency. Purchasing the equipment separately will mean paying more for the total system, the efficiencies will never be what they’re supposed to be, your comfort level won’t ever be at the best it can be, and the warranties won’t start on the same date.

 

Do I need a humidifier?  Yes. The new models of humidifiers have fresh water drains, which prevent unwanted mildew deposits. People tend to associate the problems of calcium buildup and rust with old-fashioned humidifiers, but this is no longer the case. In the Central Oklahoma area it is imperative to have a humidifier on your system, otherwise, your skin will constantly be drying out during the heating season.

 

How often should I replace the filter? With the exception of a specialized media or electronic air filter, the common 1” filter should be replaced monthly. Media filters are made to last 6 months before being replaced, but that can vary depending upon kids, pets, dust, and many other variables.

 

Why should I switch to a high efficiency air filter? Proper air filtration is just as important to the health of your heating and cooling system as it is to the health of your family. Without proper filtration, dust and dirt can build up on your system which impacts operation and efficiency. A high efficiency filter will remove more dust, dirt, pollen, mold, and other particles from the air. If you suffer from allergies or other respiratory problems, you should strongly consider a high efficiency filter. No matter what type of filter you have – make sure you change it regularly.
Do I need to purchase an indoor air quality feature such as an advanced filter system? By adding to your home heating and air system, at a minimum, a 5” media filter cabinet that holds 4” thick accordion filters that rate from 10-13 on the MERV scale, you can reduce the airborne impurities by up to 97%, thus reducing allergens and airborne illnesses, as well as household dust.
Why should I purchase a service agreement? Without warranty coverage, a breakdown can mean significant expense in parts, labor, or both. However, with one of our service agreements, you avoid that unexpected significant expense. While no warranty can guard against every possible problem, we can explain the broad range of protection our service agreement affords.
Should I have my furnace and air conditioner serviced every year? Yes. Keeping your system properly maintained will lower energy and repair costs, prevent breakdowns, and prolong the life of your equipment. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.

The most important part of HVAC maintenance aspect is maintaining unrestricted air flows. Dust, dirt, and debris are an HVAC system’s worst enemies. Whether it’s an indoor or outdoor unit, you must keep all filters clean and heat exchangers and coils free of restrictions.

We recommend that your heating and cooling system be checked and serviced twice a year; ideally a spring and autumn tune-up. Also we recommend that you change your filter regularly, depending on the type of filter you have. This alone can eliminate many of the most common problems that need fixing and can significantly reduce the likelihood of a serious breakdown.

In addition to changing my filters, what maintenance should I do on my heater and/or air conditioner?
Most maintenance should be performed only by a qualified service technician. But here are some things that you can do to assure optimal performance:

  • Keep ground mounted outdoor units clear of debris, clutter and weeds; they can reduce the airflow to the unit.
  • Use caution with weed trimmers around the unit to prevent damaging control wiring.
  • Keep pets away from the unit; pet urine can cause expensive damage, corroding the coil that wraps around the unit.
Why should I buy Energy Star labeled equipment? The average home spends about $1,900 annually on energy bills. Heating and cooling accounts for as much as half of a home’s energy use. The EPA provides important recommendations for energy-efficient equipment, including proper sizing, quality installation and maintenance, and other home improvement considerations to help you get the most out of the heating and cooling products you purchase, save energy, and save as much as 20% annually on your total energy costs.

ENERGY STAR qualified products prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

My system doesn’t work well in a couple of rooms, what should I do? This can occur for many reasons; uneven solar heat load through windows, an undersized system, improperly balanced  or clogged system or a single system serving a two-story home with no zoning control. Each situation is different, usually requiring an onsite analysis with problem specific recommendations.  Please call to arrange for us to see your home.
My air conditioner is very loud when I entertain outside, what can I do? A difference of 6 decibels (such as between 72 dB and 78 dB) is technically a four-fold increase in compressor sound when rating air conditioners or heat pump units. However, it takes a difference of 10 decibels to double the loudness. It is also noted that it takes approximately 3 decibels for the average human ear to discern any difference in loudness at all. Ask about our variable speed air conditioner as well as our variable speed heat pump with a decibel level around 57. If your current condenser is sitting upon a concrete pad, replace it with a plastic pad as it’s easier to relevel after a long time to keep the condenser level. It also reduces noise and vibration as it dissipates noise into the ground whereas concrete doesn’t and reverberates both back up into the unit, thus making it louder and vibrate more.
Is there anything I should check prior to calling for service? Check to be sure that the air conditioner or furnace is turned on. Check to see that the breakers and the outside disconnect are turned on and not tripped, and be sure the thermostat is set correctly. Also make a note of any strange noises or smells.
How do I know if my system is working properly? Is it making strange noises? Is it cooling or heating all areas of your home sufficiently? Has it been taking longer to cool down or heat up? Have your utility bills been rising for no apparent reason? Any of these are signs that you may have a problem that needs service. In most cases, the longer you delay, the worse any underlying problems will get.
How can I increase the efficiency and life of my home’s heating and cooling systems?
A few quick tips:

  • Clean and replace your filters frequently.
  • Your system will heat and cool more evenly when the blower is in the “on” position. The blower provides constant air movement throughout the home, and allows for better filtration.
  • Install shades, drapes, shutters, or screens on windows that are exposed to extreme sunlight to keep room temperatures at moderate levels.
Should I close the registers and doors to areas of the home that I do not use on a regular basis?
No. Every system is designed to cool a certain number of square feet. By closing registers and doors in certain rooms, you disrupt and decrease the systems’ airflow and efficiency. Your system will have to work harder to cool less space, making it cycle more and become less efficient.
How long should my air conditioning system run in a cycle? There is no exact answer for how long your system should run during each cycle. The average air conditioner is sized to remove the heat from your home as fast as it comes in. Therefore, ideally, on a 100° day the system should be able to keep up with the incoming heat, but not gain on it and not be able to turn off. The cooler it is below 100°, the more the system will cycle on and off. So it depends on the environment of each individual home and the condition of the equipment.
Should I try to keep my air conditioning system from running too much? Generally speaking, a unit that is either on or off is less expensive than one that keeps cycling on and off repeatedly. Every time your system starts up, it will use a lot of electricity and not produce much cooling. That’s why a smaller system is often more economical to operate: even though it runs nonstop and may deliver less comfort, it will usually consume less power than a larger system that cycles on and off.
What air temperature should my air conditioner produce? The air temperature produced by your system depends on the temperature of the air going into it. Generally, the air produced should be 15°-20° below what enters the system. So if the entering return air is 80°, the exiting supply air should be about 60°-65°. However, that only works on a system that is operating properly and has been running at least 15 minutes on a warm, dry day with a home that is about 80° inside. On a milder day, with an indoor temperature 70, the air coming out should be 50-55.

 

At what temperature should I set my thermostat? Temperature settings depend on the time of year and your personal preferences. In the summer, the average temperature setting is 75°-80°. In the winter 68°-72° is the norm. Remember, when leaving your house; try to avoid drastic temperature changes. Do not set your temperature back more than 5°; this will cause your unit to work harder to achieve the desired temperature setting.

 

What are the advantages of a programmable thermostat? Because they are electronic, programmable thermostats are more accurate and efficient than thermostats that contain mercury. Plus, they allow you to automatically control the temperature in your home at different times of day without ever touching your thermostat.
Are heat pumps efficient in Oklahoma? Heat pumps are very effective for homes in Oklahoma. They are a good choice whether you rely on electricity or natural gas for your energy needs.

 

A heat pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that works year-round for comfort. During warmer months, a heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. In colder weather, a heat pump collects heat from the outdoor air and transfers it inside the home. Even when outside air feels cold, there is still heat in that air. On very cold days when there’s not enough heat in the outside air to meet the thermostat setting, an electric heater backup supplements the indoor air to warm a home. This process is quite efficient as it produces two to three times more heat than the energy it uses.

 

Winters can sometimes be brutal and electric heat doesn’t resonate as well as gas heat, thus by pairing a heat pump with a gas furnace, you’ll have a much more efficient system called a hybrid. With this dual-fuel option, the two systems share the heating load, but never function at the same time. Each system operates when it is most cost effective.

 

During the winter, my heat pump delivers warm air, but not hot air, and will operate for long periods of time. Is that normal? Yes, this is normal. A heat pump generally produces air that is around 80° and provides even comfortable, heating around the house – not a blast of intense heat. However, 80° may feel cool to your hand, which is usually closer to 90°.

 

During the heating season, my heat pump makes a “whooshing” sound and I feel cool air coming from the supply registers. Is that normal? Totally normal. During the cold weather months, frost can accumulate on the outdoor coil. This can cause the heat pump to go into a defrost cycle anywhere from 1-10 minutes, depending on the amount of ice on the coil. This is temporary; the system will return to the heating mode once the ice is gone.

 

Why does my heat pump system sometimes freeze up? Several factors that can cause system freezing. First, if running in the cooling mode check your filters; restrictions in air flow can lead to freezing. Next, thaw the system out by turning off the cooling and running the fan. Also, try turning the system to the heat mode until the ice has melted. You’ll most likely need to have a technician check out the system for a refrigerant leak.

 

What is geothermal? Geothermal systems heat and cool your home by tapping into temperatures beneath the earth’s surface. The renewable energy deep inside the earth delivers a limitless supply of heat to your home, offering consistent comfort. With a sustainable geothermal system, you can reduce your carbon footprint and increase your energy savings.

 

What is a hybrid system? A hybrid system is when you combine a heat pump with a gas furnace. The heat pumps electric heat will be the initial source of heating for the home, and the gas heat will act as the back-up heat. At any point during heating, the gas heat can be started by pressing the emergency heat on the thermostat. A hybrid system that is high in efficiency will be extremely high in efficiency compared to an a/c, gas system.

 

Should I consider a hybrid system, and why? During a really cold winter, electric sometimes won’t keep a house comfortable and won’t keep up with the heat, especially if it’s windy. When the outside temperature falls to 17 degrees, most heat pumps shut down and go to back up heat. For a heat pump system, including geothermal, the back-up heat is all electric, as well. Ask yourself this question…What happens when a small electric room heater is turned off? The room becomes instantly cold. Gas heat resonates and lasts which is why a lot of geothermal owners have a gas back-up furnace installed to work with their geothermal heat pump.

 

If you install a gas furnace that is labeled 95% efficient, that translates to .95 of 1 on the AFUE scale. Whereas, in a hybrid system the heating efficiency including the heat pumps electric 1st stage heat becomes close to 4.0 on the COP scale. That’s 4 times the efficiency overall.

 

Is a hybrid system more efficient than a regular a/c, gas system?

Is a hybrid system more efficient than a regular a/c, gas system? A high efficiency system that pairs a modulating furnace with a variable speed heat pump and a communicating thermostat will be much more efficient than the highest efficiency a/c, gas system. In fact, a high efficiency hybrid system will rate almost as high on the COP efficiency scale as a geothermal system. For example, the COP on a geothermal system can rate between 3.76 and 4.10, depending upon the size. A high efficiency hybrid can rate between 3.70 and 4.04.

 

What is I.A.Q? I.A.Q. stands for Indoor Air Quality. Today, various products are available as add-ons to your existing heating and cooling system to improve the quality and healthiness of the air inside your home. These items include:

 

  • Electronic- or Media-Type Air Filters:Filtering the air within your home will help eliminate smoke, pollen, odor, dust mites and allergens. This will allow you to breathe easier, sleep better and enjoy your home more.

 

  • Whole-House Humidifiers:Whole-house humidifiers provide consistent humidity levels throughout the home, and some models even adjust the humidity level automatically. The average heated home has a humidity level of less than 20%. The recommended humidity level in the winter should be between 35% and 45%.

 

  • Air-to-Air Heat-Recovery Ventilators:These ventilator systems remove stale air from inside the home, while bringing in fresh air from the outside that is warmed during the transfer process.

 

How important is air quality and what factors need to be considered? An air quality system can greatly improve both your comfort and your health. The areas of air quality to consider are (1) purification, (2) filtration, (3) humidity control, and (4) ventilation. A wide number of air quality features come standard with many new heating and air conditioning systems; others can easily be added to existing systems.

 

What is the primary function of a heat exchanger? A heat exchanger is a piece of metal designed to separate the safe warm air that is circulated through your home from the poisonous carbon monoxide gas created during the combustion process when you operate your furnace.

 

What are possible causes of cracks in a heat exchanger? The natural heating and cooling cycles of a furnace can lead to cracks in a heat exchanger. A furnace that is being overworked or stressed is more likely to have a premature breakdown and potential carbon monoxide leak. Dirty air filters, blocked vents, and burners that are not firing properly and disrupting the combustion process can all contribute to the detrimental stress that may lead to cracks in a heat exchanger.

 

What are the potential dangers of operating your HVAC system with a cracked heat exchanger?
If a crack in the heat exchanger allows carbon monoxide to escape into your home you may experience dizziness, light-headedness, flu-like symptoms, or even death by asphyxiation. Carbon monoxide limits the body’s ability to take in oxygen. This is an extremely dangerous situation to have in the home, because the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning may be gradual and undetected.

 

Should I be concerned about carbon monoxide in my home? Very concerned. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas produced during the combustion of fuels. It’s colorless, odorless, tasteless…and can be lethal. Even trace amounts can impair your brain function and impact your health. Cracks, leaks, obstructions and other malfunctions in your heating system can cause carbon monoxide to develop and accumulate.

 

Short-term exposure to carbon monoxide usually results in flu-like symptoms: nausea, headaches, dizziness, fatigue. Long-term exposure can eventually lead to unconsciousness or death.

 

Gober Heating & Air recommends the following to minimize carbon monoxide risks:

 

***If anyone from an HVAC company is trying to sell you a new system or expensive repair and uses the scare tactic that you have a cracked heat exchanger or that you have a gas leak so you should have them replace your system immediately should be evacuated along with every living being in the house. Call the fire department and gas company to have them check to see if either exists. If neither exist, you’re safe to occupy your house again.

 

  • Keep heating equipment in good repair by scheduling regular inspection and maintenance.
  • Keep furnaces, chimneys and vents free of obstruction. Watch out for birds, squirrels and other animals who sometimes build nests in these areas.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector, available at any home supply store.
  • Periodically open windows in winter to let in fresh oxygen-rich air inside and let out any potential carbon monoxide.
  • If you use an older gas stove or heater, look at the color of the pilot light. The flame should be at least 80 percent blue. If the flame is mostly yellow, it could be producing carbon monoxide, so have the unit checked by a professional immediately. Be sure to tune up your gas system at least once a year.

Today’s modern heating systems burn cleaner than older systems, minimizing or eliminating your risk of carbon monoxide exposure.

 

What is the ideal indoor humidity level? The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommend a household humidity level between 30 and 60 percent. The most comfortable level is between 35 and 45% humidity.

 

Why are humidifiers used more in heating than cooling? The average comfort range for relative humidity in a home is from 30 to 35%. When cool outdoor air enters your home, it tends to dry out as it warms up, which can cause static electricity build-up and sinus problems. A humidifier will add moisture back into the air and minimize these problems during the winter months. However the humidity level achieved in a home is effected by how tight a home is, how often the doors open and close size and style of humidifier. In most cases, summertime is hot and humid and requires the air to dehumidify, not humidify.

 

Are there any air conditioning systems that are safe for the environment? Yes.

Several manufactures have developed new systems that contain environmentally-friendly refrigerants such as R-410A and similar blends. 410A is a chlorine-free coolant that is safe for the Earth’s ozone-layer and delivers superior cooling than traditional refrigerants. In fact, in 2010, systems that used R-22 will be phased out and replaced with 410A systems. And by 2020, no more R-22 can be manufactured.

 

How do I know whether my heating and cooling equipment needs replacement or just repair?
Not an easy question to answer, but here are some factors to consider:

  1. The age of the current system. Today, any system that is more than ten years old is probably behind the times in terms of efficiency.
  2. Does the current system provide the level of comfort that you want? There is a growing difference between “builder grade” and consumer choice in what a system can offer in terms of comfort and convenience.
  3. How much will the repairs cost…and how many more repairs will you need in the future? Is keeping an older system operational worth the time, the money and the inconvenience? Sometimes you need to know when to cut bait and say goodbye to your old heater or air conditioner.

 

If energy prices continue to escalate, what would be most effective in controlling home comfort costs?
Here’s checklist of options:

  1. Make sure that your home’s current HVAC system is properly maintained and adjusted.
  2. Change attitude and habits. Rethink your clothing, your appliances and your activities in your home – anything that can produce lower temperature settings in winter and higher temperature settings in summer can help control energy use.
  3. Explore energy-saving add-ons for your current system: thermostats, humidifiers, and zoning controls.
  4. Plant trees and landscape for summer shade and winter sun.
  5. Add insulation, install weather stripping and plug air leaks throughout your home.

If the current system is in need of replacement, your efficiency options are expanded and the potential for savings compared to your existing system can be quite dramatic.

 

What should I look for when choosing a new heater, heat pump or air conditioning unit?
Here are some general rules of thumb when you are ready to replace your existing equipment:

  • Choose a manufacturer that has a good reputation for quality and durability.
  • Choose a model that with a high efficiency rating to bring you better comfort and lower your seasonal energy bill.
  • Choose the correct equipment size and system for your home.
  • Don’t just buy a unit just because it is on sale and seems like a great deal at the time; do some research on the product or ask the installation representative for more product information.
  • Finally, choose a reliable company with excellent customer satisfaction and a track record of service after the sale. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Check out contractor ratings and reviews online from organizations like Angie’s Listor the Better Business Bureau.

 

How do I know if my ductwork need to be cleaned? If you see hair and dust come out of a vent when your system turns on, it’s time to take a register or two off to reach way into the duct to see what, if anything, comes off on your hand. If your filter doesn’t last the full amount of time it’s made to last, there may be a lot of dust, hair, and other things needing to be cleaned out of your ducts. About 90% of all ducts that are cleaned don’t really need it, so be proactive and check the ducting yourself before spending the money.
Do I need to have my ductwork sealed? In most cases, you do not. There’s a new sales gimmick going around where HVAC contractors sell you duct sealing after a blower door test and then tell you that after your ducts are sealed, you won’t need anything but a low efficiency system because your ducts will no longer leak. This is totally false. Lower efficiency systems will still be single stage units and you will still suffer higher utility bills as well as far less comfort in your home. If your ducts do leak, there are ways to patch them externally. As long as your house is tight, insulation wise, the conditioned air that leaks, if it leaks, still remains in the home.