My power bill is very high during the summer and the winter. Will a new heating and cooling system lower my bills?
Yes. Replacing an old inefficient heating and cooling system with a newer high efficiency system will usually reduce your heating and cooling energy consumption.
When should I replace my HVAC system?
The life of your heat pump and furnace is determined by many factors, the most important is regular HVAC maintenance. An HVAC system can last anywhere between 7 and 15 years. A maintained system will usually last its whole design life. However we have seen units at homes next to the ocean that have corroded beyond repair (due to salt spray and lack of maintenance) in five years.
If you have a split system that is over 10 years old and only the outdoor or indoor unit fails, it is wise to replace both sections not just one at a time. It will be cheaper in the long run due to efficiency and labor costs.
Also adding a new component to an old system can shorten the life of the new component. If you do decide to replace only the indoor unit or the outdoor unit on a heat pump make sure it is matched by model and make. A mismatch will not work.
My home is very dry during the winter. What can I do to change this?
A lot of people have a problem with very dry homes during the winter. Dry air can cause dry cracked hands, a dry nose, a dry throat and the occasional zap when you turn on the TV. The simplest solution is to install a humidifier on your heating and cooling system. This will allow you to dial in the desired humidity you want. Your furnishings, your skin and even the structure of your home will benefit from proper humidity. If fact moist air feels warmer. This will allow you to lower your thermostat setting and save on energy bills.
The room over my garage is always cold in the winter and hot in the summer. How can I fix this?
This is a very common problem for anyone with a room over their garage. This is caused by the garage being exposed to the outdoor air in combination with small amounts of insulation in the room. A solution to this problem is a zoning system. A zoning system is a series of easily installed electronic dampers and thermostats that allows you to control the temperature of selected sections of your home.
Is my old furnace dangerous?
An old furnace can be very dangerous. All furnaces have a major component called a heat exchanger. A heat exchanger consists of a series of closed chambers that are heated with gas or oil burners. As the heat exchanger is heated the metal it is constructed from expands and as it cools it contracts. If you can imagine a paper clip that is being bent back and forth, it will eventually break. The same goes with a heat exchanger. After years of expanding and contracting it will eventually crack. When this happens, deadly carbon monoxide gas (which is normally vented through the flue) can get into your home. A furnace’s heat exchanger should be inspected every year before the heating season.
The drain pan below my indoor unit keeps filling up with water. Is this a problem?
If the drain pan under your unit is full of water, your system has a problem. Once you detect water turn the system off. Many systems have a float switch mounted in the drain pan. Once water opens the switch the system will be cut off to prevent possible ceiling damage. A full emergency drain pan can be caused by several problems, the two most common are a clogged condensate line or a rusted primary drain pan in the unit. At the first sight of water, call Fitch Services in Charlottesville to have one of our licensed HVAC technicians inspect the system to determine the problem. If you are not in the Charlottesville area, contact a nearby licensed HVAC expert.
When should I change my filters?
Inspect your heating and cooling system filters monthly and change them as often as necessary. For most homeowners, every other month is about right.
A clogged filter can cause the system to operate improperly and shorten its operating life. If a filter is full of debris , replace it.
I have a problem with allergies, is there anything I can do with my heating and cooling system to help this?
If you have allergies there are many new products on the market for your heating and cooling system that can relieve some of the symptoms. One of the most popular is an Ultra Violet lamp which is inserted into the duct work. By exposing the air that passes through the duct work to ultra violet light many airborne contaminates such as viruses, bacteria , mold, toxins and waste products can be eliminated. Also, the average store bought air filter only collects 15% of the air born particles that pass through your system. There are now super high efficiency air filters out that can collect up 95% to 99% of all air born particles. The combination of an Ultra Violet lamp and a high efficiency air filter can create a very clean indoor environment that can help relieve many allergy symptoms.
I think my heating and cooling system is too small for my house, can this cause problems?
Having an undersized heating and cooling system in your home can be a problem. An undersized heating and cooling system will always be running and will never satisfy the required temperature. Undersized equipment will also not last as long as a properly sized system. If you think your system is undersized, have a load calculation performed on your home. This is accomplished by a System Designer measuring your home, its windows and insulation. All these measurements are then put into a manual J calculation to determine the size of equipment that would need to be installed to properly heat and or cool a home.
I think my heating and cooling system is too large for my house, can this cause problems?
Having an oversized heating and cooling system in your home can be a problem. This can easily be seen in the summer when it is hot and muggy. An oversized system doesn’t run long enough to remove the proper amount of moisture from the air to make the environment feel comfortable. If you think your system is oversized, have a load calculation performed on your home. This is accomplished by a System Designer measuring your home, its windows and insulation. All these measurements are then put into a manual J calculation to determine the size of equipment that would need to be installed to properly heat and or cool a home.
My house is close to the oceanfront and my outdoor equipment is very rusty. How can I prevent this?
This is a very common problem for homeowners that live near the oceanfront. Spray from the ocean is very salty. Since the outdoor units are exposed to this 24 hours a day, their useful life can be cut in half. This problem can be handled by seasonal maintenance or by replacing the outdoor unit with a piece of equipment that is designed to withstand the rigors of salty air.
How often should my system have maintenance?
A Heating and cooling system should have maintenance performed on it twice a year. Once before the heating season and once before the cooling season. This is called seasonal preventive maintenance or a seasonal Precision Tune Up and Professional Cleaning. This process includes cleaning the systems coils and coating them with a disinfectant, checking all components, lubricating all components that need lubricating, checking all electrical systems, checking freon levels and waxing the outside of the units.
My system is not running, what should I do?
If your system is not running, the first thing you can check is your fuse box. If the fuse has been tripped due to bad weather just flip the fuse and check the system. If it still doesnâ€™t work call for a service technician.
My outdoor unit is covered with ice. Is this a problem?
If the coils of your outdoor unit are covered with a large layer of ice you may have a serious problem. This can be caused by a bad defrost board, low freon level, restriction in the refrigeration line, bad fan motor or a bad fan capacitor. If you start seeing ice wait to see if the unit goes into defrost mode. If the ice starts building up call for service.
Can I just replace the heat pump on an older system to save money?
No. Replacing only the outdoor unit will sacrifice your comfort and lower the efficiency of the unit. In fact, you can lose up to 15% of the unit’s efficiency! Even worse, your system may fail sooner than normal and most manufacturers’ warranties will be voided. You should seriously consider buying a complete heat pump system.
Should I have my ducts cleaned?
Yes. Mold, mildew, pet hair, skin flakes, smoke film, dander, dust mites, dirt, pollen, and even bacteria take up residence in your air ducts. With each breath you take you inhale these contaminants. Dirty air ducts can not only make you sick or raise your utility bills, but they can also reduce your air flow and cause premature failure of your expensive heating and cooling system. To see a before and after picture on duct cleaning click here.
Should I replace or repair my equipment?
There are five main questions that need to be considered when deciding to either replace or repair your heating and cooling system: * How old is your system? If your system is more than ten years old, it may be wiser to invest in new, higher efficiency equipment, which could cut your energy costs by up to 40%. * What is the efficiency level of your current indoor weather system? Unfortunately, replacing parts of your old system will not improve the efficiency. If the energy savings of using a higher efficiency system will cover all or part of the cost of investing in new equipment, you should seriously consider replacement of the old system. * What is the overall condition of your system? If your system is in solid condition, it could be wiser to simply repair it. But if your system breaks down often, you should consider replacing it. * How often is your system operating? If your system has been used extensively, it may be time to replace it. * Are you planning to move soon? If you are moving in the next year or two and believe investing in a new indoor weather system will improve the value of your home, you should consider making the investment. If you plan to live in your current residence for many more years, it may also be wise to go ahead and invest in your future comfort.
How can I reduce allergens and increase humidity in my home?
With a high efficiency air cleaner, you can remove up to 99% of the pollen and spores that find their way into the home. There is also a great reduction in household dust, dirt, smoke, and other air pollutants. Your indoor air will become cleaner and fresher while reducing the allergens and dust that circulate throughout the house. With a whole house humidifier, you can relieve the irritating discomfort of dry indoor air. The humidifier reduces itchy skin, scratchy throats, static electricity, and damage to your furnishings and woodwork. Since humid air feels warmer than dry air, you do not have to set the thermostat as high to feel the comfort you want. A lower thermostat setting will reduce the costs of your energy bill. A humidifier improves your comfort while increasing the energy efficiency of your indoor weather system.
Should I be concerned about Carbon Monoxide in my home?
Yes. Each year, carbon monoxide kills more than 300 Americans and sends nearly 5,000 more to emergency rooms for treatment, reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Where does it come from? When carbon-based fuels such as gas, oil, kerosene or wood burn, they produce gases. When fuel combustion or burning isn’t complete, carbon monoxide enters the air. The CPSC advises that carbon monoxide detectors are the only way to alert yourself to the presence of toxic gas in your home. If you wake in the night with a headache — and especially if another member of the family complains of a headache or is difficult to arouse — get out of the house fast, advises the Mayo Clinic Family Health Book. Seek emergency medical care.
How can I reduce my energy costs in the Winter?
* Limit the loss of expensive heated air to the outside. Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans sparingly. * Keep fireplace dampers tightly closed until you prepare to light a fire. * When using your fireplace, limit the amount of heated air drawn from the rest of the house. Open dampers in the bottom of the firebox if provided, or open the closest window about 1 inch and close any doors leading into the room. * Draft-proof windows, doors, and other air leaks. Caulking and weather stripping are reasonably easy, so you may be able to save money by doing the job yourself. * Lower your thermostat to about 65 degrees F during the day and 60 degrees F at night. For each degree you turn down your thermostat, you’ll save about 3 percent on your heating bills. Consider the comfort and convenience of an automatic clock thermostat to do this for you. * Avoid heating unused areas by closing off unoccupied rooms and shutting off heating vents. Note: this does not apply if you have a heat pump system. Leave it alone, as shutting vents could harm a heat pump. * Keep your heating equipment operating efficiently. Clean or replace the filter in your forced air heating system each month, and check the duct work that is readily accessible for air leaks about once a year. Be sure that heating ducts in unheated areas are insulated. Keep the heating system well tuned with periodic maintenance by a professional service. * Insulate your attic floor or top floor ceiling to reduce winter heat loss. * Consider installing storm windows and doors. * If you have an attached garage, keep your garage door closed. This will prevent cold winds from infiltrating the connecting door and other areas between the house and garage.
What does Energy Star mean?
Energy Star stands for high-efficiency and energy savings according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Energy Star heating and cooling products are a good investment. Owners of such equipment realize returns in the form of lower utility bills.