Frequently Asked HVAC & Plumbing Questions
WHY SHOULD I REPLACE MY HVAC SYSTEM?
You may wish to consider replacing your air conditioning or heating system if it is old, inefficient or in need of repair. Today’s systems are as much as 60% more efficient than those systems manufactured as little as ten years ago. In addition, if not properly maintained, wear and tear on a system can reduce the actual or realized efficiency of the system.
If you are concerned about utility bills or are faced with an expensive repair, you may want to consider replacing your system rather than enduring another costly season or paying to replace an expensive component. The utility cost savings of a new unit may provide an attractive return on your investment.
If you plan on financing the purchase, the monthly savings on your utility bill should be considered when determining the actual monthly cost of replacing a system. The offsetting savings may permit you to purchase a more efficient system. Norman Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing provides financing through local lenders.
WHICH AC IS RIGHT FOR MY HOME?
First, make sure the unit is properly sized. Norman Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing will provide a load calculation for your home.
Next, consider any comfort issues in the home. Some products can reduce air stratification and uneven temperatures from room to room. If you have allergies, an indoor unit with an ECM motor will allow you to circulate the air in your home continuously while filtering the air for about the same cost as operating a standard light bulb.
Finally, know your budget parameters and the efficiency of the system being proposed. Does the system offer a payback? In other words, will the monthly savings over time offset the cost of the new unit or efficiency option being considered?
HOW LONG CAN I EXPECT A NEW SYSTEM TO LAST?
If you have a qualified technician perform regular preventative maintenance and service suggested for your unit, industry averages suggest that an air conditioner should last 12-15 years (sea coast applications may be less) and a gas furnace should last as many as 20-25 years.
SHOULD I REPAIR OR REPLACE MY AC?
Determining whether to repair or replace an old heating and air conditioning equipment can be difficult. However, having changed/repaired numerous systems, we have some guidelines to help you make this decision.
Life Expectancy of Current System
Paying for repairs to an old or inefficient system often simply prolongs the inevitable. It’s almost like putting a bandage on a serious injury. 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.
Even six-year-old heat pumps and air conditioners are considered grossly inefficient by today’s energy efficiency standards. So are most furnaces built before 1980. So you could save up to 60% on your energy bills with new high-efficiency equipment. That’s why installing a new heating and cooling system can actually pay for itself in energy savings within a relatively short time.
Looking at the Big Picture
Replacing your old furnace with a new higher-efficiency model but leaving your old mechanical thermostat in place won’t allow you to enjoy all the efficiency advantages the furnace has to offer. Likewise, if you install a new furnace but don’t get a humidifier, the air may seem cooler, forcing you to operate your new system at a higher temperature to be comfortable. Plus, you can often save on installation costs if you have several components of your system (for example, a furnace and an air conditioner) replaced at the same time.
WHAT DOES AC MAINTENANCE INCLUDE?
Routine maintenance on your heating and air conditioning equipment can save you a lot of money and frustration. Just as you need your car running at all times, you should plan and schedule regular maintenance.
In the spring, Norman Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can typically check a heat pump or air conditioner for the following:
- operating pressures
- refrigerant charge
- filter condition
- fan motor
- crankcase heaters
- coils cleaning
- lubrication of moving parts
In the fall, you can expect Norman Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing to check your furnace in the following areas:
- burner and pilot assemblies
- cracks in the heat exchanger
- check the pilot thermocouple
- examine the filter and check vent piping
- test the electronic ignition
- test the fan
- test the limit switch
- burner adjustments
- measure manifold gas pressure
- measure temperature rise
- carbon monoxide test
- set the heat anticipator
- check and adjust belt tension
- examine the draft diverter
- lubricate the fan motor
WHAT TEMPERATURE SHOULD I SET MY THERMOSTAT TO?
Normal cooling settings are 75 to 80 degrees. Normal heating settings are 68 to 72 degrees. You should always set your thermostat to the highest possible setting that is comfortable for you in the summer and the lowest comfortable setting in the winter. Setting your thermostat in this way will maximize your energy savings. On average, every 1 degree of temperature change is equal to about 1% energy savings. For example, changing your thermostat setting from 75 degrees to 76 degrees in the summer could result in savings on your cooling costs.
WHY IS MY OUTDOOR AC UNIT SO LOUD?
Most AC units use padding inside them to absorb the sound of internal parts – like the main fan. However, that padding can wear down and crumble away causing a louder noise than usual. It may help to have a technician come check the padding to repair or replace it. If you hear any unusual rattles or bangs, contact an HVAC professional to repair the broken part inside the unit.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHANGE MY AIR FILTER?
At the risk of telling you something you’re tired of hearing, replace the air filter in your furnace and air conditioner on a regular basis. Dirty air filters reduce the amount of air flowing through a system and make the units work harder to maintain the temperature. How often you change the filter depends on the type of filter you use, if you have pets, and the size of your equipment. Please contact us and we can give you proper guidance.