1. Get It Right the First Time (Why the Installation Is Critical)
At the start of it all is the installation.
Now, let’s be clear at the outset: not all heating and air conditioning installation contractors are created equal. In fact, there is no shortage of fly-by-night operations who will lowball every bid to get the job, and then cut corners to maximize their profit margins.
How To Avoid Disreputable Contractors
Check their paperwork. In addition to licenses and certifications, they should be able to provide proof of adequate insurance – including liability insurance to protect you and your home while they’re on the job.
Check their online reviews. Sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, and The Better Business Bureau are resources for checking up on HVAC companies. You can also Google “AC repair near me” or “HVAC contractors near me” to find who has ranked well on Google, as that is at least some indicator of trustworthiness.
Check their references. Any contractor worth their salt can put you in touch with other customers. You can also ask friends and relatives for recommendations for trusted contractors.
Check their litigation history. In most places, it isn’t too difficult to check with the court system to find out if the company you’re considering has a history of litigation. If judgments have been rendered against them a number of times, well … that would be a pretty big red flag.
Check your gut. Vibes or gut feelings shouldn’t go unanswered. If they’re slow to respond, aren’t providing detailed, itemized estimates, are rude on the phone or in person, you might be best served by looking for another contractor.
Once you’ve chosen a company that feels right, you can keep an eye on the situation and ask lots of questions to make sure you’re getting the most efficient heating or air conditioning service possible.
If you are considering a replacement to your existing central air conditioning system, make sure you start things strong so that you can enjoy a powerful, efficient system for many years. A proper professional installation, complete with load calculations, duct calculations, and a no-nonsense approach to the physical installation, can give you exactly that.
2. Scheduled Maintenance Calls Are Spa Days For Your Equipment
In a given year, your heating and cooling equipment does an extraordinary amount of work. Moving huge volumes of air in order to control your climate requires a lot of energy, and a lot of moving parts that experience a lot of wear and tear. Over time, degradation and damage is inevitable.
Or is it?
Much like regular oil changes and vehicle tune-ups, there is a TUNE-UP for your HVAC system. It’s a readily available service, not a terrifically expensive one, and one that will do WONDERS for the longevity of your system.
The Inside Scoop On HVAC Tune-Ups
An AC system is tuned up in the following ways, to ensure optimal performance:
- The technician will run a performance and efficiency evaluation.
- The technician will test all components to ensure they are in working order.
- The technician will inspect your ducts to determine if they are clean, clear, and well insulated against leakage.
- The technician will confirm that refrigerant levels are correct.
- The technician will seek out and repair leaks in the refrigerant line.
- The technician will look for and clear clogs in the drain lines.
- The technician will inspect the electrical wiring and fittings.
Once they’ve ensured that everything is in tip-top shape and made any necessary repairs and adjustments, your equipment will be ready for the season.
When To Schedule Tune-Ups
The Indiana climate can be on the extreme side. We recommend a biannual AC tune-up, scheduled a reasonable amount of time in advance of the heating or cooling season.
That means you should be having your cooling system checked in the spring, and your heating equipment checked in the late summer or early fall. If you use a heat pump, price and convenience are simplified slightly because you can simply have that heating and cooling equipment tuned up twice a year by the same service company.
3. Your Eyes and Ears Are Important – Pay Attention
Here’s the thing about heating and cooling equipment:
In general, it is very well made. Whether you’re using Carrier, Trane, Lennox, or some other trusted brand, you’re getting serious machines – and they want to work. These companies offer decade-long (or longer) warranties because they know that their products are built to last.
HOWEVER, nothing is immune to time and poor maintenance, and even the most reliable equipment can break down if its needs are ignored.
You don’t drive a Mercedes and never get the oil or brakes done …
… your HVAC system deserves the same attention
Some Warning Signs You Can Watch For
- Leaking refrigerant or water.
- Rooms in the home that aren’t cooling or heating the way they should, or the way that they used to.
- Thermostat malfunctions.
- Smells, particularly electrical smells, burning smells, or musty smells.
- An unexpected increase in utility or fuel costs.
- Frequent headache or nausea that may be a symptom of carbon monoxide from a furnace in need of immediate service.
- Increased sensitivity to or presence of dust and allergens.
If you catch a small problem early, you can have your preferred HVAC repair specialists take care of them – BEFORE they become big problems. You also get the personal pride of knowing that you are helping to take care of what is, in fact, the single largest financial investment in the average residential property.
4. Change Your Air Filter – Now, Later, Always
And frequently, too.
The simplest (but perhaps, most important) task the homeowner contends with is the air filters in their furnace, heat pump, or central air conditioner. Filters are in the air handler (the indoor section), capturing dust and other particles so they don’t go flying around your house with the temperature-controlled air.
If these aren’t cleaned or repaired frequently, they can lead to a whole slew of very serious problems, including:
- Air restrictions
- Overheating of furnace
- Freezing of evaporator coils
- Higher bills
- And more
All of these issues tend to shorten the lifespan of the equipment, as well. Simply by paying attention to owner maintenance like filter changes and vent cleaning, you can be a part of maintaining your system at peak performance levels.
The Highest MERV-rated Air Filters May Not Be What You Need
When shopping for air filters for your HVAC system, the most common feature the average homeowner notices when choosing what to buy is the MERV rating on the packaging of all filters. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, and it’s a number from 1-20 that essentially functions as shorthand to describe how well that filter traps particulates.
So wouldn’t the highest MERV rating automatically be the best?
No. Not necessarily.
And here’s why:
The higher the efficiency of the filter, the more resistance the filter puts up as air passes through it. That means that higher MERV rated filters – such as the ever-popular HEPA filters – are going to restrict your system’s airflow and increase the workload required to move that air around.
In fact, unless you or someone in your home has a severe allergy or pulmonary condition, super-efficient filters are a potential liability that may raise your monthly bills and shorten the lifespan of your heating and cooling gear.
Meanwhile, lower-resistance filters with midrange MERV ratings of 7-15 are very nearly as effective as HEPA filters, but they allow air to pass through much more freely. Striking a balance between efficiency and resistance is the key.
Ask us – we can help you choose the filter that is right for you. And remember – change them as directed by your service provider.
5. A Programmable Thermostat Will Smarten Up Your Whole System
Thermostats are essentially the higher brain function of your system – they work with the control board, or lower brain, to make the rest of the body operate as intended. From ductwork to handlers, to motors, to compressors and coils, your thermostat is calling the shots.
So you should get the best brain you can.
If the name of the game is extending the lifespan of your furnace, heat pump, or AC, the key is efficiency. The more efficiently your equipment hums along, the longer it lasts and the less often it requires repairs.
As a hard and fast rule, programmable thermostats are the way to go. They allow you to avoid unnecessary heating (such as when you are away from home), and they lower your utility costs. Best of all they help maintain even, regular ON/OFF cycles for your HVAC system, which keeps efficiency high.
As an added bonus, many modern thermostats are wi-fi capable and allow you to control your home’s heating and cooling from any approved and connected mobile device, including your cell phone.
If you’re still making do with an outdated thermostat, call us today. You will be absolutely shocked at how much money a modern, programmable thermostat can save you.
Here’s a hint:
It’s enough to pay for the actual thermostat surprisingly quickly.
6. Have Your Ductwork Checked
Again, efficiency is the key to longevity. Part of that is ensuring that your ducts are doing exactly what they should be.
Why The Ducts Matter
If you think of your HVAC system as a circulatory system, this might start to make more sense to you. Your ducts are veins, and your air handler is the heart, pumping it all where it needs to go.
What happens if veins get clogged?
That’s right – someone has a heart attack.
In a heater or air conditioner, that manifests as restricted airflow, and, in more extreme cases, damage to the blower fan motor or the compressor. You should have your ducts inspected to be absolutely certain that:
They are laid out efficiently and in a way that adequately and evenly distributes air to rooms in your home.
They are properly sealed and insulated – did you know that many homes are losing 30% or more of their heating and cooling energy to attics and basements and crawl spaces because of leaking ductwork?
They are clean and free of dust, mold, and bacteria.
7. Ceiling Fans Are Your Friends
In the old days, ceiling fans were the only available choice for cooling homes off in the summer swelter. While they aren’t much help in the cold, in the warm seasons, ceiling fans can save you a staggering amount of money each month.
They help by distributing the air quickly and evenly through your home, and by making rooms feel up to 4-5 degrees cooler than the actual ambient temperature.
This, in turn, allows you to set your thermostat a corresponding number of degrees higher while enjoying the same comfort level. That 4-5 degree difference could reduce the operating costs of your heat pump or central air conditioner by as much as $0.15-$0.17 per hour, while a ceiling fan costs only a penny an hour to run.
That's all for today but perhaps you have questions. Please call us at 765-653-8808 and we are super happy to help!
7 Proven Ways to get the Most Life From your Central AC System
No matter where you live or what you do …
… HVAC equipment is a pretty big investment.
Companies compete with one another to offer the best prices – and we think we’ve managed to make things pretty darned affordable – but at the end of the day, it’s an enormous piece of complex machinery with a baseline price that can make a homeowner wince.
So when you’re shopping for an HVAC system, looking at a new AC installation, researching a heat pump price, or even just pricing out AC repair, price is often the deciding factor in earning your business.
We have a better idea. Instead of panicking over prices or waiting for the perfect sale, let’s focus on keeping your existing central air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace working for as long as we can.
With these scientifically tested and proven techniques, you can coax better performance, higher efficiency, and a longer lifespan out of whatever heating and cooling equipment your home is using.
Now that we’ve got your attention …
Let’s talk specifics.