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Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do to get my energy costs down?
You can save about three percent of your heating costs for every degree you lower your thermostat during the winter and for every degree you raise your thermostat in the summer, you can cut cooling costs up to six percent.*

Just as important, your system's components should have the highest possible energy efficiency ratings. Make sure your components meet the following minimums:

  • Air conditioners: SEER ratings of 13 or higher.
  • Furnaces: AFUE ratings of 80 or higher.
  • Heat pumps: HSPF ratings of 7 or higher.

Having a matched system will also help. Every component in a matched system is designed to be matched in capacity and efficiency. That way you can enjoy the highest system efficiency possible.

Lastly, if you're shopping for a new heating and air conditioning system, consider a
high-efficiency variable speed system. Variable speed means your system varies its speed depending on your home's heating and cooling requirements. It makes sure you get the amount of heating or cooling you need without wasting energy.

*Potential energy savings may vary depending on your personal lifestyle, system settings, equipment maintenance, local climate, actual construction and installation of equipment and duct system.

What is the importance of rating numbers?
Rating numbers indicate the efficiency of heating and air conditioning equipment and are directly related to the amount of energy a specific model uses. The higher the rating, the more efficient the product, and the lower your energy bills can be. The federal government establishes rating guidelines and sets minimum efficiency levels. For cooling, the rating is SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). For heat pumps, the rating is HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor). Gas furnaces are rated with AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency).

How often should I change my filter?
It depends on the filter. Generally, if you have a store bought filter, you should plan on changing it every three (3) months. However, it needs to be checked MONTHLY. With higher efficiency filters, you have a longer life span. They need changed once or twice a year.

How often should I have maintenance performed on my system?
Twice a year.
The ideal time to have your system maintained is in the Spring for your AC and in the fall for your furnace. Check out our Priority Price Club for one low price for both units.

Why should I replace my existing heating or air conditioning 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.

What are some preventative maintenance things I should be aware of?
With the proper attention, heating and cooling systems can keep you comfortable year-round. Heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces and boilers need a yearly professional tune-up. Gas-fired equipment, on the other hand, burns cleaner and can be serviced every other year. A close inspection will uncover leaks, soot, rust, rot, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires. In furnace (forced-air) and boiler (hot-water) systems, the inspection should also cover the chimney, ductwork or pipes, dampers or valves, blower or pump, registers or radiators, the fuel line and the gas meter or oil tank — as well as every part of the furnace or boiler itself.

Next, the system should be run through a full heating cycle to ensure that it has plenty of combustion air and chimney draft. Finally, cleaning the burner and heat exchanger to remove soot and other gunk will prevent such buildup from impeding smooth operation. For the burner, efficiency hinges on adjusting the flame to the right size and color, adjusting the flow of gas or changing the fuel filter in an oil-fired system. A check of the heat pump should include an inspection of the compressor, fan, indoor and outdoor coils and refrigerant lines. Indoor and outdoor coils should be cleaned, and the refrigerant pressure should be checked.

Blower
Tuning up the distribution side of a forced-air system starts with the blower. The axle should be lubricated, blades cleaned and lower motor checked to insure the unit isn't being overloaded. The fan belt should be adjusted so it deflects no more than an inch when pressed. Every accessible joint in the ductwork should be sealed with mastic or UL-approved duct tapes. Any ducts that run outside the heated space should be insulated. On a hot-water system, the expansion tank should be drained, the circulating pump cleaned and lubricated and air bled out of the radiators.

Thermostat
While thermostats rarely fail outright, they can degrade over time as mechanical parts stick or lose their calibration. Older units will send faulty signals if they've been knocked out of level or have dirty switches. To recalibrate an older unit, use a wrench to adjust the nut on the back of the mercury switch until it turns the system on and, using a room thermometer, set it to the correct temperature. Modern electronic thermostats, sealed at the factory to keep out dust and grime, rarely need adjusting. However, whether your thermostat is old or young, the hole where the thermostat wire comes through the wall needs to be caulked, or a draft could trick it into thinking the room is warmer or colder than it really is.

Humidifier
A neglected in-duct humidifier can breed mildew and bacteria, not to mention add too much moisture to a house. A common mistake with humidifiers is leaving them on after the heating season ends. Don't forget to pull the plug, shut the water valve and drain the unit. A unit with a water reservoir should be drained and cleaned with white vinegar, a mix of one part chlorine bleach to eight parts water or muriatic acid. Mist-type humidifiers also require regular cleaning to remove mineral deposits.

Filters
Most houses with forced-air furnaces have a standard furnace filter made from loosely woven spun-glass fibers designed to keep it and its ductwork clean. Unfortunately, they don't improve indoor air quality. That takes a media filter, which sits in between the main return duct and the blower cabinet. Made of a deeply pleated, paper-like material, media filters are at least seven times better than a standard filter at removing dust and other particles. An upgrade to a pleated media filter will cleanse the air of everything from insecticide dust to flu viruses. Compressed, media filters are usually no wider than six inches, but the pleated material can cover up to 75 square feet when stretched out. This increased area of filtration accounts for the filter's long life, which can exceed two years. The only drawback to a media filter is its tight weave, which can restrict a furnace's ability to blow air through the house. To insure a steady, strong airflow through the house, choose a filter that matches your blower's capacity.

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