- Air Conditioning Repair and Replacement
- Maintenance and Tune-Ups
- Heat Pump Repair and Installation
- Thermostat and Zoning
- Air Cleaners and Humidifiers
Here are Instructions for What You Need To Know About Heating and Air Conditioning Systems
Al’s Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning performs all needed HVAC inspections, maintenance and cleaning to ensure maximum performance with minimum energy usage plus minimizing wear & tear on the system.
The AGE of your Heating and Air Conditioning system largely determines its efficiency. A/C manufactured during the years 1992-2005 was required to have a minimum 10 SEER. That minimum was raised in 2006 to 13 SEER.
There is an information plate on your A/C outside unit that tells you manufacture date, and newer units show SEER.
The chart below shows typical SEER ratings for air conditioners based on their age
This chart below shows the Annual Cooling Cost Savings on 11-18 SEER air conditioners (over 10 SEER). Replacing an 2005 air conditioner with a new 13 SEER system results in up to a 23% reduction in operating costs. An air conditioner made before 1980 has 1/2 of the efficiency of the 2005 model!
Electric Furnaces have 100% efficiency rating, but are expensive to operate due to the cost of electricity.
Like air conditioners, gas furnaces also have efficiency ratings. A central furnace’s efficiency is measured by Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE).
New furnaces have an AFUE rating of 78% or higher. This means up to 22% of the heat generated by the furnace leaves the house with the exhaust gases. If a furnace was manufactured in 1978 or later, it’s has a 78% or higher AFUE
High-efficiency gas furnaces have up to 95% AFUE ratings. Hi-E furnaces are not recommended in the attic as their exhaust-pipes could freeze. If the furnace is inside a closet within the home’s living space, a Hi-E furnace may be used.
The two diagrams below show how your Heating and Air Conditioning is likely configured in DFW.
Your home’s HVAC systems are designed to provide maximum performance with minimum energy usage. This performance is based on Ideal Maintenance. Neglected systems use as much as twice the energy as systems which receive all required annual maintenance.
Regardless the SEER, you will minimize energy usage and maximize performance with proper maintenance. Also, neglected systems must work harder than maintained ones, so they wear out faster.
Monthly and Annual Maintenance requried for Maximum Performance, Energy-Efficiency and System Lifespan
Filter — Filters need to be replaced as often as monthly. This depends on the number of people, activity level in the home, and the presence of shedding pets.
When the filter is dirty, system air-flow is reduced. This increases cooling and heating costs plus make the system run longer to achieve the degree of cooling / heating desired.
In a worst case, a clogged filter will buckle, allowing contaminants into the evaporator coil, blower fan and blower component (inside the furnace).
Condenser / Compressor Coil: The (outside) condenser coil is subjected to tremendous dirt and debris collection. Dust, grass-clippings, leaves, flower blossoms and other debris are pulled into the a/c coil and begin to clog it.
The longer its been since its last cleaning, the less efficiently the condenser / compressor operates. A dirty condenser coil dramatically increases operating costs plus shortens the life of the a/c.
Evaporator coil. This coil is typically shaped like an “A” and is located inside the furnace where it cannot be seen. Like the outside coil, this coil will clog over time with dust and pet hair. If the furnace was ever operated with a missing filter, or one so dirty it buckled (letting air bypass it) — this coil is clogged.
NOTE: A dirty evaporator coil is a perfect location for mold to grow, Then mold spores are dispersed throughout your home by the blower.
This coil is wet all summer long (it is what removes humidity from your home). Dust and moisture are all mold needs to grow. The second photo shows a neglected evaporator coil covered with black mold.
BLOWER. 2 blower parts need annual inspection, and cleaned as needed to ensure proper performance. One component is the blower “squirrel cage” (left * center photos below) and the other is the blower motor itself.
Both become dirty over time, reducing their ability to provide proper air-flow which increase energy usage and shortens the life of several HVAC components.
DUCTWORK: Ductwork has two maintenance needs, sealing and cleaning. These are not required annually.
Most older ductwork systems were installed without sealants, or duct tape was used (which fails very quickly). Also, over time, ductwork may need to be resealed.
In DFW, Attic Ductwork sealing products are subjected to intense heat due to attic installations. In testing various sealants, Berkely Labs, CA performed a test in which sealed joints were “baked” at temperatures of 140 to 187 F, as attic temperatures can rise to 150 degrees F. Most sealants, except duct tape, performed acceptably during the tests.
The photo below shows new mastic-sealer on new ductwork
Examples of leaking ductwork where no sealant was used.
Here is a link for a US Dept. Of Energy article about sealing ductwork in existing homes. Click Here
DUCTWORK CLEANING: Al’s Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning does not perform ductwork cleaning. You can find many ductwork cleaning services with a Google search or in the Yellow Pages.
In addition to the HVAC System’s Cleaning Needs, there are several Safety and Performance Inspections as part of Annual Maintenance
Gas Furnace HEAT-EXCHANGER Inspection. The heat-exchanger is where heat produced by the burners is transferred into the air the furnace is providing to the home. Once the heat is extracted from the heat-exchanger, it vents the exhaust gases to the outside.
The heat-exchanger expands each time it heats up and contracts when it cools down. Over time, this can produce cracks in the heat-exchanger. A cracked Heat-Exchanger can allow Carbon Monoxide into the household air coming from the furnace.
WARNING: A cracked heat-exchanger can allow exhaust-gases and carbon monoxide into your home. In lesser quantities, carbon-monoxide will make you sick. In larger quantities, it can be fatal!
Gas Furnace Burners. Gas Furnace Burners pull in unfiltered air for combustion and get dirty over time from dust and soot. This lowers the furnace’s efficiency, as both dust and soot reduce the burners’ ability to work properly and safely. Periodic cleaning is required.
Additionally, burners may need adjustments to the mixture of air and gas. Burners needing maintenance will show a yellow or orange flame. When a furnace burning is operating properly, there is a steady, even and blue flame.
7. Gas furnace venting. The venting for your gas furnace is subject to failures due to aging. The vent pipe can rust or become improperly aligned over time, causing it to not vent safely. Improper venting can allow carbon-monoxide into your home.
If you have not had your furnace inspected since purchasing a used home, there may be problems with the venting you are unaware of.
When was the last time you looked at your attic furnace?
SUMMARY: There are many components within your heating and air conditioning systems which need annual inspections, maintenance, and cleaned as needed.
If this maintenance is not performed, accumulation of dust, pet hair, and debris inside your furnace causes components to become dirty and function increasingly less efficiently. The same applies to the condenser / compressor outside the home.
Mold can grown on a dirty evaporator coil (discussed above) as mold needs only dust and moisture to grow. If mold growth occurs, the mold spores are then spread over the entire house by the blower.
Over time, several components on a gas furnace may need adjusting or replacement. If not inspected, they may allow carbon monoxide to enter your home instead of being vented outside safely.
Al’s Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning performs all needed HVAC inspections, maintenance and components cleaning to ensure maximum performance while minimizing wear & tear on the system.