You have questions. wE have answers.
Below are some common questions asked while considering HVAC systems, proper operation and periodic maintenance.
We have a glossary at the end of the page explaining the technical terms and abbreviations.
The heating and cooling systems are sized according to their tonnage. One (1) ton equals 12,000 BTU/H. Residential systems can range from 1 to 5 tons.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no rule of thumb for sizing a system to a home. Depending upon the construction of your home, one (1) ton of heating and/or air conditioning can cool anywhere from 300 to 800 square feet of home. The only way to insure the size of the system you purchase will be large enough to heat and/or cool your home, but not any larger than you need, is to have your home’s individual heating and cooling needs evaluated by a licensed professional.
H.S.P.F. (heating seasonal performance factor) is the most commonly used measure of a heat pumps heating efficiency. H.S.P.F. represents the total heating output of a heat pump (including supplementary electric heat) during the normal heating season (in Btu) as compared to the total electricity consumed (in watt-hours) during the same period H.S.P.F. numbers start at 7.8 (systems older than 4 year are likely less) and go above 9.0 The higher the H.S.P.F., the more efficient the heat pump. Unlike S.E.E.R the heating seasonal performance factor can change drastically with the various combinations of indoor units and coils.
The S.E.E.R. (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) is the amount of cooling your system will deliver per dollar spent on electricity. For example, a 3-ton unit may have a S.E.E.R. efficiency rating of 13, 14, or 15. The higher the S.E.E.R. the more efficient the system will be. The S.E.E.R. rating of any given unit can range anywhere from 13 to 17.
The most important thing you can do is clean and replace your filters frequently. Also, a system heats and cools more evenly when the blower is in the “on” position. The blower provides constant air movement throughout the home, and allows for better filtration. Finally, shades, drapes, shutters, or screens should be installed on windows that are exposed to extreme sunlight.
No. A larger system with more capacity delivers less comfort and costs more to operate. Your system is at its least efficient when first turning on. A system with too much capacity will run in numerous short cycles, turning on and off repeatedly, therefore causing it to be less efficient. Also keep in mind that an air conditioner only removes humidity when it’s running, so a system with shorter run cycles doesn’t remove humidity from the air very well.
There is no exact answer for how long your system should run during each cycle. The average system is sized to remove the heat from your home as fast as it comes in, on a 85° day. Therefore, ideally, on a 85° day the system should be able to keep up with the incoming heat, but not gain on it and be able to turn off. The cooler it is below 85°, the more the system will cycle on and off. Same applies as it gets colder on average we design the systems to heat your home at 23°. As the temperature rises above 83° or falls below 23° you will likely start to see longer run times until the unit runs continually and the system will not reach the temperature on the thermostat. The Washington State Energy Code requires we size our system based on local design temperature such as the above to heat a home to 70° and cool to 78°.
Every time your system starts up, it will use a lot of electricity and not produce much heating or cooling. Usually a system that is too small to cool the home is more economical to run but delivers less comfort. Even though it runs nonstop, it will usually consume less power than a larger system that cycles on and off. As a rule of thumb, a unit that is either on or off is less expensive than one cycling on and off.
Yes, this is normal. A heat pump generally produces air that is 80°, which is considered warm, and will heat the house evenly. However, 80° may feel cool to your hand, which is usually closer to 90°.
Obviously the time of year becomes a big factor for desired temperature settings. In the summer months the average temperature setting is 78°-80°, in the winter 70°-72° seems to be the most common setting. Remember, when leaving your house, try to avoid drastic temperature changes. Do not set your temperature back more than 5°; this will cause your unit to work harder to achieve the desired temperature setting.
Different programmable thermostats offer many different features. However, because they are electronic, they are all more accurate and efficient than thermostats that contain mercury. With programmable thermostats you can control the temperature in your home at different times of day without ever touching your thermostat. Because everything is automatic, you will never forget to change the setting on your own.
For optimum efficiency and filtration, we recommend that you replace your disposable filters at least once a month. If you have washable filters, they should be cleaned once a month.
The most important maintenance you can do is to change your filters regularly. Ground mounted outdoor units need to be kept clear of debris, clutter; weeds or landscaping that can grow too close and reduce the airflow to the unit. Also, keep pets away from the unit because pet urine can cause expensive damage. Use caution with a weed trimmer around the unit to prevent damaging control wiring. Any additional maintenance should only be performed by qualified personnel.
You should have maintenance done on your system twice a year. This not only ensures maximum efficiency, it enables us to foresee any possible problems that may occur in the near future. Our Energy Saving Agreement (ESA) plan is specifically designed to keep your system running at its peak efficiency year-round.
Yes. Check to be sure that the air handler or furnace is plugged in. Check that the breakers and the disconnects are turned on and be sure the thermostat is set correctly. If you see water on the floor around your indoor unit during cooling make sure the condensate drain p-trap has water in it.
Due to the many different makes, models and customer needs, price is an issue that can only be solved by doing a thorough evaluation of your home and existing equipment. There is no charge for an in-house replacement proposal.
Yes, they can actually play a big part in your complete home comfort. We have a variety of whole-house filtration devices. Some electronic air cleaners can even remove dust particles and pollen as small as .10 micron. Visit our products page for more information about the electronic air cleaners we offer.
No. Closing the registers will decrease the systems’ airflow and efficiency. Every system is designed to cool a certain number of square feet. By closing registers and doors in certain rooms, you disrupt the airflow and cause your air conditioning system to work harder to distribute air to other areas of your home. Your system will work harder, to cool less space, making it cycle more and become less efficient.
When cool outdoor air enters a home it tends to dry out as it warms up, which increases the static electricity in the home and causes sinus problems. Adding a humidifier with help to add moisture back into the air and limit sinus problems. In the summer, even with outdoor relative humidity hovering around the single digits, the humidity in your home tends to be around 40%. The average comfort range for relative humidity in a home is from 35 to 45%.
The air temperature your system produces depends on the temperature of the air going into the system. Generally, the air produced should be 18°-20° below what enters the system. So if the air entering the system is 80°, the air exiting should be about 60°-62°. However, that only works on a system that has been running at least 15 minutes on a warm, dry day with a home that is about 80° inside. On a mild day, with an indoor temperature in the low 70’s, or during humid conditions, the air coming out may only be 15°-17° cooler than what enters.
Yes. During the cold weather months, frost will accumulate on the outdoor coil. This will cause the heat pump to go into a defrost cycle anywhere from 1-10 minutes, depending on the amount of ice on the coil. The system will return to the heating mode once the ice is gone.
Before purchasing a replacement system you should always make sure your system is sized properly. Our representative will provide a heat load calculation to determine the proper size and make the appropriate recommendation. Remember, bigger is not always better.
AFUE– Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. A measure of a gas furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy the higher the rating, the more efficient the unit. For example: A rating of 90 means that approximately 90 percent of the fuel is used to provide warmth to your home, while the remaining 10 percent escapes as exhaust.
BTU– British Thermal Unit. This is the amount of heat it takes to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. For your home, it represents the measure of heat given off when fuel is burned for heating or the measure of heat extracted from your home for cooling.
CFM– Cubic Feet Per Minute. A standard measurement of airflow. A typical system requires 400 CFM per ton of air conditioning.
Capacity– The output or producing ability of a piece of cooling or heating equipment. Cooling and heating capacities are referred to on BTUs.
Comfort-R™ Airflow System– An exclusive feature of a high efficiency home comfort system from Trane. This method of ramping airflow gives you greater humidity control in cooling and provides warmer air during heating start up.
Compressor– The heart of an air conditioning or heat pump system. It is part of the outdoor unit and pumps refrigerant in order to meet the cooling requirements of the system.
Condensor Coil or Outdoor Coil– In an air conditioner, the coil dissipates heat from the refrigerant, changing the refrigerant from vapor to liquid. In a heat pump system, it absorbs heat from the outdoors.
Damper– Found in ductwork, this movable plate opens and closes to control airflow. Dampers can be used to balance airflow in a duct system. They are also used in zoning to regulate airflow to certain rooms.
Ductwork– Pipes or channels that carry air throughout your home. In a home comfort system, ductwork is critical to performance in fact, it’s as critical as the equipment.
Evaporator Coil or Indoor Coil– The other half of your air conditioning system located inside your home in the indoor unit. This is where the refrigerant evaporates as it absorbs heat from the air that passes over the coil.
Gas Furnace Heat Exchanger– Located in the furnace, the heat exchanger transfers heat to the surrounding air, which is then pumped throughout your home.
HSPF– Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. This rating is used in measuring the heating efficiency of a heat pump. The higher the number, the more efficient the unit.
Package Unit– A heating and cooling system contained in one outdoor unit. A package unit is typically installed either beside, on top of the home, or sometimes in the attic.
Refrigerant– A chemical that produces a refrigerating effect while expanding and vaporizing. Most residential air conditioning systems contain R-22 refrigerant. R-22 is regulated by international controls under the Montreal Protocol and in the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is scheduled to be in production until the year 2020. It’s used in approximately 95 percent of air conditioning equipment manufactured in the U.S. today.
SEER– Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. A measure of cooling efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps. The higher the seer, the more energy efficient the unit. The government’s minimum SEER rating is 10. (It’s similar to comparing miles per gallon in automobiles.)
SEET– Seasonal Extreme Environmental Test Lab. This is Trane’s torture chamber for heating and air conditioning systems, where five years of service are condensed into 16 torturous weeks. If a product doesn’t make it through our SEET lab, it’s not manufactured. We push our equipment to extremes because we’d rather test them in our lab than in your home.
Split System– The combination of an outdoor unit (air conditioner or heat pump) with an indoor unit (furnace or air handler). Split systems must be matched for optimum efficiency.
Thermostat– A thermostat consists of a series of sensors and relays that monitor and control the functions of a heating and cooling system.
Ton– A unit of measurement used for determining cooling capacity. One ton is the equivalent of 12,000 BTUs per hour.
Zoning– A method of dividing a home into different comfort zones so each zone can be independently controlled depending on use and need.