All posts by Total Comfort Heating & Cooling

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HVAC Repairs You Cannot DIY

HVAC systems usually break down on the hottest summer days, during holidays and at rather inconvenient times, when most professionals are off-duty and cannot help at a moments notice. It is not a big surprise that we try to find a DIY solution to our problems in such cases. Some of us are also frugal and believe strongly that we can do everything by ourselves to save money. Most things we can actually fix with some elbow grease, but there are some repairs that you should never try to do on your own. The HVAC system, in particular, repairing it is not an easy or a safe task unless you are a trained professional since it involves harmful chemicals and dangerously high voltages. Here are some rules of thumb when considering a DIY repair of your HVAC unit.

Never Open Your Unit Without Proper Tools

Your basic toolkit might be useful when doing small tasks around the house, but using it to open up and tinker around your HVAC unit can cause further damage. Specialized tools must be used to identify possible issues and fix small and fragile parts.

Refrigerants Must be Handled With Care

A refrigerant is a highly toxic chemical that needs to be disposed of in a specific manner which is outlined by law, and that task must be done by a certified professional. Handling it yourself can cause serious damage to your surroundings and put you and your family in harm’s way.

HVAC technician testing voltage on a mercury thermostat.

Do Not Experiment With Electrical Repairs

All HVAC units use high voltages and strong electric currents that can cause electric shocks when touched, or even cause a fire in your home. If you notice something is wrong with your unit, hire a professional to find the problem and fix it.

Never Assume You Know What is Wrong With Your Unit

Unless you are an experienced professional, it is really hard to guess the real cause your HVAC system is malfunctioning. Short circuits, for example, are not always a sign of an electrical problem but can also be a symptom of a whole string of possible problems, such as a broken thermostat, a refrigerant leak or a blocked air filter that needs careful cleaning. By getting involved you might worsen the problem and actually increase your repair expenses.

If you encounter any difficulties or have any questions, contact us at Total Comfort Heating and Cooling to schedule a consultation with our team.

spring heating system maintenance

Key Terms for Understanding Your HVAC System

 

All complex systems have a defined set of important expressions and abbreviations that help both the professionals and the consumers understand how everything works. It is our job, as responsible users of the HVAC system to take some time and learn all the key terms that describe our units, in order to better understand how to use them in our everyday lives, how to compare and make informed choices when buying new units, as well as how to properly maintain our systems. Let’s get back to basics!

HVAC – Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

The basic HVAC system is usually comprised of three elements: the heating system (a furnace or boiler), the ventilation, and the air-conditioning unit. There are simpler and more complex systems available, depending on the user’s needs. For example, more complex systems might include an air filtration and cleaning element, different humidifiers, radiant floors, swamp coolers, and so on…

SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio

This useful abbreviation informs users about the cooling efficiency of their units. The SEER rating is determined by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute by dividing the cooling output by the total electric energy input of a particular unit. The higher the SEER rating, the better.

BTU – British Thermal Units

BTU is an abbreviation most often seen on units imported from outside the USA, signifying their strength. More precisely, one BTU stands for the amount of heat needed to increase or decrease the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

How to find quality HVAC contractors

AFUE – Average Fuel Utilization Efficiency

The gas furnace in your HVAC system turns gas into energy, and the AFUE tag helps you know the amount of energy you should receive from your unit. When considering the AFUE values, keep in mind that the higher the rating is, the more energy (and money) you will save. For example, if your appliance’s AFUE rating is 90, this means that 90 % of the energy created is used to heat up your home, while 10 % is lost during heating.

HSPF – Heating Seasonal Performance Factor

Heating seasonal performance factor lets you know the amount of heat created during an entire heating system. Just like SEER and AFUE, the higher the rating, the better efficiency your HVAC unit has.

EER – Energy Efficiency Ratio

Before the introduction of the SEER ratio, EER was the standardized way of measuring the cooling efficiency of the HVAC system. EER is measured by a set inside air temperature, as well as a set outside air temperature and a 50 % relative humidity.

MERV – Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value

Another older efficiency signifier, MERV was used on Energy Star approved appliances before being replaced by the SEER. As well as the SEER, a higher MERV rating means better efficiency.

If you have questions about your HVAC system, feel free to contact us at Total Comfort Heating & Cooling and one of our experienced technicians will be happy to assist you

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When to Repair Your HVAC System?

How to Decide When You Should Repair or Replace Your HVAC Unit?

Your home HVAC system is a bit older and technologically less advanced, but it still works rather well.  Determining if you should continue repairing your system every time you encounter a problem or simply upgrade to a newer and more efficient model is not always an easy task. There are several key factors you should take into account before deciding, especially if you have a unit older than ten years. Consider the following options when making an informed decision, and we at Total Comfort Heating and Cooling will take care of your home, whatever you decide.

Does your unit have minor issues like broken ductwork, electrical problems or drain lines that show signs of clogging?

You can try fixing the smaller problems yourself, but handle them with care or leave that to the professionals. If you’re having problems with the major parts of your unit, like the blower motor, the compressor or the condenser coils, opt for replacing your unit.

How many repairs has your unit required, so far?

If you repaired your unit less than two times in the last ten years and it’s still working properly, you should wait before a new purchase. If this is your third major repair, start shopping for a new unit.

care for your HVACsystem

For a more pleasant home, consider all the factors before deciding if you should upgrade or simply repair your old HVAC system.

How much would the repairs cost?

If your unit is still under warranty, or the repair costs add up to less than half of the cost of a new unit, proceed with the repairs. The costs of replacing important components like the condenser coils, the compressor or the blower motor might add up to more than 50 % of the cost of a new unit, meaning that it would be wiser to invest in a new system that would improve the efficiency of your entire HVAC system, and subsequently save you money.

Is your unit the right size?

If professionals installed an HVAC system that is in line with the size of your home, your unit should last longer and work more efficiently. An over-sized or an under-sized unit uses more energy because it needs to turn on and off more often, which leads to premature failure of the entire system. If you do not have the appropriate size unit, consult a professional and find a new option for your home.

Our team at Total Comfort Heating & Cooling will be glad to help, so contact us to request a consultation.

Checking air filters is a necessary step of HVAC system maintenance

How to Take Care of Your HVAC System by Cleaning the Air Ducts

 

Clean the Air Ducts in Your Home HVAC System for a Better Cooling Effect

Getting the perfect temperature in your home is impossible without a quality HVAC system working without a glitch. In the process of keeping your system in working order, cleaning the air ducts in your house is an important step you should not skip. In order for your cooling and heating system to run smoothly and preserve energy, make sure you keep your air ducts in top shape by following our tips.

Why should you clean the air ducts?

Dirty filters on air ducts slow down the airflow throughout your home and hinder the operation of the HVAC system itself. Clogged up filters cause dirt, hair, and debris to build up in the air ducts and significantly reduce the quality of air in your home. Bad airflow creates a humid environment that serves as a fertile ground for mold development and potential pest and rodent infestations. Your HVAC system will work extra hard in order to cool your home, draining and wasting more energy than necessary. Overexertion due to the lack of maintenance can lead to system failure and a bigger financial burden you did not expect.

How often should you change your filter?

Every three months to make sure your system is operating without difficulties.

Every two months if you own pets because of the increased amount of dirt and pet hair circulating in the air.

Even more often, especially if you notice that your filters get really dirty quickly.

How should you clean your ducts?

Professional duct cleaners thoroughly clean all unapproachable nooks and crannies of your home air duct system, not just the filters themselves.  So, pay attention when you hire someone to do this task for you. If you want to prolong the period between professional cleaning, make an effort to vacuum your home frequently and take care of your system.

If you need expert advice, feel free to contact us at Total Comfort Heating and Cooling and schedule a consultation.

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Most Common Reasons for HVAC Failure and How to Avoid Them

Avoid These Common Mistakes and Prolong the Life of Your HVAC System

Nobody likes to be in desperate need of cooling, only to realize his or her costly HVAC system is not working. In order to avoid this unfortunate turn of events, it is useful to know what are the most common reasons for HVAC system breakdown!

Incorrect Installation

If you want to have a new HVAC system installed in your home, do proper research, and follow these useful steps on how to choose the right professional for the job.

Inaccurate Sizing

Not all HVAC systems are appropriate for all spaces. If you install a system that is too powerful, it will turn on, cool your home too quickly, turn off and then repeat the whole process every couple of minutes. If you choose a system that is too weak, it will struggle with keeping the desired temperature of your home, draining too much energy in the process and decreasing the life of your unit.

Checking air filters is a necessary step of HVAC system maintenance

The air conditioning filter in the ceiling needs to be checked regularly in order to avoid clogging.

Lack of Maintenance

Besides doing simple adjustments in order to keep your system working properly, it is important to schedule professional maintenance to prepare your system for the changes in temperature. Check your air filters often and replace them if necessary.

Incorrect Usage

Be sure to close all doors and windows to the outside when your AC is working, and turn it off when you are not at home.

Technical Difficulties

Refrigerant leaks, broken thermostats, blown capacitors, and tripped breakers are all technical reasons HVAC systems tend to fail. These problems can be resolved with a thorough and professional checkup.

Physical Obstacles

Heat pumps and external units require a clean surrounding area. Give your unit some breathing room in order to achieve unobstructed airflow and frequently remove excess grass, leaves, and pollen off your unit.

If you encounter any difficulties or have any questions, contact us at Total Comfort Heating and Cooling to schedule a consultation with our team.