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FAQs - Information You Need - VAC Repair Northern Virginia

Can insulation problems affect my heating system?
If your home is not heating well or your energy costs are up, the problem may not be your HVAC system. The source may be your home. Homes that are not well-insulated or weatherized lose a lot of energy and raise power bills. Making home improvements can save energy costs, and help heating and cooling systems run more efficiently. Here are some steps to take:

  • Weatherize your home. Your home should be well-sealed and well-insulated.
  • Don’t be afraid to add more insulation. It probably will lower utility bills.
  • Insulate your attic and under floors above unheated spaces.
  • Weather-strip doors and windows.
  • Close chimney flues and seal unused fireplaces.
  • Buy double-pane windows when replacing your home’s windows. They add extra protection against the cold and wind.

How can I improve the air quality in my home?
The latest advances in air quality combine ultraviolet-light technology and high-efficiency air filters to combat air pollution in your home. If allergies or asthma are a problem, you may want to invest in a whole-house electronic air cleaner that reduces indoor air pollution and improves air quality. Cooking odors, cleaning chemicals, pet dander, dust and pollen can make indoor air unhealthy for you and your family. Call us for an estimate on a whole house electronic air cleaner.

How can I keep my home safe from carbon monoxide pollution?
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, unscented and at high levels can be a deadly gas. Lower concentrations of carbon monoxide can cause headaches, lightheadedness and fatigue. Winter months may pose health and safety risks with heating systems. Poorly maintained chimneys and flues may release carbon monoxide and other harmful gases into the air.

Have your furnace thoroughly inspected by a certified technician before your turn on your heat. Ignoring signs of carbon monoxide can be deadly. All flue pipes should be properly sealed and make sure your hvac technician checks carefully the heat exchanger in the furnace. Also as a side note you want to place all carbon monoxide detectors closest to the ground, as this gas always rises and you want to have one alarm per level.

How do central air conditioners work?
Central air conditioners remove heat and dehumidify or take away moisture from the air. They also have air filters for removing dust and other particles. Warm indoor air passes over a very cold coil that removes the heat and moisture. Lowering the humidity level makes the air temperature more comfortable. Moisture removed from the air collects in a pan underneath the indoor coil, and is sent to a house drain. The unit’s blower circulates the air, while refrigerant inside the coil cools it, and the outdoor compressor transfers heat from inside the home to the outside.

How is furnace efficiency measured?
When choosing a new furnace, find out its “AFUE†– annual fuel utilization efficiency. It’s a term for describing a furnace’s seasonal energy performance. Why should you care about the AFUE? Given the rise in energy prices and uncertainty about future energy sources, your priority should be lower energy bills. High-efficiency appliances use less energy, lowering your costs. By federal standards, new furnaces must have an AFUE rating of 78 percent.

Is it wise to cover my air conditioner during the winter season?
Air conditioners are built to be sturdy and to stand up to all kinds of weather year after year. A typical central air conditioner should last you 8-12 years or more with yearly air conditioner maintenance from. Covers actually trap moisture inside your air conditioner for long periods of time which could then lead to the rust as well. Putting covers over the unit also provide a tempting spot for small animals to nest during winter months. Manufacturers also do not mention in their manuals about covering the units.

What does SEER mean?
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The higher the rating, the more efficiently the air conditioner operates. The federal government requires a minimum SEER of 13 out of a maximum rating of 20. Higher-efficiency air conditioners save energy and cause less pollution.

Consumers will also save money on electric bills. New air conditioners are up to 70 percent more efficient than the current average. This can yield significant savings for consumers over the service life of their air conditioner.

What is a variable speed motor?
“Variable speed†is a technical term that refers to how a furnace’s indoor blower motor runs. It allows you to better control the airflow and costs of your heating system. It can operate at different speeds automatically and provide you with better control airflow throughout your home. Better control increases your comfort and eases heating bills. Variable speed motors use less electricity than standard one-speed motors.

What is the lifespan of a central air conditioner?
The average lifespan of a central air conditioner is highly dependent on location and climate. If you have an older central air conditioner that does not cool well, it may be time to replace it. Central air conditioners generally last on average 12-14 years, though newer ones may have a longer service life. The costs for cooling system maintenance can add up, especially with older models.

What is the lifespan of a furnace?
The average lifespan of a furnace is also highly dependent on location in the home. If a furnace or air handler is in the attic the lifespan is normally decreased due to high temperatures during the summer time. It is always important to have your furnace inspected and cleaned once a year to ensure proper functioning of equipment and during the checkup; the hvac technician should be carefully inspecting the heat exchanger to check for any cracks. A cracked heat exchanger is a clear indication of time to replace the furnace as you could begin to have slow leaks of carbon monoxide through your vents.

What to ask yourself when deciding whether to invest in a new central air conditioner.

  1. Is the air conditioner requiring frequent repairs?
  2. Do you need to replace costly major components, such as the compressor
  3. Will it be more affordable in the long run to replace your old system with a more efficient unit that will lower your monthly electricity costs?
  4. Is your warranty still good? Ask the manufacturer. Warranties generally vary from one year for parts to 5 years for compressor replacement. But some manufacturers now offer 10-year warranties.

Why is it important to choose the right-size HVAC system?
Ask your HVAC dealer for help choosing a system that meets the heating and cooling demands of your home or building. Don’t expect to replace an old heating and cooling system with a new one of the same size. Systems often were oversized in older homes and buildings.

Better technology shows that oversized systems don’t work as well. They are inefficient, wasting money and energy. Undersized systems work too hard to heat and cool rooms. Either way, poorly sized HVAC units will have more problems and a shorter service life.

Will updating my home thermostat save money?
A lot of people just crank up the dial when they want more heat, or drop it for a blast of cool air. But this method of heating and cooling wastes energy and money. You’re also less likely to get the temperature you need. Most new homes are digital with touch-screen controls that are easy to read and more responsive than standard thermostats. These digital thermostats allow you to pre-set temperatures for every day of the week to match your schedule. You avoid high-energy temperature swings as you enter and leave the house.

Some digital thermostats also allow you to program the heating or ac 24/7 with pre-programmed timings. This allows additional energy costs while your away on vacation or at work.