what to look for in an air conditioner

What to Know Before Buying an Air Conditioner

Looking to buy a new furnace, AC unit or combination unit can be intimidating. Not only do prices run high for these items, but there are so many different technologies and configurations that it can seem overwhelming. Many folks might default to the idea that cheaper is better.

While price can be one factor in deciding the best HVAC system to go with, it shouldn’t be the only factor. Here are some other things to look for when shopping for a new HVAC system that might put a little more cost on the front end, but will certainly help to save money over the life of the unit.

Warranty

One of the most important factors when choosing a system is making sure to get one with a good warranty. Longer duration warranties will help to ensure that enough time is spent running both sides of the unit so any factory defects can make their way out of the system.

A good warranty should not only cover parts, but the labor to install those parts into the system should they break. A long warranty that only covers parts might end up costing you more in the long run to have them installed by qualified professionals.

When servicing your unit yourself when it is still under warranty, make sure not to break any warranty voiding stickers. This can be costly mistake. The best way to avoid making this mistake is to simply call a professional; it is covered under warranty, after all.

Check Your Energy Efficiency Ratings

There is no getting around the fact that a major energy consumer in your home is your HVAC system. More energy efficient ones cost more to purchase, but can end up saving you a bundle when you are actually operating the unit.

Remember to compare the SEER rating and the EER rating if they are both available. Don’t compare SEER to EER. The former is an average and the latter is peak performance, so they don’t directly compare. Some manufacturers do not put the EER on unit, but you can easily compute it by dividing the power consumption by the output in BTUs. Better efficiency means lower energy bills, something everyone should be looking for in an HVAC unit.

Get your Unit Professionally Maintained Regularly

We all tend to wait until a unit breaks to call the repairman, but in the case of an HVAC system this is a bad practice. Regular maintenance can help your unit last longer and be more energy efficient over its life. You should have your unit serviced annually.

Don’t be Afraid to Speak to a Professional

If you are confused by an option or how one option compares to another, don’t be afraid to contact your HVAC professional. Executive Air Conditioning has an excellent staff that is ready to help you in choosing what unit would be best for you. Feel free to contact us today for advice on a new HVAC unit.

The Importance of the Air Filter in Your Home

Man replacing home air filter

The first piece of advice any HVAC professional is going to give is to make sure that you have changed your filter. It gets said so much and yet people still do not seem to heed the advice. Why are filters so important? Let’s talk about the functions of the filter and the benefits of changing your filter regularly.

The Function of the Air Filter

While you might think that the function of the air filter is to clean the air for the home, this is actually a secondary purpose of the air filter. The first function of the filter is to protect the internal parts of the furnace from large particles that might get sucked inside of it. Dust and other particles that get pulled into the heating portions of the furnace can ignite causing damage to the furnace and ultimately shorten its lifetime.

Different Types of Filters

There are a few different types of filters that you can use in your furnace.

High-Efficiency or deep-pleated filters – These are thick filters made of electrically charged fibers. They do not fit in a standard sized filter box, but need a special enclosure in order to function. They are able to clean smaller particles out of the air than other filter types.

Fiberglass or Cellulose – These are the cardboard filters you may be most familiar with. They are lower cost, and very effective at getting out large particles. Their low cost is attractive, but they will not filter smaller particles like smoke or some molds.

Reusable Filters – These filters are made of flat plastic or sometimes foil pads. They are made to be washed out with a hose and placed back into the furnace after being cleaned. Depending on the furnace usage, they should be cleaned monthly. They can last up to 5 years if properly maintained.

Electronic Filter – This filter is actually a device that is attached to the furnace. It uses electrical current to charge particles and then attract them to an element that pulls them out of the air.

Polyester Filter – This filter is similar to the fiberglass filters but is made up of electrically charged fibers. They typically last about three months.

Benefits of a Clean Filter

Clean filters benefit a furnace in many ways:

Improved Airflow – Clogged filters can impede the airflow into the furnace causing the fan that draws air in to work harder. This can increase wear on the fan as well as increase electricity needed to run the furnace.

Better Furnace Performance – Having to work harder to draw air in can reduce the performance of the furnace in other ways as well. A clean filter ensures that the proper amount of air is drawn in and heated to be used to heat your home.

Improved Air Quality – A clean filter will catch more particulates and will keep the air cleaner. This means improved overall health for you and your family.

Remember, clean filters and regular maintenance by a professional are the best ways to keep your furnace in top operating shape.

Make Sure Not to Void Your Furnace or AC Warranty

AC units and furnaces with void warranties

Most new HVAC systems come with a warranty to cover any problems that might come up with your system in the first few years of ownership. Typically there is not a lot to do to maintain your furnace in the first few years after you purchase it. Here are some mistakes to avoid in order to keep your warranty intact for the full term.

Remember to Register

One of the most obvious mistakes to avoid is failing to register the warranty after the system is purchased. Most warranties can be registered online or by mail, depending on your preference. Be sure to fill in all the information accurately. If your home is recently purchased and the warranty on an existing unit is being transferred to you, you should check with your real-estate agent or the person selling the home in order to find out what the procedure is to have the warranty transferred to you.

Hire Professional Installers and Maintenance

When having the furnace installed, remember to use certified professionals. Many manufacturers will not honor their warranty if the furnace is installed by professionals. Modern furnaces have complex parts that require experts to install and set up.

Along with using professionals to do the install, all but the most routine maintenance should be done by professionals as well. Most new HVAC systems have a schedule of required services that need to be performed on it. Regular maintenance is the best way to reduce wear and tear on all of the parts of the furnace.

A yearly inspection by a professional can help to keep the system running in top shape. This helps to diagnose any problems the system might be having early, and may prevent more severe problems down the road.

Also remember to regularly change the air filter based on the instructions provided by the manufacture. These times can also vary depending on the type of filter you have chosen to use with the HVAC system. A clean filter will also ensure that your HVAC system is running properly and at peak efficiency.

Keep Accurate Records

Keeping all the receipts for any work that you have done on the HVAC system is a good idea. This can also help professionals see any trends in the types of issues you may have with your HAVC systems.

Use Authorized Parts

– While it might seem like a good idea to save some money by buying replacement parts that are not approved by the manufacturer this might actually void your warranty. Make sure to use only approved parts any time you service your HVAC system.

Fall Furnace Checklist: Get it Fixed before Winter Hits

Furnace Maintenance Checklist

Fall is here, which means winter is swiftly approaching. Now is the time to check over that furnace to make sure that when the real cold of December and January hits you aren’t taken by surprise with a broken furnace.
Here are some of the main elements of your heating system; you will want to make sure they are in their best condition before it gets cold outside.

Air Filter

– The air filter is what catches all the dirt and dust in the air and makes sure it does not get blown all over your house. A clogged or dirty filter can also cause your furnace to work harder than it needs to, decreasing its efficiency and increasing your cost.

Thermostat

– The thermostat is the brain of your heating and cooling operation. It can also wreak havoc on your heating bills if it is malfunctioning. If the thermostat is reading wrong, then your temperatures inside will be wrong causing you increased heating bills.

Gas Lines

– If you have a gas furnace then having your gas lines checked regularly can prevent dangerous gas leaks. Some leaks can be small enough that you do not detect the smell of gas, but that does not make them any less dangerous.

Combustion Air Intakes

– Air is needed for the natural gas in your furnace to burn. If these intakes are clogged then you might not be burning all the fuel that is being injected into your furnace. This can cause dangerous buildup in your furnace, a cause of home fires.

Flue

– The Flue pipe is where all the noxious byproducts from your furnace’s burning of gas escapes the home. If this is clogged or corroded, dangerous combustion byproducts like carbon monoxide can make their way back into your house instead of heading into the outside air like they should.

Fan Switch

– The fan is what circulates all that warm air through your house. If the switch for the fan is corroded or broken, then your furnace cannot warm your house.

Pilot

– The pilot is a small mechanism that allows the gas burner in your fireplace, your stove and your furnace to light. A pilot also burns continuously throughout the season inside your furnace. The pilot can build up dirt and carbon that prevents it from staying lit, making your furnace stop working.
Burners – Just like a gas stove your furnace has burners. They more resemble the burners on your gas grill than they do on your stove, however. These can become clogged, corroded or broken and need repair to ensure proper operation of your furnace.

Furnace Panels

– The panels on your furnace need to be secure and sealed. If not, this can hamper the efficiency of your furnace causing it to work harder than needed and increase your bills.

Motors and Bearings Lubricated

– Your furnace is a complex system with a lot of moving parts. To ensure those moving parts move when you want them to, they need to be cleaned and properly lubricated.

Remember, while some of these items can be inspected by the home owner, a professional eye can find things that might be missed by the amateur. Contact us today to have your furnace inspected before you are left out in the cold.

Simple Steps to Keep Your HVAC System Running Smooth

Air Conditioning and Heating Maintanance

It’s always a good idea at least once a year to have a certified technician come out to inspect, clean, and maintain your HVAC system, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect the system between visits. Performing routine maintenance on your system can extend the life of equipment as well as ensure that everything is working as it should and that your air remains clean and fresh as well as the temperature properly regulated.

The Basics
There are a few basic best practices in which you should engage daily to make sure your equipment is functioning properly. Watch for mold, dust, or pollutants collecting on your air vents. Check them daily to be sure air flow is strong and regular. Check for strong, musty odors. If you are a residential or business building, check for employee or tenant complaints and investigate all issues reported.

Scheduling
It’s a good idea to keep on a schedule and perform all routine maintenance at the same time. You will discover how often your system needs to be inspected, but this can range anywhere from every two months, to twice a year. In general, when you swap out your filter, do the other tasks as well.

Filters
Your HVAC system has filters that help to keep the air clean. Changing these is often as simple as sliding the old one out and sliding a new one in. Keep on top of these—at first, change them every couple of months, so you can gauge how fast they get dirty. At the very least, these should be changed out twice a year.  See our article on replacing your dirty air filters for more information

Clean Coils
Evaporator coils are prone to mold growth, and condenser coils can very quickly degrade in function from accumulated dirt. Keeping these clean with antimicrobial cleaners that contain all natural ingredients can improve function and energy efficiency.

Inspect Components
Some of the components on your HVAC system – particularly such things as the fan, bearings and belts – are easy to visually inspect, and this should be part of your routine maintenance. Make sure the fan is running in the right direction, watch for noise, heat, and vibration from the bearings, and make sure the belts are aligned and running smoothly at the proper tension.

On a less frequent basis – perhaps every other time you perform other maintenance, perform more detailed tasks. Check for leaks in your cabinet and ducts, check for mold near the air intake system, and clean and adjust your dampers and air ducts as needed.

Performing these basic, routine maintenance tasks will extend the life and function of your HVAC system and keep your air clean and temperature-regulated for a long time to come. When you call your HVAC technician to come out for regular system checks, he’ll thank you!

Also see our video explaining how regular HVAC maintenance can save you money:

Closing Air Vent in Home

What You Need to Know About Closing the Vents in Empty Rooms

Closing Air Vent in Home

If you have an empty room in your home, or one that isn’t being used much, there is a good chance the thought of closing off the vents has crossed your mind. At some point most people think about whether or not they should just close off the vents in that room, assuming that by doing so they will save money on their monthly heating or cooling bill. It an understandable theory, that you will save money, but when you investigate further it isn’t as good an idea as it seems right off.

When you have a room that isn’t being used and you close the vents, you may think the air will just travel to the other rooms that you are using. But what really ends up happening is that the air continues to be pushed into the room, even with the vents closed. There will be less air coming into the room than when the vents were opened, but there will still be air entering the room.

While it may seem hard to believe, your HVAC unit will end up working just as hard with the vents closed off as if they were opened. Plus, having the vents closed makes the unit increase the air pressure at the vent and puts a strain on the windows and doors. If you have enough of the vents closed in the home it will throw the balance off in your unit and disturb the flow. In fact, the air won’t continue to flow through the roof as the unit has been designed for.

When your unit isn’t flowing properly and is off balance you are risking serious damage to the HVAC system. That’s probably the last thing you want, since you were trying to save money by closing the vents. Yet that’s the damage that can arise by doing so.

So what can you do with the rooms you are not using or that are empty? You can try closing the vents just a little bit, so they are not completely open. This will reduce some air flow, but you do want to avoid closing them all the way. Closing them off will not save you money, and may put end up putting your unit at risk for serious damage. If you want to save some money on your monthly bill look to other options that will not be damaging, such as adjusting your thermostat so your unit comes on less, or installing ceiling fans

5 Ways to Protect Your Air Conditioning Unit from Theft

thief stealing ac unitWhen you take a look at your air conditioning unit the last thing on your mind is that it could be stolen. In fact, you probably don’t look at it much at all unless something’s wrong with it.  Would someone really try to steal your air conditioner?  Believe it or not, air conditioning unit theft is a problem here in Las Vegas and beyond!

Around the Las Vegas valley there are reports of people stealing air conditioning units. This can happen at homes or businesses, so it’s important that everyone take measures to protect their air conditioning unit. Those who are stealing them are after the copper.  Air conditioners contain valuable copper that they can sell to make a quick buck.

Here are some tips for protecting your air conditioning unit from theft:

  • Invest in an air conditioner cage. This is a cage unit that goes around your air conditioner. Since it is locked, it will prevent those who shouldn’t be accessing it from being able to.
  • Put a lock on the disconnect box so that the unit cannot be disconnected without having the lock code or key. Just be sure that you remember where you have the code or key so that when you need it you can access it.
  • Install an alarm and/or camera in the area of the air conditioning unit. This is a great option for a business or for those who live in neighborhoods that have been experiencing air conditioning theft.
  • It is helpful to add a bush or shrub near the air conditioning unit, just to help hide it more from those who may be passing by. If they have to work harder to find the unit and it doesn’t stand out as much they may be more prone to passing it up. (Watch the video below before doing this)
  • Consider adding a sensor light above the air conditioning unit, so that if someone walks up to the air conditioner it will automatically come on. This will alert the homeowner, as well as possibly startle the thief.

Around Las Vegas it may be difficult to get rid of the desire for the copper in air conditioners, but you can make it more difficult for thieves to get your unit. The money you invest in helping to protect your air conditioning unit will likely prove to be a good return on investment!

If you plan on adding bushes or shrubbery around your air conditioning unit, watch this video first to make sure you’re safe:

When to replace AC air filter

Disposable Versus Reusable Air Filters For Your Home HVAC System

When to replace AC air filter

Your heating and cooling system sees a lot of use during the year, and it is important to keep the filter clean and in good condition. This will keep the air inside of your home smelling nice and clean. You can either buy permanent or reusable filter products and here is information on disposable versus washable types.

If you are concerned with the local eco system, you may wish to invest in a permanent filter. This will create less trash in the landfills. All you need to do is clean it periodically.

A permanent type filter will involve more work than the throwaway types. Some of these products take some time to get properly clean and you may need to make sure they are completely dry before reinstalling them. This should be done late at night or in the morning.

When you replace a throwaway filter the process is quick and easy. You remove the old dirty one and throw it into the trash. Put the new filter in place and that is all you must do.

Maybe you are concerned with cost. You will save money with permanent filter types. However, they will cost you more upfront. Yet, over the course of time they will pay for themselves as you will not be making any more purchases.

You may get the best filtration from a disposable filter. Some of the permanent types may not trap the tiniest particles of dust. This is something to consider when you have someone in the household that is bothered by allergies.

Whether you choose a washable or replaceable filter, it is important to either clean or change them regularly. If you have little time for maintenance and want the best possible filtration, throwaway products may be your best choice. If you are interested in saving some money and are concerned with environmental issues, permanent filter types are a good choice.