Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

People often have questions about heating and air cooling systems, the best way to get information is to ask a expert who can understand your specific situation. The easiest way to find a heating specialist is to call 1-800-HEAT-QUICK. Below are some frequently asked questions to help give you a general understanding of how these systems work and how their installations are done.

What is HVAC?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. For a more indepth description of HVAC, please refer to our article, ‘What is HVAC?’

How does air conditioning work?

Air conditioning works by removing heat from the air in your house. It extracts the heat by passing indoor air across a refrigerant coil inside the indoors air conditioning unit, the refrigerant filled lines carry the heat outside where it is released into the air. This process continues until your thermostat hold setting is reached.

Do HVAC systems need regular servicing?

Air conditioners and furnaces need regular servicing just automobiles.The amount of work depends on the complexity of the unit. A basic service for a typical split system would involve cleaning the filters, checking the gas level & checking that the reversing valves are working.
Pricing varies company to company. Maintenance and service play a key role in the lifespan of a heating or air conditioning system. If all recommended maintenance and service actions are taken, an air conditioner can last 12 to 15 years and a gas furnace 20 to 25 years.

What is the most common type of heating system?

The most common is ‘forced air’ heating. There are also hydronic radiant, geothermal heating and electric heating. For more information on these systems please refer to our article, “A Guide to Heating Systems”

What goes into installing a new forced air system?

Installing a new forced air heating system into a home that has not yet had central air or heat will require the installation of several key components, namely, ductwork. Ductwork consists of two parts, supply and return. The supply duct is fixed to the the outflow of the new heating system, delivering air around the home. The air volume for each room is determined by the size of supply ductwork installed in your system. The return duct, is attached to the inlet of the new system and pulls air out of the area to be heated or cooled, there is a filter attached to the duct, that will filter out any air particulates. Ductwork can be sized to best distribute air into each room.

What is a heat pump?

A heat pump is a device used for either the heating or cooling of air by transferring hot and cold between two reservoirs. A heat pump can act like an air conditioner, transferring heat from inside to out, or like a heater as it transfers exterior heat to the interior.

Should I repair or replace my heating/cooling unit?

Depending on the condition of your unit, switching to a modern unit could be greatly beneficial. If you purchase a unit with a SEER rating of 16 you can save  an average of $50 a year compared to older models that usually have a rating of about 13 or less.

What is the most environmentally safe heating option?

Combustion heating offers a more environmentally friendly solution than electric air heating or other direct heating systems. Most electricity comes remotely from fossil fuels with up to two-thirds of the energy lost. Typical efficiencies for central heating are: 85-97% for gas fired heating; 80-89% for oil-fired, and 45-60% for coal-fired heating.

In contrast, hot-water central heating systems can use water heated in or close to the building using high-efficiency condensing boilers, biofuels, or district heating. Wet underfloor heating is generally best. This offers the option of relatively easy conversion in the future to use developing technologies such as heat pumps and solar combisystems, thereby also providing future-proofing.

How often should I change my furnace air filter?

Filters should be changed every month unless you are using a large media filter such as a Space- Guard®.  If you have a home that is prone to dust, if you own pets or if you have a smoker in your home more frequent changing may be required.

How do I know which filter to use in my system?

Size is the first thing to determine when picking out a filter. Determine the height and width by taking your air filter out and measuring the largest outside dimension (length), then measure the next largest dimension (width), followed by the maximum depth. All should be measured to the nearest 1/16”. After that you should figure out what capacity filter you need, the capacity depends on several factors, including if you live with or are a smoker and if you have pets.

Terms decoded:

AFUE:  This measurement describes how efficiently fuel, gas or oil is used to produce heat by a furnace. As the AFUE rate increases, the efficiency of your furnace also increases, lowering your fuel costs. Furnaces made in the United States are required to have a AFUE rating of at least 80%.

HSPF:  HSPF is a rating of the efficiency level of the heating operation of a heat pump. The higher the HSPF, the more efficient the output of a heat pump. Newer units in the United States have HSPF ratings from 7.0 to 9.4.

R-22:  R-22 has been used as a refrigerant by HVAC manufacturers for 40+ years, but studies in the past decade have shown that HCFCs contain chlorine, an ozone-depleting chemical. For this reason, the United States Clean Air Act has set a target date for January 1, 2010, on which HVAC manufacturers must cease the production of products that use R-22.

ACH: ACH is an acronym for Air Changes per Hour and is a measurement of air infiltration. It is the total volume of air in a home that is turned over in an hour. Tightly constructed homes should be at an ACH of 0.25 to 0.35 ACH.
Typical new homes may have an ACH of around 1.75 ACH. Older incorrectly weatherstripped and sealed homes may have higher than 2.5 ACH.

BTU: BTU is an abbreviation of British Thermal Unit. For heating, it is a measurement of the heat needed to raise 1 pound of water 1° Fahrenheit, that is around 252 calories. When referring to cooling it is the measurement of heat extracted.

BTUH: stand for BTU’s per Hour. It is a measurement for sizing the capacity of a piece of heating or cooling equipment, or the number of BTU’s supplied by the equipment in an hour.

CFM: CFM is an acronym for Cubic Feet per Minute. This is the measure of air volume velocity and is used to measure air flow from heating or cooling diffusers. It usually refers to fan size.

CO: An abbreviation for “Carbon Monoxide” – CO is a colorless, tasteless, odorless, poisonous gas produced as a by product of incomplete combustion of fossil fuel such as natural gas or propane. Appliances using fossil fuel may include a stove, fireplace, furnace, water heater, dryer, etc.