Tag Archives: installation

Whole House Air Filters Remove Pollen, Second-Hand Smoke and More

In many parts of the country, fall is the time of year when ragweed and other pollen-producing plants go into high gear.  Individuals who suffer from allergies often benefit from better filtration of their indoor air.  In addition to filtering out plant pollen for allergy relief, the right system will also remove second hand smoke, odors, pet dander, dust and many other irritants.  Early fall, when the heat of summer subsides, also happens to be one of the two slower periods each year for most local AC and heating companies.  The convergence of these facts makes a good topic for our post today.

In contrast with portable or room air filters, a whole house air filtration system covers all rooms of your home and are integrated within your HVAC system.

Within your AC and heating system, the air filter element serves two main purposes:

1– Protect your AC and heating equipment from contamination and becoming clogged inside the system.  The air filter element must allow the air to flow through the equipment at the rate specified for that system. Of course, if the filter is not changed on schedule the clog will occur at the filter element itself.

2– Remove airborne particles, odors and other contaminates from the indoor breathing environment of your home or office.

There are many choices of whole house air filters available.  Just as in water filters, the overall objective is to remove the maximum amount and type of contaminates while avoiding undesirable growth of molds, etc. on the filter media.  Maintenance requirements, initial + operating costs, and other factors figure must also be included in this equation. For a more detailed description, go to our air filter page.

During autumn, your local AC and heating service companies are less busy.

For the homeowner, this means that now is a good time for you to call them for maintenance, repairs, or to get a quote on an air filter system.  They will be under less pressure (which is usually the case when it first gets hot or cold outside), plus many service companies offer off-season discounts, rebates, and other ways to save.

If you are about to get a new ac and heating system or make changes to your air handler or ductwork, you will want to consider the air filter options at the same time.  It costs less to add a whole house filter at these times, rather than as a stand-alone project later.  As is the case in the rest of air conditioning and heating, the quality of the installation often makes a bigger difference than the brand of equipment.  Of course, there are differences in air filter equipment.  However, you need to first screen for quality work from the company who will install and maintain it for you, because that is the most important variable. While on site, your local HVAC contractor can also help you select the equipment that will work best to meet your indoor air quality goals in the physical situation within your home or building.

If you have questions or comments on this topic, please send them to us so others can help you or benefit from your experience.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Deciding To Repair Or Replace Your A-C System When Money Is Tight

To stay current on trends, we monitor several air-conditioning and heating industry blogs and HVAC email lists.  In them we are reading that a lot of homeowners are asking their local service company to do just the bare minimum to keep their AC or heating system running.  In recent blogs, we have written on related topics, such as:

a- Initial installation cost may not be highest cost item of owning a heating and air conditioning system over its life. It could be electricity/fuel costs or even a combination of maintenance and repair costs. 
b- Alternative sources of financing, such as a local community-chartered credit union. In those, a person does not have to work at a job related to the credit union. Rather it is based on residency or some easy-to-meet requirement.
c- $1,500 Tax credits, manufacturer or utility rebates or financing for purchasing a new a/c and heating system.

Given the current squeeze on household budgets, the request to avoid a major purchase or to minimize cash outlay is certainly understandable.   Of course, if someone is requesting the minimum repair, chances are they are not calling for service until their system fails to cool or heat properly.  However, If the system is old enough that replacement parts can no longer be sourced, or if a major component such as a heat exchanger or AC compressor has failed, even the minimum repair estimate may large enough to cause a cost/benefits dilemma with your current system.

When facing a major repair or even a modest service work on an older heating and AC system (generally, 10 years is considered old, especially in regards to efficiency), we are listing: 

Seven Useful Questions For Repair Or Replacing Your A-C Heating System

1- How long do you plan to own your home or building?
2- How much have your repair bills averaged costing over the past 1-2 years?
3- Do you believe electricity and fuel costs will tend to go down, stay the same, or go up?
4- What other repairs might you be facing in the near future, other than the issue at hand right now?
5- How much would you save on your monthly utility bills in electricity and gas costs with the new system?
6- How much are the total rebates and tax credits available on a new system?
7- How many months will it take to pay back the cost of the new AC and heating system? After that initial payback period, how much will I get in return each month as a return on my investment?

If there is literally nowhere to turn for the funds to give you a choice, then you may only have to keep your cash outlay as low as possible. However, if you do have choices, making the decision to go with more efficient equipment could pay a monetary return of and on  your investment.  Your local HVAC service company should be able to answer questions 4, 5, 6, and 7.  With these, you should then be able to make a well informed decision.  We welcome your comments and experiences.


Buyer’s Guide To Heating and Air Conditioning Says “HVAC Equipment Brands Are Less Important Than Quality of Installation”

We frequently get asked this question:

“Why would a buyer’s guide not list equipment by brands, models and features so we can compare them?”

A blog is a great forum in which to explain this. For easier reading and response, we will answer in a top 5 list:

1. The brand that is on the new equipment matters much less than correct installation.  It is often stated among insiders that a good HVAC technician can make lousy equipment heat or cool OK, while a poorly trained or inexperienced technician might not make the best equipment in the world heat or cool reliably or efficiently.  We’re not saying cut corners on the equipment¬—we are saying focus first on the training and experience of the company and employees who will install your equipment. Then let them explain which types of equipment you should consider. Remember, these are also the folks who will provide maintenance or warranty work on your system.

2. Heating and A/C systems are made up of components that can be mixed and matched, yet contain some common elements, such as air handlers. Rating new equipment either by brand or piece by piece like TV sets is not very useful. Just because two pieces of equipment will physically fit or function together does not make doing so a good idea for optimum results, however.  It is true that a manufacturer’s suggestion of equipment models to be matched is preferred over a “field match”. 

3. Some of the mixing and matching of components can involve existing equipment, such as your ductwork. Unless there is new construction or a total system replacement involved, some existing equipment may be used. Here we get back to quality of installation and the integrity of the installer. If your existing ductwork is used and it has an interior problem (such as mold or contamination) or unsealed leaks, then comparisons of equipment features such as efficiency are much less relevant.  Look out for low bids that cut corners on ductwork, old inadequate wiring or other use of existing equipment.

4. Once must consider features and specifications listed by manufacturers or even independent testing organizations, as they relate to conditions and the envelope of the structure where it will be installed. 

5. There are more brands of equipment than manufacturers of components.  Therefore, some brands share common internal parts.  As an example, look at the common ownership among the brands listed on the lower part of this page . Out of ten major brands, depending on how they are counted, there are about six companies who control them.

As a quick recap, points 2,3, and 4 above reinforce point #1: the integrity of the installation will affect your overall satisfaction and comfort more than the brand of equipment.  A quality HVAC service company will guide you on your equipment options and then install them correctly.  However you go about making your comparisons, start with the quality of the installer first. Then compare features and benefits of the equipment.  You can use our free comparison grid to help.