HVAC FAQ’S


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How do I select a contractor?

Make sure they are licensed and insured and that the technicians
are well trained and certified. It’s very important that they
make you feel comfortable and that they have an excellent
reputation with good references.


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Can I just replace the outdoor unit on an older system
to save money?

No. Replacing only the outdoor unit will sacrifice your comfort
and lower the efficiency of the unit. In fact, you can lose up
to 15% of the unit's efficiency! Even worse, your system may
fail sooner than normal and most manufacturers' warranties will
be voided. You should seriously consider buying a complete heat
pump system.


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What is the average life expectancy of equipment?
Most systems have a lifetime of 12 years or less. As your
equipment gets older, its efficiency can decrease dramatically.
You may notice that it gets noisier and needs repairs more
often. If your system is over five years old, you should have a
heating and cooling contractor check your system for maintenance
or replacement. Preventative maintenance can prolong the life of
the equipment.


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Should I have my ducts cleaned?

Yes. Mold, mildew, pet hair, skin flakes, smoke film, dander,
dust mites, dirt, pollen, and even bacteria take up residence in
your air ducts. With each breath you take you inhale these
contaminants. Dirty air ducts can not only make you sick or
raise your utility bills, but they can also reduce your air flow
and cause premature failure of your expensive heating and
cooling system.


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Should I replace or repair my equipment?

There are five main questions that need to be considered when
deciding to either replace or repair your heating and cooling
system:

How old is your system? If your system is more than
ten years old, it may be wiser to invest in new, higher
efficiency equipment, which could cut your energy costs by up to
40%.

What is the efficiency level of your current indoor
weather system?
Unfortunately, replacing parts of your old
system will not improve the efficiency. If the energy savings of
using a higher efficiency system will cover all or part of the
cost of investing in new equipment, you should seriously
consider replacement of the old system.

What is the overall condition of your system? If your
system is in solid condition, it could be wiser to simply repair
it. But if your system breaks down often, you should consider
replacing it.

How often is your system operating? If your system has
been used extensively, it may be time to replace it. Systems
exposed to extreme weather normally do not last as long as those
in mild condtions.

Are you planning to move soon? If you are moving in
the next year or two and believe investing in a new indoor
weather system will improve the value of your home, you should
consider making the investment. If you plan to live in your
current residence for many more years, it may also be wise to go
ahead and invest in your future comfort.

For more information, please call us at 319-365-2421. We will
be happy to discuss it with you.


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How can I reduce allergens and increase humidity in my home?

With a high efficiency air cleaner, you can remove up to 99% of
the pollen and spores that find their way into the home. There
is also a great reduction in household dust, dirt, smoke, and
other air pollutants. Your indoor air will become cleaner and
fresher while reducing the allergens and dust that circulate
throughout the house. With a whole house humidifier, you can
relieve the irritating discomfort of dry indoor air. The
humidifier reduces itchy skin, scratchy throats, static
electricity, and damage to your furnishings and woodwork. Since
humid air feels warmer than dry air, you do not have to set the
thermostat as high to feel the comfort you want. A lower
thermostat setting will reduce the costs of your energy bill. A
humidifier adds moisture and improves your comfort while
increasing the energy efficiency of your indoor weather system.
On the other hand, a central dehumidifier removes excess
moisture and helps control the humidity inside your home.


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What does SEER and HSPF mean to me?
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is the measure of
efficiency by which the cooling process of air conditioners and
heat pumps is rated. The higher the SEER number, the greater the
efficiency, which translates into greater energy savings. Today,
U.S. regulatory agencies require all new models to have a 13.0
SEER rating or better. Most major manufacturers offer a line of
air conditioners and heat pumps that range from 13.0 SEER to
16.0 SEER.

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HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) is the
efficiency measurement used to gauge the efficiency of the
heating mode of heat pumps. Again, the higher the number, the
greater the efficiency. Today's models are required to have a
minimum 6.8 HSPF. Most major manufactures offer heat pumps with
HSPF ratings ranging from 6.8 to 9.4.


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How will the new environment friendly refrigerant affect me?

The 1990 Clean Air Act and the internationally binding Montreal
Protocol calls for an international phase out of future
manufacturing of the refrigerant R-22, which is currently used
in most air conditioning and heat pump systems. Historically,
when a refrigerant has been phased out, the cost of that
refrigerant has risen dramatically. Also, the costs for
servicing products using a phased out refrigerant have risen as
well. According to current government regulations, the
production of R-22 will be reduced by nearly one-fourth by 2004.
By the year 2012, the production of R-22 will be reduced by
nearly one-half of the current production. That means all R-22
products will eventually need to be replaced by products
utilizing the new chlorine-free refrigerant.


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Should I be concerned about Carbon Monoxide in my home?
Yes. Each year, carbon monoxide kills more than 300 Americans
and sends nearly 5,000 more to emergency rooms for treatment,
reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Where does it come from? When carbon-based fuels such as gas,
oil, kerosene or wood burn, they produce gases. When fuel
combustion or burning isn't complete, carbon monoxide enters the
air. The CPSC advises that carbon monoxide detectors are the
only way to alert yourself to the presence of toxic gas in your
home. If you wake in the night with a headache — and especially
if another member of the family complains of a headache or is
difficult to arouse — get out of the house fast and seek
medical help. Estes recommends carbon monoxide detectors be
installed in your home!


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How can I reduce my energy costs in the Winter?

Limit the loss of expensive heated air to the outside. Use
kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans sparingly.

Keep fireplace dampers tightly closed until you prepare to
light a fire.

When using your fireplace, limit the amount of heated air
drawn from the rest of the house. Open dampers in the bottom of
the firebox if provided, or open the closest window about 1 inch
and close any doors leading into the room.

Draft-proof windows, doors, and other air leaks. Caulking and
weather stripping are reasonably easy, so you may be able to
save money by doing the job yourself.

Lower your thermostat to about 65 degrees F during the day
and 60 degrees F at night. For each degree you turn down your
thermostat, you'll save about 3 percent on your heating bills.
Consider the comfort and convenience of an automatic clock
thermostat to do this for you.

Avoid heating unused areas by closing off unoccupied rooms
and shutting off heating vents. Note: this does not apply if you
have a heat pump system. Leave it alone, as shutting vents could
harm a heat pump.

Keep your heating equipment operating efficiently. Clean or
replace the filter in your forced air heating system each month,
and check the duct work that is readily accessible for air leaks
about once a year. Be sure that heating ducts in unheated areas
are insulated. Keep the heating system well tuned with periodic
maintenance by a professional service.

Insulate your attic floor or top floor ceiling to reduce
winter heat loss.

Consider installing storm windows and doors.

If you have an attached garage, keep your garage door closed.
This will prevent cold winds from infiltrating the connecting
door and other areas between the house and garage.

If you're ready to make your home more efficient, contact us
and ask about our energy audit program to identify areas where
homes waste energy and money. For more information, please call
us at 319-365-2421.


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Troubleshooting Tips

Here are some simple procedures you can perform before going to
the expense of a service call:

Check disconnect switches (indoor and outdoor if you have
a split system). Make sure that circuit breakers are ON or
that fuses have not blown.

Check for sufficient airflow. Make sure air filters are
clean and that supply-air and return-air grilles are open
and unobstructed.

Check the settings on your thermostat. If you want
cooling, make sure the temperature control selector is set
below room temperature and the SYSTEM switch is on the COOL
or AUTO position. If you want heat, make sure the
temperature control selector is set above room temperature
and the SYSTEM switch is at HEAT or AUTO. The FAN switch
should be set at ON for continuous blower operation or AUTO
if you want the blower to function only while the unit is
operating.