Indoor Air Quality
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What is the most important thing when picking a new HVAC system?
WHO you have install the new HVAC system. It does not matter what system you choose, if the installation is not done correctly.
Why choose OASIS?
Did you know (here link to FAQs page) that proper air conditioning installation procedures can add years of life to a new A/C unit or Furnace? As well as help save energy and money?
Did you know that a poorly installed or selected A/C system can cause many problems for the end user? Along with the possibility of complete system failure, incorrect equipment sizing or improper system installation can reduce an air-conditioner's performance by thirty percent or more. For example:
- Improper refrigerant charging often results in reduced system efficiency
- Improper refrigerant charging can also result in frequent system freeze-ups
- Improper unit sizing includes over-sizing, which results in insufficient system run-time, which in turn hinders the de-humidification process.
- A current EPA study suggests that installation issues hinder the efficiency of more than half of all installed home air-conditioners. The problem must be solved. Technicians and homeowners need to be aware of proper air conditioning installation procedures.
So, why choose OASIS?
#1. Because we care.
Our technicians are trained to properly assess your individual situation, and provide a recommendation based upon your home's need. We care about what your home and your family needs, and what you want. Our dedicated technicians will work with you, the Homeowner, to select the best unit and additions for your needs, and your wants. We want you to be happy with your selection of your new unit. Additionally, we look at the whole picture, not just one part of it.
#2. The OWNER of our company takes part in every installation job that we do.
The reason that the Owner does every installation is because of the importance of the equipment being installed properly. Every installation is different, and requires knowledge of adaptation to the new equipment; so 30+ years of hands on experience in installations and service, is at your fingertips when you hire OASIS.
The Owner cares about your home, just as much as you do, and wants to ensure that every job is done to the best of his ability. The Owner has seen just about every mistake imaginable, and he personally wants to make sure that this does not happen to you. You are his customer, and he wants to ensure that you are taken care of, the same way he would take care of his own family.
#3. We stand behind our work.
#4. Our Experience.
How does this affect you?
Reliable energy-efficiency air conditioning selection and installation services assure better system performance. The average homeowner can expect to save around twenty percent on home cooling costs. Accurate product sizing and HVAC installation also delivers a more even air flow throughout the whole home. The de-humidification systems works better, the air stays cooler and the overall comfort to the entire family increases.
HVAC Installation – Damage Complications Due to Improper A/C Installation
Proper air conditioning installation results in proper air conditioning functionality which in turn helps prevent system damage. A central air conditioning compressor should be located in a shaded outside area. It helps keep the unit cool and reduces the workload. Obstructed or reduced air flow over the coils also creates inefficiency and excessive system labor. All of these create increased energy costs, but the greatest effect of poor system installation will show up as a long-term repair expense.
HVAC Installation – Safety Factors Affected by Improper A/C Installation
Many air conditioning sales and service companies tend to oversize the mechanical systems in residential construction. The practice increases the unit price and the unit installation cost. It wastes customer energy resources. It reduces moisture control and comfort.
For some homeowners, poor moisture control can become a serious health problem. Excess moisture tends to breed bacteria and mold.
Electrical wiring also requires proper installation. Poor connections can result in erratic system performance or even a deadly electrical fire.
HVAC Installation – Local and National Air-Condition Installation Codes
Adopted and enforced to keep people safe, building codes ensure quality construction of parts and installation services. Expect your Air Conditioning service center to be up-to-date on current local and national installation codes concerning all of the following applications:
- Electrical supply circuits
- Correct ductwork layout and installation
- Structural considerations as they relate to the air conditioning installation code
- Any other specific A/C installation parameters necessitated by local or national building codes.
- Your American Cooling and Heating technician is more than willing to help you better understand the application of local and national A/C installation codes.
When should I replace my system?
When to Replace your Air Conditioner and Furnace
To repair or replace, that is the question that likely comes to mind whenever your heating or cooling system stops working like it should. Although repairing may be the most affordable solution now, it might not be the best choice over the long run.
Factors to consider include:
Fifty Percent Rule
When the cost of repairs approaches 50% of the value of your heating or cooling system, it’s generally time to replace the system.
Other Rules of Thumb
Even if needed repair costs aren’t quite as daunting as 50%, you might want to replace your system if it’s more than 12 years old or you’ve had a history of problems with it. Also, it might be worthwhile to take advantage of one of several opportunities:
- Convenience – When you purchase a new system, you can avoid the hassle of unexpected repairs down the line, and you don’t have to sit around uncomfortable while waiting for parts.
- Lower utility bills – A high-efficiency home comfort system from Lennox can save you hundreds of dollars each year in energy costs, compared to an older system.
- Energy tax credits – You can recover up to 30% of the cost of select high-efficiency systems in the form of tax credits.
- Friendlier refrigerant – Due to growing environmental concerns, the U.S. federal government has mandated that all HVAC manufacturers phase R-22 refrigerant-based equipment out of production. In response, Lennox now mainly manufactures cooling systems with R-410A, a U.S. EPA-approved, chlorine-free refrigerant.
- Warranty Assurance – If you have an older outdoor unit that needs repair, but you're not ready to replace your indoor air handler or furnace, a dry-charged unitmay be a cost-effective solution. It allows you to avoid the costs of ongoing repair, while also giving you a brand-new outdoor unit backed by a 5-year Limited Warranty.
- Enhanced comfort – Advanced technologies that improve energy efficiency also enhance your comfort, so you can enjoy more even temperatures, better humidity control and a constant flow of conditioned air.
- Improved air quality – Better humidity control means a reduced potential for mold and mildew growth. Lennox home comfort systems are also available with Healthy Climate® filtration, which minimizes the impact of indoor pollutants.
Is variable speed equipment superior and/or necessary?
Variable speed refers to a furnace's or air handler's indoor blower motor. Different speeds control the flow of air throughout the home. Variable speed motors can save energy. Variable speed motors are excellent for zoning which allows customizing comfort in different areas of the home. A variable speed motor can also help clean the air and control the humidity. A variable speed fan allows continuous movement of air capturing more contaminants in the filtering system and giving more precision to humidity control.
To better regulate temperatures, today's furnaces move more air over the heat exchanger than older furnaces. These furnaces are also designed to integrate better with high-efficiency air conditioners requiring that furnace blower be more powerful to accommodate the heavier cold air. Hence, another advantage of variable speed blowers which automatically change speeds to meet the airflow needs of both heating and cooling cycles.
What is two-stage heating?
Two-stage heating means a furnace has two levels of heat output - high for cold winter days and low for milder days. The low setting is roughly adequate to meet household heating demands 80% of the time allowing a two-stage unit to run for longer periods and provide more even distribution of heated air. Two stage units can regulate temperature to within as little as one degree of the thermostat setting. Two-stage furnaces start in the first stage, instead of reaching full capacity all at once. That means there is no sudden blast of air. Because the furnace operates mostly in its lower-capacity first stage, it burns less fuel than a furnace that always runs at full capacity and then has to shut off when the heating demand has been met.
Are heat pumps efficient in the Northern Virginia area?
A heat pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that works year-round for comfort. During warmer months, a heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. In colder weather, a heat pump collects heat from the outdoor air and transfers it to inside the home. Even when outside air feels really cold, there is still heat in that air. In more extreme conditions when there's not enough heat in the outside air to meet the demand of the thermostat setting, an electric heater supplements the outdoor air to warm a home. This process is quite efficient as it produces two to three times more heat than the energy it uses.
A heat pump can also be an effective add-on option to use in conjunction with an existing gas furnace. With this dual-fuel option, the two systems share the heating load, but never function at the same time. Each system operates when it is most cost effective.
Heat pumps are very effective in the Northern Virginia area and as explained are a good choice in all electric neighborhoods and can also be an single or dual option in neighborhoods with natural gas service.
If energy prices continue to escalate, what would be most effective in controlling home comfort costs?
Each home resident will have to run through a check list of actions and options. First, is to make sure that a home's current HVAC system is properly maintained and adjusted. This is another benefit of Oasis service agreements. A change of attitude or habit that leads to lower temperature settings for the home in winter and higher temperature settings in summer can help control energy use. There are add-ons available for current systems (product pages), especially thermostats, humidifiers, and some zoning controls that have efficiency implications.
If your current system is nearing the time for replacement, your efficiency options are expanded and the potential for savings in comparison with an existing system can actually be quite dramatic. Again, the product pages in this Web site give a great deal of information about options and the system combinations that might be right for your situation. Oasis can provide expert system design and consultation.
Other steps you can take are to landscape for summer shade and winter sun. Adding insulation and plugging air leaks can be effective. Learn about energy use of appliances and lighting and select on the basis of use.
I am hearing more and more about home air quality. What are the factors associated with air quality and what can Oasis offer?
Today, HVAC systems have several additional options for home comfort and healthy, quality air in addition to the traditional indoor air temperature control
The areas of air quality to consider are (1) purification, (2) filtration, (3) humidity control, and (4) ventilation. The air quality systems section of our product line-up lists what is available and links you to several informative brochures. Some of these products can easily be added to existing systems. And, the line-up of choices is even greater if you are considering replacing a troublesome or outdated system. Check with Oasis for air quality options.
There seem to be a lot of ratings and terms associated with HVAC systems. What do they mean?
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) - a system for rating the efficiency of cooling equipment. The higher the SEER rating, the less a unit will cost to operate. The DOE's established minimum SEER rating for cooling is 13.00.
HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) - a measure similar to SEER, but it measures the efficiency of the heating portion of a heat pump.
AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency ratio) - a furnace-related measure of the percent of heat produced for every dollar of fuel consumed. The higher the AFUE rating, the lower the fuel costs. All furnaces manufactured today must meet at least 78% AFUE. Furnaces now 10 - 15 years old may fall below this minimum. Furnaces use electricity to run the blower and the amount of electricity used varies with the quality and design of the system, so this is another factor of which to be aware when selecting equipment.
MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) - an ASHRAE filter rating system relates to the size of the holes in the filter that allow air to pass through. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the holes and the higher the efficiency in capturing contaminants. For example, a throw-away fiberglass filter has a MERV rating of 1-4. Some of the highest efficiency, in-line media filters, have a MERV rating of 16.
ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) - recommends a household humidity level between 30 and 60 percent.
R410A Refrigerant - A chlorine-free refrigerant that meets the EPA's newest, most stringent environmental guidelines. Most residential air conditioning units contain the standard R-22 refrigerant, or Freon.
ENERGY STAR - An EPA designation attached to HVAC products that meet or exceed EPA guidelines for high-efficiency performance above the standard government minimums.
dB - a decibel is a unit used to measure the relative intensity of sound. See the product pages for decibel ratings of different units.
60-70 dB - normal conversation
80 dB - telephone dial tone
90-95 dB - sustained exposure may lead to hearing loss
107 dB - power lawn mower
How often do I really need to change my air filters?
Under an Oasis service contract, we clean and inspect your HVAC system twice each year. Part of the service includes changing the filters or servicing your filtering system. Unless you have special circumstances like pets or an ongoing construction project in the home, our service should be adequate, but if you use the traditional fiber glass or pleated filter it would be prudent to change filters a couple of more times. The industry standard is to visually check filters and filtering equipment monthly. If filters look dirty, they need to be cleaned or replaced.
Why does my heat pump system freeze up?
There are several factors that can cause system freezing. Most need to be corrected by a HVAC technical specialist. As a consumer, check the filters first. Restrictions in air flow can lead to freezing. Then thaw the system out by turning off the cooling and running the fan. If you have a heat pump system, you can try turning the system to the heat mode until the ice has melted. If the problem recurs after checking for air restrictions and getting the system thawed, calling for service is likely required. Service technicians will check the refrigerant level. They may also have to clean the evaporator coil. They will check the blower speed and check for any intermittency in blower operation. A service technician can also evaluate other conditions that may make your system prone to freezing.
What regular maintenance do HVAC systems need? Does a service agreement (contract) cover all of these needs?
Dust, dirt, and debris are enemies of HVAC systems. The most important regular maintenance aspect is assuring unrestricted air flows associated with both the indoor and outdoor units. This means keeping all types of filters clean and heat exchangers and coils free of restrictions (inside units and around units). An Oasis service contract covers all of these maintenance needs. The service contract also means a qualified technician inspects the system and can advise the resident of any potential problems.
Should I be concerned about carbon monoxide in my home?
We all know that carbon monoxide is an insidious killer. First, we would advise the home resident to keep heating equipment in good repair which is a function of regular inspection and maintenance. The home resident should also be aware of the furnace chimney or vent and visually make sure that it is free of obstruction. Birds, squirrels, and other animal life sometimes enter or nest in venting systems so watching for signs of this possibility is important. We advise installing a carbon monoxide detector as they are readily available at home supply stores. Your vigilance in combination with regular system inspection, which we can offer through a service agreement, and using a carbon monoxide monitor should be sufficient to give you full peace of mind concerning carbon monoxide in your home.
Do I need a service agreement?
A home resident can do many of the general maintenance tasks and a home resident that is very observant of their system can detect changes in performance that may be a sign of problems or safety concerns. Systems, however, are becoming more complex, including the filtering systems. A service agreement can relieve the home resident of the maintenance tasks and provides assurance of regular inspection by a trained technician. No amount of resident vigilance and periodic inspection and maintenance by trained technicians can prevent every unanticipated problem. The combination of a service agreement and resident awareness gives the best odds for safe, efficient, and trouble-free HVAC performance.