Advice From the Pros

Basic Terms to Know When Buying a New HVAC System

Researching common HVAC terms

Purchasing a new HVAC system can be overwhelming. It’s a big purchase that has a large impact on your family’s comfort. Making informed purchasing decisions and getting the best performance from your home’s system is easier when you know common HVAC terms.

Tonnage

A ton is the cooling capacity or size of an air conditioning system. One ton is equal to the amount of heat required (288,000 Btu) to melt one ton of ice in a 24-hour period. A one-ton air conditioner is rated at 12,000 Btu per hour (288,000/24). A two-ton unit would be rated at 24,000 Btu per hour. Typical residential central heating systems provide up to 5-tons of cooling. Commercial systems can range anywhere from small, three-ton rooftop units, to 1,500-ton chiller systems. Why a ton of ice? The term is left over from the days before mechanical cooling when ice was an essential part of refrigeration.

SEER

The efficiency of air conditioners is often rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) which is defined by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute as the cooling output during a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same period. The higher the SEER, the better the energy performance, and the more money you can save.

Indoor air quality (IAQ) 

Indoor air quality is the air quality within and around buildings and structures. IAQ is known to affect the health, comfort, and well-being of building occupants. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to sick building syndrome, reduced productivity, and impaired learning in schools. Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later. Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the area. High temperatures and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants. There are many products available that can improve IAQ, so be sure to let you HVAC professional know about any issues you are having.

Refrigerant

Refrigerant is the compound (working fluid) used in air conditioners, heat pumps, and refrigerators to transfer heat into or out of an interior space. This fluid boils at a very low temperature enabling it to exude and absorb heat. R-22 is the old standard for residential air conditioners, now being phased out. Most residential air-conditioning units contain the standard R-22 refrigerant. Jan 1 2020, R-22 will no longer be produced or imported. After 2020, only recovered, recycled, or reclaimed supplies of R-22 will be available. The production (not use) of R-22 is being phased out. You are not required to stop using R-22 air conditioners nor to replace existing equipment.

The phase-out period provides time to switch to ozone-friendly refrigerants when you normally would replace your air conditioner. In the future, R-22 supplies will be more limited and costs to service equipment with R-22 may rise.

A chlorine-free refrigerant that meets the U.S. EPA’s newest, most stringent environmental guidelines. R-410A was developed as an alternative to R-22, which will be phased out over the coming years in response to international environmental concerns. R-410A contains no chlorine, so it’s not damaging to the atmosphere’s ozone layer. As an added benefit, laboratory analyses and independent testing have shown that R410A allows higher heat transfer than R-22, resulting in more efficient operation. So, choosing an air conditioner with R-410A not only makes sense environmentally – it also makes sense from an economic standpoint.

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Signs Your Furnace Needs Service

furnace needs service

Now that the colder weather has arrived, it’s important to be on the lookout for signs that your furnace needs service. Here are a few things to look for:

High energy bills

If you are surprised by a large winter power bill, it could be a sign that your furnace is in need of maintenance. Your heating system will operate inefficiently when its parts are worn down or clogged by dirt. If your heating system is using more power than usual to heat your home, it’s a sign that it has become less efficient and needs to be inspected by a professional.

No heat

Whether your furnace is old or new, unexpected problems can prevent it from heating your home efficiently. If your system doesn’t produce heat, it’s time to get some professional HVAC maintenance. Before you call, remember to check and make sure the circuit breakers that power your system are working.

Strange sounds or smells

Listen carefully to the noises coming from your furnace. If you hear a loud bang when you turn it on, it could mean the burners need to be cleaned. If you hear whistling or howling noises while it’s running, it could mean the fuel supply to the burners is being restricted. The professionals at Gentry can diagnose furnace noises and perform the necessary maintenance and repairs to keep it heating your home all winter long.

Gas smell

Smelling dust when you turn on your furnace is normal — dust on the heating elements and in your ducts burns off as your home heats up. But unpleasant odors like burning rubber, oil, or smoke aren’t normal. These bad odors should be investigated, as they could indicate a serious safety hazard. If your furnace continuously produces strange odors, shot off the gas valve on your unit, and call the experts at Gentry to solve the problem before it gets worse or impacts your health.

Thermostat issues

Your HVAC system should keep all the rooms in your home at a comfortable temperature when the weather gets cold. If some rooms in your home are much colder than others or you’re constantly adjusting your thermostat to stay warm, your heating system needs to be evaluated. If the design of your home is to blame for some rooms being colder than others, it may be time to consider zoned heating.

Older equipment 

Even the best HVAC system will break down over time. Most air conditioning systems and heat pumps break down more frequently and begin to lose efficiency after 10 years. If your HVAC system is more than 10 years old, it’s time to start planning for HVAC repairs or replacement.

If your furnace needs service, give Gentry Air Conditioning in Southlake a call today!

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Surviving Without Heat

How to Survive Without Heat This Winter

Surviving Without Heat

 

It’s cold outside, but Winter is a great time to save money on utilities. Unlike Summer when, here in Texas at least, air conditioning is practically mandatory, there are several ways to stay warm at home throughout the winter without cranking up that heater. Maybe you’ve found yourself without electricity or with a broken furnace for a short time, as well. Here are a few tips to stay warm and happy this winter with no heat:

Reduce as much heat loss as possible

Put blankets over all the windows and outside doors, and bean bag draft busters at the base of every door.  Shut off as many outside doors as you can to porches or the garage.  Close off any rooms you aren’t using and put draft busters at the bottoms of those doors.  This creates an air buffer zone that will help reduce temperature fluctuations.

Adding Insulation Supercharges Your Walls

Check your insulation. Insulated walls and windows are standard these days, but if you have an older home, you may need to add some insulation. Heat rises, so it’s important to insulate the ceiling especially well. If you have an attic, insulating it, and even filling the space with storage, can help keep the heat from escaping.

Dress warmly!

This is not the time to run around in your bathing suit. Go with socks, gloves, hats, tights, sweaters, and coats. Pick your favorite most comfortable sweaters and pants.  At a time like this being cozy is of utmost importance. Body heat is a beautiful thing when you need to keep warm. Keep it.  You can increase your body heat with activity.  Do some jumping jacks or run in place.

Eat warming foods.

Soup is your friend. Warm spices such as red pepper, ginger, cinnamon will also help you feel warmer.  Now is not the time to worry about calories.  There are reasons that winter seasons come with hearty, rich foods.  If ever there was a time to thoroughly appreciate a hot meal, this is it.

Keep Warm Safely

Be careful about using alternative heating sources.  Carbon monoxide will kill you a lot faster than being cold will.  Don’t use propane or outdoor barbecues in enclosed spaces.  Get a carbon monoxide detector. Also, be careful with candles or other open flames to avoid fire hazards.

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