Frequently Asked Questions
Get answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about heating and cooling equipment, energy efficiency, air quality and maintenance below.
Q. What does HVAC stand for?
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.
Q. What regular maintenance do heating and air conditioning systems need?
The most important part of HVAC maintenance aspect is maintaining unrestricted air flows. Dust, dirt, and debris are an HVAC system's worst enemies. Whether it's an indoor or outdoor unit, you must keep all filters clean and heat exchangers and coils free of restrictions.
We recommend that your heating and cooling system be checked and serviced twice a year; ideally a spring and autumn tune-up. Also we recommend that you change your filter regularly, depending on the type of filter you have. This alone can eliminate many of the most common problems that need fixing and can significantly reduce the likelihood of a serious breakdown.
Q. Why do I need to change my filter regularly?
Regular filter replacement helps your heating and cooling system operate at peak levels and improves indoor air quality. It is important to change filters regularly to ensure proper air flow and to keep your home free from dust, allergens and germs. Depending on the type of filter you have, you may require weekly or monthly filter replacements. Your Comstock Air, Inc. service or installation technician will recommend the ideal filters and replacement schedules for your unit(s).
Q. How often should I have maintenance done on my air conditioner?
You should have maintenance done on your air conditioning system at least once a year - spring to early summer being the best times. This not only ensures maximum efficiency, it enables us to foresee any possible problems that may occur in the near future.
Q. Is there anything I should check prior to calling for service?
Check to be sure that the air conditioner or furnace is turned on. Check that the breakers and disconnects are turned on and be sure the thermostat is set correctly. Also make a note of any strange noises or smells.
Q. How do I know if my system is working properly?
Is it making strange noises? Is it cooling or heating all areas of your home sufficiently? Has it been taking longer to cool down or heat up? Have your utility bills been rising for no apparent reason? Any of these are signs that you may have a problem that needs service. In most cases, the longer you delay, the worse any underlying problems will get. So be sure to contact Comstock Air Inc. to check out your system whenever you notice anything out of the ordinary.
Q. How are the sizing capacities of heating and cooling systems measured?
Heating and cooling systems sizing is based on B.T.U.H. (British Thermal Units Per Hour). Air Conditioning and Heat Pumps are also rated in tonnage. 12,000 BTUH equals one (1) ton. Residential systems can range from 1 to 5 tons.
Q. How do I know if my A/C unit is big enough?
Bigger isn't always better; its performance and efficiency that count. Before purchasing a replacement system you should always make sure your system is sized properly to match your needs and budget. Your Comstock Air Inc. Comfort Specialist will thoroughly assess your home and comfort requirements to determine the proper size and make the appropriate recommendation.
Q. How is the efficiency of heating and cooling equipment measured?
When purchasing a furnace, heat pump or air conditioner, ALWAYS ask about its Efficiency Ratings. They will tell you will tell you how efficiently the unit uses fuel (gas, oil or electricity). The most-frequently used efficiency ratings are:
- SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): This ratio tells you the amount of cooling your system will deliver per dollar spent on electricity The SEER rating of any unit can range anywhere from 13 to 17. The higher the SEER the more efficient the system will be and the less it will cost in the long run to own and operate.
- HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor): Similar to SEER, it is a measurement of efficiency of the heating portion of a heat pump. HSPF ratings range from 6.8 to 10; high-efficiency units have efficiencies of 7.5 HSPF or above.
- AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency ratio): A measurement of the percent of heat produced by a furnace 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%. Older furnaces (10 - 15 years or older) may fall below this minimum. Furnaces with AFUE ratings from 78% to 80% are considered mid-efficiency; ones with AFUE ratings above 90% are considered high-efficiency.
- MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value): A filter rating system relating 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. MERV rating range from a low of 1 to a high of 16.
- ENERGY STAR: An Environmental Protection Agency designation attached to HVAC products that meet or exceed guidelines for high-efficiency performance above the standard government minimums.
Q. 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 your home. Variable speed blowers automatically change speeds to meet the different airflow needs of the heating and cooling cycles. Variable speed motors can use 1/7th the energy and are excellent for customizing comfort levels in different zones of your home. A variable speed motor can also help clean the air and control the humidity.
Q. What is the ideal indoor humidity level?
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommend a household humidity level between 30 and 60 percent.
Q. How much does a new replacement system cost?
Due to the many different makes, models and customer needs, price is an issue that can only be solved by doing a thorough evaluation of your home and existing equipment. At Comstock Air Inc., there is no charge an in-house replacement proposal.
Q. What do I do if I can't afford a new HVAC system?
Comstock Air Inc. offers several financing options. Your Comfort consultant can recommend the financing plan that's best for your needs.
Q. What size should my new air conditioning & heating system be?
Comstock Air has certified experts to perform a load calculation on your home to determine the proper equipment size. Today's HVAC systems are often significantly more efficient than older models and don't need to be as large to deliver the same or better amount of comfort. The load calculation is an important and potentially money-saving step to take, rather than just replacing your current unit with one of the same size.The capacity needed is based upon how quickly your home gains or loses heat, not by square footage alone. Our expert technicians perform load calculations as a part of every installation quote, meaning you get the best units available on the market, sized specifically for your home
Q. Are there any health benefits to duct cleaning?
Air conditioning & heating systems can collect a variety of contaminants that could potentially affect you and your family. Contaminants such as mold, fungi, bacteria, allergens and even dust particles can collect in your system. Removing these contaminants is just one component in an overall plan to improve your indoor air quality
Q: What is the difference between an air conditioner & a heat pump?
Central air conditioners & heat pumps resemble each other in appearance, using the same casing. Both units reside on an exterior side of the home.A central air conditioning unit is solely responsible for cooling the home, while an interior furnace takes care of the home's heating portion.A heat pump is really two units in one - an air conditioner, and in the winter months, a heater. When the heat pump is in the heating mode, it pulls heat out of the outdoor air and uses that to heat your home. If the outdoor air is too cold (around 32° F), then it uses electrical strip heaters to heat the air.Because a heat pump is utilized year round, the unit will require more routine maintenance checks and shorter replacement times than standard air conditioner units.