COMFORT BUSTER MYTHS
Ball Heating and Air’s primary focus is doing what’s best for our customers. Sometimes that means explaining what is a fact and what’s fiction. We try to educate our clients about misperceptions that have lingered around the heating and cooling industry for decades because many HVAC techs are not certified or trained to meet industry standards. Below, Ball Heating and Air busts some of the most common comfort myths.
Inspection vs. Tune Up
What is the difference between the $59.00 inspection you see advertised in the newspaper and a Precision tune-up performed by Ball Heating and Air? An inspection will look at your equipment and not actually do any work without charging you additional fees. These additional fees can add up to a hefty final bill.
Ball Heating and Air performs a Precision tune-up which takes a minimum of 2 hours to complete. We not only inspect but we clean both coils and the blower, lubricate moving parts, confirm electrical connections are tight; in fact there are well over twenty items in our tune-up procedure. This procedure does everything we can do to insure your equipment will operate as efficiently as possible.
Top her off, refrigerant fill up
In the summer I get at least one phone call a day from a customer telling me it is time for me to come out and top off their system with refrigerant, the “Just Top Her Off” call. I am not sure where the idea comes from that your refrigerant system needs to be topped off like gasoline for your car, but that idea isn’t accurate at all.
Your system’s refrigerant should never leak out, will never go bad, and will never get used up. When your comfort system is installed, the refrigerant system should be sealed, vacuumed to remove air and moisture and then charged with the proper amount of refrigerant, or Freon.
Properly installed systems with quality equipment never need refrigerant added to them. The only way a completely sealed system would need more refrigerant is if the system has been violated. That violation may come in the form of a leak inside the equipment or can come because your service technician didn’t complete the proper steps when servicing the equipment. Any time refrigerant has to be added to an existing system, it indicates a problem. This problem could become even worse as the system ages and could cause additional problems to the rest of your system.
One caution, some technicians who don’t have the proper training will just hook up to the outdoor unit and never look at the indoor coil to see if it is dirty. A dirty coil will cause lower pressures and may fool a technician into thinking your system is low on refrigerant. Make sure that no one adds refrigerant to the system until they have looked at the indoor coil to make sure it has the proper airflow.
Bigger is Better
When it comes to comfort oversizing equipment isn’t the answer. We have customers ask us for a price on a five ton system because their three ton unit never cooled their house very well. Fact is when you install oversized equipment you can cause more problems, have a higher power bill, and still not be comfortable in your home.
When purchasing a comfort system, it is best to make sure a qualified comfort consultant performs a detailed heat load procedure on your home and then matches the equipment to the heat load properly. This makes sure that the system can maintain the design temperature inside your home as well as remove the humidity. An oversized system can handle the temperature but shuts off before the system has time to remove the humidity. This causes moisture problems in the home, potential sweating or mold problems, and you end up having to run the temperature really low in your home to feel comfortable, which means a higher power bill.
Some people treat their thermostat like an accelerator. If they get hot instead of just turning the temperature to a temperature that would make them comfortable, they “bury” the thermostat to the lowest setting possible.
The thing is, your thermostat is only a switch not an accelerator. Turning the thermostat lower doesn’t make it cool off any faster. But it will make your unit run longer and most likely over cool your home. Running the temperature down like this only cost you money in the long run!
Ever notice that you can always find a cheaper price? Nearly any product can always be purchased cheaper somewhere else. However, with a comfort system, finding the cheapest price isn’t always beneficial for you. The cheaper installing company may take short cuts to save time and materials. This may wind up costing you more in the long term due to an improperly installed system that cost more to run with expensive break downs. Here is the thing, your comfort system is more than just a brand of equipment or a thermostat on your wall. An efficient and quality comfort system is designed specifically for your home and then manufactured at your home with quality materials, equipment and experienced installers.
Higher SEER = Lower Power Bill
The government developed the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating or SEER to create a way for consumers to compare the energy efficiency of equipment, much like miles per gallon (mpg) for the automobile industry. SEER basically is a number representing the amount of cooling produced by the equipment for each unit of electricity used. The equipment produced by manufacturers is required to have a minimum SEER rating of 13. This is the lowest SEER rating for residential equipment on the market today. Some equipment manufactured can have SEER ratings of over 20. In laboratory comparisons of equipment installed the same way, the higher SEER equipment will use less electricity which means in a perfect world the higher SEER equipment would give the owner a lower power bill.
While SEER is a good way to compare the energy efficiency of two different pieces of equipment, it is not a rating that can be used to compare the quality of a comfort system’s installation. SEER is a rating of equipment installed the exact same way; not a total system’s efficiency or quality. Unfortunately comfort systems are built inside your home. This is like buying the parts to a car and having a company bring those parts into your home and assemble them in your living room. The efficiency and quality of a comfort system is only as good as the builder or installer makes it. So higher SEER equipment installed improperly does not mean you will have a lower power bill.
Our industry has developed a standard to insure quality installations for the consumer. The specification was developed by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, ACCA, and is titled HVAC Quality Installation Specification. You can download a copy of the specification and a consumers quality checklist for free at www.acca.org/quality. These two documents will help you measure the quality of your comfort system installer.