Frequently Asked Questions

Learn a little about the world of HVAC with these Frequently Asked Questions. Just click on a question to view the answer!

We also have FAQ sections for Plumbing, Home Remodeling and Pools & Spas.

What is indoor air quality?

Indoor air quality, or IAQ, is the term used to describe the quality of air in buildings and structures as it relates to the health of the persons inside.

Today’s airtight, efficient homes are wonderful at conserving energy, but that makes them better at trapping potentially irritating particles inside the home. Indoor air quality has become more and more important to our general health due to the rise of allergy and asthma sufferers in recent years.

Indoor air can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outside air, and we spend 80-90% of our time indoors. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has indoor air quality ranked as one of the top 5 environmental dangers. It can contain dust, lint, mold spores, smoke, pollen, animal hair and dander, bacteria and cooking grease. Poor indoor air quality is linked to severe asthma, allergy development, heart problems and lung cancer.

Learn more about indoor air quality.

How often should I replace my air filter?

The filters in your home need to be changed either once a month or once every three months, it depends on the kind you are using. You should check the product information on the filters for the manufacturer’s suggested frequency of change. Frequency also depends on where you live, what your climate is and how often you are running your AC or heat. In high heat months when your AC is running constantly you may need to change your filter more frequently.

What is CADR?

It stands for Clean Air Delivery Rate; this gives the number of cubic feet of clean air a unit delivers each minute. The higher the CADR the greater amount of clean air is being delivered to your home.

How is the Trane CleanEffects™ filter different from the other air cleaners I’ve seen advertised?

It produces a minimal amount of ozone, less than 5 ppb, and there is no noise since the unit is not placed in any living areas like other units are. It is installed and operated through the same duct work that your furnace or air conditioner may use.

What is important about a matched system?

A matched system is important because when all your components are sized to your home you can control exactly how much heating or cooling you need for your comfort level. A matched system also allows each component to perform most efficiently.

What are the advantages of variable speed fans?

They are able to spin at different speeds depending on the needs of your home. Usually, they spin at a lower speed delivering a reliable stream of warm or cool air to your home to help control humidity levels, utility costs and system noise. When conditions change, the fan speed increases so the system can meet higher demands even on hotter days or colder nights.

What do all the rating numbers mean?

The federal government requires all heating and air conditioning equipment to be rated for efficiency. The more efficient the model, the higher the rating. Gas furnaces are rated AFUE: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency Heat pumps are rated SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio And by HSPF: Heating Seasonal Performance Factor Air conditioners are also rated SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.

Why is load calculation important and what is it?

Load calculation decides the correct size system for your specific home. It is based on a number of factors such as square footage, number of windows, and year-round weather concerns. Without this calculation you may the incorrect size unit and suffer from uneven temperatures in your home an inability to control humidity. A correct size system based on a correct load calculation can help ensure you enjoy long-lasting, reliable comfort whatever the season.

How often should I have my AC serviced?

We recommend servicing your air conditioning unit once a year, ideally in the spring.  This ensures efficiency and smooth operation during the hottest months of the year.

Learn more about the importance of AC maintenance.

How can I maintain my air conditioner?

First and foremost always make sure the power is turned off before beginning any routine maintenance. The most important things to clean are the air filter, coils, fins and drains. For window units you also should check all seals.

Check and clean or replace your air filter. This is the number one thing to remember in AC maintenance. Cleaning the coil and the area around it ensures adequate airflow around the condenser. If the fins on your evaporator are bent they can block airflow; cleaning these and bending them back is part of routine maintenance. Drain channels can also get blocked and can be unblocked by a stiff wire.

Why is my air conditioner blowing hot air?

There are few simple reasons that your air conditioner could be blowing hot air and a few more complicated ones.

First check your thermostat and make sure that it is set correctly. If it is, a dirty air filter or other air flow restriction may be the cause. You should also check both your inside and outside units to make sure they are clear of debris and running correctly.

If all of these things check out, it could be that your unit has leaked refrigerant, has a bad compressor or other electrical problem. These are more serious and should be left to professionals.

Why is my air conditioner freezing up?

An air conditioner may freeze up for a few different reasons. You either have insufficient air flow, a nighttime temperature that is too cool, a bad compressor or you are low on freon. Restricted air flow or low refrigerant will cause a drop in pressure which causes the coil to freeze. When the air outside is too cold at night, the pressure drops and causes the coil to freeze.

Learn more about AC freeze up.

What is SEER?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and gives an idea of the performance of the system. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit and the lower the operating costs.

How often should I have my furnace inspected?

We recommend an annual furnace inspection. Like a car, your furnace requires regular maintenance to ensure that it runs as well as it should. Without regular service your furnace could stop working abruptly and leave you in the cold.

When should I replace my furnace?

Experts say that the average life of a furnace is 12-18 years. So age would be the first thing to consider when thinking about replacing your furnace. You may also want to look at the size of your furnace and the space that you need to heat. One of our technicians can help look at this and help you decide if you need to upgrade your furnace efficiency. Newer furnaces operate much more efficiently and may cost a bit up front but will save you money in the long run.

How can I maintain my furnace?

Make sure you turn off the power before beginning any maintenance. Remove and clean or replace your furnace filter. Depending on the filter and furnace type you may need to do this monthly or every three months, and some filter types can just be cleaned. Check with your manufacturer if you are unsure about what kind of filter you have.

Vacuum out any dust and dirt that may have accumulated inside the furnace using a brush attachment. Take care not to damage any wiring inside of this compartment.

What is a hot surface igniter?

It is part of the electronic ignition system used to ignite the burners in many of today’s furnace models. When there is a need for heat, the igniter receives electrical current in order to heat its surface and ignite the burners in the furnace. Sometimes it is referred to as a glow stick or a glow plug.

What is a heat pump?

A heat pump is a device that transfers heat from one place to another, from indoors to outdoors or from outdoors to indoors. In the winter a heat pump works like a heater, extracting heat energy from outside and transferring it inside. In the summer the process reverses and it will remove heat from your home and transfer it outside like an air conditioner.

Why does the air coming out of the registers feel cool when the heat pump is set for heating?

The air is heated to about 90 to 95 degrees which is approximately 20 to 25 degrees warmer than the indoor air temperature (depending on the outdoor temperature) and will warm your house. It is, however, below body temperature, 98.6 degrees, and can feel cool to the touch.

What is an air handler?

The air handler is sometimes called a fan coil. It is made up of the blower and motor, controls, heater compartment, and an evaporator coil. The variable speed air handlers allow the coil to cool down quickly and the blower to slowly ramp up and ramp down when cooling. This provides quieter operation, greater humidity control, temperature distribution, air filtration and circulation.

How close to the outdoor unit may I plant shrubs or flowers?

Most manufacturers agree that plants should not be closer than 18 inches. Air conditioners need exhaust and intake air to operate correctly, and if the air cannot circulate, the unit could build up heat and require service.

How long can I expect the equipment to last?

The average expected life of an air conditioner is about 15 years. The average expected life of a heat pump is about 10 to 12 years since it runs year round. A gas furnace or air handler may be longer. Those units in corrosive environments such as a coastal installation will tend to have a shorter life.

Is there any advantage to setting the thermostat fan to the ON setting so the fan runs constantly?

Yes. One is the constant filtering of the air in the home, and two you have more even temperature throughout the home due to the constant air flow. However, when it is uncomfortably humid it is recommended that the fan be used in the AUTO mode.


Vailes Heating & Air is proud to offer services to Waynesboro, Staunton, Augusta County, and near by communities. Call us at 540-942-0198 or request service online today!

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