Have you ever called a mechanic or even your doctor’s office to ask what you thought was a simple question and only heard in response: “Wonk wonk, wonk wonk wonk wonk, wonk?” We know the feeling! HVAC 101 is our best custom compilation mix tape to prepare you for your initial call with a technician, and to share with you some of the most popular questions that come from our new customers. So, the next time you call about your heating and air conditioning needs and you are asked about MERV, you will know that the technician is not asking about your uncle. You’ll see.
What does HVAC stand for?
HVAC (pronounced h-vack or spelled out) stands for Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning. The three functions of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning are closely interrelated. All seek to provide thermal comfort, acceptable indoor air quality, and reasonable installation, operation, and maintenance costs. HVAC systems can provide ventilation, reduce air infiltration, and maintain pressure relationships between spaces. Your heating and air technician goes by the name of HVAC contractor, and can provide heating repair expertise.
Can you give me a simple list of the basic HVAC equipment?
Glad to! The major parts are as follows: Fans and ducts, heating unit (furnace), filters, compressor, condensing units, evaporator (cooling coils), control system, and an Air Distribution System.
Okay. Out of all these different pieces, what are the most common repairs?
- Condenser fans heating up and failing (coupled with normal wear and tear failure);
- Capacitor failure;
- Compressor failure;
- Refrigerants leaking;
- Igniter failure; and
- Circuit Board failure.
What can I do to maintain my HVAC System?
The folks over at Energy Star have compiled a handy checklist for homeowners so you know what to expect during a maintenance check-up. The most important thing you can do on your own is to keep your air filters changed once a month. Energy Star recommends scheduling your HVAC contractor visits to fit into the spring and fall seasons. We concur, as we tend to stay booked in the summer and winter months. It is also recommended that ducts get professionally cleaned every few years.
I am really trying to keep my costs down right now. Are there things I can do myself before calling you to come to my home?
Sure! We think of this question as analogous to the beginning of every IT call. Just as the IT guy will warm you up by first asking you to make sure your computer is plugged in and your internet light is glowing steadily, we are happy to share the HVAC equivalent to the IT call with you.
Email insert with our lawyer for your reading pleasure:
Lawyer Jeff: “You have to tell them that they are assuming the risk if they attempt to perform their own work on their units.”
Us: “Okay, Jeff. Thank you, as usual. We told them. Can we go back to talking with our customers now?
Lawyer Jeff: “No. You have to also tell them how complicated their equipment is and that no one but a certified professional should ever lay a finger on it, and especially when it comes to any sort of mechanical repairs.”
Us: You are excellent, Lawyer Jeff, but sometimes a little extreme.
Lawyer Jeff: “Well…at least warn them about the toxicity levels of refrigerants. They really shouldn’t mess around with that!
That guy is a real shark. Here are some things you can check before calling us to your house:
- Are your filters clean?
- Does your thermostat have power?
- Are your circuit breakers “on?”
- Are all of your vents clear of debris?
Are you going to tell us who MERV is or what?
I almost forgot! MERV is not a person or a pet. MERV is an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Rating Value. The ratings go from 1–16 and are used to compare air filter efficiencies. To give you an idea of what they mean, ratings 1-4 are minimum; ratings 5-8 are “better” for residences; ratings 9-12 are rated “superior” for residences; and anything higher than that is typically for hospital type atmospheres.
I keep hearing a lot about indoor air quality. What is the short scoop on all of this hype?
The thing about indoor air quality is that it isn’t just hype or a fleeting trend. Particularly in Savannah, Richmond Hill, and throughout Georgia, mold and allergies are huge problems for many people because of the high humidity in our climate. The truly scary fact is that in so many cases, the indoor air quality in homes is considerably worse than the air outside (as in, 100 times more)! We get a lot of calls from new families who will celebrate the birth of their first child soon and want to provide the best space for their newborn. Some homes have both dehumidifiers and humidifiers, but in Southern homes, it is probably more common to have a dehumidifier installed.
Well, what about all the energy efficiency talk?
This is a real thing too. Again, the folks over at Energy Star have done the studies and they show that equipment over 10 years old should be replaced. They estimate that replacing your old HVAC equipment can save you about $115.00 in utility bills. Furnaces that have higher Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (“AFUE”) ratings have the Energy Star seal of approval. For air conditioners, this approval is measured in higher Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (“SEER”) and Energy Efficiency Ratio (“EER”). EER typically is used to estimate the efficiency when the temperature creeps above 95 degrees.
We hope that we have given you some useful information in preparing for your first call with your HVAC contractor. Ace Pro HVAC serves Hinesville, Richmond Hill, Savannah (Chatham County), and Liberty County. We hope to hear from you soon!