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So far RoperHVAC has created 20 blog entries.

Ask Dirk: Are portable air conditioning units a good alternative?

The summer heat has many looking for relief, but of all the options available, the portable AC unit doesn’t rise to the challenge.

Portability

Their packages and advertising show them without hoses and purported as no-installation needed, making portable ACs seems like a quick and easy solution to your cooling needs. However, portable units might not be just as portable as their name suggests.

For starters, the size of these units might deter users from wanting to actually move them. One of the smallest units on the market weighs 40 pounds in comparison to their heavier counterparts at more than 80 pounds. Additionally, if you plan to move the unit from room to room, an exhaust method is required in every room you wish to use it in.

Energy efficiency

The measurement for the amount of heat an AC unit can remove from a space is measured in BTUs (British thermal units). Generally speaking, a larger space or warmer climate would require a higher BTU AC unit to cool effectively. Unfortunately, the advertised BTUs of portable air conditioners aren’t always accurate.

Central air conditioners and window units use coolant to move heat from inside the home to its coils outside where the heat is then exhausted. A portable unit works similarly, except the warm air must get pushed through a hose and through the window vent before it gets outside. The mechanical components of portable units create heat as they operate. About one-third of the cooling power is consumed to make up for the heat the unit creates.

Most portable units are one-hose units. These units use air from the house to exhaust the heat to the outdoors. Any air that is exhausted from the house must be replaced. Typically, air will infiltrate into the house around doors or through other small openings to the outdoors. A two-hose unit is slightly more efficient than one-hose units because they use a hose to bring in air to cool the coil and another to vent the air outside. The window kit that comes with two-hose models to route the hoses through the window and block outside air from coming in often puts the two openings too close together. This causes some of the exhausted air to be drawn back in, so the air to cool the hot coil is warmer. The typical fix is to make a custom window adapter with openings for the two hoses separated as much as possible, but this fix might not be possible for all users.

Condensate draining

A portable unit collects condensate which must be periodically emptied. Depending on conditions, this can happen several times a day. Most units will detect that the container is full and shut off before it overflows. Draining the unit several times a day can be time consuming and reduce the run time of the unit.

Talk to your trusted technician to find an alternative that works for your budget and your comfort.

2019-09-11T14:38:52-07:00September 10th, 2019|

Ask Dirk Q&A: Common Questions Homeowners Ask

Ask Dirk Q&A: Common Questions Homeowners Ask

Over the past 30 plus years, we’ve been asked countless questions from customers throughout western Nevada. Many of them have been asked enough times that I felt it important to share.

Does a bigger HVAC system provide better performance?

In short, the answer is no. The size of your HVAC system depends entirely on the total square footage of your home. A system that is too small will run nonstop trying to reach and maintain your desired temperature, whereas a system that is too large will heat and cool your home in frequent, short cycles.  Either way, you may end up with a higher energy bill due to an inadequately sized system for your home.

 

How can I reduce my energy costs?

                    • Consider using a programmable thermostat to control temperatures throughout the day. Or if you’re leaving for more than a couple hours and able to remember, set your thermostat 10-15 degrees lower in the winter and 5-8 degrees higher in the summer. Energy Star estimates that users who do this can save 5-15 percent on their energy bill.
                    • Get your system serviced twice a year, once at the start of air conditioning season and once at the beginning of heat season.
                    • Make sure your vents are not closed, covered, or blocked by furniture.
                    • And last but not least, change your filters regularly.

How often should my filters be changed?

Your filters should be changed twice per year at least, during your summer and winter maintenance services. Even better—change them quarterly. Best—during high use periods, change them monthly.

 

 

 

conditioner 

How long will my HVAC system last?

The length your system lasts is reliant upon how well the unit is maintained. You can expect your HVAC system to roughly last between 15-25 years—IF—the recommended service and maintenance is performed throughout the last of the system. Certain elements of your total system may have different lifespans.

                    • A/C Units: 10-15 years
                    • Gas Heater: 15-30 years
                    • Heat Pumps: 10-15 years

 

If you have a question or comment, I’d love to hear from you. Please send it to me at dirk@roperhvac.com and I’ll try to answer it in an upcoming column.

2019-08-02T17:07:13-07:00July 15th, 2019|

Ask Dirk: What happens during my HVAC maintenance service?

Ask Dirk: What happens during my HVAC maintenance service?

Roper's Heating and Air Conditioning ServicesYour HVAC system is a mechanical system with lots of moving parts. Without regular maintenance and care, its performance will start to decline and eventually the entire system will just plain fail. A heating and cooling system replacement costs thousands of dollars, so regular maintenance can extend its lifespan and protect your wallet.

What does the technician do?

Inspect and Change Your Filters

We’ve talked about how important clean filters are regularly in this column, and we’ll probably keep talking about it – it’s that important. In our dusty climate, filters need frequent changing because they trap all kinds of dust, debris, germs. Dirty filters can cause inefficient heating or cooling, and poor indoor air quality.

Visual Inspection of the Entire System

A thorough visual inspection can identify problems before they happen, and it’s a good idea to get it done before peak cooling or heating season begins. Addressing minor problems found during regular maintenance service can greatly reduce potential emergencies.

Clean and Remove Debris

While filters help with dust and debris, particulates also collect on blowers, moving parts, condensing units, and other system components, interfering with smooth operations and potentially causing corrosive damage to internal systems.

Check the Condensate Drain

A clogged condensate drain in your air conditioner and heat pump can obstruct water flow, causing moisture to accumulate in the system. This can potentially lead to mold, water damage, uneven temperature regulation, bacteria, and compromised air quality.

Check the Electrical Connections and Voltage

HVAC connections and systems can come loose or break over time. Frayed and damaged wires should be replaced to minimize the risk of fire and component failure.

Inspect Exhaust Outlets

Gases like carbon monoxide escape through exhaust outlets. Clogs can lead to dangerous build-up, and possibly compromise your safety. Your technician will check for signs of corrosion, leaks, and backdraft in the system, chimney flue and vent stack.

Check Fuel Lines and Connections

Leaking gas and fuel lines in your system can be a fire hazard, and disconnected fuel lines, accumulated soot in the burners and cracked heat exchangers can impact on the system’s efficiency.

Check the Refrigerant Levels

If your air conditioner doesn’t have enough refrigerant in it to cool the air efficiently the compressor will have to work harder to achieve the desired level of temperature, which can damage the system. Losing refrigerant often means leaks, which need to be detected and repaired.

A final note

Regularly servicing your HVAC system is beneficial in many ways, with improved reliability, lower energy bills, longer equipment life, and a safer, healthier environment. Additionally, a thorough examination by a trained technician will help to ensure the whole system is healthy, and if it’s not, your technician will advise you of any needed repairs.

With summer rapidly approaching, it may be a good idea to get your system serviced early to make sure you’re covered before it gets too hot, so you have ample time to enjoy your air conditioner.

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Have a question for Dirk? Send it to dirk@roperHVAC.com and he’ll try to answer it in an upcoming column.

About Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning: For more than 30 years Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning has been providing essential indoor climate management services to the citizens of western Nevada. Roper’s is a family-owned, community-oriented business that specializes in the restoration and preservation of Total Home Comfort. Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning is located at 2062 S. Edmonds Drive in Carson City. For more information, visit https://roperhvac.com/.

2019-07-23T10:55:44-07:00June 16th, 2019|

Ask Dirk: My allergies are killing me! How can I reduce allergens in my home?

If you suffer from allergies, you might view spring with mixed emotions. Yes, it will be warmer and sunnier. But those conditions cause plants to grow and bloom, and pollen from those plants can be a problem for allergy sufferers.

Dog with allergiesWhat are we dealing with?

Northern Nevada is a beautiful place to live, but it is rich in allergens. Airborne pollens from rabbit brush, sagebrush, ragweed, and dozens of other plants can cause discomfort like sneezing, wheezing, coughing, itchy eyes, stuffed-up noses for allergy sufferers. In addition, you, your family, your pets, and visitors all bring allergens with them when they enter your home.

How can I avoid allergens?

While there’s not much you can do about allergens when you are outdoors, you can take steps to minimize them in your home.

Infiltration is a significant contributor to poor indoor air quality. Open doors and windows, pet doors, poor sealing of the building envelope, and leaks around registers are prime offenders. But remember, not all allergens come from outdoors. Pet dander, dust mites, mold, and other sources of allergens may already be inside your home.

A properly maintained HVAC system can help in removing these allergy-aggravating substances from the air. The addition of free-standing air cleaners may work even better, especially if your HVAC system isn’t designed to provide extra-clean air.

What can I do?

Remember, the HVAC system only filters when it is moving air. If you are not running central air conditioning in the summer, you may be able to set the fan to “on” if the system allows. This could increase your electric bill as well as accelerated wear on the blower motor.

You’ll want to choose a filter that collects more of the microscopic spores and other pollutants that may aggravate your allergies without stressing the system. Restricted airflow caused by filters that are designed to improve air quality can make the blower motor work even harder, so make sure you select the correct filters and change them regularly. Your service technician can help you choose the best filter for your system.

How will I know what filter to choose?

Filters are rated by the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV rating), and range from a value of 1 to 20 http://www.mechreps.com/PDF/Merv_Rating_Chart.pdf. Flat panel filters, installed by most furnace manufacturers, have a 1 to 4 MERV rating. Medium efficiency filters with a MERV rating of 5 to 13 are the most common types used in home HVAC systems. High efficiency with a rating of 14 to 16 MERV, are considerably more expensive, and should only be used in systems designed for them.

No matter what filter you choose, remember to replace it as directed on the packaging. Some homes require filters to be changed monthly at a minimum. If the filter is very dirty when you change it, replace it sooner next time.

What else can help?

Your ducts may also contribute to the problem. Duct leakage can occur over time, allowing dirty air from the attic or the crawlspace to enter the system. Increased pressure in these spaces can also cause that dirty air to leak in around the registers. If you suspect this is happening, have the system inspected by a professional, who will seal any leaks found.

The bottom line

Your first line of defense in reducing allergens in your home, next to a free-standing air cleaner, is regular filter changes with a good quality filter. It’s also a good idea to have your HVAC system inspected on an annual

basis to prevent any problems before they occur.

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Have a question for Dirk? Send it to dirk@roperHVAC.com and he’ll try to answer it in an upcoming column.

2019-05-09T15:51:46-07:00May 9th, 2019|

Ask Dirk: Is my thermostat costing me money?

According to EnergyStar.gov, nearly half of your home’s energy usage is for heating and cooling. How can you be both comfortable and energy efficient?

Aside from changing your filters regularly to keep dirt and dust from building up in your system, which can cause early failure or expensive repairs. here are easy some things you can do right now to improve your energy use:

 

Stop trying to heat or cool your home quickly

Most homes in our area have single-stage systems, which means it only works at one speed. Cranking up the heat will not heat the home any faster. Setting the temperature higher than what you want will make your furnace run longer and is likely to cause you to overshoot your desired temperature. The same idea applies to cooling, but in reverse, of course.

Don’t “set it and forget it”

Thermostat temperature settings should be changed any time you’re leaving the house for more than a couple of hours. Why heat or cool the place if you’re not there? If you’re leaving for more than a couple of hours, you can save energy by resetting your temperature.

Try this – when you’re going to be gone for more than a couple of hours, set your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees lower in the winter and 5 to 8 degrees higher in the summer. Energy Star calculates savings of 5 to 15 percent on your energy bills if you can do this.

If remembering to change the thermostat every time you leave sounds daunting, try a programmable thermostat, which can be set to accommodate your daily absences and desired sleeping temperatures.

Or, if you’re not really sure when you’ll be back, a WiFi thermostat will allow you to set your thermostat using your phone or tablet from pretty much anywhere when you’re ready to head home.

Then again, don’t mess with it

This is one of those times when micromanaging can backfire. Programmable thermostats are efficient when they’re allowed to run according to the schedule you gave it. If you decide you’re too warm or too cold and fiddle with the temperature, the system will turn on and shut off more frequently, which makes it run inefficiently.

Programmable thermostats come in many abilities and new technologies. Research the one that seems right for you, and talk with your service technician about which thermostats will work well with your system.

And, as we’ve discussed before, give your system an annual check-up

It may still be snowing now, but spring and summer are right around the corner, which is a peak season for HVAC contractors. Spring is a great time to do a pre-season check on your equipment that put in some overtime this winter.

Your service technician will clean your system, and tighten electrical connections, lubricate moving parts if any require it, check system controls, drainage, ensure your gas lines are safely connected and check your thermostat settings for you.

— Dirk

If you have a question for Dirk, send an email to dirk@roperhvac.com and we’ll try to answer it in an upcoming column.

2019-03-26T11:52:23-07:00March 21st, 2019|