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Air Conditioning

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.

 

 

 

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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: What is the best thermostat for my home?

Ask Dirk: What is the best thermostat for my home?

Heating can account for nearly half of the average family’s winter energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Having a good thermostat may help homeowners reduce those costs. The market is full of choices when it comes to home thermostats, so let’s break it down so that you as the homeowner can make an informed decision before winter hits here in northern Nevada.

High-end thermostat options:

Smart thermostats

Operates like a programmable thermostat, but allows the user to access the system from any internet-connect device, including a smartphone, which allows the user to adjust the temperature remotely. Some smart thermostats will let you manage temperature, humidity, air quality, fan speeds, ventilation and zoning, making it easy for you to create comfort settings and connect with your system while home or away.

These thermostats know the temperature outside and adjust the inside temperature, based on your known settings. Automatically.

Care should be taken to make sure your smart thermostat is programmed correctly to ensure the best energy savings. These systems also have the capacity to record the inside and outside temperature, notify the homeowner when the filter should be changed and record its own operating time.

Learning thermostats

The next evolution in smart thermostats is the learning thermostat, which can “learn” when the home is likely to be occupied or empty, thus allowing for automatic heating and cooling upon entry. They do this by using motion detectors to determine when the home is occupied or by using a wireless network to sense when someone is away from their home.

Some manufacturers claim this new breed of comfort management device can save homeowners an average of 20% on their heating and cooling energy costs. Combine that with custom energy tips and you can make informed decisions about when and how to save even more money.

I’m not yet a fan of learning thermostats. I think they work well if you have regular patterns and don’t want to bother with programming your thermostat, but they aren’t great at unusual patterns. I tried one at my office. It noticed that I came in on a couple of Saturdays, so it started turning up the heat every Saturday whether I was there or not. It also started turning on for my cleaning crew who left the door open while they were working. I’ve switched back to a programmable thermostat with Wi-Fi. Now if I’m headed in to the office on the weekend, I can set the thermostat when I leave home.

Mid-range thermostat options:

Programmable thermostats

Allows the operator to set back the temperature based on a schedule of your choosing, so you don’t have to set it back when you leave or turn in for the night. Once you manually set the desired temperatures for, say daytime and nighttime or weekdays and weekends, the system heats or cools the home to those desired setpoints automatically.

Budget-friendly options

Non-programmable thermostats

The most basic option that allows the homeowner to turn on the heating or cooling, set the temperature and operate the fan. Also known as manual thermostats, all functions in these systems are operated manually. Keeps the home at the same temperature 24 hours a day unless it is manually changed.

How to decide?

If you’re really excited about technology, the smart and learning thermostats are really fun. If all you want is comfort without thinking too much, programmable thermostats are a great option. Non-programmable thermostats are easy to use – no fuss, no muss.

Consider your budget and your appetite for learning, and, as I always say, do your research.

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.

Here’s a question I got recently from Philip L. regarding “Is my thermostat costing me money?”

  1. Is there any truth to NV Energy manipulating your HVAC system with their installed thermostats?
  2. Yes, in fact, NV Energy can control the set point in your home if you let them install their thermostat. See the following references:

https://mynews4.com/news/local/nv-energy-offers-free-smart-thermostats-to-customers-but-will-increase-home-temperature

https://www.nvenergy.com/save-with-powershift/smart-thermostat

  1. Were we to replace our 8+ year old programmable thermostat, what would you recommend?
  2. There are many options for replacement thermostats. It’s kind of like buying a car – it’s difficult for one person to decide what’s best for another. The way you want to use your system will largely decide what’s best for you:
  • Are you looking for simplicity, and do you prefer to be in charge of the temperature that is set?
  • Do you want to set a temperature program that runs every day?
  • Do you want different programs on weekdays and weekends?
  • Do you want a different program every day?
  • Do you want to be able to control your temperature setting from your phone or tablet? (Even when you’re not home.)
  • Do you want to use Alexa or Google Home to control your thermostat by voice?
  • Do you want a thermostat that watches you and tries to program itself according to what it sees?
  • Do you want a thermostat that can send you a text if it gets too cold in your home?

There are many options available to you, once you know your preferences. If you know what they are, I’d be happy to help you out!

Dirk

2019-07-29T11:57:11-07:00September 18th, 2018|

Ask Dirk: How can I lower my cooling costs?

Ask Dirk - Nevada Appeal Column photoIt’s hot. Darn hot.

It can be expensive to be cool, but you can lower your cooling costs with these simple tips.

Keep your filters clean

Dirty filters are one of the biggest causes of AC poor performance or system failure. Imagine breathing with a filthy cloth over your mouth and nose. It’s much harder, and you’re bound to start coughing.

Your AC needs regular filter changes to keep your system running smoothly. At the very least, change them twice a year during your summer and winter AC service. Better – change them quarterly. Best – change them monthly, especially during high-use times.

Annual maintenance

To keep your AC running right, annual service on your AC will keep it running at peak efficiency. Regularly scheduled maintenance will improve reliability, lower your energy bills, result in fewer costly repairs, help your equipment last longer and provide a safer, healthier indoor environment.

Calling for repair

If something isn’t working quite right, call your friendly local AC repair service. Your technician can run diagnostic tests to find and repair the problem. It’s really better than waiting for disaster to strike and facing expensive repairs down the road.

Make the recommended repairs

You called your trusty technician and he’s recommended repairs. Do it. For the life of your equipment, make the repairs.

Hiring a skilled, professional service company to fix your equipment will reduce the cost of a crisis later on. AC professionals are trained in the ways of AC equipment and will make repairs properly in less time than hiring a handyman or trying to figure it out yourself.

Making a mistake or ignoring the warning signs could lead to unpleasant consequences. Find a company whose technicians gain new techniques and knowledge to keep up with an evolving industry. Bonded, licensed and insured contractors remove the risk from you and take it on themselves.

Who doesn’t like those odds?

 

— Dirk

2018-09-01T13:23:58-07:00September 1st, 2018|