Frequently Asked Questions
Modern Mechanical HVAC is the heating and air conditioning authority in North Carolina. Get answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about heating and cooling equipment, energy efficiency, air quality and maintenance below.
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
☑ Keep ground mounted outdoor units clear of debris, clutter and weeds; they can reduce the airflow to the unit.
☑ Use caution with weed trimmers around the unit to prevent damaging control wiring.
☑ Keep pets away from the unit; pet urine can cause expensive damage.
☑ SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): This ratio tells you the amount of cooling your system will deliver per dollar spent on electricity The SEER rating of any unit can range anywhere from 13 to 20. The higher the SEER the more efficient the system will be and the less it will cost in the long run to own and operate.
☑ HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor): Similar to SEER, it is a measurement of efficiency of the heating portion of a heat pump. HSPF ratings range from 6.8 to 10; high-efficiency units have efficiencies of 7.5 HSPF or above.
☑ AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency ratio): A measurement of the percent of heat produced by a furnace for every dollar of fuel consumed. The higher the AFUE rating, the lower the fuel costs. All furnaces manufactured today must meet at least 78%. Older furnaces (10 – 15 years or older) may fall below this minimum. Furnaces with AFUE ratings from 78% to 80% are considered mid-efficiency; ones with AFUE ratings above 90% are considered high-efficiency.
☑ MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value): A filter rating system relating to the size of the holes in the filter that allow air to pass through. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the holes and the higher the efficiency in capturing contaminants. MERV rating range from a low of 1 to a high of 16.
☑ ENERGY STAR: An Environmental Protection Agency designation attached to HVAC products that meet or exceed guidelines for high-efficiency performance above the standard government minimums.
☑ Clean and replace your filters frequently.
☑ Install shades, drapes, shutters, or screens on windows that are exposed to extreme sunlight to keep room temperatures at moderate levels.
☑ Electronic- or Media-Type Air Filters: Filtering the air within your home will help eliminate smoke, pollen, odor, dust mites and allergens. This will allow you to breathe easier, sleep better and enjoy your home more.
☑ Whole-House Humidifiers: Whole-house humidifiers provide consistent humidity levels throughout the home, and some models even adjust the humidity level automatically. The average heated home has a humidity level of less than 20%. The recommended humidity level in the winter should be between 35% and 45%.
☑ Air-to-Air Heat-Recovery Ventilators: These ventilator systems remove stale air from inside the home, while bringing in fresh air from the outside that is warmed during the transfer process.
☑ Keep heating equipment in good repair by scheduling regular inspection and maintenance.
☑ Keep furnaces, chimneys and vents free of obstruction. Watch out for birds, squirrels and other animals who sometimes build nests in these areas.
☑ Install a carbon monoxide detector, available at any home supply store.
☑ Periodically open windows in winter to let in fresh oxygen-rich air inside and let out any potential carbon monoxide.
☑ If you use an older gas stove or heater, look at the color of the pilot light. The flame should be at least 80 percent blue. If the flame is mostly yellow, it could be producing carbon monoxide, so have the unit checked by a professional immediately. Be sure to tune up your gas system at least once a year.Today’s modern heating systems burn cleaner than older systems, minimizing or eliminating your risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Contact Horizon Services for more information.
- The age of the current system. Today, any system that is more than ten years old is probably behind the times in terms of efficiency.
- Does the current system provide the level of comfort that you want? There is a growing difference between “builder grade” and consumer choice in what a system can offer in terms of comfort and convenience.
- How much will the repairs cost…and how many more repairs will you need in the future? Is keeping an older system operational worth the time, the money and the inconvenience? Sometimes you need to know when to cut bait and say goodbye to your old heater or air conditioner.
☑ Average Lifetime of an Air Conditioner: 12-15 yrs.
☑ Average Lifetime of a Furnace: 15-20 yrs.
☑ Average Lifetime of a Heat Pump: 12-15 yrs.Keep in mind that these are just guidelines. Some units last longer than that with regular maintenance and replacement of parts. But if a unit has been repaired repeatedly, or has been run excessively, it might make more sense to replace it even sooner. Paying for repairs to an old or inefficient system often simply prolongs the inevitable. An older system that breaks down once is likely to break down again…and again. That means more emergency service calls or, worse yet, the risk of damage to your home or to other components of your heating and cooling system. There’s also an ongoing cost factor to consider. Restoring your old system will only bring it back to its current level of energy efficiency. After you’ve recovered from the repair bills and the frustration of system breakdowns, you still won’t save on your energy bills. Some replacement systems can cost less than the cost of repeated repairs. And in many cases, installing a new heating and cooling system can actually pay for itself in energy savings within a relatively short time. Also, when replacing a heater or air conditioner, it is usually best to replace both units at the same time. This way, you’ll save on installation costs and both units can be serviced on the same maintenance schedule and have the same approximate lifespan.
If you’re deciding on a new system and have not kept up with advances in the industry, you will be amazed at the number of choices that you have to make. Today’s comfort systems offer a surprising number of options and combinations – from individual heaters and air conditioners to integrated or “hybrid” systems. Systems can vary widely in terms of energy efficiency and cost. The ability of systems to monitor conditions and adjust automatically has increased dramatically. And a wider variety of air quality add-ons are available than ever before.
These changes make the replacement decision even more complex than ever, so you can see how important it is to find a HVAC company that will work with you to develop a system for your situation and budget. At Modern Mechanical, our goal is to be a company that will partner with you to not only install a system that is appropriate for your situation, but then help you keep the system operating at peak performance.
☑ Choose a manufacturer that has a good reputation for quality and durability.
☑ Choose a model that with a high efficiency rating to bring you better comfort and lower your seasonal energy bill.
☑ Choose the correct equipment size and system for your home.
☑ Don’t just buy a unit just because it is on sale and seems like a great deal at the time; do some research on the product or ask the installation representative for more product information.
☑ Finally, choose a reliable company with excellent customer satisfaction and a track record of service after the sale. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Check out contractor ratings and reviews online from organizations like Angie’s List, Yelp, Google or the Better Business Bureau. Chances are you’ll get plenty of recommendations for Modern Mechanical!
Here’s checklist of options:
- Make sure that your home’s current HVAC system is properly maintained and adjusted.
- Change attitude and habits. Rethink your clothing, your appliances and your activities in your home – anything that can produce lower temperature settings in winter and higher temperature settings in summer can help control energy use.
- Explore energy-saving add-ons for your current system: thermostats, humidifiers, and zoning controls.
- Plant trees and landscape for summer shade and winter sun.
- Add insulation, install weather stripping and plug air leaks throughout your home.
If your current system is in need of replacement, your efficiency options are expanded and the potential for savings compared to your existing system can be quite dramatic. Modern Mechanical can provide the consultation and information about all options and system combinations that might be right for your situation.