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When should I replace my old furnace and air conditioner?
Typically a furnace or air conditioner will last 20-30 years. Sometimes it pays to replace the old system sooner because of the higher efficiency (and lower gas & electric bills) provided by newer equipment.
Will a new furnace and air conditioner lower my gas and electric bills?
YES! A new 13 SEER air conditioner can usually cut the electricity used by the old air conditioner in half (this is the minimum efficiency the federal government allows to be sold). A new 95% furnace can usually cut the gas used by the old furnace by as much as 30%, and a new 80% (minimum allowed by the federal government) will use approximately 20% less.
What is SEER?
This stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The size of an air conditioner is rated in BTU or Tons; however the efficiency is rated in SEER. The higher the SEER the lower the electricity bill.
Shouldn’t I install the highest SEER air conditioner available?
In our climate, 13 SEER is considered standard efficiency (this is the minimum efficiency the federal government allows to be sold) and 14 - 20 SEER is high efficiency. The initial investment is higher for a 14 - 20 SEER than a 13 SEER, but the electricity savings will usually pay for the difference in 5-7 years.
What is a heat pump?
In the summer, a heat pump is no different than an air conditioner. In the winter, a heat pump operates in “reverse” and heats the indoors. Heat pumps need auxiliary heat (electric resistance heat or gas furnace) to help them when it is real cold or when the thermostat is moved more than 2 degrees at a time. The initial investment for a heat pump is higher than for an air conditioner, they have higher maintenance costs. One common complaint of a heat pump is that the air coming out of the registers is not hot enough (compared to a gas furnace). With all their drawbacks, heat pumps can reduce the winter heating bills. If you have electric heating, the savings is dramatic and you will probably want to stay with a heat pump.
Should I replace my furnace and air conditioner at the same time, or can they be installed separately?
If they are installed at the same time, the coil cabinet (part of the air conditioner and sits on top of the furnace) will match the furnace in color & style. Also it may be more convenient to replace them at the same time, but they will operate OK whether they are installed at the same time or not.
It’s summer and I need a new air conditioner. Should I install a new furnace too?
The blower in the furnace moves the air for air conditioning as well as heating. Usually the new furnaces have stronger blowers and can move more air which can help cool your entire house better. If your furnace is getting old, you should have the heat exchanger checked for cracks. If it is cracked you should have the furnace or heat exchanger replaced immediately.
What is a cracked heat exchanger? How serious is this?
The part that transfers heat from the gas flame to the air in the house is called a heat exchanger. If the heat exchanger has a crack or rust hole in it, the fumes (especially carbon monoxide) enter the air that comes out of the vents. This is why a cracked heat exchanger can be so dangerous. A small crack may not be dangerous yet, but will get bigger and even small amounts of carbon monoxide can be dangerous to some people.
Is it OK to install a different brand of furnace (or air conditioner) to work with my existing air conditioner (or furnace)?
Yes, this is ok. It is important that the furnace have the proper size of blower to match the air conditioner, but this can be determined easily.
My home has a forced air furnace but no air conditioner. Can I add central air?
Yes. Air conditioners require more air flow than furnaces and it may be necessary to add more ductwork. Also, local codes require that your ductwork be insulated in attics and crawl spaces, and your electrical service may need to be upgraded. Air Performance can determine all of the costs required to add central air.
I have a floor furnace (or wall furnace) now and want to add central air & heat. How much will this cost?
This will depend on how involved it is to run ductwork, install the equipment, install a new flue, run the gas & electric, etc. Air Performance will calculate the heating & cooling load on your home to determine the proper size of equipment, ductwork, flue, electrical, etc. Generally the investment will run between $7.000 - $12,000 for a complete furnace & air conditioner system.
I think my ductwork has asbestos on it. How can I tell? What should I do about it?
Asbestos usually looks like a gray or white paper material that wraps around the ductwork and/or narrow strips around duct joints. It is typically safe as long as it is not disturbed. Often it is best to leave it undisturbed or to paint it to seal the asbestos fibers. Sometimes it is best to remove all exposed asbestos, or at least the narrow strips that touch the furnace. As a homeowner, it would be dangerous to remove this yourself and could even contaminate the entire home. Air Performance can handle any asbestos removal using an EPA approved company and can include this as part of the total investment for a new system.
How long does it take to install a new furnace or air conditioner?
Generally allow one day for replacing a furnace and one day for replacing an air conditioner. Occasionally an additional day is required, especially if you are having an air cleaner or humidifier installed.
Does someone need to be home when the new system is installed?
Much of the time it is not possible for the homeowner to be home during the installation. Possibly a friend or relative can be home during the installation, or you can be there to let the installers in before you leave for work. Sometimes homeowners give us a key and our installers don't even meet them until the installation is complete.
How do you determine what size of furnace and air conditioner to install?
We will measure your home and calculate the actual heating & cooling load on the home (calculation based on window size & direction, walls, ceiling, floor, appliances, insulation, etc). This will determine the proper size of equipment that is needed. This will be compared to your current equipment & ductwork and will be adjusted based on your lifestyle, etc.
I want an oversized air conditioner. Is this a good idea? What are the advantages & disadvantages?
An oversized air conditioner will cool your house quicker, but it will use more electricity and will not remove humidity adequately. If your ductwork is not big enough for the oversized air conditioner it won't work properly. Obviously the air conditioner must be big enough to cool the house, but too big is just as bad as too small. We will recommend the proper size to cool your home.
Will a larger furnace work better than a smaller furnace?
An oversized furnace will warm up the house quicker, but it will use more fuel and there will be greater temperature swings. A smaller furnace will maintain more even temperatures, use less fuel, but will take longer to raise the temperature. Air Performance will calculate the proper furnace size.
How do I know if my ductwork is adequate? Can this be fixed?
The size of the air conditioner will determine the amount of airflow needed. We will measure the ductwork during the initial survey and determine if there is adequate ductwork, registers and grills. Some rooms in our house don’t get enough heat (or cooling). Sometimes running the blower continuously will solve this problem. Usually the new furnace will have better air flow which will help, and there is usually a way to install an additional register in the area to obtain more air flow.
Should I run the blower continuously, or use the auto position on the thermostat?
Try both ways. Running the blower all the time will use a little extra electricity, however the home is usually more comfortable, the temperature is more even throughout the home, and the air is cleaner because it is filtered more. Some of the new furnaces have the ability to use a slow blower speed for continuous operation, and a faster speed when the furnace or air conditioner is running.
What brand of equipment is best?
There are several quality brands available as well as several less expensive brands. Air Performance could choose any brand to sell and install, however we have chosen Trane because of their quality, reputation, availability of parts, support from our distributors, etc. Even more important than the equipment is the quality of the installation and the reputation of the dealer behind the installation.
How do I check out the companies I am considering to install my new system?
This is the easiest, yet most important step - call customers. Eliminate any company that doesn't give you at least four customers that they have installed during the last 1-24 months. Call a few customers at random and tell them you are considering a new system and ask about their experience with Air Performance or any other company you are considering.
How do I pay for my new system?
For installation of new equipment, we may ask for a small deposit of up to $1000 with the balance to be paid upon completion. Air Perfomance also offers financing for qualified customers.
Why should I consider a new high-efficiency filter?
High-efficiency filters remove more of the smaller particles from the air. This will help us breathe better and reduce sinus problems, headaches and colds. Many people miss fewer days from school & work and use less allergy medication. The air is filtered before entering the furnace and air conditioning A-coil which makes the equipment last longer and will reduce fuel consumption 10%-15% over the life of a new furnace and air conditioner. We have several different filters available and can show you the differences in efficiency and installation cost.
Should I have a new programmable thermostat installed with my new system?
Programmable thermostats allow you to have the temperature raise and lower automatically at specific times each day. They will reduce your energy bills and increase your comfort (i.e. get up to a warm bathroom during the winter). If your family follows a fairly regular schedule, a programmable thermostat will pay for itself in a few months.
What kind of maintenance/service plan does Air Performance offer?
We offer our in-house Peak Performance Plan which includes, at one reduced price, a pre-season preventive service and system cleaning in the spring and fall. Any additional work during the year is performed at a reduced rate also. The Peak Performance Plan will make your equipment last longer, reduce your utility bills and assure you of a safe & properly operating system.
A cracked heat exchanger is dangerous. How often should I have it checked?
If your furnace is over 5 years old, it should be inspected by a licensed serviceman every fall before the heating season begins. Any other time the furnace is not operating properly (ex. the pilot blows out) it should be checked too.
Why should I have my air conditioner checked in the spring and my furnace checked in the fall?
They should be checked, and cleaned, to be sure they are operating at their top efficiency, are operating properly and to be sure they are operating safely.
Do you offer a free estimate?
If a new furnace or air conditioner is needed, the diagnostic portion of the service call is credited if you purchase the new system from us.