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Ask An HVAC Technician

All of your questions answered!

Filters and installations

We've listed out some frequently asked questions for AC technicians to bring your AC into the season and protect it throughout the summer. We have asked air conditioning technicians what they wish more people knew about HVAC systems. We also asked them answers for the most frequently asked questions. Here is a collection of answers from several different HVAC technicians.

HVAC Repair

1. What is the best thing you can do before you start using your AC this season?

    Replace the Air Filter, and clear the drain line. Monitor the drain line. Anything that dried up in the drain line can cause a backup. -

    The best thing you could do is have a professional look over your system and follow their recommendations.

    Make sure that all leaves and debris are removed from around your outside unit. Make sure your air filter has been changed recently.

    2. What is the best way to increase the longevity of my HVAC system?

      Have your system cleaned and checked by a qualified contractor twice a year.

      3. How often do I need to get my HVAC system serviced?

        Your HVAC system should be serviced every six months. There are two main parts of your HVAC system. The heating and the air-conditioning. If you have the heating system checked in the fall and the cooling system checked in the spring that will maintain both portions at least once a year. That is the normal factory recommendation from most HVAC System manufacturers.

        Once before the summer and once before winter are the times that systems work at their hardest.

        4. Do I need to clean my HVAC system (outside unit, filter vents, floor vents)?

          Yes! Your outside unit should be cleaned at least once a year. Your return grill can be wiped off as needed. Your floor vents can be wiped off as needed as well. Pay attention to your floor vents, if you notice dust or dirt buildup, you may need a professional to seal and clean your ductwork.

          Keep the grilles clean and free of dust this will help with indoor air quality. The outdoor unit can be hosed off but any further cleaning should be left to the HVAC contractor. You can damage the unit if not done correctly.

          5. Do I need small filters for my floor/ceiling vents?

            No, if you double filter your system it will cause it to work harder and cause damage. Higher static pressure causes evaporator motor damage and also causes higher electric bills.

            No! You should not ever obstruct your floor or ceiling vents. This could cause moisture problems and even mechanical failure.

            6. How do I determine what size HVAC system I need for my house?

              There should be a heat load done on the home. This takes into account the construction type of the home. Bigger is NOT better when it comes to HVAC. You want a properly sized system for your home. A system too large for a home will not remove enough humidity and will feel uncomfortable.

              7. Is there an optimal temperature I should keep my house on?

                This really depends on personal comfort and where in the country you are. But once you find a temp that is comfortable and your unit can maintain that. leave it alone and don’t mess with it.

                Most utility companies suggest 78 in summer and 68 in winter to get optimal energy savings.

                Changing Air filters regularly saves up to 15% on heating and cooling bills.

                8. How often do you recommend changing air filters?

                  Depends on the type of filter used, inexpensive store bought 1” filters every 30-40 run days. 5” filters and electronic every 3-6 months. Times vary on the type of use, (kids, animals, carpet) so replacement is dependent upon the amount of run time the system has. Can vary month to month.

                  I recommend changing air filters once every 30 day. This ensures that your system will function properly without reducing the airflow, allowing the system to keep you comfortable and run more efficiently. It can also greatly reduce the risk of damage to your home (ceiling damage or floor damage caused by water from a frozen evaporator) and/or system failure.

                  Check your filter at least monthly and clean and replace as needed. A dirty air filter limits air flow, which can cause the compressor to run longer, cause the heat exchanger to overheat and increase utility bills up to 20 percent or more.

                  9. What are some ways I can save money while using my HVAC system?

                    1. Don’t set your thermostat any lower than the desired temperature when you turn on your air conditioner. Cranking down the thermostat will not cool your home any faster and wastes energy.
                    2. Check your air filter at least monthly and clean or replace as needed. A dirty air filter is the No. 1 cause of inefficient operation and higher power bills.
                    3. Keep debris and other obstructions well away from the outdoor fan to allow sufficient airflow and maximize efficiency.

                    One of the most important ways you can save money is to make sure that you have your routine maintenance performed. I’ll go back to a membership or maintenance program. You can never stress the importance of the maintenance on your air conditioner. Imagine never changing the oil in your car. Your HVAC system runs almost nonstop during the day In the peak of summer depending where you live. If it is not properly maintained, it will not run efficiently nor very long, costing you Short and long term.

                    First keep the system serviced and cleaned regularly, replace filters as needed, set temperature in the house consistent, no up and down all the time. When you do set back the temperature expect a discomfort level while temperatures can sometimes take several hours to recover in extreme temperatures outside. If you choose to offset the temperature for energy savings while only away for short periods only raise 2 degrees.

                    10. How do I know when I need to replace my HVAC system?

                      With proper maintenance you can get 15-20 years out of a system but if the cost to repair starts to reach over $1000.00 its time to look into replacement. Newer systems are more energy efficient and will save you money.

                      This question is very dependent on each customer's situation, preferences and desires. While a lot of companies aggressively push customers to replace their HVAC once it hits 10 years old. At Horne we don't push. If you want your 35 year old air conditioner to keep running we will do our best to fix it and maintain it for you. If you want to replace your six year old unit because you have had numerous repairs or you are uncomfortable we'd be happy to help. We ask a lot of questions and provide straightforward honest answers to help our customers evaluate their own situation and decide if changing their HVAC system makes sense for their life situation, their finances, their utility cost and their comfort.

                      11. What MERV rating do you recommend for homeowners?

                        The highest your budget will allow. When it comes to dirt in the house, you have two choices. One uses inexpensive filters and capture only part of the dirt recirculating throughout your home and breathe it in on a daily basis or have a higher filtration filter up to 99.8% filtration to clean the air for you. Many choices are available.

                        The higher the MERV rating the better like the MERV 13, but you need to make sure you change it because it will damage the system if left unchanged. That’s why I believe it’s a good idea to get in a filter delivery service so you won’t forget.

                        I recommend homeowners use a MERV rating of four or above. I do not recommend one particular MERV rating for every customer though. Some customers have allergies that others may not. The higher the MERV rating, The smaller the particles are that the filter can stop. If you have no allergies you may want to use a MERV 6. If you have bad allergies you may want to use a MERV11 or higher. The most important thing is that they are changed regularly following the manufacturer's specifications.

                        MERV 8 or 10

                        At FilterTime, our goal is to learn everything we can about HVAC systems and teach it to our customers. One of the most expensive things to fix in a home (that can be prevented), is changing out your HVAC system. With some of these simple tools from HVAC technicians, you can cut the cost of your electricity bill and increase the life of your system. These technicians recommend FilterTime to their clients because they know the benefit of changing out your air filters regularly.


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