FAQ/Glossary 2017-06-26T20:51:39+00:00

When replacing your air conditioner or heat pump, the answer is most likely yes. The efficiency ratings that are advertised for an air conditioner or heat pump are based on the performance as part of a matched system. If only the outdoor portion is changed, the efficiency and savings could be less than that of a matched system.
A maze of heating and air conditioning ducts runs inside the walls and floors of 80 percent of American homes. As the supply ducts blow air into the rooms, return ducts inhale airborne dust and suck it back into the blower. Add moisture to this mixture and you’ve got a breeding ground for allergy-inducing molds, mites and bacteria. Many filters commonly used today can’t keep dust and debris from streaming into the air and over time sizable accumulations can form — think dust bunnies, but bigger.

To find out if your ducts need cleaning, pull off some supply and return registers and take a look. If a new furnace is being installed, you should probably invest in a duct cleaning at the same time, because chances are the new blower will be more powerful than the old one and will stir up a lot of dust.

Professional duct cleaners tout such benefits as cleaner indoor air, longer equipment life and lower energy costs. Clean HVAC systems can also perform more efficiently, which may decrease energy costs, and last longer, reducing the need for costly replacement or repairs. Cleaning has little effect on air quality, primarily because most indoor dust drifts in from the outdoors. But it does get rid of the stuff that mold and bacteria grow on, and that means less of it gets airborne, a boon to allergy sufferers.

Most houses with forced-air furnaces have a standard furnace filter made from loosely woven spun-glass fibers designed to keep it and its ductwork clean. Unfortunately, they don’t improve indoor air quality. That takes a media filter, which sits in between the main return duct and the blower cabinet. Made of a deeply pleated, paper-like material, media filters are at least seven times better than a standard filter at removing dust and other particles. An upgrade to a pleated media filter will cleanse the air of everything from insecticide dust to flu viruses. Compressed, media filters are usually no wider than six inches, but the pleated material can cover up to 75 square feet when stretched out. This increased area of filtration accounts for the filter’s long life, which can exceed two years. The only drawback to a media filter is its tight weave, which can restrict a furnace’s ability to blow air through the house. To insure a steady, strong airflow through the house, choose a filter that matches your blower’s capacity.
A neglected in-duct humidifier can breed mildew and bacteria, not to mention add too much moisture to a house. A common mistake with humidifiers is leaving them on after the heating season ends. Don’t forget to pull the plug, shut the water valve and drain the unit. A unit with a water reservoir should be drained and cleaned with white vinegar, a mix of one part chlorine bleach to eight parts water or muriatic acid. Mist-type humidifiers also require regular cleaning to remove mineral deposits.
While thermostats rarely fail outright, they can degrade over time as mechanical parts stick or lose their calibration. Older units will send faulty signals if they’ve been knocked out of level or have dirty switches. To recalibrate an older unit, use a wrench to adjust the nut on the back of the mercury switch until it turns the system on and, using a room thermometer, set it to the correct temperature. Modern electronic thermostats, sealed at the factory to keep out dust and grime, rarely need adjusting. However, whether your thermostat is old or young, the hole where the thermostat wire comes through the wall needs to be sealed, or a draft could trick it into thinking the room is warmer or colder than it really is.
Tuning up the distribution side of a forced-air system starts with the blower. The axle should be lubricated, blades cleaned and lower motor checked to insure the unit isn’t being overloaded. The fan belt should be adjusted so it deflects no more than an inch when pressed. Every accessible joint in the ductwork should be sealed with mastic or UL-approved duct tapes. Any ducts that run outside the heated space should be insulated.
With the proper attention, heating and cooling systems can keep you comfortable year-round. Heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces and boilers need a yearly professional tune-up. Gas-fired equipment, on the other hand, burns cleaner and can be serviced every other year. A close inspection will uncover leaks, soot, rust, rot, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires. In furnace (forced-air) and boiler (hot-water) systems, the inspection should also cover the chimney, ductwork or pipes, dampers or valves, blower or pump, registers or radiators, the fuel line and the gas meter or oil tank — as well as every part of the furnace or boiler itself.

Next, the system should be run through a full heating cycle to ensure that it has plenty of combustion air and chimney draft. Finally, cleaning the burner and heat exchanger to remove soot and other gunk will prevent such buildup from impeding smooth operation. For the burner, efficiency hinges on adjusting the flame to the right size and color, adjusting the flow of gas or changing the fuel filter in an oil-fired system. A check of the heat pump should include an inspection of the compressor, fan, indoor and outdoor coils and refrigerant lines. Indoor and outdoor coils should be cleaned, and the refrigerant pressure should be checked.

If you have a qualified technician perform regular preventative maintenance and service suggested for your unit, industry averages suggest that an air conditioner should last 12-15 years (sea coast applications may be less) and a gas furnace should last as many as 20-25 years.
If a forced air system is being added to the home for the first time, most of the items noted in the previous question and answer may be required to install the new system. Besides the equipment, the most significant component is ductwork. The ductwork can be either metal or fiberglass ductwork. The ductwork needs to be properly sized to deliver the right amount of air to each room. The ductwork consists of supply and return ductwork. The supply duct is attached to the outlet of the furnace or air handler and delivers air to individual zones in your home. Your York dealer will determine the size of the ductwork going into a space by the amount of air that needs to be delivered to the space.
Aside from the placement of the new equipment, your comfort consultant will inspect several items and make a determination of whether or not these items need to be supplied or replaced. Some of the items include: ductwork, insulation, refrigerant piping, electrical service, wiring, thermostat, condensate piping, flue piping, flue terminations, chimney liner, slabs, filter, driers, registers, grills, drain pans and evaporator coil.
First, make sure the unit is properly sized. Your comfort consultant will provide a load calculation for your home. Next, consider any comfort issues in the home. Some products can reduce air stratification and uneven temperatures from room to room. If you have allergies, an indoor unit with an ECM motor will allow you to circulate the air in your home continuously while filtering the air for about the same cost as operating a standard light bulb. Finally, know your budget parameters and the efficiency of the system being proposed. Does the system offer a payback? In other words, will the monthly savings over time offset the cost of the new unit or efficiency option being considered?
Many factors affect the cost of a heating or air conditioning system, including the size of your home, the type and condition of the ductwork installed and accessories you might need such as a thermostat or an electronic air cleaner. We have a complete range of systems and accessories available to meet all your needs, including your financial ones! Your local dealer will be happy to assist you in finding the right system to meet not only your comfort needs but also your household budget.
You may wish to consider replacing your furnace or air conditioner if it is old, inefficient or in need of repair. Today’s systems are as much as 60% more efficient than those systems manufactured as little as ten years ago. In addition, if not properly maintained, wear and tear on a furnace or air conditioner can reduce the actual or realized efficiency of the system. If you are concerned about utility bills or are faced with an expensive repair, you may want to consider replacing your heating or cooling equipment rather than enduring another costly season or paying to replace an expensive component. The utility cost savings of a new unit may provide an attractive return on your investment. If you plan on financing the purchase, the monthly savings on your utility bill should be considered when determining the actual monthly cost of replacing a system. The offsetting savings may permit you to purchase a more efficient system.
Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency is a measure of your furnace’s heating efficiency. The higher the AFUE percentage, the more efficient the furnace. The minimum percentage established by the DOE for furnaces is 78%.
The indoor part of an air conditioner or heat pump that moves cooled or heated air throughout the ductwork of your home. An air handler is usually a furnace or a blower coil.
Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI).

ARI is an industry trade association that develops standards for measuring and certifying product performance. For instance, ARI Standard 270 provides guidelines for establishing sound levels for outdoor air-conditioning equipment.

A British thermal unit is a unit of heat energy. One Btu is the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. The higher the Btu rating, the greater the heating capacity of the system.
An odorless, colorless, tasteless, poisonous and flammable gas that is produced when carbon burns with insufficient air.

System in which air is treated at a central location and distributed to and from rooms by one or more fans and a series of ducts.
Stands for Cubic Feet per Minute. This measurement indicates how many cubic feet of air pass by a stationary point in one minute. The higher the number, the more air is being moved through the ductwork by the system.
The part of the outdoor air conditioner or heat pump that compresses and pumps refrigerant to meet household cooling requirements.
The outdoor portion of an air conditioner or heat pump that either releases or collects heat, depending on the time of the year.
A movable plate, located in the ductwork, that regulates airflow. Dampers are used to direct air to the areas that need it most. Typically used in a zoning application.
A decibel is a unit used to measure the relative intensity of sound.
The Department of Energy is a federal agency responsible for setting industry efficiency standards and monitoring the consumption of energy sources.
The method by which air is channeled from the furnace or the blower coil throughout your home.
An electronic device that filters out large particles and bioaerosols in indoor air.
An EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) designation attached to HVAC products that meet or exceed EPA guidelines for high-efficiency performance above the standard government minimums.
The Environmental Protection Agency develops and enforces federal environmental regulations. The EPA oversees the nationwide ENERGY STAR® program.
The part of the air conditioner or heat pump that is located inside the air handler or attached to the furnace. Its primary function is to absorb the heat from the air in your house.
Located in the furnace, the heat exchanger transfers heat to the surrounding air, which is then circulated throughout the home.
A heat pump is an HVAC unit that heats or cools by moving heat. During the winter, a heat pump draws heat from outdoor air and circulates it through your home’s air ducts. In the summer, it reverses the process and removes heat from your house and releases it outdoors.
When an air handler or furnace is positioned on its side and circulates air in one end and out the other. Ideal for attic or crawl space installations.
An indoor air quality device that introduces moisture to heated air as it passes from the furnace into the ductwork for distribution throughout the home.
An automatic device used to maintain humidity at a fixed or adjustable set point.
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.
See Evaporator Coil.
The MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating of a filter describes the size of the holes in the filter that allow air to pass through. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the holes in the filter, the higher the efficiency.
A unit of measure equal to one millionth of a meter, or one thousandth of a millimeter.
See Condenser Coil.
A thermostat with the ability to record different temperature/time settings for your heating and/or cooling equipment.
A chlorine-free refrigerant that meets the EPA’s newest, most stringent environmental guidelines.
A chemical that produces a cooling effect while expanding or vaporizing. Most residential air conditioning units contain the standard R-22 refrigerant.
Two copper lines that connect the outdoor air conditioner or heat pump to the indoor evaporator coil.
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is an energy efficiency rating for air conditioners. The higher the SEER, the better the energy performance, the more you save. The DOE’s established minimum SEER rating for cooling is 13.00.
An HVAC system in which some components are located inside the structure of the house and some are located outside. Split systems should be matched for optimal efficiency.
Usually found on an inside wall, this device operates as a control to regulate your heating and cooling equipment, allowing you to adjust your home comfort at the touch of a switch.

Unit of measurement for determining cooling capacity. One ton equals 12,000 Btuh.
Provides two levels of heating or cooling output for greater temperature control, energy efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
When an air handler or furnace is installed in an upright position and circulates air through the side or bottom and out through the top. Typically used in basement, closet and attic installations.
A motor that automatically adjusts the flow of warm or cool air for ultimate comfort.
A system that exchanges stale, re-circulated indoor air with fresh, filtered outside air.
A method of partitioning a home into independently controlled comfort zones for enhanced comfort and efficiency.