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Heating & Cooling F.A.Q.

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29 Total Reviews 604-991-4328$3-1609 Agassiz-Rosedale Hwy No 9, Agassiz BC

What is the best way to size my new furnace?



For a furnace replacement: The last thing you should do is replace your existing furnace with a furnace with the same input. Most existing furnaces are significantly oversized. An oversized furnace results in a more uncomfortable indoor environment with wide temperature swings, large temperature differences from room to room, and a significantly noisier heating system. If you are considering a furnace replacement, make sure your contractor carefully evaluates your application and performs a complete, accurate heat load in order to size your system.

For new construction, heat loads are typically much smaller than in the past. Make sure your contractor performs a room by room heat loss / gain to ensure that your heating and cooling system is properly sized in every room.

Bigger is NOT better when it comes to heating and cooling. Most heating systems are over-sized. An oversized furnace is noisier and less comfortable, louder, and less efficient. An oversized cooling system will also not dehumidify properly.

What type of heating system has the lowest operating cost?



In areas where it is available, natural gas is the most common way to heat your home. Typically older existing natural gas furnaces are 80% efficient or less. New natural gas furnaces have a minimum efficiency of 80%, and are commonly available with efficiencies well above 95%, which can save a significant amount of energy. In our area the cost per 100,000 btu's at 90% AFUE is $0.94. New heat pump systems offer costs / 100,000 btu of $0.92 with an efficiency of 10.0 HSPF, so heat pump systems are now a great choice too. Click here to learn more about your fuel choices and heating efficiencies. Mini split heat pumps, and geothermal heat pumps offer costs which are lower still so they are worth a look for sure.

What type of gas furnace do you recommend?



We recommend condensing Bryant gas furnaces. With efficiencies of up to 99% with variable speed blowers and wifi capabilities, they offer great value and comfort. In addition rebates are locally available for Bryant 90%+ gas furnaces from National Grid - our local natural gas supplier.

What is a variable speed blower motor?



A new Bryant gas furnace is available with a high-efficiency variable speed blower motor (ECM), or a constant torque motor. An ECM motor runs on direct current and can operate over a broad range of speeds. As speed drops, electrical consumption drops proportionally. They consume between 60 watts and 100 watts / hour, saving the average homeowner about $250 a year in electrical cost! Constant torque motors are higher efficiency than traditional PSC blower motors, but they are not as flexible as a true ECM motor.

What is furnace staging, and is a multi-stage or modulating furnace worth the extra cost?



Traditionally gas furnaces have been single stage: they are either off, or on, operating at 100% of their capacity regardless of the actual heat load required. Single stage furnaces cycle more, and tend to result in wider indoor air temperature swings and larger differences in indoor temperatures from room to room.

Two stage, or multi-stage gas furnaces operate at a lower output capacity most of the year based on either a multistage thermostat, an outdoor thermostat, or the onboard logic of the furnace control. When the furnace operates and a lower output level, the blower speed and heat output is lower, and the furnace will have longer, gentler furnace cycles. This improves indoor comfort and noise levels significantly.

Modulating gas furnaces can operate across a broad range of capacities based on the immediate needs of the building envelop. As the heat required changes, so do the furnace capacity. The result is significantly more comfortable and quieter operation, and often lower operating costs. Variable speed gas furnaces also make air conditioning better by allowing for the possibility of staged or modulating cooling, and much better dehumidification.

What is a heat pump?



An air source heat pump is like a traditional split air conditioning system, except that it is designed to work in both summer and winter to efficiently condition your home. In the winter months, a heat pump extracts heat from the cold outdoor air and transfers it indoors. In the summer, it pulls heat out of indoor space to cool your home. They are powered by electricity and transfer heat using refrigerant to provide comfort all year round.

What are the common types of heat pumps for residential use?


Is a heat pump efficient?



Modern heat pumps are efficient for both heating and cooling operation.

  • Cooling efficiency is measured by SEER, or the Season Energy Efficiency Ratio. This is the ratio between the cooling output of an AC system seasonally divided by the energy consumption of the system. The higher the SEER rating the more efficient the system is. Bryant makes AC systems with SEER ratings from 13.0 to 26.0. Mitsubishi mini-split systems offer SEER ratings from 12.8 to 33.1.
  • Heat efficiency is measured in HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) for air source heat pumps. This is the ratio of seasonal heating output divided by the energy input of the system. The higher the HSPF the more efficient the system is from heating. Bryant split heat pumps offer HSPF ratings from 8.2 to 10.2. Mitsubishi offers heat pumps with HSPF ratings from 8.5 to 13.0

Does a heat pump need a back-up system?



Traditionally a heat pump system requires supplemental heating capacity in areas with colder climates and temperatures fall well below freezing. Supplemental heating can come from a variety of sources but most typically come from electric resistance elements in the system air handler, or from a gas furnace for a dual fuel system. Supplemental heating is require because as the outdoor temperature drops the amount of heat required to maintain indoor temperatures increases, and the output capacity and efficiency of an air source heat pump decreases. The temperature at which the heat loss of the structure exceeds the output capacity of the heat pump is called the thermal balance point.

For cold weather ductless heat pumps, and ground source heat pumps designed within an efficient building envelop, a supplemental heat source may not be required because the structure never reaches the thermal balance point, even in the coldest winter weather.

What is a dual fuel system?



A dual fuel system combines and efficient air source heat pump, combined with a gas furnace. Dual fuel systems alternate between the heat pump and gas furnace based on the outside temperature for maximum efficiency.

What is a mini split heat pump?



Ductless, mini split heat pumps are a variable speed HVAC systems that are good add-ons to houses with "non-ducted" heating systems, such as hydronic (hot water heat), radiant panels, and space heaters. They can also be a good choice for room additions where extending or installing distribution ductwork is not feasible, and very efficient new homes that require only a small space conditioning system. The main advantages of mini splits are their small size and flexibility for zoning or heating and cooling individual rooms. Mitsubishi models can have as many as eight indoor air-handling units connected to one outdoor unit. In homes with smaller heating and cooling loads, mini split heat pumps can offer extremely efficient, environmentally sound indoor comfort.

How good is my furnace filter?



Almost all furnaces are shipped with a 1" thick filter. Its original purpose was to protect the furnace blower components from the accumulation of lint and dirt. A typical original furnace filter is made from spun fiberglass and does little more than preventing large dust particles, lint, and other debris from accumulating in your furnace and ductwork. You should definitely consider upgrading to a higher quality replacement filter.

What is the MERV rating of my furnace filter?



Furnace effectiveness is measured by the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. The higher filter MERV rating, the more efficient it is at trapping particles. A typical 1" fiberglass filter has a MERV rating of 2-3. The highest MERV rating is 20. Other filter types:

  • Disposable pleated filters made of polyester or cotton paper. MERV rating: 6. Can remove some small particles like mold spores, but need to be changed frequently.
  • Polyester: This reusable filter is denser than fiberglass, so it blocks more airborne particulates, and it comes in either a flat or pleated version in thicknesses up to four inches. MERV rating: 8.
  • Electrostatic: A electrostatic filter contains self-charging electrostatic cotton or paper fibers that attract and trap small particles. MERV rating: 10.
  • 4-5" High efficiency pleated filter: Synthetic cotton within a tight leak resistant frame. MERV rating 14-16.

Will my furnace filter remove black mold or the covid virus?



Properly maintained media filters do a good removing dust, lint, pet hair, and some mold spores from the airstream. However they are ineffective and removing the smallest particles like bacteria and viruses, and smoke particles down to 0.01 micron. Electronic filters, combined with media pre-filters, can remove these smallest particles effectively.

Will my furnace dry out the air in my home in the winter?



The colder a given volume of air is, the less able it is to retain water vapor. So the wintertime air outdoors has much less moisture in it than either indoor air, or summertime outdoor air. An indoor environment can dry out when cold outdoor air migrates inside effectively reducing the relative humidity to uncomfortable levels. If your furnace uses interior air for combustion, this causes lower indoor air pressure and increases the amount of outdoor air drawn into the conditioned space to replace the air being discharged with the flue gases. The use of vented kitchen fans (without make-up air), or wood burning or chimney vented gas fireplaces can also sharply increase the drying effect of winter air infiltration. A sealed combustion furnace, which draws combustion air from outdoors would eliminate this problem.

How often should I change my furnace filter?



A rule of thumb is every 90 days, or in temperate climates at the start of both the heating and cooling season. This can vary based on your family and lifestyle, and the type of filter your system has. If you have pets, or active kids you will likely find the need to change your filters more often. If you have a higher MERV rated media filter it may clog more quickly and require more frequent changes.

How often should I have my heating system professionally serviced?



All furnace manufacturers recommend that your furnace is serviced every year by a trained HVAC professional. If used as part of a cooling system, it should be serviced in both the spring and the fall. Annual maintenance, including a thorough examination and cleaning of the parts that commonly malfunction, like the air filter, the fan, the vent, and the heat exchanger, will ensure safe operation, prolong equipment life, and sharply reduce the possibility of unanticipated failures.

If my furnace isn't running, can I fix it myself?



There are things you can check if your furnace does not turn on properly:

  • Check your fuel: If you have a gas furnace, make sure that the gas supply is turned on both at the meter, and at the furnace.
  • Check your thermostat: Make sure your thermostat is "ON", is set to "HEAT", and the desired room temperature is set higher than the current ambient temperature.
  • Check your furnace power supply: Check your circuit breaker panel to ensure that your heating system breaker is "ON". Check your system emergency switch to ensure that it is on. This switch is typically a traditional toggle switch that may have a RED cover-plate near the entry to your utility space.
  • Check your system air grills and registers: Ensure that both your supply and return air registers are free of obstructions.
  • Furnace filters: Change your furnace filter and re-start your furnace.

Can my new furnace vent into my chimney?



Most new 80% gas furnaces are vented in a properly sized B-Vent or masonry chimney that terminates through the roof. Make sure you consult with a licensed heating professional to make sure your existing chimney is in good condition and appropriately sized for the load. Condensing furnaces, or furnaces with rated AFUE efficiencies of 90%+, can NOT be vented into a conventional chimney because flue-gas temperatures are too low to properly vent. Condensing furnaces are typically vented with plastic venting like PVC either out the sidewall or through the roof. Condensation is produced as a by-product of combustion in condensing furnaces, and will need to be properly drained.

Can I control my heating system with my smartphone?



Yes. This can be done in three ways:

  • On selected equipment, like those with iComfort┬« or Mitsubishi kumo cloud technology, you can enjoy advanced full system integration through their mobile app. These systems also enable contactless service tech integration and advanced control of other system components such as IAQ equipment.
  • Home automation platforms like Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, or Google Home Assistant offer full heating and cooling integration with integrated system controls, and through the Apple, Alexa, or Google apps.
  • Many controls manufacturers now offer wifi enabled thermostats and controls, and companion apps that all world-wide home integration via your smartphone.

Should the outdoor unit of a split central air system be covered for the winter?



Modern split AC units are designed to withstand winter conditions without a cover. In fact, a cover can retain moisture that may cause premature system corrosion.

What is two-stage cooling, and what are the benefits?



Two-stage operation means that the heat pump or air conditioner can operate at a fraction or its maximum capacity on milder days, and full capacity only when needed. This results in longer system cycle times, lower sound levels, more consistent indoor temperatures, and enhanced dehumidification.

What is a variable speed compressor?



This refers to the type of compressor in your air conditioner or heat pump. When combined with a variable speed indoor air handler or furnace, it creates the cooling capacity for your system. Variable speed compressors allow a unit to run at virtually any speed between 30% and 100% based on the needs of the conditioned space at any point in time. This ensures maximum efficiency, comfort, and dehumidification rates.

What is a heat pump?



A heat pump is like a central air conditioner, but includes a reversing valve that allows the system to provide winter heating in a single efficient package. There are several heat type types:

  • Ducted split heat pump: The most common heat pump system includes and outdoor unit, combined with an indoor air handler or furnace.
  • Ductless mini split heat pumps: Typically an advanced variable speed, highly flexible heat pump system that combines and outdoor unit combined with one or more indoor units.
  • Geothermal or ground source heat pump: A heat pump system that utilizes a ground loop as the outdoor source of energy in heating season, and as a thermal dump in summer. Because ground temperatures are far more consistent and moderate than air temperatures, ground source heat pumps are generally more efficient than air source heat pumps.
  • Dual fuel heat pump System: an air source heat pump, typically combined with a gas furnace. The heat pump provides efficient heating during moderate winter weather. During more extreme cold the gas furnace takes over the heating load for the conditioned space.

What is system zoning?



System zoning allows different parts of a conditioned space to be controlled independently with their own thermostat and operating conditions. The primary benefits of system zoning are improved comfort and energy savings. There a four common ways to provide system zoning in a conditioned space:

  • Ducted systems with zone dampers: Dampers within a duct system allow airflow to a portion the heating and cooling system to be regulated and redirected air to specific areas of the home. Each zone is controlled with its own thermostat.
  • Multi-zone mini split heat pump systems: A single outdoor heat pump unit feeding heating and cooling to two or more indoor units that are control independently.
  • Heat only hydronic systems: A natural gas, LP, or oil boiler, combined with an indoor distribution system that includes two or more heating zones. Heating zones can each be controlled by their own thermostat and controlled either by zone valve, or zone pumps. Distribution methods can be combined, and include hot water baseboard, hydronic unit heaters, or radiant floor heating.
  • Heating and cooling hydronic systems: A natural gas, LP, or oil boiler, combined with two or more ducted hydronic air handlers, also typical containing refrigerant based cooling coils for summer comfort. Outdoor condenser(s) are added to provide summer cooling operation.

What is the best way to size my central air conditioning system?



  • For a system replacement replacement: The last thing you should do is replace your existing AC system with one with the same capacity. Many existing AC systems are significantly oversized. An oversized air conditioning system results in a more uncomfortable indoor environment with wide temperature swings, large temperature differences from room to room, noisier operation, and significantly poorer indoor dehumidification. If you are considering a AC system replacement, make sure your contractor carefully evaluates your application and performs a complete, accurate air conditioning design load in order to size your system.
  • For new construction, heat gains are typically much smaller than in the past. Make sure your contractor performs a room by room heat loss / gain to ensure that your heating and cooling system is properly sized in every room.
  • Bigger is NOT better when it comes to heating and cooling. Most air conditioning systems are over-sized. An oversized furnace is noisier and less comfortable, louder, and less efficient. An oversized cooling system will also not dehumidify properly.

Can central air conditioning be added to any existing home?



  • If you have an existing duct system, there is a great chance conventional split central air conditioning can be added. You definitely should have a training HVAC technician evaluate your duct system, and do a proper room by room heat gain in order to ensure a properly designed system.
  • If you do not have an existing duct system, great central air conditioning is still within reach with a ductless mini split system from Mitsubishi. These single or multi-zone systems only require a 3" lineset between the indoor and outdoor system. They come in either a single zone system, or are available with up to 8 indoor zones from a single outdoor unit.

How long does a typical air conditioning system last?



Many air conditioners can last 15 to 20 years, if maintained properly.

How is air conditioning efficiency measured?



Central air conditioning efficiency is measure by the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating. The SEER rating is derived by dividing the annual estimate cooling output (in btus) by the electric energy input. The higher the ratio, the more efficient the AC system. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) requires all new air conditioning units to meet minimum efficiency ratings identified by these SEER numbers.

I have an older central AC system. Event though it's still operating, should I consider replacing it now?



  • If your existing system is 10 - 15 years old, or older, it is likely nearing the end of its service life, and it is significant more expensive to operate than a new system would be. A system installed more than ten years ago probably has a rated SEER efficiency (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) of 10.0 or less. New Bryant air systems are available with SEERS as high as 26.0. So a new AC system reduce operating cost by 50% or more.
  • If your existing AC system dates back to about 2004 or earlier, you system may operate with an obsolete refrigerant (R22). R22 is damaging to the environment, and can not be economically serviced in a residential application so you should strongly consider a system upgrade.
  • A planned AC system replacement will probably save you money on the cost of the replacement system. Performing an emergency air conditioner replacement during the peak of summer heat may require overtime labor. Replacing your system in a scheduled fashion during regular business hours will ensure an efficient installation process.

Will I have to replace my indoor coil if I upgrade my outdoor air conditioner?



In general you should replace both the outdoor and indoor sections of your AC system during a replacement.

  • Current AC systems are rated as "matched systems." This means that in order to operate a peak efficiency, the indoor unit and the outdoor unit need to be design to work together. If you have an older existing AC system, your indoor coil is definitely design for a less efficient system, and will not provided appropriate efficiency with a new outdoor unit.
  • Your older system my be design for older R22 refrigerant. R22 coils are not appropriate form use with modern R410A systems.

How often should I have my AC system professionally serviced?



All air conditioning manufacturers recommend that your AC is serviced every year by a trained HVAC professional. If used as part of a complete heating and cooling system, it should be serviced in both the spring and the fall. Annual maintenance, including a thorough examination and cleaning of the parts that commonly malfunction, like the air filter, the outdoor fan, the indoor blower, the refrigerant lines, and any condensation removal systems will ensure safe operation, prolong equipment life, and sharply reduce the possibility of unanticipated failures.

If my AC system isn't running, can I fix it myself?



There are things you can check if your AC system does not turn on properly:

Check System Power:

  • Check you circuit breaker panel to ensure that your heating system breaker is "ON".
  • Check your indoor furnace or air handler system switch. Make sure your "SYSTEM SWITCH" is set to "ON". This switch is typically a traditional toggle switch that may have a RED cover-plate.

Thermostat Settings:

  • Make sure your thermostat is "ON", is set to "COOL", and the desired room temperature is set lower than the current ambient temperature.
  • Batteries: If your thermostat has batteries, change them now.

Indoor Airflow Issues:

  • Is your furnace or air handler filter clean? Change your furnace filter and re-start your system.
  • Check your duct system inlets and outlets. Are almost all open and clear of obstructions?

Other Issues:

  • If you thermostat or the system power was off, after turning the system on give it a few minutes; many AC systems have a time-delay function on start-up.
  • If your system is blowing cool air, but not cooling as well as it should, check your outdoor unit to ensure there is nothing blocking airflow through the outdoor coil. PLEASE NOTE: Be very careful not to damage the fines on your outdoor coil and call us if you need help!
  • If your AC system utilizes a condensate pump, check if to make sure that it is not completely full or water. If it is check the power to the condensate pump. Then if possible empty the condensate pump. If the AC system restarts you may need to have a professional AC tech replace the condensate pump.

My air conditioning system starts up and runs for a while, but then ice or frost forms on my indoor coil and refrigerant lines. Why?



This is often caused by a lack of airflow across the indoor coil during cooling operation. Check and change your indoor air filter. Check to make sure that almost all of your indoor grills are registers are open and clear. If it turns out that the filter or closed registers was the problem, turn the system on to "Fan Only" for a few minutes to speed up the thawing of your indoor coil before restarting your AC system.

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