When we talk about refrigerant, we are typically referring to R-22. This refrigerant has been around for 50 years and, up until January 2010, it was the refrigerant that came in all equipment. Even though it was supposed to go through a phase out due to environmental concerns (chlorine properties and ozone stripping), builders and manufacturers installed equipment that used it right up to the last date. At NASCAIR we invest and plan long term.
At NASCAIR we invest and plan long term. We started installing R-410 systems in 2005. At that time, R-410 was more expensive, was considered temperamental, was not forgiving, and installation practices had to be sterile. We nailed it! We now have very few of our customers beholden to R-22, therefore, if they need a little refrigerant, it’s a negligible cost. As of January 2015, under multinational environmental agreements, Montreal Protocol, and the Kyoto agreement, the production of R-22 has ceased.
There are only a handful of mainstream manufactures of HVAC equipment left. There may be thirty brand names but those are just sub products of those main manufacturers. We have had experience with every one of them in over 22 years of repairing, working with tech support, filing warranties, dealing with defects, holding manufacturers accountable and holding homeowners accountable.
Here is what you should look for: A very good, well trained responsive HVAC company. Equipment is important however, the proper installation practices are the assurance of an HVAC system lasting for a long time.
Many factors go into determining the size of the system such as the type of your house and walls, the type and size of windows, insulation, basement and attic conditions, house orientation, and so on. A comfort consultant must visit the house and take detailed measurements. With these measurements the comfort consultant can perform a performance load calculation in order to assure proper system size.
A system that is too large will cool or heat your house quickly, but you may not feel comfortable. That’s because it will satisfy the thermostat before it can adequately remove moisture from the air during the cooling mode, leaving you feeling sticky and humid. This could even lead to moisture and mold problems. Additionally, the stress of short-cycling (too many starts and stops) will shorten the life of your equipment and increase your heating and cooling bills. Conversely, a system that is too small will never bring the house down to desired setpoint especially in extreme weather conditions, 93+.
This is possibly the most common question we are asked and there are several factors that can persuade the decision either way. Some things to consider are the age of the equipment, the repair history of the system, the reliability of the manufacturer, and what refrigerant (R-22 or R-410) your system uses.
Answers: As your system approaches the 12-year mark, be cautious with repairs, especially if it frequently needs additional refrigerant or has been diagnosed with leaks.If your system has been well-maintained and does not have a history of adding refrigerant then, by all means, consider repairs less than $750.
If your system uses R-22, the old refrigerant, and it is leaking I would not recommend you repair it. It is a liability to you and to me. The cost for the refrigerant alone can be several hundred dollars.
Check your filter each month. A dirty filter starves your system of air and causes excessive wear on your air conditioner, furnace or heat pump. Replace your filter when necessary, or clean it if you have the reusable type. If you have a reusable filter, make sure it’s completely dry before you re-install it.
Keep your outdoor condensing unit free of debris. If you keep grass clippings, leaves, shrubbery and debris away from your outdoor unit, it should only require minimal care. Check the base pan (under the unit) and remove debris to help the unit drain properly.
You can save as much as 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours per day. You can do this automatically, without sacrificing comfort, using a programmable thermostat.
With the programmable thermostat you can pre-set it to call for less heat or air during the times when you won’t be at home. You can program a different schedule for each day of the week.
Be sure your home is adequately insulated. Adding insulation to attic areas is usually pretty easy. Other areas, such as outside walls, provide a more challenging project if extra insulation is needed.
Make sure your outdoor condensing unit stays in a level position. If the support for your outdoor unit shifts or settles, re-level it to make sure moisture drains properly out from under the unit.
Check the seals around windows, doors, electrical outlets or any other potential sources for escaping air. Seal these areas using a good quality caulk and be sure to re-examine your work every few years.