HEATING AND COOLING QUESTIONS & ANSWERS No matter what your question, suggestion, or comment may be, we value your feedback. Our goal is to help Chicago and suburban residents with their heating, cooling, and ventilation related issues. We help our clients through various processes such as providing suggestions and sharing helpful tips, to conducting inspections, and major work like repairs and installations. 24 Heating & Cooling provides 24-hour assistance with all heating/cooling related services and repairs in Chicago and suburbs. Why should I choose 24 Heating & Cooling? We have been a family-owned small business for over 10 years. We treat each of our clients as if they were part of our family. No matter how big or small your job is – we will be there to help make you the best decisions for you and your home. We stand by our referrals and we will work hard to make you happy and we stand by our reputation! We believe in our workmanship so much we will provide you with references and you can see for yourself. We are a licensed and bonded company. We offer competitive rates and 10+ years of experience, knowledge and excellent customer service. What is central cooling and heating? The most popular central cooling system is a split system, which consists of indoor and outdoor units that work together. The indoor unit is a furnace, while the outdoor unit is the air conditioner that circulates cool air in the home. The two units “work together” to maintain efficient temperature control by removing hot air from inside of the house and replacing it with cool air. This type of air conditioning system is powered by electricity and consists of a fan, compressor, condenser coil, evaporator coil and refrigerant. Moreover, it controls temperature, moisture, humidity and cleanliness. The efficiency of a split system air conditioner is measured by a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the ratio, the more energy efficient the system really is. Choosing a reputable HVAC contractor is as important as choosing an appropriate central cooling and heating system, so call a 24 Heating & Cooling professional to schedule an appointment to discuss cost and benefits. How much does it cost to install a central cooling and heating system? The central cooling/heating system plus installation begins at $2,000 with a ten year warranty. For a more accurate estimate, please call a 24 Heating & Cooling expert at (1-773) 936-5951 to schedule an appointment and to obtain further details. What is an air conditioning compressor? An air conditioner compressor is a pump which uses chemicals that easily convert a gas to liquid and then back again. To simply put it, it draws heat from the interior and is then compressed and transferred outside. Subsequently, this heat is able to return to the indoor components for cooling and dehumidifying of the interior. How much is it to replace an air conditioning compressor? Rates start from $500 and up. For a more accurate estimate, please call a 24 Heating & Cooling expert at (1-773) 936-5951 to schedule an appointment and to obtain further details. Why has my air conditioner stop working or is no longer cooling? If the central air conditioner is no longer cooling it just may mean that it needs to be cleaned or loaded. If it completely stopped working there may be other serious reasons. To evaluate and inspect the problem, please call a 24 Heating & Cooling professional at (1-773) 936-5951 What is central heating and how much does it cost to install? A central heating system typically consist of a furnace (usually located in your basement or garage, but can also be found in any room or location within the structure). A furnace consists of four main parts: burners (deliver and burn fuel), heat exchangers, blower, and a tube or pipe (allows for passage as an exhaust for gaseous by-products). It also contains a system of ductwork and vents. Central heating works when combustion gases are generated by the burners in the furnace and passed over a heat exchanger. The air in your home blows across the heat exchanger to be warmed. This warm air is then blown and distributed through the duct system (via the vents) throughout your home (or building). Typically, central heating systems are controlled by a thermostat. This device can be set to a specific temperature and the unit will run until this temperature is reached. During cold months, it usually takes longer for the inside to reach the desired temperature and that is why we strongly suggest that thermostats are kept at a lower but comfortable air temperature in order to reduce energy consumption and save you money. Choosing a reputable HVAC contractor is as important as choosing an appropriate central cooling and heating system, so call a 24 Heating & Cooling professional to schedule an appointment. The central heating system plus installation begins at $2,000. For a more accurate estimate, please call a 24 Heating & Cooling expert at (1-773) 936-5951 for more details. a 24 Heating & Cooling representative will correctly size your heat pump, help you calculate the payback period of high and low-efficiency equipment, and ensure that the equipment is installed properly. Furthermore, 24 Heating & Cooling will respond promptly when you have an HVAC crisis, provide ongoing maintenance, and work fast to replace failed parts under warranty. What is a heat pump and how much does it cost to install? A heat pump is typically used to assist with heating and cooling systems and emanates cold or hot air when needed. More specifically, it heats a home in the winter and it cools a home in the summer. For example, when the outside temperature is cold, the heat pump extracts this exterior cold heat and transfers it inside, warms it and is distributed via the ductwork. On the other hand, when the outside temperature is warm, the heat pump works in reverse and acts like an air conditioner by removing heat from your home. A simple explanation is that a heat pump can extract heat found in the air (or ground) outside your house and transfer that heat into your house instead. Under the right conditions it can do this substantially more cheaply than a gas or oil furnace. A typical heat pump system consists of two parts: an air handler (an indoor unit) and outdoor unit that is similar to a central air conditioner. There is a compressor which circulates a refrigerant substance that absorbs and releases heat as it travels between the indoor and outdoor units. One advantage of a heat pump is that it moves heat instead of generating heat, giving you more energy efficiency. Also, it is powered by electricity, so you can save substantially on fuel consumption. Installation of a heat pump to an existing central heating/cooling system is estimated at around $2,850. However, only a 24 Heating & Cooling expert can determine if a heat pump system is right for you. For further details, please call (1-773) 936-5951. How much is it to replace only a heat pump? The rates start from $500 and up. What are some maintenance (cleaning) tips for replacing filters? Maintenance of a central heating/cooling system is minimal and consists of replacing a filter on a regular basis. During the spring/summer seasons, the filter should be changed every 2 months or so. They may be replaced more often if the filter becomes dirty faster. Furthermore, during the fall/winter seasons, the filer should be changed approximately every 2 to 3 months. It is best to check filters once a month for cleanliness. Filters vary in price from store to store, as well as quantity. If you are interested in scheduling a maintenance check-up, please call 24 Heating & Cooling (1-773) 936-5951 What is an air handler and what if it makes loud noises? An air handler is a mechanical device used to distribute air throughout the home. It is used in conjunction with a heat pump or air conditioning system and may be installed indoors or outdoors. Basically, an air handler works by collecting warm air in the house which is then collected by a refrigerant in the unit, which is then sent to an outdoor compressor to cool the air. The whole cycle begins again. These systems work in reverse during the winter to heat the air in the home. When choosing an air handler, it is important to match the unit to the outdoor compressor. Also, keep in mind to choose one that is versatile, energy efficient and has low noise levels. a 24 Heating & Cooling technician can help you determine which air handler is right for your home. Please call us at (1-773) 936-5951. A noise usually occurs when the belt that connects the motor to the fan slips. If you hear a “grinding” noise, shut off the unit and call us immediately. Why does the temperature in the house (building) vary in each room? Heat rises up, so the upper levels are usually warmer than the lower levels where the air is cooler. This variation in temperature may leave condensation on the windows in colder rooms which may freeze at night. When such temperature changes occur, the heat pump is most likely not cycling air often enough and should be adjusted. Call 24 Heating & Cooling at (1-773) 936-5951 to assess the problem in your home. Why does the room temperature drop lower from the set amount? This usually means the thermostat was mot properly calibrated or installed. Make sure all window and doors are closed. Call 24 Heating & Cooling at (1-773) 936-5951 to assess the problem in your home. What is an air duct? An air conditioning duct is a type of pipe or tunnel that is used to distribute air throughout a home (or structure). Why air ducts make noise? Most heating and cooling ducts are aluminum foil pipe (with plastic and fiberglass) or sheet metal, so when air blows through them vibrations are created making noise (either very subtle or loud). The fan coming out of the air conditioning unit is also an important source of noise. These noises can be mitigated by installing absorbent materials, spring suspensions, acoustic insulation, and/or vibration isolators. If the noise becomes a nuisance, please call 24 Heating & Cooling to schedule an inspection, to receive an estimate or to get the issue repaired. How do I effectively maintain air ducts? As air pulls through the filter, dust and other contaminants collect on the inside of the fan and filter. The more debris that accumulates, the harder it becomes for the air to filter through. Generally, ductwork is fairly large (it’s built throughout your home) and consists of a maze of pipes. Hiring a professional firm to clean the air ducts is most advisable since they come prepared with special cleaning equipment. 24 Heating & Cooling can greatly reduce indoor air pollution by professionally cleaning your ductwork and dryer vents. 24 Heating & Cooling certified technicians will rid your air ducts of dust, dirt, contaminants, insects and harmful microbes. They will eliminate any signs of mold, fungi, buildup, debris, and bacteria, and other growth. It is recommended that ducts be cleaned at least once a year in order to maintain efficient and clean air and the entire heating and cooling vents. Does my furnace have a filter? Yes, if you have a forced-air furnace. No, if you have a boiler and radiators. What is the purpose of a furnace filter? A furnace filter removes airborne particles that might damage the fan and the heating coil. Particle buildup can also decrease the efficiency of your furnace, as the furnace has to work harder to pull air through the intake. More expensive filters can also improve the air quality in your house by removing pollen, bacteria and mold spores from the air. This is especially important if you or someone in your family suffers from allergies. How do I choose the right filter? There are several ways on how to choose filters based on resistance, efficiency, dust loading capacity, and MERV rating. The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is the best standard of comparison. The air filter industry is governed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The MERV standard was developed by ASHRAE and is the best means for an “apples to apples” comparison of filters. The higher the MERV rating, the more dirt particles get trapped in the filter (the more efficient the filter). SIZE: There are various sizes of air furnace filters. There is a difference between standard size measurements and actual size measurements which allows for variations in filter rack sizes and also ensures that the filter will fit into a standard size filter rack. PLEATED: Are probably the most popular. They provide the best value for your money and are available in a wide range of efficiencies and design characteristics. Some are designed to filter material to help with odor control and to help increase performance. ELECTROSTATIC: Performs at maximum efficiency and requires regular cleaning. Filter maintenance (changing or cleaning) also helps to keep your heating and cooling equipment operating at maximum efficiency which reduces operating costs. FIBER GLASS: Reported to be the least efficient in filters since it only traps the largest of dust particles. They are inexpensive, but the maintenance and operating cost are higher. HEPA: Air filters that remove about 97% of household allergens. How do I clean or how often do I replace a furnace air filter? A clean filter maximizes your furnace’s efficiency and longevity, and minimizes your energy bills. First, turn off the furnace and then gently pop open or pull down the panel door with your hands. Next, remove the grill or box cover holding your filter in place. Check your old filter for dusty buildup. If you have a disposable filter, install the new air filter with the air flow arrow pointing toward the blower. Or, if you have a reusable plastic-frame or metal-frame filter, rinse away the dust particles on the screen. Let it dry and place it back in the furnace. We recommend you call 24 Heating & Cooling since recommendations vary based on what type of furnace you have as well as other factors (pets, allergies, type, cost). For a hassle-free solution, contact our office and we will schedule a regular (annual) maintenance check-up with one of our 24 Heating & Cooling experts. What is an electronic air filter? An electronic air filter is a device that sends air through a filter in order to clean and remove allergens, microorganisms and other impurities from air. Since there are many types of air cleaners to choose from, a 24 Heating & Cooling professional can help you make the best decision. Installation starts at $550 and up. What is a high-efficiency boiler and how much does it cost to install? Unlike a hot water furnace which heats the air through the use of heated water running through pipes into a radiator, a boiler heats water. A boiler is more efficient because water retains its temperature longer than air does and you can easily shut off a valve for a room you are not using. You can easily ask about the advantages and disadvantages of a high-efficiency boiler by contacting a 24 Heating & Cooling professional. We can help you make the best decision. High-efficiency furnaces have an AFUE of 90 to 98%. Installation of a high-efficiency boiler starts at $3,800. You may be eligible for government issued rebates of up to $1,500 and up to $600 from a gas company if you decide to purchase a high-efficiency boiler. This rebate can save you a substantial amount of your money on your initial investment. Call 24 Heating & Cooling for a quote. What is the difference between a furnace and a boiler? Most homes are heated with either a furnace or a boiler. Furnaces heat air and distribute the heated air through the house using ducts. Boilers, on the other hand heat water providing either hot water or steam for heating. Steam is distributed via pipes to steam radiators, and hot water can be distributed via baseboard radiators or radiant floor systems, or it can even heat air through a coil. Steam boilers operate at a higher temperature than hot water boilers and are generally less efficient. A central furnace or boiler’s efficiency is measured by annual fuel utilization efficiency, or AFUE. AFUE is a measure of how efficient the appliance is in the energy in its fuel over the course of a typical year. This allows consumers to compare heating efficiencies of various models. AFUE compares the heat output of the total energy consumed by a furnace or boiler. So, for example, an AFUE of 90% means that 90% of the energy becomes heat for the home and the remaining 10% escapes through windows, doors, and elsewhere. There are many types of furnaces and boilers, including high-efficiency systems. a 24 Heating & Cooling expert can help you decide on the best option for you and your home. How much does it cost to install a mid-efficiency boiler? Mid-efficiency furnaces have an AFUE of approximately 80% and start at $2,150. What are some easy tips for maintaining my furnace? Your furnace has many components, some of the more important ones are: Heat Exchanger – inspect for cracks and deterioration. Heat exchangers can develop cracks with age and usage. Potential health risks include toxic fume emission. Burners – inspect for debris and functionality. Dirty burners can cause poor combustion, soot, condensation, and will shorten the life of the furnace. Fan switch – check if correctly adjusted. A fan switch that is not properly adjusted can waste energy and cause irregular fan cycling. Pilot and pilot assembly – inspect for cleanliness and adjustment. Weak and/or dirty pilots can be easily extinguished causing the furnace to shut down. Safety controls – check if functioning properly. It is strongly recommended that a 24 Heating & Cooling technician inspect the safety controls (thermometer, switches, circuits, burners, etc.) any malfunctions and all other possible dangerous conditions can be eliminated and reliable and safe heat can be restored to the structure or dwelling. Gas line – check for leaks from the furnace. The valve must be turned off first. Combustion air – check for openings. All combustion requires oxygen and blocked or restricted openings can be dangerous. a 24 Heating & Cooling technician can check if the combustion air openings are properly sized and free of obstructions. Furnace flue – inspecting for deterioration. Corrosion, leaks of carbon monoxide, soot blowback, and buildup can cause major clean-up expenses. It is recommended that annual inspections and maintenance be made. Temperature – check if set at correct temperature. Depending on what type of furnace you have, there are standards to set the appropriate temperature. Panels – inspecting for holes and that all panels are secure and in place. Loose panels, holes or cracks can leak poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide (CO), can increase moisture in the house (or structure) and has overall lower efficiency ratios. For any maintenance, clean-up, and inspections of your furnace and air conditioning systems, it is strongly recommended that a professional examines them. Call our office and a 24 Heating & Cooling technician can assess any problems or malfunctions. How long does a furnace last? A furnace typically lasts anywhere between 10 to 30 years. However, with good maintenance, furnaces can last up to 30 years, or more. Newer furnaces with a stainless steel heat exchanger come with a lifetime warranty. How much is to replace a hot water furnace with a forced-air furnace? The removal, installation and a new forced-air furnace unit starts from $5,400. We also recommend the high-efficiency furnace which can qualify you for a government program and save you up to $1,500, as well as up to $450 from the gas company. This includes a 10 year warranty on all parts. Does gas heating cost less? Cost of living varies depending on individual lifestyles, preferences, availability of resources, usage, weather, and other factors. Homes are heated by wood, electricity, or gas. During bearable/warmer winter months, heating with natural gas is likely to be lower. Falling wholesale gas prices also affect usage and price. Natural gas utilities can change their rates every month to reflect the fluctuating cost of natural gas. Beside household heating, natural gas is also on the rise as fuel for generating electricity and industrial operations. Overall, natural gas heating can bring in savings. For example, annual electricity costs for heating an average home can be as much as $3,800. In contrast, natural gas heating costs average about $2,400 per year for the same home. Natural gas appliances typically cost more, but have longer economic usage, which typically lasts as long as 25 years or more. What size of furnace do I need? Furnaces are designed to fit different sizes of houses, and factors such as age, insulation and ductwork, as well as others are taken into consideration, such as capacity (which is measured in British Thermal Units – BTUs). For best results, it is recommended to get an in-home evaluation. We offer a totally free and complete evaluation of your home’s heating/air conditioning needs. Call a 24 Heating & Cooling technician today to schedule an appointment. When is the best time to replace my furnace? A gas furnace may last 10 to 30 years. Gas furnaces and oil furnaces are generally built to last, and can perform way into their 30’s if maintained well and on a regular basis. In order to get the best performance out of your furnace, we recommend regular checkups and maintenance inspections. There is no furnace life expectancy set in stone, but if you take care of your central/heating system, it should operate efficiently for many, many years. However, if you are currently experiencing problems with your furnace, or would like to lower your monthly heating costs, upgrading to a high-efficiency model would help in saving some money. For a professional opinion, it is best to get an in-home evaluation. Call a 24 Heating & Cooling technician today to schedule an appointment. The in-home consultation is totally free and will provide you ease of mind. What is a humidifier? Furnace mounted humidifiers introduce moisture from water and evaporate it into a warm air stream. During winter (cold months) it is best to increase your humidity, since the colder air is dry. During summer (warm/hot months) it is best to decrease your humidity. Installation of humidifiers begins at $250 and up. What if my humidifier doesn't humidify well, or doesn't work at all? There may be several reasons why your humidifier doesn’t work properly, or runs constantly. These reasons are: it may be undersized, air may be escaping, there may be insufficient voltage (power), the settings may be off or incorrectly inputted, and many other factors. Call a 24 Heating & Cooling technician today to schedule a maintenance check-up. How does solar heating work? An array of solar panels (solar collector panels) are affixed to the roof of your home or a location best suited for absorbing sunlight. Basically, these panels are connected to a hot water tank and a pump circulates the transfer liquid (often just treated water) through the solar panels. The sun’s heat warms the fluid and is then transferred to a storage container. Solar thermal panels are used for heating hot water which in turn can be used to heat your house, water for washing and even for showering. It is also a very green way to heat your swimming pool. How much does a solar heating system cost? There are many solar systems currently available and depending on your home and location, it is best to call a 24 Heating & Cooling professional for a free quote. What is a digital setback thermostat? Are they expensive? A programmable thermostat is one of the easiest ways you can save energy and money because it regulates temperature all year round. Installation starts from $100. How does an electric water heater work? An electric water heater has an inner steel tank that holds about 40 to 60 gallons of hot water. It contains a bonded glass liner which keeps water from accumulating rust and an anode rod keeps corrosion from forming on the steel tank. A thermostat controls the water’s temperature inside the tank. It is recommended that the temperature be set between 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid being scalded by hot water. A pressure release valve is a safety feature that keeps the water tank from exploding. Water enters the water heater’s tank via a pipe connected to the house’s water system. It must be plugged into a power source. However, electric water heaters are the most inefficient, cost more, and may experience frequent malfunctions. It is always recommended that an electric water heater be serviced by a 24 Heating & Cooling professional. What is a tankless water heater? Tankless water heaters have an electric, gas, or propane heating device that is activated by the flow of water. They heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. The flowing water is heated in the electric water heater unit. A negative factor of some tankless water heaters is that they cannot supply enough hot water, especially if taking a shower and running the dishwasher at the same time. Tankless water heaters can also be used for supplementary heat, such as a booster to a solar hot water system, or others.