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HVAC Blog | National Air Warehouse

  • Do I need an air handler?

    Sometimes the number of components that make up an HVAC (heat, ventilation and air conditioning) system can seem overwhelming. Part of the reason is that HVAC systems are extremely flexible. You can pick only the components you need to heat and cool your business or home as efficiently as possible. In some cases, this involves buying an air handler.

    An air handler has a simple task, to take in air and send it around the home or business. Air handlers often include blowers, heating and cooling systems and filters. It handles much of the “ventilation” port of the HVAC system. Air handlers are commonly used in conjunction with air conditioners. The evaporator coil in the air handler can remove additional heat before sending the air throughout the house.

    Am I in the right climate for an air handler?

    An electric split system for air conditioning in a warm climate, like Florida, will benefit from an air handler. Working in tandem with the air conditioner, the air handler keeps the air cold and blowing.

    However, air handlers can also be beneficial in slightly cooler climates. They can contain both heating and cooling elements. The cooling element would be the evaporator coil, which removes excess heat from the air. Heating elements, like electric heating strips, can also be included in an air handler. In this case, the air handler adds additional heat to the air before blowing it around the home or business.

    While beneficial in cooler climates, air handlers are not as commonly found in cold truly climates, like Minnesota. A gas or electric furnace is commonly used in place instead. Pairing a heat pump with an air handler is typically not sufficient to warm a home or business in a climate that repeatedly drops below zero. A gas or electric furnace is a more effective way to heat the location.

    How do I select an air handler?

    If you live in a warm climate, where the combination of an air handler and air conditioner or heat pump provides sufficient heating and cooling, it's time to look at air handlers. The first step is to do a load calculation, which determines how much heating or cooling is required for the home or business. A Manual J calculation is standard and the most accurate, but rules of thumb can also be applied. The resulting number is the tonnage size of the HVAC system that you ought to purchase for the best efficiency.

    The next item to evaluate is what type of refrigerant the air handler uses. The most common types are R-22 and R410-A. Newer HVAC systems typically use the R-410A refrigerant, which is generally accepted as the more environmentally friendly and efficient refrigerant.

    Air handlers can also be sold with heating elements. This may or may not be necessary in your climate. If your home does not already have heat pump, the heating elements may be a good choice to warm the air in your home when it gets a bit chillier. The heating elements can also work in tandem with a heat pump for greater efficiency. It depends on the system you select for your climate.

    If you need any help determining if your home or business would benefit from an air handler, you can check with an expert or call National Air Warehouse at (888) 997-5160 for assistance.

  • HVAC Sizing: Why do a load calculation?

    A whole new vocabulary greets those who want to purchase a new HVAC system. Instead of seeing the normal housing “square feet” metric, people are likely to see measurements in “tons.” These are not the same tons that semi-trucks are hauling on the freeway. It's a measurement of the cooling rate, and it's about equal to 12,000 Btu/hr. To properly size an HVAC system, the buyer needs to determine how the home or office building loses and maintains heat.

    Since HVAC may seem like a complicated new world, new HVAC buyers might be tempted to use a 'rule of thumb' to determine the size of their HVAC system. These “rules” can be as simple as holding up a cut-out to the home. The hole that the house fits within is labeled with a ton amount. Other people will recommend a certain number of tons per square foot. This method is slightly better because it takes into account the weather conditions for the local area. However, there are disadvantages to using a rule of thumb.

    Using a 'rule of thumb' is like going to the store and picking out a shirt in your size without trying it on. If you are usually a medium, it's a good bet that a medium shirt will fit you. But, in some stores, a medium can be too tight to fit around your chest or so loose that the shirtsleeves go down to your elbows. Without accounting for the unique contours of your body by trying it on, it's possible that you can buy the wrong size. An improperly sized HVAC system is like an ill-fitting shirt; it does the job, but it doesn't do it as well as it could. For example, an over-sized HVAC system doesn't de-humidify the air as efficiently during the summer.

    The secret to purchasing the right size of HVAC system is to take more factors into account. Like the unique contours of your body, your home or business has unique characteristics. For a building, the unique characteristics are the materials used for the construction. Are the walls made of brick or siding? What type of insulation was used? How many vents are in the floor? The doors are made of what type of material? These characteristics (and others, such as your location) are used in a Manual J load calculation, an industry standard method to determine the HVAC size for a home or office building.

    With the internet, it is possible to do a Manual J load calculation yourself. There are many sites dedicated to the task. However, they do assume that you have the basic information about the materials used in the construction of the building. Many homeowners don't know what type of siding or insulation they have (or where to find it). If you don't know what ceiling type you have in your home, it's probably worth asking a professional to complete a calculation (according to Manual J or another method). A trained technician can quickly assess the location.

    An HVAC is a long-term investment, often heating and cooling a location for decades. Isn't it worth it to get the right size for maximum efficiency?

  • Gas or Electric Heat: A Cost Comparison

    One of the first decisions a homeowner or business owner has to make, regarding an HVAC (heat, ventilation, air conditioning) system, is whether to purchase an electric or gas heater. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. The up-front costs and long-term costs are one area that people typically examine.

    Up-Front Costs

    These are the costs associated with the initial installation of the heating component of the HVAC system. The first item to look at is whether the home or business has access to electricity and natural gas. Many homes and businesses have both electricity and natural gas lines already running to the house. However, some locations do not have access to natural gas. In this case, running a gas line to the location could be an additional upfront cost. Each home or business is unique and different costs may be taken into consideration for each one.

    The cost of the heater itself is also included in the up-front costs. If you are buying this as a single component, it's often called a furnace. At National Air Warehouse, the electric furnaces start around $700 and the gas furnaces start around $900.

    Looking at just the up-front costs, the electric furnace seems to be cheaper. However, most HVAC systems are meant to be used for years. The long-term costs look at how expensive it is to run each type of furnace for years to come.

    Long-Term Costs

    The costs associated with the furnace in the long term are: maintenance and the cost of the electricity/natural gas. When it comes to maintenance, the electric heaters are typically cheaper to maintain. One of the reasons is that electric furnaces typically outlast gas furnaces. An electric furnace can last for 20-30 years with regular maintenance. Gas furnaces, in comparison, typically have slightly shorter lifespans of 10-20 years.

    People commonly say that the cost of natural gas is lower than that of electricity. This is true in many locations, but it does depend on the location of the home or business. Electricity is cheaper in some cities than others. To truly determine the long-term impact of paying for electricity or gas, a homeowner or business owner can calculate the energy use. The amount of electricity used is typically tabulated as kilowatt-hours (kWh) and the amount of natural gas is often tabulated as therms. A homeowner could directly compare the costs by converting kWh to therms (1 kWh = 0.034 therms). Less money spent per therm will save the homeowner or business owner in the long-term.

    Making a smart decision regarding electric or gas furnaces may require a bit of thought, but there are many resources out there to help home and business owners decide between the two.

  • When do I upgrade my HVAC system?

    Air conditioner Unit Repair Air conditioner Unit Repair

    One of the most common questions asked about HVAC systems is, if my old system is running poorly, can I repair it cheaply? Or do I need to purchase a new system? Like most things in life, the answer isn’t simple: it depends on the age of the system, how well it has been maintained, and your current usage of it. In this article, I will go over a few of the things that you need to look at when deciding how to make your system more functional.
    First, consider the age of your system. It is important to examine not just how long you have used it, but how old the model is. Older models will usually be much less efficient, and can end up costing you more in the long run. So even if it seems to be somewhat fixable, if it is a very old system, it might be worth it to simply buy a newer model. You will save on energy, and have what is usually a quieter, more reliable system. A well-maintained HVAC system can last for 15 years or so, but generally if it is more than ten years old, it is time to think about a replacement.
    Second, look at the cost of a repair. Unfortunately, the cost to repair a system can sometimes cost near the price of a new unit. If you are facing a very expensive repair, then it might be a lot better to simply buy a new unit. This will be especially true if the unit is in poor condition, and will likely need more repairs in the future. Thankfully, lower end units can be purchased somewhat inexpensively if money is a major issue.
    Another important factor to keep in mind, is the energy efficiency of your old machine. Many older HVAC units have chemicals that are bad for the environment, in addition to being energy hogs. Check the SEER rating of your unit. A poor rating could definitely indicate that your unit is taking a lot more energy than would be needed by a newer unit.
    So, when weighing the cost of a repair with the cost of a new unit, make sure to keep these guidelines in mind. Often investing the money for a new system will save you money in the long run, and if you keep it well maintained, it will last you for a long time.

  • More Misconceptions about your HVAC System

    Air Conditioner Air Conditioner

    Many people are uninformed about their HVAC system and therefore they believe a lot of misconceptions about HVAC systems. Being informed about your system is a must and this information should steer you clear of any misconceptions you might hear about your HVAC system.

    One myth has to do with when to do maintenance. Something a lot of people believe or think they believe is that you only need to check your HVAC system when you think something is wrong. This is incorrect. Preventative care is necessary and checking your HVAC on a regular basis is a must. This will save you money in the long run as it will lower the amount of maintenance you do. It is also important to keep air ducts clean and service your system every so often.

    A popular myth encourages homeowners to leave appliances and computers running when not in use with the belief that it uses less energy than shutting down and restarting. Yes, there’s a small power surge when these appliances turn back on, but it’s a small surge that equals very little run-time power. When you leave these things on, all you’re actually doing is wasting energy.

    Many people think that when you close off your vents, you’ll reduce the amount of air that’s being pushed throughout your home, but in reality, (if you have a modern HVAC system), the pressure load will be balanced throughout your rooms. If you block a vent, you can throw your HVAC system out of balance and actually make it work harder.

    In blistering heat or bitter cold, you want fast relief. To many homeowners, this translates to turning the thermostat higher or lower than usual in an effort to bring the temperature to a comfortable level more quickly. The system is either on or off, and it doesn’t vary speed or temperature according to the thermostat set point. Cranking the thermostat ensures that the HVAC system runs longer, but it won’t change the speed of results.

    Many also think that using the system in short bursts is a way to save energy and money. Actually, it takes about 2-4 minutes for you system to get going. In this time the system uses more energy. After it has some time to get going it will use less energy so using it for longer intervals is recommended provided your house is at an optimal temperature.

    Using his information will help you save money and keep your system running smoothly.

  • Why is my HVAC System Running so Poorly?

    HVAC 3The reason your HVAC system may not be working could be a number of things. Always make sure to take the necessary steps to keep your system running properly. Here are some common reasons and steps you can take to make sure your HVAC system runs properly always

    Uneven heating and cooling is a common problem with heating and air conditioning systems. Some rooms are nice and warm in the winter, others are chilly. Some rooms get comfortably cool in the summer, others are stuffy. Air flow has a lot to do with this problem. Dirty filters, closed vents, and ductwork issues can impede air flow, causing uneven heating and cooling. Home insulation is also a factor. Make sure to check or replace filters and make sure all the vents are clean and open.
    If you see enough dirt and debris on the air filter to fill a moon crater, you need to replace it. Or clean it if it is the washable kind. Filters should be replaced about once a month, depending on the system you have. If you don’t you’re making your system work harder than necessary. Also, check the heat exchanger and coils for any dirt.

    If there is water coming from the indoor unit of your HVAC system, you need to correct it as soon as possible to avoid water damage to your home. Water around the indoor unit means your system is leaking, not draining properly, or making excess condensation. Condensation can form on the evaporator coil and suction line if they are not properly insulated. If the necessary insulation is missing or leaving part of the coil or line exposed, more condensation collects on it, which can drip onto the floor. In some situations the coil may ice up, and when the ice melts it will leave a puddle on the floor. If the condensation drain is blocked it can cause pooled water. In the worst case, your system could be leaking refrigerant. Both air conditioners and furnaces can leak water.

    Another way you can track your HVAC systems issues it with your utility bill. Utility rates adjust often. If rates have remained steady while your bill has increased, you may have an issue that needs to be addressed. For AC systems, the federal government increased minimum efficiency ratings in 2006. If your system is older than that, it may be another reason for your higher energy bills.

    There are other things that can cause your HVAC system to run poorly. These are some of the most common and taking he steps provided will help you along the way.

  • Switching Over to the Warm Months

    With such extreme changes in temperature, your heating and cooling units benefit from annual service checks. Plus, you are more likely to catch any minor issues before they turn into bigger ones. Add a checkup to your spring cleaning list to make sure your house is ready to handle the heat.

    A spring tune-up will provide some very important monetary benefits, especially if your system has been neglected for some time. As your technician runs a thorough check of your equipment, he will adjust loose parts, lubricate moving components, and clean dirty areas. Potential problems can be diagnosed so that preventive repairs can be completed before summer. Following are some specific ways in which your budget can benefit:

    Dirty inside and outside coils can represent up to 30 percent of your cooling expenses. A thorough cleaning makes it easier for air to flow inside, for proper cooling levels to be reached, and for your compressor to operate without stress.
    Low refrigerant can add 20 percent or more to the energy usage needed for cooling your home. A recharge is important to protect your compressor, but fixing any leaks is equally important to avoid a continued problem with refrigerant levels.
    Leaky ducts can add another 20 percent to the total cost to cool your home. Energy loss is already an issue in this portion of your system, and duct sealing is a priority to keep those costs lower.

    Another major issue addressed through spring HVAC maintenance is the condition of your indoor air. Dirty ducts and coils can aggravate your allergies or other respiratory issues. If you are sensitive to mold, you need to recognize that an unmaintained air handler is a huge problem, providing a place for mold and bacteria to increase with ease. Annual cleaning improves the condition of this area, and your technician can also discuss the benefits of a UV lamp for killing the materials in this space.

    Duct cleaning may not need to occur annually, but a duct inspection is helpful for establishing information about the condition of the area. Your ducts can harbor many kinds of pests, and droppings and dander can also trigger your allergies as your cooling system is operated.

    Making sure you get ready for spring and summer is must do after the winter months have come to an end. Hopefully this information will be helpful when getting your HVAC system ready.

  • How Ordering Online Can Save You Money

    How Ordering Online Can Save You Money
    Whether you just need one replacement piece in your HVAC system, or are going to do a whole building overhaul, ordering what you need online can save you a considerable amount of money, time, and headache. These are some of the biggest benefits to ordering online, and ill share a few quick explanations for why they happen.
    Shopping online allows you to quickly compare search by keywords to find out which product you need. You won’t have to have a long conversation with someone whose only goal is to upsell you or get you something that you don’t need. Additionally, the cost of employing salespeople and having a showroom floor means that the overhead for brick and mortar stores is much higher than their online counterparts. These savings mean that you can save hundreds of dollars by quickly and easily determining what it is you need and buying it for yourself. If an installation is fairly easy and can be done without extensive training, why pay extra? Just get the experience of doing it yourself, and save yourself a lot of money in the long run and the short run.
    You also save yourself time and energy. Ordering from the comfort of your own home allows you to fit your repairs into your schedule. You don’t need to take several hours and make a trip where you will need to keep focused and deal with salespeople. Just wait till you have a moment at the end of your day, on your lunch break, or whenever you want to get it done. You won’t have to worry about finding a way to transport it either, since many services offer free home delivery. This can save you the headache of loading it into your truck, or even having to borrow or rent a truck to get it back to your house. It makes a lot of sense to avoid that hassle. After some quick installation, your HVAC system will be up and running, keeping you comfortable and healthy year-round.
    These savings will be especially applicable if buying in bulk. If you need a lot of systems installed. Finding someone to install them will be easy, but you can save a lot of money by ordering all of your systems online. The savings will go straight into your pocket. Getting one large shipment delivered at once will also beat trying to scrounge around and make multiple orders.

  • Other Ways to Save Money with your HVAC System

    hvac-2Keeping your house at the optimal temperature is the reason you use and HVAC system. You want to get the best bang for your buck and not spend too much. Here are some ways you can save money and relieve some of the stress on your HVAC system.

    The most effective ways to block heat from entering your home are insulation, reflective barriers and shading. Insulating, caulking and weatherstripping are essential to keeping your home warm in cold climates, but they also help keep your home cool in hot weather. The attics of most homes absorb heat through the roof, and insulating the attic floor will keep this heat from radiating down into the house. Fiberglass insulation, at least R-30, is easy to install. The cost will be recouped quickly in lower energy bills throughout the year. Caulking and weatherstripping doors and windows will also prevent warmer outside air from seeping into your home. The cost of these materials is very low and application is simple.

    Reflective barriers also help. An important consideration in passive cooling is house color. Dark-colored home exteriors absorb 70% to 90% of the radiant energy from the sun that strikes the home's surfaces. Some of this absorbed energy is transferred into your home by way of conduction, resulting in heat gain. In contrast, light-colored surfaces effectively reflect most of the heat away from your home.
    Another method for reflecting incoming heat is to install a radiant barrier. This foil-faced paper can be stapled to the roof rafters on the underside of your roof. To install, start by placing a few planks over the ceiling joists, which are the 'floor' of the attic; these serve as foot-boards to stand on while stapling the foil to the rafters above. You'll have to move the foot-boards as you progress. Be careful not to step between the ceiling joists or you may fall through the ceiling; also be careful to not step near the ends of the foot boards or they'll flip up. When stapling the foil to the rafters, space the staples about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) apart to prevent air circulation from loosening or detaching the radiant barrier.
    Shading: Shading is the simplest, most effective way to cool your home and reduce energy consumption. Up to 40% of the costs of cooling can be saved by shading techniques such as landscaping, and working the drapes and blinds.

    Hopefully this information is helpful and will provide you with money saving practices.

  • Stay Warm and Happy During the Cold Months

    Winter is here and it is not going away for at least a few months. That means high heating costs for a lot of us, but there are ways to make sure those bills stay as low as possible this winter. Here are some mistakes homeowners commonly make when heating their homes, and how you can avoid these pitfalls in the coming months.

    When coming home to a cold house, it might be tempting to turn the heater up into the 80s to try to heat it faster. But thermostats don't work like an accelerator on a car, as the Telegraph reports, and turning the heat up to blistering levels won't warm your home faster. So just be patient and it will save you money.

    It's best to avoid extremes with your thermostat. If you let the temperature in your house fall dramatically overnight, it's going to require a lot of work from your heating system to warm the home in the morning. That could really cost you when the heating bill arrives.

    If you want the house to be 70 degrees and your thermostat is only reaching 66 degrees, turning the thermostat up to 74 degrees in an attempt to make up the difference could be a huge mistake. The furnace could be forced to work beyond its capability. Instead, find out what's causing the problem and fix it. Heat could be escaping somewhere in your home, or you may need to replace a faulty furnace.
    In this day and age of controlling everything from a phone app, one of the easiest ways to save money is to install a system that can be adjusted remotely. Heating an empty home is one of the easiest ways to waste money, so a programmable thermostat can save hundreds of dollars every year. Giving your thermostat a break every day – but don't overdo it; see No. 2 – can also be beneficial to a longer life for your heating system.

    In the summer, it's common for homeowners to have a constant tango between opening the windows and keeping them closed to let the air conditioner do the hard work of keeping a home cool. It's understandable if you forgot to lock those windows up before the cold weather arrives, but take the time now to ensure all windows are locked and sealed to keep warm air from escaping.

    Avoid doing these things and you will stay happy and warm during winter.

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