Q: We just purchased our first new home and we are a bit concerned over the operation of our HVAC system. What are some tips to ensure that our system is operating properly and we do the right things to make it last for many years? - Connie and Bill, Prescott Valley
A: We have all heard the saying "if mama ain't happy ain't nobody happy." On the same premise, if the HVAC unit "ain't happily operating ain't a happy home or family." We are fast-approaching summer so now is the time to ensure your heating and cooling system in prime operating condition and operating at peak efficiency.
Inasmuch as you have a new home, there are performance standards for the first years of ownership, unless otherwise specified. The contractor should stand behind the product, but the buyer should be responsible for owner-maintenance items. As far as the operation of your HVAC system if you experience and of the following, the corrective actions are listed:
Inadequate heat with the unit, the contractor should correct the heating to provide the specified temperatures. The contractor is responsible for balancing dampers, registers and other minor adjustments one time for one season. Deficiencies caused by malfunction of system equipment or appliances are subject to the terms of the manufacturer's warranty unless workmanship by the contractor is involved.
Excessive noise from ducts, the contractor should determine cause and make the necessary repairs.
Inadequate combustion air vent. The contractor needs to make necessary repairs.
Improper clearance to change filters, the contractor needs to make corrections to allow easy removal of filters.
Air condition does not adequately cool the home, unit should cool home to 30 degrees lower than outside air temperature when measured in center of the room at 5' in height. Minimum indoor temperature should be 78 degrees. Contractor should make repairs or adjustments to meet temperature conditions.
Equipment fails, contractor should correct deficiency if within one year or within limits of manufacturer's warranty.
Condensate lines broken, improperly routed or water leaking into distribution system, contractor should make necessary repairs.
Your unit passed inspection by the jurisdiction code requirements. You can certainly call the installation contractor and ask for an overview of the system, to make sure you understand how it operates, the industry calls this a "check and serve" and you should confirm if there are charges for this service.
It is always a good idea to have an HVAC company inspect and perform preventative maintenance on an HVAC system every spring and fall. As a homeowner you can perform some simple maintenance steps on your own to prolong life and increase the efficiency of the system:
The filter should be replaced every month or at a maximum limit every 90 days and no longer. During spring and summer any debris such as leaves, pollen and twigs should be removed from the top and around the sides of the outdoor air-conditioning unit and heat pumps. Do not allow lawn clippings or dirt debris on the unit. There should be at least a minimum of two feet of clearance around the outdoor air conditioning unit and heat pumps, do not let plants and shrubs impede into this area.
Never close the home registers and shut off rooms - this will place unnecessary strain on the HVAC system.
Q: I want to install a programmable thermostat and my wife says no. I am saying it is a sustainable way to save money and she is saying they are too complicated to operate. Do we or don't we? - Mike and Sue, Prescott Valley
A: A programmable thermostat can help you save energy and dollars, but the catch is, you must use it. They are not that complicated to operate, less complicated than trying to figure out how to use the VCR and set up the recording device. A programmable thermostat is not that hard to operate and it is worth doing because you can money. There are a variety of programmable thermostats on the market, so you should pick one that suits your needs for ease and convenience of operation. You can set it and forget it as they say.
Before you purchase a programmable thermostat you should identify the type of HVAC equipment you have to ensure compatibility and reap the rewards of energy savings.
Most programmable thermostats have pre-programmed settings that can be set to sync with your life; you can program a wake up time, sleep time, leave time and return time and bingo, the unit will turn on and off and heat and cool accordingly. How nice would it be to have the heat or air conditioning turn on 30 minutes before you walk in the door each day?
I have a programmable smart thermostat and it tells me when to change my filter, I can change the color of the face screen, add photos to the screen and change the faceplate finish. It looks like a picture hanging in the hallway. It is simple, easy to use and I know I am saving $'s off my energy bill.
Remember to tune in to YCCA's Hammer Time twice each weekend Saturday and Sunday morning 7 a.m. on KQNA 1130 am/99.9 fm or the web kqna.com. Listen to Sandy and Mike talk about the construction industry and meet your local community partners. A wildly fun local show.