Need your furnace or air conditioner replaced? We’re here to help!
Your furnace or air conditioner is a machine. A machine that delivers comfort. Most people only replace their machines one to three times in their lifetime. Homeowners never get experienced in what they should look for because of there are so few times that their equipment needs to be replaced. So, what should you look for when replacing? How do you get a machine that delivers both comfort and efficiency?
Let’s have a chat…
There are a couple paths we can take for your system replacement. The first, is the fast and free quote. Happy with the system you have now? Well, we can come over and whip up a quote to replace same with same. The problem with this path is that comfort may not improve and you might be stuck with a improperly sized system which negatively impacts comfort. How do you know if you can get a better sized and more comfortable system if you don’t test and measure?
The second path is having a paid initial consultation done. This entails sitting down with the homeowner(s), asking a ton of questions, doing a blower door test, block load calculation (also referred to as a Manual J), and doing some thermal imaging scans of problem rooms. Typical initial consultation takes roughly 2.5 to 3.5 hours. This lets us know more about you and your home. The more information we have, the better!
For example, Are you happy with your current system? Do you just want to replace it like for like? Is it noisy? Do your dollar bills go up in smoke every time you run your equipment? Are you uncomfortable? Rooms too hot or cold? Are you sweating profusely while trying to sleep in your upstairs bedroom at night? Taking the time to address these concerns at the time of your equipment replacement is crucial.
Having a blower door test done is one of the best metrics you can have done to see how energy efficient your home is. A blower door is a fan that depressurizes your home to see how leaky it is. Air infiltration can account up to one third of your home’s energy loss. Having a tight home makes it more controllable and comfortable.
When the initial consultation is done, We’ll have better data and information to give you so you can make a more informed decision about replacing your equipment.
In some rare cases we might need to take it a step further and develop a comprehensive planning process. This might include providing a more in depth scope of work, diagnostic testing, design work, and providing additional quality assurance as the project moves down the pipeline. More design work might include preforming a load calculation along with some testing and balancing…
A load calculation Manual J …. what now?!
A load calculation is where we measure your house to determine the proper size of equipment your home needs. We measure the square footage of your house, windows, doors, insulation, and more. Even the color of your roof and which way your home faces effects equipment sizing. The information is put into a computer program which then tells us what size equipment you need. This is the ONLY way to properly size equipment. A properly sized system will have a longer run time – and that provides more comfort and energy efficiency. It will start and stop less, putting less stress on the equipment. Think city VS highway miles. You also won’t be paying more to operate a bigger piece of equipment than your home needs. Imagine paying extra for something for the next 15 years and being uncomfortable. Yikes.
There are two kinds of load calculations we can do for your home. One is a block load calculation, which treats your home as one big room. It makes it simpler and faster for equipment sizing. The next is a room by room load calculation. In this load calculation every room gets measured individually. This lets us know the size of the equipment needed and how much airflow needs to go to each room. A room by room calculation would be used for air diagnostics, air balancing, or designing a duct work system.
This is a lot of information! My head is going to explode!! Is there anything else?
Yes! Duct work!!
At the very minimum you should have the static pressure of the system checked. This is the pressure resistance your fan motor works against while moving air throughout the duct work. With traditional fan motors, the more pressure resistance your fan sees, the more the overall volume of air goes down. And your efficiency goes down as well. Think of it like blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the less volume of blood your heart pumps. Now, with these new fangled ‘energy efficient’ ECM fan motors that are being installed, the motors sense the resistance they are working against. The motors ramp themselves up to overcome the resistance. This keeps the airflow up across the equipment which keeps the efficiency up. But put them on a restrictive system and they will ramp up too much, consume too much energy, and burn themselves out.
Most duct work systems need to be fixed. The typical duct system loses 20-40% efficiency due to improperly sized duct work and duct leakage. We also see a lot of improperly sized filters: filters that are too small for the system they are on and therefore create a lot of resistance to air flow. Your equipment is as only as efficient as the duct work system that it’s connected too. So that high efficiency equipment you’re about to install needs a high performing duct system. Think of putting a Corvette engine in a Pinto; you’ll never get the true performance out of it. And did you know that high efficiency furnaces require more air across them to keep their rated efficiency up? So if you don’t fix your duct system, your efficiency goes down the tubes. Hmmm….
The final piece of the puzzle!
Supply registers and return grilles!
To reach the upper echelon of comfort, we need to look your registers and grilles. Did you know that there is actually engineering data we use to properly size the registers and grilles? They must meet the airflow requirement without being restrictive, not be noisy, and must be designed to throw the air and spread it over a certain distance into the room to get the best air mixture. This gets you the best comfort. The registers and grilles sold at the big box stores do not have this data. The better manufacturers publish this data with the registers and grilles they sell.
We also see a lot of misapplied registers being installed. For example, registers that are located on the wall near the floor. Registers are selected that throw cool air horizontally into the room. That cool air is cold and dense and just puddles along the floor. The air never gets thrown up into the room for good air mixture and comfort. Proper selection is key to comfort.
You can see there is a lot to designing a system. And after the equipment is installed, it still needs to be properly commissioned to make sure it runs efficiently. Whether that is by following the manufacturer’s procedures or by providing specialized services like air balancing, we measure while pushing the air through the ductwork to where it needs to go.
We would love for you to take us along on your journey. We can help you get as far as you would like to go with your project. It takes planning, time, and a bunch of little steps to reach your destination. But in the end, you’ll be at your destination. And that destination is COMFORT.