Monster Mechanical is the leading heating, and air conditioning company in Morris, Passaic and surrounding counties in New Jersey.
Get answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding home air conditioning systems below.
What does HVAC stand for?
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.
How do I know whether my heating and cooling equipment needs replacement or just repair?
Not an easy question to answer, but here are some factors to consider:
- The age of the current system. Today, any system that is more than ten years old is probably behind the times in terms of efficiency.
- Does the current system provide the level of comfort that you want? There is a growing difference between “builder grade” and consumer choice in what a system can offer in terms of comfort and convenience.
- How much will the repairs cost…and how many more repairs will you need in the future? Is keeping an older system operational worth the time, the money and the inconvenience? Sometimes you need to know when to cut bait and say goodbye to your old heater or air conditioner.
At Monster Mechanical, we can work with you to prepare a side-by-side cost-benefit analysis so that you can compare whether it is more advantageous for you to keep your current system or replace with a newer one.
I want to use my AC less. How do I keep it off longer during the day?
To make sure your air conditioner comes on less often, set the thermostat to a higher temperature. For every degree you raise your thermostat above 72 degrees (up to 78), you will save 8% of your energy costs. Additionally, block direct sunlight from the east and west with awnings, keep the doors and windows sealed while the air conditioner is operational and do not use heat producing appliances during the day when ventilation is less available. By trapping the cool air and ensuring it remains in your home for longer, your machine won’t need to work nearly as hard.
What is required with a new system installation?
When air conditioning technicians prepare to install a new air conditioner, the total work will depend on the type of system decided upon as well as the available components. Homes without installed ductwork will need new ductwork installed, which is often made with metal or fiberglass. During the estimate period, trained technicians will determine the size and scope of ductwork required and what, if any, additional work will be required. After installation of your ductwork, the air conditioning unit can be installed and calibrated. Regular maintenance should also be scheduled at this time to keep your cooling unit in working order and your ducts clean.
What regular maintenance do heating and air conditioning systems need?
The most important part of HVAC maintenance aspect is maintaining unrestricted air flows. Dust, dirt, and debris are an HVAC system’s worst enemies. Whether it’s an indoor or outdoor unit, you must keep all filters clean and heat exchangers and coils free of restrictions.
We recommend that your heating and cooling system be checked and serviced twice a year; ideally a spring and autumn tune-up. Also we recommend that you change your filter regularly, depending on the type of filter you have. This alone can eliminate many of the most common problems that need fixing and can significantly reduce the likelihood of a serious breakdown. A Monster Mechanical Maintenance Agreement is your assurance that these maintenance needs are met regularly and that any potential problems are promptly identified.
Why do I need to change my filter regularly?
Regular filter replacement helps your heating and cooling system operate at peak levels and improves indoor air quality. It is important to change filters regularly to ensure proper air flow and to keep your home free from dust, allergens and germs. Depending on the type of filter you have, you may require weekly or monthly filter replacements. At Monster Mechanical, our highly trained professionals will recommend the ideal filters for your system, and replacement schedules for your home.
How often should I replace my filters?
In general, Monster Mechanical recommends that you replace your disposable filters at least once a month. If you have washable filters, they should be cleaned once a month. Monster Mechanical will recommend a replacement schedule that delivers the optimum efficiency and filtration for your specific system. With a Monster Mechanical Maintenance Agreement, we clean and inspect your HVAC system twice each year. Part of the service includes changing the filters or servicing your filtering system. Unless you have special circumstances, our service should be adequate. We recommend that you visually check filters and filtering equipment monthly. If filters look dirty, they need to be cleaned or replaced.
In addition to changing my filters, what maintenance should I do on my heater and/or air conditioner?
Most maintenance should be performed only by a qualified service technician. But here are some things that you can do to assure optimal performance:
- Keep ground mounted outdoor units clear of debris, clutter and weeds; they can reduce the airflow to the unit.
- Use caution with weed trimmers around the unit to prevent damaging control wiring.
- Keep pets away from the unit; pet urine can cause expensive damage.
Is there anything I should check prior to calling for service?
Check to be sure that the air conditioner or furnace is turned on. Check that the breakers and the disconnects are turned on and be sure the thermostat is set correctly. Also make a note of any strange noises or smells.
How do I know if my system is working properly?
Is it making strange noises? Is it cooling or heating all areas of your home sufficiently? Has it been taking longer to cool down or heat up? Have your utility bills been rising for no apparent reason? Any of these are signs that you may have a problem that needs service. In most cases, the longer you delay, the worse any underlying problems will get. So be sure to contact Monster Mechanical to check out your system whenever you notice anything out of the ordinary.
How is the efficiency of heating and cooling equipment measured?
When purchasing a furnace, heat pump or air conditioner, ALWAYS ask about its Efficiency Ratings. They will tell you will tell you how efficiently the unit uses fuel (gas, oil or electricity). The most-frequently used efficiency ratings are:
- SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): This ratio tells you the amount of cooling your system will deliver per dollar spent on electricity The SEER rating of any unit can range anywhere from 13 to 25. The higher the SEER the more efficient the system will be and the less it will cost in the long run to own and operate.
- HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor): Similar to SEER, it is a measurement of efficiency of the heating portion of a heat pump. HSPF ratings range from 6.8 to 10; high-efficiency units have efficiencies of 7.5 HSPF or above.
- AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency ratio): A measurement of the percent of heat produced by a furnace for every dollar of fuel consumed. The higher the AFUE rating, the lower the fuel costs. All furnaces manufactured today must meet at least 78%. Older furnaces (10 – 15 years or older) may fall below this minimum. Furnaces with AFUE ratings from 78% to 80% are considered mid-efficiency; ones with AFUE ratings above 90% are considered high-efficiency.
- MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value): A filter rating system relating to the size of the holes in the filter that allow air to pass through. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the holes and the higher the efficiency in capturing contaminants. MERV rating range from a low of 1 to a high of 16.
- ENERGY STAR: An Environmental Protection Agency designation attached to HVAC products that meet or exceed guidelines for high-efficiency performance above the standard government minimums.
How can I increase the efficiency and life of my home’s heating and cooling systems?
A few quick tips:
- Clean and replace your filters frequently.
- Your system will heat and cool more evenly when the blower is in the “on” position. The blower provides constant air movement throughout the home, and allows for better filtration.
- Install shades, drapes, shutters, or screens on windows that are exposed to extreme sunlight to keep room temperatures at moderate levels.
How long should my air conditioning system run in a cycle?
There is no exact answer for how long your system should run during each cycle. The average air conditioner is sized to remove the heat from your home as fast as it comes in. Therefore, ideally, on a 100° day the system should be able to keep up with the incoming heat, but not gain on it and not be able to turn off. The cooler it is below 100°, the more the system will cycle on and off. So it depends on the environment of each individual home and the condition of the equipment.
Should I try to keep my air conditioning system from running too much?
Generally speaking, a unit that is either on or off is less expensive than one that keeps cycling on and off repeatedly. Every time your system starts up, it will use a lot of electricity and not produce much cooling. That’s why a smaller system is often more economical to operate: even though it runs nonstop and may deliver less comfort, it will usually consume less power than a larger system that cycles on and off.
What air temperature should my air conditioner produce?
The air temperature produced by your system depends on the temperature of the air going into it. Generally, the air produced should be 15°-20° below what enters the system. So if the entering return air is 80°, the exiting supply air should be about 60°-65°. However, that only works on a system that is operating properly and has been running at least 15 minutes on a warm, dry day with a home that is about 80° inside. On a milder day, with an indoor temperature 70, the air coming out should be 50-55.
At what temperature should I set my thermostat?
Temperature settings depend on the time of year and your personal preferences. In the summer, the average temperature setting is 72°-75°. In the winter 68°-72° is the norm. Remember, when leaving your house; try to avoid drastic temperature changes. Do not set your temperature back more than 3-4°; this will cause your unit to work harder to achieve the desired temperature setting.
What is I.A.Q.?
I.A.Q. stands for Indoor Air Quality. Today, various products are available as add-ons to your existing heating and cooling system to improve the quality and healthiness of the air inside your home. These items include
- Media-Type Air Filters: Filtering the air within your home will help eliminate smoke, pollen, odor, dust mites and allergens. This will allow you to breathe easier, sleep better and enjoy your home more.
- Whole-House Humidifiers: Whole-house humidifiers provide consistent humidity levels throughout the home, and some models even adjust the humidity level automatically. The average heated home has a humidity level of less than 20%. The recommended humidity level in the winter should be between 35% and 45%.
- Air-to-Air Heat-Recovery Ventilators: These ventilator systems remove stale air from inside the home, while bringing in fresh air from the outside that is warmed during the transfer process.
How important is air quality and what factors need to be considered?
An air quality system can greatly improve both your comfort and your health. The areas of air quality to consider are (1) purification, (2) filtration, (3) humidity control, and (4) ventilation. A wide number of air quality features come standard with many new heating and air conditioning systems; others can easily be added to existing systems. Contact Monster Mechanical to discuss your air quality options.
Do electronic air cleaners really work?
Electronic air cleaners can greatly improve home air quality and comfort levels. However, they produce ozone which can prove to be harmful to dogs, and other pets. If you suffer from allergies or have pets, a media type air cleaner, or air purification system may be a better fit for your home. Monster Mechanical offers a variety of different types of air filtration devices.
What is the primary function of a heat exchanger?
A heat exchanger is a piece of metal designed to separate the safe warm air that is circulated through your home from the poisonous carbon monoxide gas created during the combustion process when you operate your furnace.
What are possible causes of cracks in a heat exchanger?
The natural heating and cooling cycles of any heating system can lead to cracks in its heat exchanger. A furnace that is being overworked or stressed is more likely to have a premature breakdown and potential carbon monoxide leak. Dirty air filters, blocked vents, and burners that are not firing properly and disrupting the combustion process can all contribute to the detrimental stress that may lead to cracks in a heat exchanger. Monster Mechanical offers full pre-season tune-ups for your heating system that can detect early signs of a cracked heat exchanger, and possibly avoid an unsafe situation.
What are the potential dangers of operating your HVAC system with a cracked heat exchanger?
If a crack in the heat exchanger allows carbon monoxide to escape into your home you may experience dizziness, light-headedness, flu-like symptoms, or even death by asphyxiation. Carbon monoxide limits the body’s ability to take in oxygen. This is an extremely dangerous situation to have in the home, because the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning may be gradual and undetected.
Should I be concerned about carbon monoxide in my home?
Very concerned. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas produced during the combustion of fuels. It’s colorless, odorless, tasteless…and can be lethal. Even trace amounts can impair your brain function and impact your health. Cracks, leaks, obstructions and other malfunctions in your heating system can cause carbon monoxide to develop and accumulate.
Short-term exposure to carbon monoxide usually results in flu-like symptoms: nausea, headaches, dizziness, fatigue. Long-term exposure can eventually lead to unconsciousness or death.
Monster Mechanical recommends the following to minimize carbon monoxide risk:
- Perform annual pre-season tune-ups and inspection of all heating equipment.
- Keep furnaces, chimneys and vents free of obstruction. Watch out for birds, squirrels and other animals who sometimes build nests in these areas.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector, available at any home supply store.
- Periodically open windows in winter to let in fresh oxygen-rich air inside and let out any potential carbon monoxide.
- If you use an older gas stove or heater, look at the color of the pilot light. The flame should be at least 80 percent blue. If the flame is mostly yellow, it could be producing carbon monoxide, so have the unit checked by a professional immediately. Be sure to tune up your gas system at least once a year.
Today’s modern heating systems burn cleaner than older systems, minimizing or eliminating your risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Contact Monster Mechanical for more information.
What is the ideal indoor humidity level?
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommend a household humidity level between 30 and 60 percent.
Why are humidifiers used more in heating than cooling?
The average comfort range for relative humidity in a home is from 30 to 35%. When cool outdoor air enters your home, it tends to dry out as it warms up, which can cause static electricity build-up and sinus problems. A humidifier will add moisture back into the air and minimize these problems during the winter months. However the humidity level achieved in a home is effected by how tight a home is, how often the doors open and close size and style of humidifier.
When should I replace my existing heating and/or air conditioning unit system?
All systems and units are different. Here are some rough lifespan guidelines to help you decide whether fixing or replacing is the right decision:
- Average Lifetime of an Air Conditioner: 12-15 yrs.
- Average Lifetime of a Furnace: 15-20 yrs.
- Average Lifetime of a Boiler: 15-20 yrs.
Keep in mind that these are just guidelines. Some units last longer than that with regular maintenance and replacement of parts. But if a unit has been repaired repeatedly, or has been run excessively, it might make more sense to replace it even sooner. Paying for repairs to an old or inefficient system often simply prolongs the inevitable. An older system that breaks down once is likely to break down again…and again. That means more emergency service calls or, worse yet, the risk of damage to your home or to other components of your heating and cooling system.
There’s also an ongoing cost factor to consider. Restoring your old system will only bring it back to its current level of energy efficiency. After you’ve recovered from the repair bills and the frustration of system breakdowns, you still won’t save on your energy bills.
Some replacement systems can cost less than the cost of repeated repairs. And in many cases, installing a new heating and cooling system can actually pay for itself in energy savings within a relatively short time.
Also, when replacing a heater or air conditioner, it is usually best to replace both units at the same time. This way, you’ll save on installation costs and both units can be serviced on the same maintenance schedule and have the same approximate lifespan.
What should I look for when choosing a new heater, heat pump or air conditioning unit?
Here are some general rules of thumb when you are ready to replace your existing equipment:
- Choose a manufacturer that has a good reputation for quality and durability.
- Choose a model that with a high efficiency rating to bring you better comfort and lower your seasonal energy bill.
- Choose the correct equipment size and system for your home.
- Don’t just buy a unit just because it is on sale and seems like a great deal at the time; do some research on the product or ask the installation representative for more product information.
- Finally, choose a reliable company with excellent customer satisfaction and a track record of service after the sale. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Check out contractor ratings and reviews.
Why is it important to have a Maintenance Agreement with Monster Mechanical?
A Monster Mechanical Maintenance Agreement, is a great way of protecting you in the event of sudden breakdowns in equipment, and is your guarantee that you’ll receive regularly scheduled maintenance. You will receive priority service for all heating and air conditioning calls (routine or emergency) and discounts on all repair parts. Monster Mechanical will also make sure that regularly scheduled pre-season tune-ups and filter replacements are done on time to keep your system working at peak performance.
Why is it important to choose a reliable company?
Many companies in the HVAC industry don’t express the need to be there for their customers after installation or service of heating and cooling systems. But a solid, good reliable company, such as Monster Mechanical, will stand behind its work by offering planned service, or maintenance agreements which guarantee our workmanship, and provide you with priority service. We are always available to answer questions, make modifications, or help customers with other problems that may arise with their home. We encourage consumers to research a company’s background, ask a friend or neighbor, or see recent work that they have done.