Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about general air conditioning, heating, or company policy here!
As you can imagine, we have heard and answered a lot of questions over the past 35 years. For you convenience, we provide some of questions and answers below:
- Q: How much does an air conditioning system cost?
- Q: Can I get a quote over the phone?
- Q: What does SEER stand for?
- Q: Is it OK to “mix and match” air conditioning components of different efficiencies?
- Q: My home has a furnace but no air conditioning. Can I add central air?
- Q: Do I really need a tune-up for my air conditioning system?
- Q: What is a heat pump?
- Q: How often should I change the air filter in my system?
- Q: Can I cover my outdoor heat pump?
- Q: What should I do if my heating system doesn’t work?
- Q: How does a furnace work?
- Q: How does a furnace differ from a boiler?
- Q: What is a cracked heat exchanger?
- Q: I hear a lot of talk about high-efficiency heating systems. How do you determine a heating system’s efficiency?
- Q: On mild winter days my furnace runs in short blasts and my home alternates from being too hot to being too cold. How can I fix this?
- Q: What can I do to maintain my water heater?
- Q: What is a tankless water heater? How much do they cost? Can I save money?
INDOOR AIR QUALITY (IAQ)
REPLACE OR REPAIR
Q: How much does an air conditioning system cost?
A: There are many factors that come into play when determining the cost of your central air conditioning system. When it comes to an air conditioning system, aside from choice of the unit, model and size, and important factor is to have it installed properly in order for it to work as it should. Contact us today and get a FREE estimate.
Q: Can I get a quote over the phone?
A: We can give you a ballpark estimate if we have enough information, but it’s hard to determine a good estimate without physically seeing your current equipment.
A: SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It is used to indicate the efficiency of air conditioning systems. The higher the SEER number, the more cooling you get per unit of energy. As of January 2006, only units with a SEER of 13 or higher can be sold in the United States. Today’s cooling units are up to 40% more efficient than those made as recently as 10 years ago.
Q: Is it OK to “mix and match” air conditioning components of different efficiencies?
A: It’s never a good idea to mix and match air conditioning components of different SEERs. You might save money initially by replacing your outdoor unit with a unit that has SEER of 13 (now required) or higher, and hooking it up to your 10-or-12 SEER indoor unit. However, it just doesn’t make sense in the long run. You’re just not going to get your money’s worth in terms of comfort and efficiency. You’re better off paying a little extra up front and save a lot more over time. At Broward, we have the expertise to help you choose the right efficiency system for your home. For a no-obligation evaluation and FREE estimate, contact us today.
Q: My home has a furnace but no air conditioning. Can I add central air?
A: Yes, we can mount a cooling coil on top of the furnace and install a condensing unit outside. For a no-obligation evaluation and FREE estimate, contact us today.
Q: Do I really need a tune-up for my air conditioning system?
A: An air conditioning tune-up and inspection will help catch service problems before they get you hot under the collar. Many breakdowns occur on the hottest day of the year — because that’s when your air conditioning system is under the most stress. And because a tune-up ensures that your system will run at peak efficiency, it will lower your electric bills. A system that’s running efficiently can save you as much as 10% on your cooling costs.
A: A heat pump is essentially an air conditioner that can also run in reverse. Both rely on the fact that a liquid absorbs heat as it is vaporized into a gas and that a gas releases heat as it condenses into a liquid. When in heating mode, a substance called a refrigerant will be compressed by the main component in a heat pump, the compressor. As it is compressed, it will release heat as it is condensed from a gas to a liquid.The heated liquid will then be sent through a coil inside your home, where it will gradually cool down as it releases its heat into the ductwork or hot water pipes of your home’s heating system. The liquid will then be sent through an expansion valve, where is will be reduced in pressure as it enters a wider pipe. The liquid will then enter the outdoor coil, where it will absorb heat as it boils into a gas.
When in cooling mode in the summer, the cycle is reversed so that heat is transferred from the indoors to the outdoors.
Q: How often should I change the air filter in my system?
A: Check it at least every month during peak use, and replace it when it looks dirty enough to impair the air flow through it. Some filters, such as media filters, are washable; others are disposable and must be replaced.
Q: Can I cover my outdoor heat pump?
A: If the cover was far enough above the top of the unit as to not impede the air flow discharging discharging from the unit. And if it doesn't interfere with servicing of the unit, then it could help protect the unit from the elements like snow, ice, falling branches and leaves. But it really isn't needed. heat pumps are designed for outdoor use.
Q: What should I do if my heating system doesn’t work?
A: Before you contact us, go through the troubleshooting steps below to make sure a service call is really needed:
- Make sure the thermostat is set above room temperature or in the “heat” position. If it’s a digital thermostat and the display screen is blank, you either need new batteries or the power supply has been interrupted.
- Check for a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse.
- Look to see if the power switch for your heating system is turned on. Sometimes, these get turned off accidentally.
- If you have an oil heating system, press the reset button on the burner relay—ONLY ONCE. If your system doesn’t start after you push the reset button the first time, do not push it again. Pushing this button more than once can cause your heating system to “flood.” Too much oil will get pumped into the combustion chamber, resulting in a lengthy and costly repair.
If at this point you still don’t get heat, call us immediately.
When a service technician arrives, let him know everything you did to the system before he begins working on it. You should also let him know if anything out of the ordinary happened, like an unusual noise, a strange smell or smoke.In many cases, this will help the technician find the problem—and get your heat back on again—faster.
A: Heat is generated by burning oil or propane inside the furnace. This happens in the combustion chamber, which gets very hot. Air absorbs this heat in the furnace’s heat exchanger. Next, the blower sends the heated air through a system of ducts, and warm air circulates through the home.
Q: How does a furnace differ from a boiler?
A: The basic heating principle is the same. The difference is that a boiler heats water instead of air. A circulator pumps the hot water through a system of pipes, distributing the water to radiators, baseboards or air handlers throughout the home. Some boilers are designed to create steam, which circulates by means of a system of pipes. The pipes are connected to steam radiators throughout the home.
Q: What is a cracked heat exchanger?
A: The heat exchanger is the main component of your furnace. If the heat exchanger has a crack or a rust hole, combustion fumes (including carbon monoxide) can contaminate the air in your home. This is a potentially deadly situation and should be addressed IMMEDIATELY. A cracked heat exchanger usually requires replacing the entire furnace. If you suspect that you might have a cracked heat exchanger, or a carbon monoxide problem caused by your furnace, turn the system off immediately. Then contact us right away for service.
Q: I hear a lot of talk about high-efficiency heating systems. How do you determine a heating system’s efficiency?
A: There are two indicators of efficiency:
- Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE): All heating equipment manufactured after 1980 is required to have a label indicating its AFUE. The AFUE ratio is a measurement of a heating system’s seasonal efficiency, taking into account how well the system performs over an entire season of starts and stops. Modern heating systems can range in efficiency from 81% to 95%. If your system’s AFUE is lower than this range, talk to us about your replacement options.
- Combustion efficiency: When we tune up your heating system, we do a combustion efficiency test that tells us how well your burner is converting oil into heat. If your combustion efficiency is below 78, you may want to evaluate your upgrade options, which could include an oil burner retrofit. A new burner will burn the fuel/air mixture in a cleaner, more controlled manner, resulting in lower heating costs and less air pollution coming out of your chimney.
Q: On mild winter days my furnace runs in short blasts and my home alternates from being too hot to being too cold. How can I fix this?
A: Installing a new furnace with a variable speed motor is a good solution. These “smart” motors automatically adjust the volume and speed of air based on your home’s temperature requirements.
There will be fewer on/off cycles, smaller temperature swings, consistent, even heat and lower fuel bills.
Q: What can I do to maintain my water heater?
A: You'll get longer life from your water heater and prevent breakdowns if you follow the following guideline: every three months, drain a gallon of water from the tank. Do it every month if you have hard water. This reduces the amount of sediment collecting in the bottom of the tank, which can make the burner or heating coils work harder.
Q: What is a tankless water heater? How much do they cost? Can I save money?
A: As its name implies, a tankless water heater doesn’t look like a traditional water heater because it doesn’t have a tank. That is because tankless water heaters supply hot water ‘on demand” -- when you need it--which means there’s no need to keep 40 or 50 gallons of water hot all of the time. this reduces energy costs vs. a gas-fueled heater, and eve more vs. an electric water heater.Other advantages f a tankless water heater includes fresher, cleaner hot water (no storage); longer water heater life; and space savings (a tankless water heater is much smaller and it hangs on a wall). But the benefit you’ll notice most is an unlimited supply of precisely heated water on demand.
Tankless water heater cost more initially, but because they outlive tank water heaters, and they require less fuel, the offer better long-term value than conventional water heaters. Contact us for more details.
INDOOR AIR QUALITY (IAQ)
Q: What types of pollutants are involved?
A: Air quality is affected by the presence of various types of contaminants in the air. Some are in the form of gases. These would be generally classified as toxic chemicals. The types of interest are combustion products (carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide), volatile organic compounds (formaldehyde, solvents, perfumes and fragrances, etc.), and semi-volatile organic compounds (pesticides). Other pollutants are in the form of particles. These include bioaerosols (mold spores, pollen, viruses, bacteria, insect parts, animal dander, etc.); soot; particles from buildings, furnishings and occupants such as fiberglass, gypsum powder, paper dust, lint from clothing, carpet fibers, etc.; dirt (sandy and earthy material), etc.
Q: What is meant by indoor air quality?
A: Indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the impact, good or bad, of the contents of the air inside a structure on its occupants. Good IAQ is the quality of air which has no unwanted gases or particles in it at concentrations which will adversely affect someone. Poor IAQ occurs when gases or particles are present at an excessive concentration so as to affect the satisfaction or health of occupants. It is important to note that the concentration of the contaminant or contaminants is crucial. Potentially infectious, toxic, allergenic or irritating substances are always present in the air. There is nearly always a threshold level below which no effect occurs.
REPLACE OR REPAIR
Q: How do I know if it is more cost-efficient to repair my old system or replace it?
A: The frustration of an equipment breakdown can make it tempting to solve the problem with a quick fix that doesn’t cost you a lot of money. That way you can get on with your busy life in relative comfort. But while a quick fix may be the least expensive solution in the short run, it may not give you the most value in the long run. It’s a fact of life: Older systems are more likely to break down. That means greater chance of emergency service calls and repairs—and paying for them.
There’s also an ongoing cost factor. Repairing an old system can restore it only to something less than its original level of efficiency. After you’ve recovered from the repair bill and the frustration of a system breakdown, you’ll still be battling high energy bills. What’s more, even a system that doesn’t break down loses efficiency as it ages. A 15-year-old system doesn’t operate anywhere near the efficiency it had when it was new!
Plus, when compared with modern, technologically advanced equipment, 15-year-old systems are considered inefficient by today’s standards. The average homeowner can save up to 40% on energy costs with new high-efficiency equipment.
Here are some rules of thumb to help you decide whether to replace or repair your system:
Replace your system if:
- it is more than 10 years old and only in average condition.
- it does not keep you as comfortable as you would like.
- it breaks down frequently.
- you will be living in your home for at least five more years.
Repair your system if:
- it is less than 10 years old and in good condition.
- your cooling costs have been acceptable.
- you’re pleased with your level of comfort.
- its performance is reliable.
- you will be moving within the next five years.
- it is still under warranty.
BFS provides heating, air conditioning, home warranty, and finance services to families in 18 locations across the southern United States.