I was fortunate enough to catch up with Arnie Scott, aka the Acman for some answers on heating and air. I asked him if he would answer some questions pertaining to heating and cooling and he agreed to do so. I first thought this would be easy but after sitting here looking at a blank screen trying to figure out what questions to ask, I finally came up with a few questions that hopefully aren’t too novice. At the same time I hope it is informative to homeowners.
1. What is the best thing a homeowner can do to add life to their ac/heating unit?….. The single most important thing a consumer can do to preserve their HVAC system is to keep a clean filter in it and change it monthly regardless of what the filter may imply.
It is also important that you do a visual inspection of your unit throughout the year, make sure leaves do not accumulate around it be sure to let the person in charge of keeping the yard mowed to mow so the discharge of the mower blows the grass away from the unit and try to mow around it while it is not running.
2. What kind of filter is best?….. Filters are my pet peeve, I recommend a pleated filter that you can purchase locally for around $3 and change it monthly. A lot of people tell me they change the filter when they pay their electric bill. I always write the date with my initials on it when I have to change one, you would be surprised how many times I come back a year later and the same filter I put in is still there even though they claim to change it. I don't recommend spending big bucks on one that claims to be good for three months, nor do I recommend you use the old style spun fiberglass ones that you can see through without any trouble. I also do not recommend the static ones that you clean out with water, two big problems with these is that they cause restriction on airflow in the beginning and only get worse as they fill with dirt, this causes any possible leak your return ducting may have to intensify causing your system to pull in un-filtered outside air. Another problem with these filters is that no matter how much you wash they, they will not come completely clean, I think it is best to use a decent disposable filter and at the end of the month throw it away and let all the allergens and mess go to the dump.
3. Should ice be forming on my unit?….. Frost forming on a heat pump in the winter is perfectly normal all heat pumps has a way to (defrost) itself. When solid ice forms through the coil the system should be looked at by a professional to make necessary repairs. Ice should never be on the connecting refrigerant tubing in the summer months.
4. Is there a recommended temperature setting?…. People ask me all the time as to where they should set the thermostat, I always tell them to set it where they are comfortable. No two houses are going to be the utmost comfort at one setting just like everyone has their own comfort level.
5. I have ceiling vents, is it ok if water drips out of them?….. Water leaking from a register could be caused be a couple factors, the duct penetrating the ceiling may not be properly insulated, the attic may not be properly insulated. There could also be an airflow problem (filter?). Also opening the exterior doors too much can cause this. Moisture is a big problem we have in this area and the responsibility to control it falls into the air conditioner. There is also problems with water comdensating on the cold floors joists of homes with crawl spaces. Be sure and have a vapor barrier under your floor and in some cases require to close off foundation vents and install a dehumidifier under your house. At my house I recently installed a heat pump water heater that doubles as a dehumidifier as well as heating my water at a fraction of the cost of an electric water heater.
6. My thermostat is old, should I replace it with a digital one?….. . All thermostats are going to digital, the benefit is that you get a digital reading that is much easier to read, but the main reason why is because it is illegal to use mercury in the way they used to. Does anyone remember playing with mercury you dentist may have given you?
And Arnie added number 7. Just what is a heat pump?…..
In order for me to explain what a heat pump is you should understand just what air conditioning is. Very simple it is a transfer of heat since there is no such thing as cold. In air conditioning you take heat from inside the house and move it to the outside through means of refrigeration, thus why the outdoor part blows hot air in the summer. Well in heat mode it does right backwards, by taking heat from the outside and bringing it inside where you want it. With this known the amount of heat you can get is relevant to the outside temperature, for this reason we have to supplement the heat pump when it gets to a certain temperature outside. Usually somewhere between 40 and 30 degrees outside you reach (what we call the balance point) where there is less heat for the unit to absorb as well as your house is losing heat faster. This is where proper insulation as well as good windows and doors come to play.
Arnie has been doing this for nearly 30 years with 9 years experience with the oldest heating and air company in the Shoals and 20 years owning his own business. He does new construction as well as replacements on older homes and new installs.
Service and repairs are included, gas piping and ducting also.
Thanks Arnie for taking the time to do this. And remember folks, winter is coming up. Does your heat work?