Author Archives: Nicholas Rozier

My Outdoor Unit (Condenser) is Making A Weird Noise

Condenser beside house

The outdoor unit for your HVAC system is the condensing unit. To learn more about what the condenser does read our post here. For straight AC systems the condenser only runs in cooling mode. For heat pump systems the condenser runs in heat mode as well. 

The condenser is a fairly simple mechanical unit and only has a few components that can make noise. Depending on the type of noise we can then determine which component is failing or otherwise not operating as designed. 

Here are a few types of noises you may hear:

  1. Electrical buzzing
  2. Knocking or grinding 
  3. Mid to high pitch humming
  4. Loose rattling
  5. Overall rattle (like an off-balance dryer in your laundry room)

Electrical Buzzing

Inside the control panel of your condensing unit is the contactor. When the thermostat engages the condenser it does so by using low voltage to close the contactor. Once the contactor closes high voltage now passes through it to the other components inside the condenser. 

High voltage comes into the bottom of the contactor directly from the high voltage disconnect on your home. The contactor is basically a switch, like the light switch on your wall. When the contactor closes, or engages, the high voltage can now pass through it. 

When contactors begin to fail they rattle and buzz from the voltage passing through them. They can fail from corrosion and build up on the contacts, weathering, bugs getting in to them, or parts getting loose and failing. 

The way we fix this is to either clean the contactor of the debris causing the noise, or if it is corroded too badly or has parts failing we simply replace it. It is a quick fix and easy to resolve. 

Knocking or Grinding

Inside the center of the condensing unit is the compressor. It takes a low pressure refrigerant in gas form and compresses into a high pressure and high temperature gas that can then be condensed into a liquid. If you get low on refrigerant or the compressor begins to fail it gets loud and begins to knock or grind. 

Unfortunately, compressors are hermetically sealed components, which means we can’t open them up and repair them. If the compressor is failing it has to be replaced. When this situation comes up (which is rare) we usually recommend replacing the entire outdoor unit. The cost to replace a compressor is almost as much as replacing the entire condenser and a compressor only comes with a 1-year warranty from the manufacturer. A new condenser comes with a 10-year warranty. Because of these factors we recommend replacing the entire outdoor unit. 

Mid to High Pitch Humming

On the top of your condenser is the fan and motor. The fan pulls air through the condenser, over the coils, extracting heat from the refrigerant to condense the high pressure gas refrigerant into a liquid. If the fan motor begins to fail, or if the fan blade is damaged or off-balance in any way the fan will begin to hum. 

Condenser fan motor and fan blade

In this scenario we will inspect the fan blade for damage or balance issues and then run diagnostics on the fan motor. If we can reset the fan blade on the motor we may be able to fix the hum, otherwise we have to look at replacing the fan motor, the fan blade, or both. This usually takes an hour or so to complete but resolves the issue immediately. 

Loose Rattle

Many customers complain of a loose and annoying rattling sound coming from their outdoor unit. Typically this is just a loose screw that has given opportunity to one of the panels on the condenser to vibrate and rattle. There usually isn’t a bigger, underlying issue involved with this type of noise. 

When this happens we inspect the condenser and find the missing screw or the loose panel and either add a new screw or simply tighten the existing ones. In more extreme cases we add a bit of rubber backing under the noisy panel and then tighten the screw. This usually resolves the issue. 

Overall Rattle

Occasionally we get customers complaining of a much louder, harder rattle from their condenser. This one is closer to the sound of an off-balance washing machine or dryer walking around in your laundry room, and is due to the same cause, the condenser is off-balance. 

This can be caused by a number of different issues. If the condenser fan motor is coming loose from the shroud, or if the fan blades are off-balance, or if the condenser pad is no longer level, etc. 

In cases like this we need to find the cause of the imbalance and try to resolve the issue by re-securing the fan motor to the shroud, re-leveling the condenser pad, etc. Sometimes it will be a bad component causing the imbalance and sometimes it’s just time and outdoor weather conditions that cause the issue. 

Wrapping Up

In summary, noisy condensers are annoying, no doubt, but they provide a warning to you as the homeowner that something is going wrong, and necessary clues to us as to what needs to be repaired. 

If you experience problems with your condenser call Prestige Air. Our expert service professionals have the training and experience to keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape all year long. Call (817) 200-7215 to make sure your heating and cooling are ready for the season!

Prestige Air proudly serves Northeast Tarrant County and the Fort Worth, Texas area including Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Colleyville, Grapevine, Southlake, Keller, Watauga, Haltom City, and North Richland Hills.

We look forward to serving you and your household!

Now Offering Indoor Air Quality Assessments with the Air Advice Monitor

Prestige Air is proud to now offer full indoor air quality assessments with the Air Advice indoor air quality monitor. 

In this post I want to take a moment to explain how the assessment works and Aldo go over how to read the Air Advice report. 

First, How the Assessment Works

  1. We show up at your home and set the device in a centrally located area.
  2. Then we turn on your HVAC system fan to circulate air in the home
  3. We plug in and turn on the monitor
  4. We wait for the assessment to complete. This is a 30 minute process
  5. We review the report with you and discuss any concerns

As you can see the process is quite simple. But in the ease and simplicity comes a ton of valuable information. This monitor evaluates multiple types of pollutants to the air in your home. It measures particles, chemicals and other volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, relative humidity, and temperature.

How to Read the Report

Below are the categories and the explanation that comes on each report.

Particles

Health Concerns Particles are generally a cause for concern w hen daily average levels are above 10 μg/m3. Particles are know n to trigger asthma and allergy symptoms. At levels above 35 μg/m3, they can harm normally healthy adults by causing emphysema and diminished lung capacity. Children, the elderly, pregnant w omen and individuals with preexisting lung conditions are more susceptible. 

What We Found In Your Home Particle levels were above 35 μg/m3. 

Potential Causes Particles can build up to unhealthy levels due to three primary causes: Activities in the home. Presence of excessive particulate sources can cause Heating and cooling system issues.

Recommended Actions 

  • Replace filters or upgrade filtration system
  • Upgrade thermostat to operate HVAC system fan on a schedule to more completely filter airborne particles Inspect duct work; seal and clean as necessary
  • Install UV light in the A/C cooling coil to prevent biological growth
  • Use range exhaust fan when cooking 

Chemicals

Health Concerns Chemical pollutants are generally a cause for concern w hen average levels are above 500 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter of air). Chemical pollutants are know n to trigger asthma and allergy symptoms. At moderate levels, eyes and nasal passages can be irritated. Some people can experience nausea and headaches. At very high levels, they can even affect normally healthy adults by overworking the liver and kidneys. Children, the elderly, and pregnant women are more susceptible.


What We Found In Your Home Chemical pollutant levels were between 501-3000 μg/m3.  

Potential Causes Levels can build up in your home’s air due to usage of chemical products and heating/cooling system issues:
Sources: Off-gassing from building materials, carpeting, furniture and other synthetic materials, fuel fumes, scented products and air fresheners, personal care products, household products such as paint, glue, and plastics
Possible heating & cooling issues: Lack of fresh air introduced into home (either inadequate mechanical ventilation or none present), no chemical pollutant removal equipment 

Recommended Actions 

  • Install an energy efficient ventilation device, such as a heat or energy recovery ventilator (HRV or ERV)
  • Install a VOC reduction device such as a photocatalytic oxidizer (PCO)
  • Install carbon filtration to capture VOCs
  • Upgrade thermostat to operate HVAC system fan on a schedule 
  • Minimize use of VOC sources such as air fresheners, open cleaning fluids, or candles
  • Use range exhaust fan when cooking 

Carbon Dioxide

Health Concerns Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels above 750 ppm (parts per million) are a cause for concern. At higher levels, CO2 inside a home can contribute to w hat the EPA terms “sick building syndrome,” which leads to fatigue, headache, breathing difficulties, nausea, strained eyes and itchy skin. CO2 poisoning, however, is very rare. The U.S. EPA recommends a maximum concentration of CO2 of 1000 ppm (0.1%) for continuous exposure 

What We Found In Your Home Carbon dioxide levels were above 1000 ppm. 

Potential Causes Elevated carbon dioxide levels can occur in the homedue to source causes, home heating & cooling system issues, or both: 

Sources:

  • ‘Tight’ (well weatherized and energy-efficient) home construction without adequate ventilation, common human & household activity (breathing, and burning candles, gas, wood, or other combustion)
  • Possible heating & cooling issues: Lack of supplied fresh air (no ventilation), malfunctioning ventilation, ventilation shut off by occupant, HVAC equipment needs repair or service 

Recommended Actions 

  • Install an energy efficient ventilation device, such as a heat or energy recovery ventilator (HRV or ERV)
  • Use range exhaust fan w hen cooking 

Temperature

Comfort Concerns Comfortable temperatures fall within the range of 68 and 75 degrees F. In addition temperatures are most comfortable when steady, with fluctuations less than 1-1/2 degrees. Ideally, temperature should be constant between all areas of the home. People experience a chilling or ‘goose bump’ sensation w hen temperatures are uneven and when air blows quickly across the surface of the skin. 

Potential Causes Fluctuating and/or low and high temperatures can occur due to structural causes and/or home heating & cooling system issues: 

Structural causes: Poor insulation, inadequate weatherization (for example, poorly sealed window s and doors create drafts)

Possible heating and cooling issues: Thermostat poorly located (in an area w here air supply falsely influences readings), uneven heating or cooling from room to room due to imbalanced ductwork or inadequate or poorly sized equipment 

Recommended Actions 

  • Upgrade to programmable thermostat for improved accuracy and energy savings 

Relative Humidity

Comfort and Health According to the ALA the relative humidity should be near 50% w hen possible. When air is too dry, people typically feel colder, and respiratory passages can become irritated and prone to infection. Conversely, air that is too moist defeats perspiration, the body‘s natural cooling mechanism. High moisture also can lead to condensation within walls and on windows, which can cause mold. 

What We Found In Your Home The relative humidity levels  were outside the normal range. 

Potential Causes Fluctuating and/or low and high relative humidity can occur due to structural causes and/or home heating & cooling system issues: 

Structural causes: Standing w ater in basement or other areas, leaky pipes/faucets, inadequate ventilation in w inter (causes moisture build-up inside), and home is under “negative pressure” (pulls dry or moist air in from outside)

Possible heating & cooling system issues: no or inadequate humidification or ventilation, improperly sized cooling system (prevents dehumidification), HVAC equipment needs repair (condensate drain or coil malfunctioning) 

Recommended Actions 

  • Install a dehumidification system
  • Inspect ductwork; seal and clean as necessary
  • Install UV light or photocatalytic oxidizer (PCO) in the A/C cooling coil to prevent biological growth
  • Operate bathroom fans during and after bathing.
  • Install ASHRAE-compliant bathroom fan switch
  • Use range exhaust fan when cooking 

Carbon Monoxide 

Safety Concerns Carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in the blood, and is a cause for concern w hen average levels are 6 ppm or higher. When levels are above 25 ppm, immediate action should be taken. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas produced by combustion. When people are exposed to relatively low levels, it can cause headaches and nausea. At relatively high levels it can cause memory problems and untimely death.

What We Found In Your Home Carbon monoxide levels were below 6 ppm. 

Potential Causes Elevated carbon monoxide can occur due to source causes, home heating & cooling system issues, or both:

Sources: Fireplaces, cooking, combustion appliances (water heater, gas dryer, stove), vehicles running in attached garage

Possible heating & cooling system issues: Cracked heat exchanger on furnace, leaking chimney or vent, inadequate exhausting of a combustion appliance (water heater, gas dryer, stove) 

Recommended Actions 

  • Install or check CO alarm(s) per local code 

Wrapping Up…

You can see from the examples given above how invaluable this information can be as it pertains to the health of everyone living in your home. That is why we invested the money in a monitor of this caliber and are now doing FREE indoor air quality assessments.

If you or someone in your home experiences issues with allergies, asthma, itchy, watery eyes, or restless sleep call Prestige Air. Our expert service professionals have the training and experience to assess the quality of the air in your home. Check out our indoor air quality services online or call (817) 200-7215 to make sure the air you’re breathing is healthy and revitalizing!

Prestige Air proudly serves Northeast Tarrant County and the Fort Worth, Texas area including Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Colleyville, Grapevine, Southlake, Keller, Watauga, Haltom City, and North Richland Hills.

We look forward to serving you and your household!

Testing A Capacitor Under Load (VIDEO)

In this video I walk you through how we check capacitance on run capacitors at Prestige Air. 

Too many companies and techs will just turn their meter on to the uf (microfarads) reading and put their leads on the capacitor and accept the result. This is called bench testing, since it is a test you can do at a bench. It’s a way to test the capacitor when there is no power and no way to test it in the circuit. This is also the only time you should ever bench test a capacitor, when there is no way to test it in the circuit. 

One example of this is when the capacitor has failed completely and you cannot get the circuit to come on (since it requires a capacitor). In this instance you would bench test to confirm the failure of the component. 

In all other scenarios you need to do a run test. Why? Because that’s how it operates…while running. That’s the capacitance we need to confirm. No one cares about the capacitance when it’s off, only while it’s under load in the circuit.  

In order to do a run test we need two measurements: 

  1. The voltage from the start lead to the common lead on the capacitor
  2. Then the amperage on the start lead, all while the system is running. 

Then we pull out our phone and open the calculator and use this formula:

Amps x 2652 / volts = run capacitance

So if I have 1.1 amps on the start winding for my condenser fan motor, and I get 383 volts between start and run on the capacitor, the formula looks like this:

1.1 x 2652 / 383 = 7.61 uf. 

If this is 7.5uf capacitor then we are right where we need to be, but if it is supposed to be 10uf we are out of range for manufacturer specs. 

The only caution I would offer when doing a run test for capacitance is to remember that this is live and the wires are hot, usually to the tune of 370+ volts across the capacitor. 

At Prestige Air all of our techs do run tests, and we check this on every call. Every tune-up or repair get’s taken through a full system check which includes the run test on all capacitors. This way we can help find problems before they cause a breakdown on your system. 

If you experience problems with your heating and cooling call Prestige Air. Our expert service professionals have the training and experience to keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape all year long. Call (817) 200-7215 to make sure your heating and cooling are ready for the season!

Randy’s Indoor Air Quality Testimonial

In the video below you get to hear from Randy, a homeowner in Fort Worth, Texas, who was concerned about his indoor air quality. He has a large family, was concerned about allergies and asthma, and has read that the quality of the air in your home can be 2-5x more polluted than the air outside.

He gave us a call at Prestige Air and we came out and ran an indoor air quality assessment for him. Based on the findings he was not pleased and had us install a whole home air purifier into his HVAC system.

When we came back and ran the test again every one of his indoor air issues was resolved.

We also go over how we install the whole home air purifier, what the air quality assessment report looks like, and more.

For more info on indoor air quality check out this blog post.

Choose Prestige Air to Keep Your HVAC Running Optimally

If you experience problems with your heating and cooling call Prestige Air. Our expert service professionals have the training and experience to keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape all year long. Call (817) 200-7215 to make sure your heating and cooling are ready for the season!

How Does A Gas Furnace Work?

These days it’s starting to get pretty cold and more and more of us are turning on our heaters. Here in Texas you probably have one of three types of heaters, a gas furnace, electric heat, or a heat pump. 

In this post I’m going to review the sequence of operations for a gas-fired furnace, and the types of components you’ll find to make it operate correctly. 

When you set your thermostat to “heat” and the temp in your home gets below the temperature you have set for your heater the thermostat sends a call for heat to your furnace. This kicks off the sequence of operations to start up your furnace and make sure that it burns safely and heats your home. 

Step 1:

The first thing that happens when your system gets a call for heat is that the inducer motor turns on. This is a small motor that creates a draft inside the heat exchanger so that all the products of combustion (once the gas lights on fire and starts to burn) get evacuated to the outdoors. 

Step 2:

Connected to the inducer motor is the pressure switch. This switch proves to the furnace control board that the inducer motor is operating correctly and removing the products of combustion.

Step 3:

Once the pressure switch proves the draft to the control board then we move on to step three, the hot surface ignitor turns on. This is a metal rod that gets hot and glows red to ignite the gas once it turns on. The hot surface ignitor turns on and glows red for 5-15 seconds to make sure it’s good and hot. 

Step 4:

Once the ignitor is hot the control board then turns on the gas. This is done via the gas valve. The gas valve takes the incoming gas from your home supply and reduces the pressure a bit so it burns as designed. It also regulates if the gas flows to the burners or not. Once the gas valve gets the signal it opens and flows gas through the burners. Once the gas hits the hot surface ignitor it lights and begins to burn. 

The Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger is the device that holds the flames, gets hot, and that air blows across to heat up and then circulate through your home. The heat exchanger is essentially a collection of tubes. The fire burns into the tubes at one end, and at the other end the tubes connect to your furnace vent so the products of combustion exit the home. You don’t want these getting into your house. These tubes get hot from the fire burning inside them, then the blower pushes air across them which heats up the air before it circulates through your home.

Step 5:

Step 5 is the flame sensor. This sensor is another metal rod that sits right in the path of the flame and lets the control board know that a fire is burning. The purpose of the flame sensor is to tell the gas valve to turn off if no flame is detected. This way, if the ignitor is bad and the gas valve turns on but no flame lights, the furnace knows to turn off the gas rather than just keep it flowing. If the gas didn’t turn off you could have a really bad scenario with major life-safety implications. 

Step 6:

Once the flame sensor proves to the control board that a flame is present it starts a timer that counts down to turn on the blower motor and circulate air. Your furnace will wait until the heat exchanger gets hot before it turns on the blower, this is the purpose of the timer. This prevents the blower from circulating cold air through your home when the heater first comes on. By waiting, the heat exchanger gets hot, and when the blower motor comes on it circulates hot air from the start. 

Once the blower turns on your heater is operating as designed and will run until the temperature at your thermostat hits the set-point. But there are still two other safety’s in the furnace to protect you and your family in case of failure. 

Roll-out Sensor

The roll-out sensor sits inside the burner compartment and will shut off the furnace if the flames don’t stay directed into the heat exchanger channels. This can happen for a variety of reasons, like if your draft vent gets clogged and the products of combustion cannot exit the heat exchanger, or if the gas valve fails to regulate the pressure correctly, and on and on. The flame roll-out sensors shut down the gas valve so that the flames don’t lick out and start a fire in the furnace compartment. 

High-limit Switch

The high limit switch exists to shut down the gas valve if the temperature inside the heat exchanger gets too high. This can happen if step 6 fails, and the blower never turns on. Without air from the blower motor blowing across the heat exchanger it can overheat, melt, and start a fire. To prevent this the high-limit switch will shut the furnace off if the temperature gets too high. You can read more about high-limit switches here.

Diagnosing

This is a short summary of how your furnace works. 

When your furnace doesn’t operate correctly it could be any number of issues in the above sequence of operation. That’s why it is important to have your system cleaned and maintained twice a year, and if it does have an issue, to call a licensed professional to repair it. 

Choose Prestige Air to Keep Your HVAC Running Optimally

If you experience problems with your heating and cooling call Prestige Air. Our expert service professionals have the training and experience to keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape all year long. Call (817) 200-7215 to make sure your heating and cooling are ready for the season!

Prestige Air proudly serves Northeast Tarrant County and the Fort Worth, Texas area including Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Colleyville, Grapevine, Southlake, Keller, Watauga, Haltom City, and North Richland Hills.

We look forward to serving you and your household!

How Does It Work Hiring Prestige Air?

We just updated the homepage of our website as well as the “Contact” page on our site to help everyone better understand how it works if you need our help getting your heater or air conditioner repaired.

In this post I want to explain the process a bit further.

Step 1: Give Us A Call

First, you have to give us a call. We don not offer online booking as of now, and this is because we want the opportunity to chat with you about the issue you’re having so we know what to expect when we show up. So for the time being, the first step to Prestige Air is to pick up the phone and give us a call.

When you give us a call we will get you on the schedule at a time that is convenient for you. More often than not we are able to get you on the schedule the same day. We do our absolute best to make sure this can happen because we no how miserable it can be to go without heat or AC for even a single night.

The initial appointment costs $39. This is our service call fee that helps cover the time and fuel needed to come to your house and diagnose the issue. But, this fee is waived if you hire us to make the repairs. If you choose not to hire us after the diagnoses, no worries, you pay the $39 service call fee and we will be on our way.

Step 2: Diagnose

Once we arrive at your home we will take a look at your system and do what we can to diagnose whatever is going on. Once we figure out why your heater or air conditioner isn’t functioning as designed we will come speak with you and give you a quote for the repairs.

At Prestige Air we use flat-rate pricing so you know exactly what you’re expected to pay for the quoted repairs. This way there are no surprises when we finish and request payment.

One thing to keep in mind about HVAC repairs is that sometimes we diagnose an issue, make the repair, and find another issue downstream from the one we just repaired. This is because there are times we cannot test the full system because of what has failed and it is not until we get the repair complete that we can then continue to test the rest of the system. We do our best to let you know when we think this might be the case, but sometimes it isn’t possible.

Either way, our commitment to you is that you know what you’re paying for before you approve the repair to your heating and cooling system.

Step 3: Repair

After you have approved the work we then move on to actually making the repair.

We made the decision to invest the money and purchase, and keep in stock, the most common parts that fail. This means we can usually make the repairs to your system on the same visit so that you have a working heater or air conditioner before we leave your home.

Sometimes the part that has failed is uncommon or proprietary to the manufacturer of that equipment. In that case we will have to go get the part, but can usually do this the same day, or within one business day. It is rare that we need to order a part that will take several days to arrive.

Step 4: Warranty

Finally, once the repairs are complete we get your signature that the work is done, and then we collect payment. Every repair, with few exceptions, comes with a minimum 1-year warranty on parts or labor. I wrote about the importance of warranties in a blog post here.

It is very important to us that you have peace-of-mind that your heating and cooling system will operate consistently if you hire us to make your repairs. So if anything goes wrong with the work we did we will come back and make it right.

We want to remove as much of your risk as possible when you hire us. In our mind it should be an easy and stress-free process to get your HVAC repaired.

*Warranty Exceptions

First, the condition of your system impacts our willingness to warranty the work. If your system is more than 10 years old, in bad shape, visibly not maintained, etc. we may not offer a warranty. This is because as systems age, get dirty, and aren’t maintained the possibility increases that the condition of the system is the cause of the failure. For example, dirt, dust, and organic growth can cause electrical shorts that burn out motors, control boards, or other electrical components. We can replace the parts, get the system up and running, but if those other issues still exist they may cause the part we installed to fail once again, at no fault of our own.

Second, if the system is not set up as designed by the manufacturer we may opt out of offering you a warranty. What I mean by this is, if a tech from another company came out previously (whether it was last week, or 3 years ago), and made some change to the system in the course of his work, and it no longer conforms to the manufacturer’s design, like if an electrical component fails and rather than put the correct component in the system he wires the system differently and adds a completely different component so he doesn’t have to leave and get the correct part, we most likely will not warranty our repairs. At least not until the system is restored to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Another example of this type of issue is when AC technicians bypass safety switches because they can’t figure out why the safety keeps cutting the system off. Switches like high and low pressure sensors, high temperature cut-off switches, etc.

All of these substandard repairs not only put the system at risk for continued failure, they also put you, your family, and your home at risk for catastrophic failure.

Rest assured, if we find these conditions we will let you know, but as I said, until this is resolved we will not warranty our work. The potential that this previous substandard work can cause our repairs to fail is too high and we are not willing to take on that risk.

You should also know, these examples are very rare, but I wanted to be up-front about how our warranty works. Our goal is that you feel comfortable hiring us and knowing that you will get top quality repairs and that if anything goes wrong we will stand behind our work.

As Simple As 1+1

Hiring Prestige Air should be incredibly simple, as simple as 1+1. Your system fails + you call Prestige Air, then everything goes back to normal so you can live your life in comfort.

  • You speak with a real person to schedule your call
  • We can usually come out the same day
  • You know the cost of the repair before you approve it
  • We can usually make the repair on the same visit
  • You get a minimum 1-year warranty on the parts and labor

That’s about as simple as it can get.

Choose Prestige Air to Keep Your HVAC Running Optimally

If you experience problems with your heating and cooling call Prestige Air. Our expert service professionals have the training and experience to keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape all year long. Call (817) 200-7215 to make sure your heating and cooling are ready for the season!

Does My Air Filter Improve My Indoor Air Quality?

Dirty heater and air conditioner air filter

The short answer is no, but let me explain. 

The air filter in your heater and air conditioner is one of the most vital components of the system. Dirty or missing filters are, without a doubt, the number one cause of heating and air conditioning breakdowns and failures. 

What is The Purpose of the Air Filter?

A very common misconception is that the your filter is intended to clean the air in your home. The truth is, the filter exists to protect the heater and air conditioner alone. As the air from your home is pulled in to your heater and air conditioner it is vital that dust, dirt, pet hair, etc. is contained before it enters the system. If this foreign debris gets into the heater or air conditioner it will clog the evaporator coil or get hung up on the heat exchanger. If this happens the airflow is restricted which causes a host of other problems, things like freezing coils, increased pressures, burned out compressors, increased furnace temperature, etc. All of which can be incredibly damaging to either the heater or the air conditioner. 

Does the Air Filter Clean the Air?

As I said a moment ago the filter pulls large contaminants from the air, things like dust, pollen, pet hair, dirt, etc. But this doesn’t mean your air is clean. The real dangers in the air you breathe are things like virus’, bacteria, mold spores, chemicals, and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). 

For example, most people don’t realize that the cushions in their couch are hydrocarbon based foam. They are essentially gasoline that has had a chemical added to it that made it turn to foam. Over time this foam begins to breakdown and off-gas, putting off hydrocarbon chemicals into the air in your home. This is an example of what needs to be removed. 

What Will Clean My Air?

Have you ever noticed how the air outside (unless you live in a dense, traffic-ridden city) is so much nicer than the air in your home? This is because nature has processes built into it to clean the air. The UV rays from the Sun kill germs, the wind blowing through fields of grass and through leaves (which filters it), the rain falling, etc. all clean the air. 

To clean the air in our homes we try to imitate nature. Proven indoor air quality devices us UV bulbs, ionization, and produce hydrogen peroxide or ozone to sanitize, clean, and purify the air we breathe. 

If your goal is to clean the air you breathe, and remove the toxins from your home, your heating and air conditioning filter won’t do the trick. You need a whole home indoor air quality (IAQ) device. We prefer the REME Halo. If you’d like more information on what type of IAQ device would meet your needs give us a call. We are experts with indoor air quality.

Check out our video on changing your air filter here.

Choose Prestige Air to Help Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

If you experience asthma or allergies while inside your home call Prestige Air. Our expert service professionals have the training and experience to assess your indoor air quality and resolve your concerns. Call (817) 200-7215 to improve the quality of the air in your home. 

If you’re concerned about having Prestige Air in your home with Covid-19 on the rise read about our company policies here.

3 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an HVAC Company

3 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an HVAC Company

You are well aware that there is no shortage of HVAC contractors in the marketplace. And when you have a large number of companies servicing heating and air conditioning you are bound to have a wide spectrum of quality in the mix. Some contractors may offer exceptional quality, while others are just looking to make a buck. With that in mind, I have compiled a list of the three of the more important questions to ask when hiring an HVAC contractor to help make sure you get the quality work you expect. 

Read below to learn about these questions and also a short explanation as to why they matter.

First, Is the Company Licensed and Insured for Heating and Air Conditioning Repair?

A lot of people overlook the need for a license in the trades. “My brother-in-law used to do HVAC, he can help me”, or “My neighbor says he did his own last year and he can help me out”, are phrases we here all the time. So why is a license important?

Licensing ensures that the contractor has met certain basic requirements to operate in your state. A license ensures that the contractor has a specific amount of experience, and has shown a thorough knowledge of local codes and requirements to make sure that they are knowledgeable in the work they do and that this work will be safe for you and your home. The license also requires that they have the necessary insurance to protect if things go wrong.

I was a firefighter for 10 years before I got into the trades, and what a lot of people do not know about local code requirements is that they stem from three major fires. The London fire, the Chicago fire, and the San Francisco fire, all started as a single small fire that then went on to destroy an entire city. Why? Because everyone built their homes and businesses as they saw fit, with no oversight as too what was safe or not. 

These catastrophes compelled governments to develop codes for how to build and repair homes and businesses, for the safety of everyone involved, and to date, we haven’t had anymore small fires destroy large cities. 

I’ll admit some code requirements are hard to understand and can be pretty weird and petty, but in general they exist to keep you, your home, your neighborhood, and your city safe. You need to make sure you hire a contractor who is licensed and has shown that he knows these codes and knows how to keep you safe with the work he performs. Next you should ask…

Do They Have Good References?

It’s very easy for someone to get business cards, build a website, and put a sign on a van to give the appearance of being professional. It’s much harder to do good, quality work that more than satisfies your customers and to build a good reputation in the process. An example of our efforts to do high quality work can be seen here.

The easiest way to separate the legitimately professional contractor from the phony is to ask for references. That said, some heating and air conditioning contractors don’t want tire-kickers bombarding their existing customers with questions, which is reasonable. So a second way you can check references is to read Google reviews. Google is very strict on their review policy and the contractor has no say over what gets written. The contractor can’t edit them, or remove them. So you can rest assured that you are getting an accurate picture if you read Google reviews. 

But don’t just read the good ones. Read the bad ones as well. When the contractor makes a mistake, which we all do, how did they handle it? How did they handle a dissatisfied customer? All of this is good information to have before you choose a contractor. And finally you should ask…

Do They Warranty Their Work?

To be very blunt, an HVAC contractor who does not warranty his work has no faith in his own ability (or his employees’) to repair your heating and cooling system. It really is that simple. A qualified and well-trained contractor knows how to repair your HVAC system and will offer a warranty to back it up. So before you hire an HVAC contractor ask about their warranty. But also be aware that some warranties have stipulations, things like regular maintenance, the age of the system, etc. These are all factors that have nothing to do with the contractor’s repair but can cause failure, so don’t let stipulations to the warranty turn you off automatically, listen to what they are, and then decide for yourself if you think it makes sense or not. 

In the end, if you ask these three questions, and do your homework in the process, you are much less likely to get scammed by an unsavory HVAC contractor and much more likely to get quality heating and air conditioning repairs. 

Choose Prestige Air to Keep Your HVAC Running Optimally

If you live in the greater Fort Worth, TX area, and experience problems with your heating and cooling call Prestige Air. Our expert service professionals have the training and experience to keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape all year long. Call (817) 200-7215 to make sure your heating and cooling are ready for the season!

If your interested in how the process works to hire Prestige Air, click here to learn more.

What Is A “Manual J” Calculation and Why Do I Need One?

What is an ACCA Manual J load calculation?

Manual J is the book created by the Air Conditioning Contractors Association that holds all the tables, charts, measurements, and definitions for determining the heat load in a living space. A Manual J calculation is simply running a heat load for your home. 

What Is A Heat Load?

A heat load is a measurement of how many BTU’s (British Thermal Units) of heat need to be added or removed from a structure to maintain a specific design condition. Put more simply, it is how much heating or cooling we need to provide your home to keep you comfortable. 

Different Variables We Must Consider

Every dwelling leaks air to some degree or another, which means that heat gets in during the warmer seasons and cold air gets in during the colder seasons. The question is, how much?

Things like the type of windows, how many panes of glass, what the frame is made of, how old they are, the type and size of doors, how much insulation, do you have a fireplace, etc. are all factors. 

According to Manual J a single fireplace leaks 20 cubic feet a minute of air into and out of the home. That’s 600 cubic feet of air an hour. This absolutely affects the ability of your heating and cooling system’s ability to keep you comfortable. 

When trying to determine the correct size of the system for your home we need to take all of this into account. 

We also have to account for anything that adds heat within the home as well, such as appliances. Do you have a large kitchen with a double oven that is used frequently? 6 burner stove top instead of 4? Do you have any terrarium with heat lamps for any pets? All of these add extra heat that needs to be factored in. 

Not to mention other factors like ceiling height, attic insulation, is your floor a cement slab on the ground or is it pier and beam that is raised off the ground?

All of these play into the final calculation to help us determine how much heating and cooling to add to your home.

Hasn’t This Already Been Done for My Home?

We get asked all the time why we need to do this again when the home already has an HVAC system installed and since the builder did this when they constructed the home. 

This is a great question. Many companies look at your existing system, find that it is a 4 ton, and just replace it with a 4 ton. We don’t.

The reason we run a heat load calculation every time we change out a system is because homes deteriorate and conditions change. You may have changed the windows, remodeled, changed the floor plan, etc. When we change out your system we warranty our work, which means we are warrantying your comfort. This means we do not want to assume the builder, or last HVAC company, or previous homeowner, did it correctly. We want to do it ourselves. This way we can have confidence that the correct system was installed and that you will always be comfortable. 

If you have any concerns about the proper sizing for your home’s heating and cooling system give us a call, 817-200-7215.

If you are wondering whether you should repair or replace your existing HVAC system check out our blog here to get some ideas about what questions you should ask.

Choose Prestige Air to Keep Your HVAC Running Optimally

If you experience problems with your heating and cooling call Prestige Air. Our expert service professionals have the training and experience to keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape all year long. Call (817) 200-7215 to make sure your heating and cooling are ready for the season!

The Importance of a Heater’s High Limit Switch

High Limit Switch Installed in a Furnace

How Your Heater Works

Every heater, whether it is a gas furnace or electric heater (that uses electrified heat strips) operates in a similar fashion: heat builds up in a box and the blower motor then blows air through the box to force the heat into the living space. 

If you have a gas furnace the heat is generated in the box by a gas fire that is burned inside a heat exchanger. If you have an electric heater then heat is generated in the box by heat strips that are energized with 220-240v of electricity (much like an electric stove top). 

The blower motor, which blows air from your home through this heated box, distributing the warmer air throughout your home, keeps the box from over-heating.

Purpose of the High Limit Switch

Can you imagine what would happen if the blower stopped moving air through your heater? The box where the heat is generated would just continue to get hotter and hotter, ultimately causing a catastrophic failure in your system, which oftentimes leads to a fire in your home. 

The circulation of air through your heater is what keeps the heat from building up to a dangerous level, so if this stops, the heat can easily become dangerous. 

This is where the “high limit switch” comes into play. This tiny little switch is the safety to keep your gas furnace or electric heater from damaging itself and your home. The high limit switch has a sensor that when the heat in the box gets too high (as would be the case if the blower failed), cuts power to the heating portion of the system.  

Cutaway of a High Limit Switch

Maintenance is Key

There are many different components needed to run your blower motor and circulate the air through your heater, components like control boards, fan relays, sequencers, and the like. If any one of these many components fails, your blower will stop working and stop circulating air through your heater. The high limit switch will then turn off the heating capability, protecting the system and your home. 

This is one of the many reasons to have your system maintained twice a year. Your system may run fine and you won’t know you have a faulty high limit switch until your blower fails and nothing exists to cut off the heating capability of your system, ending in catastrophic failure. 

Testing a high limit switch is an easy process for a trained technician, and one that goes a long way to preserving your system and your home. This very small component serves a very big purpose. 

If you have any questions about your HVAC system, want to have it serviced, or get it maintained, give us a call to set up an appointment. 

If you want to learn more about what you can do to maintain your HVAC system read our post here.

Choose Prestige Air to Keep Your HVAC Running Optimally. 

If you experience problems with your heating and cooling call Prestige Air. Our expert service professionals have the training and experience to keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape all year long. Call (817) 200-7215 to make sure your heating and cooling are ready for the season!

Should I Repair or Replace My Existing HVAC Unit?

Old furnace vs New furnace

Unfortunately, heating and air conditioning system breakdowns are a fact of life. It’s the second law of thermodynamics…that everything tends towards breaking down and disorder. 

This then inevitably brings up the question, should I pay to repair my heater or air conditioner, or should I just replace it?

There are a few factors required to answer this question. Things like the age of your system, your average annual repair costs for the system, etc. On one side, it’s just a simple math problem, one I will walk you through in a moment. On the other side it’s about your comfort and peace-of-mind, something that isn’t quite quantifiable. 

Doing the Math

There are three numbers we need to figure out to determine if you should repair or replace your system. 

  1. Energy costs
  2. Repair costs
  3. Replacement cost

Energy Bills

First, how much could you save on energy if you updated your system? We start with how much you spend on heating and cooling costs monthly. According to the national energy department Texan’s heating and cooling costs are about 65% of their energy bill (this varies based on whether you have a gas furnace, heat pump, or electric heater). So take your average monthly energy bill and multiply it by .65

For example, a $300/mo. energy bill would mean you spend $195/mo. for your heating and cooling. 

Next, we need to determine what you would save on your energy costs with a new system. You can find several calculators online that will let you know what your annual savings will be, but for the purposes of this post we will use the example of upgrading from a 10 SEER HVAC to a 14 SEER HVAC. The energy savings annually for this upgrade are 30% (of just your HVAC utility costs) 

That looks like this: $195 x .3 = $58.50

This means that upgrading your system to a newer 14 SEER HVAC system would save you $58.50/mo. on your energy bills. 

Repair Costs

Next, we need to figure out what you can expect to spend on repairs for your system over the next 5 years. To do this we ask you what you spent to repair it last year and the year prior. From there we project out the next five years with a 10% increase each year. We do this because as systems get older they require more frequent, and more costly, repairs. 

If your average annual repairs over the last 2-3 years were about $400 the numbers would look like this:

Annual Estimated Repairs: $400

Year 1 + 10%: $440
Year 2 + 10%: $484
Year 3 + 10%: $532.40
Year 4 + 10%: $585.64
Year 5 + 10%: $644.20

Total Repairs Over Next 5 Years: 2686.24

Then we divide by 60 to get your average monthly repair costs for the next 5 years. 

Divided by 60= (Monthly Repair Costs): $44.75

Adding It Up

Now we add your energy savings to your repairs costs and we can determine what you are paying every month to keep your existing heating and air conditioning system. 

Repairs + Utility Savings: $103.25

This means it is costing you $103.25/mo. to keep your existing system. 

What Would A New System Cost?

Next we determine the cost of a new system. For example, if you wanted to replace your existing HVAC system with a new 14 SEEr system and it costs $7,500. You finance it for 72 months (6 years) at 9.99%, then your monthly payment would be: $131.25

Compare this to the cost of keeping your existing system and we get this:

Cost to keep existing system: $103.25 (energy and repairs)

Cost to upgrade: $131.25 (monthly finance payment)

Monthly Net: -$28

In this example it would cost you an extra $28/mo. to replace your system. Sometimes, depending on energy costs and repair costs, you actually save money by upgrading, but in this example you don’t. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean you should just opt for the repairs though. Now we turn to the unquantifiable factors like comfort, and peace-of-mind.

Comfort

How is your existing system doing when it comes to keeping you comfortable? How well does it run? What are your existing heating and cooling needs? Do you have rooms that won’t heat or cool well? Are you concerned about indoor air quality? 

All of these questions, and more, can point us to issues that may be resolved with an upgrade. Upgrading your system provides an opportunity to resolve many issues that may have slowly crept in with your existing system, Issues you may think are well worth the extra $28/mo. to solve. 

Peace-Of-Mind

Does your system consistently breakdown in the peak of each season, when it’s hottest outside, or coldest outside? Have you come to expect these breakdowns? Are you constantly worried about the next breakdown? Do you have very young children, or elderly parents or grandparents living with you, who are adversely affected when your system breaks down?

Any new system we install comes with a 10-year manufacturers warranty on parts and a 1-year warranty on labor. A new system not only provides an opportunity to fix any issues to your comfort, but can also offer peace-of-mind, knowing that breakdowns are a thing of the past, and that warranties have you covered. 

Putting It All Together

After doing the math regarding your current heating and cooling system, and a potential upgrade, along with asking yourself the questions about comfort and peace-of-mind, you can then decide if it is worth it to upgrade, or just repair your existing HVAC unit. 

If you’d like help with this process, or just have more questions give us a call and we would be happy to serve. 

If you want to better understand your home’s HVAC split system you can watch this video.

If you want to learn what you as a homeowner can do to maintain your system check out our blog post here.

Prestige Air proudly serves Northeast Tarrant County and the Fort Worth, Texas area including Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Colleyville, Grapevine, Southlake, Keller, Watauga, Haltom City, and North Richland Hills.

We look forward to serving you and your household!

Prestige Air Coronavirus/Covid-19 Protocol

With the current surge in positive coronavirus cases we felt it necessary to provide an update on the steps we are taking at Prestige Air to keep our team members and customers safe.

Ultimately, we want you to know we are here for our team and customers, and thank you for choosing us as your home’s heating and cooling partner. We hope you and your family stay safe and healthy during these unprecedented circumstances.

Currently we are scheduling HVAC maintenance appointments and want you to know we are available for repairs, service, and installations for heating, and cooling in the Fort Worth area. Servicing your equipment now will help prevent any equipment failure issues that may occur during hot/cold weather conditions.

When we are in your home or business, we want to make sure our team members, and you as the customer, are as safe as possible and we are following these recommended safety practices…

When You Call to Schedule an Appointment With Prestige Air: 

  • We will ask our customers if everyone is healthy in the home or business.
  • Inform you of our safety protocols and ask if you have any special requests or concerns

Safety Protocol: Service Technicians in Your Home or Business Will Do the Following:

  • Wash hands before and after appointments
  • Wear protective masks
  • Wear shoe covers
  • Wear and change gloves
  • Socially distance – including no handshakes
  • Wipe down surfaces as needed
  • Also, extreme care is taken touching material or equipment such as filters, faucets, and ductwork. We bag any materials that needs to be discarded, such as a filters, as we are working.
  • If needed, we can also do a “no contact” diagnostic on your system. Just give us access to your heating and air conditioning unit and we can do our diagnostic and call you on the phone to discuss what we found.

Safety Protocol: Prestige Air Employees

  • We require that anyone who is not feeling well (or has a family member who lives with them not feeling well) does not come to work for 10-14 days unless they get permission from a medical professional to return to work.
  • Our office is closed to walk-in traffic.
  • We are providing contactless temperature checks to all employees as needed.

Indoor Air Quality 

Prestige Air is proud to offer our customers the REME Halo full spectrum Indoor Air Quality system, which has been shown through 3rd party independent studies to kill 99.9% of coronavirus in the air, the only device currently shown to do so at the time of this writing. These units are installed in the supply air plenum of your system to clean and disinfect all the air that travels through your ducts while sanitizing your ductwork as well. We also offer UV lights that can be installed inside your evaporator coil to kill more bacteria and virus’ as well. If you are interested in having the indoor air quality of your home evaluated please let us know. 

Reme Halo

It is our goal to serve you and your household while making sure that your household and our employees remain as safe as possible, and that you are comfortable with the efforts we have taken to do so.