Get Your Heating & Cooling Questions Answered
An HVAC system is complex, so we’ve answered some of your most common questions to help you understand it better.
How long will my HVAC system last?
There is no way to predict the lifespan of an HVAC system. Its lifetime directly depends on how regularly you maintain the upkeep of your appliances. Preventative maintenance and service of your HVAC system, by a qualified contractor, is necessary and can prolong the lifetime of a system up to 15-20 years. Below are the average lifespans of specific HVAC systems:
- Heat Pumps: Average of 10-15 years
- Air Conditioning Units: Average of 15-20 years
- Furnaces: Average of 16-20 years
- Thermostats: Average of 10 years
At Air Planet, we’re proud to provide a 10 year warranty on all new installations.
How often should I service my HVAC system?
Increase the efficiency and lifetime of your HVAC system by having a qualified technician service it at least once a year. This will also catch early signs of potential defects for preventative maintenance. In some cases, when your system is subject to heavy use, it is recommended to have a professional inspect your HVAC system before each season.
How often should my air filters be cleaned or replaced?
Filters should be checked every 1-6 months depending on what kind of filter your HVAC system uses. There are disposable and reusable filters available. When needed, have the filter cleaned or replaced. Dirty or clogged air filters prevent healthy air flow, damage working components inside your AC, and decrease your system’s efficiency. You may need to increase filter maintenance, seasonally, if a system is heavily used.
Is bigger better when it comes to HVAC systems?
No. If you install an HVAC system that is too large, it will heat or cool your structure faster than an adequately sized system, however, it will operate in shorter cycles. This causes the system to start and stop more frequently, than it would with a proportionate HVAC system, resulting in a higher energy bill. Likewise, if a system is too small, it will continuously run trying to attain the desired temperature. This will also result in a higher energy bill. As a general rule, the correctly sized HVAC system is based on your structure’s square footage, where it can be heated and cooled without overworking your system.
A rule of thumb when sizing air conditioners is; 1 ton of refrigeration for each 350 to 600 square feet of floor area in the building. A ton of refrigeration is equivalent to 12,000 BTU per hour.
How can I tell the age of my HVAC system?
You may find the date of manufacture on over 500 HVAC brands (and water heaters) at https://www.building-center.org/. Simply visit this website, click on ‘HVAC index’, and find the first letter of your HVAC brand name. There, you will find instructions on how to decode the listed serial number to reveal the manufacture month and year.
What is a BTU?
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. It is a unit of energy. A BTU output describes a furnace capacity. The appropriate BTU is determined by the heating requirements of the structure. One cubic foot of natural gas contains about 1000 BTU. For example; a gas furnace that fires at a rate of 100,000 BTU per hour will burn about 100 cubic feet of gas every hour.
What is an AFUE rating?
AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. It measures the energy efficiency of a natural gas furnace. The AFUE refers only to the unit’s fuel efficiency, not its electricity usage. Basically, the higher the AFUE rating, the more efficient the furnace. The DOE established a minimum AFUE rating of 78%, for all furnaces sold in the US. Furnace efficiency ratings are as follows:
- Gravity warm-air furnace – AFUE rating below 60% (very low efficiency).
- Standing-pilot gas furnace – AFUE rating between 60% – 65%.
- Mid-efficiency furnace – AFUE ratings between 78% – 82%.
- High-efficiency furnace – AFUE ratings between 88% – 97%.
What is a SEER Rating?
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It rates the efficiency of a cooling system. All air conditioners manufactured today (since 2008) must have a SEER rating of 13 or higher.