How To Maintain Heating and Air Conditioning Units

hvac contractorA good HVAC system is the key to maintaining a health environment in your home. Through the years many people ask about a technique to reduce their cost of energy and HVAC. They don’t want to sacrifice the comfort of their living environment, however they do want a-point-by-point plan to follow. The great thing that often happens may be that energy bills are diminished by quite a bit and the HVAC system efficiency is enhanced. This is a standard part of anyone specializing in energy and HVAC.

Optimization of The System

Step one to achieving system optimization is to reduce the load. This step normally consists of a well thought out plan itemizing required sets to take based on best return on your investment. Reducing the system load will allow it to operate properly. If a new system or systems are now being considered, it is going to be more economical to design for a load reduction versus the existing load. A few common load reduction strategies include:

1. Look at the building’s exterior and add additional insulation. Adding insulation in existing buildings is probably not achievable in some instances, so more deliberation should be aimed at the outside shell, especially doors and windows.

2. Putting in energy-efficient windows. This can be a very expensive for some properties that have single pane windows. The replacement of double pane glazed windows with a temperature break is a wonderful return on investment (roi). Make sure they’re ENERGY STAR qualified windows. Tinting or Low-E coatings may even be better.

3. Updating lighting systems. The average industrial building has a lighting density of 2-3 watts per square foot which maintains proper lighting levels. That is a significant part of an HVAC system load and almost any efforts to optimize this specific area will reduce the cooling requirement for the structure. Vanity lights (sometimes called architectural lighting) are not guaranteed to be power efficient and should not be looked at if you wish to reduce energy and HVAC costs. Energy-efficient lighting systems discharge less heat into air conditioned space than older incandescent technology. If you have a return air plenum instead of return air ductwork, consider light troffers in order that some heat from the illumination is returned to the HVAC system instead of bleeding into the occupied areas.

4. Choosing efficient equipment and electronic devices that have the power saver option will reduce the heat gain within the space. Items to think about include copiers, food processors, personal computers and refrigerators.

5. Control ventilation by having your outside air balanced. Many building owners have blueprints of the original HVAC system installation. Have those drawings reviewed by a mechanical engineer to verify your air flow rates conform to the latest code standards. If no blueprints are available, your contractor should still be capable of suggesting tips for enhancement.

Handling these things is your first step to decreasing energy and HVAC overhead.

HVAC Systems

The second step to achieve energy and HVAC system optimisation is knowing it. Your HVAC system is critical for a comfortable setting, it also represents a big component of your utility expenses. Even though it is beyond the scope of this article to debate every system, a few suggestions could be discussed. Every system component has increased in efficiency over the years. If your system is older than 13 years old, it is time to begin planning for upgrading. Properly serviced residential systems have a life span of around fifteen years or so, but appear to fail at the worse times. Have a plan in place for when your equipment does fail.

Commercial systems vary, but when your building is using specially designed systems, a similar lifetime can be expected. For industrial or large business systems, the HVAC system could also be more advanced and require an individual analysis using a contractor. As I stated earlier, These types of systems will vary and no one-size-fits-all analysis works best for a custom system. What all these systems have in common is they’re often driven by electrical energy. Electricity is expensive, so any improvement toward better performance is a bonus.

HVAC System Ideas:

Find a qualified HVAC contractor you trust. If you are a home owner or small commercial building owner, find a good HVAC company or technician to assess and work on the system. Assuming you are a large commercial building owner, locate a commercial HVAC contractor for normal upkeep and a trusted contractor for third party guidance. We do advise against using someone who works for the HVAC Company; find a 3rd party company for impartial information.

Validate your HVAC system load. Industrial buildings have more complex settings regarding code conformance, ventilation rates, etc and therefore are individual to every building.

Choose equipment rated for the load. DO NOT OVERSIZE! More-is-better does not apply for HVAC systems. It is going to cost more to buy the equipment as well as use it. Get the load and the equipment selection right the first time.

Purchase high efficiency or Energy Star equipment. Most of the newer systems come with variable speed units for fans and compressors. Through your years of ownership this is paid back repeatedly. If you compare standard efficiency equipment to high efficiency equipment in terms of the installation cost and running expenditure. Any good HVAC company or mechanical engineer will know this.

Consider some kind of power recapture for any air exhausted from the place and use it to condition the inbound air. That is the air you have paid for, so using a little of the energy before blowing it out it should be key.

For larger buildings, think about conditioning the outside air with a specialized exterior air unit. This will eliminate any problems with humidity control in many conditions. It will also increase comfort levels and allow for further equipment optimization.

Commercial complexes might want to consider equipment economizers. Most current city codes call for economizers on equipment larger than 15 tons in size. Often offered at a low initial cost during set-up, these units use fresh air from outside when the temperatures (or moisture) outside is less than the inside temperature.

Both home owners and small business owners should think about installing programmable thermostats. Commercial buildings should install a custom digital control system. This type of investment will more than pay back the price in a short time.

Different Types o Control Systems

The third step to achieve system optimization is to control your system.

Programmable Thermostats: One of the best investments for the homeowner is a programmable thermostat. These are simple to use and incorporate strategies based on a schedule. Most manufacturers provide seven day programs which can control the HVAC system timing and or climate settings. This is the best way to ensure the system is on only when necessary.

DDC Systems: For a large building, I consider this as a must have system. Installation costs are lower now and performance reliability has steadily increased. They can be incorporated into any system and expanded as needed. Some of the more accepted features of these solutions are optimized start/stop, a variety of zone controls, temperature sensing unit and ventilation control. A key benefit of these solutions is their capability to be scaled up to the largest of commercial applications. This means you’ll be able to install a something simple at first then increase the controls later to include everything. The payback is quick and really worth the investment.

Coil Cleaning: This is always a big item neglected by residential and commercial building owners. Condenser coils collect dirt and debris on their surfaces because they’re outdoors. This makes the compressor work harder and results in a higher refrigerant temperature in your refrigeration system. Dirty evaporator and heat coils circulate the dust and fibers inside the building. Clean them at least once a year

Ongoing Operations and General Maintenance

The fourth and last step to realize energy and HVAC system optimization is consistent upkeep. The most efficient systems are always serviced. You can ensure reliability, efficiency and a long life for the HVAC system by using these guidelines.

Find a professional consultant you trust. Find the best company or technician to evaluate and maintain your system. If you are a large building owner, find a commercial|an industrial} HVAC company for regular maintenance. Ensure you keep track of servicing with when they vist and what they did each time.

Home owners should always get a seasonal tune up. The operation of your system will vary depending on the season.

Change your air filters regularly. Don’t use anything less than a MERV 5 filter to make sure dust and fibers are removed. Dirty filters negate your savings and allow dust to pass through.

Summing it up

Optimizing your HVAC system will help to lower energy costs. A little time getting to know your system and familiarizing yourself with money sving methods will save money and increase the life span of your system.

HVAC and Heat Pumps

What the Heck is HVAC? HVAC stands for heating, ventilating and air conditioning, and it’s all about the use of technology to provide a satisfactory indoor climate. This includes a comfortable air temperature along with healthy air quality.

HVAC and You

The ‘heating’ part we all understand as most of us – at least up here in Canada – need some kind of heater to keep us warm. Most often that is a forced-air furnace, typically one that burns natural gas or oil, although more and more electrically-fired furnaces are popping up. There are even wood-burning furnaces, some of which include an electric heating element in case the wood supply doesn’t last.

Ventilation is very important, too, as it helps control the temperature in our homes and offices. But it is also critical in replenishing the oxygen we breathe, removing excess moisture and controlling odours and bacteria in that air.

Though you may laugh at the thought of air conditioning in Canada, each year more and more people want it in their homes. Of course, almost all of our business and commercial buildings have been air conditioned for decades now. And, with the increasing temperatures that climate change is bringing, air conditioning will be much more common in the very near future.

Things Just Get Better and Better

Technology is amazing and we all benefit from the vast improvements it has brought when it comes to HVAC. Today’s furnaces use far less fuel than before and they are more compact and quieter, too. Automated thermostats lower temperatures at night for us, warming our homes up in the morning before we get out of bed. And many new homes now have carbon monoxide detectors, a life-saving and inexpensive technology that just wasn’t available in the past.

One of the reasons for the increase in popularity of air conditioning is the heat pump. First popularized as an efficient way to control year-round comfort in American and Japanese homes in the 1950s, heat pumps have benefited greatly from new technology.

Why You Should Consider a Heat Pump

In the early days of the heat pump, they were large, expensive and typically used buried pipes to extract heat from the ground (in winter) or to transfer heat to the ground (in summer). 21st century heat pumps are smaller and cheaper than ever before and therefore are a real alternative to other heating systems. The big advantage is that they provide heat in winter and cool air (air conditioning) in summer. And many now accomplish both of those functions by exchanging thermal energy (heat) from the outside air, meaning no more expensive, buried pipes. And, yes…they work in winter! You can feel the difference between +5 degrees and -10 degrees, and that is because air at -5 degrees has more thermal energy in it. Modern heat pumps can actually extract that heat and use it to heat your home!

All the brand names of furnaces you have known for years now make heat pumps, including Trane, Lennox, Carrier, LG, Rheem and so on. For more information on how a heat pump can benefit your new home or fit in with upcoming renovations, contact a good HVAC contractor. One such business in the Vancouver area is Pioneer Plumbing & Heating.

HVAC Maintenance

Just as in days of old, furnaces and heat pumps need maintenance and – occasionally – repair. Avoiding high repair costs as well as inconvenience is the goal of scheduled maintenance and something you should talk about with a representative from Pioneer Plumbing & Heating.

In fact, when it comes to maintenance and repair of any kind of heating system, as well as sales, installations and advice, the friendly professionals at K.C.’s can help anyone in the Metro Vancouver area.

Pioneer Plumbing & Heating Inc
626 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC V5T 3K4
(604) 872-4946

Forced Air Furnace Facts

The forced air furnace is the most common appliance used to heat American homes. There are also oil and propane furnaces but gas is the most widely used. Furnaces work by burning fuel which is forced through a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is designed with curved metal tubing which radiates heat as hot gases pass around the heat exchanger. These toxic gases are vented outdoors and sealed to prevent accidental poisoning.

In a forced air furnace, warm air is circulated through vents in your home. As the air passes over the heat exchanger it warms up and circulates through the house. The heat exchanger is sealed to keep the warm air separate from the toxic gases which are a by product of combustion.

Furnace Efficiency

Efficiency is measured by the AFUE rating, or annual fuel efficiency rating. This is the percentage of energy returned to your home as warm air.

Standard Furnaces have an AFUE rating of 80-85% Your typical standard furnace has one heat exchanger. This average rating of means that 15% – 20% of your energy is lost.

High-Efficiency Furnaces use a secondary heat exchanger to extract even more heat and can have ratings as high as 96% AFUE, which means an energy loss of only 4%. High-efficiency furnaces are now the preferred choice for furnace replacement and new construction.

Furnace prices these days are higher than before, but the energy savings makes up for it if the unit is fitted properly to the home and usage.

Look at Your Own Furnace

Older School Furnaces do not have blower fans and have very low efficiencies, as little as 30%. If your home has one of these ancient relics you might want to think about upgrading. The savings will be well worth the investment.

How A Furnace Can Turn Deadly

In furnace related deaths it is usually due to a cracked heat exchanger. Cracks occur over time as the burners turn on and off to regulate heat. Expansion and contraction fatigues the metal and causes cracks. A cracked heat exchanger is a serious issue, because even a small crack can release carbon monoxide gas, which is a silent odorless killer. For all of us, home safety is a major concern and should be taken seriously.


If you don’t know how to maintain your own furnace or air conditioning unit hire a professional to inspect, lubricate parts, check for damage, and tune it up. Another important test is for carbon monoxide leaks and safety of operation. Furnace tune-ups usually cost $50-100, but they can reduce your heating costs and guard against exposure to carbon monoxide.

Furnace Filters

Change or clean your filters on a regular basis. A dirty filter slows airflow and reduces efficiency which can result in higher heating costs, and could even damage the motor.

There are three types of filters:

1. Fiberglass filters are the cheapest, but the least efficient. If you have allergies consider spending a little more money on your furnace filters. They only block the largest particles allowing pollen and other particles like mold to pass through.

2. Washable electrostatic filters attract dirt and other matter with an electric charge. They only filter out about 15% – 20% and can be a chore to clean.

3. The pleated filter design is the best with more surface area and denser material. They last three times longer than cheap furnace filters and trap much more air borne allergens and dust.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

A carbon monoxide alarm near your furnace can save your life. Two or more in your home is better, but make sure to have at least one installed in your home. Carbon monoxide gas is odorless and colorless, so the only way to avoid disaster is with an alarm. Replace existing alarms every five years.


A programmable thermostat will save money in the long run. Take a few minutes to set it up each season, so you can let it run. This will save energy by not heating your home when you’re at work for instance.


Check your heating vents for obstructions. With a clean vent system you will have better heat flow, which will save energy. If you have never done this you might consider bringing in a professional.

Make sure you hire a crew with proper equipment. It’s essential they use compressed forced air and industrial vacuums. Too many small operators scam home owners by pretending to clean your vents with a personal vacuum cleaner.

Outdoor Exhaust Vents

Every winter do an inspection of your intake and exhaust vents. If your vents become blocked, carbon monoxide can back up into the house, and the furnace could even shut down.

For a professional opinion on your heating system, call Efficient Furnace. They will address your concerns and let you know what’s needed for peak performance.

Forced Air Furnace Maintenance – Radiant Heat, and Boilers

When your furnace gives up and the house is cold, repairs can get quite expensive. Better to call a professional before that happens