Sunday, December 4, 2016

What Does "Ton" Mean for Air Conditioning?

You've called out an HVAC company for an AC or heating repair, but at some point realize that the best thing to do is buy new equipment. As you look at the different types of systems you can buy, you may come across 2-ton systems, 5-ton systems, and so forth. How do you know what is right for you?

Most homeowners are familiar with the phrase "ton" when it comes to AC's but don't know much about it and this causes some confusion when it comes to getting quotes on new systems etc. When dealing with residential HVAC (HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) systems, they come in sizes from 1-Ton to 5-Ton with the average being 3.5 tons.

So what is a ton? Does this mean the system weighs 3 tons? That would be 6,000 lbs. No, what Ton basically means is the cooling capacity of the system. Its equal to the amount of heat required to melt one ton of ice in a 24 hr period. So, a one-ton AC is rated at 12,000 BTU per hour. Still a bit confusing isn't it?

So lets do it this way, 1-ton can cool a house of about 600-900 sqft out here in Texas. A 2-ton can do 900-1200, a 3-ton can do 1500-1800, a 4-ton can do 2100-2400 and a 5-ton can do 2400-3000. What about the sizes in between you may ask? They would be 2.5 ton, 3.5 ton. There is no 4.5 ton however.

If your house has a current 3.5 ton system and you are changing your system, you most likely are not going to move up to a 4 and for sure aren't going down to a 3.

95% of homes that replace their systems just exchange it with the same size. Why? Because not much has really changed. Your insulation had certain R-factors back when it was built and all that. And so you might have more heat loss now but not really enough to justify going up to a 4. Also, the house had to be designed by engineers and they did a good job when they made your house and had to get it passed by the city inspector too. That's most cases.

In the case where you feel your system has never kept up, then you might go up a half ton, etc. But biggest is not better. You can't go from a 2-ton to a 5-ton thinking this is better. If you did, your system would run too short, humidity would be brutal in your house, and the system would have many many hard starts which would hurt it. 

So what should you do when you are buying and sizing for replacement? Rule of thumb? Just get the new system the same size or .5 ton bigger. Call your local HVAC company for quotes.

Nest Thermostats

Thinking about buying a Nest Thermostat? Good idea. Here is what to expect!

The best of the best, the Nest. It used to be that if you wanted a wifi thermostat there was Nest and then nothing. Though there really were other items on the market, they were clunky and didn't perform as well or as easy as the first generation Nest. Now that wifi thermostats have been out for awhile, there are many players.

I have used every single one, but still the Nest has remained on the top of the list. Why? It is super easy to use and super easy to install. There are "better" thermostats. By that I mean that there are thermostats that have really cool functions and real techie things and sub menus. This may appeal to a small percentage of people but not to the general populace.

The Nest can best be described as being the "iphone" of Thermostats. Its just very easy to use and set up and gives people what they want, a way to control a thermostat from their phone from anywhere in the world. It also looks cool, its like a snow globe mounted on the wall. It has no buttons, no levers, nothing. You push the glass for making selections and you turn the outer rim of the snow globe to select.

A lot of people know about Nest because it was really first to market with such a cool looking design. It is now in its 4th generation and has improved the font and features. Installing is very easy as well. Just turn off the Heater, disconnect your old thermostat and match the wires up. So if your old thermostat had the red wire on the R port then put it on the R port for the Nest. If though your old one had lets say a white wire on the G port you would not then put it on the W port on the Nest. It must go where it was regardless of color. This trips people up. Just match it like for like. Then turn the heater back on and the Nest will boot up. Follow the onscreen prompts. Couldn't be easier.

However, if you are looking for an air conditioning company to install it, because it is after all a very expensive piece of equipment, then call your local HVAC company for install. Also watch this video

Quick list of cool features:

*Can be turned on or off or up or down from anywhere you are at via a smart phone
*Has a learning function that learns your thermostat habits and after awhile will program itself
*Has an auto away feature that will default to an energy efficient setting if it doesnt see you in the room for awhile
*Large and easy to read display that glows blue for cooling and orange for heating. It even tells you the time it will take to reach the temp you are asking for.

*I want to make a quick statement about installation. Most people think that when they install a thermostat they need to turn off the breaker to the AC (air conditioning). This is false and will cause you to blow a fuse or transformer. Your thermostat does NOT get its power from the AC. It gets its power from the Heater (Furnace or Air Handler). The AC gets its commands from there as well. So simply turn off the breaker to the Heat, Furnace, Air Handler etc and then you can mess with the thermostat wires. They are low voltage anyway and are usually safe.

*Also people think that buying a thermostat will fix their HVAC problem they are experiencing. I can tell you this is rarely, rarely, rarely the case. Your thermostat is usually tied to 1% of your systems problems.

If you want to have your Nest Thermostat installed by a fully licensed and insured air conditioning company in Fort Worth and the surrounding areas, you can call Texas Discount Air for a great price on this service.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Air Conditioning & Heating Brands

There are many different AC & Heating brands in the United States. The one most people are familiar with is Trane. This isn't because Trane is such a great brand but because it is really the only brand that advertises to the general public using commercials and print Ads. Most manufactures just choose to advertise in HVAC contractor publications.

Since you can really only get equipment installed by an EPA licensed and certified company, most AC and Heater manufacturers only market to HVAC contractors. But Trane was smart in that it went straight to the homeowners and now homeowners will often ask an HVAC company if they sell Trane. Here is the brand rankings in their order. We tool into account cost, reliability, value, ease of repair, how long they last, etc. as well as what their car equivalent would be:

#1 Rheem- Rheem is just so faithful and reliable. This brand is arguably the best of all the brands. Even if you mistreat it and don't take good care of it it will still run faithfully. It would be equivalent to the best car Honda makes. Just reliable and long running

#2 Trane-Trane advertises heavy to the general public. It is a very good brand. It consistently performs well and lasts long. Their only problem is that they have made their units so that a large portion of their parts have to be replaced with Trane parts. This frustrates repair companies and costs them more and so they pass that cost to you. Trane would be a Toyota Camry.

#3 Lennox-This is a great Texas brand. It is very easy to repair and comes with a good standard warranty. Technicians also like working on this brand. Does not have the reputation of a Trane or Rheem but is still good. Lennox would be a Ford F-150

#4 Carrier- This company invented Air Conditioning. It has a great reputation and lasts long. They have 3 names associated with their brand, Bryant, Day & Night and Carrier. Carrier was recently in the news because President-elect Trump was able to get them to keep their manufacturing in the US instead of Mexico thus saving 1,000 American jobs. Good for Trump, good for Carrier, good for America. Carrier would be a Chevy Impala.

#5 Goodman, Amana, York- Not enough bad things can be said about these brands. They are not worth the metal they were made with. Most heating and air conditioning repair technicians will tell you that you want to stay away from these brands. The question naturally comes up "Why do I see these brands at so many new homes?" This is because they are so cheap. Builders of massive developments know this and so they purchase bulk amounts. All it has to do is last for about a year until the builder is off the hook and then it is not their problem. Do not buy these brands. Do yourself a huge favor and dont use a company that sells this brand. The car this would be is a Pinto or Daewoo.

#6 Off Brands-Any brands that are not listed above are not worth even ever being considered by the homeowner. Sometimes an HVAC contractor will try and sell this to a homeowner because he got a good deal. He will tell the homeowner that its a special brand or something. DO NOT ever go with these. They usually break within a year and are impossible to get parts for. How do you know which brands I am speaking of? If it isn't one of the ones above just don't buy it.

Heater Repair Companies in Fort Worth

Heater Repair companies in Fort Worth are various sizes and various reputations. When you want a great price and great service, Texas Discount Air based out of Fort Worth will provide both.

Texas Discount Air does heating repair, AC repair, and Heat Pump repair, plus all other HVAC repairs and installations. They are very reasonable price-wise. They are licensed and insured and give expert advice.

Their phone number is 682-214-HVAC(4822). They are a 24 hour service with $49 service calls that include the diagnosis fee. Sometimes they offer specials for heating repairs that include waiving the service fee if you go with the work.

If you want to find out if a company is licensed by the state to do HVAC work, you can research every company by going to You will see if a company has a legitimate license number issued by the state.

Why is an Air Conditioning License Necessary?

Why is an HVAC license necessary when repairing your Air Conditioning & Heating Equipment? Why does it matter if the company that I call is licensed?

While most people know that having a license matters, many people  just don't know what skilled trades require a license and which ones don't. In Texas, a license is required for air conditioning/HVAC work, plumbing, electrical, and more. All of these licenses are issued by the state licensing board. You can search any company's license status by going to This site easily lets you see what license the company holds.

If you have a company perform work at your house that is not licensed then you have no recourse when something goes wrong. You can tell the state but the state doesn't recognize that company and so there is very little recourse.

You will see many people in Craigslist and elsewhere that advertise and will stuff like "licensed & bonded/insured". Any company, whether licensed or not, can go out tomorrow and buy liability insurance. An insurance company would be more then happy to take their money. However, when a licensed company files with the State of Texas to operate it must show the state their proof of this liability insurance or the state will not issue a license number.

There are standards that have been made that each company has to abide by and be tested by. When somebody comes to your house and has not agreed to be held to these standards then you can rest assured they will not care what happens to your equipment or y our family. The risk is all on you.

An unlicensed company will often be cheaper because it can cut corners where a real company cannot. You might be able to tolerate this in a painter but you don't want that for your comfort systems like your heater and your AC.

And you especially want someone who is licensed and knows what they are doing when it comes to system that operates on gas, like a furnace. This is where the most severe damage can arise. To avoid any problems, I recommend you perform a quick check at the TDLR website to verify a license.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Easy diagnosis Part 2

3) If you determined that it blows air and have now went outside to the AC condenser then the first thing we want to do is to verify that you have given the command to the system to cool. Make sure you are telling the Thermostat AUTO-COOL-68 degrees. I say 68 just to be sure you set it low enough for the system to come on. Wait 5. Minutes after giving this command. Some thermostats have a built in anti short cycle that wont allow it to turn the outside on if it has tried in the last 5 minutes. This is so that you dont ruin the outside by starting and stopping quickly over and over again. Once the 5 minutes is over (and believe me you want to use a timer) if the unit does not turn on then check the AC breaker. Cycle this breaker and then set another 5 minutes. What happened? If you hear the compressor running and the fan spinning then go to #4. If you hear and see the fan running but dont hear the distinct sound of the compressor OR you hear the compressor but dont see the fan motor OR you hear the system try to come on every 30 seconds or so (usually what you hear is a brief hmmmmm  chhhkk) then you most likely have a bad Capacitor. You can turn the power off and open the compartment door and see what size you need. It will be written on the capacitor. It will say something like 60/5 or 45/7.5 or 30/10 or 55/7.5 etc. These numbers are important. They are the capacitor size. The biggest number is for the starting of the compressor and the lower number is for the fan motor. Search the internet about where to get one. I wrote an article about how much to pay for the most commonair conditioning and heating repairs and capacitor replacement is a common one.

4) So both the compressor and the fan motor are on. After running for 5 minutes put your hand on the fat copper line, it will usually be insulated. Just move the insulation and put your hand on it. It should feel like a cold beer. If it does not then the most likely problem is that you have low refridgerant. This is not something that you are allowed to repair by yourself. You need somebody licensed by the EPA to handle refridgerant.

5) On the off chance that putting a new capacitor in the unit does not start the fan motor but does start the compressor then you have a bad fan motor. The easiest way to determine this before even buying the capacitor is to feel the top of the motor. You can feel it just by touching the top of the cage that the motor is attached to. When the motor is bad it will be burning hot, like hot lava hot. You will feel the heat wafting off of the unit as you walk up to it. Replace this motor. Remember to get the right size, rpm, heat value, HP, voltage etc.

Easiest way of Diagnosing a broken Ac or Heater

There are several very easy ways to diagnose a broken AC or Heater. Before you do this, however, you need to make sure you know what you are looking at. You dont want to look up items related to motorcycles if you are looking at cars right? So lets go over the types of Residential HVAC systems you will see in Texas. Do not worry, there are very few.

1) The first system is called a 3 piece system. This has an outside AC condenser, an inside Evaporator Coil with attached Furnace. Its called a furnace because it uses gas and flames for heat.

2) The second system type is a two piece system called a Heat Pump system. These are sued where there is no gas available in the neighborhood or the builder simply didn't want to bring gas in. This consists of an outdoor AC condenser and an indoor Air Handler. Where does the heat come from? It comes from the AC condenser which actually has a reversing valve so that instead of cooling the house and heating the outside like it does in summer it is heating the inside and cooling the outside. (This is a very layman way of describing what a Heat Pump does. A Heat Pump is an engineering marvel so I dont mean to over simplify but this blog is for the average homeowner)

3) This third and last type is a two piece system and has an outside AC condenser and in indoor Air Handler. The heat comes from little toaster strips inside the Air Handler. They are called heating elements and they look just like what's in a toaster give or take (most are actual coils).

Now that you know the types here is how you see what you have. Very easy. Do you have gas at your house? For example do you have a gas stove and a gas water heater? If you answered yes than there is a 98% chance that you have a gas furnace and are System #1 that we spoke about. If you dont have gas then how will you know if you have #2 or #3 since they are so similar? Easy, just go outside to your AC condenser, the big AC equipment outside that you hear running all summer long. This is usually on the side of your house. Look down inside. If you see a whole bunch of parts (more than 2) then you have a Heat Pump. Heat Pumps have lots of parts whereas in a conventional AC condenser you will just see this big black thing called a compressor with a couple copper pipes hooked to it.

Now that you know your system here is how to easily diagnose. Ask yourself the following questions and read the answers.This is for diagnosing Air Conditioning. The next set will diagnose heating problems.

1) Is the system blowing air inside your house? I am not asking if its cold or hot air, I am just asking if it is blowing any air at all. IF you say "Yeah its blowing air, but its not cold" then that's okay we will get to that. When a system is blowing air that tells us that the indoor portion of the equipment is doing its job. It does not care if it is blowing over something hot or something cold, it just does what its told. When you tell the Thermostat to cool your house it sends a command to the unit in your attic or closet. That command simply says "blow air please". The system doesnt know its blowing cold or hot, it just spins a blower motor attached to a wheel and blows air. So if this is blowing air in the house then we know all of our issues are outside at the AC condenser. See #3. If not blowing air see #2
2) If the system is not blowing air then all of our issues are related to the inside equipment. First thing we have to do is make sure the system is getting power. Go check your breaker panel in the garage. You are looking for the breaker labeled 'furnace' or 'heat' or 'Air Handler'. You do not want the AC breaker, that is for outside and we are dealing with inside. Go ahead and cycle the breaker by turning it off all the way and then back to ON. Hopefully nothing tripped when you did. If the breaker immediately trips or was already tripped when you go there then call a service company. This is not something you will be fixing yourself because there is a major electrical short. But if they look fine and good then go to your thermostat and make sure the display is working. If not then check the batteries and try again. If the display works with new batteries then you probably fixed your problem. Please do not think that a thermostat solves everything. For some reason it is the first thing homeowners go to Home Depot and replace. usually when they do they wire it wrong and it did not fix the original problem so they put the old one back on wiring it wrong again. Once you verified that the thermostat is working then try different settings like FAN-ON. If it comes on when you tell it to but not when its in AUTO mode then there is most likely a limit Fault in the furnace. For Air Handlers this will be a bad fan relay board. Again, call a repair company

Ordering AC & Heating Parts

So lets say you feel very competent in your diagnosis of the problem with your Air Conditioning or Heating System. First let me say that I advise you not to do this. When it comes to Plumbing, there is stuff at Home Depot so you can do it yourself. When it comes to Electrical there is also stuff you can find there to do it yourself. The same goes for painting too. There are no such items for air conditioning and heating repair however. This is because most of the items to be repaired are too complicated to just be learned through a 5 minute instructional video. Also there is the issue of the EPA requiring a license to handle refridgerants, especially ones under extreme pressure. This is why I will always suggest that you call a licensed Air Conditioning & Heating Company . Some companies charge more then others so choose one that has a discounted service and a good reputation.

So you believe your diagnosis is the right one and that you know the problem. The next thing you need to do is to make sure you have the right part. This is not always easy because you cant just go looking on the internet for the word 'fan motor'. There are almost 43 different combinations of 220volt fan motors. You will need the right HP, the right voltage, the right rotation, the right RPM, the right heat rating etc. Once you have all this data then you can begin your internet search. Most every Brand manufacture will NOT allow you to purchase products or goods through them because they have to allow only contractors the right to do that. This is done so that contractors continue to sell the companies equipment and install it since only they can. The best bet is to search the internet and try to find some type of supplier who is willing to help you. There are places such as Grainger that might be of help. Ebay also has alot of specific items for HVAC that you can purchase. The main thing to remember is to be careful. Having been in the industry I can tell you that probably 80% of the time that a homeowner tries to fix it themselves it ends up costing more then had they just called a service company to begin with. Sometimes there is a simple fix that a technician can apply instead of trying so many options and spending money in guessing. At the very least you should place a service call, get a quote of what's wrong and then you can you try to fix yourself.
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Monday, November 28, 2016

Are Home Warranties Worth It?

When somebody buys a home the seller of that home will usually include a 1 year Home Warranty from places such as America Home Shield or Old Republic. These companies sell policies that help the new homeowner during the first year of owning a home. Policies typically will protect your major appliances from harm for the first year. There is usually a $50 deductible for calling to have service and a limit to how many times or total amount you can spend. You cant call them everyday to fix something and they dont just automatically replace anything that's broken. Here is a little list of things to expect when dealing with the warranty companies.

1)Dont expect the companies to be sympathetic. They are insurance carriers. Their job is to spend as little money as posssible. Dont be surprised when they are not as enthusiastic as you are about your problem. The goal for them is to make sure it is the smallest repair as possible. The companies that work for these places are usually, and remember I said usually, the bottom of the barrel when it comes to Air Conditioning & Heating companies. They will typically not be guys who are wearing uniforms or driving in vehicles wrapped with company logos. That's not because they are bad, it's just because once a company is growing and successful it no longer has a need for working for the insurance companies who pay so little and who are so strict about what they allow the techs to do. If it is Summer time then it is STANDARD to wait 3 days for one of their authorized companies to come out. If you live in Texas like I do, then you are just not going to wait. Insurance companies love that. They are excited to save money, so when you say you are calling somebody else and just paying for the repair out of pocket its a bonus to them. That's one less claim they dont have to pay. And dont think for a second that the company that you end up calling for same day service is going to be sympatheitc either. From their standpoint they got to your house in under 2 hours, so its obvious you are going to pay more for their services.  When you tell them you have a home warranty they are going to say "Well Ma'am, just so you know, we dont work for them or with them., Im sorry they couldn't be here to save you money but we are a normal price company so our prices are going to be    more in line with that." At that point you need to understand that's not unfair, its just the reality for that service company.

2) When the insurance company's Air Conditioning & Heating repairman  finally shows up he will have a certain protocol he will have to follow. You are not the boss in this situation and all the "customer is always right" stuff.  This contractor works for the insurance company, not you. He is there to make sure it is just fixed and fixed only. IF he upsets you some service such as a coil clean etc then it is more money in their pocket. Dont be surprised when the customer service is lacking here. When you hire your own Air Conditioning & Heating Contractor you get to decide how things go and not the other way around

3) New equipment is the last resort. You may think "Well who cares as long as im not paying for it." The actual thing that's happening is that they are delaying THEM paying for a new unit. Somebody is definately paying, its just not going to be the insurance company. This leaves you with a bubble gum repair and a very inefficient system costing you lots of money each month in electricity. The insurance company knows that 80% of people do not renew the contract after 1 year and so they just need to get through that year. Then, you become the person paying for the replacement when it is now mandatory and broken beyond repair.

4) Before you even try, NO you cannot join them while you have a currently broken piece of equipment. They are smart to this tactic and so they have a 90 day waiting period. They figure if you we're willing to pay 3 months of premiums and wait for 90 days while the appliance was broken then you are just the one they want to be working with.

I hope this was helpful. If you find you really need a company to come out and give you the same discounted providing that you would get with the Insurance companies guy then call 682-214-HVAC(4822). You can also visit

Saturday, November 26, 2016

How Much Should You Pay for Repairs

This is a great question and I get asked this alot. Obviously repairs cost different prices so there is no normal price for any group of repairs. There are just too many variables to what happens in a repair. Having said that I can give you a few ballpark prices on the most common repairs that happen in a residential service call. So lets get into the 5 most common repairs and what to expect price wise.

1) The Capacitor Repair:  The most common call is the Capacitor call. Especially in the most hot climates because the Capacitor will burst under extreme heat. This blog focuses on the Dallas & Fort Worth markets so we will specifically deal with that. Dont get the name Capacitor mixed up with the words Compressor and Condenser. Sometimes a repair technician will tell somebody that they have a bad compressor and they will email me and say "I was told I have a bad Capacitor". These two items cost vastly different sums so make sure you write it down, have the tech put it down or something. The job of the Capacitor is to give a boost to the condenser fan motor so it starts and to be a run start for the compressor. If you are told you need to have this item replaced you can expect to pay from $145-$225. One of the mistakes people will make is in assuming that because the item costs $40 that it should only cost $60 to put it in. The reason this cant ever be true is because no business can survive on such a small mark up. Especially one that has such wild swings in business due to weather and that has to drive to your home, pay for vehicle insurance, pay for advertising, pay for uniforms, pay for tools, etc. So a reasonable price is $145-$225 for that repair. Just call an honest company

2) The Condenser Fan Repair: The condenser fan is the fan motor that sits outside on your condenser. Again remember the terms because this sounds a lot like Capacitor and compressor. The Condenser fan motors job is basically to exhaust heat from the condenser. The condenser will be throwing the heat out that has been removed from the house. This condenser also will have alot of heat from the compressor itself. If this fan motor ever stops it can cause catastrophic damage to the equipment. You want to get this item fixed right away. This should cost between $420-$650 depending on the motor type etc. Very common repair for a very common failure

3) The Freon Fill: This isn't so much a repair per say. You aren't repairing anything. You have a leak in your system and you are just getting the refridgerant filled back to the proper level. Residential systems only run on two types of refridgerant right now: R-22 which is called by the name Freon & 410a which is called by the name Puron. If your system was installed after 2014 then you have 410a Puron. If you have a system older than that then you probably have R-22 Freon. Why is this so important? The R-22 Freon has been banned in that it is no longer allowed to be used for new systems. Anyone who has an existing system that uses it can still have it serviced but this Freon is very very very expensive now that there is very little of it left. So dont be surprised when the tech says "Yes sir or ma'am this is going to cost $500 a lb." In some places this is the going rate for this refridgerant and remember that doesnt even fix the problem of the leak, that just fills it up. So I would say ask if there is some type of discount for having it done with a Leak Stop injection or some sort of attempt to stop the leak. The other Refridgerant is still relatively inexpensive and can be filled for about $49lb. Some companies will charge a flat fee to fill regardless of the lbs it takes. And before you ask, no, you cant just take out the banned stuff and put in the newer stuff. They are not sympathetic and work at different operating pressures and use a different oil type.

4) The blower motor repair: The blower motor is a very important piece in the equipment. Wether you are using the AC or using the Heat you will need to have a functioning blower motor in order to spread the air throughout the ductwork. If this ever stops working then you can seriously damage the AC as well as the heater. With the advent of newer computer controlled motors the repair cost has risen dramatically. If you have a newer ECM type motor then the repair can be from $900-$2200. Some of these motor cost the repair company $1400. It can be a nightmare expense. If you have a more standard blower motor then expect to pay from $575-$750.

5) The igniter & flame sensor repair: The flame sensor and igniter are two very important items in a repair for a furnace. If one breaks you should replace both at the same time. They are relatively in expensive and should be done in sequence. The job of the flame sensor is to always sense flame so that the heater will continue to let gas be burned. The job of the igniter is to make sure that gas gets ignited. This repair combo should cost you from $290-$390.

Whenever having a repair done make sure you contact a licensed company and one with a good reputation.

Friday, November 25, 2016


Welcome to the first posting of HVAC Home Talk DFW. Here at this blog you will find everything related to Dallas & Fort Worth Residential HVAC issues, gadgets, DIY and articles for keeping your home's HVAC in tip top shape, as well as recruiting the right company when you do need to finally get one. The purpose of this blog is to be a resource for you so that you can enjoy life and just let your Air Conditioning & Heating System do what it's supposed to do which is Heat & Cool your home.

How many times have you woken up in the middle of a Texas summer and been sweating hot and rolled over to your spouse and said those 3 magic words, "The AC's broken." Yep that's right. You went to bed nice and cool and now its 2 am and you are tossing and turning wondering if you are ever going to make it back to sleep before you have to get up to go to work the next morning. It can be a miserable 5 hrs. On top of that you are thinking of the huge repair bill that is possible when you call a company to come out. Which begs the next question, should you call a company out now or wait until morning? Most people will only have to call an HVAC company out to their home every 4 years or so and so are not familiar with the changes in the industry. It used to be that calling out a company in the middle of the night would cost you an arm and a leg but now most companies will charge a nominal fee to come out no matter what time of day it is.

There are alot of things to discuss in this blog. An HVAC system has lots of parts and so lots of potential problems. As well there are maintenace items you need to do to keep your system running normally. Nobody can avoid having to have an air conditioning or heater repair. Sometimes it just has to happen. But you want to try to do everything you can do to make sure you get the best deal and dont get taken advantage of. We will talk about how to look for a good contractor when it is time and what to look for. And we will answer those basic questions we as homeowners have such as "How often should I change my filters" etc.

Welcome and enjoy and thanks for visiting HVAC Home Talk DFW

Filters - Why, how, and when

Filters: The Why, When and What Type

Everyone wants to know what to do about their HVAC filters. When I was in the industry it was the #1 question I was asked by homeowners. But before that question can be answered you first have to know the 'Why' of filters. What is it that filters do? Why do Residential Heating & Air Conditioning systems have to have one? So lets take this one at time.

1) Why do systems need filters? Well to put it simply, they need filters so that the Evaporator Coil does not become the filter. Your system works in a big loop. Air gets sucked into the system from inside the house (and air that leaks into the house from a process called 'Infiltration') and then gets processed through the system either being heated or cooled and thrown out through the ducts and into your rooms all to be sucked back up and the process repeated again. In the middle of this process there is an item called an Evaporator. Its job is to cool the air by removing the heat from it. This item sits real close to where your house air is being sucked up. Usually a filter will be right before this item in the loop or maybe just a few paces back. The filter blocks, collects and holds all the stuff in your house like pet dander and dust etc. You dont want these things to get on your Evaporator Coil because if it does it will become clogged costing $$$$ to get it cleaned or replaced. So instead of letting this item catch those things we have a small disposable item called a filter. It enables you to keep the Evaporator Coil clean.

2) When do we need to change them?:   The general rule of them and easiest way to answer is "When its dirty". I know this sounds over simplistic but it is the best answ;er. Everyone's lifestyles, home, activities etc are different. If I said "Change your filter every 30 days" and there was a lady who lived by herself, no pets and never ran her system then this would be a bad recommendation. Some seasons are also different then others. In Texas we run our systems alot. That means that the system is sucking up air into the system most of the day and therefore the filter will be collecting a lot of dust. So that's why the answer of when its dirty is a good one. Now if you are not in a position to easily look at your filter then its a good rule of thumb to say change it every 30. But like I said before, if you go to check you filter at 30 days and its clean, then tell yourself to check in about 20 more days. If you always have a clean filter even after running your system then there is probably a problem with your system and air is bypassing your filter. This is not common so dont worry much about this.

3)What type of Filter to use?:  There are many different types of filters on the market. Most of them will have a diagram on the packaging explaining what level of filtering it provides. For example some filters will not filter out cigarette smoke and others will. It will usually say on the package. I personally like Home Depots rating system for filters. It will say that 5 is the lowest level of protection while 10 is the highest. 10 is also the most expensive. I personally do this: I use cheaper filters and change them more frequently instead of buying the most expensive. This is because expensive filters doesnt mean you change it less. You are not buying more time. If a $30 filter is dirty it needs to be changed no matter how expensive it was. So I buy the lower end filters and change it more frequent so that having a clean filter doesn't cost me as much.

Hope this was helpful in understand filters. For a service company to change your filters we recommend They are a very fair priced company with honest service at a discounted price.