Ace Air, Inc. Blog: Archive for the ‘Heat Pumps’ Category

Simple Steps to Prevent Heat Loss in Winton

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

There are two fundamental ways to make your house warmer in Winton. One is to generate heat, which is the job of your furnace or boiler. The second is to keep the warm air in — and thereby keep cold air out — which is the job of your system of insulation.

The idea that the physical structure of a home can be a component of the HVAC system is one that is often overlooked, but when you think about it, it makes sense. The insulation, windows, doors and building materials that comprise your home are designed to keep the place warm against the cold and vice versa.

So, when bolstering your HVAC system to promote efficient heating, it is important to also consider heat loss and how to prevent it. This is a process that can get out of hand if you go overboard, so it is important to prioritize. Let’s look at the top 3 places to start when trying to prevent heat loss.

  1. Keep doors and windows closed. This seems obvious when you read it, but you would be surprised how often people overlook this one. When it is cold outside, keep doors and windows closed as much as possible. This one small step can prevent a lot of escaped heat.
  1. Sniff out and seal off drafts. Even when closed, your doors and windows could still be letting warm air out. If they are worn, improperly sealed, improperly installed or if the surrounding construction is deteriorating, your doors and windows can’t work optimally. Additionally, see if your vents or ducts are leaky.
  1. Start at the top. If you want to go farther in sealing your house up against the cold, it is time to work on the insulation. When installing new insulation, remember that heat rises, so you get the most bang for your buck by starting at the top. If you only have the budget or time to insulate one space, make it the attic. You can work down from there.

These areas should be your top three priorities on your mission to prevent heat loss in your home. If you start here, you will get the best gains with the least effort.

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What Happens if My Heat Pump Loses Power?

Friday, February 10th, 2012

One of the advantages of heat pumps in Le Grand is that they operate on electricity, so you don’t need to worry about having maintaining a supply of fuel to keep yours running. Where a furnace or boiler might call for you to purchase supplies of oil or natural gas, and a wood stove means keeping potentially messy firewood around, a heat pump runs cleanly on electricity.

Heat pumps are good at using electricity, too. They are often able to produce heat energy that can be as much as three times the electricity they draw to produce it. This means not just convenience, but also a big savings, just by virtue of using electrical power.

The risk there, of course, is that if and when the power goes out, so does the heat pump. That means when a big winter storm drops a tree on the local power line, things can get cold inside mighty quickly. For these situations, you should have a backup heating solution on hand to keep everyone comfortable in the short term. And, as a responsible homeowner, you likely already have this taken care of.

But what happens when the power comes back on? Can you just fire your heat pump right back up without missing a beat?

The short answer is “no.” You should not do that, for at least two reasons. First of all, after any power outage, you should always take care to turn on appliances gradually over a period of time rather than all at once in order to avoid a spike in demand at the power company, which can blow a grid. That’s just a general tip.

Specific to heat pumps, though, there is a unique concern. If the heat pump loses power for more than 30 minutes, the refrigerant can get too cold to flow properly, so turning it right back on can cause the whole thing to conk right out. Instead, do the following:

  1. Make sure the heat pump is off. You can do this during the power outage.
  2. Once power comes back on, turn the heat pump to the “Emergency Heat” setting. This will allow the compressor to warm up slowly and get the refrigerant warm enough to start flow freely again.
  3. Wait. The time you need to wait varies depending on the size and manufacturer of your heat pump, so refer to the manual. In general, you should wait at least 6 hours.

After this process, your heat pump should be ready to resume normal operation without issue.  If you have any questions about this topic please call Ace Air Air Conditioning and Heating.

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HVAC Tips: Components of a Heat Pump

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Because of their simply designed function – pumping heat one way or the other – heat pumps in Gustine have relatively few components. However, these components do not work the way you might expect, if you are picturing, for example, a fan that blows heat in or out.

A heat pump operates on the same principle as an air conditioner or refrigerator, which may seem complicated at first, but it’s not. The heat pump consists of five main functional components, which are outlined below:

  1. The coils absorb heat from the surrounding air and channel it in or out of the home. There are two different types of coils in a heat pump. Condenser coils are outside the home transferring heat to and from the outside air. Evaporator coils are the reverse, transferring heat to and from the air inside the home.
  2. The coils are filled with a refrigerant, which is the medium that carries heat into or out of the home. On a cold day, for example, when the heat pump is in heating mode, the refrigerant in the condenser coils will absorb heat from the outside air, the flow inward into the evaporator coils, warming the interior of the house.
  3. The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant so that it is able to readily absorb as much heat from the air as possible. This is how your heat pump is able to gather warm air from the chilly outdoors to keep your home warm.
  4. The reversing valve is the component that changes the flow of the refrigerant when switching from heating mode to cooling mode, or vice versa.
  5. Finally, the air handler is the fan component that distributed the heat throughout the house via your home’s ductwork.

While these are the five main components, there are several smaller parts involved within and alongside each of these, as well. You need not concern yourself with them, since you won’t have occasion to interact with them. A professional will be able to identify and repair any of the components of a heat pump as needed.

In addition to these five primary components, most heat pumps also include a heater pack, which is a bunch of actual heating elements for use when the heat pump cannot operate on its own. For example, you would turn on the “Emergency Heat” setting of your heat pump after a power outage to warm the refrigerant before use. That setting is supported by the heater pack.  If you have any questions about your heat pump please don’t hesitate to contact Ace Air Conditioning & Heating.

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Different Types of Refrigerants Used in HVAC Throughout Merced Homes

Monday, February 6th, 2012

In Merced we have all heard the phrases like “save the planet” or “save the ozone layer.” Up until the 1960s there wasn’t a lot of attention paid to the disintegrating protective ozone layer around the Earth’s surface. Since then, ozone-depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) have been seen as the ozone-depleting culprit and new laws regulating the use of CFCs have had a direct impact on heating and cooling (HVAC) systems.

The “lifeblood” of any air conditioning and heat pump system is its refrigerants – a chemical used in the refrigeration cycle. For several decades, the “refrigerant of choice” in HVAC systems has been HCFC-22, also known as R-22. The problem is, HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) are harmful to the ozone layer because they contain ozone-destroying chlorine.

Because of this, the use of R-22 is being slowly phased out from usage in HVAC systems. The Clean Air Act of 1970 has provisions in it to phase out HCFC refrigerants. As a result, chemical manufacturers will no longer be able to produce, and companies will no longer be able to import, R-22 for use in new air conditioning equipment (effective this year),  but they can continue production and import of R-22 until 2020 for use in servicing existing equipment. So, R-22 should continue to be available for all systems that require R-22 for servicing for many years to come.

But the “new kid on the block” replacing R-22 has been getting up a head of steam for several years now. Among the new alternative refrigerants recommended by the U.S. EPA is R-410A, a blend of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that does not contribute to depletion of the ozone layer, but, like R-22, contributes to global warming. R-410A is manufactured and sold under various trade names, including GENETRON AZ-20®, SUVA 410A®, Forane® 410A, and Puron®.

There are several other substitute refrigerants going by the names of R-407C, HFC-134A, and R-422C. A complete list can be found at www.epa.gov.

According to the U.S. EPA, homeowners with existing units using R-22 can continue to use R-22 since there is “no requirement to change or convert R-22 units for use with a non-ozone-depleting substitute refrigerant.” And it is important to note that R-407C is allowed for retrofits but R-410A is not, due to its higher working pressures. Substitute refrigerants would not work well with existing components unless a retrofit was made or in the case of using R-410A, a complete system changeout.

One of the leading causes for air conditioner and heat pump failure are lower levels of refrigerant. If you are working on your own equipment, it is important to note that replacing refrigerants like R-22 and R-410A should only be done by certified HVAC professionals. You must show EPA certification to purchase these refrigerants.

If you are interested in “saving the planet” you might do well to give the boot to your HCFC-consuming appliance.  Please contact your HVAC experts at Ace Air with any questions about your HVAC systems.

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Heat Pump Repair Question: Why Won’t My Heat Pump Start?

Friday, January 27th, 2012

If you are having trouble with your El Nido home’s heat pump, you may be surprised to learn that it is probably not the heat pump that is to blame, especially if the trouble is that it simply won’t start up. That seems counterintuitive, but it’s true: the heat pump can be in perfect working order but still not turn on.

The good news, then, is that your heat pump is fine and you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg to fix or replace it. Still though, these types of problems can very frustrating to diagnose and correct. Here are four common culprits when a heat pump won’t start:

  1. No power to the heat pump. Check your breaker box to see if the circuit breaker was tripped. If so, reset it and see if that fixes the problem. Another possibility is that your heat pump is wired to a wall switch, or that there is a switch on the unit itself. Make sure the switch is turned on.
  2. Make sure the thermostat is set to the proper mode, such as “heat” mode if you desire more heat. It seems overly simple, but sometimes the trouble is as simple as that.
  3. A recently replaced thermostat. If you recently upgraded or replaced the thermostat in your home, it’s possible that something went wrong that is preventing your heat pump from starting. It may be the wrong kind of thermostat – heat pumps require a specific type – or it may have been improperly wired.
  4. Finally, the heat pump may have its own circuit breaker on the air handler cabinet. This is often the case with heat pumps that have supplemental electric elements. If that breaker is tripped, that could cause the problems you are experiencing.

If you exhaust these problems and the problem persists or recurs – for example, if the circuit breaker trips again – call a contractor to work on your heat pump. There may be something larger at work that is causing problems in the electrical system that controls your El Nido home’s heat pump, and that requires some expertise to properly address.

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Heating Installation Guide: EnergyStar Rated Heat Pumps

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Everyone in Merced is almost certainly familiar with EnergyStar ratings. They are those little stars you see on a lot of common household appliances, consumer electronics and other products. EnergyStar is a government program run by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to identify and clearly label products that meet strict efficiency guidelines. Products that carry the EnergyStar logo have been shown to be among the most highly efficient out there.

This labeling is important and arguably becoming more so every day. Merced hmeowners want the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the appliances in their homes are running efficiently, helping the environment and saving them money.

But have you ever wondered how a product gets to wear that EnergyStar logo? What are the guidelines it has to meet or exceed in order to be approved?

The short answer is that it varies across product lines, as you might expect. An air conditioner is very different from a personal computer. For heat pumps, though, there are some pretty simple and consistent specifications to meet.

Heat pump ratings are based on two numbers—one for cooling and one for heating. Cooling efficiency is rated on a scale called the seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER. This number simply describes in a nutshell how efficiently a unit can cool the area it’s installed in. Most heat pumps these days have a SEER of at least 10, and the most efficient ones carry a SEER of around 18. To meet EnergyStar requirements, a heat pump must carry a SEER of at least 14.

The second number involved in rating the efficiency of a heat pump is the heating season performance factor, or HSPF. This number describes the heating efficiency of a heat pump by dividing its estimated heating capacity by the amount of electricity it draws. Most new heat pumps have an HSPF of at least 8, which is what is required for EnergyStar approval.

A third rating criterion for heat pumps is the energy efficiency ratio, or EER. This is like SEER, except that it is an instantaneous measurement rather than one over a whole heating season. This rating is less commonly considered by consumers, but it is part of the EnergyStar criteria, so it’s worth mentioning. EnergyStar requires heat pumps to have an EER of at least 11.

Only when a unit meets or exceeds all three of these specifications is it eligible for EnergyStar approval. Keep in mind that the requirements vary for split systems versus single package systems, and that they may change over time. Consult with a professional during the purchase process to be sure the unit you want is EnergyStar approved.

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HVAC Contractor Tip:Pros & Cons of Heat Pumps

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

When deciding on any major purchase for your Gustine home, a critical step is to weigh the pros and cons. This helps you to decide on the best option and reach the best decision for your needs and preferences.

Installing a new heating system is a perfect example of a situation in which you would need to weigh pros and cons. There are a lot of options, and not all of them are right for all people. Take heat pumps, for example. They are great devices and serve many people extremely well as home heating solutions, but they are not without their drawbacks. Below are some of the pros and cons of heat pumps to help you decide whether a heat pumps if the way to go for you.

Pros:

  1. Inclusive – A heat pump not only heats your home in the winter but also cools it in the summer, thanks to a reversing valve that changes the flow of the refrigerant. Having one appliance for both heating and cooling can be very convenient.
  2. Energy efficient – Heat pumps are extraordinarily efficient when it comes to energy use. Because they simply move and distribute heat, rather than producing any on their own, they use minimal electricity.
  3. Simple – Operating on the same basic principles as your refrigerator or an air conditioner, heat pumps are relatively simple. More importantly, they simplify your life by putting your heating and cooling solutions in one package and running on electricity, so you don’t need any other fuels on hand.
  4. Inexpensive to operate – In addition to being energy efficient – which lowers your monthly energy bills – many heat pumps are eligible for federal tax credit. You can save a bundle by using a heat pump.

Cons:

  1. May need supplementing in cold climates – In climates where winter temperatures stay below 30 degrees Fahrenheit for a while at a stretch, a heat pump will have trouble keeping up and need to be supplemented.
  2. Don’t work in power outage – Obviously, because they are powered by electricity, a heat pump won’t work in a power outage, unlike some other heating solutions that do not require electricity.

Although the pros clearly outweigh the cons here, the cons are important as well. Carefully consider all these factors and more while deciding whether a heat pump is the solution for your Gustine home.

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Heat Pump Tip: Noise Considerations

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Whenever you’re looking into replacing your old home heating system or installing a new one in Atwater, there are many different factors you’ll have to take into consideration. The amount of noise that the system you choose will make is certainly one of these. And in addition to the amount of noise that this system will make, you’ll also want to make a note of where the unit will be placed and so where the noise will be coming from.

While you may have had to worry a bit about the noise generated by heat pumps in the past, it’s not something you’ll have to take into consideration this time around. That’s because newer heat pumps are designed to be quieter than ever, providing the same heating and cooling power with only a fraction of the noise of some earlier models.

In fact, the only part of a heat pump that really makes any noise at all is the outdoor unit. Unless this needs to be located very close to your home or to a window of a room that you use often, chances are that you won’t even hear it at all.

However, if you live very close to your neighbors or don’t have a lot of outdoor space, you may have to put the outdoor unit close to the walls of your home. Even then, though, you’ll hardly notice the noise your heat pump makes. Years of research and redesigning have produced some of the quietest heat pumps yet and that’s what you’ll be buying if you’re in the market for one of these systems now.

Newer heat pumps have been tweaked and adjusted to minimize the amount of noise-generating vibrations they produce. In fact, you’ll probably find that most of these units make no more noise than your refrigerator. They’re efficient and quiet and can keep your Atwater home comfortable all year long.

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Heating Question: How Does a Heat Pump Work?

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

If you’re in the market for a new home heating and cooling system in Los Banos, a heat pump is definitely an option worth considering. However, while the popularity of these systems is growing rapidly, many people still don’t understand what they’re all about. Before you go out and get yourself a new home comfort system, you should make sure you really know what you’re looking at

As their name suggests, heat pumps move heat from one location to another. However, their name can be misleading as well. Heat pumps are able to both heat your home in the winter and keep it cool in the summer by taking heat from the air in one place and sending it to another.

For example, your heat pump will remove the heat from your indoor air in the summer and pump it outside to keep your home cool. In the winter, the process is reversed, and the heat pump gathers heat from the outdoor air and pumps it inside to keep you house warm.

Of course, it’s not hard to see how the air inside your home in the summer has heat in it. But the outdoor air in the winter is cold. So how does a heat pump heat your house with cold air? Well, the truth is that there is almost always some heat in the air, no matter how cold it seems to you and me.

In fact, the temperature would have to drop well into the negative range before there was absolutely no heat to be found in the air. And heat pumps are specially designed to find that heat and collect it.

Basically all heat pumps work on this principle. However, they can’t keep your house comfortable all on their own. Heat pumps are usually installed as part of a complete home heating and cooling system. This means they’ll be paired with an air handler that can circulate the temperature controlled air throughout your Los Banos house.

There are also some heat pumps that supplement the amount of heat they’re able to pull out of the air by heating it as it passes through. These types of heat pumps are often more effective in cooler areas, but because they require more energy to actually generate heat, they’re not typically as energy efficient as models that rely on their ability to get heat only out of the air.

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