Efficiency: Most filters have a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. For residential applications we’re usually looking at an 8 to 12 rating. The higher the number, the better the filter. Although they make filters with much higher ratings, they are usually too restrictive to be used in residential applications. Too much restriction can cause stress on the blower motor and compressor and can decrease the amount of air that circulates through your vents causing an efficiency loss.
Originally filters were designed for furnaces to keep dust from getting to your blower motor and squirrel cage, they only caught dust particles and did not restrict much air. After evaporators were added to the equation, the need for better filtration became more important. Today’s new high efficiency evaporators are much more susceptible to dirt accumulation and drain pan blockage. It is important to have a good filter but not one that restricts too much air-flow.
Many of our clients are purchasing pleated filters that are costing over $15.00 and I doubt that they last 3 months. In fact they need to be changed more frequently than your regular filter. Because they filter such small particles, they clog up faster and allow less air to pass. If you want to see if that new $15 filter you purchased is too restrictive, remove your filter, and have someone put their hand in the air-stream of one of your vents. Then install your filter with the blower still running. If the person feels a definite decrease in air-flow, or the filter gets sucked forcefully out of your hand….you need a less restrictive filter.
If you want to use a better filter, there are modifications that can sometimes be made, that will allow you to use one. It’s always a good idea to use the best filter possible to keep the air and your equipment cleaner, but not at the expense of equipment failure or loss of system efficiency. If you want to know more about how you can increase filter efficiency, give us a call. Maybe we can help.
There have been many improvements in our industry over the last 10 years or so. Mostly in the efficiency of the equipment (and of course electronic gadgets like wi-fi and self diagnostics etc.). This has added many new challenges for manufacturers, and those of us who service and install them.
Here’s a short list of some of the problems we’re encountering:
Good things: These motors are quieter and more energy efficient
Bad things: The electronic modules in them tend to fail prematurely. If your system has parts warranty you only pay for labor, if it doesn’t you pay about twice as much for the new motor than you would for a normal evaporator motor.
Evaporator and Condenser Coils:
Good things: They are more efficient:
Bad things: In most cases there are more rows of fins that are spaced closer together than the older coils. This means they tend to accumulate and hold more dirt. This can cause freeze ups and drain stoppages on the inside units and higher pressures on the outside units.
Several years ago we were having problems with pre-mature refrigerant leaks. Although most manufacturers have addressed this issue, there are still some problems with some of the manufacturers.
Cheaper Internal Controls:
Good things: They help the manufacturer keep costs down.
Bad things: I have seen components manufactured in Vietnam, Pakistan, India, and China to name a few. Many times these components fail much sooner than they did in earlier units, especially motor capacitors. Again if your unit is under warranty, you only pay for labor. However the manufacturer supplies the original replacement part. If you bought your system from us, we try to use a better quality part from our truck stock. It costs us a little more….but you’re worth it.
What SEER rating should I be looking for?
The low end is 14 SEER (probably higher than what you currently have). The high end is normally between 18 and 20 SEER. We normally recommend 14 to 16 SEER. When you get above 16 SEER the price goes up exponentially.
Here is my advice: If you are planning on moving within the next 4 or 5 yrs, go with the 14 SEER (16 SEER is fine, but you will be paying more). If you are planning on living in your home for a long time, the 16 SEER makes more sense. You’ll get paid back in energy savings over time.
If you’re concerned about reducing your carbon foot print, then go with the higher end stuff. To me the return on investment is not there, but you will consume less energy. If you loose a major component after your warranty has expired…break out your wallet.
What Brand is the best?
I really don’t know anymore. We have had the least amount of problems with Bryant/Carrier products. In fact that is about all we recommend anymore.
Don’t trust the internet ratings. They do not factor in the quality of the installation you received when the equipment was installed.
How long does an AC system last?
That mostly depends on you. If you take care of it (change filters regularly, and get regular maintenance on your system), the norm is about 15 years. If you only repair it when it breaks and don’t maintain it…the norm is about 10 years.
The Wage and Hour Board suspected a fishing boat owner wasn't paying proper wages to his crew and sent an agent to investigate him.
Wage and hour auditor: "I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them".
Boat Owner: "Well, there's Clarence, my deckhand, he's been with me for 3 years. I pay him $1,000 a week plus free room and board. Then there's the mentally challenged guy, Don. He works about 18 hours every day and does about 90% of the work around here. He makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of Bacardi Rum and a dozen Budweisers every Saturday night so he can cope with life. He also gets to sleep with my wife, Sandy, . . . occasionally"
AUDITOR: "That's the guy I want to talk to --- the mentally challenged one".
Boat Owner: "That would be me. What would you like to know"?