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We get this question nearly every day and the answer, obviously, is never exactly the same. There are several reasons why you should or should not replace your HVAC unit and those reasons will vary on a case to case basis. Generally speaking, if you don't cut corners on the initial installation and you stay on top of your preventative maintenance, your HVAC unit should last 15+ years. We ALWAYS will try to fix your unit first and only do replacements when they are absolutely necessary. Our technicians are not salesmen, they are HVAC guys who are very good at troubleshooting and diagnosing problems and then fixing them. There is no incentive program for our technicians so there will never be any unnecessary up-sell.
That being said, every now and then you absolutely should replace your unit. Here are a few reasons why:
Energy Savings: Each year HVAC manufacturers come out with newer and better models. These new models are typically more efficient than the previous model and will certainly be more efficient than a 5 or 10 year old unit. Anything over 10+ years old simply will not be running as efficiently as a new unit today. That's not to say an old unit can't run perfectly well and provide great heating and cooling, it just means it will cost more to do so. When looking for a new unit consider looking into the SEER rating. SEER is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. SEER ratings range from 14 (the lowest rating allowed in the state of California) all the way up to a 26. Generally speaking most homes will not require a SEER rating over 14-20 in order to see savings. Much larger rooms may require a higher rating to work at maximum efficiency. The higher the rating, the higher the cost - so when it's time to replace your unit make sure to get a SEER rating that is suitable for your needs.
Corrosion / Falling apart: Many of us San Diegans live in close proximity to the ocean which means the marine layer and more importantly the salty air. This environment can corrode units (and cars, paint, wood, etc.) more quickly than in other regions of the US. We have replaced many units in Coronado and Point Loma specifically and unfortunately, units in such close proximity to the ocean air do not last quite as long. It is more cost effective to buy a new unit as opposed to paying for several repairs, getting a couple more years of life out of it and then still having to replace the unit.
Adding Value To Your Home: Many people feel they want to add value to their home by upgrading their HVAC system. Anytime you replace an HVAC system it will be a significant investment but can save you money in the long run. Whether you want to increase value before putting it on the market or simply want to be more comfortable in your home a new system may be worthwhile depending on your situation.
Comfort: If your old unit is not working quite as well as it used to then it may be time to replace it. New units will work better and keep your house or individual rooms at the exact temperature you want.
If you think it's time to replace your HVAC system or are interested in a service or repair, give us a call and we can send one of our trustworthy experts out to evaluate and discuss your HVAC needs:
Tips and tricks with tech air owner ryan withouski: Everything you need to know about our new mini-splits
The Mini-Splits have been getting so popular in the HVAC industry but most people who don't work in heating and air conditioning still have no idea what a mini split is... So, we sat down with Ryan and asked: What exactly IS a Mini-Split?
A mini-split system is a relatively new and highly efficient way to have both heating and air conditioning in single rooms. These units are generally wall mounted and remote controlled. You've probably seen them in hotel rooms and experienced how easy they are to keep the room at the exact temperature you want. Each unit in the house works independently of the others, even if they're connected to the same condenser. Because of their flexibility and extreme efficiency, the mini splits are getting very popular.
They are called "splits" because the system itself is split, meaning there's an indoor unit (or units) and an outside condenser. The "mini" part is pretty self explanatory, they take up a lot less room than the traditional central heating and air conditioning package units. Most residential central air units are split systems as well, but mini splits are smaller and they are not connected centrally by duct work. Because there is no duct work involved and the units work independently there is no wasted heating or cooling. There is no circulating air from one location, through the duct and into individual rooms. Each room is circulated by the return and supply air directly from the unit itself.
What are the parts you're talking about - indoor and outdoor. How does it all work?
Ok I'll create a pretty basic scenario as an example: Say you have a 2br house that has no prior heating and air conditioning system and want to install mini splits because you've been freezing lately and like the option of having AC in the summer too. In that case we would install 3 indoor wall mounted units; one in the living room and one in each of the two bedrooms. Each unit would be individually connected to the condenser. The condenser is the outside unit that is typically on the side of the house or roof, depending on the job requirements. The condenser supplies the units refrigerant via a heat pump through copper tubing. The copper tubing is connected directly from the condenser to each unit. The coils inside the indoor units will get hot (or cold) and the supply air (existing air in the room) circulates around the coils and then pushes out warm, return air, back into the room.
*In this scenario we're heating the room. On the cooling setting, the refrigerant will cool down the coils, cooling the circulating air in the room.
Is three the limit or can you add more?
Oh you can add as many as you want. We've done big commercial jobs where there are 25+ 1-3 bedroom apartments and every singe room has its own wall mounted unit. In an ideal scenario you would connect about 3-5 units per condenser but that all depends on the size of the condenser and the distance to each of the indoor units, as well as the size of the room needing temperature control. For that job specifically we had 10 condensers and roughly 35 indoor units.
There seem to be a lot of different options out there, which company do you recommend?
We typically use the Halcyon Mini-Splits by Fujitsu. They are high quality units that you can count on and are so technologically advanced. Because I've installed so many of the Fujitsu Mini-Splits they recently made me an "elite dealer". Basically all that means is they know I install the units correctly and don't cut corners so they offer my clients an extended warranty. I love how Tech Air can offer that to our customers because if installed correctly these units should never really have any issues. The Fujitsu units I install come with a 12 year warranty as opposed to the 6-10 years that most other companies can offer.
What are some pros and cons of the Mini-Splits?
-They are very efficient
-They work extremely well - you'd be shocked at how well these things work even in large rooms
- The are incredibly smart systems. Each unit is basically and HVAC computer
- They are convenient and flexible. You can program them to stay at a certain temp during different times of the day so you stay comfortable in each room of the house. The whole house could be off except for your bedroom while you're sleeping for example. You can also control everything right from your phone through an app. For example, if you want to cool down your house an hour before you get there, you can do it easily from your phone.
-They are great for upgrading current HVAC or retrofitting into an existing house with no central air
-They are about 20-30% more expensive initially. However, it is likely you'll save quite a bit of money in the long run on your energy bill. Also, they are much cheaper to install in existing homes that have no duct work as opposed to having duct work installed post build.
If you are interested in learning more about our various Mini-Split offerings or are interested in receiving a free quote give us a call at 619 541-8088 or fill out the form on our contact page.
Tips and tricks With tech air owner ryan withouski - how to maximize efficiency with your HVAC Unit
1. Keep your unit clean. You need to make sure the units stay clean, both inside and out, in order for them to work properly and with the least amount of effort. Don't be afraid to lightly hose down the outside and surrounding area of your unit to wash away any dust or dirt that is collecting. On the inside of your condenser unit, you need to pay attention to the coils, drip pan and drain line. It's important these remain clean for your unit to run efficiently. Dirty units tend to have mold or debris build up in the drip pan. As the mold and/or debris builds up it can affect the air quality in your home and also clog the drain line, causing your unit to leak.
2. Change your filters. It is important that your filters get changed out every year at a minimum. We actually recommend changing filters up to four times a year for families or businesses who run their units often. Many people don't realize the damage a dirty filter can cause, not just to the efficiency of your heating and air conditioning unit but also to the air quality in your home.
3. Use a counter-clockwise ceiling fan in the summer months. This will not only provide a pleasant cooling sensation but more importantly this can lower your energy consumption (and bill) by up to 40%! This works by creating a down draft and pushing the cool air from your AC unit down toward the ground. Not to sound too much like a HVAC nerd here but this actually decreases the humidity in the room and creates a wind chill affect. This allows you to feel cooler while your thermostat is set at a higher temperature.
4. Use a clockwise rotation on your ceiling fan in the winter months. This one sounds like a scam but it really works. The clockwise rotation creates an updraft, sucking the cold air up and pushing the hot air from the ceiling (where it will stay naturally as warmer air rises) down along the walls and ultimately to the floor. I recommend using the lowest setting on your fan for this and you can expect a 15% increase in efficiency as the heat is more easily distributed across the room.
5. Set your thermostat a couple degrees higher during the peak summer months. Your AC unit will not have to work nearly as hard to keep your living space at around 72-74 degrees as it will to keep it at 68-70 degrees. If you can live with your room at 78 degrees with a counter clockwise ceiling fan you'll notice huge savings on your energy bill. If you leave the thermostat at a lower temp setting it will have to crank the whole time chewing up tons of electricity.
6. Use a smart thermostat or a learning thermostat. The thermostat technology has gotten so much better in the last handful of years and they really do a great job at helping to maximize efficiency with your system. They can be controlled remotely from an app on your phone and there are several now that actually learn common patterns in your home and adjust automatically. I have installed a ton of these in the last few years and people absolutely love them. One that I recommend is called NEST.
7. Consider switching to Ductless Mini-Splits. If you don't currently have an HVAC system in your home or office building or are looking to replace an outdated system I would strongly recommend installing the new Ductless Mini-Splits by Fujitsu. There are no ducts involved so retro-fitting these units into an older home is much easier than installing duct-work. Another great benefit is how efficient these systems are. You can run single rooms at a time and connect multiple units to one condenser. Because there are no ducts to fill with air and force into each room there's no energy loss as the supply and return air are built right into the wall mounted unit. These units also circulate the air in the room much more effectively and don't require the extra help from ceiling fans.
I actually believe these are the smarter choice for both residential and commercial buildings moving forward because of their incredible efficiency. My team and I have installed hundreds of these units over the last few years alone in any kind of building you can imagine... new, old, big, small, commercial, residential, hotels, etc. and the owners really seem to love the flexibility these systems offer. Another benefit is the extended warranty I can offer as an accredited Fujitsu Elite Dealer.
Hope these pro tips and instructions can help you enjoy energy savings while remaining comfortable in your homes! Don't forget to do the following and feel free to give us a call if you have any questions or need a technician to come pay you a visit.
1. Replace air filters
2. Keep units clean including coils, drip pans and drain lines.
3. Use a counter clock-wise ceiling fan in the summer
4. Use a clock-wise ceiling fan in the winter
5. Set your thermostat a couple degrees higher during peak summer months, especially when you are not in that room or area of the house/office.
6. Use a smart thermostat
7. Consider switching to ductless mini-splits