Archive for August, 2012

HVAC Question: What Type of Air Cleaner Is Best for People with Pets?

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Lots of people have pets, and they are a great addition to your family. However, pet ownership has one very obvious drawback: dander. The fur, dry skin cells and other debris that pets carry around flakes off their bodies and onto your furniture and rugs. The also means they inevitably wind up in your air, recirculated through your Kirkland house via your HVAC system.

Or at least, that’s what happens if you don’t have an air cleaner or some sort of air filtration system. This leads many pet owners to ask, “what is the best air cleaner for me?”

With all the choices in air cleaners, the choice can seem daunting. If the goal is specifically to filter out pet dander, it becomes somewhat easier.

Pet dander is quite large in size relation to other indoor air pollutants, so many air cleaners are equipped to do the job. You can use an air cleaner with a standard pleated HEPA filter, or one that uses electrostatic technology. You will want to make sure that the HEPA filter is rated to handle pet dander. A MERV rating of 8 or more is recommended.

Once you have an air cleaner installed, make sure to change or clean the air filter frequently, in accordance with manufacturer instructions. A clogged air filter won’t help eliminate pet dander from your household air and can actually degrade the operation of your HVAC system’s air handler.

In addition to installing a high quality air cleaner with a HEPA filter, you can also help reduce the amount of pet dander floating around your home by keeping the place clean. Vacuuming often and dusting hard surfaces weekly keeps pet hair and dander from being drawn up into the HVAC system, which reduces wear on the air cleaner. For more tips on upgrades you can make to your Kirkland HVAC system, give Sound Heating & Air Conditioning a call!

Heat Pump Tip: SEER vs. HSPF

Monday, August 20th, 2012

When it comes to Bellevue heat pumps, there are two different ratings you’ll often see – the SEER and the HSPF. So, what does each of them mean and which rating is more important when purchasing your new device? Here are a few things to consider:

 SEER

The acronym SEER is short for “seasonal energy efficiency rating” and is used most commonly to measure air conditioner efficiency or in this case, the cooling capacity of your heat pump.

 HSPF

The HSPF is short for “heating seasonal performance factor” and is a measurement of how efficient the heat pump is in producing heat during the cooler months of the year.

 The Difference Between the Two

Every heat pump will have both of these ratings, allowing you to see how efficient each is. This is important because you need to know for certain how well your heat pump will perform under certain situations – both in the winter and summer.

However, if you live in a colder climate where the summer rarely calls for air conditioner, your focus should be on the HSPF first. And if you live in a warmer climate where your heating needs are minimal, the SEER is most important. Another thing to consider is your supplemental heat. If the cost of your supplemental heating system is high, you’ll want an HSPF that is as low as possible to balance it out.

 Choosing an Efficient Heat Pump

Heat pump efficiency directly impacts the price of the device you purchase but is almost always worth the difference. The key is to find a device that provides what you need based on where you live. Keep in mind as well that, like most HVAC upgrades, you won’t immediately recoup the cost of the device in your energy savings, so if you plan on moving soon, you should purchase a more affordable device now and upgrade later.

Purchasing a new heat pump for your Bellevue home is an important step in making it more energy efficient. If you are unsure which rating you need or how to analyze their meanings, contact a professional to learn more.

Air Conditioning Question: What Are Thermostatic Expansion Valves?

Monday, August 13th, 2012

The thermostatic expansion valve, sometimes known as a TEX, TEV or TXV, is a critical piece to influence the efficiency of air conditioning and refrigeration units.  A tiny sensor controlling the evaporating phase of process, the valve can have a big effect.

Cool air is manufactured by a rapid movement of a refrigerant between liquid and gaseous states.  Compound chemicals that are able to do this at a low temperature are compressed and expanded, absorbing and releasing heat at different points along the way.  The TEV controls the flow of the refrigerant into the evaporator coils according to the temperatures of the various ingredients.

Cool Air 101

To condition air, the refrigerant, most often freon or another fast acting, low temp compound, evaporates into a gas that runs through a coil and absorbs heat.  Passing through a compressor, the freon condenses under pressure back into a liquid again and releases the heat, becoming cool enough to chill a party.

Too much freon in the evaporator tube and the pressure is not low enough to expand to gas and absorb heat, working inefficiently for no gain.  Too little freon and the conversion is also ineffective by not reaching the density needed to condense.

There are four types of valves with different benefits for different types of cooling environments.  With its ability to adjust minutely to changing conditions, the thermal expansion valve creates the perfect mixture of pressure and freon for more complicated systems.

At the Starting Gate

An interactive device, the valve senses the evaporator pressure and temperature and adjusts the flow of the refrigerant so as to maintain a given “superheat”, the differ­ence between the refrigerant vapor temperature and its sat­uration temperature.  By controlling superheat, the TEV keeps nearly the entire evaporator surface active while not permit­ting liquid refrigerant to return to the compressor.

Some valves operate on an electrical impulse from sensors that can measure the temperatures.  Others are open all the time.  The thermostatic expansion valve actually utilizes the pressure between the two sections to open or close itself, regulating flow based on the very same pressure it is designed to moderate.

Like the buildings they comfort, central air conditioning systems in Tacoma are varied and diverse.  For more information about air conditioning or to schedule a service call, contact Sound Heating & Air Conditioning today!

 

Air Conditioning Guide: Things You Should Never Do To Your Air Conditioner

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Whether it’s a large central system on the side of the house or a small unit in the window, with proper care and maintenance, your Olympia air conditioner should last for a decade or two.  Sometimes, however, people can do simple things which, in retrospect, should have obviously been avoided.

Some examples:

  • Don’t block the air intake–air is vital to the process, so laying anything over the unit (a towel or clothes to dry) will significantly strain the motor.  Always make sure there is enough clearance.
  • Don’t block the vents–likewise in a home, it is easy to move a sofa or lay an area rug over a grate in the floor or cover an unsightly vent in the wall with a pretty painting.
  • Don’t just set a unit in the window and trust the sash to hold it in place–make sure it is fastened properly according to the directions;
  • Don’t think it will run forever without cleaning the fins, vents and changing the filter at least once a cooling season;
  • Don’t bury the condensate drain in the ground–in central units it is vital that the drain is left with a clear flow away from the house;
  • Don’t install the central unit on the ground–there are pre-made pads or mix up a little concrete
  • Don’t steam clean or use hot water to clean the fins–damage and corrosion can easily be caused by the heat; flush with warm water or spray.
  • Don’t remove the overload relay to force continuous running–VERY dangerous and a guarantee of damage.

Your Olympia  air conditioner is a pretty reliable device, but a little attention goes a long way to ensure years of comfort. To schedule a maintenance appointment today, give Sound Heating & Air Conditioning a call!