What does HVAC stand for?

HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

What are the different brands of A/C units?

The major manufactures are:

  • Trane, which also makes American Standard.
  • United Technology, which owns Carrier, ICP, Bryant, Payne, Day & Night, Heil, and Tempstar.
  • Lennox, which owns Ducane, Armstrong, Concord, Allied, and AirEase.
  • Rheem, which owns Ruud.
  • Daikin, which makes Goodman and Amana.

Is a heating & air conditioning system with more capacity always better?

No. A larger system with more capacity actually delivers less comfort and costs more to operate. An air conditioner is at its least efficient when it’s first turned on. A system with too much capacity will run in numerous short cycles, turning on and off repeatedly, therefore causing it to be less efficient. Also, keep in mind that an air conditioner only removes humidity when it’s running, so a system with shorter run cycles doesn’t remove humidity from the air very well. Contact a qualified professional when replacing your heating & air conditioning system. A qualified professional technician will have the experience to ensure you have a system that best matches the capacity of your home.

What size air conditioning system is right for my home?

Various factors determine the sizing and specifications of your system, including square footage, insulation, window surface and configuration, exact location of your home, and duct sizing and arrangement. A technician can perform an in-home load analysis to verify which equipment combinations will precisely suit your home and your family’s needs. Depending on your home’s construction, one ton of air conditioning can cool anywhere from 300 to 800 square feet. You can confirm that the system you purchase is the right size by having your cooling requirements assessed by a TXRACS professional.

What is SEER Rating?

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio—SEER—is an efficiency measure that is used to rate both air conditioners and heat pumps. The greater the SEER number, the greater the efficiency, which leads to increased energy savings. All new products, under current United States regulations, must operate at a SEER rating of at least 14.0.

Why do I need regular maintenance on my air conditioning system?

Regular HVAC maintenance by a reliable contractor is an important factor in preparing your system to perform at its best during year-round hot weather, which Texas is known for. With the demands that long summer-like days can make on a system, regular service is vital if you want to avoid unnecessary equipment failure and repair costs. It’s a good idea to have our technician check and service you every spring and fall.

What are some of the signs that I should get my A/C system checked?

You should have your cooling system checked when you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Decreased air flow from the vents
  • Strange noises coming from the system
  • Moldy odors coming from the ductwork when the system is running
  • The air conditioner cycles on and off more frequently than it used to
  • The breaker for the air conditioner in the electrical panel keeps tripping (or the fuse keeps blowing)
  • Ice appears on your air conditioner or piping, either inside or outside the house
  • Your outdoor fan in the air conditioner won’t come on

If you experience these or any other out-of-the-ordinary issues, call us to have your system checked and serviced.

How often should I change my air conditioning filter?

Texas is famous for its hot and humid climate, we recommend changing your disposable filter on a monthly basis. Likewise, if you have washable filters, you should clean them once a month. A filter that’s become clogged with dust, pet dander, mold, pollen, or any number of pollutants and particles puts a strain on your cooling system and spoils the air your family breathes.

What type of air conditioning filter should I use?

Standard filters work to keep your system and its ductwork clean, but they can only do so much to improve indoor air quality. A media air cleaner does a much better job of trapping small particles. It rests between the main return duct and the blower cabinet and will improve dust and particle removal up to seven times more effectively than a standard filter. Upgrading to a pleated media filter will remove everything from dust to airborne viruses from the filtered air. Always choose a filter that matches your blower’s capacity.

What are the advantages of a programmable thermostat?

With a focus on flexibility to complement your lifestyle, programmable thermostats are more accurate and efficient than thermostats that contain mercury. You can program settings in advance so that you can control the temperature at different times of the day. By scheduling your programmable thermostat to a higher or lower temperature based on your work hours, you can save money on energy bills without compromising comfort. One of our technicians can show you how to get the most out of your programmable thermostat’s energy-saving features.

When should I have my air duct system cleaned?

Air duct cleaning reduces excessive airborne dust and particles, unclogs restricted ducts and vents, and removes impacted material from blower fans and air conditioning coils. In the process, unhealthy mold, mildew, and bacteria are safely removed. If anyone in your family suffers from allergies, breathing or respiratory problems, or if you notice an excess of dust inside your home, you should consider having an experienced contractor like TXRACS conduct a whole house air duct cleaning.

How can I tell when it’s time to replace my air conditioning system?

If your air conditioning system is getting noisy or needs repair more often, it could be time to consider a replacement. Any system over 10 years old is in the late stages of its lifecycle. Variables that influence life expectancy include the type of system, climate, and the regularity of routine maintenance. When the day to purchase a new unit comes, you will enjoy significant gains in operating efficiency and energy savings. Ask us today, for input on equipment that would work best for you.

Should I close HVAC vents in rooms I don’t use a lot in order to save money?

The practice of closing off vents in parts of your home that aren’t being used in order to save money dates back to when homes were heated from a central location, like a fireplace. Back then it worked. Today homes are equipped with central heating and air conditioning systems, by closing off the parts of your home and shutting vents in those areas, you can actually increase your energy costs, not reduce them. The reason is simple; a modern home’s HVAC system is designed to either heat or cool the entire residence, and is sized according to this need. By shutting off a part of the airflow, you increase the air press on the system, which can increase the amount of leakage from the ductwork. In fact, too many vents closed can actually cause your HVAC system to malfunction. This is because today’s systems rely on a certain amount of airflow to maintain a certain temperature within them.

Should a thermostat be set to “auto” or “on”?

The “auto” setting is preferred, as well as the most used and most efficient setting. In this setting, the fan will only operate when the temperature requires it. There are advantages, however, to using the “on” setting. In this setting, the air is constantly filtered through your unit’s air filter, and constantly circulating air results in even temperatures throughout your home.

What causes your air conditioning unit to frost over?

Air conditioners work by moving warm air over the cooling coil (also known as the evaporator coil). This process removes moisture from the air, which accumulates in the collector pan. This process is also key to maintaining a comfortable environment for your home in the summer.
If the air moves too slowly over the evaporator coils or if the refrigerant in your system is low you run the risk of the coil developing frost and icing over. A frozen unit will not be able to cool your home properly.  A frozen unit can be the result of a low refrigerant or a dirty filter or coils. You can help avoid these problems by scheduling annual maintenance and changing or cleaning your air filter on a regular basis. During a maintenance check-up, your technician will clean dirty coils, and changing or cleaning your filter ensures proper airflow through your system. If your refrigerant is low, this could be an indication that you have a leak. Contact a professional technician to check for proper refrigerant levels and leaks.

How Can I Improve My Indoor Air Quality? What Terms Do I Need to Know?

Indoor Air Quality is a growing concern as inhalation of particulate matter has been linked to asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular problems and even early death.  Air filters and air cleaning equipment are designed to remove particles, also called particulates, from the air. Particulates refer to tiny particles suspended in the air.  As a general rule, the smaller the particle, the longer it stays in the air.

  • MERV is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value.  This is the rating based on the efficiency of air filters to remove particles of various sizes at different airflow rates.  MERV ratings range from 1 – 16 and measurements are in microns. Higher MERV ratings mean fewer dust particles and other airborne contaminants pass through the filter.  Some of the common particles related to MERV ratings are pet dander, insecticide dust, smog, dust, viruses, wood, tobacco smoke, spores, bacteria, and pollen.
  • A Micron is a micrometer, a measurement unit equivalent to one-millionth of a meter. For example, a human hair is about 100 microns wide whereas dust particles and red blood cells are about 7 microns in diameter.
  • HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter.  This type of filter is designed to remove a minimum of 99.97% of air particles 0.3 microns in size.

Besides changing my filters, what maintenance should I do on my HVAC?

Most maintenance should be performed only by a qualified service technician, however, there are a few things you can do to ensure optimal performance.  Keep ground mounted outdoor units clear of debris, clutter, and weeds; this can reduce the airflow of the unit. Turn the breaker off to the outdoor unit and rinse the coils out, do this about 2-3 times a month, it will help prevent major problems.  Use caution with weed trimmers around the unit to prevent damaging control wiring.  And lastly, keep pets away from the unit; pet urine can cause expensive damage.

What is a good temperature to set my thermostat?

The best thermostat setting is the temperature at which you feel most comfortable.  However, when extremely high summertime temperatures set in, the best temperature setting is going to be 15 to 16 degrees below the outside temperature.  Remember, your air conditioner can only produce so much cooling, no matter how low you set the thermostat.  And no matter what temperature you choose, once you have found a ‘comfort zone’ leave the thermostat set in one place – turning it up and down constantly only costs you more energy!

When replacing the outdoor unit, do I need to replace the indoor unit as well?

The answer is most likely yes, and here are the reasons why.
First of all, all air conditioner and heat pump outdoor units are specifically designed to work with matched indoor units for optimum efficiency and performance. The result of this matched system is a coordinated, top-performance team that ensures dependability and efficiency. Air conditioner and heat pump outdoor units may “work” with indoor units other than those for which they have been specifically designed; however, the result is a definite compromise in system performance.
In addition, through the years, indoor blower coil units have undergone numerous design advances — especially in the areas of air handling performance, filtering efficiency, and operating sound levels. A new outdoor unit will also include the latest design advances.
The cooling and/or heating efficiency ratings that are advertised for an air conditioner or heat pump are based on their performance as matched systems. While changing only the outdoor unit may result in improved efficiency compared to the old system, it will not be as efficient as it was designed to be and your savings will be lower than with a matched system.
If an air conditioner or heat pump outdoor unit is 10 years old and needs to be replaced, the indoor unit is just as old and has been subjected to the same amount of wear and tear. Replacing both units means you won’t have to replace the indoor unit in a short time…you’ll have years of service from both units.
Last, but not least, a new unit also gives you a new product warranty. Replacing the indoor unit at the same time as the outdoor unit results in peace of mind, knowing the new warranty covers your entire system.
At first, glance, replacing only an air conditioner or heat pump outdoor unit may appear to be a bargain. But when you consider the lower cooling and heating efficiencies, decreased reliability, and high cost of ownership that results, it’s not such a bargain. Replacing an entire system costs more, but you get more efficiency, reliability, and comfort.

What are some health benefits to using a whole-house humidifier in the winter?

Humidifiers work by adding moisture to the air. Humidifiers are most commonly used to help ease congestion without the use of medicine, but they also have these additional benefits:

  • Dry skin conditions
  • Treating cold, flu, and allergy symptoms
  • Easing asthma
  • Reducing static electricity in your home
  • Preventing premature peeling of wallpaper
  • Preventing cracks in paint and furniture

Humidified air also feels warmer, allowing you to turn down the heat in your home, reducing heating costs, without sacrificing comfort

How often should I have my system serviced?

You should have your heating system serviced once a year for a seasonal check-up in the fall. A heating system that is not maintained is a problem waiting to happen. At the very least, you will have escalating operating costs due to the inefficient running of your system and the eventual need for repairs. In the worst case, improperly maintained equipment powered by natural gas can compromise your safety by causing high levels of CO, resulting in serious injury or even death.  There are some maintenance tasks that homeowners can do themselves, such as cleaning and replacing filters. However, in order to ensure the safe and efficient operation of a heating system, homeowners should have their furnace inspected and cleaned annually by a qualified service technician. The benefit to homeowners, your health and safety, your money, and your time, far out way any costs incurred with a yearly inspection.

Can I troubleshoot my HVAC system before I call in for a repair?

Of course, you can! TXRACS encourages you to perform these simple procedures before calling us.

Check disconnected switches (indoors and outdoors if you have a split system). Make sure that circuit breakers are on or that fuses have not blown.  Check for sufficient airflow. Make sure air filters are clean and that supply-air and return-air grilles are open and unobstructed.

Check the settings on your thermostat. If you want to cool, make sure the temperature control selector is set below room temperature and the SYSTEM switch is on the COOL or AUTO position. If you want heat, make sure the temperature control selector is set above room temperature and the SYSTEM switch is at HEAT or AUTO. The FAN switch should be set at ON for continuous blower operation or AUTO if you want the blower to function only while the home heating system or central air conditioning unit is operating.  In addition to the routine maintenance you perform, your home comfort system should be inspected at least once a year by a properly trained service technician. One of our highly trained technicians will make sure your heating and air conditioning system operates safely and give

What are some health benefits to using a whole-house humidifier in the winter?

Humidifiers work by adding moisture to the air. Humidifiers are most commonly used to help ease congestion without the use of medicine, but they also have these additional benefits:

  • Dry skin conditions
  • Treating cold, flu, and allergy symptoms
  • Easing asthma
  • Reducing static electricity in your home
  • Preventing premature peeling of wallpaper
  • Preventing cracks in paint and furniture

Humidified air also feels warmer, allowing you to turn down the heat in your home, reducing heating costs, without sacrificing comfort

What are some examples of contributors to poor indoor air quality?

Many factors can cause poor air quality in your home. Some common contributors are listed below. Although you may not have all of these occurring in your home, by addressing the ones you do, you can increase your air quality and overall home comfort.

  • Irregular maintenance. Lack of regular maintenance on your heating and cooling system can lead to poor air circulation, reduced efficiency, and wasted energy. A regular HVAC tune-up of your system can keep tabs on the air quality inside your home.
  • Airborne particles. These can come from anywhere and often result in allergic reactions. A good filtering system can relieve this problem, such as a highly rated filter, air cleaners, or air purifiers added to your current heating and cooling system.
  • Excessive moisture. This is just as big a problem as it promotes the growth of microbes and mildew. The first symptom is usually moisture collecting on your windows and dampness on your walls. A properly sized air conditioning system not only cools indoor air but also helps reduce humidity. The best solution for excessive moisture is a dehumidifier.
  • Uneven circulation. This is often caused by a poorly sized duct system. Check your ducts to make sure they’re tightly sealed and free of debris so they can achieve maximum efficiency and air quality. Have them inspected by a professional once every 3 years to ensure they are clean and operating efficiently.
  • Sealing air leaks. This will virtually eliminate drafts and prevent pollutants from entering your home through the leaks. It will also help minimize energy consumption.
  • Improper venting can result in condensation. It can also be the cause of ‘stuffy’ air and can even contribute to structural damage to your house. Mechanical ventilation systems remove poor indoor air and replace it with fresh, conditioned outdoor air.

Our home is so dry and uncomfortable in the winter. Is there anything we can do?

Our customers’ overall safety and comfort in their home is always our top priority. The #1 reason why people get colds and flu in the winter is due to the lack of humidity in the air. When the temperature drops in the fall and winter it is important to keep a home properly humidified. Adding a whole-house humidifier will eliminate dry, scratchy throats in the winter as well as protect a home’s walls and furniture from the cracks and damage that dry air causes. In addition to a standard whole-house humidifier, we offer steam humidifiers that do not need the furnace to be running in order for it to humidify the air.

What can I do in my home to insure cleaner, safer air for my family to breathe?

This is the time of year when homeowners become most concerned with their family’s health. In recent years there has been a strong emphasis on conserving energy and therefore, homes are sealed tighter in order to prevent air from escaping. As a result, fresh air is unable to come in and indoor air contaminants become trapped inside causing poor indoor air quality. Many of the questions that come into our office are from people who want to know how to improve the quality of air inside their homes making it safer for their families to breathe.
The recent Swine Flu pandemic has people even more concerned. A simple solution to improving the air people breathe at home is the easily installed REME HALO® in-duct air purifier. The purifier is easily mounted into air conditioning & heating system air ducts where most sick building problems start. Not only is it proven to kill 99% of swine influenza virus, but it also uses Photohydroionization (PHI) technology to rid homes of other harmful pollutants that cause disease and illness. It is a product that we have a lot of confidence in and has been approved by the USDA, FDA, and FSIS.

In addition to killing swine flu it also rids homes of gasses & odors up to 85% and microbial bacteria up to 99%, it reduces e-coli, listeria, strep, and bird influenza by 99%, kills SARS, Candida, Norwalk, MRSA, and Bacillus spores, reduces airborne mold by 97% and causes a 99% food surface microbial reduction