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"Custom Vac was recommended to me by a friend, so I was quite confident that they would be a good company to replace my furnace. Brian Baker, of Custom Vac, proved to be very knowledgeable, helpful and personable. Rather than upgrade to a high efficiency gas furnace, Brian recommended that I install an electric furnace and an electric water heater. After some consideration, I decided to take his advice and go with the electric."
Robert Taylor
Six Steps to Effective Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Checkups
"Beat the Heat" Steps to Effective Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Checkups

Many Homeowners think that pre-season cleanings and checkups are just a way for Contractors to keep busy during the early spring. "Not so", according to Brian Baker President of Custom Vac Ltd. in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Reasons For Checkups

Warranties - "They're not an option. Almost all Manufacturers warranties require annual maintenance by a qualified Technician," says Baker. Homeowners need to make sure that the preseason checkup meets the Manufacturers warranty requirements. Most often the low cost spring specials that show up with the tulips do not meet with the Manufacturers requirements. Seek a Company that will do it right.

Relationship - Pre-season checkups also build a relationship between you, your Contractor and the Technician. They become your advisors and can often make recommendations that can greatly improve the comfort of your home. Many times Technicians can prevent breakdowns by spotting a broken belt worn wire or contactor, etc. "Equipment doesn't know when not to breakdown. If in the event of a breakdown you will likely get priority service due to the relationship that you have built with your Contractor and Technician," says Baker.

Energy Savings - When an air conditioner or heat pump is properly tuned and maintained the result is comfort and energy savings. Another item is that when a Technician is in your home during the spring checkup he can offer you information regarding new and innovative products that can create healthier indoor climate. Many new products can significantly reduce energy use while at the same time improve indoor air quality. Items such as energy recovery ventilators, ***HEPA by-pass air filters and electronic air cleaners. The ultimate in home comfort products is the Lennox or Trane 90% *AFUE high efficiency two-stage variable speed furnaces combined with high-efficiency 13 **SEER air conditioners. These variable furnace blowers combined with large cooling coils, literally wring the moisture from the air making your home feel like your sitting on a beach in the south pacific with the trade winds gently blowing across you.

Homeowners Responsibilities

Background - Before a Contractor or Technician begins work ask them their qualifications; ask to see their Trade License and MOPIA refrigerant handling certification card. Anyone who is legitimately conducting business will produce proof, if they refuse, ask them to leave and find another Contractor. "You deserve the best, you cannot afford to have unqualified persons working on your comfort system," says Baker.

Questions and/or Changing Needs - Spend a few minutes with him/her to let them know what the system has been doing or not doing from your perspective. This may lead into many more questions and answers. This dialog will be beneficial to you both. Examples of questions might be "You know our heating bill last winter seemed to be normal but, the back bedroom was cold, can you look at this today?" or "My youngest child was just diagnosed with asthma is there anything you can do or recommend?" maybe, "We just moved here last month and the stickers indicate that your company was here before, can you tell me the service history and what has been done?

Equipment Check - Baker says, "technicians should take the time to check and/or clean the following,"


Clean the area around unit

Outdoor and indoor coils

Outdoor motor and fan blade

Repair any broken wires

Thermostat for level and location

Air filters

Ductwork

Blower motor, wheel, pulley’s, bearings and belt

Oil and lubricate all motors (if needed)

Drain pan and drain hose

 

Outdoor unit is on a sound level well-drained base

Refrigerant lines well supported and secure

For all signs of potential areas that might create refrigerant leaks

 

Air flow

System operating pressures and temperatures

Voltage and amperages to all motors

Test all operating and safety controls

 



When the pre-season cleaning and check is complete the Contractor and/or Technician should report any and all deficiencies and make recommendations for the systems repair, alteration and/or replacement. This written record should remain in your file for future use. As well, good quality Contractors keep a detailed database of the equipments history that's seconds away from retrieving. If you just purchased a home and are uncertain about the history of the equipment, look for a sticker on the appliance and call that Company they may be able to send you a record of what's been done in the past.

Hiring a good HVAC Contractor does not have to be difficult, you just need to do your homework, take a little time, and ask questions. Spring is the best time to begin your search and to have your equipment pre-season checkup done. "Beat The Heat," say's Baker those hot, muggy nights are scheduled to arrive.

Many times I'm, asked these two questions because homeowners are given misinformation says Baker,

"Is the coil match really that important?

You bet. Matching the indoor coil to the outdoor coil is critical. Always install a matched system. True capacity and system efficiency can only be achieved by matching the systems components. Never let anyone replace just the outdoor or indoor coil. All tubing should also be replaced as it contains contaminants and possibly acids that will only shorten the life of the new system. Most Manufacturers do not honor full or extended warranties if matched systems are not installed."

And

"How much of a difference does a small amount of refrigerant make?

A lot. Improper refrigerant charge, too high-too low has a major impact and can compromise system performance. Too much refrigerant can cause mechanical damage to the compressors valves, while too little can cause overheating of the compressor motor to the point where it overloads and fails. A study conducted by Texas A&M University found that a 23% refrigerant undercharge could result in a 52% efficiency loss. Even more serious North Carolina Alternative Energy Corp. found when comparing Manufacturers efficiencies versus actual efficiencies 90% of units tested exhibited some sort of energy wasting problem, 50% had improper refrigerant charge and 40% failed to meet minimum air flow criterion (20% were barely inside the range specified by Manufactures. In addition, a 20% reduction in air flow reduces the SEER rating by 17% and for those systems installed in attics, a 15% return air leak @ 120F could reduced SEER by 50%."

* AFUE - Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency

** SEER - Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (Manitoba Minimum SEER is 10 - US Minimum SEER to be 13)

*** HEPA - High Efficiency Particulate Accumulator

 

 

 

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R3E 1S5
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