Understanding the Basics of Your HVAC System

Knowing the basics of how HVAC systems work can give homeowners a greater appreciation for their system, inform them as to maintenance tasks they should be performing, help them diagnose problems, and communicate with technicians.

Types of HVAC Systems

There are several types of heating and air conditioning systems in modern homes. In climates that only experience one temperature extreme, a single-stage system may provide either heat or cold to a home. These systems are inexpensive but inefficient and are not commonly used.

Conventional systems will combine a furnace and an air conditioning unit to provide both heating and cooling capabilities. Most of these setups will have single-speed fans, which are only capable of running at full speed or being turned off. Newer systems may have variable-speed fans that run at various speeds to provide greater energy efficiency.

Zoning heating and air conditioning systems allow homeowners to control the temperature of multiple “zones” within their home individually. These systems allow greater comfort within a home and increased energy efficiency, but are more expensive than traditional systems.

Heat pumps are becoming a popular choice for replacing conventional systems. Heat pumps only move heat from one area to another, allowing them to function while using far less energy than other systems. Different types of heat pumps use different sources for heat and work more efficiently down to cooler temperatures.

6 Things Homeowners Should Know About Their System

Homeowners should understand the basics of their own system. Some important details include:

  1. Location of ducts. Air ducts carry conditioned air throughout a home. These ducts are essential to the heating and air conditioning system. Leaking or blocked ducts can keep air from reaching part of the house.
  2. Type of refrigerant. Federal law required the phasing out of refrigerant R-22 last year. Any that remains for repairing systems will be far more expensive than coolant R-410A.
  3. Location of the indoor parts of the system. Furnaces are usually located indoors, as is part of the air conditioning system. Homeowners need to know the location of these and keep an eye on their drain pans to be aware of any damaging leaks.
  4. Location of outdoor sections. The outdoor section of air conditioners need to be kept clean and clear of debris, so homeowners should know where this is and how to clean it.
  5. Seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). SEER ratings measure the energy efficiency of air conditioners. Higher ratings denote more efficient units.
  6. Air filter information. Air filters are the part of HVAC systems that need the most frequent maintenance. Homeowners can usually perform this maintenance if they know where the filter is located and the type of filter needed. Some filters can be cleaned, but many are simply replaced.

Homeowners who know what type of HVAC system their home uses and the basics listed above will find themselves better able to keep their systems running efficiently, and will be able to communicate more clearly with technicians.

Have any additional questions about your HVAC system? We love educating our customers about how their systems work. Contact us today.

The Latest Advancements in HVAC Home Comfort

Every industry undergoes changes from time to time. As new technologies are discovered and developed, it takes time for those new technologies to hit the mainstream and be accepted for everyday use as the new industry-standard. In the world of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), there are a number of technologies on the horizon that will begin to change the way that home owner’s heat and cool their homes.

Latest HVAC Advancements for 2016-2017

Here are some of the latest HVAC technologies that have already hit the market or will soon be showing up in homes across the country in no time:

Smart Thermostats

Though this is by no means a brand new technology, smart thermostats continue to improve, offering even more features that are not only convenient for homeowners but help them save money. For those not familiar with this technology, smart thermostats allow you to control the temperature and other aspects of your indoor air quality remotely from the convenience of your smart phone.

This Wi-Fi enabled thermostat helps homeowners cut down on energy waste by allowing them to control their HVAC system from wherever they may be. For instance, if you leave the AC on full blast when you left the house, you can adjust it to a more moderate temperature to save energy while you are away.

Smart Ventilation

Smart ventilation is another powerful technology that makes it easier for you to make your home environment more comfortable while also helping you reduce energy usage and cut cooling and heating costs. Smart ventilation uses sensors that allow you to monitor and control airflow in each room in your house.

You can save energy by reducing air flow to rooms that are often empty. You can also increase comfort levels by adjusting air flow to each room in line with the family member’s preference. For instance, if you like to feel the cool air directly on you, you might increase airflow to your room, while decreasing airflow to the room of a family member who easily gets cold. The best part is that all of this can be done from the convenience of your smartphone.

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF)

Variable refrigerant flow is also not a brand new technology. However, when connecting this technology to your home automation system, it has the potential to transform the way that home owners maintain a comfortable indoor environment year-round. Variable refrigerant flow gives you greater control over the temperature inside your home and allows you to adjust different rooms to different temperatures.

Everyone has different ideas of what temperature is optimal and which environment makes them most comfortable. This technology allows you to increase comfort for everyone by adjusting temperature to their liking. Combine this with the smart ventilation system, and you will be making your home more comfortable and saving energy in no time.

Some of these technologies are already being utilized in homes across the country, while others are not far behind. If you are interested in what HVAC upgrades might be available to you, contact us today.

 

Ductless Heating & Air Conditioning Systems

Ductless HVAC systems are nothing new. Ductless heat pumps have been a ubiquitous feature on apartment windows for decades. What is new is using them for whole house heating and the technology involved with that. Using a ductless system for your home provides several benefits over a traditional forced-air system.

Going Ductless

Homeowners have long been frustrated with the performance of forced-air HVAC systems. The uneven cooling, high operational costs, and air quality issues have caused much dissatisfaction. A ductless system can alleviate all these issues.

Even Heating & Cooling

A ductless system will work with an individual thermostat for each heat pump or a thermostat located within a ‘zone’ of your home. This allows you to individualize the temperature for each area, or only heat or cool that area as needed. New technology on some systems also lets you control the individual heat pumps and zones with ease via your smartphone.

Money Saving

The ability to finely control the heating and cooling of different zones, or rooms within your home can greatly reduce your energy consumption. A typical home will have an energy bill of which half is directly attributable to heating and cooling costs. If you can run individual parts of the system as needed, it negates the forced-air drawback of whole-house heating and cooling. If you couple that with the extremely efficient nature of heat pumps the savings can be drastic with the right setup.

Improved Air Quality

Indoor air pollution is a much larger issue than people tend to realize. A traditional forced-air system does very little to improve the air quality in the home. In fact in can aggravate the condition further by blowing dust, allergens, and pollutants around the home as soon as it switches on. A ductless system can greatly improve the air quality through multi-stage filtration and having multiple points of filtration. Each room or zone can have it’s own heat pump filtering the air as opposed to having one or two air returns in a home to cover the whole house.

A ductless system can be a great way to heat and cool a home but it’s not necessary for every home. A well-designed traditional forced-air system can function very well for a home depending on the needs and usage patterns. If you’re unsure of what system is best for you, give us at Schmitt Heating & Air Conditioning a call today to discuss your options!

Humidifiers Help Achieve Balance And Improve Indoor Air Quality

Humidity plays a role in the development and treatment of allergies. Though your home’s humidity level can range from 0 to more than 100 percent, the range for indoor environments tends to fall between 20 and 70 percent. Lower humidity improves indoor air quality, but higher humidity is better for the throat and nasal passages. It’s important to find a balance that is not too damp or too dry.

Lower Humidity Means Less Allergen Production

Dust mites and mold can’t thrive in lower humidity levels. Dust mites are nearly invisible creatures that live off of dead skin cells. When the enzymes in their waste become airborne, it can cause our allergies to run rampant. Dust mites thrive in higher temperatures 75 to 80°F and humidity in the 70 to 80 percent range. While it’s nearly impossible to eliminate house dust mites and their droppings, you can control their numbers by lowering the humidity in your home below 50 percent.

Higher Humidity Relieves Allergy Congestion, Irritation And Inflammation

Air that is too dry, meanwhile, can also cause issues for allergy sufferers. Dry air irritates nasal passageways, which can lead to sinus infections. It also can pose a problem for people with asthma and sensitive skin.

Breathing air that is higher in humidity levels can relieve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, like congestion, irritation and inflammation of the nasal passages. Moist nasal tissues can then do their job by expelling potential irritants and allergens, which will also reduce symptoms.

People with sensitive skin can also benefit from higher humidity levels. Eczema, atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis are aggravated by dry air. Using a humidifier can help alleviate some of the symptoms of this type of allergy.

Higher humidity levels in the home can also help during cold and flu season. A warm-mist humidifier or vaporizer will help ease congestion and coughing. This is especially important for children who are too young for over-the-counter cold medicines.

Humidifiers Help Homeowners Achieve Balance

It can be difficult to find the ideal humidity level in a home, but achieving the proper level is one of the best ways to alleviate the many allergy issues we all face. Many modern humidifiers feature a hygrometer, which measures the humidity in the air. Setting the humidifier between 40 and 48 percent humidity is a good practice because it balances dust mite control with the moisture needed to keep sinus and skin allergies at bay.

If you need help figuring out how to best achieve the perfect humidity level for your home or business with your home’s current HVAC system, be sure to give our professionals a call. Schmitt Heating & Air Conditioning is dedicated to helping our customers live comfortably! Call and schedule an appointment today, at (415) 689-7849.

Commercial Heat Pump Troubleshooting

Like any commercial appliance, heat pumps sometimes have mechanical issues. Below are troubleshooting ideas for some of the more common problems.

  1. Heat Pump Icing Up

If the top of your unit has a lot of ice, if ice is incasing the coils, or if the whole unit has a thick sheet of ice and snow covering it, you’ll want to take action. That much ice can prevent heat from transferring between the refrigerant and the air outside, and it will impede the heat pump’s operation. Any heat pump covered in ice should be attended to quickly, or the unit could become severely damaged.

Troubleshooting for Iced Heat Pumps

What you’ll need to do to fix your unit is dependent upon the type of problem it’s experiencing.

  • The unit isn’t defrosting—If the unit doesn’t defrost periodically like it should, ice will build up quickly. Faulty relays, sensors and controls can all cause defrost issues. The reverse valve, which makes the unit switch from heating to air conditioning, may also have a problem.
  • There is a problem with the outdoor fan—The motor of the fan might be failing or dead. Alternatively, the fan itself may be damaged, which makes it difficult for the heat to release from the unit and causes an accumulation of ice.
  • The refrigerant level is low—Slow leaks of refrigerant can keep the system from producing enough heat, which is needed to melt the frost.
  • The outdoor unit is blocked—Piles of snow can accumulate around the outdoor unit, which impedes the airflow and causes more icing.
  • There is water leaking onto the unit—If water is constantly dripping onto the unit from leaking gutters, it can cause a layer of ice to gradually form on top.

In order to troubleshoot the issue, melt the ice with water from a hose (never use a pointy object). Remove any debris or snow that is blocking the unit. See if any leaking gutters are causing water to drip onto the unit. Repair any you find. Call your HVAC company to troubleshoot further.

  1. Troubleshooting for a Heat Pump that Runs Constantly

 

A heat pump can run constantly in the summer if it is set to a low temperature in very hot weather. If this isn’t the case, your system might be too small and thus be unable to adequately heat the space, or the space may not be insulated well enough to retain the heat. Another culprit is a system that hasn’t had yearly maintenance, as it may have a buildup of debris.

Heat pumps run longer and heat less than furnaces. However, if in the winter the temperature is warmer than the mid-30s and you still find that it’s running all the time, you might have leaking refrigerant, a compressor problem or a frozen outdoor unit. A service technician can help you determine the problem.

Your HVAC company can help you with ice problems and systems that run too frequently. The company can also help with heat pumps that blow cold air instead of warm. Whatever type of issue your heat pump is experiencing, a qualified technician can help determine and fix the problem.

 

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4 Major Reason HVAC Systems Breakdown

These are the 4 most common reason’s your HVAC system breakdown, it normally happens when you least expect it and even some times can’t afford the extra expenses it causes. Trust us, monitoring your system is a very important step that no one should not do. Call us today and we will make sure your system is running smooth!

Differences between Commercial and Residential HVAC Systems

Heating and cooling technology can be customized to fit any environment, no matter how large or small. Within this wider range of possibilities there are two separate, distinct categories of HVAC technology: commercial and residential systems.
The principles behind each system are the same, but each has some general characteristics that distinguish it from the other.

Comparing and Contrasting

There are five points of difference between commercial and residential HVAC systems:

#1 Structure

Commercial HVAC technology is manufactured to meet the heating and cooling needs of large—and occasionally gigantic—indoor spaces. But amazingly all of that power comes from one self-contained piece of equipment called a prepackaged unit. Every specific section of a commercial system is housed inside a single cabinet, including the condenser, compressor, condenser fan, blower, evaporator and the condensation drainage components.

Residential systems, on the other hand, are decentralized and split between two sections: one on the exterior of the home (usually in the back) that contains the condenser and the compressor and another indoors (often in a closet or in the basement) that houses the blower, evaporator and drainage system.

#2 Location

Residential HVAC systems are divided between inside and outside and generally installed at ground level. But commercial systems are typically located on the roof of the establishments they are expected to service. The heated or cooled air they produce is piped inside and distributed through a network of ducts, with zone dampers included to regulate air flow.
Commercial HVAC equipment is installed on rooftops for three reasons: to eliminate noise pollution, to save valuable business/commercial floor space and to prevent repair and maintenance actions from interfering with normal business operations.

#3 Drainage

With residential systems the process is straightforward. Moisture is collected in a single drainage pan and piped for release outside. There’s usually little fuss and little muss.

But commercial drainage systems have to handle a greater quantity of condensation and cannot simply release it onto rooftops. Consequently commercial drainage systems are more complex and must include drain piping arrangements adequate to the task at hand.

#4 Exhaust Ventilation

Releasing exhaust is a relatively simple affair with residential HVAC technology, but it is a more complex undertaking in commercial systems. The former can make use of windows and direct access to the outdoors while that latter must utilize additional components to handle the load efficiently.

#5 Flexibility

Commercial HVAC systems are modular in design, meaning their heating or cooling power can be increased or decreased at any time through the addition or subtraction of unit supplements.

This is in sharp contrast to residential systems, which come with a predetermined heating and cooling potential that cannot be altered. For this reason it is vitally important that homeowners and landlords choose properly-sized air conditioners, heat pumps and/or furnaces right from the get-go.

 

Commercial or Residential, the Experts are Always There to Help

Regardless of the type of HVAC system you need, professional installers can help you make smart and logical decisions that will guarantee reliable heating and cooling performance. They can also provide you with essential repair and maintenance services as needed.

Be sure to follow us for more invaluable insights on the ever-evolving technology of residential and commercial HVAC systems.

These are the Most Common Indoor Air Contaminates

These are the Most Common Indoor Air Contaminates

Feeling Sick? Allergies kick you in the rear end? Fatigued? All of these can be relate to the Air inside your Home. Call us and we will trouble shoot your HVAC system and make sure the air you’re breathing is Healthy for you. We service San Francisco, Daly City and Pacifica. Call us today, don’t wait any longer!

How I Can Reduce My Energy Costs In The Winter?

87833483Consumers want to be warm and comfortable during winter. Staying warm is important, especially to elderly people and those with serious medical conditions. How can they keep chills at bay but also reduce winter energy costs? Here are some tips to ensure lower utility bills.

Choose Energy Efficient Appliances

Energy Star ovens, refrigerators, freezers, and other appliances are so-named for good reason: they run more efficiently than old or cheap machines. Insulation meets or beats regulatory standards and you can tell by how hot or cold they feel to the touch when running. Consider trading old models for new ones.

Go one better and maintain appliances throughout the year. Clean them, have a certified technician check them regularly, and replace filters where appropriate. Clean the condenser coil on your refrigerator. Do not over-fill the refrigerator and freezer or leave them empty. Even if you have nothing to put in the refrigerator, load it with full jugs of water.

Set an Appliance Timer

The sound of a furnace running is almost enough to make householders feel warm in its own right. When that sound ceases, that is the signal you just lightened the financial load. Do not allow a furnace or water heater running all day. Set both of them to operate when people are inside the house and preparing to use them. Otherwise, their warmth goes to waste.

Time Yourself

Peak hours of energy use are between the hours most individuals get up and go to bed. Consider starting the dryer or dishwasher just before you settle down for the night or load up an hour earlier each morning. Not only will you pay less but there is a better chance both loads will be full, thereby ensuring more efficient use of energy.

Unplug and Play

When you unload puzzles and board games from the closet or run outside to host a hot dog roast, unplug the appliances you are not currently using. Computers, the television, microwave, and other items continue to leach power even when turned off.

More Energy Ideas

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How Does The Office Temperature Effect Your Productivity?

You may be surprised to learn that the efficiency and performance of a commercial HVAC system can have a lot to do with a company’s overall productivity. Numerous studies have yield varying results when trying to determine the ideal office temperature to optimize productivity. The of studies majority find that between 70 and 73 degrees (Fahrenheit) is the best temperature to boost employee productivity.

Dialing in your office thermostat to an optimal temperature is actually more difficult than it sounds. Each individual working in the office has an opinion about what optimal temperature is. Body mass index describes how much body fat a person has. An individual with a low BMI usually gets cold easier while a person with a high BMI is more sensitive to heat. Age is also a factor because older people are more affected by cold. Most people are naturally more comfortable at warmer temperatures during the summer and colder temperatures during the winter because they are predisposed to expecting certain kinds of weather at certain times of the year.

Clothing affects how people are affected by ambient temperature. During the spring and summer, people tend to wear clothing made with thin fabrics that breathe. During the winter, wardrobes consist of heavy sweaters and coats made of materials designed to insulate the body.

You also need to think about controlling humidity in the work environment. It does you no good to set the temperature at a comfortable level if the humidity level is much higher or lower than 40 percent. Condensing air conditioners typically remove moisture from the air. During the winter, running the HVAC system can reduce the humidity level below a comfortable point. When this happens, your nasal passages, throat and skin dry out and it feels colder than it actually is.

Creating a comfortable work environment for your employees will pay off with increased productivity and a positive effect on the bottom line. Providing your commercial HVAC system with regular maintenance and service will ensure that it works at peak performance year round.

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