We recommend you check your filters monthly. Disposable-type filters are easy to maintain; if you notice any accumulation of dirt, just replace the filters. For maximum efficiency, do not clean a disposable filter, simply replace it. Some high-efficiency filters (such as the 1″ pleated air filters) can go as much as three months without a replacement, but for systems you use often, it is recommended that you regularly check for any dirt accumulation.

The filter location varies from system to system, thus it is always handy to know where your filter is located. In most cases, there is a removable filter access door in the return air duct beside the furnace or indoor unit. This is usually located in the basement, attic, or crawl space. 

For older systems, you can locate the filter inside the furnace beside the blower motor. There are also systems that have a central filter grille positioned in the ceiling. To reveal the air filter, simply swing the grille open. 

Bear in mind that, most filters have a single direction; that is, the air flows through in one direction. There is usually an arrow that indicates the direction of airflow, pointing toward the air handler and furnace. 

Occasionally filters will not have arrows. In that case, the best indicator is to look for the rougher side of the filter, as this is usually the part that accumulates dust, thus indicating that  the other side faces the equipment.

A permanent-type air filter is easy to clean. The following steps highlight the simple cleaning process. 

  1. Turn off the thermostat. Locate the air filter and remove it 
  2. Use a garden hose to spray the filter from each side. Do this continuously until your filter is clean. It is essential to use a hose with appropriate water pressure. Too much pressure may damage your filter, and too little might not clean it. 
  3. When the filter is clean, shake off any excess water and allow the filter to dry before you reinstall it. 
  4. Slide the filter back according to the airflow direction. Put on your thermostat and you are good to go. Remember to schedule another air filter cleaning for the following month.

Note:

  • Some large systems are built with two or more air filters. 
  • If you have more than one HVAC system, there is a strong chance that you will have additional air filters, so keep that in mind when cleaning or replacing them.

Cleaning your electrostatic air filter regularly will help improve the performance of your system, boost its efficiency, and make your living space more comfortable. The following instructions are for cleaning electrostatic air filters, although you can use these instructions for similar types of permanent air filters. However, remember to always read the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning your filter. 

Cleaning the air filter 

For the cleaning process, you will require a garden hose with good water pressure. First, you will need to turn off the system and take out the filter. Locate the arrow mark on the filter, which indicates the airflow direction. Next, use the hose to spray the filter from opposite the side where the arrow is positioned. Then spray the filter from the other side. Repeat this process until you are satisfied that the dirt has been removed. For filters that are extremely dirty and dusty, you can spray them with detergent first before spraying thoroughly with water. Once the filter is dry, reinstall the filter and turn on the system. 

It’s important that you use a hose with adequate water pressure for the cleaning process. Too much pressure can damage the filter while too little may not clean your filter appropriately. 

Note:

If you don’t have access to a garden hose, you can use a good vacuum cleaner with an attachment for the cleaning process. Using a sink or bathtub is never a good idea, as the water pressure is insufficient to ensure a thorough cleaning.

Heat pumps used in temperatures below 35 degrees Celsius (common in northern climates) require an additional (supplemental) heating source. This addition usually comes in the form of electric resistance heating positioned in the indoor unit. All of this is typically done by an all-electric heat pump (the backup system, can also be oil, gas, or hot water). While the heat pump itself is referred to as “first-stage” the additional (supplemental) heat is called the “second stage.” Emergency heat involves the use of the second-stage supplemental heat alone, without using the heat pump (first stage).

Each system has its own way of determining when and how the supplemental heat kicks in to aid the heat pump, but the process is automated. Both stages combine to provide heat in the colder months, and, as such, it is generally not necessary to switch your thermostat to emergency heat.

The appropriate time to use emergency heat is during emergencies, such as when your heat pump isn’t functioning as it should. If you observe that your living space is cold as a result of damages to your heat pump, that is a clear indicator that you should make use of the emergency heat. 

The heat pump is a piece of outdoor equipment. As such, it’s subject to damage from the elements and other factors. Therefore, you should check up on your pump regularly, especially during winter when snow and ice can accumulate on the unit. If your heat pump isn’t capable of providing heat, switch your thermostat to emergency heat and put in a call for professional service.

A red indicator light will glow to signify that the emergency heat is on. This light will stay on until you turn off the emergency heat. While on emergency heat, only the indoor unit and the back-up heat are operational. No signal is transferred to the outdoor heat pump. As a rule of thumb, put on all-electric systems to give you enough heat while the pump is fixed. Do the same for hot-water/gas/oil systems.

For people who run an all-electric heat pump, running on emergency heat is more expensive; therefore, you shouldn’t run on emergency heat for an extended period of time, just until your heat pump is fixed. In comparison to the cost of heating with gas or oil, there is no clear answer as to whether emergency heat is more expensive or not, as you would have to factor in the efficiency of the system, the cost of fuel, and many other factors. However, an all-electric system will always cost more than any other system.

The emergency heat light is an indicator that the thermostat is set to emergency heat. If the thermostat is not set to emergency heat and you observe that the light is on, get in touch with a professional servicer right away, as this could indicate an issue with your heat pump.

One of the most common questions we get when it comes to humidity is about the optimal level of humidity for your home.

Folks usually ask, “What is the best level of humidity during the dry heating season?” 

The answer is pretty straightforward. The best humidity range for your home is usually between 30% to 40% humidity (many professionals recommend leaving the humidistat at 35%). Anything above this can lead to window condensation, which will result in mold build-up.

The adverse effects of mold include asthma and respiratory problems. Dust mites are known to be the number one cause of allergies and an environment with a minimum of 50% relative humidity will facilitate their growth. Other allergens thrive in conditions above 60% relative humidity.

The effects of too little humidity in your home include dryness in the throat, skin, and nose. It can also lead to static electricity, which has an adverse effect on your electronic devices. 

Thus, keeping your humidity in the acceptable range of 30% to 40% is not only ideal for your health, it is also great for your appliances and furniture. 

Another plus of maintaining the right humidity level is energy savings and cost reduction. The right humidity level will keep you comfortable, warm, and, above all, save you money. 

Note:

  • Set your humidistat to 35% at the start of each heating season. Pay attention to the dryness of your living space – if it feels too dry, increase your humidistat by 5%. Always maintain the 
  • Ensure your humidifier is properly cleaned and set up correctly before turning it on.

HVAC equipment requires maintenance and service, irrespective of the type or model in your home. As a rule of thumb, it is expected that you service your equipment at least once every 12 months, although some professionals will recommend servicing once every 6 months.

The following is a loose timeline for when to check your system: 

  • Check your air conditioning in the spring 
  • Check your heating system in the fall 
  • Clean and service your oil-fired annually (preferably at the start of each heating season) 

The following are some of the services performed on your HVAC equipment during servicing: 

  • Air filter cleaning and replacement
  • Coil cleaning to enhance airflow, system efficiency, and drainage 
  • Outdoor coil cleaning to improve the efficiency, longevity, and durability of the equipment
  • Condensate pump cleaning to avoid a system failure 
  • Comprehensive visual inspection 

Benefits of servicing your system:

  • Increases the durability and lifespan of the equipment 
  • Boosts reliability and dependability 
  • Minimizes the risk of equipment failure and breakdown 
  • Increased efficiency leads to a reduction in energy waste and costs
  • Ensures safe and healthy operation 
  • Environmental protection 

Why should you register for a service plan? 

  • Discounted repair costs
  • Increased warranty
  • Priority status for repairs, purchases, and replacement 
  • Discounts on replacement and purchases

There are lots of benefits to having an HVAC system of the appropriate size. A system that is too small might prove inadequate in heating and cooling the house in extreme situations, whereas a system that is too large will most likely heat and cool the house too quickly, leading to an uncomfortable living environment and wasted energy (as well as an increase in energy cost). 

In addition, excessive heating or cooling by a large system can lead to moisture and mold issues and a reduction in the efficiency and life of the equipment. 

Getting an HVAC system of appropriate size is therefore very important; however, picking the right size isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Many different factors must be taken into consideration to ensure that your HVAC system is the right size, such as: 

  • The conditions of your basement and attic
  • Window sizes and types
  • Insulation of the house 
  • Type of walls
  • Type of house
  • Orientation of the house
  • And more

This is why we recommend that you get in touch with a professional or an experienced sales representative who can help take the appropriate measurements for your home. These measurements will play a key role in making sure that you get a system that’s the right size for your home. 

At ABC, we have a system in place that helps us to determine the correct system size for your living space. Our computer-aided heat load calculation carries out a room-by-room analysis of your home and determines the ideal system size for your home. This heat loss/heat gain analysis is instrumental when it comes to finding the correct system size.

A variable speed furnace is a high-efficiency and high-performance furnace that provides optimal comfort in homes and offices. Because of its efficient nature, a variable speed furnace is capable of delivering impressive air quality and temperature control while minimizing energy consumption. 

The term “variable speed” denotes the blower motor inside the furnace or air handler. The blower motor is an electronically commutated motor (ECM). An ECM allows the furnace to function at higher efficiency levels, requires little maintenance, and reduces the overall cost of operation. An ECM is a DC motor that works with a built-in inverter and magnet. Both components ensure better energy efficiency than furnaces with AC motors.

A variable speed furnace is able to operate at different speeds instead of the single speed used by conventional furnaces. The varying speed offers more control over the cool and warm airflow in your home. The motor is able to monitor data from your HVAC system at all times and makes the necessary adjustments to fit the demands of the room automatically. It does this by varying the amount of circulated air and taking into account certain factors (such as dirty filters and clogged vents) increasing or decreasing the fan speed as necessary. 

Variable speed motors are very adaptable to in-house conditions, only operating at full speed when needed. They are fully capable of operating at reduced speeds without compromising heating and cooling quality. Unlike a traditional furnace, a variable speed motor requires less energy to carry out the same function. 

Benefits of a variable speed furnace or air handler

  • A variable speed heating system is very efficient; its high efficiency ensures improved performance and reduction in energy cost 
  • It also provides excellent air distribution, temperature, and humidity control 
  • A variable speed furnace guarantees a higher degree of precision, which results in improved comfort
  • It’s better at removing humidity from the air and providing moisture protection
  • It can help clean the air in your home
  • A variable speed furnace is designed to offer a quiet operation. You don’t have to worry about any weird kicks or blasts when you put it on.

A two-stage furnace offers more efficiency than a single-stage furnace. It offers the precise heating and cooling your home needs at any given time and, in addition, operates very quietly. What’s more, two-stage furnaces are eco-friendly, as they do not produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide during operation. 

Given the information above, most customers opt to secure a variable speed, two-stage furnace. Even if you’re only in the market for a heat pump, the same principles apply – look for pumps with two-speed compressors accompanying a variable speed air handler. 

The working principle 

For most climates, the unit works in the first stage, operating at about 65% capacity. As soon as the outside temperatures drop to extreme levels, the second stage comes on to support the first stage with additional heat requirements. This results in much warmer air in your room, as well as a reduction in air fluctuations. 

Note:

While variable speed refers to the blower motor, two-stage denotes the gas valve and burners. Variable speed refers to the amount of air flowing through the ducts, while two-stage refers to the amount of heat sent out by the furnace.