HVAC Frequently Asked Questions

Your heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system is vital to your home since it controls its heating and cooling services, temperature, and air quality. However, you might have some questions about how to best utilize and maintain your HVAC system and know when it’s time to replace it. Let Dahme Mechanical Industries, Inc. put some of your worries to rest as we tackle some commonly asked HVAC questions.

How Do You Know Which Air Filters To Use?

Your HVAC system uses a specific filter size, so look at your owner’s manual to know which size to purchase. Before you run out to buy a filter, consider your filter’s minimum efficiency reporting value. A higher-grade filter works well if those in your home suffer from allergies or asthma. Pleated air filters are best for reducing allergens, but you can’t leave them in the system for too long, or they will become clogged.

How Often Should You Replace Air Filters?

Dirty Air Filter

The most significant factor in how often you change your filter is what type of filter you use. The two main types of disposable filters are fiberglass and pleated. Fiberglass ones are more affordable but are less efficient at capturing particles in the air. They should be replaced monthly. Pleated ones are more expensive but are more efficient at trapping particles and can last up to 90 days. However, depending on where you live, the size of your home, and the air quality, the frequency could be more or less.

How Can You Improve Your Indoor Air Quality?

Poor indoor air quality can negatively affect your health and cause headaches, irritation to the nose and eyes, respiratory issues, and heart disease. Ways you can improve the indoor air quality include:

  • Vacuum and dust your home frequently. Splurge for a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove pet dander and dust particles, and use a grippy fabric when you dust so the dust sticks to it.
  • Run your bathroom fan for about 30 minutes after you shower. Doing so can reduce high humidity levels, which can cause mold and fungi to grow.
  • Use an air purifier. An air purifier senses and captures air pollutants, hygienically humidifies your air, and acts as a fan. Most remove pet dander, dust mites, and volatile organic compounds, which are gases emitted from everyday household products.

Does Adjusting the Thermostat Save Money on Energy Bills?

The Department of Energy estimates that you can save as much as 10% on your heating and cooling bills by turning your thermostat back between 7 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit for about eight hours per day. For instance, you can save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re awake and lower when you’re not at home or asleep.

You can follow the same strategy with your air conditioning during the summer. Keep your home warmer than normal when you’re not at home or sleeping, and then set it as high as you’re comfortable with when you’re at home. Aim for temperatures around 78 degrees when you’re home. Consider installing a programmable thermostat to help you achieve the best cost-effective temperatures.

How Often Do You Need Your HVAC System Serviced?

HVAC systems need frequent inspections, like your vehicle, to ensure everything is in working order. It’s best to have the system serviced yearly, but HVAC companies recommend having it inspected twice annually. Schedule an appointment in the spring to check the air-conditioning unit and one in the fall to check the furnace. Service technicians inspect your system, lubricate components, and determine if any parts need repairing or replacing.

How Long Do HVAC Systems Last?

A typical residential HVAC system lasts 10 to 25 years, depending on several factors. Some of these factors include:

  • Your home’s current HVAC system setup, whether it has a furnace or boiler.
  • Your home’s amount of insulation.
  • Your home was professionally sealed.
  • You’ve had routine HVAC tuneups.
  • Your local climate.
  • Your home’s temperature preferences.

When Should You Replace Your HVAC System?

If your HVAC system is within the 10- to 25-year range, you might want to pay particular attention to several signs related to the unit. Experiencing two or more of these might mean it’s time to replace the entire system.

  • Your energy bills are increasing significantly. You’re likely aware that your energy bills fluctuate depending on the time of year. Still, if your HVAC system is underperforming and overworked, it might need to be replaced.
  • You’re spending lots of money on HVAC repairs. While regular maintenance and the occasional repair are a typical part of homeownership, routinely spending thousands of dollars to repair the system isn’t worth it. You might want to consider spending that money on an entirely new system.
  • You’re uncomfortable in your own home. Do you find yourself too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter? Or does your air-conditioning unit run constantly, but your house remains stuffy? This might be an issue with your HVAC system and require a new one.

How Can You Extend the Life of Your HVAC System?

Since HVAC systems are a considerable investment, it’s understandable that you’d want to ensure yours lasts as long as possible. Reducing the usage of the system is one way to make it last longer, so turn the thermostat up or down and minimize its use when you’re not at home. Installing a smart thermostat can reduce usage remotely, so if you forget to change the settings before you leave, you can do so via an app. Changing air filters often and scheduling regular check-ups can also help.

If you have further questions about your HVAC system that we didn’t cover, reach out to our experts at Dahme Mechanical Industries, Inc. Since 1965, our family-owned and locally operated business has provided the Chicagoland area with trustworthy plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning services. Our trained and licensed technicians possess years of experience and can help you keep your HVAC system warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Photo Credit: Colder “wintery” weather means time to replace the furnace air filter! #NastyDust by HighTechDad is licensed with CC BY 2.0