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  1. Heat Pump Pros and Cons

    December 13, 2012 by admin | Category: EducationalComments (0)

    While heat pump is almost identical to air conditioner use of heat pumpsductless-heat-pump-on-brackets in winter brings forward some factors that we never consider for air conditioners.

    Heat Pump Pro’s
    ♦ Efficiency.
    A heat pump produces 3 kW of heat per every 1 kW of electricity spent. Compared to a regular electric heaters, where you get only 1 for 1, this is 300% efficiency.♦ Year-round use.
    Heat pumps can be used in Toronto almost year-round. Air conditioners are only used for a few short weeks of summer.♦ Use of cheap electricity
    With “smart” hydro meters night time and weekends electricity rate will be only 3.2 c per kilowatt. At this price and at 300% efficiency, electricity is becoming the energy of choice for heating.

    ♦ Take advantage of global warming. As winters in Toronto are getting milder, heat pumps are becoming more and more profitable to use.

    ♦ Better comfort in the house.
    Heat produced by heat pumps is less intense than heat from the furnace. It makes the heating cycle longer and heat distribution more even.

    ♦ Safe to use. Since heat pumps use electricity, not fuel no reason to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning or fuel (gas, propane, oil) escape inside of the house.

    Heat Pump Con’s
    ♦ Price.
    Heat pumps are more expensive than air conditioners.  In that respect ductless heat pumps are ahead of the central air units. In the ductless world the price difference is approximately $200 and all the premium  comes with the hardware. Installation of a ductless a heat pump  is no different from installation of a ductless air conditioner, because all the additional functionality built into the hardware and comes from the Factory. At this small premium, ductless heat pumps are already easy choice against ductless air conditioners.
    hings are not so simple with central air units. Heat pumps carry sizable premium compared to air conditioners, and installation  requires more time and more skilled labour. As a result, central air heat pumps cost approximately $1,000 more than a similar air conditioning unit.♦ Need In Supplemental Heat.
    Heat pumps need supplemental heat at low temperatures. There are two main reasons for that.1. Cold outdoor temperature lowers the heating capacity of the heat pump. At the same time as temperature drops the house needs more heat. At some point supplementary heat has to be turned on to meet the heat demand from the house.

    As it gets too cold, approximately below -15ºC, heat pump has to be turned off altogether to prevent it from damage.2. In central air systems most of the time a heat pump is undersized from the very beginning. Since the same system is used for both heating and cooling, the heat pump is limited by the smaller of the two needs – the cooling one. As outdoor temperature goes down, the heat pump even running non-stop cannot provide enough heat.Today’s ductless heat pumps have varying capacity compressors and intelligent computers inside. It makes them much more adaptable to the needs of the house. They are much less affected by outside freezing temperatures.

    Supplemental heat is not as a big a deal as it sounds. A couple of electric strips can be easily accommodated by the ductwork at a cost of a few hundred dollars. On the other hand, it may spare you buying a new furnace at $3,000.

    Alternatively, you may already have an old low efficiency furnace. If it is still in a good shape, you can leave it for supplemental heat.Those are some of the factors that may help you to choose between an air conditioner and a heat pump.

  2. What is a heat pump?

    December 11, 2012 by admin | Category: EducationalComments (0)

    Heat pump moves heat from cold spaces into warm ones. The fridge, the air conditioner, and the freezer are heat pumps.

    In winter cold and warm spaces reverse. Outside becomes cold and inside becomes warm. So, let’s reverse the air conditioner. Let’s start pumping heat from the cold street into the warm house. This is when people start using name “heat pump”  instead of “air conditioner”. Air conditioners always pumped heat, but historically only those that can ump in the both  directions are called “heat pumps”.

    cools in summer               heats in winter
    Cools in summer                                  Heats in Winter 
    What makes heat pumps stand out among other heaters is their efficiency. A regular electric heater will get you 1 kW of heat per every 1 kW of electricity spent. Today’s heat pump will return you 3 kW of heat on every 1 kW of electricity spent. To pump heat with electricity is 3 times more efficient then just to burn electricity.

    Are Heat Pumps Good for Winter?
    Only a couple of years ago energy was cheap and technology was inefficient, especially at low outside temperatures. Things started changing in 2006. Heat pumps efficiency went up  from 10 SEER to 16 SEER and now even 23 SEER.  It change things dramatically.
    Who Benefits The Most

    There are no hard numbers at this time to draw a line when to use heat pumps and when not to. Also, the situation is changing by the day. Still, there are some clear cut situations. There several factors to consider when making decision on others.

  3. House Heating Options

    December 10, 2012 by admin | Category: EducationalTags: , , , , | Comments (0)
    When you need to heat your home – a forced air gas furnace, even a high efficiency one, is no longer the only heating option. Lately, heat pumps greatly increased their efficiency. Today a heat pump successfully competes with a gas furnace for the place in your home.The possible situations are endless. The table will help you to find the best possible heating solution for your needs.

    A ductless heat pump is the most diverse home HVAC machine. It heats and cools locally, but if you have the ductwork in your home, turn the fan ON and warm air will be carried around the house. Good for energy saving when you can keep only one room at a time cozy. For the rest of the house the setting of

    the thermostat can be significantly lower.A central heat pump supplies heating and cooling for the entire house. If you are replacing the air conditioner anyway, it might be worth to look at the heat pump instead. For some extra money, you will be able to use the heat pump all year around instead of a few short weeks of summer for cooling only.

    Most of the heat pumps don’t work when it’s below -10°C outside. It’s already not too bad since we don’t have to many days when you will have to use the back up heat.

    home heating
    ♦ Normally this systems provide zone (spot) heating / cooling. If a house has the ductwork, by keeping the fan constantly running heat and cool can be distributed through the entire house.

  4. New Job Listings

    December 8, 2012 by admin | Category: EducationalComments (0)


  5. How to Remove a Clog and Maintain an Air Conditioning Drain Line

    November 14, 2012 by admin | Category: Educational, Helpful, InformationTags: , , , | Comments (0)

    One of the most common reasons an air conditioning service technician is called is the condensate drain line has clogged. In most cases this is a huge waste of money. The fix is often simple and special tools are not required. To make this type of service call worse, a backed-up condensate drain line is an avoidable problem. Simple maintenance twice a year keeps even the most used air conditioning condensate drain line from getting a clog.

    Over time sludge forms in an air conditioner’s drain line. This happens because the normal current from condensate is not enough to flush the line. Tiny particles form along the bottom of the long horizontal parts of the drain line. Once in a while, some sludge will break free and travel to a restriction, where it will settle. Once enough sludge particles collect in one spot, a clog is created. Then the water will back up into the air conditioning drain pan. After the pan is full, water will overflow into the house. This is when most homeowners notice the problem.

    Turn the air conditioner off at the thermostat. There is no reason to add more water to the problem. Take the panel off of the inside air conditioning unit where the evaporator coil is. Two copper lines and the drain line connect to the evaporator coil. Inspect the drain pan. If the drain is blocked, the pan will be full of water. Use a wet/dry vacuum to clean the drain pan. Place a rag over the spot where the drain line enters the pan. This will help keep the mess to a minimum later.

    Find where the condensate pipe exits the house. This is usually near the copper lines that connect to the outside air conditioning unit. Follow these lines back to the house. Look for a plastic pipe. It is usually one inch in diameter (black, grey or white). You may need to dig a small hole in the ground near the spot where the copper lines enter the house to find it. If the pipe stops underground, then this is the problem. Clean the dirt out of the end of the pipe, add a short piece of pipe and a 90-degree fitting to get the end of the pipe out of the ground. If the condensate line is not at the air conditioning unit you must walk around the house to find it. Look for a plastic pipe that sticks out of the ground for no apparent reason or a wet patch of dirt.

    There should be a 90-degree fitting at the end of the condensate drain line. This fitting should not be glued on. Remove the fitting. Often this is the place where the clog forms. If so, removing the elbow releases the restriction and the sludge will flow freely. Use a wet/dry vacuum to stuck the sludge from the pipe. In most cases, this will completely free the drain. For extreme cases a hose will be needed. This is why you put a rag in the inside unit. Turn the water hose on. Fold the hose near the drain line to stop the water. Place the end of the hose against the end of the condensate line. Release the water for ONLY ONE SECOND. Allow the water to exit the pipe. The clog should break free. If not, repeat this step. Go inside, remove the rag and add water to the drain pan. Water should flow freely to the outside. When the blockage is free, reinstall the front panel of the inside unit and the elbow on the drain line outside.

    Air conditioning condensate drain lines should have maintenance perform at least once per year, twice is better. This is a simple process. All that is needed to be done is pour 1/2 to 1 gallon of warm water down the drain. A lot of air conditioning systems have a T-fitting near the air handler. Open the top of the T-fitting and slowly pour the water down the drain. If your system does not have the T-fitting, then you must remove the evaporator coil cover to access the drain. Pour the water into the pan.

    For more information, visit Factoidz:Air Conditioning Condensate Drain Cleaning and Maintenance


  6. What To Do if Your Air Conditioner Freezes

    November 2, 2012 by admin | Category: Educational, Helpful, InformationTags: , , , , , | Comments (0)

    No matter how diligent you are about replacing your air conditioner filters and having regular air conditioner maintenance, there is still a chance that your air conditioner could freeze up during the summer. Before we get into how to fix the problem of your air conditioner freezing up, let’s take a look at what could cause your air conditioner to freeze up in the first place.

    What makes an air conditioner freeze?

    There are three main things that can cause an air conditioner to freeze up:

    Lack of air flow – this is the most common reason that many air conditioners freeze up. Dirty air filters or undersized ducts can limit airflow, causing the temperature of the cooling coil to drop to below freezing. Usually, changing the filters is enough to fix the problem. However, if your air conditioner is freezing up due to undersized ducts, the problem is a result of weakened airflow causing humidity in the air to build up and freeze on the coil.

    Refrigerant leaks – the amount of refrigerant in your air conditioner has to be carefully controlled if you want to keep your air conditioner running effectively. Too much, or too little, refrigerant in your system could cause your air conditioner to freeze (or not provide enough cooling).

    Outdoor temperature – when it gets especially cold at night, there is a chance that your air conditioner could freeze up. Air conditioners don’t do well when temperatures are below 60 F – if temperatures dip this low, turn off the AC and open the windows to save some energy!

    What To Do if Your Air Conditioner Freezes

    The steps you should take to fix your air conditioner if it freezes depend on the reason why it froze.

    If your air conditioner is frozen, turn it off immediately and let it defrost – this will prevent any serious damage to the system. Next, check all the air filters in your home to see if they are dirty or blocked. If they are, clean or replace them. Check back in 24 hours – if there is no more ice on your compressor, changing the filters solved the problem.

    If it’s a lack of refrigerant that has caused your air conditioner to freeze, it’s best to talk to an HVAC contractor. They will know the exact level to set your refrigerant at to ensure optimal air conditioner operation. In addition, if your air conditioner is freezing due to a refrigerant leak, they will be able to fix the problem. There’s also the chance that your defrost timer is on the fritz.

    If your air conditioner is freezing up and you don’t know why, call the experts at Magnolia Heating & Air Conditioning. We can provide air conditioner repair in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC to make sure your air conditioner stays healthy and efficient all summer long.

    For more information, visit Magnolia Heating and Air Conditioning


  7. How Does a HVAC Work?

    October 2, 2012 by admin | Category: EducationalComments (0)

    High Pressure Side

    • An air-conditioning unit consists of two sides, a high pressure and a low pressure side. The high pressure side of the HVAC system begins with the compressor. When the refrigerant (the special gas used inside the air-conditioning system) enters the compressor it is spun rapidly until it is highly pressurized. This highly pressurized gas, which is veryhot as a result of being pressurized, then exits the compressor and flows through a tube to the condenser. The condenser uses a large fan to blow air over tubes containing the high pressure gas, cooling the gas, which transforms it into a liquid state. In some systems, the high pressure liquid will then enter a dryer to be purified, but most home systems send the liquid refrigerant through a tube directly into the evaporator.

    Low Pressure Side

    • The high pressure liquid will enter the evaporator, which begins with a metering device. The metering device, which is a section of tubing that tapers into a small opening, allows only a small amount of high pressure refrigerant to enter into the low pressure section of the system, causing it to drop rapidly in pressure and vaporize. This rapid drop in pressure also causes a rapid drop in temperature, and this now extremely cold refrigerant gas travels through a number of tubes and then back into the compressor. The air-conditioning system uses a large fan to pull in air from inside the building and then runs that air over the cold tubing of the evaporator, rapidly cooling it and sending it back into the building via the air vents. It is this cold air which cools the inside of the building.

    The Heater

    • The heating system of a building utilizes part of the central air-conditioning system in order to function. With a standard heating system, a gas burner is lit and powered in order to create a heat source. This heat source then uses the fan from the air-conditioner, the one that was used to run air over the evaporator, to run air over the gas burner. This air then exits the air-conditioning vents into the building, and is used to heat the building to the desired temperature. As with the air-conditioning system, the air used to run over the burner is also taken from inside the building. This recirculation allows for the building to keep a constant temperature with a minimal amount of energy.

    Read more: How Does a HVAC Work? |


  8. How to Add Freon to a Home Air Conditioning Unit

    October 1, 2012 by admin | Category: EducationalComments (0)

    Contrary to popular belief, home air conditioning units do not eat through freon in the same way cars guzzle oil or even gas. When your air conditioner is low on freon, this is usually due to leaks that can begin to occur as your unit ages. Adding freon yourself is not a do-it-yourself project. Freon is an Environmental Protection Agency-controlled substance and could be hazardous to people and the environment if it is released into the atmosphere. Further, improper handling could subject you to costly EPA fines. It is critical that you hire a certified HVAC technician to check your system for leaks and add freon as necessary.



  9. How to Identify a Leak in Your Central Air Conditioner

    September 24, 2012 by admin | Category: Educational, HelpfulComments (0)

    A Central air conditioner or cooling system may sometimes leak water due to clogging of the drain pipe. All kinds of central AC’s produce condensate and AC’s will have a drain pan to hold the condensate. A drain pipe is attached to the drain pan which empties the condensate outside. At times due to the clogging of the drain pipe, water may leak from the AC. To find if your AC is leaking you need to look for certain aspects.

    Step 1: Checking the drain pan

    Checking the drain pan regularly will help you identify if your AC is leaking. Open your AC’s cooling coil cabinet and see if the drain pan is flooded. If it is, then you can be sure that your drain pipe is clogged and it needs to be cleared.

    Step 2: Clearing the drain pipe

    You can clear the drain pipe by using bleach and water. Otherwise use a pump and water to push water through the drain pipe.

    Step 3: Checking for water stains

    Check for water stains on the floor around the AC equipment and below the ‘A’ frame cooling coil. This will help you know if your AC has been leaking.

    Read more:


  10. Air Duct Cleaning

    by admin | Category: EducationalComments (0)

    Knowledge about the potential benefits and possible problems of air duct cleaning is limited. Since conditions in every home are different, it is impossible to generalize about whether or not air duct cleaning in your home would be beneficial.

    If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses and if, after a visual inspection of the inside of the ducts, you see no indication that your air ducts are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold (no musty odor or visible mold growth), having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary. It is normal for the return registers to get dusty as dust-laden air is pulled through the grate. This does not indicate that your air ducts are contaminated with heavy deposits of dust or debris; the registers can be easily vacuumed or removed and cleaned.

    On the other hand, if family members are experiencing unusual or unexplained symptoms or illnesses that you think might be related to your home environment, you should discuss the situation with your doctor.

    You may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should occasionally be cleaned. While the debate about the value of periodic duct cleaning continues, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental, provided that it is done properly.

    On the other hand, if a service provider fails to follow proper duct cleaning procedures, duct cleaning can cause indoor air problems. For example, an inadequate vacuum collection system can release more dust, dirt, and other contaminants than if you had left the ducts alone. A careless or inadequately trained service provider can damage your ducts or heating and cooling system, possibly increasing your heating and air conditioning costs or forcing you to undertake difficult and costly repairs or replacements.

    You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:

    1. There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. There are several important points to understand concerning mold detection in heating and cooling systems:

    • Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection, so ask the service provider to show you any mold they say exists.
    • You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation. For about $50, some microbiology laboratories can tell you whether a sample sent to them on a clear strip of sticky household tape is mold or simply a substance that resembles it.
    • If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
    • If the conditions causing the mold growth in the first place are not corrected, mold growth will recur.

    2. Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects); or

    3. Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.

    Other Important Considerations…

    1. Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts or go down after cleaning. This is because much of the dirt that may accumulate inside air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. It is important to keep in mind that dirty air ducts are only one of many possible sources of particles that are present in homes. Pollutants that enter the home both from outdoors and indoor activities such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, or just moving around can cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. Moreover, there is no evidence that a light amount of household dust or other particulate matter in air ducts poses any risk to health.

    2. EPA does not recommend that air ducts be cleaned except on an as-needed basis because of the continuing uncertainty about the benefits of duct cleaning under most circumstances. If a service provider or advertiser asserts that EPA recommends routine duct cleaning or makes claims about its health benefits, you should notify EPA by writing to the address listed at the end of this guidance. EPA does, however, recommend that if you have a fuel burning furnace, stove, or fireplace, they be inspected for proper functioning and serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. Some research also suggests that cleaning dirty cooling coils, fans and heat exchangers can improve the efficiency of heating and cooling systems. However, little evidence exists to indicate that simply cleaning the duct system will increase your system’s efficiency.

    3. If you think duct cleaning might be a good idea for your home, but you are not sure, talk to a professional. The company that services your heating and cooling system may be a good source of advice. You may also want to contact professional duct cleaning service providers and ask them about the services they provide. Remember, they are trying to sell you a service, so ask questions and insist on complete and knowledgeable answers.

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