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Frequently Asked Questions

Heating Questions
Air Conditioning Questions
Indoor Air Quality Questions

Heating Questions

Q: What should I do if my heating system doesn’t work?

A. Before you call us to for a service appointment, go through the troubleshooting list below to ensure you need a service call. It could save you the cost and inconvenience of an unnecessary service visit, and it will ensure that our technicians are working where they are needed most.

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Q: How does a furnace work?

A: Heat is generated by burning gas, oil or propane inside the furnace. Hot gases (byproducts of fuel combustion) pass through metal tubing called a heat exchanger and then out of your home through a vent pipe. A blower or fan then moves air in your home’s duct system over the outside of the heat exchanger, which warms the air. The warm air is then circulated throughout your home.

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Q: How is a furnace different from a boiler?

A: While the heating principle is the same, a boiler heats water instead of air. The heated water is circulated by pump through a system of baseboards in the home. Some boilers are designed to create steam, which is piped to radiators throughout the home .

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Q: What is a “cracked” furnace?

A: The heat exchanger is the main component of a furnace. If it has a crack or a rust hole, combustion fumes (including carbon monoxide) can escape into your indoor air. This is a potentially deadly situation and must be addressed right away. Usually it requires replacement of the old furnace with a new one. If you suspect there might be a crack in your furnace’s heat exchanger or a carbon monoxide problem with your furnace, turn the system off immediately and call us for service.

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Q: On mild winter days my furnace runs in short blasts and my home alternates between being too hot and too cold. How can I fix this?

A: A two-speed or variable-speed system is a good solution.  Two-speed furnaces can run at a lower speed up to 90% of the time. This means they operate more quietly and run for longer periods of time than single-speed furnaces. Longer operating periods mean fewer on/off cycles and smaller temperature swings. Plus, when a system’s fan runs for longer periods, it prevents air “stratification” – warm air rising to the ceiling and cold air settling on the floor. You get more consistent, even heat throughout your home.

Variable-capacity furnaces provide the ultimate combination of comfort, efficiency and performance. In addition to the benefits of two-speed furnaces, they offer “smart” motors that adjust the volume and speed of air to provide the most efficient heating or cooling for your home, no matter how mild or cold the weather. They offer added electrical efficiency as well, because smart fan motors use less electricity than traditional motors. They operate so efficiently that they actually increase the efficiency rating of your heating system.

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Q: I hear a lot of talk about “high-efficiency” heating systems. How is a heating system’s efficiency determined?

A: When we tune up your heating system, we do a combustion efficiency test that tells us how well your burner is converting oil into heat. But even if your burner has a good combustion efficiency “score,” it doesn’t necessarily mean the heating system is efficient. Burner efficiency is just one part of a system’s total efficiency.

The other part is Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE), which is determined according to guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy. AFUE indicates system efficiency over an entire heating season, which makes it a better measure of efficiency than combustion efficiency alone.

If your system has a low AFUE, replacing only your burner isn’t a good idea, especially if your equipment is old. For a system that’s as efficient as possible, you should replace your whole system.

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Q: At what temperature should I set my thermostat?

A: Different people feel comfortable at different temperatures. Pay less attention to the numbers on the thermostat display (or the position of the temperature indicator on a non-digital display) and more to how comfortable the room feels to you. When you feel comfortable, check the setting. That’s the right temperature for you.

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Q: Should I install a programmable thermostat?

A: Absolutely! Programmable thermostats are especially useful for people who are away from home at regular intervals. They allow for customized comfort settings around-the-clock, and they can cut heating and cooling costs by as much as 33%!

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Q: I’m on a fixed income and am finding it harder every year to cope with the high cost of heating my home. Is there a way I can lower my fuel bills?

A: Many of our customers are having problems with making ends meet with today’s high fuel bills. We recommend signing up for our Smart Pay program, which spreads out your fuel bills over 11 months, cutting winter fuel bills by 50% or even more.

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Q: Why do oil-fired water heaters save money and prevent hot water run-outs?

A: Heating oil produces the hottest flame of any home heating fuel. This means an oil-fired water heater heats water faster. How fast? On average, oil-fired units heat water three times faster than gas heaters and five times faster than electric units. And don’t forget, over the last 10 years, heating oil in the Garden State has been significantly cheaper than gas or electricity.

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Air Conditioning Questions

Q: What does SEER stand for?

A: SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It is used to indicate the efficiency of air conditioning systems. The higher the SEER value, the more cooling you get per unit of energy. As of January 2006, federal regulations prohibit the manufacture of cooling units with a SEER lower than 13. Today’s cooling units are up to 40% more efficient than those made as recently as 10 years ago.

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Q: Is it OK to “mix and match” air conditioning components of different efficiencies? Just because my compressor is on its way out, does it mean I have to replace my indoor unit too?

A: It’s never a good idea to mix and match air conditioning components that have different SEERs (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). Proper sizing and installation of equipment is critical to achieving optimal performance. Split system air conditioners and heat pumps must match the appropriate coil components in order to meet the current Energy Star requirements. Look for R410A refrigerant systems; now rate at 16 SEER for more savings.  You might save money initially by replacing only your outdoor unit with one of the new, mandated, 13-or-higher-SEER compressors and hooking it up to your 10- or 12-SEER system, but in terms of long-term savings, it doesn’t make sense. (It’s kind of like buying a brand-new BOSE stereo and hooking it up to old, antiquated speakers.) You’re just not going to get your money’s worth in terms of comfort and efficiency. You’re better off paying a little more up front to save more over time. We have the expertise to help you choose the right air conditioning equipment for your home. For a no-obligation evaluation, contact us.

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Q: My home has a forced-air furnace but no air conditioning system. Can I add central air?

A: You bet! We can mount a cooling coil on top of the furnace and install a condensing unit outside. For a no-obligation evaluation, contact us.

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Q. My home does NOT have forced-air heating, so there is no ductwork. Can I still get central air conditioning?

A: Absolutely! Today, ductless air conditioning options make it possible to install a quiet, efficient air conditioning system in your home even if it doesn’t have ductwork.

Ductless a/c systems consist of one or more indoor air distribution units linked by refrigeration lines to an outdoor compressor. These flexible “hoses” can be positioned inside your walls and ceilings with a minimum of inconvenience. Installing ductless air conditioning costs a little more than standard central air systems, but it costs much less than installing ductwork and a central air conditioner.

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Q: Why does it cost so much to run an air conditioning system?

A: Air conditioners run on electricity, and electricity is the most expensive energy source. Converting fuels like coal or natural gas into electricity is inherently inefficient. What’s more, much of the electricity originally generated at the power plant is lost during transmission over power lines. As a result, electricity is only 33% efficient on average, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Q: Do I really need a tune-up for my air conditioning system?

A: An air conditioning tune-up and inspection will help catch service problems before they get you hot under the collar. Many breakdowns occur on the hottest day of the year – because that’s when your air conditioning system is under the most stress. And because a tune-up ensures that your system will run at peak efficiency, you’ll have lower electric bills. A system that’s running efficiently can save you as much as 30% on cooling costs. So give us a call to schedule your annual tune-up!

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Q: What should I do each spring before my I start my air conditioning system for the first time?

A: Follow these steps:

During the cooling season, you should:

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Indoor Air Quality Questions

Q: I keep hearing about indoor air quality. Why is that such a big issue, and is it that important?

A: Homes today are tightly sealed to cut energy costs. Unfortunately, this also means there is very little turnover between indoor and outdoor air. When you consider the many sources of indoor air pollution, like dust, pet hair, cleaners, chemicals, mold, mildew and smoking, it’s no wonder that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says indoor air can be up to 70 times more polluted than outdoor air. It is also why the American Lung Association says that half of all illnesses are now caused, or aggravated, by indoor air pollution.

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Q: Why should I consider a high-efficiency air cleaner?

A: High-efficiency air cleaners remove up to 99.97% of airborne contaminants in your home. By getting rid of pollen, dust, mold spores, dust mites, and bacteria these air cleaners can reduce allergy symptoms and illnesses. Please see our equipment section for more information on  indoor air quality products.

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Q: What is a HEPA filter?

A: HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Arresting. True HEPA filters can remove up to 99.97% of particulate matter from the air circulating through them. Many companies advertise and sell filters and products as HEPA even though they don’t really meet HEPA standards. HEPA filters remove particles as small as 0.3 microns. This means a properly operating HEPA filter will remove bacteria, viruses and smoke from the air in your home. It is also the technology used to keep the air in hospital operating rooms clean.

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Q: What is the purpose of a UV (ultraviolet) light in cleaning indoor air?

A: UV lighting is used to sanitize the air in hospital operating rooms, a technique that has been adapted for home use. UV lights are placed in the duct system and near air conditioning coils to literally sterilize biological contaminants. They keep the air in your home free of mold spores, mildew, bacteria, dust mites and viruses. They also prevent the formation of mold and mildew on air conditioning coils, which is a common problem.

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