In our modern world, it seems like everything is complicated. HVAC and refrigeration equipment and operation are undoubtedly complex.  At ThermalTran™, we believe that our moral imperative is to help bridge the knowledge gap between you and the sophisticated equipment that keeps you comfortable or maintains a storehouse of perishable food.  We understand that you do not have to be a mechanical engineer to understand what is essential in your household or business.  

The following frequently asked questions are a quick primer to some basic questions we field with our clients.  However, don't get lost in an esoteric Google tangent if you want to know more.  Call our team, and we would be happy to take all the time you need to understand what solutions work in your world.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I have my heating and cooling equipment serviced?

Your HVAC systems should be serviced at least once a year.  Many companies will tell you that you need it serviced twice a year, yet we find that a single, thorough service is sufficient to maintain most systems.  It is good to have this service done before the start of the heating or cooling season.

How often should I replace my HVAC air filters?

Your air filters should be replaced every one to three months, depending on usage.  Filter replacement is vitally crucial to the performance of your HVAC systems and your indoor air quality.

How important is my indoor air quality?

The short answer?  So important!  Improving and maintaining your indoor air quality is valuable to your home and family.  Your indoor air quality can be as much as 100 times worse than the outdoor air.  That means pollutants, allergens, dust, and mildew can be circulating in your home, affecting your family’s health and wellbeing.

What are the benefits of a programmable thermostat?

Installing a programmable thermostat in your home helps you control how much energy you use for heating and cooling.  If used effectively, a programmable thermostat can help you improve energy efficiency and save money on your utility bills.  Most companies won’t tell you that programmable thermostats can actually decrease your comfort and system performance when used with the most sophisticated equipment.  Call ThermalTran to learn how a variable speed system can significantly reduce energy costs while increasing your overall comfort.

What is a ductless mini-split system?

A ductless mini-split system is an alternative to traditional heating and cooling like central air.  Ductless HVAC works similarly to central heating and cooling, except it doesn’t require ductwork.  Your mini-split system will have an indoor and outdoor unit, but it will only require a small hole to be cut through the exterior wall—just big enough for a small bundle of piping.  Inside your home, the air will be conditioned and returned to the room by the same unit.

How does a ductless heat pump work?

Most ductless systems function the same way all conventional heat pump systems operate.  Yet, they are typically more efficient than the average split system.  The heat pump absorbs heat from outside the home in the winter and moves that heat inside.  The process reverses in the summertime, and the inside unit provides excellent dehumidification.  It comprises a single outdoor compressor unit and one or more indoor air handling units linked by refrigerant lines.

What are the benefits of HVAC zoning?

Zoned HVAC allows for better comfort control, decreased energy bills, and higher energy efficiency (energy waste is reduced because your HVAC equipment won’t have to work as hard to regulate the temperature throughout the house).

What should be done when I see ice on my HVAC system?

You have a problem when your AC freezes up, either inside or at the outdoor unit.  When your AC is frozen, you could subject your system to severe damage if it isn’t addressed promptly.  However, it is essential to understand that heat pump outdoor units WILL frost over in between defrost cycles.  The outdoor unit should defrost itself every 30, 60, or 90 minutes.  If the system runs for longer than two hours without defrosting, the ice buildup will become problematic.

How do I know when it's time for an AC or heat pump replacement?

Many homeowners have difficulty deciding whether to keep pouring money into their aging air conditioning system for costly repairs or upgrade to a new, more efficient AC.  The correct answer is unique to your situation, and ThermalTran will never push a system replacement when it is not an economically viable solution for your family.  We understand that any HVAC decision is as much a financial planning issue as an issue of comfort.  Call on our experts to help you make these decisions so your wallet doesn’t get hammered by a company pushing to sell new equipment.

What's wrong with my noisy air conditioner? Can I fix it myself?

First things first, you shouldn’t attempt to fix your noisy air conditioner on your own!  Unless you have professional knowledge of HVAC electrical system layouts and the proper meters to test all the working components of your AC, you are putting yourself and your air conditioner at significant risk for harm.  Call our team for help when your system starts making unfamiliar noises.

What is the best thermostat setting for summer?

Saving money on your monthly electric bills in the summer is important—so what is the best thermostat setting during the hottest season of the year?  We recommend keeping your thermostat set to 72 degrees (at the lowest) with the fan set to AUTO rather than ON.

Why are some refrigerants being phased out?

R-22 was one of the first to be phased out and replaced by R-410a.  HCFC-22 has been a common refrigerant used in residential heat pumps and air conditioners for more than 40 years.  But releases of R-22, such as those from leaks, contribute to ozone depletion, and the making of R-22 results in a byproduct that contributes to global warming.  The EPA is now phasing out this refrigerant.   R-410a will be replaced by R-454b in the same way, not for ozone depletion, but because R-410a has greater greenhouse gas properties than other options.  The one constant regarding refrigerants is that they will continue to change as technologies advance and we learn better ways to care for our planet.

When should I replace my furnace?

There are many factors that contribute to needing a furnace replacement.  How old is your furnace?  If it’s over 10 – 15 years old, it’s likely time for a furnace replacement—simply because this will improve your energy efficiency.  Other factors include: how well it’s heating your home, how often it requires repairs, how much it costs to heat your home, etc.  Ultimately, ThermalTran knows this is a significant financial decision for your family.  Our team will never suggest equipment replacement if it is not economically viable for your bottom line.

Do I really need a furnace cleaning every year?

Yes!  Not only does a furnace cleaning improve the performance and efficiency of your system, but most manufacturer warranties also require annual service to maintain the warranty.

How can I have lower home heating fuel prices?

With home heating fuel prices rising, many homeowners are concerned about their growing utility bills.  Find out what you can do to lower your costs!   Electrification is one option, and ThermalTran can help you weigh the pros and cons of electrification at your home or business.

What is hydronic heating?

Also called radiant heating, a hydronic system circulates hot water or another heated liquid through plastic piping installed beneath the floors, in baseboards, or through radiators.  Hydronic heating allows you to control the temperature in specific zones throughout your home precisely.

How does a heat pump work?

A heat pump works by transferring heat energy from one source to another.  In the winter, when your heat pump acts as a heating system, it extracts heat energy from the outside air (even in near-freezing temperatures) and transfers it into the air in your home.  When summertime rolls around, it’s as easy as flipping a switch to change your heat pump to cooling mode, where the heat is “pumped” out of your house.

Why are heat pumps more efficient than other types of systems?

Heat pumps are one of the most energy-efficient HVAC systems available on the market because they don’t burn fuel to provide heat.  The heat provided to your home is “harvested” or moved from outside your home during the winter.  Some heat energy really is free!  With a heat pump, you pay for the energy required to transfer that heat into your home.  In addition to their high efficiency, they can operate as both a heating and cooling system, thus reducing the number of systems that require maintenance, repairs, and replacements.

What is "Emergency Heat"?

Simply put, all heat pumps in northern climates (below 35 degrees) need a supplemental heating source.  Usually, it is in the form of electric resistance heating in the indoor unit.  However, it could also be a gas, oil, or hot-water backup system as well.  The supplemental heat is also referred to as second-stage or backup heating, with first-stage being the Heat Pump only.  Emergency Heat is when you use your supplemental heat (2nd stage) by itself, without using your heat pump (1st stage heat).

Different systems and thermostats have different ways of determining when the second-stage heat comes on to assist the heat pump, but it is always done automatically.  The two stages will work together in the colder months, and it is not necessary to switch your thermostat to Emergency Heat unless your compressor or refrigerant circuit has failed.

Is Emergency Heat more expensive to run?

If you have an all-electric heat pump, the answer is a definite YES!  It is much more expensive to run your heat pump on Emergency Heat.  And as the name implies, it should only be run in an emergency until your heat pump can be repaired.  Now, if you have Gas or Oil heat for your backup system, then the answer isn’t so clear.  It depends on the cost of your fuel, the efficiency of your heating system, compared to your electric rate, and so on.  But it is safe to say that the price increase won’t be as much as an all-electric system.

What is the proper indoor humidity level for our southern coastal community during the summer months?

ThermalTran takes humidity levels seriously since they factor into your personal comfort.  ThermalTran recommends 48% to 50% indoor humidity during the cooling season months for optimal comfort.  Humidities higher than 55% feel muggy at warmer temperatures or clammy at cooler temperatures.

A properly-sized heat pump will keep the humidity under control in your home.  Correctly sizing the equipment that serves your family is essential to controlling humidity.  Equipment that is too large for your home will damage your wallet and your comfort!  Contact our team for more information.

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