Helpful Heating & Cooling Advice

What Your Filter MERV Rating Means

MERV RATINGS: WHAT DO THEY MEAN?filters

Generally speaking, most people take their HVAC system for granted. It is just one more thing to think about in the ever-stressful world of home ownership. Even people who pay attention and provide preventative maintenance on a regular basis could be doing more harm than good if not careful. Depending on what type of HVAC system you have, the filter may need to be replaced monthly, or every few months. One key item to note when purchasing filters is the MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). The MERV rating tells how effectively the filter takes the dirt, dust, allergens, and other things out of the air as it passes through the HVAC system.

When replacing a filter in your home, taking notice of the MERV rating is important to make sure the correct amount of air flow is coming through the filter. Without enough airflow, the HVAC system can overheat and cause electrical or mechanical breakdowns and burnouts later on down the road.

To avoid mechanical failure and an expensive service call down the line, be sure to check your HVAC system manual for the correct filter size and MERV rating. This will give you the correct amount of airflow and make your system run as optimally as possible. Changing the filters on a regular basis is also important. Having proper air flow is the most important part of maintaining your HVAC system. If a filter is clogged it can have the same impact as having a filter that is too thick for your system.Filter Media

Filters with a higher MERV rating are typically thicker and catch more particles. The caveat to that is they also require more force to push air through them. This is the reason filters have to be correctly sized for your specific HVAC system. Without proper air flow, the HVAC unit will overheat over time. This is what causes the costly repairs in the future.

If you are aware of which filter you need, and how often you should replace it, you are ahead of most people. Just make sure you are diligent with your preventative maintenance and that will help prevent service calls.

The MERV ratings on filters range from 1-20 and it will say on the side of the filter what the rating is.

MERV RATING: 1-4

These are the lowest rated filters. They are primarily for residential use. They catch the bigger things floating through your HVAC system. These items include; dust, pollen, carpet fibers, pet hair, and other things of that nature.

MERV RATING: 5-8

The next step up in MERV ratings helps remove some of the smaller irritants that are cycled through your heating and cooling system. As the MERV rating increases, the smaller the particle the filters will catch.

MERV RATING: 9-12

These filters are typically used in businesses. They are capable of catching much finer particles than the previous filters. They can even catch some of the larger bacterial cells, emissions, and some fine dust particles.

MERV RATING: 13-16

High-end filters like these are used in hospitals, or in situations where high amounts of allergens are present. These collect a very high amount of bacteria, smoke, sickness germs released from the body, and numerous other things.

MERV RATING: 17-20

This is the top-of-the-line for filters. In residential uses, and most commercial uses, it provides too much filtration and not enough air flow. These filters are used for quarantined locations and other highly sensitive areas. They are capable of catching viruses, all smoke particles, and everything else that runs through the HVAC system.

Knowing what each of these different types of filters is used for is important for being an informed homeowner. In the case of filters, the bigger MERV rating isn’t always better. If you are trying to do any type of preventative maintenance you want to make sure the correct part is put in. If you have any questions feel free to contact us at (866) 215-3831 or visit us at www.hvacpartsshop.com and we can help talk you through any issues you are having.site-logo

Beat the Summer Heat

As we enter August, which is typically the hottest month of the year, the heat is telling us that it is here to stay. At least in the Kansas City area, where we’re at, temperatures continue to stay in the Olathe Weather - Hot90’s, with the occasional dip into the high 80’s for some relief. These temperatures are causing excessive heat warnings, and with excessive heat comes hazardous health risks. Places with higher humidity have additional issues. High humidity slows the evaporation of the body’s sweat, and this causes our body to overheat, and could pose even more dangerous health risks if not monitored carefully.  Finding a way to stay cool in the hot weather is imperative for health reasons, as well as overall comfort.

The vast majority of heat-related illnesses are preventable. Some basic tips to avoid heat-related illnesses include the following:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If A/C isn’t available in your home call a service company ASAP, or use a public facility. DO NOT RELY ON A FAN AS YOUR MAIN COOLING DEVICE DURING A HEAT WAVE.
  • Limit outdoor activity, especially from the hours of 10AM-6PM.
  • Drink more water than usual.
  • Try not to use the stove or oven to cook, as it will make your house hotter.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor, and have them do the same for you.

Hopefully the tips above aren’t a huge worry to you, as you have a dependable air conditioning system in your home. If you do then your focus should be on staying cool, which is the result of a well-functioning and well-maintained system. However, another focus should be on saving money with your air conditioning system. Running your A/C all day every day for 3+ months (as is necessary during the regular Kansas City summer) can prove to be expensive. Here are some tips on lowering your monthly electric costs:iS30

  • Use your windows to your advantage. Keep your windows well insulated, as this will keep out unwanted warm air. Also, during rare cool periods turn off your A/C
    and open up your windows to cool your home.
  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortable. An often recommended temperature is 78 degrees when you’re home, and 85 when you’re out of the house. You can save 3% – 5% on your air conditioning costs for each degree you raise the thermostat in the summer.
  • Install a programmable thermostat as an alternative to constantly monitoring and changing the thermostat yourself. Programmable thermostats allow you to be in absolute control of the temperature in your home, day and night, home or away, saving you money in the process.
  • Keep your filters clean. Check your filters monthly, or as often as specified by the manufacturer. Replace filters when needed. Preventative maintenance is important to keep your equipment running efficiently.
  • Consider installing an energy efficient air conditioner. New energy efficient A/C’s have several advantages over their predecessors, including a longer lifespan, lower energy bills monthly, and the use of environmentally-friendly refrigerant.

Why is HVAC Preventative Maintenance Important?

Save money for the important thingsWhole-home heating and cooling systems are expensive, there’s no other way to put it. Replacing a whole-home comfort system, especially with a quality system that will last 10+ years, can cost thousands of dollars. Money like that, to use a popular saying, “doesn’t grow on trees.” An unexpected failure in either your heating or cooling system will dip into your emergency fund, and make you allocate that money from something you really want to spend your money on, also known as in our business as a “luxury” item (think a trip, new car, boat, bike, etc.). Here at HVAC Parts Shop we don’t want you to have to go through this, so that’s why we stress to our customers preventative maintenance. Simple, preventative maintenance can help lengthen the life of your air conditioner and furnace, and put off those costs, allowing you to spend your money on what you really want.

First and foremost, changing the filters for the system is a priority.  If a filter is clogged up, the air is unable to get through. If the air can’t get through the filter, components of the system begin to overheat. When they overheat, that’s when the system can start to shut down, or even break down, leading to costly repairs or a full out necessary replacement. Preventative maintenance, like regular filter changes, can lengthen the life of the unit and help it run more efficiently, saving you money in both the long and short term. Depending on the size of your filter, the time between replacements can vary.

Generally, we suggest a one-inch filter gets replaced every month, and some of the thicker ones can last up to three-four months. However, regular checks are recommended to make sure it is not too clogged up and the unit is still running efficiently. Click here to view our selection of filters if yours needs to be replaced.Run Capacitor

Another important item to change on a regular basis is your capacitor. The capacitor regulates the electrical current running through the equipment. We recommend replacing them every 4-5 years. After a few years a capacitor can get weaker. This can cause all sorts of problems for your equipment. A weak capacitor puts unnecessary stress on the motor and compressor. This stress can cause them to overheat, or not start at all. A weak capacitor can even cause the motor and compressor’s life to be shortened. Replacing them every few years is a relatively cheap and easy fix for do-it-yourselfers. When you switch out your capacitor, it is important to discharge yourself and the capacitor before removing it. This will make it safe to touch, and can prevent an unpleasant jolt of electricity.

Contactors are important to change every 4-5 years as well. Contactors are connected to all of the main electrical. They are connected to the compressor, fan motor, thermostat, and capacitor. When the thermostat calls for cooling, the contactor closes the circuits. These closed electrical circuits let the electricity flow through the contacts and power the unit. As a contactor gets older and dirt gets into the contacts, it becomes more difficult for the circuits to close. If they can’t close properly, the contactor tries to push electrical current harder, and that causes extra stress on the electrical contacts. With extra stress on the contacts, the electrical equipment is stressed too. In order to prevent the unnecessary stress on the air conditioner, it is recommended to replace the contactor every 4-5 years.

These simple tips are the type of preventative maintenance that will help keep your home comfort system running efficiently. Replacing these parts consistently will help lengthen the life of your system. Replacing these parts will help keep the costs to a minimum, and can let you focus on the important things in life. If you need any of these parts, or other technical support, feel free to check out our website at www.hvacpartsshop.com. We’ll be happy to help you out.site-logo

How Cool is your Thermostat?

An important part of every heating and cooling system, the thermostat is how a homeowner regulates the temperature inside their home. Some thermostats have settings to allow week-long programming. Others, they aren’t quite as advanced. Some of the top-of-the-line thermostats can be connected to a smart phone via Wi-Fi and an app. The homeowner can be hundreds of miles away and still control their thermostat.

But what does a thermostat actually do?iS30

When it comes down to it, the thermostat is the temperature regulator for the home. Thermostats are a tool to control the level of comfort/temperature in a particular setting. Some people prefer warmer temperatures, and others prefer cooler ones. With the weather starting to heat up, it is important to make sure your thermostat is in proper working order to keep you comfortable during the warmer months.

If you have a programmable thermostat, make sure it is set for the temperatures you want. And, if you know you will be out of the house for long periods of time (going to work, for example), set it to stay off during those times. This will lower your electricity bill, and who doesn’t want that?

1f971277Some furnaces modulate their airflow. These modulating furnaces have variable speed motors. A variable speed motor is meant to be running 24 hours a day. When it is not heating or cooling it is cycling about 200 cubic feet of air per minute. This keeps the entire house the same temperature. Another added bonus to having the furnace constantly running is the constant filtration of the air.
With a thermostat placed on each level, some units are capable of keeping different levels at different temperatures. The thermostat tells the dampers to shut or open accordingly, and when the temperature called for is met, they close and run on low power mode. An added advantage to the variable speed motors is the conversion of an AC electrical current to DC.  This conversion of energy makes the unit considerably more efficient, and cost-effective.

Thermostats dictate the comfort of the home. Having a functioning thermostat and one that best fits your needs is important to have the highest level of comfort possible. We have a wide range of thermostats to choose from. Come check out our selection at http://www.hvacpartsshop.com/thermostatsandcontrols.aspx! We at HVAC Parts Shop hope to serve you soon! Give us a call at (866) 215-3831!

Whole-House Humidifiers: Bypass vs. Power

whole-home humidifiers: bypass vs. powerIn an earlier blog post we explained that the best way to fight dry air is to install a whole-house humidifier. We also mentioned two different types of whole-house humidifiers – the bypass humidifier and the power humidifier. So which should you install? Let’s get into the nitty gritty of which is right for you.

Both the bypass humidifier and the power humidifier have the same task at hand – to add moisture into the air of your home. Both do that by working in conjunction with your furnace or air handler, but there are some major differences in how they deliver the humidity to the rooms of your house.

The bypass humidifier is connected to the return of your furnace or air handler. It does not have a motor of its own and instead relies on the blower motor of the furnace to push warm air through it. The warm air is then pushed through the water panel that is within the humidifier and absorbs moisture from it. That moisture is then delivered back into the air stream and back into your home.

The bypass humidifier is probably the more common of the two, but the power humidifier is quickly gaining popularity and is replacing many bypass humidifiers in many of our customers’ homes.

When comparing the power humidifier to the bypass humidifier, the major differences are that it has its own blower motor and does not rely on the furnace blower motor. The fan delivers moisture to the supply, which sits above the heat source. Once humidity is created it is sent through the ductwork to the rest of the house and does not have to recirculate through the furnace and heat exchanger, as is the case with the bypass humidifier.

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Bypass Humidifiers

Pros

A bypass humidifier is more affordable, it adapts to various water types (i.e. hard, soft) and requires very little maintenance.

Cons

It has to be connected to a bypass duct, which is aesthetically unpleasing and unfortunately can eat up more space. Also, since it uses the blower motor of the furnace the humidity that it creates has to be redistributed back through the furnace and heat exchanger again and again in a continuous loop. Therefore, a notable amount of moisture and humidity is lost. In other words, it is less efficient than the power humidifier.

Power Humidifiers

Pros

The power humidifier produces more humidity than the bypass humidifier. In fact it creates about one gallon of humidity more per day than the bypass humidifier. Another pro is that it can humidify more square feet and is ideal for larger homes.

Cons

The one downside to a power humidifier is that it is much more expensive to repair than the bypass humidifier.

We hope that this information is helpful in choosing the right whole-home humidifier for you and your home. And if you have any further questions please feel free to contact us. HVAC Parts Shop is here to help!

Static is in the Air

Static is in the Air

dry airValentine’s Day is long over and while there still may be some love in the air, there’s definitely something else too. Oh, that’s right, its static electricity!

Every winter it’s the same old story – my skin is peeling, my eyes are itchy, my kids are getting nosebleeds and the fear of static electricity is keeping me a mile away from my cat! So what can I do to get over this dry air? Keep reading for tips to add a little moisture to your life.

Why does colder weather bring along drier air?

Well, it’s all about humidity. Humidity equals moisture and while warmer air can carry lots of humidity and moisture, colder air has low humidity and little moisture.

What’s the solution to dry air?

Any HVAC professional will tell you that the simple answer is to install a humidifier. A humidifier will increase humidity in your home by pushing moisture into the air. There are point-of-use humidifiers that are used to reduce dry air in a single room and whole-house humidifier which are connected to your HVAC system and are used to humidify an entire house. The latter of the two can be found and purchased on our website.

There are different types of whole-house humidifiers. Check out our next blog to learn about the pros and cons associated with both power humidifiers and bypass humidifiers.

Besides adding moisture to your house, humidifiers actually make you feel warmer as well. Have you ever noticed how 90 degrees in Southern California feels a whole lot different than 90 degrees in the Midwest? It feels cooler in Southern California, right? That’s because there is less humidity in Southern California and having less humidity actually makes your body feel colder. Put extra moisture into the air in your home to make you feel warmer. With extra humidity you may even be able to lower your thermostat a few degrees, saving you energy dollars.

Besides installing a humidifier in your house (and we highly recommend that you do) there are some other easy methods to fighting dry air and the side effects that accompany it.

  1. Seal your home with caulk, spray foam or weatherstripping. Keep the cold, dry air from entering your home.
  2. Hydrate often. Dry air can pull moisture from your mouth, throat and nose. Make sure you are fighting the dry air with extra hydrations.
  3. Shorten your showers. Warm water and the steam will only dry out your skin further.
  4. Moisturize. Use lotion frequently during the dry, winter months, especially after washing your hands and showering.

Simple Methods to Lower Heating Costs

Saving Money, by 401(K) 2012, 401kcalculator.orgThe winter air is getting colder and if you haven’t already, it is definitely time to turn that thermostat up. And if you’re on one of the stragglers it is probably because you realize that turning your thermostat up means rising heating bills. Yuck!

So what should you do? Keep your thermostat down and save money, while turning your family and yourself into icicles? Or turn your thermostat up and deal with those expensive bills? Maybe you can find a place somewhere in the middle. If you can keep your thermostat even one degree lower than where you usually keep it, then you can save one to three percent on your annual heating costs. Try these simple methods to staying warm, while keeping your thermostat down just a few degrees.

Please note that we are not suggesting you keep your thermostat down too low in the bitter cold and we certainly agree that you may have to turn your heat up as the weather gets colder, but these are some tips that might help you and your family keep your heat turned down just a smidge lower than you normally would.

Curtains. Close your curtains at night to keep heat inside your house. Open them during the day to utilize warmth from the sun.

Ceiling Fans. Since heat rises, all of your warm air is trapped at the ceiling. Set your ceiling fan to a low setting and let it spin clockwise. The warmer air will mix with the cooler air and raise the overall temperature in the room.

Humidifiers. Humidifiers push moisture into the air. Since moist air retains heat better than dry air, humidifiers will make your home feel warmer. Keep your humidifier(s) running during the cold and dry winter months.

Warm Showers. Showering in warm water will also warm you up and again, provide humidity. After you are done with your shower or bath, open the door and let the humidity warm the next room as well.

Kitchen Oven. Working in your kitchen, or just moving around period, makes you feel warmer. When you are done baking your delicious goodies open the oven door and let the heat escape into your kitchen.

Warm Sustenance. While you are in your kitchen baking those goodies, you might as well prepare a warm meal, such as soup, to serve to your family. Sipping on hot chocolate, tea or coffee throughout the day will also make you feel warmer.

Blankets! It seems so simple, yet can easily be overlooked. Curl up under a blanket while you and your family watch TV. Be sure and keep extra blankets on your bed as well.

As You Sleep. Nighttime is a good opportunity to turn the thermostat down a little more. When you are sleeping you won’t notice the drop in the temperature and if anything you may actually sleep better. Again, don’t turn the thermostat down so far as to let your family freeze, but a few extra degrees may really help lower those heating costs.

Dress Warm. Besides extra blankets, adding an extra layer of clothing will help you feel more comfortable as well. Wear warm socks and/or slippers to keep your feet warm, as the temperature of your feet has a large impact on your overall body temperature. If your feet feel warm, then the rest of your body will feel warmer as well.

Last, lower your heating costs by investing in a Smart Thermostat. The latest smart thermostats allow you to set a schedule, based on your daily routine, so that your thermostat can adjust accordingly. You are also able to adjust your home’s temperature from an app on your smartphone.