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FAQs

How long should my existing system last?

There are longevity differences depending on the geography you live in, but most systems have a useful life of between 12 and 20 years. The quality of the original installation has a big impact on that longevity. As your equipment ages, it would be normal for the energy efficiency to degrade. In many cases, you will notice that your system does not heat or cool as it did the previously. It can get expensive to keep and older system running, especially when you factor in the energy cost of running an inefficient system that. When that happens, you are faced with the decision to keep a poorly performing system, or upgrade to a new energy efficient system. At Bryant, we offer free in-home estimates that can help you with the decision concerning upgrading or not, and how the energy savings of a new system can impact that decision.

Is a Variable Speed Furnace worth the extra cost?

Like many questions I am asked, there is no hard and fast answer to this. The right answer lies in determining how you use your heating, how much you use your heating, and the level of comfort you desire. In Southern California, many of our customers tell me that they use their heating system sparingly. The reality is, we do have warm days in winter, but most nights in the wintertime are very cool. The average nighttime temperature in Los Angeles during January is in the mid-40's, and most of us turn on our furnaces more than we realize. There are numerous reasons why customers select a variable speed furnace. "Variable speed" is a reference to the furnace's fan motor, which moves at different speeds, to precisely regulate airflow and provide better control of temperature, humidity, and air distribution. The first reason is energy efficiency. When compared to a single speed furnace, a variable speed furnace will normally use less electricity. How much you save will depend on you usage patterns, but with the cost of electricity, every little bit helps. Another reason is sound. Because the fan motor regulates the speed of the flowing air, the air creates less noise going through the ducts and the fan makes substantially less noise than a traditional single speed system. During normal loads the system will operating well below full capacity. A third reason is improved humidity control during the air conditioning season. When moisture levels are high, it "feels" warmer than it really is. Removing the moisture from the air provides greater comfort. Compared to a single-speed furnace, a variable speed furnace is more effective at drawing moisture from the air. A fourth reason is increased comfort. In both heating and cooling modes, a variable speed system is designed to keep your home at the desired temperature more consistently. With a single speed system, the system will "cycle" on and off more often, with the temperature rising and falling with the system coming on and off. The last reason is air quality. Your system's filter is only cleaning the air when it is running. If you have family members with allergies or asthma, they will benefit because a variable speed system runs for longer periods of time, and the air stays cleaner. A variable speed system is a great choice for your home if the above reasons line up with your priorities.

What is SEER?

This stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. While the size of an air conditioner is rated in BTU's or Tons, the energy efficiency of the system is rated in SEER. The ration measures how efficient the air conditioner is, much like the Miles Per Gallon on an automobile. The Higher the SEER rating, the lower your electricity bill for running your system.

Does it make sense to close off the air registers to rooms in my house that are used infrequently?

Probably not. If it was properly designed originally, the air ducts in your home were sized to deliver the proper amount of air to each room. Shutting down an air register can increase static pressure, and create problems that can reduce the effectiveness of your system.

Do I need to have my A/C refrigerant topped off every couple of years?

I hear this question a lot from my customers. Most consumers are under the impression that adding refrigerant (Freon) to their system every couple of years is just a good practice. We get a fair amount of these types of calls regularly, so we know it is pervasive. Most of our customers call the gas moving through their cooling system "Freon". The term "Freon" is actually just a brand name, coined by Dupont, as a trade name for the refrigerant. But much like Kleenex, Dupont did a great job with their trade name and now most people call all refrigerants "Freon". In reality, there are many different refrigerant companies.Refrigerant is the gas that makes the A/C system work. The refrigerant in your system is probably either R22 or R410. R22 is a refrigerant in wide use today, but is being phased out over the next 7 years. It is not dangerous for you to have an air conditioning system with R22 in it. But the refrigerant, if leaked out, is damaging to the ozone layer. Most new systems manufactured today use R410A (Puron), which is more environmentally friendly.When your new system was installed, if done properly by a licensed contractor, it was a sealed system. The copper refrigerant lines run from your indoor evaporative coil to your outdoor condenser, and they are charged with the proper amount of refrigerant. The copper lines are sealed between the indoor and outdoor coils, and the pressures and temperatures tell a technician if the correct amount of refrigerant is in the system. If done correctly, the "Freon" that is in your system has no place to get out. The system is sealed tight, and refrigerant does not "dissipate" over time. If your system is sealed, the gas that it is in the system will still be there 10 or 15 years later.So, if a technician tells you that you are low on refrigerant, then under almost all circumstances, only 3 things can be true. 1) Your system was not properly charged with the correct amount of refrigerant when installed...this is common. 2) Your system has a leak 3) The technician is wrong. If your system has a leak, and the technician recharges your system, then it will continue to leak after the tech is gone. The leak will need to be fixed, if possible. It may or may not make sense to find and fix the leak, depending on the age of the equipment. If you do not have a leak, and your system is properly charged, then you DO NOT need to add refrigerant to your system.

What is a HERS test, and why do I need to have one?

HERS stands for Home Energy Rating System. A HERS test is required when a homeowner has an installation of new or replacement heating and air conditioning equipment. When new equipment is installed for the first time in a home, or a furnace, air conditioner or heat pump is replaced, the HERS test is required as part of the permit process for all California cities and counties.

Once the permit is pulled for an equipment installation, that project will require the HERS test before the city or county inspector will provide a final approval for the permit. Once the installation is finished and the system has been started up and running, you are ready for your HERS verification. Your heating and air conditioning company that installed your new equipment is not allowed to HERS test their own work. It needs to be an independent professional or company with a state issued certification.

The HERS rater will test for two very important performance measures. First, they will test to make sure that your ductwork is not leaking. If it is existing ductwork, the ducts must not show leakage of greater than 15% to pass that portion of the test. If the ducts are newly installed, the threshold for passing the leak test is 6%. The California Energy Commission estimates that the average home's ductwork has 30% leakage. That is a lot of wasted money heating and cooling your attic or your crawlspace. If you have existing ductwork that does not pass the test, then the ducts have to be repaired or replaced, and the ducts will be retested. If they are newly installed, the contractor who installed the new ductwork should insure that you pass the test.

The second part of the test is the refrigerant charge verification. This part of the test is also a very important part of the energy efficiency of a system. Many HVAC contractors use less than ideal methods of putting the proper charge into a system. This could be from a lack of knowledge, a lack of commitment to quality, or a contractor who just doesn't take the proper time to do it right. Some contractors have been known to test a system by using their bare hand to feel the refrigerant lines to make sure they are cold, which is a guarantee for an improperly charged system.

Let's use the example of a new installation of a 15 SEER system, and the contractor you hired uses the "hand on the cold refrigerant line" test. More than likely, you will now have a system that is running at a SEER rating of 9 or 10. The end result is that you will now be paying a much higher electric bill than you should. Your system will still work, and even cool your home, but you will NEVER know that the system you paid for is running well below its capability. And this will go on for years and years without your knowledge. Oh and by the way, you also paid more for your system to have a higher SEER rating than the 13 SEER minimum. You overpaid for the system, and you will overpay on your energy bills until the refrigeration charge is corrected.

When you hire and independent third party HERS tester, and they perform the refrigeration charge verification after the contractor completes the project, it insures that the contractor has done the job you paid them for, and your system is operating at the levels the equipment was designed for. Truly, the project is not completed until the system passes, and you are issued your certificate, and your local city or county inspector signs off on your permit.

Is there a way to determine if your system is properly charged from the initial installation?

YES! In California, state regulations require that a permit be pulled for all equipment change-outs. When a permit is pulled, the issuing city will require that an independent HERS verification be performed by a licensed HERS Tester. During that HERS verification, the rater/tester will check and make sure that the proper pressure and temperatures are being achieved by the new machinery. You will have a licensed and independent professional confirm that the system is properly set up from the beginning.

When it comes to sizing the system, is bigger better?

Absolutely not! When your heating and cooling system is oversized, you will suffer the negative consequences for the life of that system. One of the key functions of your cooling system is to remove humidity from the air in your home. When a system cools your home too quickly, it does not run for longer periods of time necessary to remove the humidity. While your home is being cooled, the increased humidity in the air will cause you to fell less comfortable, and set the thermostat lower, using more energy to cool your home. In addition, your existing ductwork and return air opening may not be large enough to accommodate the additional airflow, and this will cause your system to work harder and use more energy. When your system turns and off constantly, besides using more energy, it can cause more wear and tear on the system and shorten the expected useful life. Bigger is definitely not better!

Why can't you just give me a price over the phone?

Every home has unique characteristics, and the preferences from homeowner-to-homeowner can be drastically different. Two identical homes on opposite sides of the street can have entirely different needs based on tree cover, the sun's orientation, the type of windows and insulation, and the temperature preferences of the homeowners. Without seeing the home and doing a thorough analysis, there is no way to determine the sizing, equipment and installation parameters.

Do you have financing?

As a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer, we are able to offer various financing programs to meet your needs.

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"I wanted to write this note to thank-you for the service I received yesterday 8/28/13. The AC unit I purchased from you last year decided to stop putting out cold air the night before in the midst of one of the hottest weeks of the year. I called your office about 8:30 in the morning and @ 9:45 there was a technician at my door . . .

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