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Heating, Cooling, and Comfort FAQ’s

Heating

How long should I expect my furnace to last?

The average lifespan of a gas furnace is 15 years, though it can last longer with yearly maintenance. Unfortunately, as a furnace ages, it becomes less efficient, and can end up costing more in utilities. If your furnace is approaching 15 years and  is experiencing issues, it may be a good idea to consider a replacement. Fortunately, with advancements in technology, new furnaces are lasting longer than ever.

Why is my furnace blowing cold air?

There are many reasons that could be causing a furnace to blow cold air, but here are few DIY fixes you can try before calling in a pro.

1)    Check thermostat settings. If the fan is set to "on" instead of "auto" then it will blow air even when the furnace is not running.

2)    Change the air filter. Dirty, clogged air filters restrict air flow, which can cause the furnace to overheat.  If you find dirty air filters, replace them and reset your furnace, that may just do the trick.

If you tried these fixes, and you’re still getting cold air, call a professional, like Skylake Heating and Air. We’ll run your furnace through a series of diagnostic tests that only a trained professional should do:

1)    Check the ignition and pilot light

2)    Check the fuel supply

3)    Check the burner and flame sensor for grime or dirt

4)    Check your ductwork for leaks

Call us today to schedule your diagnostic visit.

Should I repair or replace my furnace?

While this is never an easy question to answer without thorough inspection, here are a few factors to consider:

 1) If your furnace needs immediate repair, and it would cost more than 50% of the price for a new, more-efficient furnace.

2) If you notice a significant increase in your heating bill.

3) If your furnace is older than or approaching 15 years.

4) If you’re thinking of selling your home or retiring in the next few years.

The more factors that apply to you, the stronger the recommendation will be to replace it.

We advise you not to wait until your furnace dies midwinter before asking this question. Having a pro perform maintenance on your furnace in the fall, could save you a lot of discomfort moving forward.

Cooling

How long should I expect my air conditioner to last?

Typically a central air conditioner can be expected to run for 12-15 years, though it can vary depending on how it is sized and maintained. Unfortunately, an oversized air conditioner can "short cycle" (meaning it turns on and off more frequently than it should) causing excessive wear and tear. Also, as a result of age or insufficient maintenance, an AC can become less efficient and more expensive to operate. If your AC is approaching 12 years and is frequently experiencing issues, it may be time to consider replacing it.

Why is my air conditioner freezing up?

An air conditioner can freeze (even in the middle of summer) when the refrigerant inside the system falls below 32 degrees fahrenheit, and the humidity in the air freezes around the evaporator coil. Likely causes for this include:

  1. Insufficient air flow
  2. Poor drainage
  3. Low refrigerant
  4. Dirty coil
  5. Faulty thermostat

Whatever the cause, it is important to not run the AC with frozen coils because it can cause extensive damage to the compressor, the most expensive part of the AC.

Things you can do when your AC is freezes:

  1.     Turn off your AC. In severe cases, you can turn on the heater to speed up the thawing.
  2.     Watch the water levels in the unit as it thaws. Be sure the drain pan inside the evaporator coil doesn’t overflow and cause water damage.
  3.     Check air filters and vents making sure they are clean and clear of blockages.
  4.     Check the drain pipe for blockages.
  5.     If you are comfortable, check the evaporator coil and clean it if dirty.

If you catch it early enough or clear away the blockage that may be causing the freeze, you may resolve the issue yourself. If not, call a professional, like Skylake Heating and Air, to diagnose and address the problem.

Why is my air conditioner blowing warm air?

With complex systems like HVAC, the causes can be many and varied, but some of the most common reasons include:

  1. Restricted air flow. 
  2. Outdoor unit is dirty or lost connection to electricity
  3. Low on refrigerant
  4. Damaged ductwork
  5. Dirty or frozen evaporator coil

Here are a few troubleshooting tips and DIY fixes you can try:

  1. Start by checking/adjusting your thermostat settings. It may seem simplistic, but it is an important part of the system, and is definitely worth investigating.
  2. Check you air filters and change them if dirty.
  3. Check the power supply to the outside unit. If the breaker for the unit is flipped to off, you can try resetting it, but you may need to consult with an electrician if that doesn’t work.
  4. Check the evaporator coil for ice. (If so, follow the tips listed under "Why is my air conditioner freezing up?")

By going through these steps, you may be able to find and correct the issue yourself, but if not, it will help in the process of elimination when you call in a professional. Our Skylake technicians will be happy to diagnose and repair the problem, and make you comfortable again.

Should I repair or replace my air conditioner?

While this is never an easy question to answer without thorough inspection, here are a few factors to consider:

  1.     If your AC needs immediate repair and the cost of repair is greater than 50% of a new, more efficient AC.
  2.     If your AC is 10 years or older and is requiring frequent repairs
  3.     If your AC has an efficiency rating of 10 or less.
  4.     If you’re thinking of selling your home or retiring in the next few years.

The more factors that apply to you, the stronger the recommendation will be to replace it.

We advise you not to wait until your AC dies midsummer before asking this question. Having a pro perform maintenance on your AC in the spring, could save you a lot of discomfort moving forward.

Geothermal

What makes geothermal different from a conventional HVAC system?

Unlike ordinary systems, geothermal systems do not burn fossil fuel to generate heat; they simply transfer heat to and from the earth to provide a more efficient, affordable and environmentally friendly method of heating and cooling. Typically, electric power is used only to operate the unit’s fan, compressor and pump.

Do you have to live near a hot spring to have a geothermal system?

No. While naturally occurring hot springs are an example of the power of geothermal energy, modern technology allows us to use the energy of the sun-stored by the earth and harnessed by water-to heat and cool our homes as well as provide hot water. Learn more about how it works. (link)

What is the difference between and open loop and a closed loop system?

An open loop system uses groundwater from an ordinary well as a heat source. The groundwater is pumped into the heat pump unit where heat is extracted and the water is disposed of in an environmentally safe manner. Because groundwater is a relatively constant temperature year-round, wells are an excellent heat source.

A closed loop system uses a continuous loop of buried polyethylene pipe. The pipe is connected to the indoor heat pump to form a sealed underground loop through which an environmentally friendly antifreeze-and-water solution is circulated. A closed loop system constantly recirculates its heat-transferring solution in pressurized pipe, unlike an open loop system that consumes water from a well. Most closed loops are trenched horizontally in areas adjacent to the building. However, where adequate land is not available, loops are vertically bored. Any area near a home or business with appropriate soil conditions and adequate square footage will work.

No. There are different kinds of geothermal heat pumps designed for specific applications. Many geothermal heat pumps, for example, are intended for use only with higher temperature ground water encountered in open-loop systems. Others will operate at entering water temperatures as low as 25°F, which are possible in closed-loop systems. Most geothermal heat pumps provide summer air conditioning, but a few brands are designed only for winter heating. Geothermal heat pumps also can differ in the way they are designed. Self-contained units combine the blower, compressor, heat exchanger and coil in a single cabinet. Split systems (such as the WaterFurnace Envision Series Split) allow the coil to be added to a forced-air furnace and utilize the existing blower.

What tax credits and other incentives are available for geothermal comfort systems, and how do I apply?

  1. The Federal Tax Energy Credit
  •      30% of total system cost through 2019
  •      26% of total system cost in 2020
  •      22% of total system cost in 2021
  •      No limit to credit amount
  •      Can be used in more than one year     
  •      Can be combined with solar and wind tax credits
  •      Can be combined with energy efficiency upgrade credits
  •      Use IRS Form 5695 to claim the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit
  1. Utah Renewable Energy System Tax Credit

New Construction

Do you offer Manual J & D’s as stand alone items?

Yes.

What can I expect from my comfort system warranty?

1 year labor warranty, craftsmanship warranty, warranty on equipment is specific to manufacturer.

What is included in a standard HVAC system, and what are my upgrade options?

Repair

Do you offer repair services on weekends and holidays?

Yes, even though our main office is closed on weekends and some holidays, we offer emergency repair services. Simply call our main office line, and you choose the option to connect to our emergency line.

Maintenance

How often should my HVAC system be serviced?

To keep your heating and cooling equipment in top-notch condition and operating for as long as possible, you should have it inspected and cleaned once a year. Ideally, get a furnace tune-up in preparation for winter and an AC tune-up in preparation for summer. 

Should I cover my outdoor unit in the fall and winter?

This question is commonly debated in the heating and cooling industry, and for good reason. The most honest answer is, "It depends."  That’s because outdoor units are designed to withstand the conditions of the outdoors with a few exceptions, and covering them improperly can result in more issues than you are preventing.

            You may want to cover the unit to protect it from:

  • Collecting fall leaves, sticks, nuts, and seeds
  • Impact from large hailstones or falling icicles
  • Constant moisture from dripping gutters

            Reasons to not cover the unit:

  • May attract bugs or rodents seeking a warm home for winter
  • May trap moisture in the unit causing mold or rust
  • Most manufacturers recommend not covering the unit

Ultimately, the decision is yours, but if you do decide to cover it, be sure that the material is breathable, and do not cover it completely.

What is the difference between a tune-up and a recondition?

While both are considered preventative maintenance for your furnace or air conditioner, a recondition is meant to restore your equipment to like-new condition and is accomplished by removing the blower fan to clean it and providing a deeper clean overall than a tune-up.

Retrofit & Replacement

What are the reasons to replace my home’s entire comfort system?

Fed up with your outdated HVAC system, but not sure if you should replace the whole thing? Here are some items to consider while you weigh your options:

1)    Age of your current system-the older it gets the less efficient and more expensive to run. On average, an HVAC system will last about 15 years, depending on usage and maintenance.

2)    Cost to operate and maintain it-If utilities are rising and repairs are becoming more frequent and expensive, you may be able to save yourself money and frustration in the long run by replacing the system.

3)    Condition of individual components- Any strange noises or smells coming from a particular piece of equipment? If only the furnace or AC seems to be causing the trouble, you may be able to simply replace one of those. If they both seem to be in poor condition, it may be best to plan on replacing both.

4)    Your comfort satisfaction-Hot or cold spots, excessive humidity or dust can be caused by an aging system. With recent advances in equipment design and smart tech, a brand new system can convert a drafty, old house into an intuitive, custom-comfort home.

5)    The value of your home will increase-If you’re looking to sell your home in the next few years, you can dramatically increase the value by investing into your own comfort.

6)    Safety-Carbon monoxide and electrical issues can result from old, malfunctioning equipment. Get piece of mind as well as increased comfort.

You and your home are unique, and so will be your ideal comfort system. We’ll help you find the one that’s right for you and your home.

Do you install geothermal on existing homes?

Although it can be more challenging, we do install geothermal comfort systems in existing homes. Whether you have a central air or boiler system, we integrate geothermal equipment into your existing system.

How do I know if my current comfort system is right for me, and if not, how do I choose the best one?

We find that many homeowners settle for the system that came with their home simply because they don’t know about the options they have. Unfortunately, this can result in hidden costs that accumulate as time moves on and the system ages:

  • Substandard comfort
  • Sky-rocketing utilities
  • Health concerns
  • Environmental Impact

In our Free Comfort System Audit, we work with homeowners to identify the hidden costs of their current system, discuss their family’s unique needs and value, and recommend comfort solutions that resolve these issues. Sometimes the solution is as simple as an upgraded filter, while others may be more comprehensive like a retrofitted comfort system. The important thing is finding the best solution for each individual.

Environmental Impact

How can I reduce my carbon footprint?

When it comes to reducing our carbon footprint caused by heating and cooling our homes, efficiency is the name of the game. How much fuel must we burn (thereby releasing carbon emissions into the atmosphere) to achieve the desired conditions within our homes? Efficiency is an important quality to any home comfort system, but it’s easy to think that by simply installing a high-efficiency furnace or AC, we are doing our part to cut down carbon emissions. Unfortunately due to the complex nature of a home’s comfort system, if we only think in terms of individual components, the efficiency gained in one area can be lost somewhere else down the line. Instead of simply listing off high-efficiency products, we recommend meeting with one of our experts to review the following with you:

  • Comfort system design
  • Equipment selection
  • Efficiency upgrades
  • System maintenance
  • Your home’s unique attributes

These are areas in which efficiency is often lost, and they impact each other. The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to identify your system’s inefficiencies and work with an expert to find the right solutions for your whole system. Fortunately, this is available when you schedule a Free Comfort System Audit with a Skylake expert.

What does geothermal mean for the environment?

Geothermal systems work with nature, not against it. They emit no greenhouse gases – which have been linked to pollution, acid rain, and other environmental hazards. WaterFurnace’s earth-loop antifreeze will not harm the environment in the unlikely event of a leak. And all of the current WaterFurnace product lines use R-410A, a performance-enhancing refrigerant that will not harm the earth’s ozone layer.

What are some small changes can I do to make my system more environmentally friendly?

There is no need to wait to reduce your environmental impact. You can start today by:

  • Changing your air filter
  • Clearing obstructions from around your heating and cooling equipment.
  • Turning your thermostat up during the summer and down during the winter.
  • Sealing drafty windows and doors.
  • Closing curtains and blinds to keep cool air in.
  • Avoid using ovens, dryers, lamps, etc. in the middle of a hot day.

Air Quality

How healthy is my indoor air?

Perhaps the easiest way to determine the quality of your indoor air is to look for signs of poor air quality first.  These signs often make themselves known through the following symptoms and conditions:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Illness
  • Dry or itchy skin, ears, noses, and throats
  • Odors
  • Stuffy, stale air
  • Visual airborne particles
  • Poor outdoor air quality

If you and your family recognize these symptoms in or around your home, we recommend taking the necessary measures to remove airborne contaminants, kill bacteria and viruses, maintain healthy levels of moisture, and  ensure sufficient air circulation. 

How often should I change my air filter?

The frequency with which you should change your air filters will depend on the following factors:

  • Type of filters you use
  • The quality of outdoor air around your home
  • The number of occupants in your home
  • Whether or not you have pets

For the average home using a basic filter, with no pets, the recommended frequency is every 90 days.

How does my home’s humidity affect me?

The level of humidity in your home has great impact on your comfort levels, health, and condition of any wood floor or furniture. Homeowners who use gas furnaces to heat their homes during the winter may experience particularly dry air resulting in sore throats or nosebleeds. Also, in the arid climate of Utah, wood floors and furniture may warp and lose their value.

On the other hand, excessive moisture can make the air feel sticky, oppressive, and even hotter than the actual temperature. If left unchecked, moisture encourages the growth of mold and fungi that can threaten the health of people in the home. For these reasons, it is important to monitor the humidity in your home and correct an imbalance.

 

Your Neighbors Chose Skylake

The Skylake technician that came to our home was professional, courteous and knowledgeable. He was on time in the window we had set up and got the tune up done.

- Melody P

They did a great job. They did a good job of cleaning up and checking everything. They were very quick and knowledgeable.

- Kelly H

I've had other contractors comment how good Skylake's work looks

- Todd G

Great company! I will highly recommend them to family and friends as well as use them for any future heating and air needs. The serviceman was very thorough.

- Carrie R

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