Common HVAC terminology every homeowner should know

Common HVAC terminology every homeowner should know

Common HVAC terminology every homeowner should know

As a homeowner, it’s important to maintain your furnace and air conditioner by performing regular cleaning, changing your filters regularly, getting semi-annual tune-ups, and taking care of the little details that will keep your units running for years to come. If either your furnace or air conditioner isn’t working, it’s equally important to know some key terminology so that you can describe it to a qualified repair specialist.

These are the HVAC terms every homeowner should know.

Furnace

An appliance fueled by gas, oil, electricity, or wood in which air or water is heated to be circulated throughout a home in a heating system.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but some homeowners confuse their furnace for their entire heating and cooling system or only certain components of the furnace itself.

Condensing unit

“Condensing unit” is the technical term for an outdoor air conditioner or a heat pump. It is called a “condensing” unit because it changes the refrigerant from its gaseous state to a liquid by cooling it. HVAC condensing units usually comprise the following components:

  • Compressor: Increases refrigerant pressure to keep the liquid refrigerant moving
  • Fan: Blows outside air through the heat exchanger to help cool the refrigerant
  • Condensing coil: Helps heat carried by the refrigerant to travel outside

Maintain your condensing unit (air conditioner) by keeping it free of leaves, excess grass, and yard debris so that it doesn’t overheat.

Cooling coil

Also known as an evaporator coil, a cooling coil is a coiled pipe usually made of copper, steel, or aluminum. It’s a channel meant to allow its contents to cool down, which in turn helps control the temperature of various other components of your unit, aiding in the heat exchange process.

Thermostat

A thermostat is a device that automatically regulates temperature and/or activates another device when the temperature goes above or below a specified threshold. Basically, your thermostat controls the temperature in your home by sensing the temperature and sending an electrical signal to your furnace or air conditioner to kick in.

Filter

A filter is any porous device that is used to remove impurities or solid particles from a liquid or gas. In the case of your HVAC system, a furnace filter is generally a simple cardboard and mesh construction that traps dust, pet hair, and other debris and prevents it all from entering your furnace.

Dirty, clogged filters can cause your furnace to work harder than it needs to, which can lead to motors burning out, so make sure you regularly replace your filter.

Condensate pump

A condensate pump takes in the water created in your HVAC system (usually in the form of water vapour in cooled or heated air) and pumps it out to a drain. A malfunctioning condensate pump can cause condensation to build up in your HVAC system, which can lead to mould, rust in your ducting, and other issues in the inner workings of your furnace.

Refrigerant

In the context of HVAC, refrigerant is a gaseous or liquid substance used to cool various components of the system. The compressor in your A/C unit compresses the refrigerant, which makes it very hot. As it moves through the cooling coil, it cools down and becomes liquid. The liquid refrigerant then absorbs heat from the outside air and pushes the cold air out. Hot air in + cold air out = comfort.

If you find that your air conditioner is working but isn’t quite keeping up like it did the year before, it’s likely low on refrigerant.

Humidifier

A furnace humidifier helps to keep the humidity in your home at a moderate level so that the air isn’t incredibly dry all winter. Adding a humidifier to your heating system can help prevent those annoying static shocks, can keep your hardwood floors from separating, and can help with household allergens
like pet dander during the winter.

Knowing these key terms can help you hire the right person to fix your malfunctioning A/C or furnace, since you’ll be able to describe any issues you may be noticing. Knowing how these various components work will also help with your regular maintenance and cleaning.

If you suspect a faulty component, need a part replaced, or have any questions about your HVAC system, we would love to help. Call or text Pyramid any time at 204-694-5088 or send us an email. We perform all types of air conditioning, furnace, and HVAC repair in Winnipeg.

How to keep cool this summer without breaking the bank

How to keep cool this summer without breaking the bank

How to keep cool this summer without breaking the bank

Though a Canadian spring can often be a mixed bag of weather, our summers are generally quite hot, especially on the prairies. During those sweltering few months of reprieve from the snow, a fan just doesn’t do the trick. Air conditioning saves us all from the heat, but that comfort can come with a hefty utility bill depending on your situation.

If you find that your cooling bills are astronomical throughout the summer or if you simply want to keep things reasonable, here’s how you can keep cool and keep your energy costs low.

Prevention is key

Preventative maintenance can go a long way to ensuring that your air conditioning runs smoothly this summer. Just as an oil change for your car has an impact on your gas mileage and how well your car runs, a spring check-up and tune-up is just what you air conditioner needs to run efficiently.

Pyramid can help out with our professional Tune-up, Check, and Clean. We’ll check for damaged or blocked vents; make sure your A/C unit starts without issue; provide lubrication where necessary; check your system’s blower, motor, wheel, and housing; make sure all electrical connections are sound; check your thermostat; and double-check the functionality of your evaporator coil (if accessible).

Efficiency is the name of the game

Keeping cool efficiently is how you’ll stay comfortable all summer long without shelling out hundreds in energy costs every month. The simplest place to start is using your window blinds effectively. While it’s nice to let in that morning light, resist the urge; keep certain windows covered depending on where the sun is during the day. If the room where your thermostat is faces east, keep the blinds closed in the morning. This will help keep the temperature down, preventing your thermostat from kicking in unnecessarily when the rest of your home might be perfectly comfortable.

A programmable thermostat is another way to make sure you’re cooling your home as efficiently as possible. Program it based on when you’ll be home and actually benefiting from it being cooler and then let things get a little warmer when you’re not around.

As a part of the aforementioned check-up, it’s important to make sure the exhaust or HRV system is operating properly to make sure your system is not needlessly exchanging air in your house. Pyramid can help!

My A/C is running all the time — what do I do?

If your air conditioning seems to be less effective than in the past or seems to be abruptly inefficient, check your filter. A plugged or very dirty filter is the most common cause of air conditioning issues. If air’s not passing through freely, then your system has to work much harder to cool your home, and that may result in it running more often than what would normally be necessary.

If you find that you’re changing your filters regularly and that your system ran fine last year, but it’s just not keeping up this year, then you’ll want to get a professional like Pyramid in to see if you’re low on Freon. Freon is the gas/liquid that is used in your cooling system to help with the transfer of heat. It naturally dissipates over time, so your A/C unit may just need a top-up. A Freon leak is a potentially dangerous situation, so it’s important to have your system checked if one is suspected.

Need help?

For all of your air conditioning, furnace, and HVAC repair needs in Winnipeg, including unit replacements and installation, Pyramid is available to help you stay cool and comfortable all summer long. We’re even around 24/7 for emergencies. Call or text 204-694-5088 or send us an email with any questions you may have or to book an appointment.

Why Routine Air Conditioner Maintenance Matters

An air conditioner installed and maintained by Pyramid Plumbing & Heating in Winnipeg

The air conditioner is one of the most important appliances you own. To keep your air conditioner running smoothly for as long as possible, it’s important to undertake a routine AC maintenance. Inspect your Furnace filters every month or so and clean or replace as necessary.

If your air conditioning unit sits on the ground, make sure the area  around the appliance is free of overhanging branches, overgrown bushes, and other debris that can become clogged in the cooling element.

To make sure your air conditioner is operating as efficiently as possible this summer, schedule an air conditioning inspection and tune-up with an HVAC maintenance company in Winnipeg. Set up your AC tune-up soon to avoid the summer rush and make sure your air conditioner is ready to go as soon as the weather warms up.

Why is My Air Conditioner Freezing Up?

A KeepRite air conditioner — call Pyramid for financing options and installation

Protect your home A/C from Winnipeg’s summer heat by looking out for these common causes that require repair or maintenance to fix. Summer comes with no surprises every year, especially with our rise in humidity! It gets really, really hot. We crank the thermostat down and send our air conditioner into overdrive to try and keep us cool. Everything is great until the home air conditioning system freezes up. Home cooling systems and central air conditioners needing repair can ruin a hot summer real quick.

How does that even make sense? How can a unit freeze when it’s working around the clock in 30-degree weather? There are two fairly common reasons this happens to homeowners. And trust us, we see it every day. This is probably the most common issue our air conditioning contractors fix or provide maintenance for in Winnipeg.

A Winnipeg air conditioner with a frozen line

A dirty air filter like the one on the right is often the cause of a frozen air conditioner.
A clean furnace filter and a dirty furnace filter

1. Blocked air flow
The first potential cause of a frozen air conditioner is typically the air flow in your home. When your home’s air flow is restricted, there’s no air moving through the air conditioning system to keep the condensate on the coil from freezing. The culprit is usually a dirty air filter. This is a simple problem to prevent.

Best advice? Set reminders to regularly change your air filters, and get two A/C tune-ups each year to keep your system clean and efficient. Earlier in the season like April/May and September/October is better for maintenance, before HVAC contractors get busy with service calls.

If your air conditioner freezes up due to an air flow issue, switch it off to start the defrosting process. Next thing you should do is turn on the fan. Let it run for 60 to 90 minutes. Check and change your air filter during this time. After that, turn your air conditioner back to cool and it should start working again. Also make sure your coil is draining out of the supplied hose.

2. Refrigerant leaks
Then there’s the issue of refrigerant leaks. This is another common cause of your A/C freezing up. Whenever you’re leaking Freon or other coolant, it’s a decision point for homeowners. When you have a leak, it’s best to either get it fixed or invest in a new A/C, depending on the age of your current system.

Yes, you can get an HVAC company like Pyramid Heating and Air Conditioner to top off your coolant and get your system up and running again. However, it’s a temporary fix — and there’s no telling how long it will last. It could go a couple of months or a couple of weeks or a couple of hours before your A/C is frozen again.

If you suspect a leak, contact Pyramid Plumbing and Heating as soon as possible. Let a licensed journeyman technician pinpoint and repair the leak before it causes any other headaches.

Have you had problems with A/C freezing up? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Should You Repair or Replace Your Furnace or Air Conditioner?

A mother and her child enjoying the comfort an upgraded furnace provides

When Should You Consider Repair or Replacement of Your Heating or Air Conditioning Unit?

When your heating and cooling system is working properly, your home is comfortable and you’re probably not experiencing any significant increase in your monthly utility bills in Winnipeg. So when a part malfunctions or your unit stops working, how do you decide if it’s time to repair or replace it? Your local KeepRite® dealer like Pyramid Heating in Winnipeg can provide a thorough diagnosis of your system and make a professional recommendation. To help you decide, we’ve put together a list of factors to consider.

Here are some reasons to repair the unit:

  • The cost of repairs is less than one-third the cost of a replacement
  • The unit is less than 10 years old
  • The unit is still under warranty (see your warranty terms)

A mother and her child enjoying the comfort an upgraded furnace provides

When Should You Replace Your Unit?

Replacing all or part of a heating and cooling system can be a big investment. When an older unit has continuous issues or shows signs of reduced energy efficiency, it could be more economical to upgrade your home comfort system. A contractor like Pyramid Heating in Winnipeg can help you diagnose your heating and cooling system, as well as help you choose a replacement that fits your needs and budget.

Here are some reasons for replacing your heating or cooling unit:

  • The cost of repairs is near 50% of the cost of a replacement
  • The unit requires frequent repairs.
  • Humidity problems that signal operating issues
  • Warranty expirations
  • High dust and low air quality problems
  • The furnace is more than 15 years old, and the heat pump or AC is more than 10 years old

What Does ‘Room Temperature’ Really Mean?

A parent and their child

For the residents of Winnipeg, room temperature is a term that gets a lot of use—not always in the same way. Generally, the term “room temperature” can have one of two meanings. Let’s look at those here.

Room temperature, in one sense, means the temperature of a room in which there is no heating or cooling systems in operation. It refers to the ambient temperature of the room. In this case, the temperature of the room may or may not be equal to the temperature outside. Wall, curtains, and shades will often have a cooling effect on a room during a hot day.

Room temperature, in the other case, is the temperature of a room that is under the effects of a cooling or heating system. Generally, the temperature in this instance will be higher or lower than the temperature outside, depending on whether the furnace or the air conditioner is running.

In either case, most Winnipeg residents find that a room temperature between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius (65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit) to be comfortable. During the winter season, temperatures below this range can become uncomfortable, and the lower the room temperature the more discomfort one experiences.

If you live in or around Winnipeg and your furnace or air conditioner is not delivering the room temperature that you want and need, give us a call. One service call with Pyramid Plumbing and Heating is often all it takes to get your home warm and cozy again.