HVAC Equipment and Service

HVAC is short for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. HVAC is commonly utilized to depict the whole heating and cooling system comprising of the duct work, air filters, humidification controls, and registers.

Locate the label on the exterior of the system component for a manufacture date. If the equipment is less than five years old it may have a warranty, but also may not based on the make. Warranty terms and conditions vary by manufacturer and the installing company. Strand Brothers Service Experts can figure out the warranty status of your heating and cooling system via System Inspection. We also offer a Platinum PLUSTM Protection Plan for residential heating and air conditioning systems, regardless of the equipment age or manufacturer warranty status.

Yes. Heating and cooling that make a lot of noiseadd to sound pollution.While no cost savings are tied to less sound in your home, the sound rating of a cooling system can have a significant effect on comfort and enjoyment of your Austin home. The sound level of an air conditioner or heat pump depends on a variety of factors, such as how old and who manufactured the unit, and whether the compressor is insulated or not can contribute to the amount of noise it makes.

Although the majority of heating and cooling systems built today are quieter now more than ever, it's a good  idea to compare sound ratings when assessing a new air conditioner or heat pump, particularly if the equipment location is near bedrooms or living rooms.

In addition to the comprehensive visual inspection that comes with our System Inspection, a Precision Tune-up also comes with a total maintenance cleaning and lubrication of the heating or air conditioning equipment components. Discover more here about Strand Brothers Service Experts’s Precision Tune-up steps . The expense of a tune-up varies by season, and printable coupons with seasonal discounts on tune-ups are also usually available on our Coupons page.

A Service Call fee is a bill for the effort associated with the time and travel to diagnose, inspect and deliver expert recommendations for a home's heating or air conditioning system by a certified professional technician. Coupons for the Service Call fee may be found on our web site, in the Yellow Pages, or by email when joining our Email Club at the bottom of this page.

A popping disturbance is a typically sign of an under-sized duct design. It may be attributed to greater air flow than the duct work is built for. Have a qualified company analyze your home's ventilation system for proper design and provide a written recommendation. Improper duct work layout can be attributed to several ventilation and air quality problems, including: 

  1. loud popping
  2. higher energy consumption
  3. lowered life expectancy of the system
  4. uneven temperatures throughout your home
  5. damaged compressor in summer
  6. overheated unit in the cooler months
In addition, if your ductwork is incorrectly sized you may have other concerns, such as leaky ducts and poor layout that restricts airflow. In humid climates this can cause mold growth within your ductwork.

 

The answer is, probably so. Here's why.

Matched System Design: All air conditioner and heat pump outdoor units are specially created to work with a matched indoor unit for ideal efficiency and performance. The consequence of this matched equipment is a coordinated, top-performance team that ensures dependability and efficiency. Air conditioner and heat pump outdoor units may "work" with indoor units other than those for which they have been specifically intended; however, the result would be a definite compromise in system performance.

Design Advances: Over time, indoor blower coil units have undergone numerous design advances — especially in the areas of air handling performance, filtering efficiency and operating sound levels. A new outdoor unit will also comprise the latest design advances.

Higher Cooling And Heating Efficiency: The cooling and/or heating efficiency ratings that are advertised for an air conditioner or heat pump are based on their performance as matched systems. While changing only the outdoor unit may give you improved efficiency when looking at your old system, but efficiency will be lacking from what it was designed to be, and your savings will be lower than with a matched system.

Equipment Age: If an air conditioner or heat pump is 10 years old or more and is ready for replacement, the indoor unit is likely just as old and has been subjected to the same amount of degradation. Substituting both units means you won't have to replace the indoor unit in a brief time period… you'll have many years of efficient service from both units.

New Warranty: A new set of equipment also delivers you a new product warranty. Substituting the indoor unit together with the outdoor unit results in peace of mind, knowing that the new warranty covers the entire system for the same period of time.

A Bargain: At first glance, substituting only the outdoor air conditioner or heat pump may appear to be a bargain. But, when you consider the lower cooling and heating efficiencies, decreased reliability and high cost of ownership that results, it's not such a bargain. Replacing an entire system may cost more, but you benefit from efficiency, reliability and comfort for years into the future.

Similar to a value menu at nearby restaurants, charging a flat rate cost as opposed to an hourly charge makes available more value for our customers because nothing is excluded, the pricing is up-front, and it does not change. Regardless of the cost of parts or amount of time it takes to complete the repairs, the price will not change. This is just one reason why Strand Brothers Service Experts is the most trusted name in Austin.

You probably wouldn't get a brand-new car and plan to not ever have to inflate the tires, change the oil and examine any abnormal noises. Your home comfort system is like your car’s engine; it’s a mechanical device with a motor, electrical components... and even fuel. So it is critical to have routine maintenance of your home comfort system by a qualified technician. If not maintained properly and routinely, even the best heating and air conditioning equipment could cause problems and become less 'fuel' efficient over time.

There are an abundance of items that can trigger your HVAC system to freeze up; almost all of them usually need to be corrected by a professional technician. Determining the air filter is clean or replaced and determining the airflow is not restricted are about the only things a homeowner should safely investigate or handle themself.

Low refrigerant: In some cases, freezing up is caused by a leak in the refrigerant lines. Weak solder joints, friction from piping rubbing or vibrating against an object, leaking valves or loose fittings can cause leaks. The age of the system and the kind and location of the leak will determine whether to have the system repaired or replaced.

Dirty evaporator coil: As time passes, the evaporator coil will become dirty. When this happens, the results are similar to those of having a dirty filter. Gradually you will lose airflow, slowly enough that you probably would not realize it until it freezes up or is not cooling adequately. You will need to contact your local Service Experts sales and service center to remedy the problem.

Defective blower motor or relay: A blower motor not running at the proper speed or not running at all can cause freezing. It can also be sporadic, starting at full speed and slowing down after it heats up. Or a relay could cause it to start one time and not the next. In either scenario, you will need to contact your local Service Experts sales and service center to correct the problem.

Should you discover that your system was freezing due to a dirty air filter, after replacing or cleaning the filter, you can speed up the thawing process by turning the system off and then turning on only the fan. If you have a heat pump system, you can try turning the system to heating mode until the ice has melted. After the ice has melted, turn the system settings back to normal. If the system refreezes, contact Strand Brothers Service Experts in Austin to solve the problem.

If you are modifying your Austin area home air conditioner, furnace or heat pump, it is a good time to also install a new zoning system to fix hot and cold spots or special temperature preferences in the home. When your new comfort equipment is coordinated by a zoning system, you will gain precision temperature control in each zone.

Zoning is also excellent for new homes since the system can be installed during construction. If you are buying a new home, check with your builder about a zoning system. It could make the difference between just enjoying your new house and being truly comfortable in it.

Saving Energy at Home

With energy costs climbing, there are a few steps you can take to drive down the expenses of heating and cooling your home. HVAC equipment usually consumes more energy than any other appliance in the home. This inevitably shows up every month on utility costs each month, but it's important to remember that energy costs can be controlled in several ways.

Maintenance: One method to control energy costs is to schedule annual maintenance to ensure your furnace and air conditioner is running properly and efficiently. Operating dirty heating or cooling equipment can result in unnecessary loss of efficiency and may even damage the equipment.

High Efficiency: If you are in the market for a new home comfort system, consider buying a high-efficiency system. They are designed to help reduce your energy costs as well as help conserve natural resources. When selecting a new home comfort system, pay close attention to the SEER rating of the air conditioner and the AFUE of the furnace. The higher the SEER or AFUE, the higher the efficiency and savings.

Zoning: Zoning can drastically lower your heating costs. Zoning divides your home into separate comfort areas, which are heated or cooled based on the occupancy of the rooms. That means a zoning system allows each room in your home to potentially have its own temperature setting. With a zoning system, you no longer pay to heat or cool areas of your home that are rarely used, and you can achieve the exact temperature you want in highly occupied rooms.

Programmable Thermostats: Programmable thermostats can make a huge difference in energy consumption. Since you can proactively set a schedule for the days and times that the home is occupied, these thermostats are able to deliver exact comfort, efficiency and energy savings. For example, if you're going to be away, you can set the whole house at an energy-saving temperature to avoid heating or cooling an empty house and conserving energy in the process.

Indoor Air Quality

No, HVAC air filters vary due to quality and size, and some have technology that others don't. Usually we recommend installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing up with your installed system, however you may be tempted to try a different filter type for convenience or to remove additional pollutants from the air.

Filters have something called MERV ratings, which range from 1-20. MERV is an acronym for "minimum efficiency reporting value". A higher MERV rating equates to fewer contaiminants pass through, and it catches finer particulates. This sounds fantastic, and it can be, but a filter that catches finer dust and dirt will also stop up quicker, and pressure on your system will rise. If your system has not been crafted to operate with this kind of filter, it can actually reduce your airflow around your house, putting the hurt on your comfort and energy costs. So what should you know before you buy? Unless you're buying for a hospital, you definitely don't need a MERV rating above 13. In fact, most residential units are specifically designed to work with a filter with a MERV rating below 13, and frequently you will learn that quality systems have been made to operate with a MERV rating of 8 or 11. All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should eliminate most of the common nuisances everyone cares about such as pollen, pet dander, and dirt. While some filters claim to be able to capture mold spores, we recommend hiring a pro to clean out any mold from your home you find, instead of trying to delay the issue with a finer filter.

Usually the packaging tells how often your filter is recommended to be replaced. There are one-month filters and there are 3-month filters. Additionally we have filters that are made flat like screen windows, and you have some that are built accordian style with supporting wire. In our experience, the accordian style filters weather better, and are worth it for the extra durability.

You could also consider washable filters, also sometimes called reusable filters. Some homeowners like the environmentally friendly aspect of it, as they don't pile onto a dump, and others consider it more convenient to simply yank out the filter and clean it off rather than making a special trip to the local hardware store for a filter of the proper size. These filters are often designed to work several years and will save you cash over the long run, though they cost more initially. However, washable filters should be dried out thoroughly before returning it back to prevent mold growth in your ductwork. In addition, most washable filters typically have a MERV rating between 1 and 4, and they lose their efficiency over the years. Some washable filters have been built with new technology, such as electrostatic air filters, that are meant to effectively improve the MERV rating.

And lastly, filters are built with different materials. Fiberglass filters are what is commonly used, and are the disposable type. Polyester and pleated filters are known to catch more debris, but also decrease the airflow in your residence. And there are high efficiency particulate arrestance filters, or HEPA for short. While you may be tempted to put in a HEPA filter, just consider that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC system and it's not unlikely that your equipment was made to handle that kind of resistance.

Absolutely. Exposure to air pollutants can be up to 100 times higher indoors than outdoors. The American Lung Association estimates that most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, making indoor air quality (IAQ) a critical component of home comfort. Many common household items contribute to poor indoor air quality. Compounds found in carpeting, furniture, upholstery and drapery fabric constantly emit fumes. Other sources of pollutants can include cleaning agents, paints and personal care products. The tight construction of today's homes also contributes significantly to poor IAQ. Things like weather stripping and storm doors are designed to save on energy costs. However, they also prevent proper ventilation by keeping indoor air in and outdoor air out. The result can be a buildup of contaminants within the home.

Poor IAQ can contribute to several health problems. Medical groups report that as many as half of all illnesses are caused or aggravated by indoor air pollution. Pollutants within the home can cause homeowners to suffer from flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and respiratory irritation. As well, two existing health problems that can be helped by improving indoor air quality are allergies and asthma. By removing airborne dust particles, the amount of exposure the respiratory system has to them is reduced. Proper ventilation also plays an important role in improving indoor air quality, helping to reduce the concentration of pollutants inside the home.

The best method of detection is to use a carbon monoxide detector indoors. A carbon monoxide detector is like a smoke alarm. It monitors the air for carbon monoxide and emits an alarm if a specific level is detected. Ideally, you should have at least one detector adjacent to every living area, centrally located, or on each floor in your home. Carbon monoxide detectors are very effective when used in combination with preventive maintenance. Call for additional details about purchasing a carbon monoxide detector.

You may have tried to cover up indoor odors by spraying air fresheners or lighting candles. Unfortunately, these tactics only mask the odors, they don't get rid of them. These remedies may in fact negatively affect indoor air quality from chemicals that cause allergic reactions or eye irritation for homeowners.

Bacteria, dust mites, animal dander, cat saliva and mold may also be roots of your home's odor problem. One method to purify the air is installing germicidal (UV) lights in your home, which helps kill odors and inhibit the growth of biological contaminants, sterilizing surfaces in the HVAC system. They also purify the air, preventing the growth of contaminants. The UV lights are installed to work with your home comfort system.

Sometimes poor ventilation is also a cause of unpleasant odors. Moisture condensation on walls windows and stagnate air are signs of poor ventilation. A qualified Strand Brothers Service Experts technician can inspect your home comfort system to determine if this is an issue that should be addressed. The technician can also inform you how to improve the ventilation system’s ability to properly circulate and ventilate indoor air.

An excellent way to choose the correct humidifier is by having a home health report performed by Strand Brothers Service Experts. Every dwelling is different, and every family is different. So, every humidification need is also different. There are a few factors to evaluate when purchasing a humidifier for your home, Strand Brothers Service Experts can help you understand and consider these issues.

Consider size. A humidifier's capacity, or the amount of moisture it can dispense in a given time, should match your particular household's needs. The capacity is measured as gallons per day of operation. One method that is used to determine the correct-sized humidifier for your home is by multiplying the total floor area in by the ceiling height. We can provide you with this information and additional information to help you figure out which type of humidifier will best suit you and your family’s comfort needs.

Consider cost. Consider not only the purchase price of the humidifier, but also operating and maintenance costs. Some products consume more energy than others, so choosing a model that is right for your home and budget is extremely important.

Every person and every home entails a different comfort need. The threshold of irritancy and triggers that affect people’s health and comfort combine to determine the proper solutions. High threshold levels may require simple solutions like a better air filter. Low threshold levels may require an air purification system for the reduction of triggers and irritants. With a Home Health Report Card, Strand Brothers Service Experts can help you decide which indoor air improvement products are right for you.

According to studies created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to air pollutants indoors can be 100 times higher than outdoors. Frequent dusting and vacuuming can help reduce the amount of dust and dust mites present in your home. However, not all airborne particles can be eliminated. Filtration devices can help eliminate particles that are too small to be picked up by vacuuming. Some filtration devices include UV light units, air filters, energy recovery ventilators (ERVs), heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) and electronic air cleaners. A Home Health Report Card from Strand Brothers Service Experts will provide the information about which indoor air improvement devices are right for you. To receive a Home Health Report Card and personal air quality consultation Strand Brothers Service Experts at .

Depending on the product you choose and the size of your home, a humidifier may use from 1.5 to 12 gallons per day when the furnace is operating. The amount of liquid used is enough to raise the humidity to the proper level, but not enough to notice a difference on your water bill.

How often to change your air filters can depend on the following:

  • the type of air filter you are using
  • the overall indoor air quality
  • how many pets are in the home
  • the number of people occupying the home, and
  • the level of air pollution and construction around the home

For basic 1"-3" air filters, manufacturers usually recommend to change them every 30-60 days. If you suffer from light to moderate allergies, you could upgrade the air filter or change them more frequently. Or, if you're in a more remote area or less occupied home (like a vacation home) and there are fewer cars around, annually may be often enough.

Here are averages that might help you know how often you should change the air filter at home:

  • Vacation home or single occupant and no pets or allergies: every 6-12 months
  • "Average" suburban home without pets: every 90 days
  • Add a dog or cat: every 60 days
  • Add more than one pet or anyone has allergies: 20-45 days

Yes. Carbon monoxide may be an invisible threat to health and safety in the home. Though more commonly connected to fireplaces and vehicle emissions, carbon monoxide poisoning could be identified any home unless certain precautions are taken.

During heating season, people are confined indoors with unusually dry air for extended periods each year. Humidifiers help the right comfort level of humidity, and properly maintained levels of humidity are beneficial for your respiratory system. Whole-house humidifiers work like your more typical room humidifiers. They add moisture into the air, making harsh, dry air much easier to breathe. And whole-house humidifiers automatically humidify the entire home, no more carrying a humidifier from room to room, spilling water on the floor as you go.

When entering the body, carbon monoxide mixes with with the red blood cells in the blood and displaces the oxygen our bodies need to survive. Carbon monoxide combines with the red blood cells over 200 times more easily than oxygen and creates a condition known as carboxyhemoglobin saturation. Carbon monoxide, instead of oxygen, then moves into the vital organs through the bloodstream. Our organ tissues require oxygen; without it, our organs start to asphyxiate or suffocate. It takes the body a long time to eliminate carbon monoxide, however CO is absorbed very quickly.

Allergies and asthma are two health concerns that could be helped with cleaner indoor air. When airborne irritants are removed, allergy and asthma sufferers often find relief from their symptoms. Even people who consider themselves healthy who may have never suffered from allergies could benefit from clean air. Dust, smoke and other particles float around in the air, causing your drapes and furniture to gather dust. By removing airborne dust particles, you reduce the amount of exposure your respiratory system has to them.

Unfortunately, the symptoms that are a result of carboxyhemoglobin saturation are easily overlooked because they they tend to be flu-like. With mild exposure, people report that they experience headaches, fatigue and nausea. Medium exposure could cause a severe throbbing headache, drowsiness, disorientation, confusion and an accelerated heart rate. Extreme exposure could even cause unconsciousness, convulsions, cardiorespiratory failure, coma and possibly death.

Prevention is the most important step. Taking proper safety precautions will reduce your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Because cars and trucks are a major cause of carbon monoxide poisoning, always take your car out of the garage to let it warm up. Never leave it turned on in the confined space of a garage. The same holds true for lawn mowers or snowmobiles.

Never use ovens or grills as a heater. These items are designed to be safe and efficient and not produce substantial amounts of carbon monoxide. However, it’s vital to check all combustion appliances to be sure they are operating properly and to be sure that all chimneys and vents are connected properly and not blocked. Schedule annual maintenance by a qualified technician to check the condition of these appliances.

Many everyday household items may contribute to poor indoor air quality. Compounds found in carpeting, furniture, upholstery and drapery fabric constantly emit gases or fumes. Other sources of pollutants include cleaning agents, paint and personal care products.

Though they are typically more efficient, today’s homes do not breathe (ventilate) the way older homes have. Tight-sealing weather stripping and storm doors keep indoor air in and outdoor air out. This provides more energy savings, but the limited exchange of outdoor and indoor air can mean a buildup of contaminants on the inside of the house. In these circumstances, a whole home ventilation system is recommended. Ventilation systems exchange stale indoor air for cleaner outdoor air, without sacrificing energy savings.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is created by the incomplete combustion of fuels such as wood, natural gas, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, coal and charcoal. It is caused by lack of oxygen or a disruption in the burning process. Household items such as a furnace, water heater, stove, space heaters, charcoal grill and gas dryer can be sources of carbon monoxide, especially if they are not in good working order or have been installed improperly. Vehicle exhaust fumes from attached garages, as well as poorly operating fireplaces may also be a source of carbon monoxide. CO is poisonous to the body and is fatal at high levels or with long exposure.

Indoor Air Quality is a term used to denote the level or amount of air pollution that exists inside a house or building, particularly occupied areas or rooms. Exposure to air pollutants can be up to 100 times higher indoors than outdoors, and the American Lung Association estimates that most people spend 90% of their time indoors. So the IAQ level and IAQ products that help to improve air quality and eliminate indoor air pollution have become an important issue for many families, especially those suffering from allergies and respiratory issues.

Installing a humidifier is generally an easy job when you upgrade your furnace. But you can also have a humidifier fitted to your existing heating and cooling system. Periodic cleaning and draining of the reservoir is strongly recommended to maintain the system. Strand Brothers Service Experts can provide maintenance on the humidifier as needed, or proactively as part of our PLUS Maintenance Agreement. Call for more information about humidifier maintenance or for a free estimate on a new humidification system.

Indoor Air Quality Experts recommend a home's humidity level be between 30 and 60 percent. However, during extremely cold weather, a home loses humidity to the outdoors and the level may drop to as low as 10 percent. When humidity levels drop, it’s best to have a whole-home humidifier to help ensure that the proper level of moisture is available throughout the house. Not having enough moisture in the air can cause dryness in the membranes of the nose, throat and bronchial tubes and can be the source of several health-related problems. Relative humidity also has a significant effect on controlling the occurrence of airborne infections.
In addition to the health benefits, humidifiers are an easy way to help your entire home be more comfortable. Whole-house humidifiers work like old-fashioned room humidifiers. They put moisture into the air, making harsh, dry air easier to breathe, however, they work on a larger and more efficient scale. A humidifier uses from 1.5 to 12 gallons of water per day — just enough to raise the humidity in the home to the desired level, but not enough to make a difference on the water bill. And because a humidifier is installed into the ductwork, there is no need to carry one from room to room.

Dry air is what tends to make your throat feel dry or aggravate respiratory ailments. During cold winter months, your home rapidly loses its humidity to the outdoors. Humidity levels could even go down as low as 10%. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends that homeowners maintain a humidity level between 30 and 60 percent.

Dry air may also begin to cause more than health problems. Static electricity is a direct result of very dry air and houseplants may suffer from "winter drought" caused by low humidity levels. A whole-home humidifier integrates moister with your indoor air and can help relieve ailments related to dry respiratory membranes and would be our recommended solution to this issue.