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Frequently Asked Questions:

The Following are a list of frequently asked questions. If you have any questions unanswered after reading this section, please contact us and we will be more than willing assist you in your concerns and/or questions.

 

Heating

 

How often should I be changing my furnace filter?
What are the differences between mid efficient and high efficient furnaces?
What is two-stage heating?
Can I use my chimney with my new furnace?
What are furnace ratings?
What is a heat pump?
Should I leave my pilot light on my fireplace throughout the entire summer?
How often should I have my fireplace serviced?
What is the right size furnace for my home?
Do I need to get anything else for my new furnace?

 

Cooling

Should I be covering my air conditioner for the winter?
Can frost, ice, dirt or other debris keep the outdoor unit of my cooling system from operating effectively?
How does an air conditioner work?
What is variable speed technology and how does it apply to air conditioners?
Why is my system freezing up?
What is the average life of an air conditioning system?
Can homeowners repair their own air conditioners?

 

Indoor Air Quality

 

General
What can I do myself to enhance my homes air quality?
What are the benefits of clean air?

 

Carbon Monoxide
Should I be concerned about carbon monoxide in my home?
What is carbon monoxide?
What are some of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
What can be done about detecting carbon monoxide in the home?

 

Ventilation
How can I ventilate my home without losing energy?
Why is ventilation important for proper indoor air quality?

 

Humidity
What are benefits of installing a whole-house humidifier?
How much water does a humidifier use?
What is involved in humidifier installation and maintenance?

 

Miscellaneous
What kind of filters should I be using and how often should they be replaced?
Why is it important to have regular maintenance on my home comfort system?
Which type of thermostat should I have in my home?
I like my home to smell great so I cover my registers with fabric softener sheets!
When do I know it's time to replace my system?
What is the best type of system to meet all indoor comfort needs?
How does a home comfort system work?
How often should i have my equipment serviced?
Why should I have my equipment serviced?

 

Other

Does Dunn Heating perform City of Waterloo HVAC certificates?

 

 

 

Heating

 

How often should I be changing my furnace filter?
There are many variables regarding furnace filters. For example: What type of furnace filter are you using? Do you run your fan continuously? Do you have shedding pets? Have you had any renovations or construction done lately? Our advice to you is buy a good filter, and check it regularly. No two houses are the same; the filter is the best protection for your furnace.
Click here to browse through our selection of filters.

 

What are the differences between mid efficient furnaces and high efficient furnaces?
Mid-efficiency furnaces are in most cases 80% efficient. To translate, every dollar that you spend on gas, 80 cents is used to heat your home, while 20 cents goes out the chimney. A high-efficiency furnace can be up to 98% efficient meaning 98 cents is used to heat your home, while only 2 cents goes out the chimney. Mid-efficiency furnaces draw air from the house to provide oxygen to the burner. This is accomplished by a power exhaust, drawing anywhere from 150cfm (cubic feet per minute) to 200cfm. This is warm air you have already paid to heat. A high efficiency furnace has intake and exhaust piping directly to and from outside. Therefore, air is not taken from the house to provide oxygen to the burner. The pay back on a high over mid would be around two years in most cases.
Click here to browse through our high efficiency furnaces.

 

What is two-stage heating?
Two-stage heating means the furnace has two levels of heat output: High, for cold winter days and Low, for milder days. Since the low setting is adequate to meet household-heating demands 80% of the time, a two-stage unit runs for longer periods and provides more even heat distribution. Longer, low-capacity operation has many advantages:

  • Consistent comfort
    Two-stage heating eliminates the temperature swings associated with standard furnaces, regulating temperature to within as little as one degree of the thermostat setting.
  • Quiet operation
    Two-stage furnaces start in the first stage, when the amount of heat required is lower, instead of reaching full capacity all at once. That means there's no sudden blast of air.
  • Improved air filtration
    Low-speed operation allows your filters to capture more contaminants.
  • Efficient performance
    Because the furnace operates mostly in its lower-capacity first stage, it burns less fuel than a standard furnace.

Can I use my chimney with my new furnace?
Furnace technology has advanced significantly in recent years, raising concerns over chimney use. As a result of changing technology, many existing masonry chimneys aren't able to meet the specific demands of new furnaces. There are several reasons for this furnace-chimney incompatibility. First, the size of the chimney can be an issue. Modern, higher-efficiency furnaces transfer more heat into your home and less heat up the chimney than older, less-efficient units. While this means more efficiency for your energy dollar, it also means that the existing chimney might be too large for the new furnace. The result could be improper ventilation of flue products, which can cause condensation problems inside the chimney. Other considerations include chimney height and location, proper lining and condition of the chimney. Building codes must also be kept in mind to ensure proper draft in the chimney for adequate ventilation.

 

What are furnace ratings?
Furnaces are rated by the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratio, which is the percent of heat produced for every dollar of fuel consumed. Like the miles-per-gallon rating on your automobile, the higher the AFUE rating, the lower your fuel costs. This doesn't mean that you should only select a furnace based on its AFUE rating. The efficiency rating is just one factor to consider when looking for a new furnace. Furnaces use electricity to run fans and motors. The amount of electricity used varies greatly depending on the type of furnace. Be sure to check electricity usage prior to making a purchasing decision.

 

What is a heat-pump?
A heat pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that works year round to keep you comfortable. During warmer months, a heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. It extracts heat from inside the home and transfers it to the outdoor air. In colder weather, however, the process reverses--the unit collects heat from the outdoor air and transferring it inside your home. Even when the air outside feels extremely cold, the air still contains some heat. The heat pump pulls the heat from this cold outdoor air to meet the demand of the thermostat setting, an electric heater supplements the outdoor air to warm the home. Extremely efficient, this process produces two to three times more heat than the energy it uses. Also, a heat pump can be an effective add-on option to use in conjunction with an existing gas furnace. With this dual-fuel option, the two systems share the heating load, but never function at the same time. Each system operates when it is most cost effective. The heat pump will be the primary heating and cooling system. However, when the temperature drops below the heat pump's ability to operate as efficiently as the gas furnace, the gas furnace will take over until the temperature rises enough for the heat pump to operate more efficiently.

 

Should I leave my pilot light on my fireplace throughout the entire summer?
The answer is yes! With the pilot on there's heat given off throughout the summer when the A/C is on and of course there's a cost to operate the pilot. All we can say is that we have done countless service calls in the fall for pilots that can't be re-lit. Many times it's spiders that have made their way in through the venting and nest in the pilot burner. If the pilot was left on, the spider would definitely not have entered the unit. Also, the small amount of heat created from the pilot keeps humidity and moisture out in the summer months which often cause the fireplace to prematurely rust, or paint to flake.

 

How often should I have my fireplace serviced?
If your are using your fireplace quite regularly in the winter months you should have it serviced each year. At this time the technician will clean the burners, make sure logs are where they should be, check venting and clean the glass. All of these steps will ensure a warm and safe winter!
Click here to browse through our fireplace selection.

 

What is the right size furnace for my home?
To determine the correct furnace size for a given house, a heat-load calculation must be performed. This calculation takes into account a number of factors including the size and orientation of the house, the local landscaping, the number of windows, and the number of occupants. Too large a furnace means you will use ( and pay for) more fuel than necessary; too little means you won't be comfortable. Dunn Heating can advise you which size is best for your situation. The sizing of your furnace is critical to proper operation; never leave this to guess work.

 

Do I need to get anything else for my new furnace?
To ensure compatibility, it's a good idea to think about adding furnace accessories at the time you buy your new furnace. Some accessories include filters and programmable thermostats.

Filters- Furnace filters have two purposes:

  1. To protect the inner workings of the furnace and the condenser coil of the central air conditioning system (located in the furnace) from dust and debris
  2. To improve indoor air quality by trapping harmful particles. The standard fibreglass filter that comes with a new furnace provides the minimum basic protection. We recommend one of the following types of filters.

    HEPA filter
    This filter is made of fine borosilicate fibres that are pressed together to form a net-like structure with openings large enough for air to pass through but too small for most particulates. The filters are made in sheets which are pleated to achieve maximum surface area. The filters contain the highest amount of carbon possible to ensure efficiency and maximum use.

    Electrostatic filter
    This filter attracts particles using a static charge created by air moving over the filter. It protects the furnace and air conditioning coil, and traps a wide range of bio-particles such as pet dander, bacteria, moulds, and pollen. This filter must be washed and dried monthly and lasts about five years.

    Pleated fabric filter
    The pleats in this filter provide a large enough surface area for capturing particles. It traps all that an electrostatic filter can, and is somewhat more effective. This filter should be replaced approximately every three months. (check it every month to see if it's dirty)

    Media air filter
    This filter has a high-efficiency pleated medium that can trap all that the pleated fabric and electrostatic filters can. However, this filter requires minimal maintenance-you simply change the media cartridge once or twice a year.


Programmable thermostats
Programmable thermostats allow you to set the temperature in your home according to time of day or even day of week. Models with "setback" options can reduce your monthly heating bill by up to 15%! In addition, according to Energy Star, programmable thermostats are more convenient and accurate than manual thermostats and improve your homes comfort. They contain no mercury and are better for the environment, since using less energy helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy production.
Click here to browse through our thermostat selection.

 

 

 

Cooling

 

 Should I be covering my Air Conditioner for the winter?
There have been many opinions on covering outside condensers leaving customers thoroughly confused. When you think about the use of the cover and what happens in the winter, varying temperatures and hot sun in the winter could cause condensation within the cover and the appliance. This condensation does cause problems with the "fins" in the condensing unit; a simple piece of plywood over the top of the unit will prevent ice buildup on the top of the unit but will allow the "fins" to breath within the condensing unit and not restrict the air circulation being restricted by the cover.

 

 Can frost, ice, dirt or other debris keep the outdoor unit of my cooling system from operating effectively?
Air Conditioners are specifically designed to deal with harsh weather conditions and debris buildup. But, for the air conditioner to run at peak efficiency it's in your best interest to keep it clean and schedule an annual maintenance. It also wouldn't hurt to take a hose and lightly spray the fins from the top out of the sides to prevent grass, dust or dirt buildup. See above for winter tips.
Click here to schedule an annual maintenance.

 

 How does an air conditioner work?
An air conditioner seems as if it cools your home's air, but it actually makes your home less warm by removing heat from the indoor air and transferring that heat to outside. Heat is extracted from the home by passing indoor air across a refrigerant coil in the indoor unit. Refrigerant lines then carry the heat to the outdoor unit, where it is released into the outside air. The cooling cycle continues until the indoor temperature reaches the thermostat setting.
Click here to browse through our air conditioner selection.

 

 What is variable speed technology and how does it apply to air conditioners?
"Variable speed" refers to the fan motor inside the air handler--the indoor part of an air conditioner that moves cooled or heated air throughout the ductwork of your home. An air handler is usually a furnace or a blower coil. Unlike conventional single-speed motors, a variable speed motor runs at a wide range of speeds to precisely control the air throughout your home. Better airflow control has several benefits:

  • Electrical efficiency
    Variable speed motors can actually save you money on your energy bills, as they consume less electricity than standard motors
  • Cooling efficiency
    Variable speed technology also means you will gain air conditioning efficiency or SEER.
  • Air quality
    A variable speed motor can also help clean the air in your home. When the fan is in constant operation, the motor will continue to slowly circulate air, allowing your filter to capture more contaminants.

 Why is my system freezing up?
There are several factors that can cause system freezing. Most need to be corrected by a professional HVAC contractor. One thing you can do to prevent or correct this problem is to make sure the filter is clean or replaced. The causes of system freezing include:

  • Dirty filter
    After replacing or cleaning the filter, you can speed up the thawing process by turning the system off and turning on 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, switch the system back to normal settings. If the system refreezes, contact Dunn Heating to correct the problem.
  • Low refrigerant
    In some cases, freezing is caused by a leak in the refrigerant lines. Weak solder joints, friction from piping rubbing or vibrating against an object, open valves or loose fittings are all factors that can cause leaks. When determining whether to have the system replaced, the age of the system and the nature/location of the leak are important considerations.
  • Dirty evaporator coil
    Over time, the evaporator coil will become dirty. When this happens, you will begin to lose airflow, slowly enough that you probably would not realize it until it freezes up or the cooling performance is compromised. At this point, you will need to contact someone to correct the problem.
  • Defective blower motor or relay
    A blower motor not running at the proper speed or not running at all is another factor that can cause freezing. Motor operation may be intermittent, 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 case, you will need to contact a professional.

 What is the average life of an air conditioning system?
It can vary, depending on how much the system is used and how regularly it is checked or serviced. Generally, the average life of cooling units built in the 1980's and 1990's is about 15 years, but individual units may vary and last much longer, depending on use and how well they are maintained. Heat pumps have about the same life span-- an ARI survey showed average heat pump life to be about 14 years when recommended maintenance procedures were followed. Newer units are expected to last even longer.

 

 Can homeowners repair their own air conditioners?
In most cases, definitely not. Cooling systems today are more complicating to service and usually require expert attention in order to comply with federal regulations, such as the Clean Air Act which prohibits releasing refrigerants into the atmosphere. An EPA-certified air conditioning contractor or service technician should be called at the first sign of trouble.

 
 

Indoor Air Quality

 

General

 

 What can I do myself to enhance my home's air quality?
There are several everyday steps you can take to reduce the pollutants circulating in your home, including:

  • Store household cleaners, paint solvents and chemical products in tightly sealed containers. If possible, keep them outdoors
  • Clean and vacuum once a week
  • Regularly wash bed linens and stuffed toys
  • Keep windows closed when pollen, pollution and humidity levels are high
  • Make sure your home is properly ventilated. (Modern homes are well insulated and sealed to conserve energy, which means airborne pollutants have no way to escape)
  • Keep humidity levels within a healthy, comfortable range to prevent growth of mold and mildew (25%- 55%)
  • Avoid using scented deodorizers and odour-masking air fresheners, which may cause toxic chemicals
  • Have your HVAC system regularly inspected to make sure it is clean and in good operating condition
  • Choose furnishings that emit the smallest amount of chemical vapours
  • Do not allow smoking inside your home and make sure all gas appliances are properly vented

 What are the benefits of clean air?
Allergies and asthma are two health problems that can be helped with clean indoor air. When airborne irritants are removed, allergy and asthma sufferers often find relief from their symptoms. Even healthy people who have never suffered from allergies can 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.

 

Carbon Monoxide

 

 Should I be concerned about carbon monoxide in my home?
Carbon monoxide can be an invisible threat to your family's health and safety. Though more commonly associated with fires and automobile emissions, carbon monoxide poisoning can accumulate in any home unless certain precautions are taken. Home heating systems represent only 5% of potential carbon monoxide sources. Though the amount of carbon monoxide produced is not substantial, it is important to schedule annual maintenance visits by a qualified technician to make sure all combustion appliances are operating properly and all chimneys and vents are free from obstruction.
Click here to schedule an annual maintenance.

 

 What is Carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas that is produced 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 appliances such as your 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 condition or have been installed improperly. Vehicle exhaust fumes from attached garages, as well as improperly operating fireplaces, also can become carbon monoxide hazards, particularly if your home is well-sealed for energy efficiency.

 

 What are some of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Unfortunately, the symptoms are easily overlooked because they are often flu-like. With mild exposure, most people experience headaches, fatigue and nausea. Medium exposure can cause severe throbbing headaches, drowsiness, disorientation, confusion and an accelerated heart rate. Extreme exposure can lead to unconsciousness, convulsions, cardio respiratory failure, coma and possibly death.

 

 What can be done about detecting carbon monoxide in your home?
The best method of detection is to use a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is a device very similar to a smoke alarm. It monitors the air for carbon monoxide and sounds an alarm if a specific level is detected. Ideally, you should have one detector adjacent to every living area in your home. Carbon monoxide detectors are most effective when used in combination with preventive maintenance. For more information on how to schedule regular maintenance for your furnace or about purchasing a carbon monoxide detector please call us at 519-746-6000. It is now possible to exchange stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air without compromising the energy efficiency of your home. Heat recovery ventilators (HRV's) exchange stale, recirculated indoor air with fresh, filtered outside air, and no energy is wasted.
Click here for more information on carbon monoxide detectors.

 

Ventilation

 

 How can I ventilate my home without losing energy?
It is now possible to exchange stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air without compromising the energy efficiency of your home. Heat recovery ventilators (HRV's) exchange stale, re-circulated indoor air with fresh, filtered outside air, and no energy is wasted.
Click here for more information on HRV's

 

 Why is ventilation important for proper indoor air quality?
At one time, it was possible to achieve natural ventilation in our homes by merely opening a window. However, with the concern for energy efficiency in recent years, we have been busy making homes "tighter" from an energy standpoint. Armed with weather stripping and caulk guns, we have eliminated air leaks from our homes. Unfortunately, that means contaminants have no way to escape. Pollutants in your home's air can cause poor indoor air quality, which in turn may cause dizziness and headaches, plus aggravate allergies and asthma.

 

Humidity

 

 What are the benefits of installing a whole-house humidifier?
With central heating, people are confined indoors with unnaturally dry air for many months each year. Humidifiers help to keep comfortable levels of moisture in the air, which is essential for your respiratory health. Whole-house humidifiers work like old-fashioned room humidifiers: they put moisture into the air, making harsh, dry air easier to breathe. Also, whole-house humidifiers use water mists instead of hot steam, which keeps the entire house at the desired humidity level.
Click here to browse through our humidifier selection.

 

How much water does a humidifier use?
Depending on the model you choose and the size of your home, a humidifier uses from 1.5 to 12 gallons per day when the furnace is operating. This minimal amount of water is enough to raise the humidity to your desired level, but not enough for you to notice a difference in your water bill.

 

 What is involved in humidifier installation and maintenance?
Installing a humidifier is simple if you are replacing your furnace. You can also have a humidifier fitted to your current system with minimal labour, since it is designed for installation in your ductwork. It is also important to properly maintain your humidifier to avoid potential bacteria growth. Periodic cleaning and draining of the reservoir is strongly recommended.

 

 

 

Miscellaneous

 

 What kind of filters should I be using and how often should they be replaced?
The old saying "you get what you pay for" is the same with filters. If you spend $5 on a three-pack of filters you're probably not getting good filtration which means you will require more attention to cleaning and maintaining your furnace. We recommend a minimum of a 1" pleated filter changed every 2 months. This will prolong the life of your furnace and keep utility bills at a constant. You should be changing your filters on regular intervals, marking it on the calender when you do to keep track. Check your filter monthly to see condition and assess whether you can still see light through the filter. This will give you the proper interval to change. Some homes have pets and several occupants where others have one occupant and no pets. These are significant factors to filters.
Click here to browse through our filter selection.

 

 Why is it important to have regular maintenance on my home comfort system?
You wouldn't buy a brand-new care and expect to never have to put air in the tires, change the oil and check out any unusual noises, would you? In the same way that an automobile requires periodic maintenance for optimal performance, a home comfort system should be regularly inspected by a qualified technician.
Click here to schedule a maintenance appointment.

 

 Which type of thermostat should I have in my home?
Programmable thermostats will save energy when properly used. Most are relatively easy to operate and some will control other equipment like humidifiers, HRV's and give filter change reminders.
Click here to browse through our selection of thermostats.

 

 I like my home to smell great so I cover my registers with fabric softener sheets!
Your registers are delivering the heat and cooling into your home. They are extremely restricted when covered with even speciality products designed for use in registers. When the air flow is restricted your furnace is struggling to find air. This will over work the motor on your furnace and can cause several internal problems. Registers should be clear and left to flow freely. This is similar to running your furnace with a plugged filter...no air+ no efficiency= strain on equipment.

 

 When do I know it's time to replace my system?
When the system starts giving you more problems than seem cost-effective to fix, particularly when major components such as the compressor start making unusual noises or otherwise indicating need for a service call. When faced with major repairs, we can help you make the right choice. Replacing a compressor is somewhat less expensive than replacing the entire unit, but new units may give you greater efficiency and lower operating costs in the long run.

 

 What is the best system to meet all indoor comfort needs?
The best system depends on many variables, including family size, house location/ design, and utility cost/availability. The optimum indoor comfort system might include high efficiency central air conditioning and heating, a high efficiency air cleaner, and a humidifier.

 

 How does a home comfort system work?
Your home comfort system is essential to keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It also helps protect you from allergens and pollutants year round. A home comfort system is made up of four major components:

  • a thermostat
  • a furnace
  • an air conditioner or heat pump
  • and an indoor air quality system

The thermostat is the centre of your comfort system, when the temperature inside drops below or rises above the setting, the thermostat signals your comfort system to kick on or increase power. In the case of the furnace, whenever the temperature gets too cold, the thermostat starts the fan motor so that the systems fan can begin drawing room air through vents and ductwork. When air reaches the furnace cabinet, it passes through a filter, air cleaner or other air quality system. It also moves through a heat exchanger, which warms the air. Then, heated air is blown back into ducts and living areas. During summer months, the furnace is still working, even though it's not heating rooms or burning fuel. It acts as an air delivery system for the air conditioner, located outside the home.
So how does the air get cooled?
When the thermostat senses the temperature is too warm, it activates the air conditioner compressor, which pumps refrigerant through a loop of piping that runs between the outside air conditioning unit and indoor cooling coil. As refrigerant passes through the cooling coil, typically installed on top of the furnace, heat is extracted from the indoor air circulating around it. The furnace blower then sends the conditioned air to living spaces through ductwork.
That's basically how a home comfort system works. Keep in mind, not all systems are created equal.

 

 How often should I have my equipment serviced?
Heating and cooling equipment should be serviced at least once a year. An ideal situation is to have the heating system checked in early fall and the air conditioning checked in the spring.
Call today to book a service appointment!

 

 Why should I have my equipment serviced?
Annual servicing includes cleaning the system, checking for any problems or potential problems and adjusting for peak efficiency. The benefits include:

  • Increased dependability
  • Prolongs the life-span of the equipment
  • Find potential problems and fix them quickly
  • Provides maximum efficiency which lowers energy costs
  • Maintains safe and healthy operation
  • Reduces the chance of break-down which, if happens at night or on weekends, repair rates are higher

Other

 

Does Dunn Heating perform City of Waterloo HVAC certificates?
Yes, Call for an appointment and a T.S.S.A registered, liscenced technician will come to your home at a time desirable to the homeowner.

 

 
 
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