Tag Archive for: Air Conditioning

5 Air Conditioning Myths Debunked

In these days of super-fast communication media, it takes very little time and effort for misinformation to spread. Misinformation can then be taken as fact by large numbers of people. Unfortunately, half-baked ideas and misconceptions about air-conditioning are common—getting in the way of making good decisions about home HVAC systems. Take a look at these five air-conditioning myths, debunked so that you can separate fact from fiction about your home AC.

1. Air-conditioning Causes Respiratory Problems

This is a myth not backed up by health research. When AC equipment is used correctly, it helps prevent and minimize health issues. By filtering out harmful airborne particles—bacteria, viruses, fungi, pollen, dander, and other allergens, cleaner air circulates indoors. As a result, asthma and hay fever sufferers can breathe easier, particularly if high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are used.

However, if you don’t service your air conditioner regularly, the air filters will eventually become dirty and clogged, lowering the air quality in the home. So, this is a case of a myth deriving from homeowners’ neglect of their equipment.

2. The Bigger the AC Unit, the Better

While it seems to make sense that a large, powerful AC unit is best for cooling down rooms, that’s not necessarily the case. Equipment needs to be sized for the space it’s expected to service.

An undersized AC unit will have to work harder to meet set temperature levels, making it less energy efficient, and costing you more in energy bills. Similarly, an oversized unit will need to turn itself on and off to maintain set temperatures, also using more energy than the right-sized equipment would. The result in both cases is higher equipment wear and tear, along with higher energy costs. Additionally, the lifespan of the equipment will be shorter, requiring earlier replacement.

3. Keeping Vents Closed Keeps Air Cool

Many air-conditioning myths seem to start from a logical position but don’t hold up due to a lack of technical knowledge. For example, it’s a popular misconception that if you close off vents and doors in lightly used rooms, chill air will circulate in a smaller area keeping the home cooler.

Unfortunately, home HVAC systems don’t work optimally with vents closed. Air pressure builds up in the air ducts, putting strain on the equipment, lowering energy efficiency, and raising energy costs. Vents should be open so that air is evenly distributed through your home, which is how your AC equipment was designed to be used.

4. AC Equipment Isn’t Efficient for Heating

An expensive fallacy held by many homeowners is that reverse-cycle air conditioning isn’t as efficient as dedicated heating appliances. Gas or electric wall attached or portable plug-in heaters are used rather than AC. However, the heating method used by reverse cycle AC units actually results in lower heating costs per hour than typical plug-in heaters.

Reverse cycle air conditioners draw in heat from outdoor air to indoors. Then, the drawn-in air is heated to set thermostat temperatures through a refrigerant process. This energy-efficient method of heating works even in freezing weather.

The energy cost savings from a reverse cycle air conditioner can be more than 50% less per hour compared to radiant and panel heaters. Of course, this depends on specific appliance models and their energy input levels. Check the Energy Star ratings for your AC and heating appliances. You may be shocked at the difference in running costs and how much this can add up to over winter.

5. ACs Are Bad for the Environment

This is one of the most disingenuous air-conditioning myths. It’s propagated upon the notion that any use of power is bad for the environment and that AC is particularly to blame. However, heating and cooling are essential requirements of modern life for most people. Moreover, as with Myth Number 4, reverse-cycle air conditioning can be much more efficient than standard heating appliances. As such, the lower energy use of AC appliances benefits the environment.

Using reverse-cycle AC results in roughly one-third fewer emissions being released into the atmosphere. Some of the most efficient appliances produce only one-fifth the level of emissions by standard heaters. Technical improvements in refrigerants are also reducing greenhouse gas levels. Human ingenuity can be expected to achieve even better results in future years.

Keep Your Air Conditioning Equipment at Peak Efficiency

At Briggs HVAC, we love helping debunk AC myths. Talk to us about a system maintenance plan to keep your AC in top condition and reduce energy emissions and costs. We service Northern Virginia and nearby counties.

Benefits of Managing Your Indoor Air Quality

We spend a significant part of our lives indoors, particularly at home. Unfortunately, the air quality within our homes often leaves much to be desired. Chemicals, toxins, molds, fungi, and other allergens can hang heavy in the air. This all can affect our health and comfort. Poor ventilation, dampness, excess humidity, and dusty and dirty conditions within the home can exacerbate problems. See how the benefits of actively managing your indoor air quality can reap rewards for you, your family, and your bank account.

What’s Involved in Managing Indoor Air Quality?

Actively managing your home air quality means being aware of the significant causes of degraded air. These include:

  • residue from smoke, whether from cigarette smoking or burning wood in open fireplaces
  • airborne particles that make their way indoors, such as pollen, and
  • mold and fungi growing in damp areas of the home that release spores into the air.

Many of these airborne culprits increase due to poor air circulation or degraded filtering by home HVAC systems. Other home environment factors include damaged chimney stacks and external wear and tear, resulting in gaps in walls and windows that let moisture into the home.

You may find that you need to be something of a detective in monitoring and determining the causes of dank air or the reasons behind respiratory health problems experienced by yourself or your family members. Indoor air quality monitors can assist you in this task, and another expert source of advice is your local HVAC company.

What are the Benefits of Managing Your Indoor Air Quality?

You can achieve several benefits from keeping your HVAC equipment at peak efficiency, but the greatest benefit is to you and your family’s overall health. You may realize secondary gains from improved comfort and in reducing HVAC costs.

Here’s More Detail on How to Get These Benefits:

The Benefits of Reducing Allergens

Many people suffer from respiratory conditions such as hay fever and asthma, triggered by airborne particles such as pollen, dust in the air, fungal spores, or tiny nasties such as dust mites. Hay fever sufferers have a miserable time, with symptoms similar to a constant head cold. Asthma attacks can be brought on by exposure to allergens, with deadly consequences if not treated in time.

Over time these symptoms can lower the body’s immune system response and develop long-term health conditions such as sinusitis or worsening asthma. Clearly, reducing airborne allergens in the home positively benefits respiratory illness sufferers.

How to Manage Allergens with a Three-pronged Attack:
  1. Clean or replace all HVAC filters regularly and upgrade to higher quality equipment such as HEPA filters if necessary.
  2. Implement a thorough cleaning routine: wash pillowcases and sheets every two to three weeks; vacuum rugs and carpets with a HEPA filter machine.
  3. Reduce opportunities for pollen and other microbial spores like mold and fungi to get inside by keeping windows closed on high pollen days.

The Benefits of Reducing Exposure to Smoke

Whether you’re exposed to smoke from wood fire burning or secondhand cigarette smoke, you’re inhaling toxic substances. Wood burning releases carbon monoxide, soot, creosote, and other harmful chemicals, while cigarette smoke produces hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and other poisons. Cancer, heart disease, stroke, and worsening asthma are all associated with inhaled smoke, so the less exposure, the greater the health benefit.

How to Manage Health Risks by Ensuring Regular Maintenance:
  1. HVAC filters are regularly changed, with annual maintenance and immediate repair of any leaks in the system.
  2. If using open wood-burning fires, annual chimney inspection, and sweeping.
  3. Cigarette smokers are banned from smoking indoors.

The Benefits of Programmable Thermostats for HVAC

With new technology, HVAC systems can run longer for less cost. Digital thermostats can automatically lower the temperature when no one is home or sleeping at night. The Department of Energy states that 10% a year can be saved on energy bills by simply lowering temperatures for eight hours a day.

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality with Briggs HVAC in Northern Virginia

Our homes should be places of respite, providing breathing space from the hectic pace and barrage of modern life. However, long-term exposure to degraded indoor air can lead to severe and chronic health conditions, while even short bursts of exposure to air laden with carbon monoxide can kill.

Regular HVAC maintenance is a primary way to have clean and fresh indoor air and ensure toxins are not reaching deadly levels. Let us assist you in managing indoor air quality and keeping your HVAC equipment in tip-top condition.

6 Signs Your AC Needs to Be Serviced

On a sweltering hot day, it’s blissful to come in from the heat outside and relax in the cool temperature of your air-conditioned home. But, before summer begins, you’ll want to ensure that your AC unit is operating properly. The last thing you want is the air conditioning cutting out during a heat wave and finding local AC services too busy to attend. So, examine these six signs your AC needs to be serviced and head off problems.

1. Not Blowing Any Air

There may be a blockage if you have central AC and cannot feel air coming through the vents. You should check that all the vents are open and that airflow isn’t blocked by furniture or other objects.

If your air conditioning is running, but there’s no air blowing, mechanical failure may be the cause. For example, the blower belt mechanism may have broken, or there could be a fault in the motor. All mechanical repairs should be done by qualified AC technicians.

2. Blowing Hot Instead of Cold

Another strong sign your AC needs servicing is if the equipment blows hot air instead of cold. The hot air can happen for several reasons; a compressor may be damaged, the refrigerant level may be too low, or condenser coils may be dirty and blocked. Condenser coils can be cleaned easily enough, and refrigerant levels topped up without too much effort, but the compressor is different.

The compressor forces the refrigerant through the AC system, moves air, and keeps all the components running. If the compressor stops working, the entire system will come to a halt. Regular preventive maintenance is the best way to stop problems from occurring. Unfortunately, if the compressor has developed a fault, this is likely to be a costly repair or replacement.

3. Leaks are Another Sign Your AC Needs Servicing

Refrigerant is toxic, and leaks are dangerous. Over time, natural wear and tear processes can corrode AC coils, and other components will wear out. Holes, cracks, and loose joints let refrigerant leak out of the system. Leaks will reduce the refrigerant level, and the AC system cannot keep the air temperature at the right level. As a result, a complete system breakdown can occur.

Another source of an AC leak is clogged drain lines. When this happens, moisture cannot drain to the outside, backs up, and will cause a leak inside the home. Rusty or damaged drain pans and broken condensate pumps can also cause leaks inside the house.

4. Nasty Odors from Your AC Are a Good Reason to Call for AC Services

Unpleasant smells produced by your air conditioning system are always a cause for concern. An acrid, burning odor can indicate a serious overheating fault that could lead to a fire and permanent damage. Turn off the system and call for expert assistance straight away as this is a dangerous situation.

The whiff of musty and stale air may point to high dust levels in the system or mold and bacteria growing within the ducts. These nasty particles can detach and blow through the air conditioning system, lowering air quality and causing health issues. A thorough professional inspection and cleaning should be organized as soon as you know of the problem.

5. Wrong Temperature Levels

If indoor temperature levels are too high, low, or uneven throughout the home, there could be several causes. The thermostat may have malfunctioned, air filters may be dirty and clogged, the compressor may be damaged, or a refrigerant leak may have happened.

Changing air filters is easy enough for most homeowners, but fixing refrigerant leaks or the thermostat are tasks for qualified technicians.

6. Loud Noises

Another sign your AC needs servicing is clearly audible noise. Hissing and bubbling sounds can indicate a leak of refrigerant. Banging or clanking noises can happen if a part has come loose. Broken blower belts and faulty blower motors can cause high distinct squealing sounds. A rattling noise often accompanies compressor problems.

A well-maintained and properly operating air conditioner should only make a gentle hum. Any suddenly occurring, distinctive noises can indicate a severe problem is occurring. Switching off the system and booking an immediate service call is best.

Local Air Conditioning Experts in Northern Virginia

AC systems are complex equipment with intricate components and numerous moving parts. The potential for problems is therefore relatively high, particularly if regular maintenance doesn’t happen. Get in touch with Briggs HVAC for professional AC services, including all types of repairs and maintenance. HVAC maintenance plans will keep your equipment in peak condition and improve lifespan.

5 Tips for Buying an AC Unit

With spring here and summer approaching, you can expect a marked rise in temperature. While spring temperatures can often be comfortable and feel “just right,” once summer gets into full swing, the temperature indoors can get hot and uncomfortable.

For your comfort and the safety of pets, children, the elderly, and even electronics in your home, it’s important to maintain cooler temperatures indoors, and air conditioning is the best solution. If you’re buying an AC unit for the first time, or you haven’t been in the market for a while, what should you be looking for? How do you make sure that the AC unit you’re considering is the best one for your needs? We’ve got five great tips to help you out!

Decide on Coverage

From the start, you’ll need to make a big decision. Do you want full coverage of your entire building or partial coverage for select rooms? For example, if you want an entire home to be cooled, then you’ll likely need a centralized air conditioning solution. So, buying an AC unit that connects directly to an existing furnace and ventilation system will allow you to make use of the vents that already go into every room.

On the other hand, if you’ve just finished an attic, and you want to keep it cool but don’t want to add expensive new vents to that room, you can try a different option. A mini-split solution or even a window AC unit is a better fit to cool smaller or particular spaces.

Size Matters

Buying an AC unit is also about making sure that you get a model that suits the square footage of the space. Get a unit that’s too powerful, and you’re paying for electricity that you don’t need to be using every time the unit turns on. Get a unit that doesn’t put out enough power for the building, and it will work longer than it needs to, which results in higher electric bills as well.

To avoid missteps, get an experienced AC technician to evaluate the space you want air conditioning for. They will measure the square footage and then make a recommendation. You want the right unit for the right amount of space in order to treat the air effectively and manage your spending.

Think About Your Length of Stay

If you are upgrading your HVAC system because you’re getting ready to sell your property, you’ll want to buy an AC unit that makes your home attractive but doesn’t eat into potential profits. However, if you’ve just moved into a home for the long term, and you’re buying an AC unit, your priorities are different. You’ll want to consider efficiency, coverage, different types of models and technological advancements, trends, and of course, cost. The length of time you plan to stay in a home plays a role in how you decide to invest in your new AC unit.

Look at the Rest of Your Home

If you’re buying an AC unit that’s new, you’re likely to get a big boost in your cooling efficiency. But you can get an even bigger boost if your home itself is also more energy-efficient. Evaluate your windows, have your roof looked at, and see whether your walls or your roof would benefit from new insulation to prevent that cool air from leaking out.

You’d be surprised at how much more you can save if you get the rest of your home in shape for the summer and winter months.

Pick the Right Installer

The most important decision you can make after selecting and buying an AC unit is to install it professionally. Buying an AC unit with high efficiency will only benefit you if the installation is done correctly. If you hire the cheapest installer available and ignore a poor reputation or bad reviews, you may end up paying for that choice in the long run with higher energy bills than you should be paying.

Always make sure that the installer you hire is reputable, experienced, and willing to come to your home and evaluate it personally so that you get a custom solution. Contact us today, and we’ll be happy to provide you with a consultation and estimate so that you can decide how you want to cool your home this summer and enjoy both comfort and cost-efficiency.

How to Pick the Best HVAC Company in North Virginia

The HVAC company you select must be qualified to complete the work in your home. Only by taking on the research process and reviewing the local marketplace can you find the right company for your home’s requirements. Our team at Briggs HVAC has decades of experience in the HVAC marketplace, and in this latest post, we’re explaining our tips for choosing the best HVAC company.

Read Customer Reviews Online

When you’re going through the research phase to find the best HVAC company to help you, make sure you read customer reviews online. Customer reviews can tell you more about how the company’s team completed their work inside the home. The review will likely point out if the company’s staff was late to the property and when issues occurred during their work. Or, reviews can confirm that the company is reputable and performs high-quality work. Ensure you read a number of reviews from different sources.

Ensure the Technicians Are Licensed and Insured

Make sure that the technicians the company employs have full insurance and have completed the licensing for HVAC work in the area. If the technician and their employer do not have full insurance, you may find you’re responsible for any damage that occurs to your property or any injuries they sustain during their work.
When a technician is licensed, it’s proof that they have the expertise to handle complex HVAC work, helping give you confidence in their competency.

Discuss the Pricing Before Coming to an Agreement

The pricing for your HVAC work should be discussed with the HVAC company before moving forward. Ensure that you know exactly how much you will be charged for the work to be completed.
Also, ask about the potential for any additional charges resulting from the work on your home. For example, will the company’s technicians ask you before completing further work outside the current scope? Once you have a final agreement regarding the quoted price, you can then move forward to discuss the project in greater detail.

Try to Avoid Choosing Solely Based on Price

A common mistake many homeowners make when selecting an HVAC firm is choosing simply based on price. That can lead to a number of issues with the quality of the workmanship. Price can be a key factor in your decision-making process, but it shouldn’t be your sole basis for choosing a company. It should be one of many factors that go into hiring the best HVAC company for work in your home.

Find Out How You Can Help Their Team

In some cases, the homeowner may be able to help the HVAC company complete their work effectively. For example, you may be asked to ensure the work area is clear of obstacles before the technicians arrive. You might also be asked to ensure that pets and small children are kept away from the area for the duration of the project. Taking these small steps can often make a significant difference in the quality of the completed work.

Discuss the Project in Detail Before They Begin

Make sure you have an idea about the type of work the company will be completing in your home before they begin. Often, homeowners simply let the HVAC team enter the property and complete their work without fully knowing the type of repair or installation work the company is completing within the home. That can mean companies get away with poor workmanship or mistakes during the working process. Try to find out as much as possible before the work begins, and make sure you ask questions if you’re unsure about any aspect of the process.

Discuss the Warranty

When you choose an HVAC contractor, the contractor should provide you with some form of warranty that states they will fix any errors that occur during their work. The warranty is designed to give you peace of mind when working with the contractor. It also protects you in case the contractor doesn’t follow-up with you after you find a problem with their workmanship. Ask for a copy of the company’s warranty before the work begins, and ensure you’re comfortable with the wording in the document.

Turn to Our Team at Briggs HVAC for Quality Repair and Installation Work

Looking for the best HVAC company for home repairs? Look no further. Our trusted team at Briggs HVAC has a comprehensive understanding of HVAC systems, including installation and repair requirements. We work with clients throughout McLean, Fairfax, and Great Falls to deliver exceptional HVAC services. If you have an issue with the HVAC systems in your home, you can turn to our team for a quick response! Call us today for a consultation.