FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Bigger is not better. An oversized air conditioner will run up your utility bill, as it uses more electricity than a properly sized unit. It will also short cycle (running for a short period of time, shutting off, then continually repeating this process ). Air conditioners operate more efficiently when they run for longer lengths of time. An oversized unit will leave your home cold and clammy, especially in humid climates.
Here are different solutions for different scenarios:
Scenario #1*: Each system serves no more than one story or level.
This is a temperature imbalance problem that can be resolved by increasing the amount of cooling or heating to specific areas. Both solutions here involve your ductwork. The first solution is to replace the ductwork. You can determine if this is the solution by go to the warm room and checking the vent(s). If the air coming from it feels like it has good velocity, then the duct(s) is doing all it can but is too small. It needs to be replaced with a larger duct(s) or an additional duct installed for this area. A second solution, although less common, is to reinstall the duct. The duct(s) may be large enough but poorly installed. In this situation, the air coming from the vent is weak or warm. It may be the duct is so long that the extreme attic temperature has caused the air to lose its coolness. Use better insulation on long ducts. Simply reinstall correctly.
* A common misconception is that a larger unit will help. This can make matters worse due to the shorter run times and longer intervals where no cooling occurs. An example to help explain-imagine filling two bathtubs, one is 10 inches away from the water heater, the other is 60 inches away. Now consider there is a device that shuts off water flow to both faucets after one minute. The tub nearest the water heater is steaming, the tub 60 inches away may just have begun to get warm water when the water is turned off. Your HVAC system works similarly. So if you install new equipment, take care to ensure proper sizing of the system.
Scenario #2*: One system serves two or more stories or levels.
This is a basic design flaw and is usually the result of cost cutting during construction. If comfort is important, this system should not be designed this way. A second system should be installed. The current system capacity will then be too large for the smaller area it serves. Because it is OK for the outdoor unit to be up to about 30 to 40 percent smaller than the indoor equipment's rated capacity, you may be able to install a smaller outdoor unit and reuse the furnace and maybe the indoor coil.
Most furnaces have adjustable blower speeds allowing this option. A single system, such as Trane's XL19i dual compressor, variable airflow furnace coupled with a zoning system, may be the best solution available. The cost for this system is typically comparable to the cost of two 12 SEER systems that have midrange quality, efficiency, and quietness. You get the individual temperature control just as two systems offer, but the similarities end there. Here are some of the differences:
- It's all-new equipment. There are no reused components planning the next expense for you.
- It's the highest-efficiency system in the world (or lowest operating cost) with efficiencies ranging from 16.0 to 19.5 SEER.
- It provides superior humidity control.
- It has improved filtration due to the inherently fewer cycles of the XL19i.
- Since there are roughly half as many components, fewer breakdowns are expected, and the XL19i has a 10-year warranty on all components. That is the longest standard warranty in the industry.
- You only need to purchase only one of Trane's specially designed filters if you want improved filtration for asthma or allergies. This saves hundreds of dollars now and in ongoing expenses when compared to two systems.
* Care should be taken to ensure proper sizing. A common misconception is that a larger unit will help. That can make matters worse due to the shorter run times and longer intervals where no cooling occurs. See Scenario 1 above.
Yes. With approved credit, Wells Fargo has some of the best financing plans available in our industry. Get our fact sheet with all the details.
Occasionally there are rebates or other incentives used to encourage sales during mild, nonpeak seasons. If you allow your old, worn-out system to run until it breaks, it will. And it usually happens during the busy, hot season. With advance planning, most new systems can be replaced in one day. Waiting for a failure may cause a rushed decision, a period of discomfort, and the wait for the "fastest contractor in town" to replace your system. See our internet specials for current incentives.
No, they are not all the same. There are a variety of low-cost clones available, but they often prove to be unable to handle the nation's summers. Trane air conditioners have required the fewest repairs during 16 of the last 18 years and did not fall below number two or three during the other two years. Trane remains the only manufacturer to build their own compressors throughout their residential and light-commercial products. In fact, all Trane components are either made by or manufactured specifically for the Trane product. Matched components and matched systems are the best way to ensure all things work together as they should.
Matched systems are now required by the energy code, and you cannot replace the outdoor unit only. A matched system refers to a combination of components that were tested and approved by the manufacturer for use together. It doesn't necessarily mean that a 3-ton outdoor condensing unit must have a 3-ton indoor evaporator coil. While this combination is usually acceptable, it may not be the best combination for you. A matched system is necessary for proper performance and to avoid premature failures.
Now we come to the third major air conditioning component, the furnace or blower unit. Proper total airflow is essential.
Here are tips your contractor should use when determining what to recommend for your home:
- An indoor evaporator coil, furnace, or blower is rated in tons. This refers to the maximum size of the outdoor unit that should be used. For example, a 3- or 3.5-ton outdoor unit may be approved for use with a 4-ton coil, often with improved capacity and efficiency. Trane also manufactures high-efficiency coils that provide the maximum performance available. Sometimes a larger-sized, standard-efficiency coil is approved that also gives improved efficiency. While the use of these larger, more-efficient coils may be prohibited due to limited space, it is usually a good purchase decision.
- Above are examples of new, larger indoor coils. Never reverse this by installing a larger outdoor unit with a smaller indoor evaporator coil or blower.
- New outdoor units with old indoor coils can rob your system's capacity and efficiency by 10 to 30 percent, preventing it from keeping you cool on the hottest days. In a recent test, a Trane outdoor unit achieved 13.65 SEER with a new Trane high-efficiency coil, but it only achieved a 10.50 SEER when using the old coil, though it was cleaned prior to testing. It makes good sense and good "cents" to change the indoor coil.
- Never "wing it" by assuming a coil will work with a certain outdoor unit. Trane has tested and approved combinations that work as intended. (Trane has also tested combinations that don't work well-suffering from poor humidity removal, unreliable operation, or shortened system life. For your protection, these combinations are not approved.) Reliability, durability, and efficiency-the three most important attributes customers look for when purchasing a new air conditioning system. The unfortunate thing is they probably won't get any of the attributes when dealers don't sell a matching indoor evaporator coil or air handler for the new outdoor unit. Always use an indoor-coil-and-outdoor-unit combination that has been tested and approved by the manufacturer.
Old units and some cheaply built new units can be quite noisy. Here are some very effective solutions:
Noise from the indoor blower:
- Be sure your new blower has sound-deadening insulation.
- On vertical indoor units, the return air opening into your home is often just 1 foot to 2 feet from the high-speed blower. Additional noise reduction can be obtained by attaching duct board to a surface where the blower noise reflects or hits. Duct board is a 1-inch thick fiberglass board used in field fabricated ductwork.
- In a metal duct system, install a section of flexible duct made from Mylar® or a polyester film/plastic sheet in each noisy duct.
- Use variable speed blowers.
- Use multiple stages or levels of cooling (two compressors or one two-speed compressor) and two stages of heating. These systems run at low, quiet speeds over 80 percent of the time. In Trane's lineup these are:
- Natural-gas heated homes: XL19i systems with the XV95 variable speed furnace for multistage cooling and heating. An XV95 variable speed furnace or XL95 furnace will provide two-stage heating and may be used with any cooling system.
- Electrically heated homes: XL19i heat pump systems with the variable speed air handler for two-stage cooling and three-stage heating. For one-stage cooling, two-stage heating, use any Trane heat pump system.
Noise from the outdoor unit:
- All new Trane outdoor units are likely to be much quieter than your older unit. The XL series outdoor units are extremely quiet. These are usually suitable for setting on the patio.
- Trane's scroll compressors are quieter than other types of compressors.
Yes, with change to spare. Let's assume your 15-year-old, 4-ton system has an efficiency rating of 6 SEER and you set your thermostat at 78 degrees to save money during the summer months. If you replace that system with a Trane XL19i, you can then set your thermostat to 75 degrees and still save nearly $600 per summer. The XL19i's variable-speed furnace will typically save an additional $150 to $200 per winter.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Handbook (the air conditioning "bible") says 15 years is average. While proper installation of any system may be the most important consideration, there are several other factors:
- Poor installation techniques. This should to be the number-one priority.
- Mismatched equipment. It won't last as long as properly matched systems will. See the question above regarding mismatched systems.
- Poor brand. Some brands are simply built to last longer.
- Oversized units. They don't last as long as properly sized units.
- Improper maintenance. Without proper, regular maintenance, your unit's lifespan will be shortened.
Combine two or more of the above factors, and service lives can be as low as two years. When the best brands are installed correctly and have the proper maintenance, you can expect them to perform reliably for 20 to 30 years. Quite a difference.
No. And since most air leaks occur at the connection to the equipment itself, insist that the connection be replaced with professionally built fittings (unless you like the thought of duct tape as your only protection).
There are a lot of misconceptions floating around regarding the new refrigerants. Here are the most common ones our professionals get and our responses:
- I'm going to need to replace my unit. Wrong. There have been some commercials that seem to be designed to scare you into action. This is unfortunate.
- I have to replace my FREON® or refrigerant with a new type. No. Here's a quote from Trane's Communication Bulletin: " . . . Units using R-22 will always be serviced with R-22. They should never need to be changed or retrofitted to a different refrigerant."
- My refrigerant won't be available soon. Wrong. Quoting Trane again: "New R-22 is expected to be available for the next 20 years. Recycled and reclaimed R-22 makes the fluid likely to be available past the life of all equipment installed until 2010. You can have confidence buying a system using R-22 even to the year 2010. It's simply not an issue today."
- The cost of my old refrigerant will become extremely high in cost. No. R-22 is not likely to be subjected to major price increases like R-12 because of R-22's widespread availability and a lengthy phase-out period. Consumers can also feel confident that R-22 will be available at a reasonable price beyond 2020. Many comparisons have been made between the phase out of R-12 (a CFC) and R-22 (an HCFC), but few similarities actually exist. The major price increase that occurred with R-12 was largely due to a high government excise tax that was placed on R-12 in order to accelerate its phaseout. It is highly improbable that this will occur with R-22. This R-22 refrigerant is at least 95 percent less damaging to the ozone layer than CFCs should it ever escape. And, there is a 20-plus-year phaseout time line firmly in place. Because R-22 will be readily available for many years to come, market conditions will not be influenced by the same volatility and forced acceleration campaign that surrounded the phase out of R-12.
- I should select a system that uses R-410a. A major manufacturer says that homeowners should select heating and air-conditioning products based on efficiency, reliability, durability, and dealer recommendations-not on the refrigerants they use.
Excerpts from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) paper, "Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?, Deciding Whether or Not to Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned":
Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts or go down after cleaning. This is because much of the dirt that may accumulate inside air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. It is important to keep in mind that dirty air ducts are only one of many possible sources of particles that are present in homes. Pollutants that enter the home both from outdoors and indoor activities, such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, or just moving around, can cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. EPA does not recommend that air ducts be cleaned except on an as-needed basis because of the continuing uncertainty about the benefits of duct cleaning under most circumstances. If a service provider or advertiser asserts that EPA recommends routine duct cleaning or makes claims about its health benefits, you should notify EPA by writing to the address listed at the end of this guidance . . . Some research also suggests that cleaning dirty cooling coils, fans, and heat exchangers can improve the efficiency of heating-and-cooling systems. However, little evidence exists to indicate that simply cleaning the duct system will increase your system's efficiency. If you think duct cleaning might be a good idea for your home, but you are not sure, talk to a professional. The company that services your heating and cooling system may be a good source of advice.
Yes. we suggest getting three bids. If one is more than 5 to 10 percent lower than the others, it's likely you're getting inferior equipment and workmanship, or they just left something out. Ask questions! Our favorite motto:
THE LOWEST BIDDER
It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money . . . that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because what you bought is incapable of doing what it was bought to do. The current law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot . . . it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And, if you do that, you won't have enough to pay for something better.