You may in a position similar to one that many people find themselves in, where you don't know exactly how but you know you’re house has room for improvement, especially when it comes to things related to HVAC, ventilation, insulation, air quality, and the like. Sometimes there’s an obvious problem, like say it’s the middle of the winter and you’re heater stops outputting warm air. This obvious problem has an obvious solution, call an Austin heating professional and have it repaired, and if it’s gotten past a certain age, have it replaced.
But more often than not, nothing is exactly wrong with your HVAC system, at least nothing that you can obviously point a finger at, but it still leaves something to be desired. Maybe you notice you’re allergies get really bad when you’re home during the spring, or maybe certain rooms feel colder than others, or maybe you feel like your energy bills have gotten higher over the past couple of years. In such cases, you might be at a loss at what to do. That’s when you should consider calling a professional to come and do tests. There are several types of tests that HVAC professionals do all the time and can help pinpoint areas in your home and HVAC system where there is room for much improvement. A good contractor will discover these areas through thorough testing and what that looks like will be the subject of this tip of the day.
Extra Steps for the Extra Mile
Now, this might all sound appealing to you, but you may be asking yourself where do you find such services and when is an appropriate time to go for it. Well, this is the kind of thing that any contractor worth their salt would love to discuss with you the next time you schedule a regular maintenance check or repair for your heater or air conditioner.
These are the best times to ask for such services. Especially when you’re repairing or replacing a unit. If possible, take an extra step when buying or repairing a heating or air conditioning system. Your HVAC contractor can assess your home for related problems that can be fixed, thus upgrading the comfort of your home. They can test your home to see if it has leakage problems or filtration in the attic, basement and ductwork. Their trained professionals have tools that will help identify trouble areas, for example, perhaps insulation dead spots and thermal bypasses. Get the diagnoses and then fix the issues and your house will be much more comfortable and you will get better performance from your heating and air conditioning system.
In the next few sections, we’ll take a quick look at some of the different kinds of tests and diagnosis building inspections that are available to you when you partner with a contractor in order to find how you’re HVAC system can be brought to its full potential.
An energy audit is perhaps the broadest and far-reaching regular type of HVAC diagnosis test. It’s purpose is to investigate your home for ways in which its energy efficiency can be brought up.
Professional energy assessments generally go into great detail to assess your home's energy use. The energy auditor will do a room-by-room examination of the residence, as well as a thorough examination of past utility bills. Many professional energy assessments will include a blower door test. Most will also include a thermographic scan. There's also another type of test, the PFT air infiltration measurement technique, but this isn’t as common.
Before the audit there are things to do to make it go more smoothly and quickly. First of all, you should make a list of any existing problems such as condensation and uncomfortable or drafty rooms. Anything you’ve noticed that made you wonder whether improvements could be made in the first place. Have copies or a summary of the home's yearly energy bills. (Your utility company can provide these for you.) Auditors use this information to establish what to look for during the audit. The auditor first examines the outside of the home to determine the size of the house and its features (i.e., wall area, number and size of windows).
Walkthrough your home with the auditors as they work, and ask questions. They may use equipment to detect sources of energy loss, such as blower doors, infrared cameras, furnace efficiency meters, and surface thermometers. They’ll want to ask you some questions as well, primarily about the behavior of the household occupants. These things are important because an HVAC system doesn’t exist in a vacuum. How well it performs and the needs of the household depend partially on the habits of the people living there. That includes things such as whether anyone is typically home during normal working hours, what the typical settings for the thermostat are, how many people live there and which rooms are typically occupied the most.
Ductwork inspection is another big one, though a little more specific than the more generalized energy audit. The ductwork in your home is your HVAC system’s lifeblood, it’s what allows the conditioned air to get around your house and make you comfortable. But it is also fairly tucked away and out of sight, which means problems can develop in the ductwork very easily without it being noticed until the problem becomes catastrophic or starts draining you of money. That’s where a ductwork inspection becomes helpful.
There’s a component of the forced-air HVAC system that’s typically tucked out of sight and goes largely unnoticed. When it’s underperforming, as it does in the average home, other systems are often blamed, such as the A/C or heat pump, for poor indoor air quality, discomfort and high energy bills. When was the last time you had a ductwork inspection? It’s not something that needs to be done as often as regular maintenance checks but if your household hasn’t had its ducts inspected since it was built then you may be missing out on potential improvements that can end up saving you a lot of money.
Over time, ductwork systems accumulate debris, seals loosen, tape and ducts may fall away, and some ducts may become damaged. One of the main things that a professional is going to be looking for when doing a ductwork inspection is leaky ducts. Leaky and uninsulated air ducts waste energy and contribute to poor indoor air quality. Leaky ducts are very common and can diminish the efficiency of your HVAC system by as much as 40%. It doesn't make sense for air that you've paid to heat or cool to leak into an attic, basement or crawl space through gaps and cracks in your supply ducts. And it's not healthy to breathe crawl space or attic air that's sucked into leaky return ducts and then circulated back to your living space. Fortunately, these problems can be corrected by sealing your ductwork system.
A duct inspection is important for quality indoor air, lowering energy costs and locating possible problems before they become costly ones. Consider performing a duct inspection in the spring and fall when you change over from heating to cooling your home. Many handy homeowners can do small repairs, like replacing insulation, but for larger problems, it is best to contact a qualified HVAC professional to perform an extensive ductwork inspection and evaluate the condition of your ductwork. A professional will determine if leaky ducts can be sealed or if a replacement is necessary. Such HVAC professionals also have the appropriate equipment to clean ducts.
Air Quality Testing
Air quality is a big deal that most people don’t put much thought toward. The quality of your indoor air affects everything from your health to the lifespan of your HVAC equipment. Improving your air quality means improving your quality of life. But the first step towards improving your indoor air quality is finding out where you’re at now, and that means air quality testing.
One way to accomplish this is by purchasing and using a handy air quality test kit. Indoor Air Quality Test Kits can be used to test for a variety of common threats to indoor air quality. It is important that the test kit purchased is capable of testing for all possible contaminants or the contaminant with which you are remediating. Indoor Air Quality Test Kits can range in price from $50 – $1,600 depending on the number of contaminants, tested for, and the breadth of testing that is performed. Some test kits can be performed at home, and some require the results to be mailed to a test lab for further analysis. Turnaround time for the test kits will be dependent on the type of testing, the test kit, and the test lab; some tests may yield results within hours, while some may take weeks for a complete assessment report.
Another option is having a professional test your air quality for you. Some of the benefits of going with this method is that you don’t have to deliberate about what test you should by or whether it’s doing everything it should and meeting the needs of your household. Getting your air tested is a smart preventative measure and can help you determine the causes of any indoor pollution, and how to fix it. But the cost to test indoor air quality may seem hard to predict. The first step is to find a reputable professional who can explain the process and what's included. Once you've done that, there will be a couple of factors that will affect the cost to test indoor air quality.
One of those factors is the size of your house. Since the professional will not only be testing the air, but also determining the causes, then that means more area to search and inspect. Another reason you may want to skip straight to getting a professional involved rather than buying our own test at home kit is that if the test at home kit comes up with anything you’ll likely have to get a professional to help you with the next step anyway. Professionals not only have the know how of what to look for, how to look for it and the tools to do so, they have the knowledge of what to do next. Professionals will be able to diagnose problems from test results with more information and will help you figure out a course of action, something an at-home kit can't do.
Home Inspections and Heating Repair in Austin
Sometimes you know there’re ways your home could be improved but you don’t where to start. Consider asking your HVAC contractor next time you have a regular maintenance check or heater repair in Austin about the types of tests and inspections that can be done to see where improvements can be made and where the problem areas are in your home. Perhaps you could be saving hundreds in energy bills with an insulation overhaul or perhaps there are leaks in your ductwork that are causing your Austin heating system to work harder than it needs to.
AC Express is an Austin heater repair company that performs inspections, installations and repairs for the HVAC systems of those throughout the Austin area, from Georgetown and Lago Vista to Manor and Buda. If you need same day heater repair in Austin, call today!