At Airteam, we strive to be transparent as possible when discussing your heating and cooling needs. We don’t like to leave our customers in the dark using technical jargon and not explaining just what that should mean to them. Finding a reputable Houston AC repair company you can trust is hard enough as it is— not knowing the basics of HVAC systems and terminology can put you at a further disadvantage.
Being that we are a strong advocate for empowering our clients with industry knowledge that will help them make educated purchases — we offer you a quick rundown on the most common terms referenced in the Houston AC repair industry that you should know a little about. We’ve broken them down into three main categories that will benefit you the most when requesting service or buying a new unit.
In the HVAC industry, there are some common ratings that are used to indicate the level of performance, air movement, heating & cooling ability, and efficiency of a particular unit. You will normally see these on the demo units themselves with bright labels or listed in descriptions when shopping online. These are the rating terms you will come across and what they mean to you as the consumer.
- MERV – Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value – You will see MERV ratings when shopping for HVAC filters for your system. A higher rating indicates a higher efficiency of removing very small airborne particles from the Houston Air. Basically; the higher the number, the better quality air inside your home.
What To Look For: For Houston residential HVAC, you will see options with a MERV rating between 1 and 12 [MERV 16 is available only Lennox without Restricting the Air Flow]. The key here is to get a filter that is efficient at filtering the air but not such a high rating that it restricts airflow too much. The higher the rating the more airflow is restricted—so we recommend something between 6 and 10 MERV rating to maintain clean air but also not overload your HVAC system.
- SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio – SEER is the indicator rating for energy efficiency of Houston air conditioning systems. The SEER rating is calculated by taking the entire output of the system during the cooling season and total usage of electricity of that timeframe. It’s very helpful to know this term when comparing different units when deciding on a new system.
What To Look For: The larger the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is which means less energy usage to cool the home. Current federal regulations enforced call for all new HVAC systems to have a minimum SEER rating of 14. Even though 14 is the bare minimum, most consumers choose to go with the highest SEER rating they can afford. It may cost more upfront but the unit itself will last longer and have a lower operating cost than a less efficient unit. Some units go as high as a SEER rating of 26, but consulting with an Airteam cooling expert will help you determine what rating is right for your home and budget.
- AFUE – Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency – While Houston residents don’t suffer many bone-chilling temperatures — it isn’t uncommon for Texas weather to throw a curveball every now and then. Anyone remember snow in Galveston? If you are shopping around for a new gas furnace in Houston, you may see this term. AFUE is a rating to measure the fuel efficiency of furnaces.
What To Look For: AFUE is expressed as a percentage and in nutshell, indicates the fuel it requires to run the heater in comparison to the heat the furnace itself produces. For example, a furnace with an 80% AFUE means that it uses 80% of the fuel it burns to create heat and the other 20% is wasted energy. While wasted energy is unavoidable in furnaces, a highly efficient furnace must have an AFUE rating between 90-98%.
Closely related to performance ratings, measurements commonly used heard among Houston AC repair companies indicate the capabilities of a unit. These measurements are important in determining the right size and strength of unit you need, depending on the size of your home or office.
- BTU – The British thermal unit is simply a measure of heat. When used in the context of HVAC systems—it is a measurement that indicates the maximum rate at which the unit can heat or cool a space. An 80,000 BTU furnace, for example, can produce 80,000 BTUs per hour when running at maximum capacity.
- Heating Load – Related to BTU’s this measurement is the rate at which BTU’s must be increased to heat a home or removed to cool and keep a comfortable temperature. Peak heating load is the same indication but regarding the requirement on the coldest or hottest day of the season. Estimating your home’s heating and peak heating load is something you need a reputable Houston AC repair company like Airteam to evaluate. Having this measurement is one of the first pieces of information you will need to determine what size and rating of HVAC unit you need.
- CFM – An acronym meaning cubic feet per minute, this simply shows the velocity at which air moves in or out of an area. You need this measurement to determine how much airflow is needed for heating and cooling. This is another measurement that should be completed by a skilled Houston AC repair technician.
- Ton – A ton is not as literal as it sounds; it is the cooling capacity of a specific air conditioning system. One ton equals the amount of heat (BTU) a unit can remove from the home per hour. One ton equals 12,000 BTU removed from a home per hour.
Air Conditioning Components
If you are going to invest in your HVAC either with a new unit or repairs, you really should know the three major components of an HVAC system.
- Compressor – The compressor is the component that allows refrigerant (coolant) to travel throughout the entire system. The compressor compresses the coolant allowing a buildup of pressure that will force the coolant through the indoor and outdoor portions of the system.
The compressor is one of the most important components and not surprisingly the most expensive. It is essentially the workhorse of the entire unit. Regular scheduled maintenance like our MVP maintenance plan is the key to maximizing compressor life.
- Blower Fan – The blower fan is what moves the air from your home, through the filter, over the cooling coils and into your ducts that disperse the cold air through your vents. This is a pretty self-explanatory part but you should pay attention to it from time to time.
If you notice air coming from your vents but it is not cold; make sure the fan setting is on “auto” and not “on.” If set to on it constantly blows whether cooling or not—this not only wastes energy but wears out the blower a lot faster. If it is on auto and still blowing warm air, you might need to schedule a service visit to check coolant levels.
- Ducts – Ducts are a pathway of flexible tubes that distribute the air from the blower to the air vents of your home. Ducts need to be sealed properly and free of holes to be efficient and not cause problems. Duct system design is as important as duct installation itself, if not done properly the extra strain on your unit could cut its lifespan significantly. This is another component that benefits from our planned maintenance, MVP program.
- Make The Move To The Champions At Airteam!
We want you to choose Airteam for all your heating and cooling needs, not just because we have decades of institutional knowledge — but because we pass that knowledge on to our customers in the interest of transparency. We want informed and educated customers to choose us because we value integrity, honesty, and loyalty —if we take care of our customers they will take care of us.
Do you need a repair, new installation or routine maintenance on the HVAC system in your home? Contact us today and let the champions of Houston AC Repair get you on the road to comfort!