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FAQ

While we obviously believe we are the best in the business, we want to you to decide that for yourself. Below are a few links from unbiased sources that will help you make that determination.

http://aceee.org/consumer/how-choose-contractor

http://www.comfortinstitute.org/special-reports/identify-good-contractor.html

Hiring a licensed and insured contractor is one of the most important steps to choosing an air conditioning company. If you hire an unlicensed and insured contractor you are opening yourself up to many risks. For instance, some homeowner’s insurance policies will not cover a claim if the damage was caused by an unlicensed contractor that you hired. That means if a fire is started and the contractor doesn’t have insurance, your homeowner’s policy may deny your claim. If a worker is injured while on your property and his employer doesn’t carry worker’s compensation insurance, he may attempt collect directly from you, the property owner.

The state of Louisiana requires that any HVAC work over $1500 must be done by a licensed company holding at least a Home Improvement Contractor License. Any HVAC work that exceeds $10,000 must be done by a licensed company holding a Mechanical Contractor License.

Don’t risk it! Only hire a company who will show your CURRENT insurance paperwork and a state Mechanical Contractor License.

You can check the status of any company’s license at: http://www.lslbc.louisiana.gov/contractor-search/

There are several reason why it is smart to have your system regularly maintained by a qualified service technician.  Consider that your system operates up to 3000 hours per year.  You would never considering running your car that long without taking it in for maintenance would you?

  1. It will actually SAVE YOU MONEY!  LSU performed a study that concluded that units that are serviced and cleaned regularly operate much more efficiently.  It actually costs more to run a dirty system than to pay for a service agreement each year.
  2. It can help PREVENT BREAKDOWNS.  During each service, our professional technicians will test many of the major and minor components of your system.  Often times we are able to determine when a part is beginning to fail and complete a repair before it leaves you hot (or cold)!
  3. It can help PREVENT EXPENSIVE REPAIRS.  For instance, a weak capacitor can cause a compressor or fan motor to fail.  Those are very costly repairs.  Catching a weak capacitor in time can help prevent those bigger break downs.
  4. The WARRANTY ON YOUR EQUIPMENT REQUIRES IT.  Most major manufacturers require that the equipment be maintained a minimum of once per year and records be kept.  The manufacturers may ask for copies of maintenance records before honoring a warranty claim.
  5. You receive a DISCOUNT and PRIORITY SERVICE.  As a service agreement customer, you will receive priority scheduling if there ever is a problem.  You will also receive a 15% discount on any service diagnostic charge and repair cost.

A Load Calculation is the proper way to determine the size of an air conditioner or heater for a home or building. It will take things like, square footage, construction type, insulation levels, window sizes and types and the building orientation into account. Once all of the data is calculated a trained profesional can determine what size system will work best in your home or building?

Absolutely! Simply replacing your system with the same size as the existing equipment in the home is simply irresponsible. The Department of Energy estimates that as many as 50% of homes in the US don’t have a properly sized or installed HAVC system. Using the square footage of a home to determine the size of system that is needed is highly inaccurate. There are far too many variables that come into play. For instance, a long, ranch style home with large windows on the front and back may require a different size air conditioner if the front of the home faces north or west. Simply changing the orientation by 90 degrees is all it takes to drastically change the load on the home.

In nearly all cases, an air conditioner that is larger than needed is a bad thing.  When an air conditioner is over-sized it will “short cycle”.  This means that the unit will turn on and off repeatedly.  This occurs because it produces so much cold air that it satisfies the thermostat too quickly.  It does not allow the unit to run long enough to remove enough moisture in the air, leaving the humidity level in your home much higher than is desirable, even to the point of causing dangerous mold and mildew problems.  This will also increase the number of hot and cold areas in your home since the air does not move enough to mix well throughout the entire home.  Secondly, the unit will be much less efficient if it is required to start up more often and will reduce the lifespan of the system.  In short… Bigger is NOT better when it comes to your HVAC system.  Have it sized right!

There are a number of factors that go into answering that question…

First, the ducts must be sized properly. Too often we find that the duct system was not properly designed for the size of the home and/or the system. It is important that you have properly sized ductwork to allow the airflow needed. If you do not have enough ductwork (or too small of ducts) you will add restriction to your air flow and limit the capacity of the system. It will also cause unnecessary stress on the system. However, you can actually have too much ductwork (or too large of ducts) also. This may cause too little restriction causing the blower to move too much air across the coil. The unit will not be able to cool or dehumidify the air well.  The blowers are designed to have a certain level of restriction or static pressure.

Secondly, how leaky are your ducts? Studies show that a typical home can have between 30% – 40% of the air leaking out of the ducts before it is delivered into the home. Not only is this a waste of energy, it actually causes hot, dirty, outside air to be brought into your home. When air leaks out of the ducts into the attic, it puts the inside of the home into a negative pressure to make up for that lost air. This causes hot, dirty, outside air to be pulled in through the cracks around doors, windows, vents and other penetrations. Having a well-sealed duct system is key to energy savings and clean air.

Thirdly, consider the insulation level of your ducts. Historically, ducts were made with 1” of insulation giving them approximately an R-4 level of insulation. As your cooled air travels through your hot attic it will drop it temperature before it reached the end of the run. A higher insulated duct will help prevent that heat gain. (The opposite is also true during the winter.) Building codes now requires all new homes have at least R-6 insulated ducts. However, we typically use R-8 since it provides the best level of protection available on the market.

Lastly, the design of the duct system will have a large impact.  Flexible ducts are only designed to be about 20-25 feet long.  Anything longer than that will greatly increase the restriction in those ducts and cause poor air flow to those rooms.  Consider a trunk system.  A trunk system uses a hard metal pipe with smooth interior walls to deliver the air the majority of the way to the rooms.   Small branches are then run to each outlet using flex ducts.  This is especially helpful in long or large homes where the air handler or furnace is located near one end of the home.

Most manufacturers do recommend replacing your entire system at the same time.  While you can usually keep the existing equipment and only replace the broken piece, it may or may not work well together.  HVAC equipment is constantly changing with technology.  The equipment available today has been matched by the manufacturer to work together to achieve the highest level of efficiency. Also, some manufacturers will provide a longer warranty on the equipment when an entire system is installed at the same time.

All service repairs are backed with a 1 year parts and labor warranty.

When replacing a complete residential system, the parts warranty is based on the equipment manufacturer and the labor warranty is provided by the installing company.  Current law requires that companies warranty their equipment for only 1 year after the date of installation.  We take a slightly approach.  We typically provide a 5 year labor warranty.  We offer this on our Lennox, Trane and Carrier products.  We believe that if we install a quality system properly, that there should be no problems for many years.  And if there is a problem, we believe that we should take care of it, not you.

*Limitations and restrictions may apply.  Please call for complete details.  Annual maintenance is required.

Louisiana Heat Pump Association

  • Scott Smith, General Manager, was the 2015 state president of the Louisiana Heat Pump Association.

Acadiana Home Builders Association

Louisiana Home Builders Association

National Home Builders Associations

Rotary Club – Ville Platte Chapter

NATE – North American Technician Excellence

  • We have NATE certified and pursuing technicians.  This is the highest certification available in the HVAC field.

Absolutely! We are located at 511 E. Lincoln Rd in Ville Platte, LA. While we may not have the newest, most elaborate facility, we invite you to stop by anytime for a visit. We are open from M-F 7:30 – 5:00.

Air conditioning, as we know it, is accomplished by removing heat from the air and then distributing that cooled air throughout the house/building.

It is not possible to create cold.  Cold is simply the lack of heat.  Therefore, air conditioning works by removing the heat from the air as it passes through the system.

The warm air enters the air handler, located either in a closet or the attic typically.  The air handler contains the blower and the coil.  The blower is what blows the air through the duct system.  The coil is where the magic happens.

The coil gets cold due to refrigerant (Freon) that is constantly running through it.  As the warm air passed across it, the heat is absorbed and transferred into the refrigerant.  The refrigerant then flows to the outside unit and the heat is released outside.

Still want to know more?  Refrigerant inherently changes temperature as it changes pressure. As the pressure increases, it rises in temperature and vise versa.  The compressor pumps the refrigerant into a high pressure and sends it through the coil in the condenser (the outdoor unit).  The fan pulls air through that coil and the air removes much of that heat.  The refrigerant then flows through a copper line into the house and into the evaporator coil (the inside coil in the air handler).  The rate of flow of refrigerant is controlled by a metering device: either an expansion valve or a piston.  As the refrigerant enters the evaporator coil, it drops in pressure allowing the temperature to drop and causing the coil to get cold.  As the air blows across the coil, it absorbs the heat and takes it back outside through another copper line where the compressor pumps it through the outside coil again.  That cycle continues as long as the unit is running.

Yes!  However, it takes the proper system setup to be able to regulate it well.  First, the system must be sized properly for your home/building.  If a system is too large it will not run long enough to pull enough moisture from the air. This is known as short cycling.  Having longer run cycles will allow the unit to remove more moisture from the air.

Second, a humidity control thermostat is needed.  These thermostats sense both the temperature and the humidity levels in the home.  When the thermostat senses that it needs to pull additional moisture from the air, it will tell the system to operate in dehumidification mode.  This lowers the blower speed and causes the air air to move slower across the coil.  Therefore, the coil gets colder and the air has longer contact time with the coil.  This causes more condensation to form and more moisture to be removed from the air.

Can a homeowner install one of these thermostats themselves?  No, not typically.  It is best to have a professional complete this type of upgrade.

Some systems are more capable than others.  We would be happy to take a look at your system to see if we can help make you more comfortable in your house.

(Since we are located in South Louisiana where the air is thick as the swamp, I only addressed reducing humidity.  In some areas of the country, it is desirable to increase the humidity level.  For this there are several humidifier options that can be added to an HVAC system.  If you live in one of these ares, we recommend contacting a local professional for assistance.)

An air conditioner and a heat pump operate the same during cooling (summer). The difference is during heating. A standard air conditioner will rely on either electric strips or a gas furnace to heat the home. A heat pump has a reversing valve that allows the unit to reverse the flow of the refrigerant (or “Freon”). This causes heat to be absorbed from outside and transferred into the home. A heat pump will still need to be paired with either electric heat strips or a gas furnace for backup heat and during the de-frost cycle. A heat pump is much more efficient that an air conditioner paired with electric strips. When a heat pump is paired with a gas furnace, it is referred to as “dual fuel”. In some applications this can be the most efficient way to heat your home.

Louisiana is in a prime climate to utilize the benefits of a heat pump.

R-22 is the “old” refrigerant or “Freon” that has been used for many years in central air conditioners. Over the past decade, R-22 has been phasing out and replaced with R-410A. R-410A is more environmentally friendly. As of 2020, R-22 will no longer be permitted to be manufactured or imported into the USA.

An existing air handler or coil can be retrofitted to work with R-410A by replacing the expansion valve.  However, R-410A operates at a higher pressure and can cause older coils to develop leaks after the change over.  Consider the age of your coil when changing to R-410A.  It may be a good time to change your entire system.

A split-system has a separate condenser (outdoor unit) and air handler or furnace/coil (indoor unit).  A package system has the condenser and air handler or furnace together in one machine.

Most homes contain a split-system type setup.  However, residential package units are used in some applications.  Commercial buildings also utilize both types of systems.

A mini-split or ductless system features an indoor air handler that blows directly into a room and does not utilize any ducts.  Some systems offer the ability to connect multiple air handlers to one outdoor condenser unit.  This allows for each room to be controlled individually.

Air handlers are available in several different configurations, with the most common being a high wall mount.

Mini-split systems are available in cooling only or heat pump systems.

The condenser is the outdoor unit. This unit contains the compressor, the condenser coil and a motor and fan to move air across the coil.

In an all-electric system (doesn’t use gas for heat), the air handler is the indoor unit. It includes the blower that circulates air throughout the home, the evaporator coil and heat strips.

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating.  Simply put, it is a scale that measures how much electricity a particular system will use to operate.

Just as in gas mileage for a car, the higher the number, the better.

As of Jan. 1st, 2015, the minimum SEER rating for systems in the Southern portion of the US is 14. (There is an exception to sell off the old 13 SEER inventory for up to 18 months.)

Some utility companies (currently CLECO and Entergy) offer rebates for high efficient units starting at 15 SEER.  Call us for more details

EER stands for Energy Efficiency Rating.  It is a rating system to determining how efficient an air conditioner or heat pump is.  It simply uses a formula to determine how much power (electricity) it takes to product a certain amount of cooling (BTUs) at a specified set of conditions.

(Technically you can’t produce cooling, you actually are removing heat).

C0oling (BTUs) / Power (watts) = EER

Test Conditions: 95 degree outdoor temp, 80 degree indoor dry bulb temp and 67 degree indoor wet bulb temp

The difference between SEER and EER is the “S”.  The “S” stands for Seasonal.  The EER is determined at a specific set o conditions.  The SEER takes into account the different conditions that occur throughout the cooling season.

EER was one of the original efficiency rating system used.  Now, SEER is the more commonly used rating to determine the efficiency of a system.

HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor.  Simply put, it rates how efficient a heat pump is during the heating season.  How much heat is generated divided by how much electricity is used.  The higher the rating the more efficient the system.

AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency.  It is a way of determining how efficient a furnace is.  When a furnace burns fuel, most of the heat is captured and distributed through the home or building.  However, some of the heat also escapes through the vent pipe.

Most furnaces installed in the south have an AFUE rating of around 80%.  That means that 80% of the heat generated from the gas burning goes into the home.  However, there are now furnaces on the market that offer ratings as high as 98%.  Any furnace with a rating of 90% or higher is considered a “condensing furnace”.

Any furnace with an AFUE rating of 90% or higher is considered a condensing furnace.  That is because so much of the heat is removed that the exhaust gases actually cool and condense in the vent pipe.  That means that the air going up the vent cools down to the point where it meets dew point.  Therefore it begins to drip water back down the exhaust pipe.

This type of furnace always vented with PVC instead of metal pipe.  The furnace has a drain that allows the water drain out of the bottom.

We are always happy to help!  Shoot us an email with just about any question and we will respond as quickly as possible.

comfort@smithac.com