A Few Things to Know Running Your Heat Pump in Winter

January 11th, 2021
dog-enjoying-cool-ice

Did you welcome a new addition to your house during the last year—a heat pump? Congratulations! We’re all fans of heat pumps around here, especially the Onyx models we install, which are ideally suited for the winters in East Tennessee. 

But if this is your first winter with a heat pump, there are a couple of things I’d like you to know. If you’ve already run it during the summer, you noticed it didn’t act any different than an AC. That’s just as it should be! But as you change the heat pump over to heating mode for winter, there are a few differences to get used to. After all, a heat pump isn’t a furnace and doesn’t provide heat the same way. Here’s “Olive’s List of Useful Things to Know” about your heat pump in winter.

Continue Reading

Can a Heat Pump Possibly Match a Furnace’s Performance?

December 28th, 2020
question-mark-badge

Let me first make an important statement about comparing a heat pump to a furnace: Home heating is not a race. When you’re searching for a heating system for home comfort, the goal isn’t to get the “swifter, faster, stronger” unit, the world-record holder, Earth’s Mightiest Heating System, the One Heating System to Rule Them All. No, you’re looking for … here it comes … the heating system that makes your family comfortable without wasting energy. Or, put even simpler, you’re looking for the heater that is the right match for your house

The question of a heat pump vs. furnace comes down to whether a correctly sized and installed heat pump can provide your house with energy-efficient comfort that would match a correctly sized and installed furnace. 

Continue Reading

Trying to Heat Your Home “Faster” With the Thermostat? That Won’t Work

December 14th, 2020
cold-man-and-woman-in-parkas

We’ve all been there on a winter night: The house feels awfully cold, and you want to get the rooms warmed up as fast as you can. You look at the thermostat on the wall and see that it can go as high a 90°F. That’s far too hot, of course, but if you crank the thermostat up that high, it will at least mean the house will warm up faster. The heat will come roaring out of the vents!

Except … that’s not how home heating works. And trying to get “faster” heating by pushing the thermostat up so high can be bad news for an HVAC system in Knoxville, TN

Continue Reading

The Heat Load Calculation With a New Furnace—It’s Super Important

November 30th, 2020
calendar-scheduling-book

This is the time to start bundling up. I have my permanent fur coat and don’t need to worry much about that, but I know that humans have it much harder when temperatures start dropping. You might be in the situation where you know you need new heating in Knoxville, TN and you’re ready to schedule a furnace installation.

That’s great—just make sure you call our team because we take all the vital steps to ensure you have a furnace that works effectively and safely. 

There’s one part about our installations that I like to point out, because it’s what sets us apart. It’s the heat load calculation. We take this part of installing a furnace seriously, because if it’s done wrong, you’ll end up with a furnace that either doesn’t heat the home enough or wears down rapidly from strain.

What’s a heat load, Olive?

It’s the HVAC term for the amount of heat a space needs to create a comfortable temperature. When we know the heat load of a house, we know how powerful a furnace to put in. 

A heat load calculation can be done several ways. Many of those ways are bad, I won’t sugarcoat it. Plenty of contractors do a heat calculation quickly and leave in guesswork. There should never be guesstimates when it comes to heat load calculations! There are multiple factors that must be figured, and if a contractor makes a guess at most of them, the chance of getting the final result wrong is high. 

Just to give you an idea of what goes into this calculation, here are some factors we need to know: the size of the house, number of windows and the direction they face, the insulation amount, number of people who live in the house, number of heat-producing appliances, number of lights, and more. We make sure to do this precisely so you’ll have a heater that’s the right size for your home.

What happens if the calculation is done wrong?

You get a furnace that is either too small for your house or too large. I think you can figure out why a furnace that’s too small is trouble: you won’t have the amount of heat you need to stay warm, and the furnace will run and run and run as it tries to reach the temperature you have set on the thermostat.

What about one that’s too big? That can’t be that awful a problem to have. Well, yes it is. An oversized furnace will short-cycle, which means it will shut down early, then turn back on, then shut down early, and on and on. This can lead to early repairs and an early replacement. It can also create uneven heating because the furnace doesn’t run for long enough.

We don’t “guesstimate,” we do it right!

You deserve a furnace that does the exact job you need it to do, and our Russell & Abbott team will see that you get it. Call us for heating options for a new installation, and we’ll do our best work to make sure you have the right heating system for this winter and many more.

Stay warm,

Olive

Russell & Abbott serves Blunt, Knox, and Loudon Counties and surrounding areas. Contact us today if you’re looking for better home heating.

Continue Reading

The Furnace Filter: If Left in Place, Your Furnace May Malfunction!

November 16th, 2020
air-fliter-cu

One of the big jobs I take on as an HVAC blogger dog is to fight the misinformation and misconceptions out there about residential heating and cooling. I know I’m only one dog in a big world of the internet, but I think I can make an impact in helping people with the best info so they get the performance they deserve from their HVAC equipment.

And that’s why it’s once again time for me to talk about the furnace filter. The lowdown: You need to change the furnace filter yourself during the coming months at regular intervals, or it will cause trouble for the furnace!

Continue Reading

Olive’s Biggest and Best Recommendation: Heating Maintenance!

November 2nd, 2020
dont-forget-post-it

I put in the hours to make sure my readers know what they need for great comfort. But each fall, I get a bit of a break: a post that’s easy for me to write because it’s about our most important service. The one we know does the most good for our customers. I have plenty of facts at my paw-tips when it comes to talking about this service, which is regular seasonal HVAC maintenance. Or, in the case of the fall, regular heating maintenance

If you haven’t considered maintenance for your home’s furnace or other heating system, now is the time to call us and sign up for our Comfort Club. We’ll get you on the schedule for a convenient appointment for your heater to get it’s annual inspection and service.

Continue Reading

We Have Ways to Solve Your IAQ Problems

October 19th, 2020
woman-with-sinus-troubles

In my last post, I wrote about indoor air quality problems you may have in your home during fall. But I know my readers don’t show up just to listen to me give them bad news. They’re looking for help from a smart dog who knows her heating and air conditioning. “I’ve got air quality issues, Olive, but what can you and the Russell & Abbott team do about them?”

Plenty, it turns out. And not just in the obvious ways—we understand that great indoor air quality in a house is connected to having a great HVAC system in prime shape. A few pricey gizmos that make big promises aren’t enough to turn around IAQ troubles. Let’s talk about real solutions!

Continue Reading

Indoor Air Quality Troubles You May Have in Fall

October 5th, 2020
cardboard-house-sky

Fall is a pretty season—but I’ll admit most of my bias toward the fall is that I love running into big piles of leaves! So much fun.

But I’m talking about being indoors during the fall right now, and when you’re inside your home in the fall, you may run into some indoor air quality issues that can make everything a bit more, well, sneezy. I’m going to look at some of what might be in store for your home’s air this autumn and what you can do about it.

Continue Reading

It’s That Time of Year: Evaluate Your AC’s Performance

September 21st, 2020
calendar-scheduling-book

September is when I break out one of my old chestnut topics—but it’s a perennial topic for good reasons! The same way I make sure my good readers and Russell & Abbott customers know they need to schedule an air conditioning tune-up in Knoxville, TN each spring, I want you all to know that the start of fall (this week!) is a time to size-up how your air conditioning system performed over the summer.

No, I don’t want you to open the cabinet of your AC and look at it. Leave repairs to our pros. What I want you to do is ask questions about how well the central air conditioner did its job through the hottest months of the season. This will help you with future planning. And those plans may involve getting a new AC!

Continue Reading

Olive Explains: The Line Set for Your AC

September 7th, 2020
air-conditioning-compressors

Time for another episode where I get to put on my professor hat and explain some of the more technical parts of air conditioning. Not too technical! I promise I won’t scare you off with frightening terms, the kind that our experts at Russell & Abbott know all about so you don’t have to! Today I’m going to be looking at a critical part of your home air conditioning system, one people often don’t think about: the line set.

The Line Set Brings Together the “Split” in a “Split System” Air Conditioner

If you have a standard central AC, you know it has indoor and outdoor parts. That’s why this type of air conditioner is called a split system. But, of course, those two parts must connect at some point: the way the AC cools down your house is by circulating refrigerant between the indoor and outdoor coils, so the refrigerant needs a way to move indoors and outdoors. That’s the job of the line set.

The line set is a pair of flexible copper pipes. One is a smaller pipe called the liquid line, and the other larger one is called the suction line. The smaller of the lines carries liquid refrigerant (you probably guessed based on the name, right?) from the condenser indoors to the evaporator. The suction line carries the hot gaseous refrigerant from the indoor evaporator back to the condenser, where it will be put under pressure and start the cycle over again.

Line Set Sizing and Placement

The line set sounds straightforward: one line to bring refrigerant into the house, another to take it out to the condenser. But I think it’s important for you to know how difficult it actually is to make sure these lines are in the right place and the right size. A mistake in sizing the line set will mean an inefficient air conditioner. Many different factors in an air conditioning system will affect the size of the line set. Also important is the line set placement and the length necessary to connect the condenser to the evaporator. If an amateur tries this job, it won’t end well!

Line Set Repair and Replacement

One common central AC repair in Knoxville, TN we often do is fix refrigerant leaks that occur in the line set. Some line sets are buried and others exposed, and exposed lines can spring leaks due to damage.

When we handle an air conditioning replacement, we’ll have to make an informed decision about whether to replace the line set as well. The new air conditioner may not be able to work with the existing line set, and we’ll always put in the right line set for the system. Disreputable amateurs often won’t do this work and leave an old line set in place. However, if it isn’t necessary to put in a new line set, we won’t force one just to charge more—we’re always honest about our services!

If you have any reason to believe your AC is leaking refrigerant, please call us right away.

Stay cool,

Olive

Russell & Abbott serves Blount, Knox and Loudon Counties and the surrounding areas. Call us for AC repairs of any kind!

Continue Reading