Max C. Smith Company is proud to provide our industry leading Heating & Cooling services to the North Pittsburgh region! Our team of highly trained HVAC experts can repair and service all makes and models of existing air conditioning systems. As a proud Lennox & Amana dealer, our Heating & Cooling experts can help to replace and install new and efficient heating and air conditioning systems as well. Get in touch with the Max C. Smith Company team today to get your HVAC problems fixed the right way! Contact us today!

Max C. Smith Company

Pittsburgh Heating and Air Conditioning

3804 Gibsonia Rd,

Gibsonia, PA 15044

Contact: (724) 443-0200

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Heating and Cooling 101

There are many different efficiency levels and cooling capacities or “tonnage” of air conditioners available today, but all the different units can be divided into three distinct major types or categories: single stage, two stage and variable speed units.

Efficiency or SEER


The efficiency or SEER rating of an air conditioner refers to how much electricity that particular unit will consume to keep you cool in a season. SEER is an abbreviation for “seasonal energy efficiency ratio” and it tells you how much electricity an air conditioner will consume over a typical season. The higher the SEER the less electricity a unit consumes in a season.


Starting in 2007, the minimum SEER rating became 13. Before this, the efficiency levels went all the way down to 6 SEER or less. The actual savings every SEER number affords you varies, but on the average it is between 5 and 10 percent savings per larger number SEER selected.

Types of Air Conditioners

The ton of an air conditioner is a rating of the unit's ability to remove heat from your home or business. A ton of cooling is 12,000 BTU’s and residential air conditioners are made in sizes of 1.5 ton to 5 ton in half ton increments. A BTU is a measure of heat which stands for British Thermal Unit and one BTU is equal to the amount of heat it takes to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Or the equivalent of one 4" kitchen match consumed.

In other words, a 1.5 ton air conditioner will remove the amount of heat the 18,000 matches would emit if they were all burning at the same time. The reason it is called a ton is that is the amount of heat (12,000 BTU) it would take to melt one block of ice weighing a ton in one hour. The job of an air conditioning contractor is determining the correct size or tonnage of a unit for you, and in this case it is not a matter of the more the better.


Bigger is not better. An oversized air conditioner will not remove the proper amount of moisture from the air to give you the comfort you deserve. There are some air conditioners you can slightly oversize and still get very good dehumidification and those are two speed and variable speed units. A variable speed furnace will also help in having a system that not only keeps you cool, but dry also.

Too small won’t work either. An undersized air conditioner will run constantly even at moderate temperature and will not adequately cool the space.

Air Conditioners Tonnage or Capacity

There are two different efficiency categories of furnaces available, regardless of brand and within those categories there are three basic types of furnaces. The two different efficiencies of furnaces are 80% efficiency and those that are 90%+ efficiency.


A furnace with a rating of 80% uses 80 cents of a dollar worth of gas to heat your home and 20 cents of that dollar goes up the chimney of your home. Furnaces in this range can go all the way to 82% efficient.
Furnaces that are in the 90+% efficient category range from 90% all the way up to 98% efficient meaning virtually no waste- 98% of every heating dollar goes to heat your home and only wastes 2.3 cents up the chimney.


Both efficiency categories have a variety of comfort features that may be a good fit for you. Our comfort consultants are happy to go over all of the options and help you make the best decision for your home.

Different Types of Furnaces

Heat Pumps are air conditioners that run in reverse to extract heat from outside and pump it inside.This type of heating and cooling system is the most misunderstood as it is not something special or unique, but virtually identical to an outside air conditioner unit, but it contains the ability to reverse its flow of refrigerant to allow it to heat and cool.

Heat pumps can be installed with an electric furnace on the inside or they can be combined with a gas furnace to create a dual fuel hybrid heating and cooling system. The dual fuel hybrid system uses the electric heat pump to heat your home in the more moderate temperatures and automatically switches over to gas during temperatures below freezing. The heat pump can sometimes heat your home more economically during the winter due to the reduced cost of electricity charged by the power companies in the colder winter months.

A heat pump also makes an ideal heating and cooling system for a basement remodel or a room addition due to the efficiency and lower upfront cost involved with installation versus a traditional gas heating and straight cooling system. You should check with your local utility company as those companies often give rebates to help defer the cost of installation of a heat pump system.

Heat Pumps

Air Filtration
Air cleaners are enhanced filtration systems that can be installed in your central heating and cooling system to remove greater quantities of dirt, dust and pollutants from the air circulating throughout your home. Some air cleaners are so efficient that they even remove gases, smoke, viruses and influenza.

Passive Media Air Cleaners
Passive media filters are enhanced filter surface area cleaners that remove small particles of dust, dirt and pollutants down to 0.3 microns in size and need to have a disposable filter cartridge replaced once every 12 months. These filters do an excellent job of removing excess dust and dirt and in keeping your furnace and coil clean for many years.

 

Electronic
Electronic Air Cleaners- (or electrostatic precipitators) use a high voltage electrical field to charge the particles of dirt and dust, then collect the dirt and dust on an oppositely-charged metal collector cell or plate. While this air cleaner needs no replacement filter, it has to be washed and cleaned 3 to 4 times a year to remain effective.

 

HEPA
HEPA and HEPA-type filters remove microscopic particles of dust and dirt down to 0.1 micron in size and can also stop smoke and viruses along with gases. HEPA is an abbreviation for High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance and is used to describe filters that are 99.7% effective in the removal of dirt and dust at .1 micron in size. Careful application of these filters are necessary as they can cause your furnace blower to overwork and decrease the electrical efficiency of your HVAC system.

Humidifiers
There are two different types of furnace mounted humidifiers in use today: bypass evaporative humidifiers and steam generators.

Bypass Type Humidifiers
Bypass humidifiers use the heat of the furnace to evaporate water into moisture and they use the pressure differential of the supply and return to pull the moisture into your heating and cooling system and to all your conditioned rooms.
This type of humidifier has no pan of standing water, but rather when humidity is needed a water valve opens up and water is sent over a ceramic coated pad that evaporates moisture into your home increasing the humidity levels.
The bypass humidifier is controlled by a humidistat that senses how dry your home is and automatically turns the device on when needed.

 

Max C. Smith Company sells a number of brands of this type of humidifier with the most popular ones built by Aprilaire and Honeywell.
Limitations. With the new higher efficiency furnaces, duct temperatures are lower and provide less moisture to the air when compared to older lower efficiency furnaces. Therefore, for larger homes or ones that require higher humidification, we recommend going to Steam Powered Humidifiers.

Indoor Air Quality

Steam generators contain a pan of water with an immersed heating element that boils the water and produces steam when humidity is needed.


The steam is injected into the ductwork of your HVAC system and the furnace blower distributes the moisture to all the conditioned rooms in your home.
The steam humidifier system has a cleaning mode that flushes out the standing water in the pan to stop mold growth. This same systems empties and dries the humidifier system in the summer to keep it clean and bacteria free when it is not in use.


The most popular of this types of steam humidifiers are manufactured by Honeywell and Aprilaire. They are also controlled by a humidistat, just like the bypass type. Humidification systems can be integrated into heating and cooling systems through the use of special humidity sensing thermostats and variable speed furnaces.

Watch this video to learn more about Steam Humidifiers.

Steam Powered Humidifiers

DO NOT
ATTEMPT TO TROUBLESHOOT YOUR OWN EQUIPMENT.
CALL A PROFESSIONAL

 

Max C. Smith Company is proud to provide our industry with leading heating and cooling services to the North Hills, Cranberry, Wexford, and North Pittsburgh region since 1868! Our team of highly trained HVAC experts can repair and service all makes and models of existing air conditioning systems. Plus, as a proud Lennox & Amana dealer, our heating and air conditioning experts can help to replace and install new and efficient heating and air conditioning systems, as well.

Often, there is a need for a greater level of dehumidification in the winter (i.e. in moisture ridden basements) when the integrated system will not be running or when the moisture levels are very extreme, such as in the summer.


There are a number of large capacity dehumidification systems that can be added to your central heating and cooling units or installed freestanding with its own duct work.


These systems are controlled by a humidistat that senses high moisture levels. The dehumidification systems operate all year and can remove moisture even in the dry winter months if needed.
Max C. Smith Company sells and installs the Aprilaire 1750A, a whole-house dehumidifier, which we have found to be the most trouble free, long lasting system in the market place.


Excess humidity is a breeding ground for allergy triggers like mold, mildew and dust mites.  

Dehumidifiers

Do you ever wonder why your 2nd floor is too hot in the Summer while the 1st floor is just right? The reason is relatively simple – Hot air rises and your thermostat is on the first floor - The opposite happens in the winter. A Simple Zoning System can often time solve this problem.


Zoning systems are installed to allow multiple thermostats and heating and cooling zones to be connected to one heating and cooling system.


A zone is defined as a room or group of rooms to be controlled separately by its own thermostat. One can have 2 zones up to many zones connected to one furnace and air conditioner.
Zoning works on the concept of motorized dampers or "doors" in the duct work that open and close to provide heated and cooled air to each individual area in the zone.


By installing zoning one will save energy dollars and find enhanced comfort through temperature control of each separate area.

Zoning