Frequently Asked Questions
ABOUT OUR COMPANY AND EVERYTHING HVAC
Furnace & Duct Cleaning
First, all of the return and supply ducts are covered with magnetic register covers to prepare for cleaning. Cold air returns on the walls are covered with specially designed vent adhesives that cover only the vent, protecting your walls. Next, our vacuum (which uses 7500 cubic feet of suction per minute) is hooked up to the main plenum of your furnace. If there is air conditioning in your home there will be an air conditioning coil on top of the furnace, which will need to be bypassed, as it would be damaged if we were to pull dust and debris through it as an access point. The bypass includes a cleaning of the A/C coil itself by the serviceman while the ductwork is being cleaned, as it also requires regular maintenance.
When the high-powered compressor on the Powervac truck is turned on, a negative air pressure system is created in your ductwork as the compressor pulls air from the sealed vent system. The assistant will start cleaning the ducts at the top floor and work their way down cleaning from the point of the register to the furnace. Each individual vent cover is removed and each boot gets blown using our 200-250 PSI compressed air. The negative air pressure allows the air that is blown to get sucked down through the vent and into the main duct run. All types of vents are cleaned.
The compressor also creates a stronger air flow for the vacuum – pushing the air towards the vacuum that pulls the air. The main run is then cleaned after all of the supply and return vents are sparkling. One inch holes are drilled in the main duct run to provide access to insert the Viper Clean Sweep System®. If access holes are already present, there is no need to drill new ones. The reverse skipper head (component of Viper Clean Sweep System®) is sent into the length of the main run and spins at a high velocity, air scrubbing the interior. The serviceman uses all of the access holes to continue to push the remaining dust and debris from the cleaning out through the access point, through the hose, and out to the truck. Finally, the ductwork is disinfected with our hospital-grade air disinfectant spray to sanitize the ductwork from contaminants, mold, and bacteria.
While your ductwork is being cleaned, the serviceman is fully disassembling the furnace to clean and service all of its main components. The blower motor assembly, which includes the housing, blower wheel, and motor, is mechanically inspected. The blower wheel is completely removed and cleaned individually. The burner assembly is fully cleaned of carbon buildup and mechanically inspected. The ignition and safety controls are mechanically inspected and adjusted. Heat exchangers are cleaned of carbon buildup and visually inspected for cracks and defects. The pilot assembly is cleaned and burner flames are adjusted for peak efficiency. The flame sensor is cleaned and inspected. The gas valve is tested for peak performance. The furnace is inspected for gas leaks and any signs of corrosion. The control box is inspected with any associated wiring and connections. The furnace filter is assessed and replaced if needed, filters are an additional cost. All components are reassembled and tested in a full cycling of the furnace to complete the cleaning and servicing. A completed service report of inspection and service requirements is provided to you following the service.
We do not have enough time on our cleaning schedule to complete additional repairs. However, we can complete a service diagnosis at the time of the cleaning at no additional charge and schedule a service truck to complete the repair at your convenience. Remember that regular maintenance with furnace and duct cleaning is just that, not repair work.
A visual inspection is just that, visual only. Components are not removed, tested, or fully inspected. When you remove a furnace door, you can only see half of the components of the furnace – meaning only half of your furnace can be visually inspected. Anyone who has two eyes can complete a visual inspection.
Four Seasons completes mechanical inspections at furnace and duct cleanings. What this means is that our certified serviceman will fully disassemble your furnace to mechanically test and inspect all of its main components. This also ensures that a thorough cleaning of the fan and blower motor is completed. A mechanical survey is completed letting you know how all of the components on your furnace are working and whether or not anything is need of repair or replacement. Only certified servicemen can complete a full mechanical inspection, which is what is always recommended when dealing with natural gas appliances.
- Preventative Maintenance:furnace and duct cleaning is the best maintenance you can complete on your furnace to prevent emergency breakdowns. Most mechanical failures are due to lack of maintenance. Wouldn’t we all like to heat our home for a full 20 winters instead of 15?
- Energy Efficiency:A dirty furnace with dirty ducts will work harder than it needs to. You will notice a decrease in your gas bill on average 10-15% following furnace and duct cleaning as the furnace can cycle with less stress with clean components.
- Safety: excess carbon and dust build-up on your heat exchangers and furnace components poses the risk of a cracked heat exchanger or gas leak. Some furnaces get so clogged that the gas company will turn off the gas until the furnace is cleaned, as it is unsafe to operate.
Your furnace and air ducts have been shown to act as a collection source for a variety of contaminants that have the potential to affect health, such as mold, fungi, bacteria and very small particles of dust and debris. The removal of such contaminants from the heating system and home should be considered as one component in an overall plan to improve indoor air quality.
The average home generates 40 pounds of dust for every 1500 square feet of space. While regular home cleaning is an excellent measure to reduce exposure to irritants and pollutants, it’s simply impossible to remove enough of the material by hand to make your home’s air as comfortable as it can be. Not to mention most homes today are built air tight and are designed to keep air in which increases the hazards of poor indoor air quality.
There will be no dust blown back in your living areas as all of the registers are covered with magnetic register covers that create a negative pressure in your ducting when the vacuum is turned on. If there is an excessive amount of dust on top of your ductwork in an open basement, the vibration of the cleaning may cause dust on the OUTSIDE of the ductwork to loosen and become airborne. In finished basements this is not a problem. During a furnace and duct cleaning your duct work is a closed off system, meaning all dust on the INSIDE of the ducts is removed and vacuumed directly out to our truck and does not re-enter your home.
Removing the fan assembly is the only way to properly clean a furnace, as the fan is what moves the air and becomes the dirtiest. Removing the fan and motor allows us to give the fan a thorough cleaning as well as gain access to the burner compartment and heat exchangers of the furnace.
It is NOT recommended to partially clean your ductwork. The ducting system in your home is all connected as a complete system and should always be cleaned in its entirety to guarantee the cleaning. For example, cleaning the duct runs upstairs in your home and not the basement means that the very first time your furnace turns on it will cycle the dirt and dust in your basement run through the clean vents upstairs. Your cold air returns are also a part of your ducting system and contribute the most dust and dirt to your household as they recycle the indoor air in your home to the furnace.
If we were to only clean part of your ductwork we might as well charge you twice! Because it will take two cleanings to get the system clean!
As a mechanical contractor for over 30 years, Four Seasons decided not to use the brush method, as the round brushes do not adequately clean the corners in square ductwork. The rubber whip has the ability to clean all surfaces of any size ductwork due to the fact that it is flexible and can travel in a straight line as it whips. The brush method also leaves scratches in the ductwork, which compromise your venting quality and create more surface area for dust to cling onto. The whip method also allows a much smaller access hole than the brush method, reusable and only 1” in diameter.
Dust mites are microscopic pests that create the most common indoor air allergens that can cause allergic reactions and asthma in many people. Many people don’t realize that dust mites feed on dead human skin cells found in the dust in your home. The harmful allergen they create comes from their fecal pellets and body fragments.
Dust mites are major indoor air triggers for people with allergies or asthma. They can even cause asthma. Chronic exposure to high levels of dust mites dramatically affect indoor air quality and overall health.
During the spring, summer, and fall months there is no concern that your house will get cold during the cleaning. During the winter months, your house may get cooler when temperatures dip below minus ten. We recommend that you turn your thermostat up slightly 1-2 hours before we arrive if you are concerned. We will take all necessary precautions to ensure that your home returns to a comfortable temperature shortly after our service.
Furnace & Air Conditioning
Mechanical permits are mandatory for all alterations or installations of gas furnace and heating and ventilation to your home. Pulling a permit ensures that all current safety standards as outlined by the current Safety Codes act are followed and the installation is certified by a Safety Codes Officer. This due diligence is required by every mechanical contractor installing natural gas furnaces and air conditioning and ensures complete and safe installations.
If your furnace is high efficiency or has a variable speed motor it is highly beneficial to run your fan continuously to ensure more uniform temperatures in your home and energy efficiency. Most homeowners would think that running a fan continuously would wear the fan motor out faster, but the exact opposite is the case! Just like a car, stopping and starting all of the time is hard on your furnace. A furnace fan that can run continuously without using extra energy to stop and start the motor will be more energy efficienct and experience less wear and tear over time.
Running the fan continuously will feel different at first as cooler air will blow through the vents when the furnace burners are not creating heat. However, the continuous air flow will keep temperatures more consistent and result in your furnace requiring less running time to heat your home to the temperature you are calling for.
Furnace or air conditioning installations are full day appointments. Our installation crew will arrive in the morning around 9:30 am and then be there most of the day to complete the installation in its entirety. Once the installation is complete, our serviceman will go over the installation with you and answer any questions you may have. All homes are unique and each job is different but most installations finish up in the afternoon or early evening unless unforeseen circumstances arise. Our crews will complete the installation in the same day even when jobs are tough. We have a motto at Four Seasons, “hard jobs take hours, impossible jobs take a little longer.”
With technological advances and more complicated parts, furnaces now require annual maintenance in order to receive the full performance and efficiency of the appliance. High efficiency furnaces are also notorious for breaking down when not maintained as they are more susceptible to excessive dust or debris causing mechanical failures. We know it may seem expensive initially when you are not used to a regular maintenance schedule, but at least you will know what your system costs to maintain rather than finding out what it costs to repair it when you are not expecting it. When it comes to furnaces, just like cars, repairs are always more expensive than maintenance! After reading this list of benefits, it’s hard to imagine why all homeowner’s don’t complete yearly maintenance on their furnace:
- Increased life expectancy of the furnace.
- Improved energy efficiency – it will actually perform the way it should.
- Reduced pollutants in the air your furnace moves – improved indoor air quality.
- Maintain warranty agreements – all agreements today require annual maintenance.
- Recoup your investment – your furnace will only perform the way it should when it is maintained.
A limited warranty is issued with all furnaces and air conditioners sold by manufacturers automatically with purchase. As your installer we can extend limited warranties to ten years by registering them as your servicer. All limited warranty agreements only cover parts for the length of the agreement. All labor and service call out fees are the responsibility of the homeowner when there is a mechanical failure. Regular maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowner and is dependent on coverage at the discretion of the servicer.
An extended warranty can be purchased for a piece of equipment in addition to the standard issued limited warranty. The extended warranty covers a period of ten years and will cover parts and all labor for all mechanical failures. Regular maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowner and is required annually in order to maintain coverage by the servicer. Manufacturers require copies of maintenance invoices in order to process any claims on the warranty.
All air conditioners remove the heat from indoor air by using refrigerant, a liquid cooling agent that dehumidifies the air. R-22 refrigerant was the most commonly used refrigerant in residential air conditioners up until 2010 when manufacturing of R-22 equipment was banned in accordance with the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty to protect the earth’s ozone layer. R-22 refrigerant contains hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), substances that deplete the ozone layer. Today’s air conditioning units are manufactured with R410-A refrigerant which is considered ozone friendly by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
If you currently have an existing R-22 refrigerant air conditioner your best recourse for this change in environmental standards is to completely replace the unit. Despite what some retailers claim, R-22 units cannot be converted into R410-A units. Retrofitting attempts are harmful to the environment, will most likely damage the existing equipment, and create serious safety hazards for homeowners. As manufacturing of R-22 supplies was banned in 2010, the availability of R-22 refrigerant and supplies for maintenance and repair is limited and soon will not be available at all. Any available repairs and maintenance costs for your existing unit would be best spent on a new R410-A refrigerant system.
Furnaces and air conditioners are sized to a home based on a heat and cooling load calculation as well as your current set up at a free in-home estimate conducted by one of our estimators. Most homes today have oversized units for the heating and cooling needs required. When a furnace or air conditioner is not properly sized to the home, many operating issues can arise. Temperatures will be uneven, humiditity and ventilation issues can result, and you will experience more maintenance issues over time. When a unit is oversized you are essentially wasting your money, paying to heat or cool and area that doesn’t exist as your space is smaller than what is being output.
Energy Star is a voluntary labelling program developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy to promote energy-efficient products. Any appliance with an Energy Star label is backed by the government labelling program as it helps save money and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. These products have been evaluated with specific identifying factors and have superior energy efficiency in their market or products.
Hvac For Dummies
First of all don’t panic! Thousands of homes experience a no heat situation in Edmonton during the winter months. Most homeowners don’t realize that there are some simple HVAC checks that you can do to resolve an emergency situation by ensuring the simplest of problems are not the cause.
If your heating system fails to operate properly, check the following:
- Be sure the power to the unit is on.
- Check your thermostat batteries and replace if necessary– if the thermostat cannot send a call for heat to the furnace, the furnace will just continually wait to ignite.
- Check your furnace filter– a dirty or plugged filter can restrict airflow and cause your furnace to “limit out” and shut down to prevent overheating.
- Check to ensure that the door on the furnace is properly seated.Most furnaces have an interlock switch that stops the unit from operating if the door is not seated properly.
- Check your electrical box for a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse.
If after these checks your furnace is still not working, call us at 780-438-2900 and we will respond to your emergency as soon as possible! Emails are accepted for regular service inquiries only. Emergency service requires voice authorization.
If your hot water tank starts to leak… don’t panic! Follow this simple shut down procedure to render the water heater inoperative and prevent any water damage until one of our servicemen arrives.
- Turn off the cold water supply to the water heater
- Turn off the gas or electric supply to the water heater
- Call Four Seasons for emergency service at 780-438-2900!
Most digital display thermostats require batteries in addition to electrical wiring. If your thermostat is not working the most common cause is low or dead batteries. All thermostat homeowner manuals have instructions on which batteries are required and how to change them. Usually batteries are changed once a year for any thermostat that requires them. Replace your batteries and your thermostat should be working. If changing the batteries does not resolve the issue than there is another cause that requires diagnosis from a certified serviceman. Call Four Seasons for service at 780-438-2900!
Residential gas furnaces should be replaced every 15-20 years. Mobile home furnaces should be replaced every 10 years. This recommendation is based on HVAC manufacturers warranties and the lifetime of the furnaces mechanical components and materials. Just like every car has a maximum mileage that marks the end of its life, so does a furnace.
Furnaces that have been operating past 20 years are on borrowed time – a mechanical failure could occur anytime and more easily. Repairs on older furnaces are always more expensive and sometimes parts are hard to come by. You wouldn’t push your car to work once it would no longer run; the same principle applies to your furnace.
Residential gas hot water tanks should be replaced every 10 years. This recommendation is based on manufacturer’s warranties and the lifetime of the hot water tank components and outer shell. Tanks 10 years or older have a significantly higher chance of rupturing or developing a slow leak which often goes unnoticed. If you don’t replace your hot water tank every decade you risk finding yourself in hot water, literally with a burst tank. And like all HVAC appliances, the older the appliance, the lower its efficiency and reliability.
The cost to replace your furnace or install air conditioning is unique to your home. When pricing new HVAC equipment there is much to consider beyond the cost of the equipment itself. Equipment must be sized based on the heating and cooling needs, which affect your price. In order to ensure an installation is up to current gas codes many homes require some retrofitting to vent work and chimneys, which also affects your cost. We don’t ballpark installations as it would be dishonest – a quote can only be provided after a full in-home estimate which allows our certified estimators to provide a price based on the unique needs of your home.
Fortunately, in home estimates are free of charge and not a high-pressure sales situation but a quote based on a mechanical assessment of your homes requirements with your needs for heating and cooling. Just like any home renovation project, when hiring professional services, it is impossible to quote over the phone for custom jobs like constructing a deck, or remodelling your kitchen, or a mechanical renovation like replacing your furnace. Replacing or installing HVAC equipment is an investment and requires our mechanical assessment in order for you to make an informed decision as a homeowner.
If you use disposable filters that are 1” thick they should be checked monthly and replaced at least every two months or monthly. If you use disposable filters that are 5” thick they should be checked monthly and replaced every three months. If you have a permanent or electrostatic filter it should be checked and cleaned every month. If you have an electronic air cleaner (EAC) it should be checked every month and cleaned as necessary according to the homeowner’s manual. Some EAC’s have LED indicators that will let you know when the filters require cleaning.
These filter replacement recommendations will ensure your do not reduce airflow to the furnace which can cause it to fail. Replacing the filter when required will also put less stress on your furnace overall, preventing unnecessary wear and tear and allowing it to perform at its peak efficiency.
The heat exchanger is the metal tubing in your furnace that is heated by the combustion gases created by your furnace burners. The heat created is transferred into the heat exchanger metal walls that warm the air being blown by your furnace. The combustion gases, which created the heat are now cooled and sent out through your venting out of the home. The heat exchanger is the only wall separating toxic combustion gases from the air in your home.
A crack in the heat exchanger is a hole or crack in the metal of the heat exchanger. When this happens there is potential for combustion gases, especially carbon monoxide to leak into your home. Carbon monoxide is colourless and odourless and cannot be detected unless you have a carbon monoxide detector. In extreme cases, carbon monoxide leaking from a cracked heat exchanger will go undetected and prove fatal to anyone in the household.
If you or anyone in your home is experiencing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning such as light headedness, nausea, or flu like symptoms that have no other explanation and your furnace is over 20 years old – turn off your furnace and call Four Seasons for emergency service at 780-438-2900! Always ensure you have a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home.
In order to prevent possible fire hazards, building code 19 requires that clothes dryers be exhausted directly to the outdoors. The building codes require that dryer vents be made of metal with smooth interior finishes, sections of vent duct be securely supported and firmly sealed together, and the total length of the vent duct not excede 35 feet. Flexible transition ducts used to connect the dryer to the exhaust duct system are required to be no longer than eight feet and not concealed within construction.
New construction trends often situate washers and dryers in non-traditional areas of the house, such as upstairs, master bedrooms, hallways, kitchens, and closets. These new sites may require longer dryer vent ducts in order to reach the outside wall. When a dryer vent is longer than or has many bends and turns, moisture in the warm air created by the dryer condenses on the vent surfaces, attracting and collecting lint. Eventually, the lint will accumulate and create airflow resistance, reducing the efficiency of your dryer and creating a fire hazard. It is therefore essential for homeowners to regularly inspect and have their dryer vents cleaned, especially in homes where the vent is located in a non-traditional area.
All manufacturers have now stated not to use plastic, flexible dryer vents as a dryer vent option as the plastic material can provide additional fuel for any fire that could occur. However, many homes continue to use plastic, flexible vents. If your dryer vent is plastic and flexible, upgrading to a smooth metal vent is an economical and simple retrofit that can be completed on our regular service schedule. One of our Estimators will be able to give you an estimate based on the length and location of your existing dryer vent.