Top Air Conditioner Brands

furnace

This time of the year everyone starts thinking about summer, and that means air conditioning for many people. A commonly asked question is “Which brand of air conditioner is the best?”  This really depends on what you’re looking for.  Is your number one priority price? Or is it reliability?  What about customer service? Or are there specific features you want?  The answers to these questions will determine which brand of air conditioner would be the ideal fit.

In many different polls Amana ranked highest overall in terms of efficiency, warranty, and customer service. However, the high end Amana units are some of the most expensive options on the market.  This higher upfront cost can be completely negated though if an expensive component, such as the compressor or heat exchanger, fails.  On these units Amana offers a lifetime warranty while you own your home, so even the most expensive component would be replaced free of charge.

If you’re looking for the best value, consider Goodman.  They actually own Amana and many of the internal components between the two brands are identical.  Goodman is their more affordable every day brand that many consumers prefer.  Generally, experience has shown that the Goodman brand is just as reliable and lasts just as long as the Amana brand, but comes with a shorter 10-year warranty.  So if the Amana is more than you’re looking to spend up front, the Goodman brand is a solid second choice.

The next best option for air conditioning is another, one company with multiple brands, situation.  It turns out that one parent company, United Technologies, owns four different brands – Day and Night, Carrier, Bryant, and Payne.  For efficiency in manufacturing, all of these brands share many of the same internal components and often have models from each brand coming off the same assembly line.  Day and Night is the best value in terms of balancing price and reliability, but they have more limited availability and can be unavailable in certain areas at different times of the year.  Carrier has a great reputation in the industry and it’s well deserved, unfortunately that has earned them the right to a higher price tag.  Other than the higher price though they are an excellent choice.  Bryant and Payne, while lesser known then Carrier, are both solid brands as well.  They tend to be priced in between Day and Night and Carrier, and their efficiency rankings fall in the middle as well.

At the end of the day it’s important to remember that while choosing a quality brand is important, choosing a qualified technician for installation is even more important. Manufacturer research has shown that premature failure of air conditioner components is almost always a result of an improper installation.  Diamond Heating and Cooling will provide a high quality installation, in addition to a trustworthy recommendation on which brand is best for your situation.

This time of the year everyone starts thinking about summer, and that means air conditioning for many people. A commonly asked question is “Which brand of air conditioner is the best?”  This really depends on what you’re looking for.  Is your number one priority price? Or is it reliability?  What about customer service? Or are there specific features you want?  The answers to these questions will determine which brand of air conditioner would be the ideal fit.

In many different polls Amana ranked highest overall in terms of efficiency, warranty, and customer service. However, the high end Amana units are some of the most expensive options on the market.  This higher upfront cost can be completely negated though if an expensive component, such as the compressor or heat exchanger, fails.  On these units Amana offers a lifetime warranty while you own your home, so even the most expensive component would be replaced free of charge.

If you’re looking for the best value, consider Goodman.  They actually own Amana and many of the internal components between the two brands are identical.  Goodman is their more affordable every day brand that many consumers prefer.  Generally, experience has shown that the Goodman brand is just as reliable and lasts just as long as the Amana brand, but comes with a shorter 10-year warranty.  So if the Amana is more than you’re looking to spend up front, the Goodman brand is a solid second choice.

The next best option for air conditioning is another, one company with multiple brands, situation.  It turns out that one parent company, United Technologies, owns four different brands – Day and Night, Carrier, Bryant, and Payne.  For efficiency in manufacturing, all of these brands share many of the same internal components and often have models from each brand coming off the same assembly line.  Day and Night is the best value in terms of balancing price and reliability, but they have more limited availability and can be unavailable in certain areas at different times of the year.  Carrier has a great reputation in the industry and it’s well deserved, unfortunately that has earned them the right to a higher price tag.  Other than the higher price though they are an excellent choice.  Bryant and Payne, while lesser known then Carrier, are both solid brands as well.  They tend to be priced in between Day and Night and Carrier, and their efficiency rankings fall in the middle as well.

At the end of the day it’s important to remember that while choosing a quality brand is important, choosing a qualified technician for installation is even more important. Manufacturer research has shown that premature failure of air conditioner components is almost always a result of an improper installation.  Diamond Heating and Cooling will provide a high quality installation, in addition to a trustworthy recommendation on which brand is best for your situation.

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Your HVAC Can Help Reduce Allergens

indoor air quality

Many homeowners think of things like replacing the filter in their HVAC system to reduce the spread of allergens throughout the home, but there are actually several different ways that the HVAC system can be used to reduce asthma and allergy symptoms.

Certainly the filter is the first line of defense against indoor air pollutants so it’s important to replace it regularly and buy a quality filter.  The professionals at Diamond Heating and Cooling can recommend one based on your specific situation, but in general it’s recommended to look for one with a higher MERV rating.  This rating will range from 1-20 with a higher number indicating a higher level of filtration.  It’s also important to choose a high-efficiency filter that is designed to help reduce allergens.  Most high-efficiency filters are rated from 14-16, and are designed to remove small particles from the air. The highest rated filters are HEPA filters which are rated from 17-20 however you’ll want to check with an HVAC technician though before installing a HEPA filter as they are only intended to be used on HVAC systems that can handle the additional stress that this type of filter will put on it.

Looking to do more than just change the filter?  There are some accessory items that can be added to your HVAC system to further improve the indoor air quality.  The most common first addition is an air purifier.  A whole-home air purifier is highly recommended for anyone dealing with severe allergies or asthma.  It is designed to improve the air in the entire home through purification and the use of a HEPA filter.

The next biggest cause of allergy symptoms is changes in humidity levels.  Maintaining the ideal humidity level inside your home is often the next step that allergy and asthma suffers will take.  A whole-home dehumidifier/humidifier can be added to your HVAC system to help achieve that ideal humidity level.  The final, and most expensive, option is the addition of UV lamps.  A UV lamp can be used with your HVAC system to help you go beyond just trapping allergens to actually killing bacteria, mold and other allergy triggers.

One final recommendation is to stay on top of regular HVAC maintenance visits.  Having a technician thoroughly clean your HVAC system, as well as the ductwork, is the absolute best way to stay ahead of allergens.  It’s generally recommended to have this done annually, and spring is usually the ideal time.

Increasing Humidity Levels In Your Home

residential HVAC
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Throughout the winter months the moisture in the air gets sucked out by the decreasing temperatures, which can have some definite effects on both your body and your home.  Many people have to deal with dry skin or chapped lips, but dry air can also lead to more serious health concerns such as more frequent colds and sinus infections, as a result of the dry respiratory tissue being more susceptible to irritation and infection.  Your home can feel the effects of dry air too with paint and woodwork cracking, hardwood floors expanding and contracting, and increased mold and mildew growth – all from the decreased moisture. While the most commonly thought of solution is a humidifier there are actually many other ways to address this problem, many of which don’t cost any money at all.

  1. Turn off the Dryer – hanging clothes to dry inside your home is a great way to reduce your energy consumption and simultaneously add moisture to the air.
  2. Plug the Shower – when you’re taking a shower plug the drain to keep the water in the bottom. Leave the water there until the next time someone needs to use the shower and then drain. This water will evaporate and increase the humidity in the home.
  3. Boil Water on the Stove – in many homes the bathroom with a shower in it is too far from the kitchen to raise humidity in that area so boil water on the stove to spread moisture to that area.
  4. Vent the Dryer Inside – for those loads of laundry that still go through the dryer, install a simple venting kit to keep that air inside.
  5. Put Containers of Water on top of registers or wood stoves – simply place a container of water on top of floor registers, radiant heating units or wood stoves. The water will evaporate into the home and the air movement from the vents will help distribute it. Be sure the container is made of an appropriate heat resistant product for the location. Plastic or glass bowls may get too hot when placed on a wood stove but a cast iron kettle works perfect.
  6. Add Some Plants – houseplants are a great way to add humidity to your home. Plants are constantly releasing moisture from their leaves and stems into the air.

Certainly the most effective way to make a major change in humidity is by adding a whole home humidifier attachment to your furnace.  In one study this was found to raise humidity levels in the home 28-30%!  Generally, the ideal in-home humidity level is 40-50%, which can certainly be achieved with a whole home unit.  In addition, using one of these with your HVAC system allows you to regulate the humidity level as it changes seasonally, and keeps you from running it when it’s unnecessary.

8 Steps to Complete Prior to Turning On the Air Conditioning

37539909 - modern air conditioner on backyard with working sprinkler system

Many years the weather can change quickly from winter to summer and all of a sudden it’s time to turn on the air conditioner.  Before you flip that switch though there are some steps you should complete first.

  1. Inspect the outdoor condenser – if you covered the unit in the fall, remove the cover and clear away any debris that has accumulated on or around the condenser during the winter. The primary purpose of this inspection is to ensure there are no blockages of interior components, generally caused by leaves or vines, as well as to ensure all of the panels are securely in place.  The panels are intended to enclose and protect the electrical connections.
  2. Clean the condenser components – the bottom of the condenser box is an area that debris tends to accumulate. Use a vacuum to remove anything in this area.  The condenser coils, located inside the condenser box, should also be cleaned.  First remove the side and top panels to gain access, then use a vacuum with a brush attachment to clean.  Be gentle as you’ll want to be sure not to bend the coil fins during cleaning.  A condenser coil spray can be used to remove any stuck-on grease.
  3. Visually inspect the coolant lines – ensure lines are properly insulated and that there is no damage to the lines that could cause leakage. Any damaged coolant lines should be replaced by a professional.
  4. Replace the filter – a new pleated filter should always be installed at the start of the season. Throughout the summer months its recommended that the filter be changed once a month.
  5. Electrical – make sure the breaker and/or disconnect switch for the condenser is turned on. Also check the outdoor wiring for any signs of wear or damage, if damage is found contact Diamond Heating and Cooling prior to starting the AC unit.
  6. Inspect the drain line – there is a drain generally mounted above the furnace in the basement, it’s recommended that one cup of chlorine bleach be flushed down the drain followed by one gallon of water to keep the drain clear for the season. This drain can become clogged due to a buildup of dirt, which could result in a backup leading to water damage inside the home.
  7. Inspect ductwork and air vents – ductwork seams should be sealed and any damaged ductwork replaced prior to running the AC to ensure maximum efficiency. Close air vents in the basement to focus the cooled air into the main living area of the home and remove anything that could be blocking the remaining vents.
  8. Look at the thermostat – if the thermostat is not programmable consider replacing it to save money and energy, it’s a good idea to replace the battery in a computer-controlled thermostat at the start of the season as well.

It’s a good idea to run through this checklist now before the weather heats up.  Should there be an issue with the air conditioner you’ll have time to complete any simple repairs or schedule a Diamond Heating and Cooling technician to come take a look before you really need the unit. If all this sounds overwhelming, Diamond Heating and Cooling has an AC maintenance program where we will take care of all this and more. Contact Diamond Heating and Cooling to sign up for our Silver Club.

Furnaces: Gas vs. Electric

Amana Furnace

When installing a new furnace, homeowners have to make many choices, one being the fuel-type. Deciding between gas and electric can be difficult but knowing the pros and cons of each option can help make it a little easier.

Electric Furnaces

This type of furnace pairs with the air conditioner or heat pump to distribute air throughout the home. It contains your air distribution system, indoor coil and can have heat strips that provide additional heating power.

Pros:

  • Can heat/cool home all year
  • Doesn’t require natural gas

Cons

  • Can have difficulty keeping up with heating demands
  • Creates original heat instead of transferring it

Gas Furnaces

This furnace can be paired with a split-system, air conditioner or heat pump. It has an air distribution system and creates original heat.

Pros

  • Provides powerful heat
  • Gas is often lower in cost for utilities than electricity

Cons

  • Not all homes have natural gas lines
  • Carbon monoxide is a larger concern

Choosing which one to purchase when installing a new furnace will largely depend on what type of furnace is currently in place, and what utilities are currently available in the home. Homeowners who want to switch from one of type of furnace to the other might require some additional work.

Switching from an electric furnace to a gas furnace requires natural gas lines to be installed. This can be an expensive endeavor that some people feel negates the money that could be saved by switching. Switching from gas to electric is an easier process, because homes already use electricity in some capacity.

The team at Diamond Heating and Cooling can also assist homeowners in making a decision by determining their heating needs and helping them find the right system for those needs. For furnace maintenance and repairs on both types of systems, call Diamond Heating and Cooling at 208-378-6624 to schedule an appointment.

Tips to Limit Heat Loss Through the Garage Door

garage insulation

When homeowners look at where they could be losing heat in their home, they focus on door gaps and window seals. One spot that is often overlooked and can be a significant area for heat loss is the garage. Although the home is somewhat sealed off from it, the garage can release heat if it is poorly insulated.

There are a few things homeowners can do to limit this loss of heat and improve their energy bill.

  1. Wall Insulation

The wall between the house and the garage needs to be insulated. It already is in most homes, but in older homes, there might not be any insulation or there may not be enough. Adding insulation in this wall can make a huge difference in the comfort of the home.

  1. Garage Door Insulation

It’s common to find that most garage doors don’t have insulation on the inside, especially those with metal garage doors. It might be worth it to upgrade the garage door to a steel one with insulation, or add insulation to the inside of the existing garage door.

  1. Weather stripping

The last detail to attend to is any small gaps that may be present. Check the door between the house and the garage, as well as the exterior doors and windows for proper seals. If there are gaps, weather stripping can close them, and stop even more heat loss.

The best furnace in the world can’t win against heat loss in a house. If the home is well-insulated, turn attention to the garage to see if it is the culprit. Implementing the tips above could make a difference in home comfort, energy efficiency, and the energy bill.

For help increasing energy efficiency of the furnace in other ways, talk to the HVAC experts at Diamond Heating and Cooling. They can inspect the furnace to determine if there is another issue causing the energy bill to increase.

Furnace Cleaning

Furnace Cleaning

When furnace maintenance is mentioned, most people think about getting all the components checked for issues to prevent a breakdown, but there’s an important part of maintenance that homeowners might not think about: cleaning. The furnace needs to be regularly cleaned as well as inspected to keep it working properly.

The furnace can get loaded down the dust and debris over the years, which lowers its efficiency. There are many components that need cleaned to keep it working at an optimal level. Some of these are:

  • Heat Exchanger

Heat exchangers are a very important component in the furnace. Once it becomes dirty, the heat exchanger can begin to malfunction, needing repaired or replaced.

  • Burners

Burners can fail due to contamination. If they are covered in dirt, dust, and debris, it could disrupt the flow of gas and air.

  • Flame Sensor

When the furnace is having an issue staying on, the issue is likely a dirty flame sensor. This build-up of sediment won’t allow it to work properly.

These components, plus the entire furnace cabinet are thoroughly cleaned during Diamond Heating and Cooling’s furnace maintenance services. Homeowners should not attempt to clean these components themselves because furnaces deal with electricity and gas, two items that can be harmful when handled improperly. It’s much safer to call in a professional for furnace cleaning.

Instead of a DIY cleaning job, schedule annual maintenance with Diamond Heating and Cooling. They make it easy and a bargain with the Silver Club Membership. For just $13.50 per month, Diamond Heating and Cooling comes out twice a year to perform maintenance. In addition, members receive 20% off repairs along with many other savings. Make all aspects of furnace maintenance easier with the help of Diamond Heating and Cooling.