HVAC Frequently Asked Questions

What does HVAC mean?

This acronym stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. Sometimes you might see it referred to as HVAC-R. The “R” stands for refrigeration.

How long do A/C and heating units typically last?

HVAC systems can last a long time if regularly maintained. They can last 12-20 years. A couple of units I have been servicing are approaching 30 years old, though that is rarer. Learn what you should know before replacing an air conditioner or heater.

What does SEER mean and why does it matter?

SEER, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, measures an air conditioning unit’s efficiency. Higher numbers mean units use less power. Selecting the correct amount of air conditioning and installing the system properly can affect the true SEER of an HVAC system. SEER is roughly equivalent to how we use a car’s reported fuel economy. In certain conditions 30 MPH is possible, but not during rush hour sitting creeping along IH-10, for example.

What does HSPF mean?

Similar to SEER, HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor and is an efficiency rating for heaters and furnaces to show how efficient they are. The higher the score, the more efficient the system is. HSPF is a ratio of BTU (British Thermal Units) heat output to the watt hours of electricity consumed.

What is included in air conditioning and heating tune-ups?

We recommend servicing HVAC systems in the milder fall and spring seasons before the heat of summer or the blast of winter. Find out what heater performance tune-ups and air conditioner tune-ups involve. Regular maintenance also preserves the manufacturer’s warranty on your air conditioner and heater. We created an HVAC maintenance guide that gives more details.

Why do I need to change my air filter regularly?

Regular filter replacement helps your heating and cooling system operate at peak levels and improves indoor air quality. It is important to change filters regularly to ensure proper airflow and to keep your home free from dust, allergens and germs. Your service technician can recommend filtering and purification options and a replacement schedule for your unit.

How often should I replace my filters?

In general, Terry’s A/C & Heating recommends that you replace your disposable filters at least once each season. If you have washable filters, they should be cleaned once a month. Your Terry’s AC & Heating technician will recommend a replacement schedule that delivers the optimum efficiency and filtration for your specific system. Terry’s A/C and Heating can help you maintain your system by scheduling a maintenance check. We also offer our Peace of Mind Protection Plan which includes cleaning and inspecting your HVAC system twice each year. Part of the service includes changing the filters or servicing your filtering system. Unless you have special circumstances, our service should be adequate. We recommend that you visually check filters and filtering equipment monthly. If filters look dirty, they need to be cleaned or replaced. Learn how to replace an air filter yourself and where to find air filters in Fort Bend County. We also have instructions for cleaning your air filter for mini-split systems.

What does MERV mean?

MERV is an acronym that stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. MERV is measurement scale (1-16) created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to rate the effectiveness of air filters. The higher the MERV, the more efficient the air filter is and the harder it is for your system to draw air through the system. We generally recommend between 7-11 MERV filters for most circumstances.

How do I re-light my pilot light?

Most of the newer heaters no longer operate with pilot lights like they did in the past. If you need more help with your furnace or heater, we can answer your questions. We recommend yearly maintenance all heaters and furnaces to spot issues while they are small, so your heater doesn’t leave you cold in the dead of winter. Learn more about furnace safety systems.

Where can I find information about energy efficiency tax rebates from city, state, and federal sources?

We recommend visiting the State Energy Conservation Office which compiles resources to track down these rebates! Also be sure to check with your electrical utility as they sometimes offer rebate programs for installing energy-efficient air conditioning and heating systems.

EnergyStar also has a website to search for rebates on EnergyStar-certified appliances.

What are some of the most common problems about why people call for air conditioning service?

We often hear that they return home from a full day to a hot home. This is the worst especially over a weekend or if you’re expecting company. Contact us to schedule a call. If it is an emergency, we recommend calling. Emergency service is sometimes available. Our phones are answered during regular business hours.

  • Rooms not cooling
  • House is hot
  • A/C Blowing warm air
  • Thermostat broken
  • Freon leaks
  • Duct leaks
  • Drain pan leaking
  • Electric or gas bills too high
  • Noisy equipment

What are some of the most common problems about why people call for heating service?

Though it doesn’t stay cold in our area for long, no one wants to suffer a winter chill! We can perform routine maintenance checks before the weather turns chilly so any small issues can be spotted before they become serious. The following are other complaints we often hear in the cooler months.

  • Need help lighting pilot light
  • House or rooms are too cold
  • Furnace not firing
  • Heater not keeping up with the cold
  • Heat pump not working
  • Thermostat broken
  • Hot air not blowing
  • Weird smell when furnace starts up
  • Vents not blowing warm air
  • Utility bills too expensive

Be sure to check out our blog for more of Terry’s Tips to learn more about your HVAC system and how to keep it well-maintained. Contact us to schedule a service call or to get our best advice about improving the comfort and energy efficiency in your home or business.