the science of comfort
Your home’s climate control systems are more sophisticated but the science remains the same. Climate knows the science behind the systems. This is the first stop in understanding how you can stay comfortable.
Find a quick answer in our FAQ section, learn the latest in home comfort in our blog or watch what goes on inside your home’s comfort systems. Our 57 years of knowledge are here to serve you.
For the Science of Comfort, trust the penguin.
Use the resources below to learn about your home’s comfort systems.
- See the latest results from the Learning Lab, our blog focused on improving your home comfort. Learn about maintenance and pick up tips on how to keep your house comfortable every day of the year.
- COMING SOON! Really dive into how your comfort systems work with Climate’s video classroom. Learn about home improvement projects that can increase the efficiency and comfort of your home. Watch as our service manager, Corey, walks you through proper filter maintenance, troubleshoots a furnace, chooses the best insulation and more.
- Is your comfort system getting old? How old is "old"? Find out the average lifespans of major systems and when it may be time to replace them.
- Need more help? You can always contact a Climate technician with any questions.
The Latest Results from the Learning Lab Blog
Dedicated to keeping your home’s comfort system running well
COMING SOON! Watch Climate’s service manager, Corey, show you what’s inside all those metal boxes that make your house comfy. He walks you through proper maintenance and gives you the first steps in troubleshooting any issues you may have. Learn tips on how homeowners in the DC area can save money and make their homes more efficient. Get product reviews on smart thermostats, insulation and other DIY projects to increase the value of your biggest investment — your house.
Remember, there are no dumb questions.
- Air Quality
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Everyone has questions about home comfort.
"How much insulation do I need in my attic?" "When should I change my air filter?" "Why don’t I just move to San Diego?" We try to answer some of your questions here. Click on a tab to find a quick answer to a quick question.
You may find more answers in our blog — Learning Lab.
Do I really need maintenance?
Regular maintenance helps ensure that your system is working at peak efficiency. Inspecting the equipment once a year allows the technician to monitor the small changes that happen with complex machines. Small adjustments today can ensure that they don’t become large problems down the road. Also, most manufacturers will require evidence of seasonal maintenance in the last year in order to honor any warranty claim.
How long does a seasonal maintenance take?
A thorough check of a system takes 45 minutes on average, per system. Checking both the heating and cooling systems at the same time does reduce the time a bit, but not significantly.
How often should I get my system maintained?
Most tradespeople and manufacturers recommend checking the system once a year. The cooling and heating systems are best checked before they enter their season. We find the best time to check our client’s systems is in the Fall or Spring, once the temperature consistently reaches 70 degrees.
What do you check for during a cooling inspection?
We check both the performance of the system and the individual components for wear and tear. We check the electrical system, the refrigerant system, the airflow system and the control system.
What do you check for during a heating inspection?We check for the system’s performance and the condition of the individual components. We check the electrical system, the combustion system, the airflow and controls.
How warm should my house be?
The setting on your thermostat for heating is a personal preference. Most people find 70 degrees to be the ideal setting for comfort. Raising the temperature will increase fuel usage and lowering it will decrease usage. Most systems are designed to heat a home to 70 degrees when it is 10 degrees outside. Climate designs our systems to keep your home at 70 degrees at an outside temperature of 0 degrees.
My furnace keeps running all day long, is this a problem?
As the outside temperature gets colder, your furnace will run for longer and this is normal. If you’ve set your thermostat for a reasonable temperature (somewhere around 70 degrees) and your furnace can keep the home at that temperature, there’s nothing to worry about. However, there is a term called “heat loss” which is the quantity of heat your home will lose naturally through cracks in the walls, leaky windows or doors and the condition of your insulation. Your furnace must make up the difference when warm air leaves through these gaps. Sometimes we have found the furnace is in good working order, but the home leaks air faster than it can be heated.
I just turned on my furnace and there’s a smell!
This is not uncommon if this is the first time the furnace has been turned on all season. Most furnaces gather dust on their burners in the summer. It normally takes about a day or two for this dust to burn off, but it’s nothing to worry about. The best way to prevent this from happening is to change your filters on a regular basis.
We just had a power outage and now the furnace won’t come on.
Power outages can sometimes confuse the furnace and the furnace thinks a problem exists and shuts itself off for safety. If this is the case, it’s a simple fix.
Cut the power to the furnace for about five minutes and restart it. The circuit breaker or the cut-off switch at the furnace will remove power from the furnace. After five minutes turn the breaker or switch back on, and the furnace should start blowing warm air in the next 10-15 minutes. If this doesn’t work, call Climate to have a technician inspect the system.
My furnace will turn on and ignite, but then it goes out after a few seconds.
This is a common problem with gas furnaces. Gas furnaces have safety switches, called flame sensors, that will prevent the unit from running if it can’t confirm that the gas has ignited. Once the furnace ignites, it has three to five seconds to prove that the gas has ignited, or it will shut off. This prevents gas from escaping into the home. If this happens, it’s best to call a Climate technician to inspect the flame sensor.
My furnace is running, but there’s water on the floor!
High-efficiency furnaces create condensation with their exhaust. The condensation that the furnace produces is taken away from the unit by a PVC or vinyl tube. The tube empties into an interior drain or pumped outside of the house. Leaking around the furnace is often caused by a clogged drain line. Check the trap, condensate pump or the outside line and clear any clogs you find.
How cold should my house be?
The setting on your thermostat for cooling is a personal preference. Most people find 70 degrees to be the ideal setting for comfort. Lowering the temperature will increase fuel usage and raising it will decrease usage. Most systems are designed to cool a home 15 degrees lower than the outdoor air. On a 95-degree day, an air conditioner functioning at its best will be able to cool a home to around 80 degrees. See the next FAQ for more information.
My air conditioner keeps running all day long, is this a problem?
As the outside temperature gets warmer, your air conditioner will run for longer, and this is normal. If you’ve set your thermostat for a reasonable temperature (somewhere around 70 degrees) and your air conditioner can keep the home at that temperature, there’s nothing to worry about. However, there is a term called “heat gain” which is the quantity of heat your home will absorb naturally through cracks in the walls, leaky windows or doors, the heat from the sun beating down on your house and the condition of your insulation. Your air conditioner works to cool the additional heat that your home absorbs as well as lowering the temperature of the air inside the house.
We just had a power outage and now the air conditioner won’t come on.
Power outages can sometimes confuse the system, and the system thinks a problem exists and shuts itself off for safety. If this is the case, it’s a simple fix.
Cut the power to the air conditioner and furnace/air handler for about five minutes and restart them. At your circuit breaker panel there should be a breaker for the air conditioner and one for the furnace or air handler. Both breakers need to be turned off and, after five minutes, turned back on. The system should start blowing cool air in the next 15-20 minutes. If this doesn’t work, call Climate to have a technician inspect the system.
My air conditioner is running, but there’s water on the floor!
The air conditioner produces condensation as it cools the warm air. The condensation is taken away from the unit by a PVC or vinyl tube. The tube empties into an interior drain or pumped outside of the house. Leaking around the unit is often caused by a clogged drain line. Check the trap, condensate pump or the outside line and clear any clogs you find.
My outdoor unit is icing over.
There are two reasons an air conditioner ices over. The more common reason is that the airflow over the indoor coil has been restricted. This is often caused by a dirty air filter or a blocked return vent. The second reason is low refrigerant level.
If your system ices up, turn the thermostat from “Cool” to “Off”, make sure the fan is in the “On” position, change or clean your filter and leave it off for at least 24 hours — yes, 24 hours. This is a good time to visit friends, go to the pool, see a movie, anything to stay cool. After at least 24 hours, turn the system back on and check the copper line covered in black insulation on the indoor unit after about two to five hours. If ice starts forming in that area you may be low on refrigerant, which most likely indicates a leak in the system. Call Climate to inspect the unit and check the refrigerant level.
My thermostat is blank, and I can’t control my system.
Modern digital thermostats often run on batteries as well as power from the indoor unit. When the batteries start to fail, the thermostat cannot communicate with the indoor unit. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions to change the batteries and see if that solves the problem.
I want to save energy, how much should I set back my thermostat?
Most people want to save energy, and their budget, by lowering their utility usage and a programable thermostat is a great way to do so. However, in our experience most people cause their HVAC systems to work harder and higher costs are the result when they program setbacks into their thermostat. For the DC/Metro area, we have found the best savings is a drop (or raise) of three to five degrees when there is no one in the house for eight hours every weekday. Our summers and winters can be extreme enough that a change larger than that can cause the units to work harder to bring the house back up to temperature then if the setting was constant. If there is not a set pattern where people are out of the home, we find customers override the programming and negate any energy savings they have.
How often should I change my filter?
It depends on the style of filter you have, but here are some guidelines: washable filters and electronic air cleaners should be cleaned every 60-90 days. One-inch-thick plain filters should be replaced every 30 days and one-inch-thick pleated filters should be changed every 60-90 days. Four-inch-thick media filters should be replaced every six to twelve months.
What does an Ultra-Violet light (UVL) do for my air quality?
A UVL is a great way to reduce contaminates in the air. Fresh air is exposed to sunlight as it travels, and the sunlight breaks down germs, viruses, mold, volatile organic compounds and other airborne contaminates. A UVL acts like the sun to expose the air in your home to ultra violet rays to clean the air. A UVL does not reduce common allergens like pollen or pet dander; that is the filter’s job.
My house feels so muggy in the summer, is there something I can do to fix it?
As anyone who lives in this area will tell you, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. Humidity is the amount of water that’s present in the air. The airborne water vapor will retain heat, making it feel much warmer than the temperature on the thermostat. Removing humidity is an important part of air conditioning, and an air conditioner should be able to lower the humidity in a home as well as the temperature. One consequence of a poor installation is that the unit does not run long enough to remove the humidity. An air conditioner should run long enough during the summer to remove approximately a gallon of water per hour from the air. Air conditioners that are too large for the space they serve will not run long enough to perform this dehumidification.
It’s very cold in the winter in my home and I keep shocking myself when I touch metal.This is the opposite problem of a home that’s muggy in the summer. When there is too little humidity in the air, the air feels colder to the human body. Gas furnaces tend to remove moisture in the air as they heat a home, and it can feel several degrees colder than a thermometer reads. A whole-home humidifier can help keep the humidity at a comfortable level during the winter. The average humidity in a home without a humidifier is between 12% and 15%; the Sahara Desert averages 25%. In our area, we can keep the humidity in a home around 35%.
What size water heater should I have?
This is a tough question to answer. Most people in a four-person family are fine with a 40-gallon gas water heater. A 50-gallon unit works for a family of five or six, and a 75-gallon unit works for larger families. If it’s an electric water heater, a 40 gallon unit works well for a three to four-person family and a 55 gallon unit for four to five people.
Should I get a tankless water heater?
Tankless water heaters are wonderful pieces of equipment. However, there are two major factors that prevent us from recommending them to our customers who already have a standard water heater. First, a tankless water heater needs to be maintained about three to four times a year. This process takes about an hour and is easily done by the homeowner. White vinegar is run through the water heater to help clean out the mineral deposits. Most homeowners don’t want to spend the time to do this. The second factor is that gas tankless water heaters require large amounts of natural gas while they are running. They also require special venting. Most of our clients spend more to upgrade their home to accommodate a tankless water heater than they recover through the energy savings.
I have heard that I need to reline my chimney to get a new water heater, is this true?Most of the jurisdictions in the DC/Metro area require that any appliance vented through a masonry chimney be upgraded to a chimney liner. This is a very responsible thing for the code to mandate; it greatly reduces the chance of carbon monoxide poisoning. Most homes in our area haven’t upgraded their chimneys and need this liner. Your new water heater will have to be inspected by the local jurisdiction. If a chimney liner isn’t installed, your installation may violate the code.
Get a FREE consultation!
Call 703-750-4008 to talk to a Climate technician today or click below to request a consultation.
Climate Heating and Cooling was founded in 1961 and was instrumental in many of the HVAC innovations you enjoy today. With over 57 years of experience, Climate knows the science behind the systems.
Comfort System Lifespans
Get a FREE consultation!
Call 703-750-4008 to talk to a Climate technician today or click below to request a consultation.