hvac in houston tx

Do You Need a Permit to Replace Your HVAC in Houston TX?

It's hard to underestimate the importance of good HVAC in Houston, TX. When it gets hot, you need something working to keep your home at a manageable temperature.

That said, HVAC systems work only has hard as the weather is hot. So, living in a hot climate means that your system is working hard most of the year, and you're going to see some wear and tear over the years.

It might be tempting to try and replace your HVAC system yourself and save some money. We're going to talk a little bit about how to move forward with getting a new HVAC installed in this article.

Replacing Your HVAC in Houston, TX

We hate to break it to you but installing an HVAC system without a permit is illegal in Houston. This may seem like kind of a hindrance to your home improvement, but it's the case for a couple of good reasons.

The first reason is that shoddy HVAC installation can lead to a number of health issues for you and your family. The air that you breathe is tantamount to your health. Issues like mold and other pollutants can really harm you.

Additionally, the people that live in your home after you will have the peace of mind that the air they're breathing isn't toxic. Further, this law makes it so that anyone you hire to do HVAC work for you will be certain to have the permit to do so.

That means you aren't paying for bad or dangerous work. It would be easy to miss the quality of a contractor's work when it comes to HVAC systems, too. So long as your home is kept cool, how would you know the difference?

This is why Houston also requires that a city inspector takes a look at your work after it's done.

City Inspection

So, the process is twofold. You or your contractor have to have a permit to do the work, and that work needs to be inspected when it's done.

The nice thing is that these inspections are relatively short, and you can simply schedule them to line up with the completion of your work. In fact, the city inspection takes around 30 minutes.

The part that might be a nuisance to you is applying for and paying for the permit. You have to contact the city of Houston in advance of any work that you do and make sure that you're approved before you start.

The fee of the permit will depend on the nature of the work and the price that you charge the customer. If you're working on your own, those fees might be different depending on your particular project.

In light of the hoops that you have to jump through, it might be simpler to skip the work on your own and hire an HVAC professional.

Need Some HVAC Help?

Working on your HVAC in Houston, TX might require a little more paperwork than you're interested in doing. Instead, hiring a professional to do the work can take your mind off of permits and inspections.

We’re to help you through all of that red tape and get you set up with a system that’s safe for you and your loved ones. Contact us for more insight into what's possible for your new HVAC system.

R-22 refrigerant

No More HCFC-22: What to Know About the R-22 Refrigerant Phase Out

Did you know that since the 1970s, a huge ozone hole above Antarctica has been opening every spring? What's more, some areas of this hole showed a depletion of the ozone levels by as much as 65%!

Researchers also found that the hole grew to a size as big as North America. That’s about 25 million square kilometers!

The main culprits, according to scientists, are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), particularly hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These include the R-22 refrigerant used by most air conditioners back then.

Because of this, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered the R-22 phase-out. As of January 01, 2020, it's illegal to produce or import most HCFCs, including the R-22 Freon.

The question is, what does this ban have to do with you as a regular HVAC user? What is Freon anyway?

We'll answer all these questions (and more), so go ahead and read until the end!

What Is R-22 Refrigerant?

R-22 is the most common form of the HCFC-22 chemical, a type of Class II ozone-depleting substance. You likely know R-22 through the brand name "Freon".

As a refrigerant, HCFC-22 is the chemical that heats or cools the air that HVAC systems produce. When this fluid passes through the parts of the HVAC unit, it changes into either liquid or gas.

These transformations then make the refrigerant hot or cold. These changes make the chemical quick to absorb or radiate heat from the passing air. This is how your HVAC system cools or heats your home.

R-22 was the most common type of refrigerant used in HVAC equipment up until January 01, 2010. At this point, the EPA banned its production, import, and use except for existing equipment.

Meaning, if you have an HVAC system manufactured before January 01, 2010, then it likely uses R-22.

Determining What Type of Refrigerant Your HVAC System Uses

If you're unsure of your HVAC unit's manufacturing date, check the label on the compressor. This is the part usually installed outside of the home. The label will clearly tell you if it uses R-22 (HCFC-22) or R-410A (the refrigerant used in newer units).

What’s in Store for Homeowners With R-22 Air Conditioners

The January 2010 ban still allowed the production and use of HCFC-22 for existing units. This exception lasted up until December 31, 2019. This is how owners of HVAC systems that made use of R-22 were still able to get their units recharged.

However, as of January 01, 2020, the EPA has completely banned the production and use of HCFC-22. HVAC systems that still use R-22 would have to rely on "recycled" or "stockpiled" R-22 supply.

If you still have an R-22 AC unit, then you can expect higher refrigerant “recharge” costs. After all, the EPA ban means that the R-22 will become even scarcer than it already is. This scarcity will then drive up the cost of HVAC refrigerant "recharges".

In most cases, air conditioners need a refrigerant charge due to leaks. One solid sign that you have a leaking refrigerant is if your AC unit freezes up. An HVAC technician needs to seal this leak and then top up the refrigerant to make your AC work again.

However, now that the R-22 ban is in place, expect this HVAC repair job to be more expensive.

What You Can Do Now

Having an R-22 HVAC unit doesn’t automatically mean you need a new system right away. Again, the law still allows the use of such equipment. If you can't replace your current HVAC system at the moment, then make sure you at least do the following.

Regular HVAC Maintenance

You can prevent refrigerant leaks in the first place through proper HVAC maintenance. Many leaks occur due to corrosion, which can result from dirt and debris accumulation. Cleaning evaporator and condenser coils regularly can help keep corrosion at bay.

Prompt Repairs for Potential Refrigerant Leaks

Not enough cool air, frozen coils, and weird sounds are symptoms of refrigerant leaks. If you notice these signs of HVAC trouble, have a licensed HVAC technician inspect your unit ASAP. It's possible that there's only a tiny leak that the technician can still seal and repair.

Prompt repairs can prevent more of the pricey R-22 refrigerant from leaking out. This can then help extend the life of your R-22 air conditioning unit.

The Best Way to Address the R-22 Phase-Out

Granted, air conditioners can last between 15 to 20 years. This is also one of the reasons that the HCFC-22 ban still allows for the use of "recycled" R-22.

While you can still use your R-22 AC despite the ban, it doesn't mean that you should. Especially not if your current air conditioner is more than a decade old. Aside from likely being an R-22 user, such old units are more prone to breakdowns.

Over time, the repairs for these HVAC problems will add up to a considerable amount. The repair costs could be so high that it makes more sense to just get a new HVAC unit.

Besides, older HVAC models aren't as energy-efficient as the more modern units. By replacing your R-22 HVAC unit with an energy-efficient model, you can save 20% to 40% on cooling costs. These huge savings should be enough to make you consider getting a new HVAC system.

Time for a Change

As you can see, the R-22 refrigerant ban brings with it a host of changes that could affect your life as an HVAC owner. Despite its financial implications, however, this ban is actually great for the environment. That's why as early as now, you should consider swapping your old R-22-powered HVAC unit.

Ready to invest in an eco-friendlier, more energy-efficient HVAC system? Then let our team here at P & M Air Conditioning and Heating help! Connect with us now so we can discuss your new heating and cooling options.

heater stopped working

5 Common Reasons the Heater Stopped Working (And What to Do Next)

Each year between 2012 and 2016, local fire departments in the U.S. responded to an average of 52,050 fires that involved heating equipment. To this day, heating equipment is still one of the leading causes of household fires, accounting for hundreds of civilian deaths every year.

While modern commercial and residential heating systems are often highly sophisticated and reliable, they are bound to develop problems at some point. When these issues persist, they can threaten not only the comfort of your loved ones but their safety as well.

But what if your heater stopped working altogether in the middle of the winter, leaving your family in the cold? It’s one of the most frustrating experiences you can go through.

The great news is that there are ways to minimize the chances of your heater not kicking on. And if the unexpected does happen, there’s always something you can do to address the problem. In this article, we look at five of the top reasons a heater can stop working, as well as how you can address the situation.

Read on to learn more.

1. Poor Maintenance Could Be the Reason Your Heater Stopped Working

Perhaps the top reason homeowners call HVAC technicians during the winter is lack of furnace maintenance. If your furnace won’t turn on, it’s almost always because you’ve not had it tuned for a long time. Often, the issue is that the heating system is simply dirty.

If your furnace has a dirty blower, the blower could cause equipment failure. The system’s heat exchanger cannot work unless there’s sufficient air moving across it to stop it from overheating. In short, a dirty blower can cause the heat exchanger to fail.

Dirty air filters could also be the reason your heater stopped working. Such filters restrict the airflow and could even worsen existing issues with wrong duct sizing. That’s why it’s paramount to replace filters every three months or so.

Lack of regular tuning could also result in a dirty flame sensor. That makes it hardly possible to light burners. A sensor covered in a layer of gunk cuts off the moment it turns on because it can’t sense the flame.

Sometimes, it’s the burners themselves that are dirty after a lengthy period of neglect. Such burners do not work well, if at all.

To avoid all these issues, you need to call a seasoned HVAC technician to tune your furnace on a yearly basis. In the long run, regular furnace maintenance is a worthy investment since it protects you from the inconvenience of a broken furnace. And even when the furnace does fail prematurely, you won’t need to worry about replacing costly parts.

2. Issues with the Thermostat

Another common complaint among homeowners is the thermostat not turning on heat. Usually, the root cause of the problem is that the thermostat is malfunctioning or improperly set.

The function of your HVAC’s thermostat is to regulate the amount of heat that’s generated by your furnace as well as when that heat is generated.  Most thermostats in the market today are quite reliable and will typically give you years of hassle-free service. However, every thermostat will eventually develop problems and require repair or replacement.

Once you discover that your current thermostat has a problem, consider replacing it with a programmable option. A programmable thermostat lets you choose different temperatures for various times of the day, night, and week. These thermostats are thus much more energy efficient compared to their non-programmable options.

Sometimes, the problem is that you wrongly programmed the thermostat. It could also be that you inadvertently reprogrammed it at a certain point. Check whether you've set the thermostat correctly before calling your local HVAC technician.

3. The Blower Capacitor Is Dead

If you’ve never seen the blower capacitor of your HVAC, it’s the part of your furnace that has the appearance of a big battery. The capacitor starts the furnace once the setting on your thermostat instructs it to start.

Every capacitor has a tolerance level. In case the tolerance level is lower than a specific level, the blower may not achieve the appropriate RPM.

Sometimes, the capacitor is dying or dead and won't start the blower. The simple solution is to replace it.

4. The Refrigerant Levels Are Too Low

If you heat your home using a heat pump, the refrigerant level of the pump can get too low. As a result, the heat strips keep coming on too often, leading to hefty utility bills.

When the refrigerant levels remain too low for a long time, the compressor could overheat and breakdown. That’s why you need to increase the refrigerant charge once you notice that the heat strips are coming on too frequently. It costs much less to recharge your refrigerant or fix leaks than it does to replace the compressor.

5. Faulty Ductwork Installation or Design

In some cases, the reason your heater isn’t working is not that the heater has a problem. The problem is with the ductwork.

Ensuring that the ductwork is properly designed and installed is a huge undertaking. Many installers, unfortunately, opt to cut corners when sizing ducts or installing them. You might get lucky and end up with ductwork that has been more or less appropriately sized and installed.

But when HVAC installers do a really poor job, you’re always going to have issues with airflow throughout your home. The heating system will most likely short cycle frequently. With time, it will overheat and break down completely

So how do you address this situation?

Your best option is to have a competent HVAC technician repair the parts of the furnace that have already failed. Next, the technician needs to redesign the ductwork, so the problem doesn't recur.

Don’t Let Heater Problems Linger

Heating systems can have a variety of problems, but a furnace that won’t work is arguably the worst. A furnace without power means that your family won’t have heat, which can result in discomfort and illness during the cold season. Once you know the reason your heater stopped working, it becomes easier to know how to address the problem.

If your furnace has been giving you problems, our seasoned technicians can help. Contact us today for a free quote.

trane heating and cooling

7 Benefits and Tips for Buying a Trane Heating and Cooling System

Trane is a company that everyone knows. They have been around since 1913 but started making heaters before that.

Throughout the twentieth century, Trane continued to innovate. These innovations helped to revolutionize the HVAC industry and change the way we approached heating and cooling.

Here are both reasons to buy a Trane heating and cooling system, and things you should look out for that will help you in deciding your next purchase.

1. Trane Heating and Cooling Dependability

Trane units have a strong dependability rating. This is not a new reputation, as they have been notably dependable for a century. Trane heating and cooling units stand up as well or better than any other brand on the market.

Nobody wants their HVAC system to break down. If you buy a Trane, you will experience fewer breakdowns. They scored an Excellent Rating, the highest attainable rating by Consumer Reports. This rating was achieved based on a survey of over 20,000 customers.

The number one reason for heating and cooling breakdowns is the lack of routine maintenance. Remember that any unit you buy, from any brand, will need regular maintenance. Make sure that you get your unit from a company that can both install it and keep it running for you.

2. Excellent Warranty 

Trane commonly ranks amongst the highest brands for customer satisfaction. One key to their incredible success is their warranty. While Trane heating and cooling systems break down less often than other brands, they have a reputation for always honoring their warranties.

Trane dealers are historically effective in repairing their units. This means that you can rest assured that if your unit does eventually break it will be repaired.

Their standard base warranty can last for up to 20 years depending on the part. Since most HVAC systems have a lifespan of only 15 years, you will be covered should something go wrong.

3. Get as Much Heating and Cooling as You Need

Trane offers a wide variety of models. These vary in size but make sure you are getting a system large enough for your home. 

Remember that you don’t need to get an excessively large heating and cooling system either. Doing this will help you save both in the purchase of the unit and in the monthly bills associated with your HVAC system.

This will also help you reduce the amount of energy your home is wasting. Using a Trane means that you will have an efficient system from the beginning. Doing your part means you will save even more on your bills.

4. Trane Has Traditional Heating and Cooling Units and More

Buying a Trane doesn’t just mean using traditional heating and air systems. While these are extremely popular, Trane offers more.

You can even buy a Trane heat pump to help heat and cool your home. These units are greener and offer you savings in the form of monthly utility bills.

Not all of these alternative models may be appropriate for you, so make sure you do your research. If you happen to live in Texas, there are several notable HVAC experts for Houston heating maintenance that can assist you.

5. The Innovative Design of Trane Systems

Trane has been doing this for over 100 years. That means they have the experience and understanding of HVAC systems that few can match.

Trane heating and cooling systems are typically ahead of the industry standard. When you buy a Trane, you aren’t getting just some “regular” heating and cooling system.

You are getting a system that has been built from the ground up by Trane. Every component has been tested and checked. Your system will be efficient and functional.

This approach is unique to Trane. Trane has been innovating technologies for heating and cooling for their entire existence. In fact, that’s what they started off doing. They got their first patents for water-based cooling systems in the 1930s!

6. A Quiet System

Central heat and air units can be loud. In fact, you can often hear your neighbor’s unit from inside your house. It can sometimes sound like an engine is being revved or a jet is flying over at low altitude.

That can be both annoying and problematic.

Trane heating and air units are among the quietest in the industry. If you live in a residential area where the homes are close together this can be especially nice. Your neighbors won’t have to hear your system going through the hot and cold months.

7. A Tradition of Trust

Trane is often called America’s most trusted heating and cooling brand. They developed this because not only do they build dependable and better products, they partner with the best people.

This combination of high-quality product and high-quality service make the experience of buying a Trane unique.

In order to get the most out of this benefit, make sure that you purchase your unit from a company that has a lot of experience. This is the best way to get the most out of your heating and cooling system.

Get a unit you can trust from a company you can trust and you will be satisfied and save money at the same time.

Buying Your New Trane Heating and Cooling System

There are a lot of reasons to buy a Trane, and some things to keep in mind when you do.

The single largest help will be who you decide to purchase your Trane heating and cooling system with. Summers in the Houston area can be incredibly hot. They are also always humid.

P&M Air Conditioning and Heating has been in operation since 1947. Since the end of World War II, we have helped thousands of people be cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

In addition to estimating, installing and setting up your new system, we can also work on any problem you may have. The slogan of Trane is “Nothing Stops a Trane”. That has never been truer than when you have P&M Air Conditioning and Heating work for you.

Contact us today if you are in the Houston area and have any questions about a potential new system.

houston heating maintenance

How Often Should You Get Houston Heating Maintenance Services?

houston heating maintenance

Most of us tend to take our daily comforts for granted, including a warm and cozy house in the cold winter months when the last place you want to be is outdoors.

Modern furnaces make it possible to hunker down for the winter and stay comfortable all season long. But if you've ever had your furnace break down, you understand how much you take it for granted and how quickly your home can become cold.

Maintaining your furnace year-round ensures that you won't have an unexpected breakdown when you need heat the most.

But how often should you get Houston heating maintenance done on your furnace? And what should you look for in a reputable technician?

Read on to find out:

How Often Should You Seek Houston Heating Maintenance

Even in areas that are warmer than others, we all depend on our heaters to work when we need them to on those cold days. But how often should have your heater checked out to keep it running all year long?

Most furnace manufacturers agree than maintenance should be conducted on a yearly basis. In fact, your furnace warranty probably mentions that damage done to your furnace as a lack of regular maintenance will not be covered. This is reason enough to keep up on your annual inspection.

And though chances are good that your technician won't find anything wrong with your furnace, it's still better to aim for prevention than paying for expensive damage.

What Happens During a Maintenance Tune-Up?

There's no industry standard when it comes to Houston heating maintenance, but the best technicians have a checklist that they adhere to. A technician you can trust will do a number of things including:

  • Check the venting system for any blockage that could lead to combustion or carbon monoxide. This is a very important step in the inspection because a blockage could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning of the house.
  • Check all the safety switches to make sure they're functioning properly so that your furnace won't overheat and start a fire.
  • Check all the burners to make sure they ignite.
  • Look at the drainage system to see if it needs to be cleaned.
  • Make sure all the wires are connected and free from corrosion.
  • Check the gas pressures, flame sensor, ignitor, and burners.
  • Check the filter for cleanliness or to determine if it needs replacing.
  • Inspection of the heat exchanger.

What you want is a thorough, responsible technician to perform your Houston heating maintenance. If a technician comes and checks your furnace and calls it good in a matter of minutes, they probably weren't looking at your system as well as they should be.

There are plenty of technicians that charge a very cheap rate to check your heating system but keep in mind that you really do get what you pay for, and in most instances where the rate is low, they aren't going through a checklist like the one above.

What are the Benefits of Furnace Maintenance?

As we've already mentioned, a furnace that isn't serviced regularly can stop working without warning. But it can also be a health hazard. By having your furnace checked out every year, your technician can prevent potentially serious problems.

Carbon monoxide leaks, for example, are nearly impossible for the untrained person to detect since the gas is both odorless and colorless. Carbon monoxide leads to dizziness, headaches, nausea, and possibly death. Thousands of people head to emergency rooms every year due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

When you keep up-to-date on inspections, you significantly reduce the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning and keep your family protected.

Another benefit of bothering with an inspection is savings. Though you might be tempted to avoid the initial cost of inspection, it's a small expense compared to what you could end up paying in repairs. The difference can be hundreds of dollars in savings by opting for preventative costs versus big future repairs.

Inspections also save energy in the long run. Your technician can do most of the work for you, but as a homeowner, you can take charge by changing your air filters every three months to avoid clogged air filters and restricted airflow.

Be sure to ask your HVAC professional about the benefits of a programmable thermostat if you don't already have one. Having one in place can save you a chunk of change on your energy bills.

New Systems Still Require Maintenance

Don't make the mistake of assuming you don't need to bother with maintenance because your system is somewhat new.

Your manufacturer will likely require you to keep up regular maintenance and keep a record of such before you can make any warranty claims. So it's not only important to keep those maintenance efforts going for the longevity of your system, but for the sake of your warranty as well.

Contact Us to Schedule Your Maintenance Appointment

Now that you understand the importance of regular Houston heating maintenance efforts, give us a call today to schedule your next inspection.

We'll come to check out your furnace system to make sure everything is running smoothly and we'll answer all your questions along the way.

And don't wait until the cold weather is already upon you! Take advantage of our professional services right away so you can rest easy knowing your home is ready for winter and the air you're breathing is safe and sanitary for months to come.

4 Benefits of Having Your HVAC System Maintenance Done

4 Benefits of Having Your HVAC System Maintenance Done

One of the best things that Houston homeowners can do to make sure that their heating and cooling units stay healthy is to conduct regular HVAC maintenance. You need to keep in mind that your HVAC system is the heart and soul of your home’s comfort. You can be in quite a predicament if your system isn’t functioning properly. The best time to conduct this maintenance is in fall for your heating equipment and spring for your air conditioning unit. Proper maintenance of your HVAC system is a worthwhile investment that you shouldn't ignore. Here are the top four benefits of having your HVAC system maintenance done.

1. Cut Your Energy Bills

The US Department of Energy reports that heating and cooling accounts for more than 48 percent of your overall home’s energy bill. This is the primary reason why you need to make sure that your system is operating properly and optimally. Typically, your system will consume a lot of energy if it is overworking to achieve the desired results. Keeping your HVAC system in top-condition through proper maintenance will cut down your energy usage and make you save a lot of money on your monthly energy bills.

2. Enhance Air Quality

Typically, as the conditioned air travels throughout your ductwork, it usually carries with it loose particulate matter that wasn’t trapped due to clogged air filters or dirty system components. Some of the common contaminants that may build up in your ductwork include bacteria, pet dander, pollen, dust, and mold. With time, these contaminants will start to create unhealthy conditions in your home that trigger allergy symptoms. Proper system maintenance ensures that your ducts and vents are always clean which lead to a higher quality of indoor air that you breathe.

3. Extend the Lifespan of Your HVAC Unit

The truth of the matter is that heating and cooling systems are expensive to acquire. However, without proper maintenance, your system might be damaged beyond repair forcing you to replace it with a new unit. One of the most significant benefits of HVAC maintenance is that it prolongs the lifespan of a heating and cooling system. Preventive maintenance will keep your HVAC system running efficiently for years to come. In fact, this is the only sure way of protecting your investment.

4. Avoid Unnecessary Repairs

Performing preventive maintenance at least twice every year will help you to stop certain issues even before they start. Technically, you will be lowering the probability of your system ever breaking down. This will minimize the number of times that you have to call an HVAC expert to come to your home to make repairs which also saves you a lot of money and protects your investment.

Cooling Services in Houston

Are looking for a qualified and experienced HVAC expert in Houston to help you perform HVAC maintenance? Contact P&M today and we shall gladly help you get the best out of your HVAC system. We are your #1 Houston heating and cooling service company that guarantees better home comfort. We are also experts in designing systems for every budget level and performance expectation. All of our technicians are experienced and licensed. Contact us today and let us help you take care of your home’s comfort needs.

What Does SEER Rating Mean?

Seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rates an air conditioner's efficiency. The Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute defined it in 2008.
A machine's SEER rating is its cooling output in a typical cooling-season divided by its total energy input in the same timeframe. It is directly proportional to the energy efficiency of equipment. In America, it is calculated by dividing the British thermal unit (BTU) with the energy consumption in watt-hours. This is important in ensuring your equipment runs efficiently and effectively.

How Does SEER relate with EER and COP?

A cooling machine's energy efficiency ratio (EER) is calculated by dividing the output cooling power (BTU) with its input electrical power (Wh) at a particular operation point. To calculate the EER, you should use 95F external temperature, the internal 80F temperature and the 50% relative humidity.

EER is associated with the coefficient of performance (COP).It's common in thermodynamics whereby an air conditioners COP is a unit less than the EER. Also, EER uses several units as it is calculated by multiplying the BTU/h conversion factor by the COP.

Maximum SEER Rating

Some modern ductless air conditioners have SEER ratings 0f 33.also, other residential AC units have maximum SEER ratings of 75.However, a ground-source heat pump's effective efficiency depends on the water source temperature.

Usually, hot regions have a higher ground temperature than cold places hence not being able to reach such high efficiencies. Also, ground heat pumps' ARI rating enables them to function without reaching their maximum pump power. It reduces the SEER values to be below their highest efficiency. Moreover, there are varying technologies which permit EER and SEER ratings to increase. Some of them include inverters, DC motors, rotary compressors and variable speed drives.

Are you planning to purchase a new air conditioner? P & M Air Conditioning and Heating serve people living in Houston. We provide them with a variety of services including indoor air quality, heating and AC installation, comprehensive repair and maintenance services to enhance the comfort, efficiency, and lifespan of their equipment. Visit our Houston office for more information.