Skip navigation

(202) 333-1310

Serving Washington DC

Menu
Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc - FAQs

FAQs

Do I Need UV Germicidal Lights?

UV germicidal lights add a great deal to any type of indoor air purification or cleaning system. While indoor air filters and ionizers can quite capably remove particulate contaminants, they are not as effective at eliminating the bacteria and viruses that float around in your household air as well.

And that’s where UV germicidal lights come in. If you really want to do a complete job and remove all types of indoor air contaminants, then adding UV germicidal lights to your existing indoor air quality system is a great step to take.

Back To Top

How Do I Know if I Have an Indoor Air Quality Problem?

It can sometimes be difficult to tell if you have an indoor air quality problem. One of the first things you should do, though, is to get a carbon monoxide detector. This will alert you to the presence of this odorless yet harmful gas.

You should also pay attention to any allergy or breathing-related symptoms that you or your family may have been experiencing recently. There are many possible causes for these types of symptoms, but poor indoor air quality is certainly one of them. It may even be worth talking to your doctor to find out if they think an indoor air quality problem in your home is causing these symptoms in members of your family.

You should also keep an eye out for mold, which is a leading contributor to indoor air pollution. And make sure that the vents in your kitchen and bathroom are working effectively. You may also want to have someone come out and take a look to see if there are any leaks or cracks in your home ventilation system or your duct work.

Back To Top

How do I Choose an Indoor Air Quality System?

There are many types of indoor air quality systems out there and finding the one that’s right for you can be a complicated process. A big part of it, however, is determining what types of indoor air contaminants you’re most concerned with targeting. That’s because some indoor air cleaners and purifiers are better at trapping and removing larger particulate contaminants, while others are more effective with smaller particles.

The specifics of your home dimensions and layout and the type of home heating and cooling system you have in place will also play a major role in determining what type of indoor air cleaner or purifier is right for you. You’ll need one that’s large enough to handle the volume of air moving through your house each day, but you don’t want to spend too much if you don’t have to of course.

This can be a lot of information to sort through on your own, and that’s why it can be very helpful to get a professional opinion when it comes to selecting the right indoor air cleaner or purification system. Experienced technicians can answer any and all questions you may have on the topic and can go over the specifics of your situation with you so that you wind up with the best possible product for your needs.

Back To Top

Will a New Boiler Be Louder?

This depends on a number of factors. Extremely old boilers will be much louder, but if your previous boiler is only 15-20 years old, you may notice small increases in noise with a brand new model due to faster internal operation (designed to reduce fuel use and improve efficiency). In general, even if your system is slightly louder, the trade off in reduced fuel consumption is well worth it.

Back To Top

How Big Does My Boiler Need to Be?

There are a number of factors to consider when sizing a boiler for your home, but mostly it depends on the total number of square feet you need to heat and the quality of your home’s insulation. To determine these factors, a qualified technician needs to perform a heat load calculation. This involves calculating the effect of your insulation, square footage, windows, distribution system and other factors into your overall heating needs. The age, output and efficiency of your current boiler may also be taken into account.

Back To Top

Should I Worry About CO?

Carbon monoxide is a clear, odorless gas that results in hundreds of deaths each year, often due to a lack of safety precautions. It is produced by the burning of fuel in your boiler, therefore you need to monitor constantly to make sure the exhaust stays in the exhaust pipes. A small leak can release enough CO to potentially harm you and your family.

To make sure you are safe, you should have a carbon monoxide detector installed both in your boiler room and on each floor of your home. You should also check the batteries on a monthly basis to make sure your system is working.

Back To Top

I’d Like to Change the Fuel Type for My Boiler – Is that Possible?

This is a very common question and most of the time the answer is no. There are a select few brands that are capable of conversion between gas and oil heat if necessary, however the general cost of these systems is significantly higher than for most other boilers – therefore making them unattractive as a realistic replacement for your current system.

The reason you cannot switch is due to the necessities of each fuel source. Gas in particular is a very volatile fuel and requires careful controls for safe operation. Additionally, gas is a vapor and oil is a liquid – that means they each burn in different ways. Avoid any systems or suggestions that claim you can convert your current boiler to another fuel source. Such modifications are not considered safe and are never approved of by the manufacturers.

Back To Top

How Hot Does a Boiler Get?

While it’s called a “boiler”, your heating system doesn’t actually heat the water to boiling temperature. The average supply temperature for a baseboard or radiator based heating system is around 180°F. In some cases, however, you can safely lower the supply temperature to save money in heating costs. You should discuss the implications of changing the temperature of your boiler with your technician.

Back To Top

Is Water Needed in a Boiler System?

The most common heating medium for a boiler is water. However, with full cast iron constructed systems and newer closed systems, antifreeze coolant can be used instead of water. Of course, the actual coolant used in your boiler will depend on the manufacturer’s recommendations and the current condition of your boiler. Your technician can help you determine if this is a necessary step to take and if your boiler can handle the added pressure of antifreeze in the system.

Back To Top

How Long Will My New Heating System Last?

While the life span of a home heating system can vary from one model and type to another, you can generally expect a new heat pump system to last from 10-15 years.

Gas furnaces generally last from 17-25 years.

Boilers last from 20-35 years.

Some types do last longer and with proper maintenance service, many home heating systems can outlast their projected lifespan.

Back To Top

How Do I Know Which Type of Home Heating System to Choose?

There are a lot of factors that will help to determine which type of home heating system is best for you and your family. Because the sheer volume of data you need to sort through in order to make a good decision can be pretty overwhelming, it’s wise to have an expert help you through the process.

Heating technicians can come out to examine the particulars of your home and determine how powerful of a home heating system you need. They can also offer some expert advice on which type of system will be the most appropriate given the dimensions and location of your home and your family’s specific heating needs.

Back To Top

Is an Electric Furnace Safer than a Gas Furnace?

Modern furnaces, no matter what they’re powered by, are generally quite safe and energy efficient. There are advantages and disadvantages to both gas and electric furnaces, but safety is almost exactly the same between the two types of systems.

Technically the presence of gas fuel may pose a very small safety risk, but because of the way modern gas furnaces are designed, that risk is almost nonexistent. Particularly if you keep your furnace well maintained, your gas or electric furnace will continue to work efficiently and safely for many years.

Back To Top

Why Doesn’t My Heat Pump Have an AFUE Rating?

Heat pumps operate by pulling heat out of the outdoor air in the winter to bring into your home and removing heat from indoor air in the summer. Some of them do also heat air like furnaces, but because they operate on different principles, their energy efficiency is measured differently. The heating energy efficiency of a heat pump will be reflected by its HSPF number, and just as with an AFUE rating, the higher the number, the more efficient the model.

Back To Top

What Is an AFUE Rating?

The annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating that comes attached to just about every furnace on the market measures how energy efficient that particular model is. Modern furnaces typically have at least an 80% AFUE rating, with some even reaching into the high 90s.

Knowing how energy efficient a furnace is certainly is important when you’re trying to decide which one to buy, but you should also take into account the relative price of each model and how much you project that you will use the furnace.

The more energy efficient models tend to come with a higher price tag, and although you’ll pay slightly less on your monthly heating bills because of the added efficiency, it’s not always enough to make up the difference. Discussing your heating needs with a home heating professional is the best way to get an idea of what type of AFUE rating you’re looking for in a furnace.

Back To Top

How Do I Know Which Air Conditioner Is the Right Size For My House?

Sizing an air conditioning system for your home can become a pretty complicated process. You need to know what type of space the air conditioner can cool as well as how many vents there will likely be and how the dimensions of the house will affect the overall cooling power of the system. Expert technicians use industry-recognized formulas to calculate exactly what type and size of air conditioning system you need.

Back To Top

How Long Will My New Air Conditioning System Last?

In general, you can expect your new air conditioning system to last between 10 and 15 years. With proper maintenance, they can sometimes last even longer.

Back To Top

How Do I Know if I Should Replace My Air Conditioning System?

There are several instances in which you may want to consider replacing your air conditioning system. For instance, if you’ve been calling for a lot of repairs recently, then there’s a good chance your system is on its last legs.

And even if it isn’t and the repairs are relatively minor, you could still probably save money by investing in a new system now rather than paying for repeated repairs. Plus, your new system will likely be so much more energy efficient than your old one, so you’ll save money there too.

However, you may also want to look into replacing your air conditioning system even if you haven’t been having problems with it. Particularly if your system is 10 years old or more, you can replace it with a newer air conditioning system that is so much more efficient and it will quickly pay for itself in terms of monthly energy savings.

Back To Top

Why Is Annual Air Conditioning Maintenance Important?

Having annual air conditioning maintenance performed on your system is extremely important for a number of reasons. First of all, it can help to ensure that your air conditioning system doesn’t lose efficiency as time goes by. A system that isn’t properly maintained can lose as much as 5% of its efficiency annually. But with a proper tune up, your air conditioning system may not even lose that much over the course of 10 years, saving you a good chunk of money along the way.

Also, during their annual visits, professional air conditioning technicians will be able to spot any problem areas or parts that seem to be wearing out too quickly. Attending to these types of issues before they actually manifest themselves in the form of performance problems can save you both time and money.

These minor repairs are much less costly than the larger ones that might be needed if the problem was allowed to persist. Also, because your annual maintenance is scheduled to fit nicely into your schedule, you won’t have to take off extra time from work or interrupt your busy schedule like you might if your air conditioning system needed emergency repairs unexpectedly.

Back To Top

Connect With Us

Proudly serving Washington DC, Arlington, VA, Alexandria, VA, Mclean, VA and the surrounding Northern VA area.

R-22 Phaseout: What You Need to Know

May 22

R-22 is one of the most common refrigerants used in air conditioning systems today. It is also being entirely phased out of use and production.

Read More

Upgrade Your Thermostat for Better Efficiency!

May 15

Simply upgrading your thermostat in Alexandria can help you to enjoy better comfort, even as you trim away at your overall energy costs.

Read More

Why Is My AC Blowing Warm Air?

May 8

If your air conditioner in Arlington, VA is blowing warm air, we have some tips to help you determine the proper course of action.

Read More