Frequently Asked Questions

About your HVAC units & how they should properly be maintained

Should I install a high efficiency furnace or variable speed furnace?2023-12-04T15:02:01-06:00

A high-efficiency furnace is an investment that will garner substantial gas savings over time. A standard furnace is 80% efficient meaning that 20% of the gas the furnace uses gets wasted directly out of the chimney. With a high-efficiency furnace, you will have a furnace that is at least 96% efficient which means only 4% of the gas you put into the furnace is lost. Over time this accumulates into large savings and the high-efficiency furnace pays for itself.

A 2-stage variable speed furnace can be standard 80% efficiency or 96% or more high efficiency at the selection of the customer. The 2-stage variable speed option is ideal for homes where uneven temperatures create comfort concerns or where the ductwork is too small for the home. 2-level homes and split-level homes are also ideal situations for a variable-speed furnace. The first feature of a variable-speed furnace is a more powerful blower motor. It runs at different speeds to precisely control the flow of heated or cooled air throughout your home. Better airflow control means a better balance of temperature and humidity. Using advanced technology, it constantly monitors the data coming from your heating and cooling system and automatically makes adjustments necessary to meet your comfort needs. It varies the amount of circulated air, compensating for factors like dirty filters or blocked or undersized vents by increasing the fan speed. A variable-speed motor also uses 1/20th the electricity of a standard motor so homeowners can leave the motor running at a lower speed so the furnace is constantly filtering the air and mixing the air throughout the home to create more even temperatures.

The term 2-stage means that the furnace has a “low” heat and “high heat mode.” The furnace does not always need to heat at full capacity in milder outdoor temperatures in order to heat a home. A 2-stage furnace will run at only 70% capacity when its full power is not needed. This means it is only using 70% of its gas and the motors are spinning at only 70% speed. When the demand for more heat is needed the furnace will enter into 2nd stage or 100% capacity to satisfy the needs of the home. A 2-stage furnace provides further energy savings and more comfort in a home by not heating the home up too quickly when it is not necessary. This allows for a better heating cycle to transport heat and humidity to all areas of the home.

Why should I replace my furnace and how long do they last?2023-12-04T15:01:21-06:00

The most important variable in gauging the useful life of a furnace is the quality of the installation. Not only does the unit need to be properly sized but the ductwork/airflow design to and from the furnace must be able to accommodate the size of the furnace. Sadly, in many cases, the furnace is too large for the home it is intended to heat because a proper load calculation of the home’s needs was never performed. This oversizing of equipment is often accompanied by a lack of sufficient airflow/ductwork which is the most vital variable in a proper HVAC installation.

If these variables are present, there will be frequent costly furnace repairs like the major motors failing and the furnace heat exchanger will often not last even 12 years before it becomes faulty. While all of this is happening there are also usually comfort issues in the home due to improper installation.

A properly installed furnace can last 20-25 years.

You should replace your furnace if it is improperly installed and around 10-12 years old with a major repair needed if you are in a financial position to do so.

If your furnace heat exchanger is cracked that normally happens later in the life of the furnace where it is no longer under warranty a standard parts warranty and the cost to try and repair the furnace is almost the cost of just updating the system. If the furnace heat exchanger fails it is not long before another major repair follows behind it.

If you are simply not happy with how the furnace is heating your home or how the air conditioning is performing with major temperature differences throughout the home and you are in a financial position to do so you may also decide to “start over” with a better installation and replace.

What is a cracked heat exchanger and carbon monoxide risk?2023-12-04T15:00:35-06:00

A furnace burns natural gas to create heat and the creation of this heat creates combustion fumes. These combustion fumes contain high levels of carbon monoxide. The heart of the furnace is called the heat exchanger and this is the metal body that is heated to create warm air. The combustion fumes travel through the body of the heat exchanger where they are ultimately exhausted out of the furnace exhaust. When a furnace heat exchanger is found to be cracked or severely degraded eventually the fumes that are supposed to be exhausted out of the furnace will leak out into your furnace and those fumes are then blown throughout the home. This can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning with headaches, vomiting, or death. It is critical especially when a furnace reaches beyond 10 years old that the heat exchanger is inspected for flaws or cracks to ensure the product is safe.

Why are different areas of the home so much colder than other areas of the home?2023-12-04T14:59:49-06:00

Rooms that are above a garage, rooms that are poorly insulated, rooms containing many windows, and rooms facing North or West experience more heat loss because they are being subjected to colder factors around the room itself. A garage is cold during the winter so rooms right above the garage tend to be colder. Rooms with many windows have less insulation on the walls and the windows cause more heat loss to occur. Rooms facing North or west on a corner of the home receive more arctic wind gusts due to the direction of the wind blowing during the winter. Oftentimes, rooms are also colder when they are the rooms located the furthest distance away from the furnace. The 2nd floor of the home may also always be colder than the first floor of the home due to the 2nd floor being further from the furnace. There are a couple of different factors that can help to alleviate these issues.

Making sure the system is installed with the proper ductwork is vital to making sure that air is being properly delivered to all areas of the home. Making sure the furnace is properly sized for the home is another essential variable. A bigger furnace is not always the correct solution and can actually worsen the temperature differences in the home. Running the furnace fan on “ON” mode instead of “Auto Mode” on the thermostat will have your system constantly running the fan motor at a lower speed. Doing this can alleviate temperature distances by continuously mixing the air in the home across the different floors and bedrooms to help alleviate the temperature differences. Lastly, there are different types of furnace technologies that can be chosen when you are ready to replace your existing system that may be better suited to the needs of your home such as a variable speed furnace. In many cases, these temperature differentials can be ALLEVIATED but not totally ELEVIATED due to the factors listed above. However, solutions do exist to make the problems less drastic.

Why is my furnace leaking water during winter?2023-12-04T14:58:47-06:00

If you are experiencing water around the furnace area while it is operating this could be coming from your furnace or your humidifier if you have one installed. It is important to note that ONLY high-efficiency furnaces produce water while they are running. Standard efficiency furnaces exhaust their fumes into the chimney whereas high efficiency furnaces exhaust their fumes through a plastic PVC pipe that runs independently of the chimney. Both a high-efficiency furnace and a humidifier have a drain line that over time can become clogged leading to there being water on the floor. The water also be coming from a clogged humidifier or old humidifier water panel that needs to be replaced. The high-efficiency furnace must also be checked internally to make sure that there is no water leaking from the furnace itself.

Why is professional furnace maintenance critical?2023-12-04T14:42:38-06:00

A furnace or air conditioner should be viewed much like owning a vehicle. While both have long lifespans there will be repairs necessary along the way to keep the machinery working. For example, car dealerships void warranties if the oil is never changed and there is never maintenance on the vehicle because this guarantees there will be major issues. Failure to maintain the components that support the engine will lead to a much costlier repair when the engine itself breaks down. Your furnace also has major components and smaller components that support those major components. Much like spark plugs or your car’s battery these smaller components do not last forever and need to be replaced when they are not operating up to manufacturer specifications. A furnace can still be functional with a faulty part installed but that small faulty part is creating accelerated wear and tear on major components within the system which will lead to large repairs.

A professional technician also has the tools to identify system issues that will leave you without heat on a cold holiday while your family is overeating dinner.

Lastly and most importantly is furnace safety. Your furnace is igniting gas to create heat and producing toxic combustion fumes while it is operating. A trained technician will be able to check for carbon monoxide leaks and defective heat exchangers that could put family safety at risk.

What filters are recommended for furnaces?2023-12-04T14:41:58-06:00

Homeowners often buy the filter size that their system came equipped with without noticing the merv or thickness rating of the filter. While it is true that a thicker, higher merv filter will capture more dust particles these filters are one of the main reasons why major breakdowns happen on a furnace. These very thick filters put a high amount of strain on the furnace because air passing through the filter into the furnace becomes greatly restricted due to the thickness of the filter. This causes increased strain on the major motors in the furnace and also causes the furnace interior to run hotter than the manufacturer’s specifications. An overheating furnace experiences the accelerated deterioration of the furnace heat exchanger and when the furnace gets too hot the safety switch in the unit will continuously turn the furnace on and off.

It is recommended that basic, non-restrictive fiberglass filters are used so the system can breathe and operate properly. This creates prolonged equipment life and better heating and cooling distribution evenly throughout the home even in a 2-story home. If allergies or dust particles are a problem in a home installing a non-restrictive media filter or an electrostatic filter in conjunction with an air purifier is a more effective solution for alleviating these issues while not damaging your equipment.

What can I do to maintain my furnace and prolong its life?2023-12-04T14:41:11-06:00

Change your filters regularly and have a technician come out annually to inspect your furnace to clean it and identify minor issues before the issues lead to major repairs.

How often does my A/C need maintenance?2023-12-04T14:39:44-06:00

Your spring-cleaning to-do list should include air conditioner maintenance. Regular preventive service can extend the life of your unit, but there’s a certain point when repairing your AC is no longer cost-effective. When this time comes, ComfortMax Heating and Cooling can walk you through the steps of comparing and choosing the best new system for your home and budget.

Is there anything I can do to make my A/C more energy-efficient?2023-12-04T14:39:12-06:00

Here are a few easy ways to minimize your summer energy use and cooling costs:
Make sure all air vents are open and unrestricted.
Get a programmable or wifi enabled smart thermostat so your AC doesn’t run continually when you’re gone.
Do regular maintenance and filter changes.
Use ceiling fans so you can turn your thermostat up a few degrees and still feel comfortable.

My air conditioner runs for a while but freezes up, why?2023-12-04T14:37:59-06:00

There are lots of reasons for this, and almost all of them will require help from a professional technician. Start by making sure your air filter is clean. If the filter was at fault, speed up the thawing process by turning your system off, then turning on the fan only—just make sure you switch the system settings back to normal after. Other possible causes are low refrigerant, a dirty evaporator coil, or a defective blower motor or relay. These would require further diagnosis from a ComfortMax professional.

When running my A/C, should the thermostat fan switch be set to “auto” or “on”?2023-12-04T14:37:20-06:00

If you’re interested in keeping your cooling costs down, use the auto setting so the fan only runs when needed to maintain the set temperature. However, if you prefer a more consistent temperature, use the on setting for uninterrupted airflow. This option may also be beneficial if you have allergies or asthma because air will constantly be filtered as it flows through the system. A variable speed furnace is made to run 24/7 and will cause pennies monthly to run 24/7. Older furnaces with old motor technology may cost a substantial amount of money to run 24/7 and may not be worth it until exploring options for the newer blower technology.

How do I know what size air conditioning unit my house needs?2023-12-04T14:35:57-06:00

A licensed and insured HVAC specialist like those at ComfortMax Heating and Cooling should be consulted before you add or replace a cooling system. We’ll do a proper whole home load calculation that factors in the layout and square footage of your house, average climate, the number and type of windows, insulation, and even the number of people living in the home. Without these considerations, you could end up with a unit that is not big enough, meaning it will likely not keep up with your cooling needs or last as long as expected—or a system that is so big that it constantly cycles on and off and wastes energy. Either way, you may not receive the full life of that air conditioner and not get the full use of your investment.

Is air conditioning a rip off?2023-12-04T14:27:32-06:00

In short – no. Definitely not! Annual AC maintenance can greatly increase the life of your unit, improve indoor air quality, and prevent costly and unexpected repairs. Proper maintenance of an air conditioner averages 5-10 more years than air conditioners that are not properly maintained annually.

How long do air conditioners typically last?2023-12-04T14:19:46-06:00

Average life of an Air conditioning system lasts 12-17 years. A well installed and maintained system can last an average of 15-20+ years. A big factor too is dependent on the airflow in your home. Luckily for you, we measure airflow on every visit, and when we install a new ac, we give you options to alleviate airflow concerns! This is 1 of our specialties.

How much does it cost to replace an air conditioner?2023-12-04T14:18:26-06:00

The cost of air conditioner replacement depends on a number of factors, including the power system’s capacity, any required modifications, the efficiency of the model, the type of air conditioner, and any taxes and rebates. Prices in 2023 range widely, from $4500 – $7000 on average. The best way to get a straight answer is to contact us and schedule a free in-home estimate.

Do you offer any maintenance plans?2023-12-04T14:11:15-06:00

All manufacturer warranties require annual maintenance of the HVAC system to keep the equipment warranty valid. That’s why we call you for your maintenance appointments. In this way, your warranty stays active and you receive top-notch service every visit. If you no longer have the manufacturer warranty, we credit $100 a year (up to $500) towards a new HVAC system! If you’re planning on investing in a new furnace or AC within the next five years, this plan pays for itself even if you don’t spend a dime on repairs! Our Express Comfort Plan offers peace of mind. Should you ever have an emergency breakdown, not only do you pay ZERO diagnostic fees, but you also save 10% off any HVAC repair!

Do you offer any discounts?2023-12-04T14:06:15-06:00

Yes, we offer military, healthcare workers, first responders, and senior discounts.* Our diagnostic fee is not included in the repair cost.

*Cannot be combined with any other offers or discounts.

What areas do you service?2023-12-04T14:05:02-06:00

We offer all of our services, including HVAC repairs, in Shorewood, IL; Joliet, IL; New Lenox, IL; Plainfield, IL; Lockport, IL; and the surrounding areas.

Do you offer warranties on your work?2023-12-04T13:16:12-06:00

Yes, we certainly do! We offer a 1-year full parts and labor warranty on any repair. We also offer a five-year labor warranty for new installations. Additionally, we offer a 10-year parts warranty for new installations.

Do you offer free estimates?2023-12-04T13:07:08-06:00

Yes, we offer free estimates for new installations. 

M – F: 8:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sat + Sun: 8:00 am – 12:00 am
Emergency Holiday Service Available

1002 129th Infantry Dr. Ste E
Joliet, IL 60435

We offer senior, Military, healthcare, and 1st responder discounts.
+ We offer same as cash payment plans for repairs over $800.00.

Proudly Serving Shorewood, Joliet, New Lenox, Plainfield, Lockport, Homer Glen, Channahon, Minooka, Crest Hill, Romeoville, Oswego, Yorkville, Lockport, Morris, Naperville, Downers Grove, Aurora, Lemont, Darien, and Woodridge, IL.

We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Cash, Personal Check, Zelle

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