Air Purification

We get a fair number of folks asking about air purifiers.  Most commonly, I see one stuffed in the corner of your living room or bedroom while doing a bid.

The bottom line is we have some great solutions.  While they get to the same goal a different way, all of the products we carry have been tried and tested by our staff and customers.

  1.  We carry the GPS series plasma purifiers.  They are simple to maintain, cost effective to install, and can easily go with you when you move across town.  Here’s a video…
  2.  At the top end of the catagory (and best in it’s class) is the Trane ‘Clean Effects’ air purification/furnace filter.

The right fit for you depends on the problems you are looking to solve.  But I’ll rank them below for the big issues we most commonly see.


Both do a good job with dust, but they do it very differently.

  • The GPS makes the particles heavy and sticky.  So they get caught up in the filter.  Because of this, we recommend the filter be changed about 4 weeks after installation.
  • The Trane ‘Clean Effects’ filters out the dust by making it adhere to a membrane.  Wash and vacuum the membrane and you are good to good for another 3 months.
  • Winner:  We’ll give the edge to Trane on this one.  While both do well, the Trane does it on a more refined level.

Pollens & Allergies:

We have seen excellent results with both of the units related to pollens and allergies.  It’s important to note that this isn’t a medical solution, but we have seen success here at removing the source of the airborne issue that is causing the symptoms.   Again, edge goes to Trane, but it really depends on how you use your home related to windows and open doors.

Smoke and odor:

  • The GPS uses an ionizing technology that drops the smoke out of the air.  It also takes cooking, pet, spouse, kids, etc… odors and eliminates them.  Pretty nice for the price.
  • The Trane air purifier is in a dead heat on this one.  System owner’s report that being indoors during fire season was comfortable and odor free when combined with the cool air delivered through the ducts.

We don’t think there is a bad choice here.  And, with our 100% guarantee on the GPS unit, try it out, if it doesn’t work for you family we’ll upgrade you to the Trane.

How to select your HVAC contractor?

We know it’s difficult to wade through the decision making process when it comes to a furnace.  It’s the third largest purchase most people make in their lives and often the one they know the least about.  Plus, you’ve likely heard about bad experiences through friends and neighbors with some shady companies they have endured.   While I don’t think there are many companies or people in our industry who strive to be shady, a mis-communication can quickly lead to frustration and fear related to large investments and your home and family.  It’s often the product of folks being trained in vocation and not having as much training in professionalism.

I would be remiss, if I didn’t acknowledge that we have had our share of bumps and bruises in this area.  What has always set us apart, and should be the hallmark of any service company, is the willingness to stand up for our mistakes and take care of the customer.

Below are some ideas to consider when hiring your HVAC contractor (These are borrowed from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America) :

1.  Has the company shown a track record of doing right by the customer.

2.  Do you have trust that they will do the project in a timely manner and install a quality product?

3.  Have they performed a computerized load calculation and shown you the results?  This important step is often overlooked because it is fairly easy to use rules of thumb and get pretty close.   Load calculations are the difference between being close and being right on, which ultimately saves you money.

4.  Have they performed a code evaluation of your project and shared the results?

5.  Are they properly licensed and do they provide continuing education for their employees.

6.  Do they offer a Universal Savings/Service Agreement?  Yearly service and maintenance is good for your equipment, efficiency, and required to keep your warranty terms valid.

7.  Your general contractor is often a good place to ask for a referral.  We feel strongly that there are places to definitely not ‘seek the lowest cost solution’.  In new homes, a priority can easily be set that focuses dollars on the systems that are expensive to replace down the road.   Windows, vapor barrier, insulation and structure are first, then consider systems like heating, plumbing, and electrical.  Those systems are run deeply in the home and more difficult to change later.  Make sure they are being properly designed and cared for.

Remember – It’s perfectly acceptable to let the contractor know the sub-contractors you would like to use.

We view the in home evaluation and system design as the start of a good relationship with our customers. When performed with diligence and care, products are ordered correctly and our team gets the important information right from the start.  More importantly, our team is centered around informing and teaching you about options and choices so you can make informed decisions for your home and family.

Call today and we can walk you through designing your next project.

Building Permits? Why?

In some ways, Bozeman still is the wild west.  So many companies and individuals want to do projects under the radar.  It’s my belief that isn’t OK.  The permit process is a good one.  While I still have a fight on my hands some days with the building department, they are doing a job which has our overall safety concerned. My hope, at the end of the fight, is they respect why we would take our stance and fight about it.  And…sometimes I learn from them (should I have written that in smaller print?)

I’ve seen too many situations where a building inspection would have helped save the owner thousands of dollars.  Costly mistakes, discovered years later, are more costly mistakes.  I often get in situations, where being a licensed architect, and knowing the code related to an illegal apartment loses the job for us.  Often the solution, perhaps even discussion, upsets the owner.  And…while I feel we can really help the client, they have to want that solution.

We bid all of our work to meet and in many cases exceed the code.  When asked to work below the code, we won’t do it.  It doesn’t serve the client or any future inhabitants of the building.  Instead of looking at the permits as a ‘requirement’ foisted upon us, we take the approach that the process is one that helps us fine tune our skills and give the customer a second set of eyes to assure them that the project is complete and safe.

Ducted forced air systems…Let’s get real

One of the things we hear as a negative to ducts and forced air heating is “it’s noisy and/or dirty”.   I’ve been meaning to write a whole series of comparisons of heating system delivery types because their are so many misconceptions about forced air heat.

So….it’s real simple.  Ducts do not create dust or dirt.  Where does it come from?  Leaky or unsealed ducts can be a culprit.  The rest, we’ll it’s just in the house.  Ducts do offer a way to filter the air and purify the air.

Now ‘noisy’ is a different issue.  Noise is caused in forced air systems by two things.  Fans! Or….could it be the guy who installed the system?  I’m going to stick with the later.  It is a complicated co-existence of fans, velocity, and static pressure.  Factors needing to be within balance in order to assure a home free from duct noise.

What I’m really trying to say is adjust your expectations for forced air and get the quality you want.  There is no excuse for the following:

  • Noise.  When your system starts up you may notice it, but shouldn’t hear it if you are having a conversation around the kitchen table.   Systems with variable speed or modulating fans should be almost unnoticeable.
  • Dust and Dirt.  Seal your ducts and put a good filtration system on it.  Your HVAC system can be used as a tool to reduce how much dusting is needed in your house.  Not, the other way around.
  • Comfort.  Honestly, this is the only good argument going.  If you like the ‘comfort’ a radiant system provides, I’ll even recommend some good companies to install.  If you are remembering an HVAC system or comparing it to your first home or your college apartment, we should talk.

There are many good fits for both kinds of systems and we will review them with you in a no pressure situation.  If you are building this season, be sure to let us review your project.


Duct Design: The Mountain Heating and Cooling difference.

Let’s face it, furnaces and air conditioning are expensive.  Yet, while equipment determines your possible efficiency, duct design determines your actual performance, bills, comfort level, longevity, noise levels…..we could go on.

In many new construction projects, we see ducts carelessly sized and designed which either lead the homeowner to ask about hot or cold spots in the home or ‘why is it so noisy?’.  A forced air heating or cooling system, when designed and installed with proper coordination, will not be noisy.

There are ways to design and coordinate the duct installation that make a big difference in assuring a quality project.   First, calculating heating AND cooling loads room by room.  Then, and only then can you be assured the system is meeting the loads.  In fact, it can be measured and compared to the load calculation.  We think you might want that level of comfort and knowledge that you are getting what you pay for.  We design all of our home system using a computerized Manual J calculation, draw and size the ducts and print them for you and your contractor to use.  This file can be exported to include in a builder’s set of drawings.  Changes in register locations can then be executed in real time and with an assurance that it will not affect the performance.

This is extra work, and it’s worth it.  proper air flow design can lower the installation cost of ducts and reduce the size of ducts while making the equipment last longer and operate at higher efficiency.   Sounds like a win-win for our customers!

New Construction: Should I add an A/C coil for the future?

We see this more and more.  New homes are going on the market with a line-set installed and  air conditioning coil installed.  Often marketed as Air Conditioning ready, Contractors and real estate agents like the solution because it offers a perceived increase in value for the buyer.

There is more to the story.  Some of this thinking really depends on what you want to do when you actually buy the outdoor unit and have it installed.  In other words, what would your goals be for efficiency, overall cost, adaptability to new technology, etc.  Here’s how it breaks down.

  • If all your goals align and the answer is weighted toward low overall cost.  It will save you some money if you go ahead and have the coil and line-set installed during rough in.
  • If you are the person who weights the efficiency side and new technology higher, consider waiting until you are ready to do the install.  You will likely have more flexibility with new products and more available high efficiency matches to your furnace and coil.

As always, you can can ask anyone on the Mountain Heating and Cooling team for help in wading through this decision.  We are proud to have a team who listens and can be creative with solutions.