What are the benefits of a HVAC system versus a boiler?

expert small solutions team member working on ductless split type aircon

What are the benefits of a HVAC system versus a boiler?

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems and boilers are two different types of systems used to provide heating and cooling in buildings. Here are some benefits of HVAC systems compared to boilers:

  1. Climate control: HVAC systems provide both heating and cooling, allowing you to regulate the temperature and humidity levels in your building. Boilers, on the other hand, only provide heating.
  2. Energy efficiency: HVAC systems often have higher energy efficiency compared to boilers. They are designed to regulate temperature and humidity levels, reducing the need for excessive heating or cooling.
  3. Air quality: HVAC systems come equipped with filters that help remove pollutants and allergens from the air, improving indoor air quality. Boilers do not provide any air filtration.
  4. Comfort: HVAC systems provide more consistent and evenly distributed heating and cooling compared to boilers, resulting in improved comfort levels for building occupants.
  5. Maintenance: HVAC systems typically require less frequent maintenance compared to boilers, which can require annual servicing to ensure proper operation.
  6. Cost: HVAC systems can be more expensive to install compared to boilers, but they are often more cost-effective in the long run due to their higher energy efficiency and reduced maintenance needs.

Ultimately, the choice between an HVAC system and a boiler will depend on factors such as the size and type of building, climate, and individual heating and cooling needs. Both systems have their own unique benefits and it is important to carefully consider your specific needs before making a decision.

Expert Technician of Small Solutions Working on Mitsubishi Ductless Services

How long does it take to clean out the air ducts in my home?

How do I inspect the system when buying a home?

In your home, if you have a heating or cooling system, you likely have ducts running throughout your house. These can get clogged with stuff (dust, hairballs, carcinogens…and even mold) over time. Air duct cleaning is  like cleaning out your vacuum bag or the lint catcher in your dryer. If you let it go to long, it can become a real problem.

We come in with our pro equipment and team and can clean your air ducts efficiently without hassle. Within a few hours, we’ll be finished and you’ll know you and your family are breathing quality indoor air. 

We go through and clean all the duct work passageways in our cleanings, as well as inspect and sanitize them. We have specialized blowers, brushes and vacuums designed for air duct systems so it’s way easier for us to do it in a fraction of the time it would take without that equipment. We then clean any registers, grilles, fans, motors, handlers and coils in your HVAC system.

air duct cleaning

How often should your air ducts be cleaned like this?

Generally we recommend doing this every 5-7 years. If you have pets, respiratory issues, or a compromised immune system, we’d suggest more often. If you’re moving into a pre-built home, you may want to do this before you move in. Depending on the filtration system you have, you may need less frequent cleanings.

How long does it take to clean air ductwork systems?

We estimate usually around two to four hours to clean with our crew. We usually send 2 technicians. Older homes, older systems or homes that have pets may take longer.

Do you use any chemicals during this process?

Nope. Unless required by an industrial hygienist or a certified contractor, we don’t use chemicals. If we had to, we only use an EPA-registered anti-microbial solution.

How do I inspect the system when buying a home?

How do I inspect the system when buying a home?

Ideally, if you’re looking at a house to purchase and make your new home, you’d want to find a licensed home inspector or an HVAC technician (like us!) to come and inspect the HVAC system for you. 

It’s like paying a mechanic to check out a used car before buying it. That’s the quick and easy way to get it handled and have peace of mind. (Click here to contact us to coordinate with us to do an inspection for you.)

One of the things that makes buying a house stressful is the nagging fear that something will break down soon after moving in. The range won’t heat up, the boiler will start leaking, or the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment will refuse to work, leaving a major hole in the household budget.

Regardless of the home’s age or the condition of the HVAC equipment, you should insist that the seller provide a home warranty to cover unforeseen issues over the next year.

If you notice any problems with the HVAC system layout or the equipment itself as you tour the home, bring up your concerns with the seller.

A few questions to ask the seller:

  1. What type of HVAC equipment is installed and how old is it? Is it still under warranty?
  2. What is the HVAC equipment’s brand, efficiency rating, and fuel type?
  3. Do you have a copy of maintenance and repair records?
  4. Do you have an HVAC maintenance agreement you can transfer to me if I buy the house?
  5. Is a programmable thermostat installed?

If you want to get an idea of what you’re dealing with, here are tips on how to inspect the HVAC system in a house:

  • Determine how old the system is. The average HVAC system lifespan is about 15 years. Ask the seller to repair or replace the HVAC system if it’s over a decade years old, appears damaged, or suffers from problematic performance. If they don’t want to make the upgrade themselves, ask for an allowance or discounted selling price so you can afford to install new equipment once the house is yours.
  • Check the condition of the duct work. Leaky ductwork wastes precious heated and cooled air while meandering duct runs force HVAC equipment to work harder. Check whether the ductwork has any loose connections, visible gaps, torn sections, or other problems.
  • Look at the equipment. Does the equipment look like it is in good condition? Does it make odd noises? You probably won’t be able to make an accurate assessment of the system based only on how it looks, but you may notice something that concerns you.
  • Look for insulation. It’s difficult to check insulation levels in the walls without professional equipment, but you can peek into the attic as you take a tour. You’re looking for a thick blanket of insulation covering the attic floor. Any ductwork running through the space should also be insulated.
  • Note the comfort level of the rooms. Pay attention to the overall comfort level as you move from room to room. If you notice temperature differences, stuffiness, or drafts, there could be something wrong with the HVAC equipment, ductwork, or insulation levels.

What is a multi-zone ductless heating & cooling system?

small solutions offer multi-zone ductless heating and cooling system in northern virginia

In our service area of Northern Virginia, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of residential installations for multi-zone ductless heating and cooling systems.

The multi-zone ductless heating system uses one outdoor unit connected to up to eight indoor units, each one which can be adjusted. With the flexibility, these systems allow you to control each zone individually to meet the personal comfort needs of room occupants.

These systems can save up to 40% on your utility costs. The INVERTER-driven compressor technology uses the precise amount of energy needed to maintain comfort conditions in each of your “zones” or rooms.

The narrow outdoor units fit closer to the exterior wall and free up space for landscaping. The indoor units are discreet and tuck away, with several styles to choose from.

What To Do If Your Air Conditioning Is Running Non-Stop

small solutions can help when air conditioning is running non-stop in northern va

Well, first of all, there may not be anything wrong with it. It may be that your A/C is doing what it can to cool the temperature of your space–the size of your unit may be maxed out if you have too small of a unit trying to cool a large space.

As HVAC technicians in the Northern Virginia area, we often see that a home may have a unit that is too small–but more than likely, we find that the filters haven’t been changed, or that parts of the unit have become clogged with debris and the general stuff of the outside or inside.

Sometimes some basic maintenance is all you need to help your air conditioning work more efficiently. See our short video on how to give your outdoor air conditioning unit a basic clean with a garden hose.

Most air conditioners in our area are also designed at a set point of 93ºF. That means that if it’s hotter than that outside, your unit is going to work overtime.


What Do HVAC Technicians Do on a Maintenance Visit?

small solutions hvac technicians offer maintenance visit

What does an HVAC technician do when they make a maintenance visit to your home or office?

HVAC technicians install and repair industrial and commercial refrigerating systems. But a lot of what we do is regular maintenance. We observe and test system operations, using gauges and instruments, to test the health of your system and find anything that might need replaced to keep things operating efficiently.

Things we do during a maintenance visit include:

  • Test lines, components, and connections for leaks
  • Adjust valves according to specifications and charge system with proper type of refrigerant by pumping the specified gas or fluid into the system
  • Adjust or replace worn or defective mechanisms and parts
  • Perform mechanical overhauls and refrigerant reclaiming
  • Review the electrical connections and thermostat performance
  • Ensure your system is set for the upcoming season to run efficiently

Watch a quick overview of what we check during a spring or fall maintenance visit:

3 Things To Check If Your AC Is Not Blowing Cool Air

Small Solutions can check when your AC Is Not Blowing Cool Air

Are you getting a little hot and bothered with your AC lately?

On a hot day, the last thing you want is to walk into your house and discover that your central air conditioner has quit on you. When your air conditioner suddenly stops working, it can be cause for alarm or it can be something as simple as a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker. Thankfully, an AC that’s not cooling is not always an expensive repair. There can be several common issues that you can check that you can easily manage without a lot of hassle.

First, though, it’s worth noting: is the outdoor temperature above 92ºF? 

If so, then it may not be your AC that’s having a problem. There’s this thing called the “design temperature” in the world of HVAC systems: every geographical area has what’s called a “1% summer design temperature”.  It’s the temperature that your location will exceed only 1% of all the hours in a year. So, what does that mean?

Let’s say you live in a city in Florida that has a design temperature of 92º. If your AC struggles to cool your home on days that are above 92º, it’s probably because your AC unit was designed to provide optimal comfort when it’s less than 92º.

If it’s super hot and your AC isn’t cooling, it may simply be that it wasn’t designed for those temperatures. In this case, you want to add a fan to help keep your home comfortable.

However, beyond that, certain problems can prevent an air conditioner from properly cooling down your home including:

  • A dirty air filter
  • A blocked condenser
  • A refrigerant leak
  • An undersized AC
  • Leaky ducts
  • An older AC

That being said, an air conditioner that has stopped cooling may be solved by fixing one of these 3 common issues. We see this regularly with our customers, so it’s worth checking:

  1. Power issues
  2. Thermostat issues
  3. Filter issues

Power issues:

This is the simplest. Have you checked the power cord to the AC? Is it plugged in? Is the electrical outlet still active? If so, how’s the electrical fuse box? Is there a blown fuse causing the issue? Or is

Thermostat issues:

Make sure your thermostat is set to cool. Many thermostats are tricky and homeowners may be able to save themselves headaches by reading the manual. Turn the temperature setting all the way down and see if that triggers your AC unit to come on. It may be that your thermostat has an electrical issue or needs to have the batteries replaced. Can you verify that all of the wiring into the thermostat is connected properly?

Filter issues:

Your air filter is designed to trap contaminants in the air before it gets pulled into the AC system. But over time that means that your filter gets dirty and clogged. And if a dirty filter isn’t replaced, it can seriously limit your AC’s cooling power. Some units are designed to shut off automatically if the filter gets clogged.


Depending on the age of your unit and the level of work involved, you may want to consider updating your system. If your unit is over 10 years old, you may want to consider having an HVAC professional inspect your system and give you an idea of best options. Don’t risk damaging your investment by letting your air conditioner problem continue. We can help answer your questions if you’re unsure of the best move for your place,  your needs and your budget. If you’re in the northern Virginia area, give us a call or fill out the form here on our site and we’ll get you set!


Why Is My Air Conditioner Not Cooling?

small solutions can help when Air Conditioner Not Cooling

When it’s summer and it’s hot outside, it’s the worst time for air conditioners to stop cooling…but this is when we get the most calls, because that’s the time when you notice! There are a few ways to troubleshoot your HVAC system if your AC is not blowing cold air.

Of course, we’re going to recommend that the best way to figure out what the issue is is to contact an HVAC professional–like us! One of the main reasons is that a professional can figure out what’s causing the issue quickly and get it repaired before further damage is created. But there are a few things to know about to understand what might be happening to your system.

Common issues that cause your AC to not cool could be:

  • Power issues
  • Thermostat issues
  • Low refrigerant levels
  • Clogged filter
  • Ice buildup
  • Clogged drain
  • Dirty compressor
  • Condensate airflow switch

It could also be that your unit isn’t a fit for the space you’re using it in. Is it too small for the space you are trying to cool? Are the temperatures above normal? These can cause your AC to not cool as well, too.



One of the easiest things to check? The power. Might seem basic, but this is one of the common issues we find with our customers! If your AC is not blowing air, check to ensure that it’s plugged into the outlet correctly, and that the power cord is still intact. If the outlet and cord are fine, it could be an issue with a blown fuse in your electrical panel. Air conditioners require large surges of power, so your AC unit might have blown a fuse or tripped something (especially if you’ve had power surges or outages due to thunderstorms, etc.). Some units have overload switches built-in, so make sure you check this as well.

The old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is true when it comes to your air condition system! By having a professional technician like us perform annual inspections and staying on top of any maintenance issues, you can help to avoid any potential AC outages.



What’s the difference between SEER and EER ratings?

Small Solutions are both EER and SEER certified

What’s the difference between SEER and EER ratings?

The energy efficiency of ACs is all about SEER ratings, EER ratings, and Energy Star labels.

What is SEER?
This stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it describes how much energy an AC uses to produce a certain amount of cooling. These ratings apply to central air conditioners.

What is EER?
This stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio, and like SEER ratings, the numbers come from dividing an AC’s cooling output by its energy usage. EER applies to room ACs like window units as well as to central ACs.

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SEER ratings have more to do with your area’s specific climate, and a unit’s advertised seasonal efficiency rating might actually go down if you live in an extremely hot climate.

EER ratings are better for comparisons. They don’t factor in seasons, so they aren’t as variable as SEER ratings. The EER rating lets you know how different AC systems work under the same conditions.

Your best resource for utilizing both ratings is your HVAC technician…like us at Small Solutions LLC! Whether you’re looking to install a more energy-efficient system or simply want to understand your current AC better, give us a call and we can help.



How does air conditioning work?

How Does Air Conditioning System Work

Air conditioning is a process we almost take for granted to work to cool our homes and buildings, but how does it actually works?

It’s fascinating to learn how it works, plus it helps you to be able to compare air conditioning systems for your home, such as ductless (also called mini-split) systems vs traditional central air conditioner.

An air conditioner collects heated air from a space, processes it inside itself with f a refrigerant and a group of coils and then releases cool air into the same space where the hot air had originally been collected.

An ac system essentially has four key parts: an evaporator, a compressor, a condenser and an expansion device.

The air conditioner in a central heating and cooling system provides cool air through ductwork inside your home, by providing a process that draws out the warm air inside, removing its heat. In a split system, the compressor condenses and circulates the refrigerant through the outdoor unit, changing it from a gas to a liquid.

This quick video explains the process, plus where the original air conditioning technology came from…it was invented in 1902!