Is a heat pump the same as an air conditioner?

This is a guest post contributed by a retired HVAC technician who now does training and educating on the subject.  Make sure to check out the links at the end of the article.

You might be interested in learning about air conditioners, but not know where to start. Perhaps you want to get a new one for your property or want to upgrade from the one you currently have. In either case, don’t worry because this article will provide all the answers to any basic questions you may have about ACs.

Aren’t all AC Units the Same?

It turns out, not all air conditioners are the same.

Some are suitable for small apartments, some for detached houses and some for commercial and office spaces. A mall’s air conditioning system, for example, will be much larger and consume more power than that of a house. And even though it works according to the same basic principles, it may use a very different system for delivering the cool air.

You will, of course, choose an AC that fits your budget, but you should know your AC terminology when you go shopping for units. AC sizes are measured in BTUs or Tons (12000 BTUs = 1 Ton) and they are given SEER ratings for efficiency. The higher the SEER number, the more efficient the unit.

Depending on the kind of rental property you have and the location where you live, you’ll require a different type of AC. Air conditioners come in several different types that we’ll discuss in more detail below.

Central Air

Central air conditioning systems use a condensing unit, which is usually in the form of a large metal box outside the home. The condensing unit, which houses the compressor, condensing coils, and condensing fan, is connected to the evaporative unit inside the home with a refrigerant tubing line. The evaporative unit contains an evaporator coil and an expansion valve. The treated air gets moved through the home in a series of ducts, most often the same ducts connected to the furnace or heating system. Systems will cycle on and off as the interior temperature needs to be adjusted.

Central air conditioning systems are usually recommended for warm climates. One of the benefits of choosing central ACs is that they provide the most consistently comfortable climate with the best performing and quietest system available.

You might run into some contractors or sites that try to sell you on a “rule of thumb” guide to how big a system you need. Often they say one ton of air conditioning for every 500 square feet. But this method is seriously lacking. A competent contractor is going to calculate according to “Manual J”, which is a guide for determining the right amount of AC. It takes into account climate, average temperature, the direction your house faces, how many windows there are, and other factors. So there’s no easy way to guess-timate based on just square footage.

Think bigger is better? Not here. AC units work on two basic principles: blow in cool air and dehumidify. An AC unit that’s too big will cool the air too fast and then shut down before it can dehumidify. So you’re left with a room that’s cooler but really humid and even musty.

The cost of a 3-ton central AC system with a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) of 18 for a 2,400 square foot area in Los Angeles, California, would be around $3,904.56 on the low end around $4,825.80 on the high end.

Installing ductwork for central ACs can be expensive. The ductwork is prone to leaking when damaged or due to deterioration from age. The ductwork may need to be updated or modified if you’re replacing or upgrading a current system to ensure it is compliant with the new system. For a new installation, you must factor in the cost of the ductwork and labor. Some more modern systems let you have some control of where air flows so that each room can reach the right temperature, but central air doesn’t do this as well as a ductless system.

What is a Ductless Split System?

A ductless split system air conditioner consists of an indoor and an outdoor unit. It’s a great solution for quiet, convenient cooling to specific rooms or zones of your home.  The outdoor unit contains the condenser, compressor, and expansion valve. The indoor unit has the evaporator and cooling fans to blow air into the room.  Insulated conduits move the refrigerant and exhaust air between the indoor and outdoor elements.

The benefit of split ACs is that they are ductless systems which save money on the installation of a network of ductwork throughout the ceiling. Another option is a slim duct line ductless system, which uses minimal ductwork.

Since each AC unit is individually regulated, you can turn off units with a remote in rooms that do not need heating or cooling. Another advantage of ductless systems is that they have high SEER and HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor), which are measures the efficiency of the heat pump. Systems are available with 12,000, 18,000, 24,000, 30,000, 36,000, 42,000 and 48,000 BTUs.

A Multi-Zone (5 boxes) with 36,000 BTUs is estimated to cover 2,000 square feet. For homes or businesses with more square footage of 2,400 square feet, the addition of a single 12,000 BTU system with an inverter box may be necessary.

Ductless systems are available from many manufacturers. Depending on the size needed, units can range in price for $650 to $6,500 at current prices. Split units must be professionally installed due to wiring and refrigerant requirements.

Split units are recommended for properties where efficient and quiet cooling for multiple separate rooms is required. It’s a good option for a multi-family dwelling or something like studio apartments, as split systems are great for single rooms. That’s why they’re so popular in hotels, as well.

How Do Heat Pump Systems Work

Air heat pumps utilize a mechanical-compression cycle refrigeration system that can be used to either heat or cool a space. It will typically consist of two parts: an indoor unit called an air handler and an outdoor unit similar to a central air conditioner, but referred to as a heat pump. A compressor circulates refrigerant that absorbs and releases heat as it travels between the indoor and outdoor units. When it’s cold outside a heat pump extracts the outside heat and transfers it inside. When it’s warm outside, it reverses directions and acts like an air conditioner, removing heat from your home.

There are two types of air heat pumps. Air-to-water systems distribute heat by pumping liquid through pipes and radiators, or underfloor heating pipes.  Air-to-air systems produce warm air which is circulated around your home by a network of fans.

If installing the system in your home, you may want the heat pump installed at the side or at the back, as they’re large and unattractive. A sunny spot is best, so that the pump doesn’t have to work so hard to warm up the air in winter. However, it can even absorb heat from the air at sub-zero temperatures, so even a very small and shady backyard would do fine.

The pump works most effectively at lower temperatures, so they’re best with large radiators or underfloor heating. They provide a lower heat than conventional systems, so they will work best if your home is very well insulated. They aren’t suitable for apartments with no outside space for the unit. The average cost to install a heat pump ranges from $3,991 and $6,887 depending on the size of your home and type of heat pump, with low-end prices around $1,500 and high-end around $9800.

Portable and Window Units

A portable air conditioner is a mobile, self-contained unit that generally sits on the floor inside of the home.  The unit pushes cool air out the front, and releases exhaust heat through a hose vent that is secured to the outdoors through a window or opening in an exterior wall. Generally, portable air conditioning units are designed for single rooms under 500 square feet.

Portable units have the advantage of being able to be moved around as required. By removing the drainage tube and window kit, a portable model can be rolled around on its casters.

A window air conditioner is a self-contained air conditioning unit. It can be fitted into your home’s windows and blows cool air out of the front of the unit into a room and expels the hot air through the back. They are generally designed to cool a single room.

Window units come in a variety of sizes, they are affordable, and are relatively easy to install. On the other hand, as the unit is installed in either a window or in the wall, it is not as versatile as a portable unit. In addition, it cools the surrounding area faster than outlying areas. Window units provide the most cost-effective and painless solution to cooling a single room.

Portable ACs are usually owned by the tenant, not the landlord. Similarly, window units are also often tenant property. They’re generally not as efficient as more permanent options. They are also more intrusive. Window or through-the-wall units are, quite frankly, pretty ugly as well.


Whatever your property size, there’s definitely an AC type that’s the right fit for you. When considering what type to purchase, keep in mind the additional investment of ductwork and venting for central ACs, the mobility and convenience of portable ACs, and the efficiency ratings of the models you want. For smaller apartments, split ACs with high efficiencies may be suitable. But if you’re not able or willing to do a major upgrade and install central air, a heat pump or a split system, either you or your tenant will probably want to provide window units to help keep them cool and happy when the weather gets hot.


This is a guest post by Bob Wells, a retired HVAC tech who now dedicates himself to sharing knowledge on his website HVAC Training 101. Bob worked over 30 years in the field, 23 of which he ran his own contracting business. He’s dedicated to keeping up with the latest developments in the field and helping others to learn the trade better and advance their own careers.

Bob is on Twitter with the handle @hvactraining101 and you can also find him on Facebook.

For other great landlording advice check out our book by clicking here

Top 50 Landlord blogs and websites every landlord must know

I am continuously searching for great landlord and property management blogs, articles, and stories.  I have learned a big lesson over the past several years sharing stories about landlord and property management experiences.

The big lesson is, it does not seem to matter what country you live in, the landlord / property management business is not only tough, it is very similar.

We all face similar challenges.  Feed Spot compiled an amazing list of the top 50 Landlord blogs.  They are from Canada, United States (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK).

Lots of fantastic information to solve many of the challenges you face as a landlord or property manager, everyday.

Enjoy the read – click below

Top 50 Landlord Blogs And Websites Every Landlord Must Follow



How to reduce the likelihood of an asthma attack

This is a guest post from Wendy Michaelis founder of fixAIRx – She is an air quality professional in Dallas Texas.  Make sure to check out her website for tons more valuable information and reach out to her if you need your air quality tested.

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There are plenty of studies surrounding common triggers of asthma. Those with allergies cringe at the idea of stepping outside. There are so many factors that could be a real irritant for someone with breathing problems. The easy solution is staying indoors, but even then, you’re not truly safe from what could bother you. Your indoor air quality can be just as bad, if not worse, for your asthma compared to stepping out of your home on a sunny day.

The truth is, your home may contain such pollutants like dust, volatile chemicals from conventional cleaners, mold, and pet dander. For those who don’t have pets, you may feel a sense of relief, but according to David Lang, MD, the head of Allergy/Immunology at the Cleveland Clinic, “Even if you don’t have pets, you’ve probably got pet dander.” This is because even being associated with those who own furry friends can pass the dander along from clothes and you can bring that home with you.

These triggers, found in homes, can act as severe irritants for young children, the elderly, and those who suffer from asthma. Other things to look for is smoke, mold that could be growing on the shower curtain, and even dust clinging to pillowcases. If you experience coughing, chest tightness, and other wheezing problems, these could be the beginning of asthma troubles -which is never a good thing!

As asthma can be life-threatening in some cases, it’s important to take proper precautions when assuring your house is as close to allergen-free as it can be. If you are someone prone to asthmatic attacks, make sure you speak with your doctor about being prescribed an inhaler pump and medication to have as a backup to an attack.

Here are some helpful tips for treating the air in your home to reduce the likelihood of an asthma attack:

  • Smoke outside; don’t allow family members or guests to smoke in your home or car.
  • Be sure to clean your home on a regular basis.
  • Wash sheets and blankets in warm water.
  • Be cautious of the material you are using for pillows, bedding, and furniture.
  • As much as you may not want to, keep pets off the bed and other furniture.

While you may already practice some of these tips, others may seem like a huge commitment to follow. Continuously getting up to smoke may seem annoying, but it will help the air quality of your home and your overall well being. We are tempted to allow our furry friends to sleep wherever we do, but having that much pet dander on your sheets, couch, and clothes is a recipe for disaster. Having allergen-stimulant particles clinging to you all day long is not doing any favors for your asthma.

After a while of practicing these tips, you will see an improvement in your indoor air quality and hopefully, a major difference in the frequency in which you experience asthma attacks. Being short of breath is not a good feeling at all and can cause panic for those experiencing it. While things like stress and certain situations can also cause this, a huge factor is what you are actually breathing into your body. Treating the air in your home will absolutely help!

Author’s short bio:

Wendy Michaelis founder of fixAIRx is an indoor air quality professional in Dallas, Texas. With 5 years in business diagnosing and correcting Poor Air Quality conditions. We offer a wide range of customized environmental & mold testing services in Dallas and at the same time we help find the best solution that fits your families unique needs and budget.


Wendy Michaelis

If you are looking for more information on property management, make sure to get your hands on a copy of our book by clicking this link – Thank you for reading, Mike 

Why Tenants Need Fire Insurance

The fire spread quickly and most the tenants were without insurance.  Now all they had to look forward to was salvaging burnt, wet and smoke smelling personal possessions.  Then rely on the kindness of strangers and organizations like the Salvation army and red cross.  The fire was accidental, careless (not criminal), a cigarette, candle, pot left on the stove, curling iron, it could be anyone of those things.  Now all of a sudden tenants are left to fend for themselves.  The insurance company for the landlord will only look after the building, the tenant contents and living arrangements are the responsibility of the tenant.

Click here for our Landlord manual 

Oh, and it gets worse, you know the tenant that “accidentally” caused the fire and put all those people on the street?  Well they are now liable for all the damage.  If they do not have fire insurance, that does not mean they will not get sued.

If they do not pay, a judgement can be placed against them. The judgement  will follow them until it is paid or the rest of their lives.  It could be years later and they want to get a mortgage, well too bad, until the judgement is paid.

Do not allow your tenants to get into this kind of situation.  Educate them on why they need fire insurance.  Do not let a tragic incident like a fire ruin the rest of there lives.

In most cases a  tenant can get fire insurance for a few dollars a month.

Click here!

I am going to end my post with some random links to examples of tenants getting sued that I gathered from a quick Google search on the topic.

Landlord/Tenant – Insurer May Sue Renter for Fire Damage
Tenant VS Landlord – Bigger Pockets
Tenant Sued for Apartment Fire
Insurance Company Sues Tenant
Do you need help with your properties?  Click this link and get the answers you have been seeking.

Spring Maintenance: 4 Common Landlord Concerns


Spring Maintenance: 4 Common Landlord Concerns

| 2015 Apr 02 |

Spring Maintenance: 4 Common Landlord Concerns


When you own property, there’s plenty to worry about. When you own multiple properties, there’s even more to worry about. The spring can be a particularly hard time for landlords: tenants come and go, and there’s always something to clean, repair or renovate.

If this sounds all too familiar, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Here we’ll discuss 4 of the most common landlord concerns when it comes to spring maintenance and how to effectively deal with them.

Mold Busters consulted John Richardson, creator of Landlord Relief Property Management, on the following matters:

  • 1. Tenant turnover
  • 2. HVAC maintenance
  • 3. Outdoor/yard work
  • 4. Leaks, mold


Problem #1: Tenant Turnover

Tenant turnover is a landlord’s biggest cost, says Richardson. Below are 3 ways you pay (in time and/or money) when your tenant takes off:

  • Advertising the unit, finding a new tenant
  • Redecorating the unit (i.e. splashing a fresh coat of paint on the walls)
  • Less rent money (as long as the space is unoccupied)

Treating your tenant like a paying client is the best way to avoid the pitfalls of tenant turnover. Be responsive. Be courteous.



Problem #3: HVAC Maintenance

Spring is an ideal time to inspect and maintain heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems primarily because of the weather. It’s neither too cold nor too hot that tenants will be uncomfortable when you shut down the systems temporarily, explains Richardson.

Skipping HVAC maintenance will lead to poor air circulation and excess moisture, which–with the right temperature and a food source–will trigger mold growth, a problem very difficult and costly to resolve.

By regularly monitoring and maintaining HVAC systems, you’ll keep comfortable living quarters for your tenants, prevent the buildup of indoor air quality pollutants and, in many cases, spot problems before repairs are needed.


Problem #3: Outdoor/ Yard Work

It’s no secret that winter weather is hard on the exterior of a building. Exterior caulking, siding, decks and the roof must be inspected thoroughly and, if necessary, repaired in the spring.

One of the most important tasks is tending to gutters and downspouts, clearing the debris from both and making sure there’s proper drainage.

According to Richardson, landlords are usually responsible for outdoor work involving the house; for example, the aforementioned task of clearing debris. It’s not standard for landlords to take on yard work for small single-family rental units, although they probably will for multi-unit dwellings.

There’s no shortage of outdoor work once the snow melts. Because inspecting and tending to the exterior of a home is crucial for keeping your tenants safe, hire help if you need it.



Problem #4: Leaks, Mold

If there is exterior damage, melted snow or April rain will enter the home–fast. Water damage paves the way for black mold growth and termites, among other problems.

Richardson’s 2 sure-fire ways to prevent moisture intrusion this spring:

  • 1. Inspect and repair the roof
  • 2. Waterproof the foundation–a costly but necessary step

Because it’s not always easy or possible for tenants to spots leaks, annual inspections are important.

If a landlord suspects a mold problem, it must be dealt with immediately. A good time black mold remediation is in between tenants, when the unit is vacant. Of course it doesn’t always work out that way, and still mold must be dealt with immediately.


Staying on top of all your responsibilities as a landlord requires a great deal of time and can be both physically and emotionally taxing. For this reason, Richardson suggests small landlords hire a property manager. This way, their properties and tenants will surely get the attention they deserve.

About John Richardson

John Richardson is a lawyer, educator and real estate investor. He created Toronto-based “Landlord Relief Property Management” to help small investors manage their residential rental properties.

If you want an amazing book about all things property management related CLICK HERE

This has been a guest post, if you have property management information you would like to share, make sure to get in touch.  I especially enjoy sharing stories of personal experiences.

Make sure to get a copy of our book by clicking this link.

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