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Frequently Asked Questions

Which HVAC Maintenance Plan is Right for Me?

Premier heating and air-conditioning contractor AAA Heating & Air knows that one size does not fit all. That is why they have an entire lineup of maintenance agreements for homeowners (and businesses) to choose from. These plans are divided into 4 tiers: ● Standard ● Silver ● Gold ● Platinum To sign up for a maintenance plan, call AAA Heating & Air at (803) 920-3771 or email our maintenance department at maintenance@callaaatoday.com.


What are the benefits of AAA Heating & Air’s Platinum maintenance plan?

Platinum Service provides all the perks of the gold service maintenance contract, with several extras. This includes all the various filters needed and same-day service, as well as free service parts and free repairs, all for a low monthly price In addition to testing and cleaning, AAA Heating & Air technicians routinely check for clogged condensation lines, loose electrical connections, leaky ducts, and improper airflow — all of which affect home comfort levels and can cause your very expensive HVAC system to break down prematurely.


What are the benefits of AAA Heating & Air’s Gold maintenance plan?

Everyone knows that the “gold standard” of service — from any consumer product or service entity — is just about the best one can get. AAA Heating & Air’s gold standard of service is no exception. Technicians will visit three times a year for a complete unit inspection and certification (i.e., a unit condition report), deliver a home air quality audit, and deliver a yearly waxing to your AC unit. Priority scheduling, a 15-percent repair discount, and no extra fees for after-hours work in also included.


What are the benefits of AAA Heating & Air’s Silver maintenance plan?

AAA Heating & Air’s Silver Service maintenance contract offers two service calls a year, and each includes complete servicing of your HVAC system, as well as a unit condition report, and a home air quality audit. In addition, the Silver Service maintenance contract provides for priority scheduling — a very big deal in today’s busy world. It also includes a 10-percent repair discount, and provides for after-hours service at no extra cost – another huge deal in an economy where leaving work early could mean losing one’s job.


What are the benefits of AAA Heating & Air’s Standard maintenance plan?

The standard maintenance contract provides complete servicing of your heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system yearly, so that there are no surprises when winter or summer rolls around again. The method of service is, of course, different for each type of brand unit. However, that difference is only in type, not in quality. AAA Heating & Air’s service technicians are as well versed in taking care of gas forced-air/air-conditioning systems as they are in servicing and repairing mini-splits. Moreover, AAA Heating & Air guarantees unmatched service and quality, and provides complete transparency in regard to any services and parts needed for repair. AAA Heating & Air’s knowledgeable, professional HVAC technicians not only provide “factory specification” testing and cleaning, but they also deliver a comprehensive “unit condition” report when they are done so that you, the homeowner, can calculate the remaining life of your system. As though that weren’t enough, you will also get a home air quality audit.


Should I Be Worried About Mold in my Air Ducts?

If your air ducts haven’t received an evaluation and cleaning in 5 years, then yes. Mold growing in vents can even lead to serious health issues like Legionnaires’ disease or hypersensitivity pneumonitis. People with immune-compromised systems or those with chronic lung conditions like COPD (chronic, obstructive, pulmonary disease) could get even more serious lung infections.


What Happens If I Don’t Clean Out My Air Ducts?

When air ducts are not cleaned, home air quality can deteriorate over time as dust, debris, mold spores, bacteria, pet fur and dander – even rodent hair and droppings, or insect casings – are sucked, or fall, into heat and cold air registers. Mold growing in vents can even lead to serious health issues like Legionnaires’ disease or hypersensitivity pneumonitis. People with immune-compromised systems or those with chronic lung conditions like COPD (chronic, obstructive, pulmonary disease) could get even more serious lung infections. This is even more relevant if you bought your house from someone else rather than building new. There is simply no way to know what kinds of materials found their way into your home’s heat and return-air vents before you moved in. Nor is there any way to insure that previous owners were careful not to let dirt and/or water enter the ducting system.


How Often Should My Air Ducts Be Cleaned?

The short answer is that duct work should be cleaned every five years. Cleaning of duct work is one of the best ways to ensure that the air inside your home is safe for you and your family to breathe. For the average home, this means inspecting and cleaning about 10 air supplies, or ducted heating vents, and 2 cold-air returns, which are essential for providing your furnace with sufficient air for proper combustion.


What are the disadvantages of ductless mini-split systems?

Mini-splits have a few disadvantages to keep in mind, the first of which is cost. A single 60,000 Btu (5 ton) unit can cost up to $6,000. This includes two air handlers, two remote controls and a full installation kit designed for a home about 2,500 square feet or less. Installation is more than 60 percent of the battle, but once it is installed, a new ductless mini-split can run more than $10,000. This is not a job a weekend-warrior handyman wants to tackle. Installers and service technicians can be hard to find. Luckily, you can rely on the skills of the team at AAA Heating & Air when it comes to installing your new, ductless mini-split air-conditioning system, no matter how many rooms you need to cool.


What are the advantages of a ductless mini-split system?

The main advantage of a ductless mini-split for cooling residential homes is its smaller size and flexibility on a room-to-room basis. Unlike standard cooling systems, mini-splits do not require retrofitting ductwork to an existing system to deliver cooled air in the summer. This means that homes using non-ducted heating systems (like hot water radiator, baseboard, or in-floor heat; radiant panels; or oil, propane, or wood space heaters) can easily accommodate the drop-in mini-split cooling system. Beyond that main difference, mini-splits are like most central air-conditioning units in that they have two main components: one outdoor compressor, or condenser, and a second, indoor-air handling unit with a conduit for the electricity, refrigerant tube, suction tube, and a drain.


A Brief History of the Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans are not a new invention. The first ceiling fan was a manually operated palm leaf, in ancient Egypt, and servants provided the power. There was also the (counterweight) pull-chain fan, and some models are still available. Another model used a turbine powered by running water. It wasn’t until 1882 that an electrified ceiling fan became available. It was so effective that – by 1920 – it had become nearly ubiquitous throughout the higher income homes of the United States. How a Ceiling Fan Works Modern ceiling fans have a toggle switch on the side of the motor housing that moves up and down. They may also have a cord, or even a remote control (see the operator’s manual for details). In the summer, when cooler air tends to accumulate at or near floor level, the switch is moved so that the fan blades turn counterclockwise, driving air downward and “lifting” the cooler air. The moving air also makes people feel cooler, unless the surrounding air is very humid. Then it simply redistributes room air in a more comfortable arrangement. In winter, ceiling fans should be set to rotate in a clockwise. That is, the fan blades should spin with the downward-turned side leading. This drives cold air from the floor upward, bringing warmer air from ceiling level into the middle or lower air layers of a room. How to Choose Your Ceiling Fan All ceiling fans operate the same, by redistributing air inside a room. Not all ceiling fans are made the same – with the same care and attention to blade-balancing, motor longevity, or electrical safety. This is why it pays to consult an expert, who will not only install and service your name-brand ceiling fan (i.e., Amana, Lennox, Carrier, etc.) but provide you with the best ceiling fan in your price range, and even offer financing if needed. AAA Heating & Air is an Angie’s List-rated HVAC dealer. Contact us today to get the ball rolling on your home’s ceiling fan installation.


Which Direction Should My Ceiling Fan Rotate?

The residential ceiling fan is a remarkable development in HVAC technology. Moderately priced, and able to fine tune a room’s ambient air temperature, today’s ceiling fans do what the forced air furnace and air conditioner combination units struggle to achieve — a redistribution of the hot air that tends to collect beneath the ceiling, and the cold air that lingers near the floor. Whether your buy your ceiling fan from a reputable, licensed HVAC dealer like AAA Heating & Air and have it professionally installed, or purchase it from a big-box home improvement warehouse and install it yourself, today’s ceiling fan has been designed to cheaply and efficiently redistribute room air to keep you as comfortable as possible.


How Does a Heat Pump Work?

There are several types of heat pumps, but the way they function depends on the natural variation between earth and air temperatures, as well as the temperature inside a building. Ground Source Heat Pumps The ground-source heat pump relies on the fact that the temperature of the earth about three feet deep is consistently between about 45 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit in both summer and winter. Also known as residential geothermal, this type of heating and cooling uses pipes buried in the ground to transfer temperatures to the inside of the home. Tack on a desuperheater — also known as an attemperation unit (i.e., a steam conditioning machine) — and the homeowner also has a jumpstart for hot water. The system of piping can be either closed or open loop, and can use either a high-pressure refrigerant (like Suva, Forane, or Puron, for example) or water. The most important part of geothermal energy is its consistency. When the sun doesn’t shine, solar panels are useless. When the wind doesn’t blow, turbines are equally useless. A geothermal system is so reliable it’s “set and forget”. The same will likely never be true of solar or wind energy. The drawback to ground-source heating and cooling is that it is best installed while building the house. It can be retrofitted, but the pipe placement does a lot of damage to landscaping, and the pipes can’t easily be run under the home in areas with no basement mandate. Air Source Heat Pumps Also known as air-to-air systems, air-source heat pumps rely on the fact that when gases expand, their temperature drops. This is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It is what keeps your refrigerator cold and your central air-conditioning unit pumping cool air into your home. In fact, the only difference between an air-source heat pump and a central air conditioner is that the former can reverse the cycle of the refrigerant. In summer, the heat pump “takes up” the heated air inside the house and sends it outside. In winter, this process is reversed, using only a refrigerant. Heat pump systems are highly effective, reducing heating and cooling costs by 30-40 percent of a forced-air system. They are, however, nothing for the DIY amateur to tinker with. To ensure an efficient and lasting performance of your heat pump system, hire a reputable, experienced HVAC dealer like AAA Heating & Air for professional installation.


Is My Furnace About to Explode?

What does a muffled boom, bang or thud coming from the furnace when it starts up mean? It is a likely indication of an ignition delay problem. It could be a pilot light issue or a misaligned burner assembly. Dirt, debris, or a spider’s nest may have gotten on the furnace burners. As a result, gas builds up on the burner before the pilot light finally ignites it, resulting in a little explosion that can seriously damage the heat exchanger if left untended. Why is my furnace making a screeching noise? A screech, somewhat like fingernails on a blackboard, could mean a faulty blower motor, unlubricated bearings, or furnace blower shaft bearings that need oiling. These could be serious. Send for reinforcements. Why is my furnace making a loud, metallic scraping sound? It is typically caused by a loose or broken blower wheel or a broken motor mount. This is serious. If the noise is more like a rumble – think an eighteen wheeler on a rough road – it could be due to a leak in the heat exchanger, which could result in the need for a new system. This is super serious. My furnace is making a high-pitched squealing noise. What’s happening? This is usually caused by a loose, slipping, or fraying blower belt. It isn’t life threatening, but the furnace could stop furnacing at any moment. It could also be a sign that shaft bearings need oil. Call in a specialist, who will apply lightweight oil to the lubrication port on each end of the shaft. What does a flapping or rattling sound coming from the in-floor ductwork mean? This usually indicates debris in the ducts. This is much less likely in wall-mounted return registers, but not impossible. Two-year-old Tim and his partner-in-crime, Bowser, are probably the culprits. A good duct cleaning will fix the problem. What does a popping or ticking noise in my HVAC ductwork mean? These noises are pretty common and typical of metal expanding as the furnace warms up, or metal contracting while the furnace cools down. Small pieces of insulating foam can be wedged between the duck and its brackets to reduce noise. Insulating ducts also helps to reduce noise, but the cause itself is of no concern.


How Does a Heat Pump Work?

Heat pump systems are highly effective, reducing heating and cooling costs by 30-40 percent of a forced-air system. There are two main types of heat pumps — ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps. Ground source heat pumps rely on the fact that the temperature of the earth about three feet deep is consistently between about 45 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit in both summer and winter. This type of system uses pipes buried in the ground to transfer temperatures to the inside of the home. The most important reason to choose a ground source heat pump is that geothermal energy is incredibly reliable. When the sun doesn’t shine, solar panels are useless. When the wind doesn’t blow, turbines are equally useless. However, ground source heat pump is very much a “set it and forget it” type of technology. The drawback to ground-source heating and cooling is that it is best installed while building the house. It can be retrofitted, but pipe placement can be complicated, and the pipes can’t easily be run under the home in areas with no basement mandate. Another option is to choose an air source heat pump, which relies on the fact that when gases expand, their temperature drops. Also known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, this is what keeps your refrigerator cold and your central air-conditioning unit pumping cool air into your home. The only difference between an air-source heat pump and a central air conditioner is that the former can reverse the cycle of the refrigerant. In summer, the heat pump “takes up” the heated air inside the house and sends it outside. In winter, this process is reversed, using only a refrigerant.


What's the Difference Between Upflow and Downflow Furnaces?

One of the biggest differences between an upflow furnace and a downflow furnace is that a downflow furnace will need a reinforced floor underneath it since it’s a rather heavy piece of equipment. This is not an issue with an upflow furnace, as it will be in the basement of a home. Since there are requirements with regard to the flooring for downflow furnaces, installing one can be more difficult, if not impossible in some circumstances. Of course, because not all homes have a basement, a downflow furnace is sometimes the only option available. Another big difference involves the efficiency of each furnace. As we know, hot air tends to rise, which makes upflow furnaces more efficient with regard to the amount of energy they use to heat a building. Many people also find the upflow of air more comforting and less noticeable compared to warm air being pushed downwards. This generally makes an upflow furnace preferred to a downflow furnace, assuming, of course, that both options are on the table.


What is a Downflow Furnace?

The air is first collected from the top portion of the furnace. It then warms up in the heat exchanger that’s located in the middle of the furnace. From that point on, it is pushed downward into a building’s heating ducts. These types of furnaces are often found in the attic of a home. However, it’s also possible to place them in an adjacent garage or even on the top level of a home, with the understanding that any attic or crawlspace above that level won’t receive any heat from the furnace.


What is an Upflow Furnaces?

For most people, a furnace is a furnace. When your house gets too cold, it turns on and warms everything up; no muss, no fuss. If only things were that simple. When it comes to furnaces, there are all kinds of differences from one unit to another. As a result, the process of buying a new furnace can be far more complicated than you expected it to be. To demystify just one of the ways these machines can be different, furnaces can be broken down into two separate categories — an upflow furnace and a downflow furnace. As its name implies, an upflow furnace will force air upwards. It takes air from the bottom of the unit, warms it up as expected and then push it upwards into the ductwork of a building. An upflow furnace operates based on the principle that hot air rises. As a result, upflow furnaces are generally placed in the basement of a house. If this is where your furnace is located, then in all likelihood you have an up-flow furnace.


What Does the Energy Star Label Mean?

If you’ve purchased any kind of appliance, electronic device, lightbulb, heating and cooling system, or even a new home in the past 25 years, you’ve probably come across the Energy Star label. Perhaps seeing it on something pushed you to buy a certain product, or perhaps it’s become such a common site that you don’t even notice it. In any case, the Energy Star label is one of the most important labels you’ll find on any product. But what exactly does it mean and why is it so important? Why Is the Energy Star Label Important? The point of the Energy Star label is to identify products that are more efficient in their use of energy than comparable products. Consumers who wish to buy products that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can look for the Energy Star label and know that those products will help them to protect the environment and save money better than similar products that don’t have the Energy Star label. There are a number of standards and specifications set by the EPA that a product must meet in order to be given an Energy Star label. Products must provide the features expected of it without sacrificing quality, while at the same time meeting set standards for energy efficiency. If that product costs more than comparable products, consumers must be able to offset the extra cost with money saved on their utility bills. It must also be possible to test and verify the energy efficiency of the product. Naturally, there are different standards for different types of products, but these are the general guidelines for receiving an Energy Star label. Energy Star certification is always subject to change, particularly if energy standards or testing methods change. For instance, if more than 50% of products within a certain industry receive Energy Star certification, the standards and specifications will likely be raised. Complaints from consumers, changes in a product’s availability, or changes in technology may also lead the EPA to reconsider whether a product is deserving of an Energy Star label.


How can I control my energy costs?

Number one: purchase a high efficiency variable speed system. Variable speed means your system varies its speed depending on your homes heating and cooling requirements. Because of this, variable speed systems are more efficient than single-stage systems. Efficiency ratings also matter. When you match a 14, 16 or 18 SEER air conditioner or heat pump with a variable speed furnace or air handler, you can rest assured that you have selected a home comfort system that is one of the quietest and most energy efficient available today.


My children have allergies. Is there a way to improve the indoor air quality in my home?

An electronic air cleaner is 40 times more effective than a standard throwaway filter in removing unwanted particles from your home. Particles such as pollen, dust, bacteria, tobacco smoke, cooking smoke, animal hair and dander prevent your indoor air from being as healthy as it could be. An electronic air cleaner with a washable electronic cell is up to 99% effective at removing these airborne particles. An electronic air cleaner also protects the operating efficiency of your heating and air conditioning system and keeps your furniture, drapes, carpet and walls cleaner, as well.


What is the difference between a manufacturers limited warranty and an extended warranty?

A manufacturers limited warranty is the warranty that a product leaves the factory with. Typically, it covers specific parts for a limited period of time. Extended warranties are optional and are generally purchased at the same time as the equipment. Optional extended warranties cover all parts and labor. There are a variety of optional extended warranties to choose from, but all are designed to offer long-term peace of mind.


Why are rating numbers important?

Rating numbers indicate the efficiency of heating and air conditioning equipment and are directly related to the amount of energy a specific model uses. The higher the rating, the more efficient the product, and the lower your energy bills can be. The federal government establishes rating guidelines and sets minimum efficiency levels.


How do I know what size system I need for my home?

We always conduct a complete energy analysis of your home. By considering window size, insulation values, age of home, ductwork, other building materials, as well as a variety of other factors, we can determine the right size system and equipment for your home. We also ask questions about your existing comfort issues.


Do I need to replace my air conditioner and furnace at the same time?

Think of your air conditioner and furnace as part of a total system. That system will work better, longer and more efficiently if all of its components are matched in capacity and efficiency. For example, your new air conditioner will be rated with a specific SEER efficiency rating. Your existing furnace and indoor coil can significantly impact this efficiency because of technology differences and an imbalance in capacity. Your indoor coil may even be dirty and blocked with particles, which further hinders its performance. A mismatched system mixes old technology with new, decreasing your overall comfort and diminishing performance.