Frequently Asked Questions
When Should I Change the Rotation of My Ceiling Fans?
For most people, ceiling fans provide a little extra comfort during those hot summer months. The air conditioning may do most of the heavy lifting, but ceiling fans are sometimes enough to cool a room or at least provide a little support for the A/C unit. However, not enough people realize that ceiling fans can pull double duty by helping to keep your home warm in the winter too. During the summer, your ceiling fan should be spinning counterclockwise. This helps to push cool air to the floor, lowering the temperature in that room by up to 8 degrees and potentially saving you a significant amount of money on your cooling costs. Aside from seeing the fan turn counterclockwise, if you stand directly beneath the fan while it’s running, you should be able to feel the cool air being pushed down right on top of you. However, when the weather starts to get colder in the winter time, that doesn’t mean your ceiling fan should turn into a stagnant fixture. All you have to do is run your fan clockwise at a low speed. Since warmer air naturally rises, running the fan will help create an updraft, pushing this arm air toward the walls and eventually back toward the floor. This will help make the room feel warmer, meaning you don’t have to crank up the heat so much. For most modern ceiling fans, either a remote control or wall control can alter the direction that a fan moves. Forward usually means the fan will spin counterclockwise, which is the summer setting. Putting the fan in reverse will mean it will spin clockwise, which can help you out in the winter. If there’s no remote control or wall switch, there should be a toggle switch around the motor to adjust the direction of the blades. Obviously, it’s important to remember to switch the direction of the fan twice a year when the seasons change. However, regardless of whether you’re trying to cool your home down or keep it warm, your ceiling fan can be part of the solution.
Why Isn't My A/C Blowing Cool Air?
During the summer months, and even sometimes during the spring and fall, we rely on our air conditioner on an almost daily basis to keep us cool. But if your A/C unit isn’t blowing cold air, things can get really uncomfortable for you really fast. Hopefully, this never happens to you on a scorching hot day. If it does, here are a few reasons why it may be happening, including a few you can take care of yourself. (1) The outside unit is dirty. The outside part of your air conditioning system is vital to the cooling process. However, it can’t do its job of receiving and dissipating hot air properly if it’s covered with dirt and debris. If your outside unit is covered with leaves, twigs, weeds, and other objects, your A/C will struggle to cool the inside of your home. To clean the outside unit, clear all the debris away and then spray the outside unit with a hose while on a low setting. (2) Your air filter is dirty. Your air filter helps to remove dirt and debris so cool, clean air can be dispensed by your A/C unit. But if you don’t replace the filter regularly, the air flow can be restricted and you won’t feel the comforting blow of cool air. Checking your air filter and replacing it should be the first thing you investigate when your A/C starts blowing warm air. (3) Your refrigerant level is low. Refrigerant is the liquid that absorbs hot air so that your A/C can blow out cool air. If you’re low or completely out of it, the air in your home just keeps getting recycled without being cooled. Being low on refrigerant usually signals a leak, which will require a professional HVAC specialist to fix it. (4) You fan motor is broken. If the condenser fan motor is broken, it means that your outside unit can’t do anything with the hot air and your A/C unit won’t be able to cool your home. Take a peek at the fan on your outdoor condenser, if it’s not working properly or appears to be a little sluggish, you may need an HVAC specialist to investigate the problem or else your air conditioner won’t be able to blow cool air. (5) Your compressor is malfunctioning. The compressor is the most important part of your air conditioning unit. It helps to circulate refrigerant between the inside unit and the outside unit. If the compressor isn’t able to do that properly, there’s no way for you to get cool air blowing into your home. This is potentially a serious problem and one that will require a visit from an HVAC specialist.
Do Heat Pumps Work in Cold Weather?
Heat pumps offer an energy efficient solution to both heating and cooling the home. However, some people have questions about their effectiveness when the weather turns cold. Are they truly less efficient in winter, or is there a point at which it is too cold for them to operate? The answer, honestly, depends on what you mean by “cold.” A heat pump works by extracting heat from the air and moving it to another location. (This is why heat pumps save energy—they don’t generate heat. They simply move it.) In the summertime, these effects are obvious in the heat pump removes excess heat from the air in your home, helping keep things cool. In winter, the heat pump works in reverse, extracting “heat” from the outside air and pushing into the home. The outside air that feels “cold” to us usually still has enough heat in it for the heat pump to extract, although some people notice that the air may not get as “warm” as air from a furnace due to the way a heat pump works. The issue of effectiveness generally arises when the outside air drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point the heat pump starts running inefficiently and must be supplemented by some form of heat. (Many homes have a gas furnace to serve as alternate heating when the weather turns sharply cold.) Also, when temperatures fall below freezing, the air leaving the heat pump is even colder, and humidity from the air may condense and freeze on the coils. All that said, heat pumps provide an excellent all-around source of heating and cooling, especially in moderate climates like Georgia where the winter temperatures only rarely dip below freezing. Even if you keep a gas furnace for the severe cold temperatures, you’ll save money on your energy bills by using your heat pump. To learn more about heat pumps and how they work, call our experts today.
How Often Should My A/C Unit Be Serviced?
The last thing you want to face is having an A/C unit fail during the heat of summer. The good news is that preventative servicing and maintenance can significantly reduce the risk of your A/C breaking when you need it most. What’s more, keeping your unit clean and well-maintained will help your A/C run more efficiently, keeping your home cooler in summer while saving you money on your energy bills. The question is, how often do you schedule servicing? That depends mostly on what type of unit you have, as well as how well it is performing. To account for all possibilities, we recommend the following. 1) For dedicated air conditioning units, schedule a cleaning, service and maintenance call at least once per year, even if you notice no problems — preferably in the spring before you begin operating it for the summer months. 2) For units like heat pumps that operate in both summer and winter, we recommend routine service, cleaning and maintenance at least twice per year. Logically, these visits would occur in spring before you turn on the A/C, and in fall before you turn on the heat. 3) You should schedule a service call anytime you notice an inconsistency in how your A/C unit is performing — for example, if it’s making loud rattling noises; if it’s not cooling as efficiently it should; if the compressor turns on more frequently than it should; if you notice any unusual odors in the cooled air; or if you notice a spike in your energy bills. Even if it’s not your scheduled maintenance time, you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs or replacement by calling us at the first sign of trouble. AAA Heating & Air makes it easy to keep your A/C unit in prime condition by offering a variety of service and maintenance contracts. To learn more, contact our team of experts today.
How Often Should My Heating and Air Vents Be Cleaned?
The question of how often to clean your heating and air vents has no one-size-fits-all answer. The general consensus is that you should have them cleaned professionally every three to five years — however, that figure is based on a national average consisting of many different home situations and demographics. Generally speaking, five years is the longest you want to wait between cleanings, simply because dirt, bacteria and pollutants will almost always build up in the vents over time and reduce the air quality in your home. However, here are a number of different factors may cause you to need to get the vents cleaned sooner. (1) Respiratory health: If someone in the home has asthma, allergies or COPD, they may be more sensitive to pollutants in the air, requiring you to clean heating and air vents more often. (2) Age of the home: Older homes tend to release more dust, causing dust to accumulate in the vents more quickly. (3) Age of the residents: The elderly tend to be more sensitive to pollutants, so if your loved one is having respiratory trouble, it may be time to clean the vents. (4) Location of the home: Homes located in dusty desert areas or urban environments with lots of smog may need vent cleaning more often. Likewise, humid environments (like here in South Carolina) can promote the growth of bacteria, fungi and mold, all of which can accumulate in the vents and reduce air quality in the home. (5) Pets in the home: Pets tend to shed dander and fur which can accumulate in the vents, lower air quality and add to the allergen count in the air. Homes with pets usually need more frequent vent cleanings. (6) Water damage: Homes that have experienced water leaks or flooding are in danger of harmful mold growth, which can remain in the vents even after you’ve repaired the damage. Always have heating and air vents cleaned after a water damage event. (7) Remodeling: Home renovations almost always kick up huge amounts of dust and pollutants, so you’ll want to clean the vents after any remodeling project. (8) Personal need and preference: All other factors aside, if you and your family aren’t breathing easy in the home, it may be time to clean the vents. Ultimately, there is no “wrong” time to have it done; there are only “right” times, including anytime you want to improve the air quality in your home. To learn more about having your heating and air vents cleaned, contact our team of experts today.
What Happens During an HVAC Audit?
Beyond having periodic maintenance and safety checks of your HVAC system, you might want to consider scheduling a full HVAC audit. What’s the difference? A maintenance check focuses on making sure your unit works properly; an HVAC audit digs deeper to make sure your unit also works safely and at maximum efficiency. So what happens in an HVAC audit? In a nutshell, your HVAC technician will conduct a thorough part-by-part evaluation of your entire system to look for parts that need to be replaced and places where efficiency could be improved. The technician will begin by looking at the system from the standpoint of safety and efficiency. What parts need to be cleaned, repaired or replaced? Are moving parts clean and properly lubricated? If there are fail-safes built into the system, are these cutoffs working properly? Do you need additional safety mechanisms? What about air quality and emissions — is the HVAC system blowing clean air? What about the ducts — do these need to be cleaned? Is the unit heating and/or cooling properly, so that the building’s occupants are comfortable both in summer and winter? Are any rooms suffering from reduced airflow, and how can the airflow be improved? Is the HVAC unit itself sufficient for the heating/cooling needs of the building? How old is the unit, and is it approaching the end of its life expectancy? In answering these questions, the technician will identify parts of the system that need to be cleaned, repaired or replaced to ensure maximum efficiency and safety. But that’s not all that happens in an audit. Once the safety and operations aspects are covered, the technician will evaluate the system for energy output and efficiency to see what can be done to improve performance while minimizing waste. Is the HVAC unit having to work harder than it should to keep the rooms cool or warm? If so, what is causing it to work harder? What steps can be taken to reduce energy consumption and lower utility bills? Would better blower fans, better ventilation or a “smart” thermostat help save energy? The technician will gather data and produce a comprehensive report that tells you how well your HVAC system is functioning, identifying areas where efficiency can be improved, as well as any critical repairs that are needed. Fixing these problems will help your HVAC system run for years to come at optimum output and efficiency while lowering energy bills. To schedule an HVAC audit, call our office today.
Why Should I Choose a Certified HVAC Technician?
When it comes to HVAC repairs and installations, not all technicians are created equal. Many of them are great at what they do, but a few aren’t as skilled as they should be to work on such an important piece of equipment. There is a distinct difference between HVAC technicians who are certified and those who are not. HVAC technicians who have been certified by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) organization have been properly trained and tested. They have passed a certification exam that covers both installation and service of HVAC systems, leaving little doubt that they know they’re doing. More importantly, NATE-certified technicians must retake the exam every five years to remain certified. This ensures that they keep their skills sharp and don’t rest on their laurels, while also staying up to date on the latest techniques and advancements within the industry. You don’t become a NATE-certified technician if you don’t take your job seriously. Going through the certification exams, staying certified, and keeping up with the latest technology and innovations within the industry is not easy. If you find a certified HVAC technician, you know that they care about doing a good job whether they’re installing a new system or performing repairs on an existing system. It’s also important to know that the passing rate to get certified is somewhere in the area of 50%, so NATE is not giving certification to just any HVAC technician. If you don’t have your HVAC system installed or repaired by a certified technician, you run a huge risk. If errors are made during the installation process, even minor ones, it can impact the performance and efficiency or your HVAC system. This will lead to an increase in your energy bill and cost you a lot of more in the long run. Poorly installed systems are also prone to breaking down compared to systems installed by certified technicians. As a result, the system may need more frequent repairs and need to be replaced sooner than expected. To ensure your HVAC system is installed properly and runs as efficiently as possible, make sure you choose a NATE-certified technician who will get the job done right.
Do I Need to Replace My Furnace?
The proper time to replace your furnace is an important question for any homeowner. On the one hand, it’s an expensive appliance and you want to get the most out of it. On the other hand, you don’t want it to get to a point where it’s not working properly and risks breaking down a bad time. Here are a few things to keep in mind that should help you decide if the time has come to replace your furnace. (1) Age: The U.S. Department of Energy suggests replacing your furnace every 20 years. If you try to push your furnace beyond that point, you may start to see a drop in its efficiency that will end up costing you more in the long run than replacing your furnace. If your furnace is getting close to 20 years old, it may be time to at least consider replacing it. (2) Repairs: Most furnaces will need to undergo repairs at some point, but the frequency and the cost of those repairs could let you know it’s time to get a new one. Furnace repairs should not be a common occurrence, so if it feels like you’re calling a repairman on a regular basis, it may be time to replace your old furnace. Also, if the cost of repairing your current furnace is more than 50% of the cost of a new one, it’s probably best to replace it rather than fix it. (3) Energy bills: Energy bills will fluctuate some from month to month, but if you notice a significant leap in how much you’re paying, your furnace could be the culprit. Older furnaces will start to decline in efficiency, meaning they have to work harder to supply the same amount of heat, costing you more money. Sometimes the problem is minor, such as the need for a new air filter, but if your furnace has caused a huge spike in your energy bells, you likely need to replace it, even if it’s younger than 20 years old. (4) Flame color: One final thing to be aware of is the color of the flame in your furnace. Typically, the flame will be blue with a small amount of yellow near the tip. But if your flame is more yellow than blue, it could indicate a serious problem, possibly even the threat of carbon monoxide. If you notice this color change, you need to call an expert right away and consider replacing your furnace as soon as possible.
Why is There Mold Growing on Everything in My House?
There are few things as disheartening for homeowners than the sight of mold. Even if you make a concerted effort to keep your house as clean as possible, you can still find mold growing. This is especially true in the summer months when it is very hot and humid. If you’re noticing that mold is suddenly growing on your belongings, the first thing to check is whether your air conditioner is running. An air conditioner not only cools your home — it also removes the humidity from your home. If your air conditioning is not running, then the mold is likely growing in response to the moisture and humidity that is building up. Keeping the temperature in your home cool and using a dehumidifier, especially during the summer months, can combat humidity and help prevent mold growth. In addition to running your air conditioning, it’s important to make sure your living space is properly vented. A poorly ventilated area will be vulnerable to mold, in large part because it becomes a haven for both moisture and humidity. Poor air flow means it’ll take longer for wet surfaces to dry, potentially giving mold enough time to start growing. This can be particularly problematic in kitchens and bathrooms, especially if they are relatively small in size. It’s also common for basements to have poor ventilation. If you need to turn off your air conditioning for whatever reason, be sure to open doors and windows to promote good air flow that can help prevent mold from growing.
What are Some Tips for Lowering My Energy Bills?
We could all stand to save some money on our energy bills, but how? It’s not as difficult as you might think. With a few tweaks and a little sacrifice, you can lower your energy bills and save money in the process. Here are a few tips on how to do just that. (1) Clean your vents. Make sure your vents are open, as they could be closed without you realizing it. Vents also require proper filters to prevent dirt and dust from building up. If your vents are open and clean, it takes less energy to heat and cool your home, saving you money. (2) Find air leaks in your home. Small cracks and openings around doors and windows may not seem like a big deal, but those tiny air leaks can cause your heating and cooling systems to work that much harder, increasing how much you spend on energy. Sealing up these areas and making them airtight should shave a few dollars off your next energy bill. (3) Invest in energy efficient appliances. Spending a little more to buy Energy Star appliances that are more energy efficient will help reduce the amount of energy your refrigerators, washing machines, and dishwashers use. (4) Insulate your attic. A lot of the money you spend to heat and cool your home can go right out in the window in places like attics, crawl spaces, and basement walls. By properly insulating these areas of your house, it can help reduce how much energy you use to heat and cool your home. (5) Be smart about sunlight. If you open up the shades and let sunlight in during the winter months, your furnace won’t have to work so hard to heat up your house, and you won’t have to pay so much. The opposite is true in the summer—direct sunlight into your home can cause your air conditioner to work extra hard. This is when you want to close the shades to keep out the sun.
How Can I Tell If My Air Conditioning Unit Has Been Hit by Lightning?
If there is a storm and lightning strikes your home, the chances are better than average that you will have to reset the breaker box, or replace fuses. The damage isn’t from the lightning per se, but from the power surge, which can increase the level of electricity coming into your home from 120 volts (60 Hz) to as much as 160 volts. Even if the lightning strike doesn’t shut down your air conditioner, or AC, there may still be damage. The most likely areas are: (a) The wiring inside your home, or individual appliances like an electric oven or refrigerator; (b) the AC’s compressor; (c) blown fuses, or damage to the breaker box; (d) the A/C’s capacitor. Meanwhile, symptoms of an electrical strike to your AC include: (a) A smell like ozone, or like an older (“doorstop”) computer before it fails completely; (b) burnt areas in the exterior paint job or in the control panel of the outside unit; (c) burned areas in the control wiring; (d) fan runs constantly, but compressor still won’t “kick in," (e) flash burn marks inside the service door on the furnace as a result of a direct hit to the exterior AC. If lightning damages the wiring inside your home, you can try resetting the breaker box or checking and replacing fuses. If the system fails more than once, call an electrician immediately and avoid turning on any electrical appliances. If the failure is exclusively with the AC’s system (i.e., a breaker switch or fuse – the AC should be on its own circuit), call a licensed, experienced AC pro. If the damage is to the capacitor — a small and relatively inexpensive component — the AC may continue to work for a while, but will inevitably fail, taking the entire AC unit with it (and possibly parts of the furnace or heat pump as well). Again, it’s time to call in the pros. The same is true of the compressor, which is one of the most expensive AC parts to replace. Compressor failure can take weeks to months to reveal itself, but when the AC fails, it may be cheaper to replace the entire unit than try to repair it. Has your AC been damaged by a lightning storm? Contact AAA Heating & Air today for help.
Should I Leave My Air Conditioning on While I'm Out of the House?
Leaving the air conditioner (AC) on while you’re away — whether it’s during an 8-hour work day or a multi-day vacation — maintains a comfortable living space that will greet you when you return, and it can also help protect your valuables from mold during humid parts of the year. Temperatures in excess of 90 degrees can warp wooden furniture, shrink and loosen wallpaper, and negatively affect the AC’s electronic controls and moving parts — as well as damage other electronics in your home like your flat-screen TVs and computers. This is especially true of older model ACs, whose belts have begun to wear and slip after a decade’s worth of stop-and-start. In addition, if you turn off the AC for a weekend, your HVAC system has to work twice as hard when you return to cool air that has grown hot and stagnant. You’re also expending energy you’re not using if you keep your AC on the entire time. That’s why we suggest turning your AC down — not off — during the dog days of summer. By setting the thermostat between 78 to 82 degrees, you can enjoy economical energy savings without compromising your belongings. It will also make it easier to cool your home or apartment back to the temperature you and your family find most comfortable. Another factor to consider when deciding on what temperature to set your thermostat while you’re away is how your house is built and what kind of shading surrounds it. Large, modern, well-insulated homes with sheltering trees, sun-blocking curtains and shutters, or thermal windows will lose heat gradually. A small, older home without protection from the sun might take days to cool down again to a comfortable temperature. To make life easier, our number one recommendation is to install a programmable thermostat, which will allow you to control temperature and humidity. Contact our team today to learn more about equipping your home with a programmable thermostat.
Should I Have My Air Ducts Cleaned?
In addition to improving the quality of life for inhabitants, a thorough cleaning of the entire HVAC system, from cooling coils and fans to heat exchangers and ductwork, can improve the efficiency of a home’s HVAC system and extend its lifetime. Of course, sometimes homeowners must deal with the causes of indoor air pollution before trying to remove it from areas such as the ducts. For example, if the HVAC system has insulated air ducts to make heating and cooling more effective, and mold has gotten into that insulation, it will have to be removed and replaced before duct cleaning can take place. In the case of mold, you can trust your NATE (North American Technician Excellence) expert from AAA Heating & Air – where service is a standard. Or you can scrape a sample and send it off to a laboratory specializing in mold analysis. This is a fairly laborious and technical process, and one that may be bad for your health, because some species of mold are highly toxic. In addition, your efforts may not deliver the intended results. The lab in question may be backed up on orders, the technician inexperienced, or your sample handled so badly in shipment that nothing can be salvaged. The technicians at AAA Heating & Air – a firm recognized by Angie’s List, the Better Business Bureau, and the South Carolina Association of Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors – can streamline mold identification, and tie it into expert remediation such as ductwork cleaning.
Why Is My Air Conditioner Running But Not Blowing Cold Air?
If your air conditioner is running but not blowing cold air, you will again need to start at the electrical panel. Identify the AC circuit breaker, and turn off the power. Next, clean or change the filter. If you are uncertain where this is located, check the manufacturer’s handbook. Check to see if ice has formed on the indoor evaporator coil. If so, turn the power back on and use the furnace’s own fan to melt it. The condensate drain can also be the problem here, as algae forms inside and blocks it. Clean the pipe or replace it. Lastly, check the outdoor air compressor – the big, round unit. Clean around it and remove all obstructions. Vacuum the coils, but very carefully. A bent or damaged coil can prevent the unit from working. If you are a skilled electrician, even a DIY one, you should also check the compressor’s capacitor and wiring. A quick read through the manual will help you fix this problem quickly and cheaply. However, if you are the average homeowner, the best fix for your AC before summer comes – and also the only fix that won’t invalidate the warranty on your
Why Is My Air Conditioner Not Working?
There are a number of reasons why your home’s central air conditioner isn’t working. If it isn’t working at all, the easiest and fastest way to discover the problem is to start at the beginning. Check the electrical panel, and make sure the switch for the furnace (which is on its own circuit) is on. Check the thermostat: make sure the dial or lever control is set to AIR, not FAN ONLY or HEAT. Check the condensate drain overflow switch and the drain pie itself. This is a narrow (about 5/8-inch) white pipe that carries moisture from the air handler to the outside. You will know if it is plugged or leaking by the puddle of water on the floor of the furnace chamber. Reset all overload and power switches. Not working? Call a licensed, experienced repair person.
What Size Air Conditioning Unit Do I Need?
With central air conditioners, as with so many other things, there is no “one size fits all.” That said, the simplest calculation is for tonnage. One ton refers to how long it takes an air conditioner (or A/C) to cool 12,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) in a single hour. A BTU is the amount of energy needed to heat or cool one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit (°F) per hour. Central air conditioning units come in sizes from 1.5 ton to 5 ton. Anything more is considered a small commercial application, and requires installing two individual units to meet heating and cooling standards. Most manufacturers don’t make units larger than 5 ton. To determine how much cooling power you actually need, multiply the square footage of your home by 25. Then take that result and divide by 12,000. Finally, subtract 0.5 for the average American home, or add 0.5 for hot, dry climates. You can also use a sizing graph, which is a much more effective tool since it already includes a regional calculation in its size calculations. For example, in the Upper Midwest, or zone 5, a 2,200 square-foot home will need a 3-ton unit. If you are not very good at math and don’t want to be responsible for a $5,000 mistake, you can hire a reputable, experienced heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professional like AAA Heating & Air, who will not only calculate the size A/C you need based on house size and geographic location, but provide you with an indoor air quality report as well.
How Long Does An HVAC System Typically Last?
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, or HVAC systems, typically last from 15 to 25 years. This is the total lifetime of the entire system, but individual components, or different types, may last longer than others. Cast-iron boilers, which heat water that circulates in narrow pipes in the floor, or in a radiator, can last 35 years, but these systems are very expensive – as those renovating old homes have found. Electric boilers (rather than gas or oil-fired) last about 15 years. The furnace portion of a gas- or oil-fired HVAC system can be expected to last the longest. This is because a furnace is basically a burner unit – much like the one in your gas oven– and a blower fan. If the burner is regularly cleaned and lubricated, and the flame adjusted, it can last as long as 25 years. The air conditioning portion of a HVAC system can last 7 to 15 years, with proper maintenance. Heat pumps come in three variations, the geothermal (ground-source) heat pumps, air-source heat pumps, and water-source heat pumps. In general, heat pumps last from 15 to 20 years, depending on the amount of maintenance provided, their location (in the very cold northern states like Minnesota or North Dakota), and the type of unit. Thermostats are part of an HVAC system, and the old analog thermostats typically last 35 years. Newer, digital thermostats, or “smart” thermostats haven’t been in common usage long enough to predict their lifetime.
How Do I Know If My Air Conditioner Is Too Old?
If your central air conditioner, or AC, is more than 15 years old, it’s probably time to consider replacement. In fact, some experts say 10 years old is a good time to start looking at replacements. How do you find this information? Look for the inspection sticker located on the front or side of the unit. You can also call your city’s building department and see if they have a record of inspection. As a last resort, you can determine your AC’s age from the first four digits of the serial number, which represent the week and year (or year and week) of manufacture, depending on where your AC was made. Regardless of its age, you can determine if your AC needs to be repaired or replaced just by noting how it performs. Look at symptoms like: ● Rooms that are too cold or too warm, no matter what temperature you set your thermostat. ● Electricity bills that keep rising in spite of conservation efforts on your part. In most areas of the U.S., more than 50 percent of a homeowner’s electric bill goes to cooling during the summer. ● Excessive dust, dander, animal hair and other particulates in your home’s air, and changing air filters does not correct the problem. As a result, you have to run additional air filters or cleaners in order to achieve proper home ventilation, especially if your home is newer (i.e., airtight). ● Humidity problems, which can cause mold problems. Some of these molds may be the cause of asthma or other serious, persistent illnesses. ● Your AC unit is too old to fix. One formula suggests multiplying the age of your AC by the cost of quoted repairs and replacing the unit if the final value is more than $5,000. This calculation is known as the “$5,000 rule”. You can also go by the 50-percent rule, or when the cost of repairs approaches or exceeds half the value of your system. ● Persistent and unusual noises from the compressor/condenser portion of your central AC, which sits outside your home in an area adjacent to your furnace or heat pump. Your AC still uses an R-22 refrigerant, either chlorodifluoromethane or difluoromonochloromethane, both of which have been banned under the Montreal Protocol (for their negative effects on Earth’s ozone layer) and are steadily being phased out.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.