Tips & Frequently Asked Questions

Before calling for HVAC emergency service, please read the tips below. It may prevent a service call or help us diagnose your problem quicker.

 

Tips

 

Air Conditioner or Heat Pump - No Cooling

 

  • Check the settings on your thermostat. Make sure the temperature control selector is set below the current room temperature, and the system switch is on the COOL or AUTO position. The fan switch should be set to ON for continuous airflow or AUTO if you want the blower to operate only while the air conditioner/heat pump is operating.
  • Try to get the air conditioner/heat pump to turn on by lowering the thermostat to its lowest temperature setting.
  • If the air flow out of your registers seems low, check the air filter. An extremely dirty air filter can block air flow.
  • Make sure all registers are open and not obstructed.
  • Check the power disconnect switch by each unit (outdoor and indoor).
  • Check the fuse/breaker at the electrical panel for both the outdoor and indoor unit.
  • If the problem persists, please call us.

 

Heat Pump - No Heat

 

  • Check the settings on your thermostat. Make sure the temperature control selector is set above the current room temperature, and the system switch is on the HEAT or AUTO position. The fan switch should be set to ON for continuous airflow or AUTO if you want the blower to operate only while the heat pump is operating.
  • Try to get the heat pump to turn on by raising the thermostat to its highest temperature setting.
  • If the air flow out of your registers seems low, check the air filter. An extremely dirty air filter can block air flow.
  • Make sure all registers are open and not obstructed.
  • Check the power disconnect switch by each unit (outdoor and indoor).
  • Check the fuse/breaker at the electrical panel for both the outdoor and indoor unit.
  • If the problem persists, please call us.

 

Gas Furnace - No Heat

 

  • Check the settings on your thermostat. Make sure the temperature control selector is set above the current room temperature, and the system switch is on the HEAT or AUTO position. The fan switch should be set to ON for continuous airflow or AUTO if you want the blower to operate only while the furnace is operating.
  • Try to get the furnace to turn on by raising the thermostat to its highest temperature setting.
  • If the air flow out of your registers seems low, check the air filter. An extremely dirty air filter can block air flow.
  • Make sure all registers are open and not obstructed.
  • Check the power disconnect switch by the furnace.
  • Check the fuse/breaker at the electrical panel for the furnace.
  • Check to make sure the gas control valve to the furnace is open.
  • Check the pilot light. (Electronic ignitions will not have a pilot light).
  • If the problem persists, please call us.

 

 

FAQs

 

What is the average life expectancy of equipment?

What is the average life expectancy of equipment? Most systems have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. As your equipment gets older, its efficiency and performance also declines. Typically if a system is 10-12+ years in age, it is good to consider replacement rather than investing in the old inefficient system. New comfort systems are more energy efficient and they will provide payback and energy savings. In addition, most of our new systems come with a 10 year warranty for your peace of mind.

 

Can I just replace the outdoor unit on an older system to save money?

Typically no. The indoor coil's refrigerant and efficiency rating must be matched to the outdoor unit. Freon R-22 has been replaced with a more energy efficient and environmental friendly Freon 410-A (also known as Puron). In addition, the minimum SEER rating or efficiency that we can go back with today is 13 SEER (most older systems are 10 SEER and below). Therefore, you have to replace the indoor coil and outdoor unit at the same time for the proper design and protect your investment. Be leery of companies who would do otherwise.

 

Will a bigger sized system perform better?

No, you don't want your air conditioner to be too big. Air conditioners control the comfort level in your home by cooling the air and by removing humidity. An oversized air conditioner will cool your home faster, but it will use more energy and will not remove humidity adequately.

 

A unit that is too big for your home will have short run cycles. It may take only a short time to cool the air, but the unit shuts off before enough air blows across the indoor coil where moisture condenses into water and drains from your system. Too much moisture left in the air can lead to mold and mildew problems.

 

These short run cycles also mean your system starts and stops more often which uses more energy and causes a lot of wear and tear. An air conditioner operates more efficiently during long run cycles.

 

The same holds true with heating systems. An oversized furnace will warm the house quicker, but it uses more fuel and causes greater temperature swings in the home.

 

Why is a system with matched components so important?

A matched system is important for a variety of reasons. One is comfort. When all your components are properly sized to your home, you can control exactly how much heating or cooling you need so you can relax.

 

Also, a properly sized matched system enables every component to perform as designed, meaning proper cycle times are maintained, humidity is controlled, and system sound is minimized.

 

Another reason matched systems are important is efficiency. Most systems people buy are too large for their homes, which uses more energy than needed for your home. A matched system outlined by a dealer who has completed a load calculation for your home provides just the right amount of heating and cooling you need so you get the most value for your utility dollar.

 

How often should I change my air filter?

How often you should change your filter depends on the type of filter you have and how much infiltration you have throughout your home and ductwork. "Throw away" or the lesser expensive filters have to be replaced every 30 days. "Pleated" or "Poly" filters have to typically be replaced every 90 days. "Media filters" or CleanEffects filters usually have to be replaced every year. We offer free advice so give us a call at anytime with any additional questions.

 

Why should I switch to a high efficiency air filter?

Proper air filtration is just as important to the health of your heating and cooling system as it is to the health of your family. Without proper filtration, dust and dirt can build up on your system which impacts operation and efficiency. A high efficiency filter will remove more dust, dirt, pollen, mold, and other particles from the air. If you suffer from allergies or other respiratory problems, you should strongly consider a high efficiency filter. No matter what type of filter you have - make sure you change it regularly.

 

Should I have my furnace and air conditioner serviced every year?

Yes. Keeping your system properly maintained will lower energy and repair costs, prevent breakdowns and prolong the life of your equipment. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.

 

Your heating and cooling system is just like your car and needs regular maintenance. Our service agreement is priced at break even cost so all of our clients can afford to maintain their systems. We provide a lot of additional services (over $600 value) for free that we charge for non service agreement customers. Servicing your system will increase the lifespan of your system, reduce energy costs and increase comfort.

 

How can I reduce allergens and improve the air quality in my home?

There are lots of different indoor air quality (IAQ) options to improve your home air quality. It is important to know that you should first reduce unwanted air infiltration in your home before installing a more efficient air filtration system. For example, if you clean your ductwork but never seal the ductwork then you are not stopping the problem at the source. Even after the duct is clean, if the system isn't sealed then it will still bring in unwanted air into your duct system. It is more logical and efficient to first seal the system, second clean the ducts and then look at different IAQ options.

 

What is duct cleaning?

 

Duct cleaning refers to the cleaning of the various heating and cooling system components of forced air systems, including the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers heating and cooling coils, fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing. Click here to view our duct cleaning service and why it is beneficial to increasing the healthiness of your home.

 

How can I reduce my energy costs?

Home Performance: Home performance or building performance is always the first step in analyzing how to make your home more energy efficient. Traditional heating and air conditioning companies will tell you to replace your equipment, insulation companies will tell you to add insulation and window companies will tell you to replace your windows, but the reality is that you have to analyze the home as a system to determine which step is the best solution. With building science, we provide a non-biased, consultative-based approach to deliver the solutions that our clients are looking for. To determine the proper sequence of home improvements, we recommend our H.A.P.P.E. which stands for our Home Assessment Portfolio and Performance Evaluation. Click here to learn more.

 

Cooling

Upgrade to a high-efficiency air conditioner - Swapping your old, inefficient air conditioning system for a high-efficient one can cut electricity bills by one-third. Consult one of our professional technicians to ensure your system is the right size for your home, and you are not over- or under-cooling for your space needs.

 

Turn up the temperature - To save electricity during the summer, set the temperature above 75° as every degree below this will add an extra three to five percent to your energy bill. Install ceiling fans - Change the direction of airflow on your ceiling fans. In the summer, the blades should operate in a counter-clockwise direction as a way of creating a nice, gentle wind. Have an annual maintenance performed - Having an annual maintenance performed on your air conditioner by a licensed technician will help ensure it operates at its peak efficiency and catches any potential breakdowns before they occur. Don't block vents in well-used rooms - Keep your supply and return air vents free of objects like blinds, carpets or furniture so your air conditioner can operate efficiently and there is even cool air distribution. Close vents in less-used rooms- By closing the vents, you will not be spending money cooling rooms that are used less.

Heating

 

Upgrade to a high-efficiency furnace - New high-efficiency furnaces use up to 50% less fuel than an older system. It can save you up to 25 per cent of your home-heating costs in one year, and within a few years, you will have recovered the initial cost of replacing/upgrading your furnace. Choosing a model with an energy efficient motor can save 20 to 50 percent of the energy needed to continuously operate a fan motor. Let us show you the advantages of replacing your old furnace today.

Have an annual maintenance performed - Having an annual maintenance performed on your furnace by a licensed technician will help ensure it operates at its peak efficiency and catches any potential breakdowns before they occur. Install a programmable thermostat - A programmable thermostat enables you to control your home's temperature when you are away or asleep. For every one degree you lower your thermostat for seven hours per day, you save one percent on your heating bill. Don't block vents in well-used rooms - Keep your supply and return air vents free of objects like blinds, carpets or furniture so your furnace can operate efficiently and there is even heat distribution. Close vents in less-used rooms - By closing the vents, you will not be spending money heating rooms that are used less. Install ceiling fans- Change the direction of airflow on your ceiling fans. In the winter, the blades should operate in a clockwise direction helping to push the warm air from the ceiling down into the room.

 

What is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is an air conditioner that also has the ability to heat your home. A heat pump can be installed with a variety of indoor systems including all electric and dual fuel. All electric comfort systems use heat pumps to heat your home in addition to back up heat strips for the cold days. A dual fuel comfort system also uses a heat pump to heat your home but for the really cold days it uses a gas furnace for back up heat. Just like air conditioners, we have a range of heat pump options for every budget. Different options provide different comfort levels, efficiencies and noise levels. Just like A/C replacement, it is important to look at your home as a system and perform the proper calculations to ensure you get the most value for your investment.

 

What is a Dual Fuel system?

A dual fuel system (also called hybrid heat) is comprised of a heat pump, indoor coil and gas furnace. A heat pump is an air conditioner that also has the ability to heat your home. With a dual fuel system, the heat pump will heat your home majority of the time. The gas furnace provides back up heat and only will come on if it is below 40 degrees. For North Carolina, dual fuel is more efficient than an all-electric system or a traditional split system (comprised of a gas furnace and an air conditioner). In addition to the energy savings, a dual fuel system will not dry your skin out as much as a traditional system. However, it does provide a different comfort level than a traditional gas furnace so it is important to talk with our team about which option is best for you and your family.

 

What are the advantages of equipment with variable speed fans?

Variable speed equipment or variable airflow is almost always the first step toward a more energy efficient and comfortable system. Our variable airflow systems have de-humidification control. Traditional systems only have a one-speed fan and only read temperature. A variable airflow system reads relative humidity in addition to temperature. The system runs more often at a lower speed removing much more moisture than a typical system. Removing more moisture means you are more comfortable at a higher temperature. In addition, the system does a much better job of filtering the air (because it runs more often), creates a more even comfort zone and operates a lot quieter.

 

What is a 2-stage or variable speed compressor?

The Manual J for North Carolina requires the design of systems to cool a house to 75 degrees on a 94 degree day. It is great to have the full capacity for those hot summer days, however, most of the time your cooling system will be too large. A great solution to this issue is a 2-stage compressor. A 2-stage compressor can come in two different types. The first type of 2-stage compressor has one compressor with two internal stages. The first stage is typically 70%-80% of the full capacity and the second stage is 100% capacity. The second type of 2 stage compressors actually have two separate compressors in one outdoor unit. The smaller compressor is 50% of the systems capacity and the second is 100%. The system will usually run in the lower stage for most days but has the larger capacity for the really hot days. The two-stage compressor uses less energy proving more energy savings and is the best solution for removing humidity and quieter outside operation. Finally, a variable speed compressor has the ability to ramp all the way down to around 20%-40% capacity depending on the make and model. These are incredibly efficient and come standard for most of our ductless split systems.

 

What is a 2 stage, 3 stage or modulating gas valve?

Traditional furnaces have a one stage gas valve that heat at full capacity 100% of the time. Most furnaces are oversized (due to contractors not pulling load calculations and large cooling demands in Georgia) so most homes typically don't need the full heating capacity. A 2 stage furnace works similar to a 2 stage air conditioner. It allows the unit to adjust the heating capacity based on the amount of heating that is needed. A 3-stage furnace has three separate stages of heat and a modulating gas valve has even more stages depending on the indoor demand. Two, three and modulating stage furnaces are more energy efficient because they use less gas and also provide a more even comfort zone because they don't dry your skin out as much.

 

At what temperature should I set my thermostat?

The answer to this question depends on the person and what their individual preferences. Most people keep their thermostat between 74-78 degrees in the summer time and between 68-72 degrees in the wintertime. The higher you keep your thermostat then the less energy consumption the system will use. If your goal is keeping your bills down then you should keep the thermostat closer to 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter. But not everyone is comfortable at the same temperature. Systems with de-humidification control can often be kept at a higher temperature because they remove more moisture than a traditional system. In addition to the thermostat, how "tight" or "leaky" your home is will effect how much of that cooling or heating goes out the window rather than staying in the living space.

 

My system doesn't work well in a couple of rooms, what do I do?

Problem areas can occur for many reasons including but not limited too improper duct design, a single zone system (only one thermostat) and room infiltration. It is natural to have a small temperature variation throughout a home with only one thermostat. However, most of the time, problem areas are do to infiltration in a room or improper duct design. We can schedule a free consultation to figure out exactly what is happening for your problem area rooms.

 

Is Freon®, as a refrigerant, being discontinued?

Yes. As of January 2010 the refrigerant R-22 (what consumers call Freon®) is no longer allowed to be used in the manufacturing of new equipment. However they do make some "dry ship" units that can be installed if matched with the proper indoor unit. R-22 has been used as the "standard" refrigerant for many years but has been found to be harmful to our planet by our government. All new air conditioners and heat pumps use R-410A, the more "environmentally sound" refrigerant.

 

R-22 is still the most commonly used refrigerant in existing air conditioning equipment in residential homes today. However, per the Montreal Protocol, caps have been established to eliminate the production of R-22. In 2004, there was a 35% reduction; in 2010 there was a 65% reduction; in 2015 a 90% reduction; and finally in 2020 a 99.5 % reduction in the production of R-22. This means that during the time of these reductions with high demand, the price of each pound of R-22 refrigerant could potentially skyrocket.

 

If you are considering replacing your existing air conditioning equipment, we strongly recommend installing a 410-A system. In fact, we have been installing 410-A systems long before the government made the change.

 

Can carbon monoxide build up in my home?

Yes. Each year, carbon monoxide kills more than 200 Americans and sends nearly 5,000 more to emergency rooms for treatment, reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Where does it come from? When carbon-based fuels such as gas, oil, kerosene or wood burn, they produce gases. When fuel combustion or burning isn't complete, carbon monoxide enters the air. The CPSC advises that carbon monoxide detectors are the only way to alert yourself to the presence of toxic gas in your home. If you wake in the night with a headache -- and especially if another member of the family complains of a headache or is difficult to arouse -- get out of the house fast and seek medical help. We recommend carbon monoxide detectors be installed in your home!

 

We also recommend performing a combustion safety test on any gas appliance. During our combustion safety test, we test for CO before, during and after the test. We also test to make sure the appliances vent properly to the outside and that they are not back drafting into the home.

 

What if I smell gas?

Propane (LP) gas: You have this type if your gas comes from a tank located outside close to your house. Propane is stored as a liquid under pressure in tanks and cylinders. In most residential applications, propane is used as a vapor. When liquid propane changes into a gas vapor, it expands in volume. This means that even a small leak of liquid propane can result in a much larger quantity of propane vapor, which can be especially dangerous in a confined space. A chemical odorant has been added to propane to give it a distinct smell. Learn to identify this odor. Propane gas is heavier than air, so it will sink to the floor and spread. To check for the presence of propane, carefully smell all over a room, especially in low spots.

 

If you smell propane (LP) gas:

 

Exit your home immediately.

Propane gas can ignite easily. Do not light a match, start an engine, use a cell phone, or do anything that may create a spark.

From a safe area, contact your propane supplier and call 911.

If you are able, shut the propane gas supply off at the tank.

Stay away from your home until you have been told that it is safe to return.

Natural gas: You have this type if you have a gas meter and pay a natural gas supplier or utility. A chemical odorant has been added to natural gas to give it a distinct smell. Learn to identify this odor. If you smell gas faintly, check all areas of your house for strong odor. If the smell is only faint throughout all areas of your home, call your heating contractor to get it fixed within 24 hours. Keep the house well ventilated by opening windows.

 

If you smell a strong, persistent odor:

Exit your home immediately.

Do not light a match, start an engine, use a cell phone, or do anything that may create a spark.

From a safe area, contact your gas company or call 911.

If you are able, turn the gas off at the meter.

Stay away from your home until you have been told that it is safe to return.