ANSWERS TO YOUR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
QUESTION: What are some preventative maintenance things I should be aware of?
Answer: With the proper attention, heating and cooling systems can keep you comfortable year-round. Heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces and boilers need a yearly professional tune-up. Gas-fired equipment, on the other hand, burns cleaner and can be serviced every other year. A close inspection will uncover leaks, soot, rust, rot, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires. In furnace (forced-air) and boiler (hot-water) systems, the inspection should also cover the chimney, ductwork or pipes, dampers or valves, blower or pump, registers or radiators, the fuel line and the gas meter or oil tank — as well as every part of the furnace or boiler itself. Next, the system should be run through a full heating cycle to ensure that it has plenty of combustion air and chimney draft. Finally, cleaning the burner and heat exchanger to remove soot and other gunk will prevent such buildup from impeding smooth operation. For the burner, efficiency hinges on adjusting the flame to the right size and color, adjusting the flow of gas or changing the fuel filter in an oil-fired system. A check of the heat pump should include an inspection of the compressor, fan, indoor and outdoor coils and refrigerant lines. Indoor and outdoor coils should be cleaned, and the refrigerant pressure should be checked.
QUESTION: What is the best thermostat setting?
Answer: The best setting is where you are comfortable. Once you find that setting, don’t adjust it repeatedly. It takes a long time to remove all the heat inside of your home. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it and forget it. If you’re gone all day, then a rise of no more than five degrees while you’re gone makes good sense and will save you money.
QUESTION: How often should my AC system be checked?
Answer: You should have it checked annually, before the beginning of the cooling season. Our checks help catch small problems that could later on become big ones. To prevent unexpected breakdowns, and save money, make sure you have it checked before the cooling season. Otherwise you just might find yourself without cool, comfortable air when you need it most!
QUESTION: Why does ice build up in my air conditioner?
Answer: This can happen for many different reasons. If your AC hasn’t been cleaned in a long time, dust and dirt may have clogged the coils. This restricts airflow, which makes the compressor work much harder than normal. It can work so hard that the coil temperature may be reduced well below the normal range. Another common cause of this situation is when your unit is low on Freon due to a leak. Excess condensation will build up on the coils and begin to freeze if the coils are too cold from low Freon.
QUESTION: Why should I replace my existing heating or air conditioning system?
Answer: You may wish to consider replacing your air conditioning or heating system if it is old, inefficient or in need of repair. Today’s systems are as much as 60% more efficient than those systems manufactured as little as ten years ago. In addition, if not properly maintained, wear and tear on a system can reduce the actual or realized efficiency of the system. If you are concerned about utility bills or are faced with an expensive repair, you may want to consider replacing your system rather than enduring another costly season or paying to replace an expensive component. The utility cost savings of a new unit may provide an attractive return on your investment. If you plan on financing the purchase, the monthly savings on your utility bill should be considered when determining the actual monthly cost of replacing a system. The offsetting savings may permit you to purchase a more efficient system.
QUESTION: How do I select the right heating/cooling system?
Answer: First, make sure the unit is properly sized. We will provide a load calculation for your home and an energy analysis to determine operating cost. Next, consider any comfort issues in the home. Some products can reduce air stratification and uneven temperatures from room to room. If you have allergies, an indoor unit with an ECM motor will allow you to circulate the air in your home continuously while filtering the air for about the same cost as operating a standard light bulb. Finally, know your budget parameters and the efficiency of the system being proposed. Does the system offer a payback? In other words, will the monthly savings over time offset the cost of the new unit or efficiency option being considered?
QUESTION: How long can I expect a new system to last?
Answer: If you have a qualified technician perform regular preventative maintenance and service suggested for your unit, industry averages suggest that an air conditioner should last 12-15 years (sea coast applications may be less) and a gas furnace should last as many as 20-25 years.