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Air Conditioner FAQ

Proper air conditioning maintenance can help your unit last decades. On the flip-side, a neglected air conditioner loses roughly 5% of its efficiency each year that it operates without upkeep. So that green machine you bought to stay cool could start to function like the most inefficient thing on the market, if you fail to perform regular air conditioning maintenance.Filters and coils are both parts that require regular maintenance for your air conditioner to operate effectively and efficiently. Neglecting your unit leads to poor air conditioning performance and increased energy consumption. And regular maintenance is far less costly than repairs or a replacement.

By keeping your unit operating at peak performance, you will recover any money invested in upkeep by lower repair costs and savings on your electric bill.
Both the homeowner and a professional can accomplish different aspects of preventative air conditioning maintenance. Homeowners can:

Regularly make sure the condensing unit located outside is not covered up or clogged with leaves or debris. The unit needs to breathe, to draw air into the system.
Change the filters regularly.
Do not use a hose and water to try to clean the interior of the unit. Cleaning the unit in this way can lead to serious risk of electrical shock and possible shorting of electrical components.

Professional HVAC servicing should include:

  • Balancing refrigerant levels.
  • Making sure all electrical components and controls are working properly.
  • Checking and cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils.
  • Oiling motors (if applicable).
  • Checking the thermostat for functionality.
  • Checking filters.

One last word of advice in regular air conditioning maintenance is to ensure that your ducts are properly sealed. When cooled air leaks from supply ducts, or when hot air creeps into return ducts, this can lead to wasted energy, and an overworked air conditioner. Your ducts need to be airtight for the most efficient performance from your cooling unit. Products such as the Aeroseal duct sealing process are an effective and affordable way to seal the ductwork in your home.

Should you have any further questions, feel free to contact us by phone or via our contact form at your convenience.

Regular maintenance by the homeowner and a dealer helps AC units operate efficiently year after year.

Homeowner Maintenance

  • Clean and replace filters as needed during cooling season
  • Clean air conditioner coils
  • Keep debris and leaves away from air conditioner unit
  • Use a hose to clear the aluminum fins from airborne debris

Dealer Maintenance

  • Have dealer make sure correct amount of refrigerant is in air conditioner; do not overcharge refrigerant when filling
  • Find and repair any leaks in system
  • Measure air flow through coil
  • Verify correct electronic control sequence
  • Inspect electrical terminals
  • Oil motor and check belts
  • Check accuracy of thermostat

The most common mistake people make in running their air conditioners is to open their windows at night. Half the job of an air conditioner is to remove the humidity from the air. Relative humidity increases at night because the temperatures are generally cooler. The air conditioner works all day long to reduce the temperature AND remove the humidity. Opening the windows at night lets all the humidity back in the house and causes the air conditioner to have to work harder the next day to remove it. Therefore, you get less comfort and reduced or no savings.

Choose a strategy. One strategy is to leave the windows open all the time and don’t run the air conditioner. The other strategy is to leave the windows closed all the time and run the air conditioner. The only bad strategy is to open and close the windows each day while you are running your air conditioner.

Please check the following things:

  • Is your furnace filter dirty? Please check your filter and change it if it is clogged with dirt and dust.
  • Check your outdoor unit – it may be dirty and require cleaning.Check all return air grilles to make sure they are not blocked by furniture.
  • Check all supply air registers to make sure they are open and blowing air. (The return air grilles are normally located on your walls and are wide and flat).
  • Check the SSU switch (it looks like a light switch on a gray box located at the furnace) to be sure it is in the “ON” position.

Other possibilities that will require a service call:

  • The compressor could be damaged.
  • The refrigerant charge could need attention

Your condensate drain for the air conditioner may be clogged with debris. Please make a service call to clear it.

Ensure you have all south facing window shades drawn to reduce heat from the sun first thing in the morning.

  • Is your filter clean?
  • If dirty, change it and see if that makes a difference. If it still doesn’t work, please make a service call.
  • If clean, the outdoor unit may be dirty and may need to be cleaned by one of our service technicians. Or, the unit could have a leak and require a service technician.

Before our technician can work on the equipment, you need to get rid of the ice. Here is what you need to do:

  • Turn the air conditioning switch on the thermostat to OFF. This will prevent your heating and cooling equipment from turning on.
  • Raise the temperature on the thermostat to the maximum temperature. This will prevent the outside (condenser) unit from coming on.
  • Turn the Fan switch to ON (it is probably in the AUTO position right now).
  • Leave the furnace fan running until a technician arrives. This will allow the ice to melt and the technician will be able to diagnose the air conditioner system upon arrival.
  • After clearing the ice, feel free to place a service call.

Answer #1:

Is the power switch turned on? Generally there are two switches: one for the furnace and one outside by the air conditioner unit.

  • Is your switch off? If it is, turn the switch to the on position.
  • If you find that the unit is still not cooling after turning on the switch, please make a service call.
  • If the switch is on, but not cooling, a service call is required.
  • Is your thermostat set to the cooling position? If the answer is no, turn your thermostat to the cooling setting. If the air conditioner is still not cooling, a service call is required.

Answer #2:

Have you checked the fuses/electrical breaker to ensure it is switched on?

  • If you have, turn the breaker on or change the fuse.
  • If the unit is still not cooling after turning the breaker on, a service call is required.

Answer #3:

Check your furnace filter. A furnace filter that is clogged with dust and dirt can result in your air conditioner not working.

  • Is the furnace filter dirty? If the answer is yes, change the filter and call for service if the system is still not cooling.
  • If the furnace filter is clean, a service call is required.

Answer #4:

Check the outside temperature. If the temperature is below 13 degrees Celsius or 55F, your A/C may have a safety measure that prevents the unit from running when temperatures are below 13C/55F.

  • Is the outside temperature above 13C? If the answer is yes, a service call is required.
  • Is the outside temperature below 13C? If the answer is no, wait until the outside temperatures are greater than 13C and call us back if system is still not cooling.

Yes, you can. There is a disconnect in your panel box or at the outside unit. Turn it off over the winter and save energy. But when you turn it on again in the Spring, do it at least 24 hours before turning on the cooling equipment. A day`s delay will give the oil time to warm and lubricate the essential parts upon startup.

An air conditioning system consists of 2 parts: an outdoor unit (where liquid refrigerant is contained) and an indoor coil (where the refrigerant is pumped into). As the air moves across the air conditioning coil (usually located on top of the furnace), the refrigerant removes the heat from the air as well as the moisture by condensing it on the cold surface of the coil. In this way, an air conditioner not only cools but also dehumidifies the air. Virtually any system can have air conditioning hooked up to it provided that it is a forced air system. In cases where there is not forced air heating or a duct system, “ductless” air conditioning systems to cool an entire home or small business.

The one thing you should do is cover the top of the condensing unit (with a piece of plywood with something to hold it down) so that no debris can get in. We recommend putting some sort of a hard cover over at least the top of the unit to also protect against damage from falling ice, etc. A specially made cover is a good idea but it`s not absolutely essential. A cover will also protect the finish and guard against rodents making the unit their winter home. Any cover, however, must be removed before the start of operations the following Spring.

The answer is most likely YES, but this is mainly due to four main reasons:

    1. Matched system design – All outdoor cooling units are specifically designed to work with matched indoor units for optimum efficiency and performance. Air conditioner and heat pumps may “work” with other indoor units, but the result is a definite compromise in overall system performance.
    2. Design advances – In recent years, indoor blower coil units have undergone numerous design advances—especially in the areas of air handling performance, filtering efficiency and operating sound levels. A new outdoor unit will also include the latest design advances.
    3. Higher cooling and heating efficiency – The cooling and/or heating efficiency rating assigned to a given air conditioner or heat pump is based on matched system performance. While you may gain higher efficiency by replacing only the outdoor unit, the efficiency levels (and savings) will not be as high as with a matched system.
    4. Equipment age – If an air conditioner or heat pump outdoor unit is 10 years old and needs to be replaced, the indoor unit is just as old and has been subjected to the same amount of wear and tear. Replacing both units means you won’t have to replace the indoor unit in a short time—you’ll have years of service from both units.

“Variable speed” refers to the fan motor inside the air handler—the indoor part of an air conditioner that moves cooled or heated air throughout the ductwork of your home. An air handler is usually a furnace or a blower coil.
Unlike conventional single-speed motors, a variable speed motor runs at a wide range of speeds to precisely control of heated and cooled air throughout the home.
Better airflow control has several benefits:

Electrical efficiency
Variable speed motors can actually save you money on your energy bills, as they consume less electricity than standard motors.

Cooling efficiency
Variable speed technology also means you will gain air conditioning efficiency or SEER.

Variable speed motors are excellent for zoning, which allows you to customize your comfort in different areas of your home and control your energy bills.

Air quality
A variable speed motor can also help clean the air in your home. When the fan is in constant operation (indicated by the “Fan” setting on your thermostat), the motor will continue to slowly circulate air, allowing filters to capture more contaminants.

Humidity control
A variable speed motor combined with a programmable thermostat allows you to control the amount of humidity in your home for improved indoor air quality and comfort.

Two-stage cooling means the air conditioner or heat pump has a compressor with two levels of operation: high for hot summer days and low for milder days. Since the low setting is adequate to meet household-cooling demands 80% of the time, a two-stage unit runs for longer periods and produces more even temperatures.
Longer cooling cycles also translate to quieter, more efficient operation and enhanced humidity control. Compared to a single-stage unit, a two-stage air conditioner or heat pump can remove twice as much moisture from the air. This is important because when moisture levels are high, there’s a higher potential for mold and other pollutant problems.

Bigger isn’t better. Smaller isn’t cheaper. If an air conditioner is too small it won’t keep a house cool enough on hot days. If the air conditioner is too big it will cool the house too quickly without removing the humidity. This will make the house clammy and uncomfortable. The best comfort and efficiency are by a properly sized air conditioner. We recommend that an air conditioner be specified to maintain 20 degrees cooling below outside temperature. Therefore, the house should be able to maintain 70 degrees when it is 90 degrees outside.

To properly size an air conditioner, please contact one of our professionally trained representatives to further assist you in making the right decision for your home.

The same conditions hold true for an air conditioner as with the furnace. The main difference is that having no air conditioning is generally not a life-threatening situation as it is with heating. Therefore, you are not in an emergency situation to replace the air conditioner when it fails.

The average central air conditioner lasts 15 years while the average room air conditioner lasts 10 years. Once you pass the life expectancy of an air conditioner you may want to begin gathering information on which bands of equipment and which dealer you want to replace the air conditioner.

When replacing an air conditioner, make sure it is installed in a shady spot. This can save one to two percent of the energy bill. Avoid placing the air conditioner on the roof or in the attic whenever possible.

An air conditioner seems as if it cools your home’s air, but it actually makes your home less warm by removing heat from the indoor air and transferring that heat to the outdoor air.

Heat is extracted from the home by passing indoor air across a refrigerant coil in the indoor unit. Refrigerant lines then carry the heat to the outdoor unit, where it is released into the outside air. The cooling cycle continues until the indoor temperature reaches the thermostat setting.

S.E.E.R. stands for Seasonal Energy ,Efficiency Ratio, the standard measurement of air conditioning efficiency established by the U.S. Department of Energy. What does this mean to you? Higher S.E.E.R. ratings translate into greater energy efficiency which means lower summer cooling bills. The most important thing to remember is the higher the S.E.E.R. rating, the more money you save.

Why a higher efficiency rating (SEER) saves energy: If your current air conditioner or heat pump is more than 10 years old, it could be operating at lower than 8.00 S.E.E.R. Compare the estimated annual bill of an 8.00 S.E.E.R. system to that of a higher S.E.E.R., such as a 12.00 or 13.00. For instance, if the annual cooling bill of an 8.00 S.E.E.R. system in a particular area is $1,000, it would cost only $615 for a 13.00 S.E.E.R. system to operate at the same capacity in the same area. This is an annual savings of 38%. Now that makes sense, doesn’t it?


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