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Cool Tips

What to Do if Your AC System is Not Working

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Your air conditioning/heating system is an extremely complex piece of equipment, and the best person to evaluate it is a trained HVAC technician. A qualified technician has the knowledge, skill, and tools to thoroughly inspect the system, diagnose any problems, and provide proper maintenance.

Residential air conditioning/heating systems can be split systems or single package systems. Most are split systems. A split system has one of its heat exchangers (which includes the compressor) located outdoors and the other (the indoor coil) located indoors. A single package system has both heat exchangers located in the same unit, usually outdoors.

  • Locate the thermostat and turn it to the “on” position. Is the thermostat set below room temperature? Does the system turn on and off? When the thermostat switch is in the fan “on” position, is the fan running? Listen for unusual sounds while feeling how cool the air flow is from the vents, and go outside as well to listen to the condensing unit. Unusual sounds indicate the need for a service call from a qualified HVAC technician.
  • Inspect all vents and returns. Dirt in and around vents and returns indicate the AC filter is dirty and needs to be replaced or cleaned.
  • Check the filter. Replace or clean as needed. Dirty filters are the most common cause of inadequate heating or cooling performance and of compressor failures. TIP: Check your filter each month when your utility bill arrives. A clean filter can increase the efficiency of your system, and save you money!
  • Check the circuit breakers and/or fuses. Reset breakers or replace fuses as necessary. WARNING: Turn OFF electric power to unit before performing any maintenance or removing any panels or doors.
  • Inspect ductwork in unconditioned spaces, such as your attic. Check for air leaks from duct connections and fittings.
  • Inspect the outdoor unit for clogged condenser coil, (grass cuttings, leaves, dirt, dust or lint). Ensure that branches, twigs or other debris are not obstructing the condenser fan. Note condition of coil and drain. Do you see rust on the outside and in the drain pan? Excessive moisture can contribute to mold, mildew and other conditions that can affect air quality in your home.
  • Consider the age and efficiency rating (SEER or SEER2) of your equipment. 10-12 years is the average efficient life-span of a typical residential air conditioning/heating system. Homeowners benefit from an AC with a higher SEER2 rating because less energy will be required to cool or heat the home, resulting in significantly lower utility bills.

Tips on Purchasing a New Air Conditioning System

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  • Choose a licensed HVAC company with experience who can provide quality installation of your new system, and will be there for you if you need service.
  • Choose the right size. If it is too small, it won’t cool properly. If it is too big, it won’t dehumidify properly. A trained professional HVAC technician can determine the proper size.
  • The higher the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating, the better. 14.3 SEER2 rated systems are typically installed by builders in new home construction, however upgrading to a 16+ SEER2 is recommended for both energy efficiency and product reliability. To see how much you can save, check out our free SEER Savings Calculator.
  • Beware of replacing only one of the two main components. Replacing only the indoor or only the outdoor unit of a system may result in a mismatch that compromises efficiency. It is best to buy and install both units together. If not, discuss the compatibility of the units with your contractor.
  • Do not make your decision based solely on price. Ask for a Good, Better, and Best option on new equipment based on your needs and budget.
  • Ask what financing options are available.
    Check to see if there are any manufacturers’ or utility company rebates available.
  • Read and understand all manufacturers’ instructions and warranty information for your equipment, and consider purchasing an extended warranty.
  • Purchase a planned maintenance agreement so that you are ensured that your new equipment will be properly and professionally maintained, and your manufacturers’ warranty will be protected.
  • Visit our Air Conditioning Installation page for more information.

How to Find a Quality HVAC Contractor

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Until the day you walk into your home or business, and it’s uncomfortably warm or frigidly cold, you probably don’t give much thought to your air conditioning and heating system. When this happens, you need a quality heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) company to accurately and honestly diagnose any problems, and to service or replace your unit. You want professionals who are knowledgeable, competent, and qualified to do the job.

A Quality HVAC Company:

  • Is licensed, bonded and insured, and complies with all state and local codes and regulations. HVAC contractors in Florida have a license number.
  • Is prompt, reliable, and courteous.
  • Has professionally trained technicians who are up-to-date on the latest developments in equipment, technology, design and installation procedures.
  • Provides recommendations and options to you in writing.
  • Listens to your problems and asks the right questions to determine how to best meet your individual needs and budget.
  • Offers 24-hour emergency service.
  • Offers planned preventative maintenance service to prolong the life and increase the efficiency of your equipment.
  • Is committed to your complete satisfaction, and follows up with you to make certain that you are satisfied with the service or installation of new equipment.

Common Sense Tips for Reducing Your Energy Usage

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Did you know that approximately 55% of the total energy usage in a typical home is used by the heating and cooling system? Yet up to 30% of that energy is wasted each year. Consumers can save money on utility bills, and reduce their energy loads by taking immediate steps to reduce energy usage.

  • Set your thermostat up a couple of degrees. People tend to keep the temperature lower than they need to reach a comfort level. These few degrees can make a big difference in your electricity usage.
  • Turn the lights off and keep the drapes drawn in the sunny part of the house. It will take less work for the system to reach the desired temperature.
  • Don’t cook during the hottest part of the day. Avoid using appliances that heat up the area when the system is already using a lot of electricity.
  • Make sure your clothes dryer is vented to the outside, but away from the condensing unit.
  • Get a maintenance check on your system annually. Just as your car needs a tune-up to run efficiently and reliably, so does your HVAC system. They need to be cleaned, filters need to be changed, proper refrigerant charge must be maintained, and the system needs to be tested.
  • Consider replacing older systems. New, more energy-efficient systems can be twice as efficient as systems installed 20 years ago. If your system over 10 years old, you could be wasting a significant amount of money and energy.

Home Survey to Determine Your Comfort Needs

In order to determine your comfort needs, please answer the following questions. The answers will assist a qualified HVAC contractor in determining the right home comfort system for you.

  • How many members are there in your household, and are there any infants or elderly persons? _____
  • Do you or any members of your family have allergies or respiratory difficulties? _____
  • Are there certain rooms or areas of your home that are too hot or too cold during certain times of the year? _____
  • Does your home have a problem with too much or too little humidity? _____
  • Do you have children running in and out of your home during the day? _____
  • What temperature would you like to maintain in your home in the winter? _____ The summer? _____
  • Is saving money on energy bills important to you? _____
  • Do you find that your current system blows air too hard in one room and not hard enough in another? _____
  • Is your heating and cooling system too noisy? _____
  • How old is your current system? _____
  • How long do you plan to live in your home? _____
  • Do you have plans to renovate or add on to your home? _____

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