Heating & A/C FAQ

How often should I change my air filter during the spring and summer months?
A typical 1” throw away should be changed about once every two months.  An electronic filter should be washed every month. Some high efficiency 5” filters such as an Honeywell or April Aire filter can be changed annually.

Should I cover my outdoor unit during the winter?
No, the outdoor unit is made to withstand the elements. Damage can occur by covering the unit and trapping moisture inside the unit which will cause corrosion to the electrical components. Have the unit serviced in the spring so the technician can clean the leaves and/or pinestraw out of the unit.

Is it normal for steam to come out of my heat pump during the winter?
Yes, it is the defrost cycle in the winter operation. This allows the heat pump to remove accumulated ice.  Once the ice has melted the unit will go into its normal operation.

What causes the odor when I use my air conditioning for the first time each summer?
For the majority of homes the first air conditioning operation will wash the indoor coil with condensate and remove dust and other particulates that have accumulated over the winter. If the odor persists, cleaning the coil and UV lights have proved effective, in rare cases replacement is necessary.

If my air conditioner isn’t cooling like it used to, does that mean I need a new unit?
Many minor service problems such as a dirty filters, dirty outdoor condenser coils, and dirty indoor evaporator coils can reduce airflow and diminish the cooling process.  Have a service technician inspect these items these systems performance and either repair the system or recommend a replacement or upgrade.

Is there an ideal temperature setting for summer comfort or is it ok to turn the thermostat up to speed cooling?
Studies show the majority of people feel comfortable with a cooling temperature of 75 degrees and a heating temperature of 70 degrees.  Also, most houses are designed on this standard. However, individual comfort standards may very. It is advisable to tell the system designer these preferences in order to design a system that will meet all of your needs.

Can my air conditioning help control my humidity problems?
Yes, an air conditioner not only cools the air but also removes humidity in the air. However, an air conditioning system cannot be responsible for removing all of the required humidity, as it does not run all of the time. For extreme humidity problems a whole house dehumidifier may be necessary.

Should I be running my system’s fan on auto or continuously?
 Running the fan all of the time will increase the amount of filtration and will tend to even the temperatures throughout the house.  However, a constant fan operation will also raise the humidity in the house.  It is normally advisable to run the fan continuously in the winter but not in the summer.

What can I do myself if my system quits working before I call for a service technician?
The first thing to do is make sure the thermostat is set properly and has good batteries if required.  Check to see if the filter has been recently changed. You can also check to see if the electrical breakers for the air conditioner and furnace have tripped.  If it is tripped and immediately trips again after resetting a service technician should be called. Also, you can check that the furnace door is seated in place, a loose door will not engage the door safety switch.  In addition, check for standing water in the emergency drain pan or an overflowing condensate pump. A technician should be called if these problems are present.  Lastly, if ice is present on the larger refrigerant line the system should be shut down immediately and a service technician called.  Freezing lines can cause a compressor failure.

How long should my air conditioner last?
Around 15 years, this is an average as some units may not last that long do to heavy usage or mechanical problems along the way. A good installation and the proper sizing will greatly contribute to the longevity of an air conditioner. Heat Pumps tend to have slightly shorter life spans as they run all year around.

Is my air conditioner too small?
If you think your air conditioner is too small there is probably some problem causing it to operate at less than full capacity. This could be as simple as a lack of maintenance. A slight shortage of refrigerant (Freon) can affect performance greatly. Dirty system components and filters will also reduce air conditioning capacity. We’ll clean the components and insure that the refrigerant (Freon) is at precisely the right level.

Why is my unit icing-up?  I have frost on the coil and copper tubing.
There are several reasons for an air conditioning system to freeze up and they are ALL related to a lack of maintenance. An air conditioning freeze up is caused by a lack of airflow or a lack of refrigerant (Freon). Both of these conditions are easily and routinely found on a service check.

If your system is not cooling properly, check for the following:

  • Check the circuit breaker/fuse box outside, connected by conduit to the outside portion of your air conditioning system. Reset if needed.

  • If you feel air coming from the indoor vents, but it doesn’t feel cool, the outdoor unit may not be running properly. Causes could be a frozen line between the fan and the compressor. A temporary solution is to turn off the thermostat and leave off for 1-3 hours. If this does not resolve the issue, contact a professional.

  • Check your filter, and if the filter is clogged, air will not flow, resulting in a frozen-over air evaporator coil inside. Replace your filter often.

If the system is not heating, try the following:

  • Check the unit to make sure it is switched on and not unplugged.

  • Check the outdoor portion of the unit to make sure it is running. If not, check the “disconnect” circuit breaker in the box on the wall near the unit.

  • Press the reset button on the unit inside. The button is usually located near where the refrigerant line enters the unit.

  • If your home was recently remodeled or any work has been recently done, you may want to have the fuel lines checked. Make sure the gas has been turned back on.