Q: I have a new air conditioning system but it's still too hot upstairs. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do about it?
A: This is a common problem with two story homes that were built without zone controls (separate thermostats for upstairs and downstairs). The best way to solve the problem is to adapt a new zone control system to the home. Short of doing that one thing that you can do to help but not solve the problem is to run the blower continuously. This helps to mix the upstairs air and downstairs air and brings the temperature closer to being even.
The electrical usage of the blower is a factor and can run as high as $50 or more per month if you let it run 24 hours per day. It's best to run it only during problem times. Closing down all of the downstairs registers in order to force more cool air upstairs is usually not advisable since this restriction may cause the evaporator coil to ice up.
Q: My new air conditioner seems to run all day long and it still doesn't cool my house down enough. What's the problem?
A: There are several possible reasons. Among them are a lack of airflow due to an undersized, broken, or otherwise restricted duct system. But if the air conditioner was recently installed and never has worked properly the chances are that it's too small to handle the heat load of your house. Unfortunately many air conditioning companies today cut out the necessary first step of running proper heat load calculations on the home prior to sizing the equipment. If you have purchased a unit which is too small to handle the load the only thing to do is replace it with the proper size unit.
Q: Ever since my air conditioner was installed I've noticed a moldy smell coming from the furnace area. What causes this and what can we do to fix it?
A: An air conditioning system produces water at the evaporator coil and has a drain line for this water. Improper installations can lead to water leaks, which in turn result in mold growth and unpleasant odors.
Q: If I replace my old air conditioner with a new one, will it help me to lower my energy bill?
A: Yes and in a big way. If you have an old machine built in the 70's it was probably rated around 6 SEER when it was new and now is running something like 3 or 4 SEER. Replace it with a new 12 SEER unit and cut your cooling energy bill by 67% or more! The indoor coil must also be replaced at the same time in order to get the advertised SEER rating of the new unit and the rest of the system must be in proper working order.
Q: How much will it cost to install a new air conditioner?
A: It is impossible to quote a price without first checking conditions at the job site. We simply cannot determine what the price will be without this first step. Price will be influenced by the size, SEER rating, and location of the new unit as well as whether or not the existing furnace, electrical panel, and ducts are suitable for air conditioning or if they must be replaced. We don't charge anything to come out to your house and give you a written proposal, customized especially for your situation, showing you your prices and your various choices. In almost all cases the proposal is written up for you on the spot with no waiting to receive it in the mail.
Q: What size of air conditioner do I need for my house?
A: Air conditioners are rated in "tons" of cooling capacity. This phrase comes from the days when ice was used for cooling. One ton of air conditioning is equal to the amount of cooling you would get from one ton of ice melting in your home in one hour. One ton of cooling is also equal to 12,000 BTUH (British thermal units per hour) and this 12,000 BTUH is further broken down into sensible BTUH (heat which can be sensed with the aid of a thermometer) and latent BTUH ("hidden heat" which cannot be sensed with the aid of a thermometer.) This has to do with how much moisture removal is accomplished by the air conditioning system and gets fairly complex.
Contrary to popular belief, proper sizing is not done based on the square footage of the home, such as one ton of ac for every 500 square feet. Such rough rule of thumb guesses do not allow for important variables. The proper size can only be determined from the results of a heat load calculation on your home. The calculation takes into account the area of exposed walls, the glass area and whether it's single or dual pane, the insulation levels in floors, walls, and ceilings, any exterior or interior shading, the requested indoor temperature, and the volume of the house in cubic feet. We use a method of calculation called "manual J" which was developed by Air Conditioning Contractors of America and approved for this use.
Proper size is critical to your comfort and savings on your energy bill. Oversized units cost more to operate and short cycle so much that your house may become humid and uncomfortable. Undersized units run all day long and still don't cool the house. Make sure you get the right size.
Q: Is there any real difference between brand names of air conditioners?
A: Yes. There are major differences. We use only Trane air conditioners because they use all aluminum condenser coils (other brands use copper tubing with aluminum fins and the SEER rating of these type of units degrade rapidly after installation), they build their own compressors which have an extremely low failure rate, at last count less that one half of one percent came back to the factory with a problem and half of those were misdiagnosed, and this manufacturer provides a steel louvered cabinet around the entire unit to protect the condenser coils where other manufacturers leave the coils exposed to damage.
Q: After I have a new air conditioner installed will it require any maintenance?
A: Yes. We suggest that if you have a combination heating and cooling system you have us come out and do a tune up on the system every six months. Keeping the system clean is the name of the game. As the coils and blower wheels begin to get dirty the efficiency of the system plummets, your energy bill climbs, and your comfort level drops. Regular tune ups also extend equipment life and help to prevent mechanical break downs.