Frequently Asked Questions
- How does an AC unit work and what are the basic kinds of AC units available?
- How often should I replace my AC filter and why?
- Are all air filters the same?
- My furnace and air conditioner serve both the upstairs and downstairs levels of my home. My upstairs is much warmer than downstairs; how can I achieve even temperatures for both floors?
- I have allergies and would like to insure that the indoor air is clean. What can I do?
- Is it normal to have to add Freon every year?
- Is it important to have my furnace and air conditioner serviced every year?
- What if I do not change my air filter on regular basis?
- What if I smell gas?
- Should I leave my blower fan set to "On" or "Auto"?
Q. How does an AC unit work and what are the basic kinds of AC units available?
A. Air conditioners employ the same operating principles and basic components as your home refrigerator. An air conditioner cools your home with a cold indoor coil called the evaporator. The condenser, a hot outdoor coil, releases the collected heat outside. The evaporator and condenser coils are serpentine tubing surrounded by aluminum fins. This tubing is usually made of copper. A pump, called the compressor, moves a heat transfer fluid (or refrigerant) between the evaporator and the condenser. The pump forces the refrigerant through the circuit of tubing and fins in the coils. The liquid refrigerant evaporates in the indoor evaporator coil, pulling heat out of indoor air and thereby cooling the home. The hot refrigerant gas is pumped outdoors into the condenser where it reverts back to a liquid giving up its heat to the air flowing over the condenser's metal tubing and fins.
The three basic types of air conditioners are room air conditioners, split-system central air conditioners, and packaged central air conditioners.
Room air conditioners cool rooms rather than the entire home. If they provide cooling only where they're needed, room air conditioners are less expensive to operate than central units, even though their efficiency is generally lower than that of central air conditioners.
In many split-system air conditioners, this indoor cabinet also contains a furnace or the indoor part of a heat pump. The air conditioner's evaporator coil is installed in the cabinet or main supply duct of this furnace or heat pump. If your home already has a furnace but no air conditioner, a split-system is the most economical central air conditioner to install.
In a packaged central air conditioner, the evaporator, condenser, and compressor are all located in one cabinet, which usually is placed on a roof or on a concrete slab next to the house's foundation. This type of air conditioner also is used in small commercial buildings. Air supply and return ducts come from indoors through the home's exterior wall or roof to connect with the packaged air conditioner, which is usually located outdoors. Packaged air conditioners often include electric heating coils or a natural gas furnace. This combination of air conditioner and central heater eliminates the need for a separate furnace indoors.
Q. How often should I replace my AC filter and why?
A. Most filters should be changed approximately once a month to insure good air flow. Clogged filters can cause the system to freeze up or not blow conditioned air, or can cause the reset button on the CU to trip and shut down the unit. Also a clogged filter will make your unit run longer and thereby increase your electric bills.
Q. Are all air filters the same?
A. No. Some air filters do not require changing on a monthly schedule. These filters can be changed approximately every 6 months. However, you should still check it monthly to insure that it is still serviceable. We suggest the use of pleated media filters as opposed to fiber media.
Q. My furnace and air conditioner serve both the upstairs and downstairs levels of my home. My upstairs is much warmer than downstairs; how can I achieve even temperatures for both floors?
A. First, you may try adjusting registers. In the summer, closing a number of registers on the lower level will help with the upper level comfort. In the winter, closing a number of registers upstairs may help the lower level comfort. If these simple steps are not adequate then an automatic zoning system may solve your problems. This will allow you to have a thermostat upstairs and downstairs to control the temperature in each area using a single system.
Q. I have allergies and would like to insure that the indoor air is clean. What can I do?
A. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has become a very serious problem because we are making homes more efficient by sealing them up against the outdoor elements. Fresh air stays out, and indoor air pollutants remain trapped inside. An air cleaner, media filter, fresh air ventilator or HEPA system can help alleviate an air quality problem.
Q. Is it normal to have to add Freon every year?
A. No, this indicates that you have a Freon leak. The leak affects the efficiency of your air conditioning system as well as adversely effects the environment. Also, a leak will cause your air conditioner to prematurely wear out. This condition can also cause your system to "ice up", which can cause water damage to property and compressor damage. You should have a service technician check this problem and find the leak with electronic leak detection equipment.
Q. Is it important to have my furnace and air conditioner serviced every year?
A. Yes. Our check and service on the furnace is very important because there are safety mechanisms in the furnace and vent system that should be checked annually. The check and service on an air conditioner will allow your system to perform at maximum efficiency. Additionally, preventative maintenance will minimize your risk of equipment failure and maximize the system's life.
Q. What if I do not change my air filter on regular basis?
A. Not changing the filter can reduce air flow, reduce the efficiency of your system or cause it to not function at all. Additionally, not changing the filter can lead to increased operating costs.
Q. What if I smell gas?
A. A) Propane (LP) gas. You have this type of gas if your gas comes from a tank located outside close to your house. Propane gas is heavier than air, so it will sink to the floor and spread. Consequently, it is much more dangerous than natural gas, which is lighter than air and dissipates much easier. If you smell propane (LP) gas exit your home immediately. You have an emergency. Seek immediate help either from your Propane supplier or 911. If you are able, shut the propane gas supply off at the tank.
A. B) Natural gas. You have this type of gas if you have a gas meter and pay a natural gas supplier or utility. Natural gas has a smell agent added to it as a warning of a leak. If you smell gas faintly, check all areas of your house for strong odor. Include the basement or crawl space and the attic in your search. If the odor is strong anywhere, exit your home immediately. You have an emergency. Call your heating contractor, the gas company, or 911. You need immediate help. You should know how to turn the gas off to your home at the meter. If the smell is only faint throughout all areas of your home, call your heating contractor to get it fixed. Keep the house ventilated by opening windows.
Q. Should I leave my blower fan set to "On" or "Auto"?
A. There is usually no single answer. That is why you have a choice. If you have special air filtering, your filter will only work when the blower is running. So if the furnace or air conditioner is not running much, you may want the blower selection set to "On" to allow for more filtering. If you have a multilevel home on one system, you may find the air temperature more constant with the blower fan on. However, it is recommended to keep the fan in "Auto" mode during the cooling season. New high efficiency cooling coils remove a lot of moisture from air blowing across them. During the air conditioner off cycle, water condensed on the coil surfaces will return to the indoor air if the fan is set to "On". In some homes, this creates elevated humidity levels. Feel free to experiment to determine how you like it best. A blower motor is normally less than 1 HP so it does not use much electricity.