Burgess Mechanical Inc. - Air Conditioning/ Heating/ Refrigeration and Plumbing
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the average life of a central air conditioning system?
It can vary, depending on how much the system is used and how regularly it is checked or serviced. Generally, the average life of cooling units built in the 1970s and '80s is about 15 years, but individual units may last longer, depending on use and how well they are maintained. Heat pumps have about the same life span. Newer units are expected to last even longer.
 
Is central air conditioning better than a window unit?
This depends largely on individual circumstances - how large the area to be air conditioned is, how large the family is, what temperatures are required, how well the house is insulated, where the house is located, etc. In most cases, if more than three large rooms need air conditioning, it is best to consider central air conditioning.
 
If my air conditioner is no longer cooling properly, what is the most likely problem?
It could be as simple as a fuse that has blown or a circuit breaker that has to be reset. If an electrical problem is not the cause, and the system still runs but does not cool properly, the cause may be low refrigerant.If the problem involves a major part, such as the compressor, you will most likely hear strange noises similar to those heard in any mechanical equipment that is not running correctly, or the unit might not run at all.
 
Can homeowners repair their own air conditioners?
In most cases, the answer is no. Cooling systems today are too complicated to service and usually require expert attention in order to comply with federal regulations.An EPA-certified air-conditioning contractor or service technician should be called at the first sign of trouble. Remember, anyone working on air conditioning units must be licensed.
 
In hot weather, should I turn my thermostat up when I leave for work in the morning?
If your house is going to be empty for more than about four hours, it is a good idea to turn your thermostat up to about 82 degrees instead of 78, which is usually recommended.When you come home, do not set the thermostat any lower than the temperature you actually desire. Your air-conditioning system will not cool any faster and can easily waste money by cooling your home more than is needed.
 
What do I set my thermostat to?
The most economical operation of your system comes from setting the thermostat properly. Set the thermostat at the highest summer setting or the lowest winter setting at which you are comfortable. Typical settings are 78 degrees for summer cooling and 70 degrees for winter heating. When cooling, your operating costs increase from 3% to 8% for each degree your thermostat is lowered.
 
When buying a house, how can I make sure that the air-conditioning system is in good working order?
Turn on the system and listen for unusual sounds, simultaneously feel how cool and how strong the air flow is from the vents.
Go outside and listen to the condensing unit as well. The best way to be certain there are no problems, however, is to hire a contractor to inspect the system. It is a small expense, and it can save you a lot of money in unanticipated future repairs.
 
Should a thermostat be set to "auto" or "on"?
When the thermostat is set to "auto," the fan operates only when the temperature requires it. This is the most used setting. However, there are advantages to using the "on" setting. First of all, the air in the house is constantly filtered through the unit's air filter. Secondly, the constantly circulating air results in an even temperature throughout the house.
 
Can shrubs and flowers be planted around an outdoor unit?
Yes. However, we recommend that plants be no closer than 18 inches from the unit. This allows plenty of room for air circulation in and out of the unit. Without this room for air circulation, the unit could overheat, resulting in a premature need for service. Do not build sheds or roofs over the air-conditioner.
 
If an outdoor unit needs replacing, should the indoor unit be replaced as well?
It is a good idea to replace the entire system when a part of the system fails to operate correctly. That is because air conditioning and heating units are designed to operate as a complete, matched system.The efficiency rating is based on the entire system. To gain the maximum benefit of new, highly efficient technology, the entire system should be replaced together. This ensures the system is reliable and efficient.
 
How do you know what size system a house needs?
Which system is best for a particular application is best determined by your local Air Conditioning dealer. There are many variables to be considered, such as square feet in the house, climate at the location, the number and type of windows, insulation of the house, number of people in the house, et cetera. The dealer will consider all the factors in making a recommendation.
 
What is the rating for air conditioning systems called?
The efficiency of central air conditioning systems is rated using SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio)
 
How often should I have my A/C and heating equipment inspected?
Your equipment should be checked once a year. The A/C unit should be checked in the spring and your heating unit in the fall.
 
How often should filters be cleaned or replaced?
Typically, filters should be cleaned or replaced once a month. However, if you have inside pets you need to check your filter more frequently. Restricted air flow will reduce the amount of cooling capacity from your unit.
 
Why should I replace my existing air conditioning system?
Newer Air Conditioning Systems can be as much as 60% more efficient than older systems. If you are facing a costly repair you may want to seriously consider replacing your system. By doing so, you could dramatically lower your energy bill.