Video: 5 Things to Know About A/C Maintenance

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Bob Brewer

Subject: Coils replacement in AC

Technician tells me that if he cleans the coils it might cause them to leak, and I should replace the coils. His cost $950. System seems to be running fine right now, and I just called to have an annual maintenance.

Suggestions please

Wendell Ferrell, inventor/evangelist

Subject: $ Saving Tips

I suggest using a filter that can be cleaned & replaced. They R more expensive BUT saves N a short time-just take out, clean & replace! Why keep buying more needlessly? I do this every 2-3 weeks!

Greg Wright

Subject: Twice Yearly Maintenance Plans

I have a townhouse apartment that I purchased new in 2009. The apartment has a 13 seer HVAC system. I live in Georgia where the AC is necessary for me from probably late April/early May to the late September. I get a grace period during the month of October where I don’t need the heat or A/C. I usually turn my heat on towards early November. I get another grace period during the month of March, early April where no heat nor A/C is needed. I religiously replace my filter every 4 months. The filter never gets really dirty but I replace it anyway. I’ve gone back and forth with the twice yearly maintenance plan issue. Before moving to Georgia in 2006, I lived in Massachusetts. There, most homes have separate systems for heating (the great majority being heating oil or gas) and air conditioning. I can understand why each system in Massachusetts would require a once a year maintenance call.

The company that I use recommends maintenance twice yearly. The company sales pitch is the twice a year maintenance is needed for the heating side in the Fall and A/C side in the Spring. I’m not an expert but two maintenance calls per year on an HVAC system seems excessive. I’ve owned my unit for 6 years. Two of those years I signed up for twice a year maintenance plans. The other 4 years I had the unit serviced once a year. I am conflicted because it seems to me an HVAC system is an all-in-one system, sort of like an all-in-one printer. A printer does not need different inks to print, scan, fax and copy. The same ink cartridges work for all. I’m not comparing an HVAC with an all-in-one printer, but the principle is the same. The heat pump is used to process the refrigerant into cold or hot. Service companies try to sale the twice yearly maintenance on the basis of heat and A/C. But, the heat/AC basically use the components, except on those rare ocassions when the heating coils in the furnance become necessary as auxilliary heat. So, unless someone can convince me I’ve resolved that I will only commit to the once a year maintenace. Of course if there is a problem I will call for service as needed.

Tom E

Subject: Twice Yearly Maintenance Plans

There is a clarification here:
Twice a year maintenance is definitely needed if you have A/C with Gas Heat, because actually you have 2-different systems, parts of them in the same enclosure.
If you have a Heat Pump, its a little different because its one system and inverses the refrigeration circuit between heat and cool- though chances are you have a source of auxiliary heat (Mostly electric)- yes you can get away with once a year maintenance having mentioned that you replace your filters three times a year.
Now, since this point is clarified, a machine normally needs to be maintained according to the manufacturer instructions, which most likely would be twice a year for most manufacturers. And let us not forget, it's called a "Preventive Maintenance", it's meant to discover -as early as possible- any predictable malfunction that will catch you in the middle of a frigid night, or the heat of a rush hour.

Mari P.

Subject: New A/C Unit

We got a new a/c unit installed in May 2014. I'm getting conflicting information. One A/C guy says that since the unit is new to wait a few years to have it serviced. Another A/C says that you should get it regularly serviced, even if it's new, because if it breaks down, the warranty company will want to make sure it's been serviced. Please help!

Anonimus

Subject: Video

Keep in mind this IS NOT an instructional video. It's an Angie's List video.
Their whole website is about referring reliable professionals to do the work FOR YOU.

The purpose of this video IS NOT to teach people how to do a maintenance yourself, or all the details about it. If you have an HVAC unit in your home you should know by now how to replace the filter or at least know someone to ask about it.

The purpose is to let you know you need reliable professionals to do the yearly full maintenance to your HVAC, because you ARE NOT a licensed technician or have the knowledge to perform a task like that.

Shawna

Subject: Cleaning the unit - has to be "taken out"

Our renters just sent us pictures of what looks like black growth on the AC unit that they found while replacing the filter. We just had an A/C company out there 2 months ago to service the unit for leaking water (which they say is very common once a year in Southern Alabama). That being said, the tenants called the company on the unit to come look at it and give an estimate to clean it (which we OK'd) and I was just informed that since they have to take the unit "out" to clean it, it will cost over $500. My question is twofold: (1) We have the water leakage problem every year, so basically 1-2 times a year, someone has been out there to fix it. How has that not been noticed before? (2) $550? Can that be right? I figured maybe $200. If anyone in the business can respond quickly I would SO appreciate it!! Thank you!!

Cheryl B.

Subject: Cleaning / Servicing your A/C unit

Hey people - please make sure you qualify your answers up front - especially you HVAC guys. If you live in the south - we can use our A/C from Mar to Nov alot of the time. We've had to run A/C on Christmas Day too. I work for an HVAC company - and telling people not to have their units checked is not always in their best interest. 1. Warranties require it. Period. They require proof of it too. 2. and just as important - our customers who have had their units checked 2x per year - DO NOT HAVE the same kinds of breakdowns other customers do. that is MY experience and I not the technology part of this family. I answer the phone and do the books, dispatch the calls. CHANGE YOUR FILTERS PEOPLE... more frequently if you live in the south and have indoor animals. Yeah, our guys have stories about other companies ripping them off - opening up the valves so the refrigerant leaks out, selling unnecessary parts. I can't tell you how many times we've come behind some tech whose diagnosis was new unit. For one comm'l customer - it meant upwards of 30 grand to replace 4 rooftop units 5 years ago. One very messy cleaning job that lasted almost all day - those units are still running. They've been our customer ever since. And free or cheap service calls? Nobody gets a free lunch. Some how you will pay for it. I have people call all the time - checking out the cheapest rate for servicing a unit. Your daddy ever tell you "you get what you pay for?" Mine too and my grandpa. People have NO PROBLEM taking their cars in for regular oil changes etc... but somehow you spend that much on an HVAC system and its supposed to run all day and all night... Sometimes people are your own worst enemy. You get on Angie's List to find good contractors - then choose your service contractor based on price. That is nuts. We run into this all the time. You need to wake up people. Quality doesn't equal cheap. That contractor has got to pay for a tech, a truck, insurance etc and if people constantly look for cheap - then some of these companies play right into that mindset. We aren't the most expensive but we're not the cheapest. We want to keep our techs during the winter. We don't let them go and then hire what nobody else wanted in the spring. Customer's want certified/licensed/insured contractors - that doesn't equal cheap. We have customers who have old units - they keep them serviced - and they are still running. Good luck to all ya'll...

John

Subject: Hvac

Most if these comments are true!! I own my own Hvac company and as I do suggest annual check up of a residential unit. As a prof I am able to check the charge, coil inside and out and keep the unit running properly. I DO NOT recommend changing out a unit because of age. As long as your electric bill is within reason, run your unit till is stops running. No need to replace it if it is still operating. Yes I agree some of these companies go out and tell their customers" oh your unit is to old u need to replace it" when all it needs is a cleaning, a capacitor, start assist etc. Always get a second opionon if you feel you are getting the run around. Good luck!

Kim

Subject: Air conditioning tune up

I am currently a commercial HCAC tech by choice because residential hvac company's I've worked for think a good tech is one who sells the most new units or parts. Truth is these guys can't fix their way out of a paper bag. They also rip off the customers telling them they need to replace parts or their units entirely

Shipdog7

Subject: air conditioner maintenance

Thank you Yogy and fenn for your honesty. Unfortunately we home owners are at the mercy of trained technicians that diagnose our appliances and falsely warn us of broken, or excessively worn parts that don't need to be replaced immediately. Same with auto repair. I almost fell for one with a furnace giving me trouble in a home I was renting. I forgot the exact terminology but he said there was a crack in the furnace. Carbon monoxide was leaking into the house. Gave me prices on new furnaces. I checked with the landlord and told her I would get a second opinion for her. Second tech came out and was really ticked at the previous guy trying the scare tactic with us. He said it was an old furnace. And it could very well happen in the future. But that it didn't need to be replaced at that time.

fenn

Subject: Yearly maintenance re Yogy

I run a small HVAC company Chicago's northside and agree with Yogy's post. Twice this week alone I responded to calls where a tech from two of the well-known companies condemned condensers because of their age. This is a common strong-arm approach for them, hedging a simple capacitor or motor replacement into an unnecessary system upgrade that typically takes zero consideration in duct/airflow modification. These guys are under a lot of pressure to make sales and to do so during routine service calls is suspect.

As Yogy wrote, checking the inside of the evaporator coil is a task which goes well beyond the scope of seasonal maintenance. Any capable technician will have a great sense of the coil condition via the blower wheel and refrigerant superheat/subcooling. Beyond that, if my average residential clients are diligent about replacing their filters and hosing off their condensers, I don't need to see them every year. It is not good for my bottom line but it is a realistic approach for my region.

@Phil. An upgrade to 16 SEER is a high investment that should be taken with consideration of every aspect of your home ie the number of heat days you experience, the quality of your home's insulation, duct design, proper equipment sizing and even perhaps how long you plan to live there. Getting a significant upgrade is wasted if you have excessive static pressure, for example. Good luck.

HVAC Business owner

Subject: Video

Why would Angie's list endorse one company over another!?!?!? I thought endorsements came from consumer reviews! The names on the shirts should be blurred out.Can get up to 20 years with( not every unit will get 20) 1. proper maintenance 2 its like cars going down an assembly line sometimes bad ones get out. I know I was engineering tech for a major manufacturer.

phil woolley

Subject: ac maintenence

I hve 1986 RUUD SEER RATED 10 still working, AC CHECKED EVERY YEAR. i HAVE NOTED THE LEVELIZED gULF pOWER BILLING HAS GONE FROM $68 A YEAR TO $90 THIS YEAR...SHOULD i REPLACE IT WITH 14 OR 16 seer RATED?

Yogy

Subject: I am a HVAC business owner.

I am a HVAC business owner. And don't agree with having the A/C checked every year. Maybe in the south where the A/C runs 6 to 8 months out of the year, But still, to do all the things this guy claims he does will be more than $100.00
Checking the indoor coil is NOT an easy task on most systems. In most cases, you have to open up the main supply duct work, to the see coil. Then you can only see the outside of the coil, not the inside of the coil. And there is nothing to see. This is Not nesessary. Most unethical HVAC Companies use this to make money by, either replacing parts that are not broken,or lying and telling home owners the equipment needs to be replaced, because it is Old. And in most cases old is 10 years or more. All furnaces and A/C units are built to last a minimum of 20 years.

Bryan Singleton

Subject: A/C Units

Thank you for clarifying this. I have heard people say that you need to replace every 7-9 years. I have been using the same one for 11 years and just replaced the outside fan motor, and the fan capacitor and it seems to be working fine, as well as having the A?C company do the check up. I hear alot of people say after 10 years the units should go.... What is your take on this??????

bob

Subject: AC video

This video is an advertisement to help HVAC companies increase their service revenues. Nothing more, nothing less.

Eli

Subject: Fo Livit: If you look closely

Fo Livit: If you look closely at the filter when she pulls it out you can clearly see that the filter is filthy; in the next view the filter is white and obviously clean. You can also see that she is checking the clean filter for proper direction for installation.

wayne graham

Subject: Anonymous critique

OK brainiac, movie sucks? maybe you should use spell check for your 3 word critique- VIDEO WHAT THE (H) IS VIDOE, WHY DON'T YOU EXPLAIN TO US NON A/C TECHNICIANS, WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE MOVIE, HOW WOULD YOU CORRECT IT? USING SPELL CHECK IS MUCH EASIER THAN MAINTAINING AN A/C UNIT. Did you really need spell check for V I D E O??? IT'S BEEN IN YOU HOME FOR 50 YEARS. and you're working with high voltage equipment, better get rubber gloves and rubber boots!

Another anonymous

Subject: This video doesn't suck, but could be more helpful

A homeowner can do certain things themselves to save $ on maintenance, including keeping coils clean and removing debris from outside condenser and replacing inside filters. The video would have been more helpful if it showed consumers things they can do themselves.

Livit

Subject: missed opportunity

This video includes clip of a woman who appears to pull a filter out of her unit. She looks at it; the camera sees it, it looks like it's full of dirt, and yet she PUT IT BACK INTO THE UNIT as is! This would have been a perfect time to educate viewers about the difference between cleanable and replaceable filters, and how to either clean or replace filters. There are also lots of choices for consumers as to the size and type of replacement filter. This video loses a vital opportunity.

Dianna Grant

Subject: AC yearly tune ups

I agree with the person who commented on the filthy filter being reinserted into the AB unit. I change mine monthly and believe
me, it needs it. I have been told, if you can see through the filter it's clean. If no light shows through, toss it and replace it. I also heard unless you have allergies, the cheap[ filters are fine. Spending more is just a waste of $. I also remove everything from the closet that holds the AC and vacuum it really good. It accumulates a lot of dust which will be drawn into your filter.

Jim McWilliams

Subject: tips that matter

Our busy lives sometimes run right by things if importance. Thanks for the reminders and please keep doing good things for people. I promise when I am healed from elbow injury, I will come to you for my advertising. Thank-you

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what should you pay.  You pay what you can afford.  1100sqft unit requires a min. of a two ton unit.  prices range from 2100-2900 depending upon the seers of the system.  13 seer is the min. the law requires  and for your situation with 1100 sqft.  do not worry about the seers as long as it is to code.  the bigger the house the more seers for economy.  1100 sqft is at the border line for a two ton system.  It is more important to have your new system balance, there is where you get the economy on your electric bill and gas.  Bryant, lenox, ruud and carrier are the brands you should stay with.All have the same basic factory warrantee and will last you longer than you expect as long as you maintain it with regular check ups twice a year once in the spring and then in the fall.

raymond gonzalez
koolray heating and air
 clarksville,tn
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APRStore.com offers a nice sizing chart for HVAC capacitors and furnace capacitors. Most of the capacitors I've looked at are $5 to $15 dollars, so a little less than Home Depot and Lowes.

 

Replacement is really easy, but be sure to watch a youtube video on how to replace it like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IpydZIsOJg

 

Stay safe and hire a professional if you feel unsure about doing it yourself!

?
The only thing of importance, is the hvac professional you choose to use. Alot of manufacturer's pieces are built relatively the same, and will last about the same amount of time. The thing that matters most is what you can not compare between companies, and that is the installation. Purchasing a system is not like purchasing a car, where no matter where you buy it, they are all the same. Each installation is different, and usually what you are paying for is the level of expertise, and quality of the installation, the company who will actual give you the warranty, and the comfort that you will receive. Manufacturers warranties disappear every day. They always have a loophole where they can get out of paying, but your local dealer wants to keep you happy for future work, and to protect his reputation in the communiy. Look up 4 year old Nordyne and Goodman warranty problems. Choose the HVAC professional first. It will cost you the least in the long run. I have had to totally redo plenty of installations that were just performed because of an uncomfortable customer, and a system that keeps breaking down. The equipment is only as good as it's installation, and over 70% are not installed correctly.
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I think maybe you are confusing SEER, which is an efficiency-related rating (higher SEER means more effective use of the electric power used to compress the gas), and TONS rating, which is a measure of the total cooling power of the system. (Tons used to mean how many tons per hour of ice was used in evaporative cooling building systems - a Refrigeration or Cooling Ton equals 12,000 Btu/Hour of energy exchange. A BTU, which is another antique measure but still used, is the energy needed to change the temperature of a pound of water one degree fahrenheit. Unfortunately, because of varying humidity and evaporation, this is not readily related to house air heating or cooling without a lot of assumptions and some computations. Relating this to today's world - the Manuals BayAreaAc referred to account for all these energy conversions and determine an estimated cooling (or heating) requirement for your specific house. The type of construction, solar exposure, general climatic conditions such as average temperatures, humidity, and hottest and coldest normal ambient temperatures and desired inside temperture are all taken into account in the more sophisticated versions of the analysis, so there is no "standard", though a rough old rule of thumb was about 1 ton of cooling per 500SF of house. Obviously, this was a WAG only because it did not account for insulation, type of roofing, whether you live in Alaska or Miami, etc. The ACCA manuals do a very simplified form of evaluation to arrive at a "design", which generally will be adequate. OF course, highly precise calculations are not really needed because A/C units generally come in even ton ratings - so if you are at say 2.6 ton requirement you will be getting a 3-ton unit anyway. SEER ratings are not a direct measure of efficiency, but the relative difference between ratings gives you good idea of the unit's relative efficency in using electricity - so a 16 SEER should be about 19% more efficient (so roughly comparable lower electricity bill) than a comparably sized 13 SEER unit. 13 SEER is the lowest efficiency currently allowed to be built for general use, 19 SEER is about the highest efficiency made by pretty much all manufacturers, and about 25 SEER is the highest rated though very pricey shelf-item units, though special construction custom units can reach about 30 SEER. Note however, like any government sponsored rating, much of it is hooey when you get down to it - for instance, SEER ratings are figured based on 80 degree inside air temp and 82 degrees outside, when that is far from the normal case of mid to low seventies inside and high eighties or above outdoors. This makes the absolute SEER rating meaningless, but relative numbers still have meaning in comparing units. Note these efficiency ratings are for conventional air conditoners and heat pumps working in ambient air conditions. Ground sourced Geothermal or lake/river exchange cooling units, though initially more expensive in most cases, can greatly exceed the air-exchange unit efficiencies because they are exchanging heat with cold natural water rather than with a high-temperature outside air, and instead of continually compressing a gas are just circulating cold water. I worked on one geothermal cooling project which had almost infinite efficiency, which of course makes no sense - but the only power was for sensors and a control valve as the water flow was single-pass under gravity flow, so no power was used to circulate the water.