Air Conditioning FAQ
What makes up my A.C. system?
The main A.C. components include the:
- Temperature Controller (Thermostat)
- Evaporator Coil (“A” Coil)
- Air Handler
- The “A” Coil sits above the furnace (or under in downflow furnaces)
- The “A” Coil is connected to the condenser, typically sitting outside on a pad, by two copper pipes.
- The air handler in the furnace forces the cool air through the duct system to the cool the home.
How does my A.C. system work?
Here is the step-wise process:
- When the temperature rises above the setpoint (i.e., 74⁰ F), the thermostat “calls” for cooling.
- The condenser cools down and pumps refrigerant through a copper pipe to the “A” coil above (or below) the furnace.
- Warm air is then drawn from the home through the duct system by the furnace fan (air handler) and forced through the “A” coil.
- As air passes through the refrigerated (cooled) “A” coil, it extracts heat, and the moisture (humidity) is condensed.
- The cool, dehumidified air continues to circulate through the duct system into the home until the thermostat is “satisfied” by reaching the set point (74⁰F).
- The heat extracted by the “A” coil is absorbed by the refrigerant moving through the coil, transported through a second copper pipe to the condenser and expelled into the outside air.
- The water from the condensation process drips off the coil into a drain pan and typically runs through a pipe to a floor drain.
Frequently Asked A.C. Service Questions
How often should I replace my A.C. system air filter?
- The standard one-inch thick fiberglass filter should be replaced every 3-months and more often if children or pets are present in the home.
- Replace two-inch thick filters every other month (every 2 months or 6 times per year)
- Many newer units have special filters that replace annually.
- Higher efficiency (Merv 8-11) 4-5 inch thick filters should be replaced every 12 months and more often (semi-annually) if children or pets are present to generate more airborne particles.
For more information on filter types, filter efficiency ratings, and the optimal air filter system for your home, see “What Makes Up My Indoor Air Quality System?” or call Midwest Heating and Cooling (614-252-5241).
How do I know if my A.C. is working correctly?
The primary function of your A.C. is to maintain indoor temperature at the setpoint on your thermostat.
Troubleshooting Criteria for a Malfunctioning A.C.:
- If you have selected 74º F as the set point, and the thermometer reading varies 3º F or more above or below the setpoint.
- Listen for abnormal sounds (buzzing, squeaking, popping, banging, clicking, etc.), both at the furnace and at the condenser outside.
- Check for dripping water from the “A” coil drain pipe, where it terminates at the floor drain.
- Check for ice on the "A" coil
Even if the A.C. system is maintaining temperature, a plugged air filter or dirty furnace fan wheel often cause low air flow, extra-long cycle times, and ultimately shut down of the entire system.
It is essential that the A.C. system shut down promptly if the above-noted issues are found to be present, as the continued operation with the above conditions can cause severe damage to the compressor or other components—resulting in costly repairs.
TIP: Run you A.C. during a warm day (70ºF or warmer) in spring or early summer for 30-60 minutes. Turn off the system if it is not blowing cool air (55ºF through the supply registers!
Call Midwest (614-252-5241) for a service call and beat the summer rush.
What should I check before calling for A.C. Service?
Confirm that you set the thermostat to cooling mode and at the desired setpoint (typically 70º F - 74º F). In the main circuit panel, check to be sure that the A.C. circuit breaker is in the “on” position. Change the filter if it’s dirty. Remove any obstructions (throw rugs, furniture, etc.) from the supply air registers and return air grills. Check that the front furnace panel(s) are securely locked in place.
TIP: Call Midwest (614-252-5421) at your earliest convenience, since service call backlogs can develop during “heatwave” periods..
What is required maintenance for peak performance and a valid warranty?
Most quality Heating and Cooling Contractors offer an Annual Service Agreement. The PCSA (Preferred Customer Service Agreement) offered by Midwest Heating & Cooling provides for an equipment tune-up for the Heating Season (furnace and heat pump) and the Cooling Season (air conditioner or heat pump). A Midwest Customer Service Representative calls to schedule each tune-up at your convenience during regular business hours (8 am – 5 pm, M – F). A qualified service technician performs the tune-up to keep your heating and cooling equipment operating at peak efficiency and to preserve your equipment warranty. As with your vehicle warranty that requires specific service routines (oil change, air filter replacement, transmission service, etc.), Heating and Cooling equipment manufacturers also require periodic maintenance to be performed to keep your furnace, heat pump, and air conditioner warranty valid. Check the warranty document that came with the equipment for further detail. Another car maintenance analogy that may be helpful: just as an auto tune-up results in better gas mileage, an "in-tune" A.C. system saves on your repair and electric bills..
What does my warranty cover?
A heating and cooling system warranty typically has two parts (equipment & labor).
- The key part covered for the furnace is the Heat Exchanger (20-years or lifetime); and
- The key part of the AC or heat pump is the compressor (5-10 years).
- Manufacturers warrant other covered parts for 5-10 years.
- All other parts and labor (workmanship) have 1-year warranty coverage.
- Extended labor warranties (5-10 years) are available to purchase at an additional cost.
Remember to have your annual equipment maintenance performed, to keep your warranties valid and your system operating at peak efficiency..
Specific warranties for your new A.C. should be noted on the installation agreement from your Heating and Cooling Contractor and further spelled out in the warranty document that comes with your new A.C. system..
TIP: If you can’t find your warranty document, call Midwest, and we will go online and print a copy for you (614-252-5421). Or call today to request a copy of our P.C.S.A. to assure that your A.C. is adequately maintained to keep its warranty valid..
How do I know if my A.C. should be repaired or replaced?
There are numerous criteria to evaluate to include:
- Age and condition of the existing A.C. unit
- Repair cost estimates
- Whether this home will be your long-term residence, and
- Whether your furnace needs replacing
All the above are just some of the critical factors in choosing to repair or replace your existing cooling system. As a general rule, if your AC is over 13-years old and/or requires costly repairs ($500 or more), consider opting for a new system..
Newer A.C. systems offer more reliable, efficient, comfortable service plus a warranty to cover repairs. Savings of more than 30% or so from utility bills and also savings from future repair costs covered under warranty will often pay for the new A.C. over time (typically about 7 years)..
For those who plan to reside in the home for the long-term, A.C. replacement delays can result in higher replacement costs. Deferred replacements, by Murphy's Law standards, seem to occur at the most inconvenient times..
For the homeowner who does not plan to reside in the home for the long-term, in a resale scenario, a home inspection will reveal the outdated system and can be a deciding factor or bargaining chip in a buyer's interest. With a new system in place, you increase your competitive advantage for property resale at the highest value..
TIP: Newer A.C. coils that sit above (or below) the furnace are taller to meet government-mandated efficiency standards. These taller coils frequently do not fit in the original coil installation space. The “too tall” coil issue can be resolved by simultaneously installing a new shorter furnace made to accommodate the extra coil height.
Frequently Asked Air Conditioning Service Questions
How do I select the right A.C.?
Today’s A.C.s offer a wide range of features including 2 stage condenser fans, variable speed compressors, various efficiency levels (13-SEER – 20+ SEER), and microprocessors. The benefit is more precise control over the cooling cycle/dehumidification process, and better comfort at a lower cost. Some personal research at the library, in consumer reports, or online will help you be more familiar with feature and benefit options available. One such option is Trane. Heating and A.C. contractors are another excellent source of information. As with many major purchases, you need to trust and feel comfortable with your installing contractor.
How do I select the right Heating and A.C. contractor?
Your installing contractor is as important as your choice of A.C. equipment.
- The contractors you consider should have factory-trained installers, a service department offering emergency service, and have been in business for at least five (5) years (preferably 10+ years).
- Check with the Better Business Bureau for an A to A+ Rating and with Google (or other sites) for online reviews.
- Ask for the contractor HVAC license number. They need to pull a permit to ensure that the installation will be approved to meet all codes by a city/county HVAC inspector.
- You will likely rely on your A.C. contractor for advice, service, and warranty coverage long after the completion of your A.C. installation.
How much will my A.C. installation cost?
Cost can vary markedly as a function of the A.C. selected and the labor intensity of the installation.
- A basic 13-14 SEER A.C. may be in the $2,000 range.
- More energy efficient (15-20 SEER) air conditioners with extra comfort and other benefits will be two to three times the cost of a basic A.C.
- More labor and material intensive installs also impact the A.C. total installation cost.
- A quality installation that complies with city codes and the manufacturer's installation manual entails a significant effort by factory-trained technicians.
- Accordingly, the decision-making process whether to purchase a new A.C. should not be strictly price-driven.
Tip: Consult Midwest Heating and Cooling (614-252-5241) for more A.C. cost/benefit information and convenient financing options.
How is the energy efficiency of an A.C. measured?
The expression of A.C. capacity is in “British Thermal Units” (BTUs) or “tons” (12,000 BTUs per ton).
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a value indicating the amount of cooling (BTUs per hour). The A.C. unit can generate per unit (kilowatt or KW) of electricity used. The higher the SEER value, the more energy efficient the A.C.
For example, a basic 13-SEER unit requires markedly more power to operate than an 18- or 20-SEER unit.
The annual power savings can be compared to the extra cost of a higher SEER A.C. to determine the payback period. For more information, see the A.C. Energy Efficiency Calculator below or call Midwest (614-252-5241).
Tip: Use our energy savings calculator to determine savings and the payback period for a higher SEER, more efficient A.C. system.
What should I know about the new R-410A Refrigerant?
R-22 was the refrigerant used in home A.C.s for many years. Often called “Freon” (a brand name), the government will ban R-22 completely in 2020, as an “Earth Unfriendly” substance.
In the interim, production of R-22 continues to reduce annually until 2020. As a discouraging factor with decreased supply, the price of R-22 has more than doubled and continues to increase. The impact on specific repairs for R-22 A.C.s is increased cost.
R-410A, the new more "Earth-Friendly" refrigerant, is used in today’s A.C.s and will likely be the industry standard for many years.
TIP: If you have an older A.C. or heat pump that is leaking R-22 refrigerant resulting in costly repairs, it may be time to replace it with a new R-410A system.
Are A.C. system rebates, tax credits, or discounts available?
Offers that reduce your new A.C. system price are available, time-sensitive and change periodically. The Utility Companies (AEP and Columbia Gas) and the equipment manufacturers offer mail-in rebates and instant discounts that can also significantly reduce the cost of a new heating and A.C. system.
TIP: Check with Government and Utility websites or call Midwest (614-252-5241) for more details.
How long will it take to replace my A.C.?
Completion of most A.C. replacements can take place in one work day. A more involved installation may take longer to perform. However, during extreme temperature periods, Midwest Heating Installers remain until they restore cooling on the first day, and then return the second day to complete the job, as necessary.
Should I replace the furnace and A.C. or heat pump at the same time?
If both the furnace and air conditioner (or heat pump) are over 13 years old or if the unit(s) in question has a history of repairs, replacing the entire heating and cooling system would be advisable. Simultaneous replacement of both systems is more efficient for the contractor, and therefore less costly than replacing one now and the other system later. New and more efficient A.C. and heat pump indoor coils are taller in physical height; consequently, new furnaces are shorter to provide for fewer installation problems and lower labor costs with a compatible fit.
All A.C.s and heat pumps now contain the new “Earth-Friendly” refrigerant (R-410A). Therefore, if your existing unit uses the old refrigerant (R-22) that is phasing out by 2020, you will find refrigerant leak repairs for existing A.C. or heat pump system to be increasingly more expensive.
Finally, the new higher efficiency furnaces, air conditioners, and heat pumps work optimally when the heating and cooling systems come as a matched set. Microprocessors in the heating and cooling units along with the thermostat “communicate” with each other to provide more comfort and save on your utility bills.
TIP: If you are concerned about the reliability of your AC system and/or heating system call Midwest (614) 252-5241 and request a free no obligation estimate for a new high-efficiency system.
Contact Us For Service
Midwest Contractor is a family-owned company that has been providing Columbus with reliable heating and cooling, home remodeling, roofing and gutter cleaning services for over 100 years. We are experts in air conditioner and furnace services (HVAC): including maintenance and installation.
Need a Contractor?
Fill out our online form or send us an e-mail to schedule a in home roofing, heating and cooling installation and repair service, or remodeling estimates in Columbus.