Air Conditioning FAQs
Answers to some frequently asked home air conditioning questions from premier Sarasota area air conditioning company Baker & Sons Air Conditioning.
Air Conditioning Maintenance and Repair Questions
My air conditioner is making noises that I never heard before.
Check the air filter to make sure it is clean. If needed, clean or replace it.
Check to make sure that the area around the indoor unit (your air handler or furnace) is free from debris and clutter.
Check the service records for the air conditioner. If a precision tune-up has not been performed on the A/C system within the last year, call Baker & Sons for a precision tune-up on your heater.
I came home from work, turned my air conditioner on and my house is still hot.
In cases of extreme heat and humidity, it will take time for an air conditioning to lower the temperature inside the home. Properly sized air conditioning systems are designed to maintain temperature during the hottest days of the year, actually lowering the temperature can take time if the system has been off for an extended duration.
We recommend using a programmable thermostat to raise the setting a few degrees during the day when no one is home and then having it set to the appropriate level when you get home.
Also, check the filter. Air conditioning systems are far more sensitive to dirty filters than heating systems are.
My second floor is always hotter than my first floor during the summer.
This is a very common complaint of homeowners.
The first recommendation is to check all vents to make sure they are not covered by furniture or other items.
If all vents are clear of obstruction, make sure all blinds and window treatments are kept closed during the day to reduce the effects of the sun heating the space.
If the problem persists, this could be a result of an inadequate duct system and/or an improperly sized air conditioning system.
Fortunately, Baker & Sons offers zoning solutions that can allow for different areas of the home to be cooled independently of others.
I see ice forming around the indoor or outdoor part of my air conditioning system.
Turn the system off at the thermostat. This is can be indicative of a problem.
Call Baker & Sons to have a technician inspect the system to determine the cause of the problem.
Should I cover my air conditioner in the winter time when I’m not using it to protect it from the elements?
No. Air conditioners are designed to withstand northern winters. Any snow or ice that has accumulated on an un-used air conditioner during the winter time will harmlessly melt away long before the cooling system will be needed for operation.
If an un-related circumstance is causing excessive ice build-up on your air conditioner, (for example, a clogged roof gutter spilling water), the extenuating circumstance should be addressed.
How often should I have my air conditioner serviced by an HVAC company?
Manufacturer’s recommend that the heating and air conditioning system in a central heating and cooling system are each serviced once a year. If your air conditioning system has not had a precision tune up, call Baker & Sons today.
Why are precision tune-ups important?
Heating and cooling units often run for as many 2,000 hours per year. When you neglect them, you pay a hefty price in wasted fuel, shortened equipment life and inconvenient and expensive breakdowns. Having your equipment regularly tuned-up, results in fewer service problems, lower energy bills, a safer system and warranties that are kept valid.
Cooling Filter and Indoor Air Quality Questions
How often should I change the filter in my air conditioner?
In general, Baker & Sons recommends that you replace your disposable filters at once a month. If you have washable filters, they should be cleaned once a month. However, some homes may require more frequent filter changes due to conditions within the home.
Why do I need to change my filter regularly?
Regular filter replacement helps your heating and cooling system operate at peak levels and improves indoor air quality. It is important to change filters regularly to ensure proper air flow and to keep your home free from dust, allergens and germs.
Where is my filter located?
Your air filter should be located in either the blower compartment of the furnace, in an attached filter case, or in a return air grille in a wall or ceiling of your home. If you cannot find the air filter, your Baker & Sons technician will be happy to show you where it is located and how to change it during your next maintenance visit.
Is the filter used during air conditioning season the same one that is used during heating season?
In most cases, yes. If you have one system that provides both heating and air conditioning, then more than likely they share the same filter.
Where can I purchase filters?
If you are unable to find the appropriate-size air filter at your local hardware outlet, contact Baker & Sons for assistance.
I thought pollution was outside. Why should I be worried about my air indoors?
We spend 90% of our time every day indoors. Plus, today's efficient, airtight homes are excellent at conserving energy, but that also makes them better at trapping potentially irritating particles inside the home. With the rising number of people who suffer from allergies and asthma, indoor air quality has become more and more important to our general health and well-being. The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that indoor air can be 4 to 5 times more harmful than outdoor air.
I keep my home very clean. Could the air in my home still not be clean?
Yes. Consider that the average home generates 40 pounds of dust per year for every 1,500 square feet of space. While regular home cleaning is an excellent measure to reduce exposure to irritants and pollutants, it's simply impossible to remove enough of the material by hand to make your home's air as comfortable as it can be. In addition, certain irritants and sources of indoor air pollution cannot be cleaned by hand.
What can be done to help make my home's air cleaner?
You might want to consider having your ducts cleaned. Keep your filters clean and change them regularly. Install a High Efficiency air filtration system that works in conjunction with your HVAC system. For more on Indoor Air Quality Solutions, please click here to visit our Indoor Air Quality page.
How does a whole-home air cleaner work as part of my system?
Whole Home Air Cleaners are designed to perfectly fit as a component of your total home comfort system. Unlike many air cleaners that are situated in a single room of the house, Whole Home Air Cleaners are installed and operated through the same duct work that your furnace or air conditioner might use. It operates out of sight of most living spaces to provide up to 99.98% cleaner air throughout your entire home.
What is the ideal indoor humidity level?
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends a household humidity level between 30 and 60 percent.
General Air Conditioning Questions
What does HVAC stand for?
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.
Should I close the registers and doors to areas of the home that I do not use on a regular basis?
No. Every system is designed to heat and cool a certain number of square feet. By closing registers and doors in certain rooms, you disrupt and decrease the system’s airflow and efficiency. Your system will have to work harder to heat or cool less space, making it stop and start more and become less efficient.
How close to the outdoor unit should I plant shrubs or flowers?
Manufacturers generally agree that plants should not be closer than 18 inches. Air conditioners and heat pumps need intake and exhaust air to operate efficiently. If air cannot circulate, the unit could build up heat and require service.
At what temperature should I set my thermostat?
Temperature settings depend on the time of year and your personal preferences. In the summer 74° to 76° is generally the setting range that most people prefer. Remember, when leaving your house, try to avoid drastic temperature changes. Do not set your temperature back more than 5°; this will cause your unit to work harder to achieve the desired temperature setting.
What are the advantages of a programmable thermostat?
Because they are electronic, programmable thermostats are more accurate and efficient than thermostats that contain mercury. Plus, they allow you to automatically control the temperature in your home at different times of day without ever touching your thermostat.
What does S.E.E.R. mean?
S.E.E.R. is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is the most commonly used measurement of an air conditioning or heat pump system’s energy efficiency when evaluating cooling performance. In essence, a S.E.E.R. rating is similar to a miles per gallon (MPG) rating for an automobile. As in MPG’s, the higher rating, the more efficient the cooling system is — or the less energy it consumes while in use. Effective January of 2006, the minimum S.E.E.R. for all residential central air conditioning systems is 13 S.E.E.R.
New Air Conditioning System Questions
How do I know whether my heating and cooling equipment needs replacement or just repair?
This is a difficult question to provide a “blanket” answer for. As an analogy, it is a similar process of considerations that a car owner must consider when deciding whether to replace a vehicle or not.
- The age of the current system. Our philosophy is that if the current heating system is 15 years old or older, replacement should be seriously considered.
- What is the history of the air conditioning system? Has it required frequent repairs throughout its lifespan? Is it noisy? Does it show signs of excessive wear (rust)? Has it been well maintained by an HVAC company on an annual basis?
- Are there any current rebates or tax credits available towards the purchase of a new high efficiency air conditioning system that will help offset the initial investment?
- Does the current system provide the level of comfort that you want? There is a growing difference between “builder grade” and consumer choice in what a system can offer in terms of comfort and convenience.
- How much will the repairs cost, and how many more repairs will you need in the future? Is keeping an older system operational worth the time, the money and the inconvenience? Often, replacing an old air conditioning will prove to be the less expensive option than paying for repeated repairs.
It’s been a long time since I shopped for a new air conditioning system — or — I’ve never purchased a new air conditioning system before. What is available to me as a consumer?
If you’re deciding on a new system and have not kept up with advances in the industry, you will be amazed at the number of options that you have. Today’s comfort systems offer a surprising number of options and combinations — from individual heaters and air conditioners to integrated or “hybrid” systems. Systems can vary widely in terms of energy efficiency. The ability of systems to monitor conditions and adjust automatically has increased dramatically. And a wider variety of indoor air quality add-ons are available than ever before.
These changes make the replacement decision even more complex than ever, so you can see how important it is to find a HVAC company that will work with you to custom design a system for your home and budget. At Baker & Sons, our goal is to be a company that will partner with you to not only install a system that is appropriate for your situation, but then help you keep the system operating at peak performance.
Are some air conditioning manufacturers or brands better than others?
Yes, we believe so. That’s why we only recommend the most reliable air conditioning systems on the market. However, the manufacturer or brand is only one part of a high performance and reliable A/C system — the air conditioning system design and the quality workmanship that are utilized are crucial to having a long lasting, reliable and trouble free A/C system that reduces your energy bills.
What should I look for when choosing a new air conditioner or heat pump?
Here are some general rules of thumb when you are ready to replace your existing equipment:
- Choose a manufacturer that has a good reputation for quality and durability.
- Choose a model with a high energy efficiency rating to bring you better comfort and lower your seasonal energy bill.
- Be sure that the system you have chosen has been properly sized for the unique needs of your home.
- Finally, choose a reliable company with excellent customer satisfaction and a track record of service after the sale. Talk to your friends and neighbors.
How much does a new A/C system cost?
Due to the many different makes, models and customer needs, as well as installation variables within the home, price is an issue that can only be solved by doing a thorough evaluation of your home and existing equipment.
What do I do if I can’t afford a new HVAC system?
Baker & Sons offers several financing options. Your Baker & Sons Comfort Specialist can recommend a financing plan that best suits your needs.
If I purchase a new heating and air conditioning system, will I be eligible for the Federal Tax Credit?
Baker & Sons installs heating and air conditioning systems that qualify for the Federal Tax Credit every day. Once the installation is complete, homeowners are provided with all certifications and documents showing proof of installation of a qualifying system. For clarification, the Federal Tax Credit for high efficiency central heating and air conditioning systems is 30% of the installed cost, with a maximum credit of $1,500. This is not a tax deduction — but rather a full, dollar for dollar credit.
Your individual eligibility can only be determined by your tax preparer — consult your tax preparer before making any final decisions on heating or air conditioning replacement if you plan to take advantage of the tax credit.
If I am replacing my air conditioner, why would I replace my current heater with a smaller or larger one?
You may or may not replace your current A/C system with a larger or smaller one. The size or capacity of your new air conditioner will be determined and recommended by your Baker & Sons Comfort Specialist. The only accurate way to determine the proper sized air conditioning system for your home is to perform a load calculation to determine the cooling needs for your home on the hottest days of the year. It is common to find existing air conditioning systems that are oversized for the home. This results in decreased comfort, increased humidity levels in the summer, increased energy usage, increased equipment failure and shortened life span of the heater.
Should I purchase an extended warranty with my new air conditioning system?
This is up to the individual consumer, but we highly recommend that homeowners at purchase an extended warranty coverage plan. Why? Most manufacturers are now offering 10 year parts warranties on heating and air conditioning systems. What is not covered is the labor charges to replace the warranty parts. For example, if a compressor on a system purchased in 2010 was in need of replacement in 2019, the compressor would be covered under warranty. However, the labor to replace the compressor would not be covered. In this example, the extended warranty purchased in 2010 would have cost less than the labor to replace the compressor in 2019. Your Baker & Sons Comfort Advisor can discuss further benefits of an extended warranty plan with you.