To most people, how air conditioners work is a matter of magic. They don’t know how HVAC systems make temperatures bearable in their homes and offices, but they’re awfully glad they do.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 75 percent of all homes in the U.S. have air conditioners . These devices use about 6 percent of all the energy produced in America. U.S. homeowners spend about $29 billion on energy costs each year related to controlling the temperature inside their homes.

Air conditioners work by applying the principles of refrigeration. They remove heat from an area of the home to the outside, and the cold air created by this process is distributed by a fan through ducts throughout the home.

Heating and cooling units are very durable devices. Most run several hours per day and have a useful life of 15 years or more . Considering their workload and the fact that the units are exposed to wind and rain and hot and cold temperatures outside, that’s pretty impressive.

When homeowners air conditioners aren’t working properly, they get curious about how these devices that they often take for granted work. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about heating and cooling units:

The best air conditioning system that will provide optimal comfort levels in your home, while saving you money on your electric bill is a high efficiency system. There are many different brands of A/C units and not all brands are built the same. The number 1 fact to take into consideration before you pick a brand is the Company. The Air Conditioning and Heating system in your home is only as good as the installation. The installation determines how well the unit will operate and how long it will last. We hear this all the time, “We spent thousands on the top of the line unit and have breakdowns every year.” This is because most companies want their installers to spend as little time as possible at your home so they can rush to the next home. Our promise to you is every installation receives professional craftsmen taking their time offering you the best installation possible. Please call us at 832-712-7148 to receive more information on specific unit brands.

First, check the breakers. If you don’t feel comfortable flipping the breaker back on call us immediately. If you notice the breaker is off or tripped try this: Make sure the breaker is all the way flipped off and flip it back on, if the breaker trips or flips off, call us immediately. There can possibly be an electrical short and the problem will have to be looked at by a certified technician. If the breaker stays on and the unit is still not working, works and trips again, or the unit sounds abnormal call us immediately.

Second, flip off all breakers to the air conditioner and check to see if the thermostat has batteries. Make sure no battery acid leaked into the thermostat, if you suspect battery acid in the thermostat call us immediately. If you plan on attempting to replace your own thermostat remember, a thermostat installed incorrectly can cause electrical shorting and turn into a costly repair. If no battery acid is present replace the batteries with new ones and turn all breakers back on.

Third, flip off all breakers to the air conditioner and check to see if the unit has a safety float switch in line with the drain line. A float switch is designed to prevent water from leaking into your home. If your unit has the float switch remove the float and check if water in in the overflow space. If no water is present give us a call immediately. If water is present, try these steps.

1.) See if it is raining outside, Do Not Proceed with these steps in the rain!
2.) Grab a shop vacuum (if you don’t have one, ask your neighbor).
3.) Locate the drain from the air conditioner (most times you will find the drain located by the outdoor air conditioner).
4.) Plug in the shop vacuum and put the vacuum hose on the drain to suck out the sludge and water.
5.) Check the float switch and make sure no water is in the overflow.
6.) Turn vacuum off, clean vacuum and bring back to your neighbor.
7.) Flip back on the breakers, if the unit still isn’t working after about 10 minutes give us a call.

First, turn the air conditioner off. Leaking water can damage your home and start mold, mildew, and bacteria problems. The unit should be equipped with a safety float switch. If you cannot find one call us to schedule a time to install one for you to protect your home from water damage. Try to free any sludge and water in the drain line. If water is still leaking call us immediately.

An air conditioning system that keeps icing up can be caused from a variety of things. The first step to check is your air filter. A dirty air filter will restrict air moving across the evaporator coil and cause ice to form. Ice forming on the air conditioning unit puts high stress on the blower motor, compressor, and metals inside the unit. If this condition is not addressed immediately the result can lead to motor failure, compressor failure, damage to home, refrigerant leaks, and/or bigger refrigerant leaks. If the air filter is clean, then call us immediately to prevent damage to your home and/or air conditioning equipment.

First check to see if your thermostat has batteries. If so, be certain that the batteries are good batteries alkaline batteries. If your batteries are checking well, proceed to the next step.

Check your breakers. By flipping the breakers off and then back on can reset the electronics. Make sure you start with the outside unit first and then the inside. If the unit is still not blowing air, verify if the outside unit is working. If both units are not functioning you might have a sensor switch in your drain line that might be tripped because of algae build up. Please call us for a thorough drain line cleaning. If all the algae is not addressed the problem will continue to persist and cause system breakdown and possibly permanent damage.

If your unit is operating outside and not inside its likely you have an electrical issue and you should call us to have a certified technician check the systems functions.

Indoor air quality is a major concern, as many studies show that air pollution is much worse indoors than outdoors. You can improve your indoor air quality with frequent dusting and vacuuming, and you can also have a qualified technician install devices such as UV light units, special air filters, and electronic air cleaners to improve indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to many illnesses, so improving your home’s air quality is an investment worth making.

An air conditioning and heating unit is designed to condition the air in your home to a desired comfort level. To achieve this the unit has to move air across a filter and a coil. Inside your home floating in the air can be viruses, bacteria, mold, pollen, chemicals, and toxic components. These can cause health effect that can be controlled by an high output UVC light.

“50% of all illnesses are aggravated or caused by indoor polluted air” –American College of Allergists

“Your air can be 2-5 times and even 100 times more polluted than outside air” –Environmental Protection Agency

Inside you air conditioner could be a breeding ground for algae, bacteria, mold, and pollen spores. Every time the system turns on you could be breathing unhealthy air. When selecting the right UVC light you can be assured that you are breathing healthy air. We use products that are 3.3 times more powerful than standard UVC lamps. These lamps mimic the sun’s UVC rays to disrupt the DNA of these living viruses, bacteria and other living airborne organisms preventing them from reproducing. These products should be mounted into the top of the units duct board or sheet metal plenum.

Another UVC system to consider is an Oxidizing UVC system. This enables you to control odors and remove chemicals, pesticides, cleaning solvents, VOCs, building materials, formaldehyde, benzene, and more.

Once a month is a pretty good rule of thumb for most people. Depending on where you live and how much dirt, pet dander, and other contaminants are present, the answer could be more or less. Check your filter frequently to determine if it’s dirty. If it is, change it.

There’s no easy answer for this one. A lot of factors will go into what size heating and cooling unit you’ll need. The type of house you own, its walls, insulation, attic space, and more can go into determining what size unit is required. A system that is too large could result in a home that’s too humid, causing problems with moisture and mold. A system that is too small will run constantly, running up your energy bill. Only a qualified heating and cooling technician can determine what size unit is best for your home.

In most cases, the answer is yes. There are a variety of reasons why you should replace both the outdoor and indoor unit simultaneously. For starters, air conditioner and heat pump outdoor units are manufactured to work with a matched indoor unit. When you mix and match units, it can result in reduced efficiency and performance.

Also, if you bought your indoor and outdoor units at the same time, your indoor unit will probably be approaching the end of its useful life at about the same time the outdoor unit. By not replacing the indoor unit too, all you are doing is delaying the inevitable and likely paying higher energy bills at the same time.

By purchasing indoor and outdoor units simultaneously, you will get a warranty covering the whole system, meaning that you won’t have to cover the full cost of any needed repairs to your unit during the warranty period.

R-22 refrigerant and equipment are being phased out as regulations intended to reduce the impact on ozone take hold. As time passes, replacement parts and refrigerant for old R-22 units will become harder to find and more expensive, so replacing your unit now can save you some headaches in the future.

Heating and cooling units need to have scheduled check-ups to make sure everything is operating properly. HVAC experts recommend an inspection twice a year by your heating and cooling company. Technicians should inspect your system, lubricate components, and repair or replace any malfunctioning components.

Zoning systems separate your air conditioning system’s ductwork into different segments, allowing you to exercise temperature control in each segment, thus allowing for more targeted and efficient air conditioning.

For example, you may have a room with many windows that gets hot in the summer and which may need more air to cool down, while you may also have a rarely occupied guest room on the other end of the house. With a zoned air conditioning system, you can direct more cold air to the many-windowed room and less air to the unoccupied room. This allows more efficient use of your AC system and a more comfortable home.

Check the label on the outer surface of your equipment to determine its manufacture date. If it’s less than five years old, there’s a good chance that your equipment is covered by warranty. Contact the manufacturer for more details.

Heating and cooling units are a big investment, so it’s understandable that you’d want them to last as long as possible. Reducing usage is always helpful, so turn the thermostat up or down, as needed, to reduce use when you’re not at home. Changing air filters will prevent clogs. Regular check-ups can also help you ward off any potential trouble spots.

Popping noises are usually indicative of ducts that are too small to manage the airflow your system is generating. Qualified air conditioner repair specialists can evaluate your ductwork and make necessary adjustments.

Accurate Air Solutions is a family-owned HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance service helping customers in the greater Houston area. Accurate Air Solutions services all makes and models of HVAC equipment. For answers to your heating and cooling problems, contact Accurate Air Solutions today at 832-712-7148.