Frequently Asked Questions
Which system should I choose?
The Right Kind Of System
Having a home comfort system installed in your home is a “BIG” deal. It is something you will probably do once every ten to fifteen years. That makes it very important to have the “Right System” installed for your lifestyle and needs, as well as having the system “Installed Right”. Here are some of the steps that Thompson & Sons will take to insure that your system will be the “Right System”, address your individual needs, and to insure that your system will be “Installed Right”.
An Energy Analysis
When your Comfort Advisor meets with you in your home, he will complete a thorough energy analysis. You see, every home is different. Homes have different exposures to the sun, different sizes and location of windows, different amounts of insulation, and there can be other factors to consider as well. It is critical that all factors be considered when determining the size of equipment that your home will need. We actually calculate the energy your home will need to stay warm or cool, and then break that down by each room. This energy calculation, referred to as a heat loss/gain, will help insure the proper sizing of equipment and help insure that your equipment will run at peak efficiency. Efficiency represents a percentage of each dollar that will go toward heating your home. If your equipment runs at 60% efficiency, 40 cents of every dollar you spend on heating and cooling costs is wasted. 90% efficiency will mean that 90 cents of each dollar will be working to keep you comfortable, therefore saving you money.
Home Comfort Survey
When your energy analysis has been properly completed, your Comfort Advisor can help you design a system that will address all your needs. This includes addressing areas of concern that you may have. For example, if an area in your home is too hot or cold, adding system enhancements or additional ductwork may eliminate the problem. We can evaluate the quality of your home’s air (indoor air quality), and address any special needs you may have during the installation process. Your Comfort Advisor will focus on determining what is most important to you so that we can have all the details finalized to your satisfaction prior to completion of any work.
Three-Step Installation Process
We have a 3-step installation process that helps insure customer satisfaction. The Comfort Advisor will complete a detailed sizing plan for the home. This may include photographs of your current system or areas that may need special attention. We will check to be sure that all local and national codes will be complied with when the work is completed. Permits will be filed with the city in which you reside and city inspections will be scheduled. Finally, a “quality insurance” inspection will be completed. A final walk through to explain the system, the warranties, and the work performed will be completed to make certain that all your questions are answered and that you are 100% satisfied with our effort and workmanship.
Evaporative Air (Swamp Cooler) vs. Central Air
You deserve more then just cool air. Since many people spend up to 90% of their time indoors, the air inside your home or office should be as clean, comfortable, and affordable as possible. Any old swamp cooler (evaporative cooler) can put cool air into your home, but what else does it do for you? Does it offer the following:
Safety and Security
Unfortunately it may be unsafe to leave your windows open. It’s like inviting a burglar in your home. For a swamp cooler to work efficiently you must leave a window or two cracked open. Having central air conditioning allows you to sleep in comfort with your windows closed.
Help Clean & Freshen Your Air, Help Decrease allergens in your Air
Central Air Conditioning moves air quietly through your ductwork, through your furnace filter, and into your home. When you combine central air conditioning with a Electronic Air Cleaner, 99% of all air borne particles 1micron or greater will be removed from your air.*1 The quality of your indoor air will be cleaner and fresher. The same electronic air filter that will keep dust and odors, from reentering your home, will also help keep irritating pollens and molds out of your air. Therefore, helping reduce the likelihood of allergy and respiratory problems from poor air quality.
Offer Uniform Comfort through out Your Home
Central air conditioning will eliminate the hallway “windtunnel”. “Heavy Air” from high humidity and the “Hot & Freezing Room Syndrome” associated with swamp coolers. The temperature in your home will be thermostatically controlled, supplying every room in your home with uniform comfort 24 hours a day.
If you have been maintaining your own swamp you cooler, you have to risk climbing on your roof twice a year to maintain it. Central Air Conditioners require less maintenance and will not damage your roof with leaking water. Plus central air conditioning will increase the value of your home.
*1 micron = 1/25,400 inch
1 Aqua-Air Technologies Inc.
What steps should I take to maintain my Central Air?
Your air conditioner has an indoor coil and an outdoor coil. Over time, these coils get dirty, especially if you do not have a high efficiency filter. The dirtier these coils get, the longer your air conditioner has to run to cool your home. This runs up your utility bills. By keeping these coils clean you can save on utility cost, lengthen equipment life, and have fewer repairs. In addition, the freon levels need to be checked annually. If the refrigerant system is not charged correctly, it could dramatically affect the efficiency (and your operating costs), and in the long run, can increase the amount of wear and tear on the unit, shortening its life. A Precision Tune-Up & Professional Cleaning once a year on your air conditioner will keep the coils clean, maintain your freon levels, and help keep the rest of your equipment running at peak efficiency.
Why does the EPA recommend a yearly safety check for my air conditioner?
The EPA, and manufacturers, recommend yearly safety inspections for both your furnace and your central air conditioner. This is important for you and your family’s safety. We agree that it is a good idea to have the integrity of your heating and air conditioning system checked every year. However, a simple safety check is not enough. Like automobiles, which need regular oil changes to keep them running smoothly, and tune-ups to keep them running efficiently, your home comfort equipment needs to be cleaned and fine-tuned to keep premium efficiency. We recommend a yearly Precision Tune-Up & Professional Cleaning which includes a full safety check. This service will put your air conditioning equipment in top operating efficiency, help save you money by preventing future breakdowns, minimize your power bill, GUARANTEE your comfort, and give you “peace of mind”.
What is an Extra Privilege Agreement?
EPA: Extra Privilege Agreement. An EPA agreement is a program where we schedule preventive maintenance at pre-arranged times to keep your heating & cooling equipment in top operating condition. You are provided with precision tune-ups and professional cleanings on both your furnace and air conditioner. These tune-ups are scheduled during our slower periods, allowing us to devote the time and attention to you and your equipment that you deserve. As an EPA customer, you receive guaranteed 24 hour emergency service, priority scheduling, and a 15% discount on any repairs that become necessary.
Do I need to change my filter in the summer time?
Yes, your filter is being used for both your furnace and air conditioner. How often you need to change your filter depends on several factors. High efficiency filters catch more dust and dirt so they get dirty faster than the standard fiberglass filters you typically see at the hardware stores. Lifestyle factors such as how many pets you have in the home, the size of your family, and the area you live in can dramatically affect how dusty your home is. If you live in an older, “leakier” home your filter will get dirtier faster, than a newer “sealed” up home. It’s a good idea to check your filter monthly. Basically, if the filter looks dirty, change or clean it.
What is a good temperature to set my thermostat at?
Every home is different. Every person is different. You want to set your thermostat wherever you feel comfortable and leave it there. If you set it below 70 degrees the indoor coil could freeze up. If you find the need to have it set below 70 degrees to feel comfortable, there is probably something wrong with your air conditioner and you should get it checked.
Consider replacing your old thermostat with a programmable thermostat. These models allow you to set temperatures by the time of day. During the summer months, you can set the temperatures a little higher while you are away from home, and have the temperatures lower just before you come home. You’ll save money on energy costs be not cooling your home while you don’t need it, but come home to a comfortable and cool home.
Should I keep my windows open or closed?
All windows and openings should remain closed otherwise humidity, heat, dust, and irritants (such as pollen), may reenter the home.
How can I prepare my air conditioner for the summer season?
Uncover outdoor unit, and remove any obstructions like trees and shrubs. Clean or replace filter and make sure it is installed properly. Clean and make sure the condensate drain is free of any obstructions. Turn on outdoor disconnect 24 hours before starting your air conditioning unit. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests consumers have their equipment inspected before summer hits. We agree, and we take it one step further. A Precision Tune-up and Professional Cleaning is recommended to refresh your equipment to as “factory-fresh” as possible.
My allergy symptoms seem to increase in the spring, is there anything that may help reduce these symptoms?
Blooming plants and trees in the spring may increase allergens that affect your symptoms. Installing an electronic air cleaner or HEPA filter may help reduce allergens circulating throughout your home. Consider running your fan in the “on” position (instead of “auto”) in order to continually clean the air circulated in your home.
Do I need to put a cover on the outdoor unit in winter?
Some people like to cover the outdoor unit, but it is not necessary. If you do cover it you want to make sure that you never run the air conditioner with the cover on.
Now that summer is over, what steps do I take to put my central air conditioner to "bed" for the winter?
Central Air Conditioning requires no extra steps to prepare it for the winter months. If you prefer, you can cover it, but it is not necessary. If you do cover the unit, make sure that you remove it before you turn the air conditioner back on.
What steps do I need to take to get my evaporative cooler ready for the summer season?
- Uncover unit.
- Connect water lines at both ends.
- Check for cracked or split water lines from possible freezing water left in the lines over the winter.
- Turn on water supply from swamp cooler.
- Adjust float valve.
- Clean out pan.
- Check and clean overflow drain pipe.
- Clean out pump screen.
- Clean out water distributor.
- Examine pads, replace if necessary.
- Lubricate fan and motor.
- Adjust fan belt, and inspect for cracks, replace if necessary.
- Check pump operation.
- Test control switch.
My air conditioner isn't working. Are there any simple things I can check myself before calling for a service call?
Make sure the thermostat is turned to “cool” and the temperature is set below the current room temperature.
Check the circuit breakers for the furnace and the outdoor air conditioner. Check the switch on the side of the furnace, and the disconnect switch by the outdoor unit and make sure they are “on”.
Check your air filter; clean or replace as necessary.
Make sure the door to your furnace or air handler is installed correctly and securely. Newer units have a safety switch that shuts the unit “off” if the door isn’t securely in place for safety reasons.
Check all registers and grilles to make sure they are clean, open, and not blocked by furniture.
There are rooms in my home that are either too warm or too cold. Is there anything I can do to make them more comfortable?
Zoning systems could address your problem. A zoning system is designed to detect fluctuations in temperatures from room to room, and make adjustments to provide even temperatures throughout every room of your home.
My air conditioner is running, but the air is not very cool.
An air conditioner needs four things to deliver the proper amount of cooling:
Proper Air Flow: Without the right amount of air flow, the system can’t remove the heat from your home or business. The most common causes for inadequate airflow are a dirty filter, a dirty indoor coil, closed or restricted registers or grilles, or a dirty blower. Any of these can cause your system to lose capacity and may cause the unit to “freeze up”. Any signs of frost or ice on the piping by your furnace or fan coil unit are an indicator that you may have restricted airflow. If you see frost, turn the “cool” switch on your thermostat to “off”, turn the fan switch to “on” and let the fan run continuously to melt the ice build up on the coil (this may take several hours). Check all registers and grilles to be sure they aren’t closed or blocked, vacuum any unusual amount of dust build-up that may have accumulated on the return air grilles (the larger grilles that are usually mounted on the wall near the floor level), and replace or clean your filter. After 3 or 4 hours, the ice should be melted and you can try turning the cooling “on” again at the thermostat. If it freezes again, call for service as you probably have a more serious problem that needs professional attention. All of these items are addressed when we perform a Precision Tune-Up & Professional Cleaning on your system.
A Low Refrigerant Charge: A refrigeration system is a sealed system and contains a refrigerant, most commonly Refrigerant 22. The correct refrigerant charge is critical for providing proper capacity and ensuring reliable operation. A 7% under or overcharge can result in as much as a 25% loss in capacity, higher energy consumption, and reduced compressor life. A study performed by Louisianna State University found that over half of all the air conditioners they tested were not charged properly. This is why we spend so much time training and providing the right tools to pour technicians to do the job right. Over time, leaks may develop in a system due to loose connections, failed soldered or welded joints, leaky valves, or a unit that has been damaged. Even a small leak can cause reduced capacity, increased wear on the compressor, and can develop the same symptoms as inadequate airflow such as a freezing coil. Simply adding refrigerant may solve the immediate problem and restore capacity temporarily, but the refrigerant will continue to leak and likely get worse with time until the leak is repaired. The only long term solution is to isolate and locate the leak, repair it, and recharge the system. Balancing the refrigerant charge is one of the most important parts of the Precision Tune-Up & Professional Cleaning we perform when doing professional maintenance on your cooling system.
Condensor Capacity: The outdoor portion of your system is called the condensor. Over time, the coils can get dirty with dust, mud, leaves, pet hair, cotton from cottonwood trees, etc. When these coils become dirty, they can’t get rid of the heat as well and can cause the unit to overheat. When the unit overheats, it increases the energy consumption and operating temperatures in the compressor which can cause it to overheat further and lead to shortened compressor life and inadequate cooling (similar to running you car without enough antifreeze/coolant in the radiator). Some higher quality units have special safety devices to shut the system down before compressor damage occurs. Keeping these coils clean and free from debris, and keeping shrubbery and foliage trimmed around the unit, is important to keep it running cool. We use a special outdoor coil cleaner when we perform a Precision Tune-Up & Professional Cleaning which restores the coil capacity to as near as new condition as possible.
Evaporator Capacity: The indoor coil mounted on the furnace or in the fan coil unit is where the actual cooling of the indoor air takes place. If this coil gets dirty, it’s often difficult to clean and may even require that it be removed to properly clean it. When this coil gets dirty, air flow is restricted and the transfer of heat from the indoor air to the refrigerant is hampered. A dirty coil is difficult to detect, diagnose and repair. Since it’s the most difficult maintenance task to perform, it’s the most often overlooked by most simple air conditioner tune-ups; our Precision Tune-Up & Professional Cleaning includes cleaning the coil in-place. Keeping this coil as clean as possible is one of the main reasons for keeping your filter as clean as possible and also one of the reasons you should consider a high efficiency filter. Preventing one coil removal and cleaning job can more than pay for the cost of a high efficiency air filter.
Setting the Thermostat Too Low: This can cause the unit to freeze up since the air entering the coil is too cool to add enough heat to the coil. The coil temperature drops below 32 degrees and the water condensing on the coil will freeze. Although there are many variables with this condition, it rarely occurs on a system with proper airflow unless the thermostat is set below 70 degrees. A system with a weak blower, a poor duct system, or a duct system that has a lot of elbows or long duct runs can freeze even with 70-74 degree temperature setting.
Energy Saving Tips
Replace your old thermostat with a programmable thermostat.
These models allow you to set temperatures by the time of day(they are models that bear the Energy Star® label). In the winter you can set the temperature to lower during the sleeping hours and higher during the day. The same is true for the summertime. Not only will these thermostats decrease you energy use, but also increase your comfort level.
Caulk and weatherstrip to stop air leaks
Caulk and weatherstrip to stop air leaks around windows, doors, exhaust fans and any other places that wires or pipes pass through walls.
Keep filters clean.
The dirtier the filter, the harder the unit has to work to pass air through it.
Move furniture away from heating and air conditioning vents, registers, or radiators.
Without proper airflow your cooling system has to work harder.
Schedule annual maintenance and check-ups for your cooling systems.
By keeping your system in optimal working condition, you’ll not only reduce energy costs, but your equipment will last longer.
Get a free air conditioner check.
If your air conditioning system is ten years or older, have us come out and do a Home Energy Survey of your home. This service is FREE to our customers. We will show you how much energy your old system is using and if you would benefit from replacing it with a newer efficient model. In some cases we can save you enough money on your energy bills to offset your payments on a new system. Of course, there is never an obligation to buy.
Focus on landscaping.
Landscape to save energy, reduce heating and cooling costs, while improving the look and value of your home. Well planned landscaping can save up to 25% of a household’s energy consumption for heating and cooling. Carefully planted trees can provide much needed shade in the summer and wind breaks in the winter.
Consider having your duct system cleaned.
Consider having your duct system cleaned. Cleaned systems restore capacity and lessen running time, translating into savings on your heating and cooling bill.
What is EnergyStar?
Have you ever seen this symbol and wondered what it was? It stands for the Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star® Program. This program was designed to help promote higher efficiency products, which the EPA recommends, because they USE LESS ENERGY and thus REDUCE air pollution. Energy consumption has a direct link to air pollution causing problems such as acid rain, smog, inversions, and global climate changes. You will find this label on many items, from home and business electronic equipment to heating and air conditioning equipment.
The ENERGY STAR® Residential Heating and Cooling program is a voluntary program in which manufacturers agree to manufacture and market high efficiency heating, cooling, and control products. By using the ENERGY STAR label on high efficiency products, the manufacturing partners in the program can help consumers differentiate between standard efficiency and high efficiency products.1
The ENERGY STAR® label informs customers that by using these products they will be helping to prevent air pollution and can save money on their utility bills. The average home pollutes more than the average car through energy use. Nearly half of that energy is used to heat and cool the home.
There have been technological breakthroughs in central air conditioning and heating system designs which, when installed properly in your home, can reduce the amount of energy you use to heat and cool your home. For example: an air conditioner that bears the ENERGY STAR® label is at least 20% more efficient than a new air conditioner that meets the federal minimum standard for efficiency and may be twice as efficient as some older existing systems. When you purchase an ENERGY STAR® Air Conditioner you are getting a product that is in the top 25% for efficiency, and can save you significantly on your heating and cooling costs.