Tips and FAQs

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Read these tips before requesting HVAC emergency service. You might avoid a service call or help us diagnose your problem faster.

HVAC Tips

Air Conditioner or Heat Pump: No Cooling

 

  • Check the settings on your thermostat. Make sure the temperature control selector is set below the current room temperature. The system switch should be in the the COOL or AUTO position. The fan switch should be set to ON for continuous airflow or AUTO if you want the blower to operate only while the air conditioner/heat pump is operating.
  • Try to get the air conditioner/heat pump to turn on by lowering the thermostat to its lowest temperature setting.
  • If the air flow out of your registers seems low, check the air filter. An extremely dirty air filter can block air flow.
  • Make sure all registers are open and not obstructed.
  • Check the power disconnect switch by each unit (outdoor and indoor).
  • Check the fuse/breaker at the electrical panel for both the outdoor and indoor unit.
  • If the problem persists, call PV at 404.798.9672.

 

Heat Pump: No Heat

 

  • Check the settings on your thermostat. Make sure the temperature control selector is set above the current room temperature. The system switch should be in the HEAT or AUTO position. The fan switch should be set to ON for continuous airflow or AUTO if you want the blower to operate only while the heat pump is operating.
  • Try to get the heat pump to turn on by raising the thermostat to its highest temperature setting.
  • If the air flow out of your registers seems low, check the air filter. An extremely dirty air filter can block air flow.
  • Make sure all registers are open and not obstructed.
  • Check the power disconnect switch by each unit (outdoor and indoor).
  • Check the fuse/breaker at the electrical panel for both the outdoor and indoor unit.
  • If the problem persists, call PV at 404.798.9672.

 

Gas Furnace: No Heat

 

  • Check the settings on your thermostat. Make sure the temperature control selector is set above the current room temperature. The system switch should be in the HEAT or AUTO position. The fan switch should be set to ON for continuous airflow or AUTO if you want the blower to operate only while the furnace is operating.
  • Try to get the furnace to turn on by raising the thermostat to its highest temperature setting.
  • If the air flow out of your registers seems low, check the air filter. An extremely dirty air filter can block air flow.
  • Make sure all registers are open and not obstructed.
  • Check the power disconnect switch by the furnace.
  • Check the fuse/breaker at the electrical panel for the furnace.
  • Check to make sure the gas control valve to the furnace is open.
  • Check the pilot light. (Electronic ignitions will not have a pilot light).
  • If the problem persists, call PV at 404.798.9672.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average life expectancy of HVAC equipment?

Most systems have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. As your equipment gets older, efficiency and performance also declines. When a system is 10-12+ years old, it is usually a good idea to consider replacement instead of investing in the old, inefficient system. New comfort systems are more energy efficient and pay you back with lower energy bills. For your peace of mind, most new systems come with a 10-year warranty.

Can I just replace my older system’s outdoor unit to save money?

Typically, no. The indoor coil's refrigerant and efficiency rating must be matched to the outdoor unit. Freon R-22 has been replaced with the more efficient and environmentally-friendly Freon R-410A, also known as Puron. In addition, the minimum SEER rating or efficiency that we can use today is 13 SEER (most older systems are 10 SEER and below). Therefore, you have to replace the indoor coil and outdoor unit at the same time to ensure the proper design and to protect your investment. Be wary of companies who suggest otherwise.

Will a larger system perform better?

No, and you never want to risk purchasing an A/C that’s too big. Air conditioners control the comfort level in your home by cooling the air and removing humidity. An oversized air conditioner will cool your home faster, but it will use more energy and will not remove humidity adequately.

A unit that is too big for your home will have short run cycles. It may take only a short time to cool the air, but the unit shuts off before enough air blows across the indoor coil – the place where moisture condenses into water and drains from your system. Too much moisture left in the air can lead to mold and mildew problems.

Short run cycles also mean your system starts and stops more often, which uses more energy and causes a lot of wear and tear. An air conditioner operates most efficiently during long run cycles.

The same holds true with heating systems. An oversized furnace will warm the house quicker, but it uses more fuel and causes greater temperature swings in the home.

Why is a system with matched components so important?

A matched system is important for a variety of reasons. One is comfort. When components are properly sized to your home, you can control exactly how much heating or cooling you need.

Also, a properly sized matched system enables every component to perform as designed, meaning proper cycle times are maintained, humidity is controlled, and system sound is minimized.

Another reason matched systems are important is efficiency. Most people purchase systems that are too large for their homes and consume far more energy than necessary. Instead, go for a matched system selected by a dealer who has completed a load calculation for your home. You’ll end up with just the right amount of heating and cooling you need to get the most value for your utility dollar.

How often should I change my air filter?

It depends on the type of filter you have and how much infiltration you have throughout your home and ductwork. Less expensive, disposable filters have to be replaced every 30 days. "Pleated" or "Poly" filters have to typically be replaced every 90 days. "Media filters" or CleanEffects filters usually have to be replaced every year. We offer free advice on filters, so give us a call at any time to ask questions!

Why should I switch to a high efficiency air filter?

Proper air filtration is just as important to the health of your heating and cooling system as it is to the health of your family. Without proper filtration, dust and dirt build up on your system, affecting its operation and efficiency. A high efficiency filter will remove more dust, dirt, pollen, mold, and other particles from the air. If you suffer from allergies or other respiratory problems, you should strongly consider a high efficiency filter. No matter what type of filter you have, make sure you change it regularly.

Should I have my furnace and air conditioner serviced every year?

Yes. Regular system maintenance will lower energy and repair costs, prevent breakdowns, and prolong the life of your equipment. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance, not to mention increased energy use.

Your heating and cooling system is just like your car and requires regular maintenance. Our service agreement is priced at break-even cost, so all of our clients can afford to maintain their systems! It includes many additional services (over $600 in value) for free! Servicing your system makes it last longer, reducing your energy costs and increasing comfort.

How can I reduce allergens and improve the air quality in my home?

There are lots of different indoor air quality (IAQ) options for your home. First, you should reduce unwanted air infiltration before installing a more efficient air filtration system. For example, if you clean your ductwork but never seal it, you are not stopping the problem at the source. Even after the duct is clean, the unsealed system will continue to bring unclean air into your duct system. It is more logical and efficient to seal the duct system before cleaning it. Then you can consider additional IAQ options.

What is duct cleaning?

Duct cleaning refers to the cleaning of the various heating and cooling system components of forced air systems, including the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers, heating and cooling coils, fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing. Learn more about our duct cleaning service and its benefits to you and your family.

How can I reduce my energy costs?

Focusing on home or building performance is always the first step in analyzing how to make your home more energy efficient. Traditional heating and air conditioning companies will tell you to replace your equipment. Insulation companies will tell you to add insulation. Window companies will tell you to replace your windows. However, the reality is that you have to analyze the home as a system to determine which step makes the most sense.

Using building science, PV provides an unbiased, consultative-based approach to that shows you the best way to reduce energy costs. To determine the proper sequence of home improvements, we recommend our Home Assessment Portfolio and Performance Evaluation (HAPPE).

How do I cool my home more efficiently and effectively? 

Here are several ways:

  • Upgrade to a high-efficiency air conditioner. Swapping your old, inefficient air conditioning system for a more efficient one can cut electricity bills by one-third. Consult one of our professional technicians to be sure that your system is the right size for your home. You don’t want to over or under-cool your living space.
  • Turn up the temperature on your thermostat. To save electricity during the summer, set the temperature above 75°. Every degree below this adds an extra three to five percent to your energy bill.
  • Install ceiling fans. During the summer, be sure the blades spin in a counterclockwise direction (and yes, they should spin the opposite way during winter).
  • Schedule annual maintenance. Annual air conditioner maintenance from a licensed technician will ensure your system operates at peak efficiency and catches problems before they occur.
  • Don't block vents. Keep your supply and return air vents free from objects like blinds, carpets or furniture so that your air conditioner can operate efficiently and provide even air distribution. Close vents in seldom-used rooms. By closing the vents, you will spend less money because you won’t cool rooms that aren’t in use.

How do I heat my home more efficiently and effectively?

  • Upgrade to a high-efficiency furnace. New high-efficiency furnaces use up to 50% less fuel than many older units! They can save you up to 25% of your heating costs in one year. Within just a few years, you will recover the initial cost of replacing or upgrading your furnace. Models with energy efficient motors can save 20 to 50% of the energy needed to continuously operate a fan motor. Let PV show you the advantages of replacing your old furnace today!
  • Schedule annual maintenance. Annual furnace maintenance from a licensed technician will ensure your system operates at peak efficiency and catches problems before they occur.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat helps you control your home's temperature when you are away or asleep. For every one degree you lower your thermostat for seven hours each day, you save one percent on your heating bill.
  • Don't block vents. Keep your supply and return air vents free from objects like blinds, carpets or furniture so that your furnace can operate efficiently and provide even air distribution. Close vents in seldom-used rooms. By closing the vents, you will spend less money because you won’t heat rooms that aren’t in use.
  • Install ceiling fans. Yes, ceiling fans can help you stay warm during the winter! Just be sure the blades spin in a clockwise direction.

What is a heat pump?

A heat pump is an air conditioner that also has the ability to heat your home. You can install a heat pump with a variety of indoor systems, including all-electric and dual fuel.

All electric comfort systems use heat pumps to heat your home in addition to back up heat strips for really cold days. A dual fuel comfort system also uses a heat pump to heat your home, but it uses a gas furnace for backup heat on really cold days.

As with our air conditioners, PV offers a range of heat pump options for every budget. Different options provide different comfort levels, efficiencies, and noise levels. Just like A/C replacement, it is important to look at your home as a system and perform the proper calculations to ensure you get the most value for your investment.

What is a dual fuel system?

A dual fuel system (also called hybrid heat) consists of a heat pump, indoor coil, and a gas furnace. A heat pump is an air conditioner that also has the ability to heat your home. With a dual fuel system, the heat pump will heat your home the majority of the time. The gas furnace provides back up heat and only will come on if it is below 40 degrees.

In Atlanta, dual fuel is more efficient than an all-electric system or a traditional split system (comprised of a gas furnace and an air conditioner). In addition to providing energy savings, a dual fuel system will not dry out your skin as much as a traditional system. However, it does provide a different comfort level than a traditional gas furnace. Be sure to talk with our team about which option is best for you and your family.

What are the advantages of equipment with variable speed fans?

Variable speed equipment or variable airflow is almost always the first step toward a more energy efficient and comfortable system. Variable airflow systems also include dehumidification control.

Traditional systems only have a one-speed fan and only read temperature. In contrast, a variable airflow system reads relative humidity in addition to temperature. The system runs more often at a lower speed, removing much more moisture than a typical system. Removing more moisture means you are more comfortable at higher temperatures. The system also does a much better job of filtering the air (because it runs more often), creating a more even comfort zone and operating much more quietly.

What is a two-stage or variable speed compressor?

The Manual J for Atlanta requires that a system have the ability to cool a house to 75° on a 94° day. It’s great to have full capacity during the hot summer days, but that usually means your system will be two large.

What’s the solution? A two-stage compresso!. These compressors come in two different types. The first has one compressor with two internal stages. The first stage is typically 70% to 80% of the full capacity and the second stage is 100% capacity.

The second type of two-stage compressor actually includes two separate compressors in one outdoor unit. The smaller compressor is 50% of the system’s capacity and the second is 100%. The system will usually run in the lower stage for most days, only activating the larger capacity for really hot days. The two-stage compressor uses less energy (think: more energy savings) and is the best solution for removing humidity and and ensuring quieter outdoor operation.

Finally, there are variable speed compressors, which can run at around  20% to 40% capacity depending on the make and model. These are incredibly efficient and come standard with most of our ductless split systems.

What is a two-stage, three-stage, or modulating gas valve?

Traditional furnaces have a one-stage gas valve that heats at full capacity 100% of the time. Most furnaces are oversized (due partly to contractors not pulling load calculations), so most homes typically don't need the full heating capacity.

A two-stage furnace works similarly to a two-stage air conditioner. It allows the unit to adjust the heating capacity based on the amount of heating that is needed. A three-stage furnace has three separate stages of heat and a modulating gas valve has even more stages depending on the indoor demand.

Two, three, and modulating-stage furnaces are more energy efficient because they use less gas. They also provide a more even comfort zone and dry out your skin nearly as much as a one-stage system.

At what temperature should I set my thermostat?

The answer to this question depends on you and your individual preferences. Most people keep their thermostat between 74 and 78 degrees in the summer and between 68 and 72 degrees in the winter. The higher you keep your thermostat, the less energy consumption the system will use. If your goal is to keep your bills down, you should keep the thermostat closer to 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter.

Not everyone is comfortable at the same temperature. If your system includes dehumidification control, you can usually set it at a higher temperature because it removes more moisture than a traditional system. In addition to the thermostat, the extent to which your home is "tight" or "leaky" will affect how much cooling or heating leaves your home instead of staying in the living space.

My system doesn't work well in a couple of rooms, what do I do?

"Problem areas" can occur for many reasons, including but not limited to:

  • improper duct design
  • single-zone systems (only one thermostat)
  • air infiltration

It is normal to have small temperature variation throughout a home when you only have one thermostat. However, most of the time, problem areas occur due to infiltration in a room or improper duct design. We can schedule a free consultation to figure out exactly what is happening in your “problem” rooms!

Is Freon®, as a refrigerant, being discontinued?

Yes. As of January 2010, the refrigerant R-22, known as Freon® to many consumers, is no longer allowed for use in new equipment. However, there are "dry ship" units that accommodate R-22 and can be installed when matched with the proper indoor unit. R-22 has been used as the standard refrigerant for many years, but we now know that it is harmful to the planet. All new air conditioners and heat pumps use R-410A, a more environmentally sound refrigerant.

That said, R-22 remains the most commonly used refrigerant in existing residential air conditioning equipment today. However, per the Montreal Protocol, caps have been established to eliminate the production of R-22. In 2004, there was a 35% reduction; in 2010 there was a 65% reduction; in 2015, there was a 90% reduction; and finally, in 2020, there will be a 99.5 % reduction in the production of R-22. This means that the price of each pound of R-22 refrigerant could skyrocket!

If you are considering replacement of your existing air conditioning equipment, we strongly recommend installing a 410-A system. In fact, PV was installing 410-A systems long before the government mandated the change.

Can carbon monoxide build up in my home?

Yes. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), carbon monoxide kills more than 200 Americans and sends nearly 5,000 more to emergency rooms each year. Where does it come from? When carbon-based fuels like gas, oil, kerosene, and wood burn, they produce gases. When fuel combustion or burning isn't complete, carbon monoxide enters the air.

The CPSC advises that carbon monoxide detectors are the only way to alert yourself to the presence of toxic gas in your home. If you wake in the night with a headache – and especially if another member of the family complains of a headache or is difficult to arouse – get out of the house fast and seek medical attention. We recommend installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home!

We also recommend performing a combustion safety test on any gas appliance. During our combustion safety test, we test for CO before, during, and after the test. We also test to make sure appliances vent properly to the outside and that they are not back-drafting into the home. Combustion safety testing is part of our H.A.P.P.E. but can also be performed separately.

What should I do if I smell gas?

Propane (LP) gas: You have this type if your gas comes from an outdoor tank located close to your house. Propane is stored as a liquid under pressure in tanks and cylinders. In most residential applications, propane is used as a vapor. When liquid propane changes into a gas vapor, it expands in volume. This means that even a small leak of liquid propane can result in a much larger quantity of propane vapor, which can be especially dangerous in a confined space.

A chemical odorant has been added to propane to give it a distinct smell. Learn to identify this odor. Propane gas is heavier than air, so it will sink to the floor and spread. To check for the presence of propane, carefully smell all over a room, especially in low spots.

If you smell propane (LP) gas:

  • Exit your home immediately.
  • Propane gas can ignite easily. Do not light a match, start an engine, use a cell phone, or do anything that may create a spark.
  • From a safe area, contact your propane supplier and call 911.
  • If possible, shut the propane gas supply off at the tank.
  • Stay away from your home until a propane gas expert or emergency service authority tells you it is safe to return.

Natural gas: You have this type of gas if you have a gas meter and pay a natural gas supplier or utility. A chemical odorant has been added to natural gas to give it a distinct smell. Learn to identify this odor. If you smell a little gas, check all areas of your house for strong odor. If the smell is only faint throughout all areas of your home, call your heating contractor to get it fixed within 24 hours. Keep the house well ventilated by opening windows.

If you smell a strong, persistent odor:

  • Exit your home immediately.
  • Do not light a match, start an engine, use a cell phone, or do anything that may create a spark.
  • From a safe area, contact your gas company or call 911.
  • If possible, turn the gas off at the meter.
  • Stay away from your home until an authority has told you it is safe to return.