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Commonly Asked Heating & Cooling Questions

We have included a list of some of the questions our customers ask most often. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, or would like more information regarding one of our services, feel free to contact our office where one of our HVAC technicians will be happy to assist you.

How often should I change my air filter?
The answer is, it depends. There are many different types of air filters on the market, and it depends on which one you have, as well as the conditions in your home. Filters that are one inch thick are generally rated for no longer than three months, but if you have pets that shed, that same filter might need to be changed in one month. Some filters are five inches thick and can last up to a year before they need to be changed. If you check your filter, and it is dirty, it is time to go ahead and replace it.
How do I know if my system is properly sized?
To know for sure that your system is sized to the house properly, you would need to have a load calculation performed. This is where we measure the size of the structure and account for building materials, insulation levels, exposure, and geographical location. After entering this information into the computer, we can determine what size equipment you need to maintain the desired temperature in your home in the heat of Summer and the cold of Winter. Most new houses have this procedure performed when they are built, and if no additions have been made, it is generally safe to replace equipment with new equipment of the same capacity. If your system struggles to maintain the temperature you set your thermostat to on the hottest days, it is possible that your system is undersized. We perform load calculations for every system we install to ensure that your new system will perform up to your expectations.
How often do I need my system to be serviced?
Virtually every manufacturer recommends that you perform service on your system at least once per year. Regular maintenance can increase system life and keep your system operating as efficiently as possible. Our maintenance program includes two visits per year, once during the cooling season and once during the heating season, so that we can test the system properly and make sure it is ready to keep you comfortable regardless of what Mother Nature throws our way.
How long should a new air conditioner last?
The average life expectancy is in the 12 to 15-year range for most newly installed air conditioning and heating equipment. The two biggest factors affecting system longevity are the quality of the installation and the frequency of maintenance being performed after installation. Improper installation practices can drastically decrease life expectancy and increase the frequency of repairs. A lack of regular maintenance can result in dirty coils and blower wheels which can shorten the life of your compressor and/or the blower motor. With a proper installation and regular maintenance there is no reason why you should not be able to get years and years of trouble-free operation from your system.
Why is my downstairs air conditioner so much bigger than my upstairs air conditioner?
In this area it is quite common to have a package unit for the downstairs and a split system for the upstairs. A package unit has the entire system built into one piece of equipment and the ductwork attaches to that piece of equipment. There will be what looks like a big metal box connecting the equipment to the house. This box is called the rain shield and its purpose is to protect the ductwork from the weather as well as preventing animals from entering the crawl space through the duct penetration. A split system is a system that has essentially been split in half. The condenser is outside, and two refrigerant lines connect it to the indoor coil, usually located in the attic or an upstairs closet. The ductwork is connected to the indoor unit. By moving the indoor unit upstairs, closer to the area it is responsible for conditioning, the air in the duct experiences much less friction loss which makes the system more efficient.
Why is one part of my house always hotter/colder than the rest of the house?
This situation generally indicates that the duct system is not balanced properly, or there is an issue with the ductwork leading to that portion of the house. Sometimes it is as simple as attaching ductwork that has come loose, and sometimes the duct system installed in the house when it was built was not sized or designed correctly. If this is the case, then duct modifications may be required to achieve proper airflow to the entire house. If this is a problem you experience, we can inspect the duct system, measure the airflow, and offer recommendations to keep you comfortable in all parts of your home.
Why is water leaking into my house from my air conditioner?
When your system is running in air conditioning mode the surface temperature of the indoor coil is well below the dewpoint. This means that the moisture in the air condenses on the indoor coil. Many people are not aware that the air conditioner not only lowers the temperature of the air, but it also removes moisture from the air. This moisture runs down the coil into the condensate drain pan, and then into the condensate drain itself. Over time these drains can become clogged, and when they do, the condensate takes the path of least resistance. If your indoor unit is in the attic this can result in water damage on the ceiling when water leaks out of the equipment. For this reason, all systems installed by Brackin Heating & Air come with auxiliary drain pans and safety switches that turn the system off as soon as water is detected, long before ceiling damage occurs. If condensate drains are flushed and treated once a year it virtually eliminates this problem, and this is a good reason to have yearly maintenance performed. Damaged drains and loose fittings can also result in leaks, but clogged drains make up the vast majority water leaks from air conditioners.
Why is my air conditioner freezing up?
When an air conditioner coil freezes the problem falls into one of two categories, low refrigerant levels in the coil or low airflow across the coil. Low refrigerant levels in the coil can result from leaks or restrictions in the refrigerant system. Low airflow across the coil can result from several issues that prevent the blower motor from running. Airflow issues can also be caused by dirty coils and dirty air filters. Ice on the coil must be removed to accurately diagnose the problem, so if you notice your system freezing up in air conditioning mode, turn the system off and turn the fan to the “ON” position at the thermostat. This should prevent any further freezing and turning the fan to the on position at the thermostat should speed the melting process by moving room temperature air over the frozen coil. Other than a very dirty air filter, a system freezing up will require service from a trained technician to address the problem.
How often should I add refrigerant to my system?
Refrigerant, commonly referred to as Freon, is pumped through the system by the compressor. The compressor does not “use” refrigerant, it just pumps it. The refrigerant system is a sealed system. If your system’s refrigerant levels are low, it is because refrigerant is leaking from the system. Whenever we find a system that is not cooling properly due to low refrigerant levels, we perform an electronic leak search to locate the source of the leak. We then inform you what is required to eliminate the leak. This can range anywhere from tightening a loose fitting to replacing a leaky coil. If the leak is small, the refrigerant can be topped off to restore cooling, but without repairing the leak, the refrigerant will leak out again. This sometimes can provide adequate cooling for a year, but eventually it will leak back out and the system will quit cooling. At one time, low refrigerant prices resulted in people choosing to top their system off every spring instead of paying for costly repairs, but as prices of refrigerant rise, this practice is becoming less common.
Is R-22 illegal?
No. There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the refrigerant R22, also known as freon. R22 was the refrigerant used in most residential air conditioners and heat pumps for decades. In the 90’s the EPA became aware of the ozone-depleting qualities of R22 and work on a new refrigerant began. The result was 410A, which has no ozone depleting qualities. The EPA began to phase out the use of R22 in the 2000’s and the manufacture of new R22 was banned effective January 1st, 2020. What does this mean for people who own equipment that use R22? It means that if your refrigerant system develops a leak, it could be more expensive to replace the refrigerant compared to 410A. There is currently still a supply of R22 that was manufactured before the deadline, but prices are increasing since no more can be manufactured. Most equipment that currently uses R22 is out of warranty and approaching the end of its life expectancy, and many people who own this equipment elect to replace it with a new 410A system rather than repair it when it breaks down and the cost of repairs are high.