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Frequently Asked Questions

I recently installed a whole-house dehumidifier, and ever since I’ve been able to set the thermostat a little higher for the AC and still feel comfortable. Are they related?

Indeed, they are. When indoor humidity is too high, people often try to make their homes feel more comfortable by lowering the thermostat. But it’s not the air temperature that’s the problem – it’s the humidity. Ideal indoor comfort is always a matter of striking the right balance between air temperature and humidity level.

I run my air conditioner constantly in the summer, but my house still feels humid and clammy. Shouldn’t the AC take care of that?

An air conditioning system does remove a good deal of excess moisture from indoor air. However, with our humid summers, it’s often not enough. We recommend looking into a good whole-house dehumidifier. There are several on the market that integrate with your HVAC system. It will handle the humidity your AC can’t and prevent the AC from having to work so hard. It will also help with high indoor humidity year-round, not just in the summer.

Are there any short-term ways of improving dry air until my central humidifier is installed?

Room humidifiers would help, but if you want to avoid the expense of buying them just for short-term use, there are other options for adding some moisture to indoor air. One is to skip the clothes dryer and let clothes air dry on drying racks or hang them where there is adequate air circulation; avoid hanging them in a closet or other small, enclosed space.

Another option is to place shallow pans of clean, fresh water around the house, making sure to replenish the water as it evaporates. Doing these things won’t completely correct your humidity problem, but they will help until your whole-house humidifier is up and running.

What are some signs of low indoor humidity?

Often the first indication of excessively low indoor humidity is dry, itchy skin in people and pets. Other signs include nasal and respiratory irritation, such as stuffiness, nose bleeds, and a dry, hacking cough. You might also notice peeling wallpaper, loose joints in wood furniture, and cracking or brittleness in leather goods.

Homes with forced-air heating are most likely to have excessively dry air. If using room humidifiers during the heating season doesn’t provide adequate relief, we recommend looking into a whole-house humidifier.

My home is too humid in the summer and too dry in the winter. How can I fix that?

There are state-of-the-art indoor air quality systems that provide both dehumidification and humidification, along with components that reduce airborne particles and improve ventilation. We can help you determine if that is something you need, as well as explore other custom solutions.

My furnace has been short-cycling. Would that explain the increase in my utility bill?

Short cycling, where the heater turns on and off more frequently than it should, would definitely drive up your utility bill. A heating system uses the most energy in the start-up phase; so, more frequent starts means more energy used. If you haven’t already, you need to get your furnace repaired. Prolonged short cycling will lead to other heating problems and more expensive repairs.

Are there ways to keep my home warm while waiting for a furnace repair?

The only safe way is to use a properly maintained fireplace or wood stove (if you have one) or a high-quality electric space heater.

Never use any appliance or equipment, such as the kitchen stove or camping stove, that is not designed specifically for indoor space heating. The risks of fire and dangerous fumes from exhaust are extremely high.

What can I do to keep furnace repair costs low?

The best thing anyone can do to avoid the inconvenience and cost of expensive, preventable repairs is to have preventive maintenance done each year. We encourage you to check out our maintenance services, as well as our preventive maintenance plan, the Comfort Club, for even more savings.

Also, schedule a service call as soon as you notice a furnace or heating problem. The earlier any problem is found and fixed, the less expensive the repair will be. In other words, delayed repair only leads to increasing damage to equipment and higher repair bills.

How do I know if I’d benefit from a UV air purifier?

We suggest considering a UV air purifier when there are health concerns about exposure to airborne molds, bacteria, fungi, or viruses. So, if you or any family members are, for example, susceptible to allergic reactions, have chronic respiratory conditions, or are immuno-compromised, a UV air purifier could provide added protection and peace of mind. This is not meant to be medical advice, however. You should always talk to your doctor about how best to address any health concerns.

What is dirty sock syndrome?

That refers to the mold or mildew odor that comes from an air conditioner. It happens when moisture, dust, and dirt build up in the AC system, and become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. UV light along with annual AC preventive maintenance are the best ways to prevent dirty sock syndrome.

How is a UV air purifier different form other air purifiers?

Ultraviolet, or UV, light has long been used in laboratories, hospitals, and certain industrial and manufacturing applications to kill biological contaminants, such as bacteria, molds, fungi, and viruses. Air purifiers without UV light do not do this.

I have an air purifier that works as part of my HVAC system. I know you service heating and cooling systems – do you also do air purifiers.

Yes, we do. We service and install all indoor air quality systems. And when yours needs to be replaced, we’ll even help you select the best replacement system.

I feel like my house has multiple air quality issues. Does that mean I need a different system for each issue?

It’s not uncommon for homes to be plagued with both humidity and air pollution problems. That’s why the aim of our air quality services is to come up with a custom solution that addresses the comfort and health concerns of individual homes and families. Our indoor air quality specialists assess each home and discuss the best options for each customer.

I’m considering a whole-house air purifier, but are there also other things I can do to limit exposing me and my family to things like dust, pollen, and other allergens.

Absolutely. Even with the best whole-house air purification system, it pays to do a few simple things. Change your HVAC air filter every 4 to 6 weeks, and schedule annual preventive maintenance for your heating and cooling systems. Both of these help reduce the amount of airborne particles that recirculate into your home.

When is the best time to schedule commercial HVAC repair?

The short answer is as soon as there’s a problem with your HVAC system. This is the best way to avoid the expense and disruption of a total HVAC system breakdown.

But we understand that you also don’t want repairs to interfere with your normal business schedule and operations. We recommend contacting a qualified commercial HVAC company that can accommodate the schedules and needs of the businesses they serve.

I see you have a residential maintenance plan. Do you offer one for businesses?

At this time, our maintenance plan is only for home heating and cooling systems. However, we can assure you that maintenance services, when done annually, are the most cost-effective way to keep any commercial HVAC system operating reliably and efficiently, reduce the risk of preventable breakdowns and expensive repairs, and maximize the time before needing to replace your current system.

One of my zones isn’t cooling even though the thermostat is set to the right temperature. What could cause this?

It’s best to start with the simplest explanations, which in this case would be either a stuck damper or a problem with the sensor in the thermostat. While the air conditioner is running, you can check the airflow coming out of the vents in the problem zone. If there’s no or faint airflow, this suggests a stuck damper. If the airflow feels normal but not cool enough, it may be that the sensor isn’t registering the difference in air temperature and the thermostat setting. This information is helpful when you call to arrange for repairs.

I’m considering adding zone control to my current forced-air system. Are there common problems I should be aware of regarding the upgrade components?

The key components involved in the upgrade include a main control panel, motorized dampers that are installed in the ducts, and thermostats for the various zones. None of the components is especially prone to problems when they are of good quality and installed properly.

We can’t overstate the importance of using an HVAC company that is highly qualified and experienced in doing this type of installation. Subpar installation can typically result in stuck dampers and malfunctions in the thermostats and control panel. The fixes can range from minor to complex and very expensive, so, again, if a problem does arise, it should be diagnosed and repaired only by an experienced HVAC tech.

Are there any simple repairs that I can do on my zone control system?

It’s never a good idea for homeowners to try to repair their HVAC systems, especially one as complex as a zoned system. You could harm the equipment and yourself. But there are things you can and should do to help keep it in good condition and running smoothly.

These include changing the air filter every 4 to 6 weeks; keeping vents, return registers, and condenser units free of anything that obstructs airflow; and scheduling preventive maintenance for the cooling season once a year and for the heating season once a year. These simple things go a long way in preventing many problems and avoidable repairs.

Why would there be moisture around some of my wall-mounted blowers?

This can happen with poor installation of ductless systems. The blower units and chassis need to be mounted properly and securely. We recommend contacting an HVAC company that is experienced in installing and repairing ductless split systems. The tech can correct the mounting problem and determine if anything else is contributing to the moisture.

The air from my ductless system doesn’t feel as cool as it did last season. Does that mean I have a refrigerant leak?

A refrigerant leak is one possible explanation for insufficient cooling. Another is a clogged air filter. Either of these would result in insufficient cooling throughout the house. If the cooling problem is happening just in a particular zone, this points to a problem with the sensor, which detects and adjusts to the air temperature in the zone.

The first thing to do is check and change the air filter. If the problem persists with a clean filter, you should schedule a service call with a licensed HVAC company.

My ductless system is getting old. Are there things I can do to avoid expensive repairs?

If you’ve been getting annual preventive maintenance from a good HVAC company, great! You’re ahead of the game in keeping repair costs as low as possible. If you haven’t, you will still benefit from starting now. Check out our maintenance service online to see what preventive maintenance includes and how it helps you avoid preventable repairs.

Also, schedule a service call as soon as you notice any problems. The earlier a problem is found and repaired, the less expensive it will be. Delayed repairs only lead to worsening damage to equipment and higher repair bills – and, ultimately, to replacing an aging system earlier than you hoped.

Is there anything I should do to maintain my furnace?

All homeowners have one very important maintenance task: Changing the air filter every 4 to 6 weeks.
A dirty or clogged filter strains the heating system by restricting airflow. It also contributes to poor indoor air quality. Beyond that, preventive maintenance should always be done by a licensed HVAC tech.

Do you offer a maintenance plan?

We do – it’s called the Comfort Club. It provides great pricing on annual maintenance for your cooling or heating system, or both systems. It includes other great benefits as well, like discounted repairs and service calls and priority scheduling. Membership pays for itself for most of our customers.

How often should I have maintenance done on my furnace?

We strongly recommend scheduling preventive maintenance for your heating system once each year. With regular preventive maintenance, we’re able to catch small issues before they become major repairs, as well as ensure your heater is operating at peak efficiency and lasts for as many years as possible.

That said, any maintenance is better than none at all. You always benefit from a thorough safety check and tune-up. And if we find that you need a repair, we can do it to prevent a heating emergency on the coldest day of winter.

What does furnace installation entail?

The particular installation requirements depend on whether the furnace is gas or electric. In either case, a furnace must be sized properly and installed correctly. Subpar sizing and installation reduce the efficiency of even the best furnace, resulting in ineffective heating, higher utility bills, and possibly shortened equipment life. That’s why it’s extremely important to have your furnace sized and installed by an experienced licensed HVAC company.

How often does a furnace need to be replaced?

On average, the typical furnace lasts around 15 years before needing to be replaced. But high-quality equipment that has gotten preventive maintenance annually can provide reliable heating for 20 to 25 years.

I’d like a heat pump for efficiency, but it’s not in the budget. What would be the best furnace for me?

The upfront cost for equipment and installation put heat pumps out of reach for many homeowners. But the good news is that furnace technology has come a long way, providing plenty of choices in high-efficiency home heating. We can help you sort through and understand your options so that you choose the furnace that’s right for you and your budget.

Can I do AC maintenance myself?

There are two things homeowners should do regularly. One is to change the air filter every 4 to 6 weeks. A dirty filter makes the system work harder, restricts airflow, and degrades indoor air quality. The second is to make sure the condenser unit (the part that sits outside) is clear of anything that restricts airflow, such as plants and debris. Everything else, such as inspecting, adjusting, and lubricating parts, should be done by a licensed HVAC tech.

I forgot to schedule maintenance for my air conditioner. Can I wait until next season?

It’s always best to have maintenance done before the start of the cooling season. That way we can get it in peak condition and make any repairs, if necessary, before you need it for continuous cooling. But, regardless of where we are in the cooling season, you still greatly benefit from having it done. It’s the best way to protect yourself from a breakdown in the height of summer heat.

How often should I schedule an AC tune-up?

We strongly recommend scheduling an AC tune-up – what we call preventive maintenance – once each year for your AC system. It is the most cost-effective way to keep your system performing efficiently and reliably. It will also ensure you get the longest useful life out of your air conditioner.

I see you have a residential maintenance plan. Do you offer one for commercial HVAC equipment?

Yes, we do offer our commercial HVAC customers preventive maintenance plans. Because commercial systems can vary greatly in complexity and equipment, it’s structured a bit differently from our residential plan. Please call us at 770-213-2665 and we’ll be happy to go over the details.

Will I have to close my business during preventive maintenance?

Although the HVAC system will need to be shut down during maintenance, there is no reason to suspend your normal operating hours. For the comfort of the building’s occupants and minimal disruption to your business, it’s always best to schedule maintenance before the start of the heating and cooling seasons.

When is the best time to schedule preventive maintenance?

We always recommend having preventive maintenance done once before the start of the cooling season and again before the start of the heating season. This enables us to ensure your HVAC system is ready to operate dependably and efficiently as soon as you start running it continuously.

When is the best time to schedule commercial HVAC replacement?

To minimize disruption to your business, we always recommend planning a new installation as soon as you know your old system needs to be replaced. This reduces the risk of having to close your business because of total failure of the old system. Ideally, it should also give you some flexibility in scheduling new installation during a time when your business is not at its peak.

What goes into selecting a new commercial HVAC system?

Whether you’re replacing an old system or installing one in a new business, there’s a lot to consider. Factors such as building size and layout, the type of business you run, typical occupancy, and many others all figure into the size and type of systems that are right for you. We are experienced in customizing heating and cooling solutions that work best for our commercial customers’ unique needs.

Are there different qualifications for residential and commercial HVAC?

Yes, and you should work only with a company that is licensed in commercial HVAC for all services needed for heating and cooling your business, including HVAC maintenance, repairs, and replacement or new installation.

I don’t have a maintenance agreement. Would you still service my zone control system?

Absolutely! Just like HVAC repairs or installation, preventive maintenance is one of the services we provide. You don’t have to be a member of the Comfort Club, our preventive maintenance plan, to call on us for service, but we encourage you to look into the Comfort Club. It offers incredible savings and other great benefits.

What does preventive maintenance for a zone control system entail?

Maintenance for a zone control system is essentially the same as for other heating and cooling systems.
Ductless split systems are by definition zone control systems; in other words, zoning is designed into the equipment. For air conditioners, furnaces, and heat pumps, zoning is achieved by an HVAC tech installing dampers in ducts and thermostats to control each zone. So, whatever heating and cooling systems you use, we do a thorough system inspection, safety check, and tune-up.

Does your maintenance plan cover a zone control system?

Yes, it does. We offer our preventive maintenance plan, the Comfort Club, for all of the types of heating and cooling systems we service, including zone control systems.

What’s the purpose of duct testing?

Duct testing detects any leaks in your home’s ductwork. Leaks reduce how efficiently and effectively your heating and cooling systems do their jobs, resulting in higher utility bills and reduced comfort. They also contribute to poor indoor air quality. Testing allows us to find where the leaks are so they can be repaired.

How often should I have duct testing done?

Generally, this can be done every couple of years if there are no obvious signs of damage or leaks. But if you notice an unexpected rise in utility bills or an unexplained poor quality indoor air, such as worsening of allergy symptoms, you should contact us about duct testing.

Do you do air duct cleaning?

No, we don’t. But we do provide duct testing and duct repair services. For duct cleaning, we recommend you contact someone who specializes in it.

Is there anything I should do to help maintain my heat pump?

Yes, there are two things everyone with a heat pump should do. One is to change the air filter every 4 to 6 weeks. The other is to make sure the area surrounding the outdoor cabinet is clear of debris, plants, and anything else that restricts airflow.

I don’t have a maintenance agreement. Would you still service my heat pump?

Absolutely! Just like HVAC repairs or installation, preventive maintenance is one of the services we provide. You don’t have to be a member of the Comfort Club, our preventive maintenance plan, to call on us for service, but we encourage you to look into the Comfort Club. It offers incredible savings and other great benefits.

Does your maintenance plan cover heat pumps?

Yes, it does. We offer our preventive maintenance plan, the Comfort Club, for all of the types of heating and cooling systems we service, including heat pumps. Because a heat pump is used in both the cooling and the heating seasons, you would want your plan to provide two maintenance visits per year.

I don’t have a maintenance agreement. Would you still service my ductless system?

Absolutely! Just like HVAC repairs or installation, preventive maintenance is one of the services we provide. You don’t have to be a member of the Comfort Club, our preventive maintenance plan, to call on us for service, but we encourage you to look into the Comfort Club. It offers incredible savings and other great benefits.

How often should a ductless split system get preventive maintenance?

If you use your ductless system just for cooling, you should have maintenance done once a year, ideally before the start of the cooling season. If you also use it to heat your home, you should have maintenance done again for the heating season.

To keep it simple: You should have preventive maintenance done once for the cooling season and once for the heating season every year, regardless of the type of HVAC system you have.

Does your maintenance plan cover a ductless split system?

Yes, it does. We offer our preventive maintenance plan, the Comfort Club, for all of the types of heating and cooling systems we service, including ductless split systems.

What does AC installation entail?

The particular installation requirements depend on whether the AC system is ductless or if it uses ductwork. Regardless of the type of system, all of its components need to work together seamlessly to ensure efficient, effective cooling. The performance of even the best equipment will suffer from subpar installation. So, it’s important to work with a reputable licensed HVAC company experienced in installing the type of AC system you’ve purchased.

How often does an AC system need to be replaced?

It depends on when you got the system and its maintenance history. The latest efficient systems are designed to minimize workload and, in turn, reduce normal wear and tear. With annual preventive maintenance, it could be 15 to 20 years before you need to replace it.

A properly maintained older system typically lasts 10 to 15 years. In either case, annual preventive maintenance is the key to extending your system’s life.

What type of air conditioner should I get?

There are more cooling system options available today than ever. The system that’s right for you depends on many factors, such as your budget for equipment and installation and features of your home. That said, most homeowners start the selection process by deciding between a ductless split system, which works well in smaller homes, and a conventional system with ductwork, which is typically needed in larger homes.

Comfort Zone takes the time to educate every customer on the best options for them and their particular situation. We want you to feel confident that you have the information and guidance you need to choose the system that’s right for you.

What causes AC short cycling?

Short cycling, the condition where the AC turns on and off every few minutes, is often caused by a short circuit that sends the wrong signals to the system or a problem with the compressor. Whatever the cause, prolonged short cycling will lead to additional problems and shorten the life of the AC system. The sooner the cause of short cycling is found and repaired, the less expensive AC repairs will be.

How many zones can you have with a ductless split?

Depending on the type and size of the split system, you can have as many as eight zones.

What are the advantages of ductless split systems?

They provide effective, efficient cooling without the ductwork needed with a forced-air system. Between being ductless and the compact size of the equipment, they don’t take up much space inside or outside the home. Zone control, where different levels of conditioned air can be delivered to different rooms, is a built-in feature of ductless splits. And because a ductless split system can be paired with a heat pump, it’s a great efficient option for both heating and cooling.

Are ductless splits for heating or cooling?

They’re most often used for cooling in homes that don’t have ductwork and use a boiler system for heating. But when coupled with a heat pump, they can both heat and cool comfortably and efficiently.

Why isn’t my heat pump switching to cool air?

The most likely reason a heat pump doesn’t switch to cool air in the cooling season or warm air in the heating season has to do with either the reversing valve or the refrigerant level.

The reversing valve may be stuck in the wrong mode, which points to a problem with the solenoid. Or, instead, the refrigerant level may be low due to a leak and the heat pump cannot deliver adequate conditioned air.

Again, these are likely reasons, but not a definitive diagnosis. We recommend contacting a licensed HVAC company with experience in heat pump repair to check out the problem.

Why is frost forming on my heat pump?

A number of things can cause heat pump frosting. However, the most common – and easiest to fix – is a dirty or clogged air filter. A dirty filter restricts airflow, often leading to moisture build-up and frosting. We always advise our customers to change the air filter every four to six weeks to avoid a variety of problems in any type of heating and cooling system.

Although that’s the most common cause, it’s not a diagnosis of what’s going on in your case. We recommend having the heat pump checked out by a licensed HVAC company with experience in heat pump repair.

What can I do to keep heat pump repair costs as low as possible?

The best thing anyone can do to avoid the inconvenience and cost of expensive, preventable repairs is to have biannual preventive maintenance done. That means you should schedule preventive maintenance once a year for the cooling season and once a year for the heating season. We encourage you to check out our preventive maintenance services, as well as our preventive maintenance plan, the Comfort Club, for even more savings.

Also, schedule a service call as soon as you notice any problem with your heat pump. The earlier a problem is found and fixed, the less expensive the repair will be. In other words, delayed repair only leads to increasing damage to equipment and higher repair bills.

My home doesn’t have ductwork. Is the only option for heating and cooling a ductless system?

Using a ductless split system can be a great option, but it’s not the only one. Depending on the details of your home and your particular situation, installing ductwork and using forced-air heating and cooling systems is a possibility.

That said, many factors go into deciding which is the best way for you, or anyone, to go. That’s why we always educate customers on the options available to them and help them make an informed decision.

Does ductwork play a role in heating and cooling my home other than distributing conditioned air?

It plays a very important role, affecting everything from the efficiency of heating and cooling systems, indoor air quality, and, ultimately your overall comfort. Damaged, inadequate, or poorly installed ductwork can even result in problems with your other HVAC equipment and shorten its life.

Can I have zone control with a heat pump?

Absolutely. If you use a heat pump to both heat and cool your home, it’s safe to say you have ductwork. Zone control would require an upgrade to your system, consisting of adding dampers to the ducts, thermostats for different zones, and a control panel.

Can I achieve zone control by closing vents in certain rooms?

Many people think this is a good way to save energy. Unfortunately, it’s not true and it can damage your HVAC system. Closing or covering a vent only blocks the conditioned air from entering the room. It doesn’t control the amount or temperature of the air delivered to the vent or the energy used to produce it. Also, the built-up pressure in the duct could cause leakage, which wastes energy. So we urge you not to try this.

What exactly is a zone control system?

Zone control systems are designed to deliver customized amounts of conditioned air to specific zones of your home. It is a built-in feature of ductless split systems.
For forced-air heating and cooling systems, zone control is achieved by an HVAC technician installing mechanical dampers in ductwork, along with thermostats for different zones, all linked to one control panel.
Zoning is an efficient way to heat and cool because you’re not wasting conditioned air where you don’t want or need it.

About how long do heat pumps last?

With consistent, professional biannual maintenance the life span is about 15 years. You might think that’s about the same as a typical furnace, but it’s important to remember that a furnace runs only during the heating season, whereas a heat pump does double duty, heating and cooling your home.

How do heat pumps heat your home without burning fuel?

Believe it or not, even in winter there is plenty of thermal energy – or heat – in the environment. Air source heat pumps, currently the most popular and affordable kind, extract heat from outdoor air and pump it into your home.

I’m thinking about replacing my AC and furnace with a heat pump. Do you do new heat pump installation?

Yes, we do. We both replace older heat pumps with new ones, and install new heat pump systems in homes that currently use conventional heating and cooling equipment.

I heard that duct tape doesn’t work for sealing holes or joints in heating and cooling ducts. Is that true?

Yes, that’s true. While there are many good uses for duct tape, using it for any HVAC application isn’t one of them. Instead, HVAC companies use mastic or metallic tape, both of which are engineered for HVAC ducts and other components.

Most of my ductwork is hidden from view. How can I tell if it’s damaged?

There’s no way for homeowners to visually inspect ductwork that runs behind walls and floors. However, HVAC companies can test ductwork to determine if there are leaks. Duct testing involves sealing off the ducts so that no air can escape, and then pressurizing them to a set level. If the pressure level changes, it means there’s leakage in the ductwork. A skilled HVAC tech will then use the findings from testing to narrow down the location of the leaks.

How can I tell if there are problems with my ducts?

Some common signs of duct issues are uneven heating and cooling and unexplained spikes in utility bills. An experienced HVAC company would need to determine if ductwork is the cause of these issues. If it is, the next step would be to determine if the existing ductwork can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced.

My air conditioner recently started making a grinding sound. Is that a serious problem?

Grinding sounds suggest a problem with the air handler, a motor with a large fan attached to it. The air handler is what blows cooled air through the ductwork. As the bearings in the motor wear down, friction increases and produces a grinding sound. If not corrected, the motor will eventually overheat and burn out. Our advice is to stop using the AC immediately and call for repairs.

What are some signs of wear and tear on an AC system?

The first sign of significant wear and tear is usually an unexplained increase in electric bills. You might also notice that the AC turns on and off more frequently and that cooling in your home is uneven. The sooner you have it checked out by an HVAC tech, the better. The problem will only get worse and become more expensive to repair.