Tips for Hiring an Air Conditioning Specialist

Air ConditionerMost people can agree on one thing during summer in Austin, TX: reliable air conditioning is a must. When you’re in need of air conditioner replacement or repair, knowing which contractor to call can be confusing when you have several options. Not all HVAC businesses are created equal and by following the tips below, you can make sure you hire the best service available.

Professional Affiliations and Recommendations

Before choosing a heating and air conditioning company, first check to see if they are members the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and have at least an A rating. You can find the company’s profile on the BBB’s website.

Being members of the local, state and national Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) association is a big plus.

Another way to get valuable information regarding the company’s reputation is to read past client reviews on the company’s Google, Yelp, Customer Lobby, and social media pages. On Yelp look at hidden comments as well, they are not as transparent as other sites. You can read about previous customer’s experiences with the contractors and why they would/would not recommend hiring them. Also ask for recommendations directly and call their past customers.

License and Certifications

Make sure the company has a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation Mechanical License. Also check and see if they employ NATE and National Comfort Institute’s Air Balancing and HVAC System Performance Certified technicians. Typically you can see their licenses and certifications on their website, but you can also ask a company representative directly.

Insurance

As a homeowner, probably the most important insurance coverage a contractor can have is Workers Compensation. If anyone is hurt while performing work in your home you are liable unless your contractor has adequate coverage.

The recommended minimum insurance coverage is a General Liability Aggregate of $1,000,000 and Workers Compensation of $1,000,000.

Air Conditioning servicing and installation is a hazardous task. Make sure your contractor has insurance so you are covered and don’t hesitate to ask for proof.

Professional Demeanor

Note their customer service when you contact them. Are you put in a phone tree or do they answer the phone directly and in house. How do they speak to their potential clients? Are they courteous when answering questions and providing price quotes? Do they return messages in a timely, professional manner? First impressions matter and the way the contractor handles your communication can be a good indicator of how they will handle the project.

Company Policies and Guarantees

When it’s your time and money on the line, the fine print matters. You want to hire an honest company that values the satisfaction of its customers. Ask about their policies to see if they value quality work over simply making the sale. Do they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee? What is their warranty and policies if your new HVAC unit should break down? How long has the company been around? Do their prices seem fair for the materials and labor needed to complete the job? Ask for references of customers that had problems and call them to see how they were resolved.

Get the Details in Writing

The costs of AC repair and installation can add up, especially in Central Texas. Before you commit to a repair ask for a written estimate. Likewise, if you are looking at more substantial work, get a proposal with all the equipment, specifications and price details in writing.

Availability

Obviously, if you need a job done, it’s important that your schedule lines up with the contractor’s. It is frustrating whenever your air conditioning unit breaks down but especially in 100-degree heat. Find a contractor that offers same day 24/7 emergency service at regular rates. But if it is the first heat wave of the season same day service may be impossible. Be upfront about the issue you’re having and see what their availability looks like.

By asking a few simple questions, you can feel safe knowing your HVAC contractor is knowledgeable, qualified, and reliable. For air conditioning repair in the Austin, Georgetown, or Marble Falls areas, contact Stan’s Heating and Air Conditioning today!

Avoid a Broken AC Unit This Summer

picture of someone fixing air conditioner unitAs fellow residents of Texas, we know how scorching the summer months can be. There’s almost nothing worse than having your air conditioner break down in the middle of a Texas summer. Although you can’t control the heat or humidity in June through September, there are some steps you can take towards preventing a poorly functioning or broken air conditioning system this summer.

Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

Schedule a Tune-Up

This is probably the best step you can take towards preventing your AC unit from breaking down in the dead of summer. An average air conditioning system runs 3000 hours per year; that’s a lot of wear and tear. An annual tune-up allows a technician to catch little problems before they turn into major complications and a broken system. Plus, tuning and cleaning your system yearly will maximize its efficiency and extend its life.

Schedule an HVAC system tune up with a professional every year, once a year.

Replace the Filter

Dirty or restrictive filters are the most common cause of poorly functioning AC systems. Clogged filters can result in a total system breakdown. Filters typically need to be replaced every two to three months, but usually every month during the summer. This means you need to keep a closer eye on your filters June through September. Besides preventing an HVAC disaster, keeping filters clean and using low density filters have an additional benefit: the Department of Energy estimates that changing AC filters when needed can lower your system’s energy consumption by 5 to 15%! But beware, the more expensive the filter the more restrictive, in many cases “high efficiency” filters create the same consequences as a dirty filter.

Clean the Condenser and Keep the Area Around It Clear

The condenser is the outdoor part of your air conditioner unit, and it plays a major role in ensuring the system is cooling properly. The condenser doesn’t have a filter so when its coil gets dirty your AC can’t cool effectively. If the coil becomes clogged it can cause the condenser to overheat and break down, so schedule a cooling tune up and make sure a thorough cleaning of the condenser is included. It can be done by the “do-it-yourselfer” but make sure the power is turned off. The coil must be cleaned from the inside out so the top of the condenser must be removed.

It is also important to trim any shrubs and plants growing near the condenser and clear away any debris or leaves. There should be a minimum of 2 feet of clearance around the unit so it can function properly.

If you find that your AC is running more than usual or it isn’t keeping the house cool enough, you may want to check the condenser.

Clear the Drain Line

An air conditioning system removes up to 9 gallons of water from your home every day as a byproduct of cooling a home. That water collects in the drain pan of the indoor coil and drains out through a pipe connected to it. Clogged drain lines are a top service issue. It is paramount that you take the maintenance of your drain line seriously.

Fortunately, most drain lines have an emergency overflow cut off switch that automatically turns your system off if the drain line plugs. Even though your system won’t operate, at least you won’t flood your home.

To prevent the drain line from clogging, schedule a cooling tune up and make sure blowing out the drain under pressure and flushing the drain with water and vinegar is included. It is important that the location of the termination point is located. Instead of blowing out the drain, many times a wet/dry vacuum needs to be connected at the end of the drain line instead to suck out any algae, dirt, or rust that has collected inside the piping.

As preventative maintenance, you can also pour a gallon of warm water with a ¼ cup of vinegar through the drain pipe two to three times a year to help wash away any obstruction.

The Bottom Line

A few simple guidelines can save you from coming home to a broken air conditioner this summer. For questions, repairs, and to schedule the most comprehensive tune up available, call Stan’s Heating and Air Conditioning for assistance today!

Save Money on Air Conditioning This Summer

Even if you are looking forward to the warm summer weather, you probably aren’t as excited about the thought of your air conditioning bills skyrocketing. Many people struggle with wanting to keep cool in the summer heat while still keeping energy costs down. However, the good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to save money and stay cool as summer heats up.

Tips for Lowering Your Air Conditioning Bill

Use a Programmable Thermostat

picture of a Stan's AC thermostatInstall a programmable thermostat in your home so that you can adjust temperatures according to your schedule. You don’t need your thermostat to be running at the same temperature while you’re at work as it does when you’re at home. You’ll end up spending a lot of money cooling an empty house. For instance, you can set the thermostat at 78 degrees when you’re home but move it to 85 if you’ll be gone all day. There are even Wi-Fi thermostats that allow you to adjust your thermostat from anywhere using a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Make Sure Your A/C Unit is the Right Size

Air conditioning units are not “one size fits all.” If a system is too small, it will be unable to keep your home or building at an ideal temperature. If it’s too big, it will cost much more and will be working harder than necessary, leaving you at an uncomfortable temperature yet again. Finding an A/C system that is the proper size will give you the greatest efficiency and comfort. Call a professional if you’re unsure what size would work best for your needs.

Upgrade to an Energy Efficient Unit

All A/C units have two ratings: a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) and an EER (Energy Efficiency Rating). The higher the rating, the less energy consumed. The legal minimum SEER is 13 and then ratings go up to 20. If you desire more energy efficiency in your A/C system, look into options with higher SEER and EER ratings to see how you can optimize your home or building.

Check for Duct Leaks

If you’re blasting your air conditioning system and still feeling warm, this could indicate that some of the cool air is leaking out. The first places many people look for A/C leaks are windows and doors, but more often the culprit is a hole or gap in the air ducts. A professional can inspect your building’s system for leakage points and can even help seal them for you. Do not simply seal the holes with duct tape.

Clean Your A/C System

When dirt and debris build up in your vents and ducts, they work much harder than they need to and don’t deliver the same benefits. Have your air conditioning system cleaned at least once a year to keep it running smoothly and efficiently. Regular maintenance will also prevent damage to the system and save you money in repairs.

Take Note of Bright and Sunny Spots

Don’t underestimate the effect that natural or fluorescent light can have on your home or building’s temperature. Closing the drapes in sunny rooms will prevent temperatures from raising and affecting your thermostat’s accuracy. Furthermore, install your thermostat away from direct sunlight and turn the lights off in that room when it’s not in use. Both the sun and the room lights can heat up the thermostat and make it perceive the temperature as much warmer than it truly is.

Air conditioning can account for over half of your summer electric bill, but it doesn’t have to drain your wallet year after year. By making a few simple changes, you can cut costs without sacrificing comfort.

Preventative Maintenance

Chris Strand and Roland Arrisola discuss with us the importance of keeping your heater system well maintained and show us a few of the steps their technicians go through in order to make sure your home is safe and secure.






AC Replacement vs. Repair

If your system is over 10 years old, it breaks and needs a major repair costing over $500 consider replacing the whole HVAC system.

Average life of a system before multiple repairs start occurring is 10 – 15 years.

A new HVAC system costs up to 50% less to operate.

Many electric utilities have cash incentives to replace systems with high efficiency models.

The IRS has tax credit up to $500 to replace systems with high efficiency models that expire at the end of this year.

Most new systems come with a 10 year part warranty.

Factoring in the incentives available, the cost of the repair, the lower operating cost of a new system, the cost of further repairs and the depreciation of the existing system the payback for replacement can be as low as 2-3 years.