HVAC Maintenance

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does HVAC stand for?

A: Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

Q: What regular maintenance do heating and air conditioning systems need?

A: The most important part of HVAC maintenance aspect is maintaining unrestricted air flows. Dust, dirt, and debris are an HVAC system’s worst enemies. Whether it’s an indoor or outdoor unit, you must keep all filters clean and heat exchangers and coils free of restrictions. We recommend that your heating and cooling system be checked and serviced twice a year; ideally a spring and autumn tune-up. Also, we recommend that you change your filter regularly, depending on the type of filter you have. This alone can eliminate many of the most common problems that need fixing and can significantly reduce the likelihood of a serious breakdown.

Q: Why do I need to change my filter regularly?

A: Regular filter replacement helps your heating and cooling system operate at peak levels and improves indoor air quality. It is important to change filters regularly to ensure proper air flow and to keep your home free from dust, allergens, and germs. Depending on the type of filter you have, you may require weekly or monthly filter replacements. Your Smart ENERGY SYSTEMS technician will recommend the ideal filters and replacement schedules for your unit(s).

Q: How often should I replace my filters?

A: In general, we recommend that you replace your disposable filters at least once a month. If you have washable filters, they should be cleaned once a month. Your service technician will recommend a replacement schedule that delivers the optimum efficiency and filtration for your specific system.

Q: In addition to changing my filters, what maintenance should I do on my heater and/or air conditioner?

A: Most maintenance should be performed only by a qualified service technician. But here are some things that you can do to assure optimal performance: Keep ground-mounted outdoor units clear of debris, clutter, and weeds; they can reduce the airflow to the unit. Use caution with weed trimmers around the unit to prevent damaging control wiring. Keep pets away from the unit; pet urine can cause expensive damage.

Q: How often should I have maintenance done on my air conditioner?

A: You should have maintenance done on your air conditioning system at least once a year – spring to early summer being the best times. This not only ensures maximum efficiency, it enables us to foresee any possible problems that may occur in the near future.

Q: Is there anything I should check prior to calling for service?

A: Check to be sure that the air conditioner or furnace is turned on. Check that the breakers and the disconnects are turned on and be sure the thermostat is set correctly. Also, make a note of any strange noises or smells.

Q: How do I know if my system is working properly?

A: Is it making strange noises? Is it cooling or heating all areas of your home sufficiently? Has it been taking longer to cool down or heat up? Have your utility bills been rising for no apparent reason? Any of these are signs that you may have a problem that needs service. In most cases, the longer you delay, the worse any underlying problems will get.

Q: How do I know if my A/C unit is big enough?

A: Bigger isn’t always better; its performance and efficiency that count. Before purchasing a replacement system, you should always make sure your system is sized properly to match your needs and budget.

Q: How can I increase the efficiency and life of my home’s heating and cooling systems?

A: A few quick tips: –Clean and replace your filters frequently. –Your system will heat and cool more evenly when the blower is in the “on” position. The blower provides constant air movement throughout the home and allows for better filtration. –Install shades, drapes, shutters, or screens on windows that are exposed to extreme sunlight to keep room temperatures at moderate levels.

Q: Should I close the registers and doors to areas of the home that I do not use on a regular basis?

A: No. Every system is designed to cool a certain number of square feet. By closing registers and doors in certain rooms, you disrupt and decrease the systems’ airflow and efficiency. Your system will have to work harder to cool less space, making it cycle more and become less efficient.

Q: Should I try to keep my air conditioning system from running too much?

A: Generally speaking, a unit that is either on or off is less expensive than one that keeps cycling on and off repeatedly. Every time your system starts up, it will use a lot of electricity and not produce much cooling. That’s why a smaller system is often more economical to operate: even though it runs nonstop and may deliver less comfort, it will usually consume less power than a larger system that cycles on and off.

Q: At what temperature should I set my thermostat?

A: Temperature settings depend on the time of year and your personal preferences. In the summer, the average temperature setting is 75º-80º. In the winter 68º-72º is the norm. Remember, when leaving your house; try to avoid drastic temperature changes. Do not set your temperature back more than 5º; this will cause your unit to work harder to achieve the desired temperature setting.

Q: What are the advantages of a programmable thermostat?

A: Because they are electronic, programmable thermostats are more accurate and efficient than thermostats that contain mercury. Plus, they allow you to automatically control the temperature in your home at different times of day without ever touching your thermostat.

Q: Are heat pumps efficient in the Mid-Atlantic States?

A: Heat pumps are very effective for homes here in the Maryland region. They are a good choice whether you rely on electricity or natural gas for your energy needs. A heat pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that works year-round for comfort. During warmer months, a heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. In colder weather, a heat pump collects heat from the outdoor air and transfers it inside the home. Even when outside air feels cold, there is still heat in that air. On very cold days when there’s not enough heat in the outside air to meet the thermostat setting, an electric heater supplements the indoor air to warm a home. This process is quite efficient as it produces two to three times more heat than the energy it uses. A heat pump can also be an effective add-on option to use in conjunction with an existing gas, propane, or oil furnace. With this dual-fuel option, the two systems share the heating load but never function at the same time. Each system operates when it is most cost effective.

Q: During the winter, my heat pump delivers warm air, but not hot air, and will operate for long periods of time. Is that normal?

A: Yes, this is normal. A heat pump generally produces air that is around 80º and provides even comfortable, heating around the house—not a blast of intense heat. However, 80º may feel cool to your hand, which is usually closer to 90º.

Q: During the heating season, my heat pump makes a “whooshing” sound, and I feel cool air coming from the supply registers. Is that normal?

A: Totally normal. During the cold weather months, frost can accumulate on the outdoor coil. This can cause the heat pump to go into a defrost cycle anywhere from 1-10 minutes, depending on the amount of ice on the coil. This is temporary; the system will return to the heating mode once the ice is gone.

Q: Why does my heat pump system sometimes freeze up?

A: Several factors that can cause system freezing. First, if running in the cooling mode check your filters; restrictions in air flow can lead to freezing. Next, thaw the system out by turning off the cooling and running the fan. Also, try turning the system to the heat mode until the ice has melted. If the problem recurs after checking for air restrictions and thawing your system, schedule a service call with Smart ENERGY SYSTEMS. Our service technicians will check the refrigerant level. They may also have to clean the evaporator coil, check the blower speed and check for any intermittency in blower operation. A service technician can also evaluate other conditions that may make your system prone to freezing and recommend the best course of action.

Signs That You Need HVAC Repair

A: In order to protect your heating system, it is best to schedule HVAC repair at the very first sign of trouble with your heating system. Of course, doing so means that you must first learn to recognize the signs that you need HVAC repair, to begin with. This is really quite simple, provided that you know what it is that you are looking for. The development of cold spots throughout your home, a spike in heating costs, and any other overall decline in your heating system’s performance quality should all set off some alarm bells.

Benefits of Prompt Heater Repair

A: Generally speaking, the sooner you have your heater repaired, the better off it is likely to be. Forcing your heater, regardless of make or model, to operate in a compromised condition means that it will incur a lot of wear and tear. Even minor problems can do serious damage to your system if given the time. The solution to this problem is simple: don’t give them that time. Call now for more details.