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Answers from the Experts

These are some frequently asked questions about air conditioning and heating systems. While your system may seem confusing, there are simple things you can do to keep it working smoothly for years to come. Feel free to contact us with questions, we enjoy answering them.

What does HVAC mean? Is that the same as AC?

HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. So yes, HVAC is a term that is used to refer to your air conditioning (AC) system. Here in the greater Phoenix metro area, people often just use AC because we are more focused on air conditioning the majority of the year, particularly in the Summer. But in other parts of country where people use heat more often, HVAC is common terminology.

What does AC stand for AC?

AC is a commonly-used abbreviation for Air Conditioning. It may refer to the unit or the entire system which includes the unit, ductwork and registers.

How many types of AC services are there?

There are six types of air conditioning (AC) units: central AC, ductless AC, window units, portable units, hybrid systems, and geothermal systems. PriceMyAC.com specializes central AC systems, ductless systems, and hybrid systems. In the Phoenix area, a centralized AC system is the most common. A centralized system combines the evaporator, condenser, and compressor in a single unit that is placed on a roof or a concrete slab near the house/building foundation.

What are AC fixers called?

The industry term for people who repair air conditioning units is Technicians. Companies that provide AC services are referred to as Providers.

Should I repair or replace my air conditioner?

It depends. If you have the older R22 refrigerant and are facing a major repair such as a compressor or coil replacement, you are better off using those funds as a down payment for a new system. FYI, if you have one of our maintenance plans, you have an automatic savings plan for when you need a new unit.

Why is my AC running but not cooling?

The compressor is the engine that creates cooling capability for your home or office. So, if your air is moving but not cooling it’s an indication that there is something wrong with the compressor or a component associated with the compressor such as an outdoor fan motor or capacitor.

What happens if AC is not serviced?

All machines break down over time, whether it’s your car or your AC. The potential for a major, high-dollar repair increases without service. When a system requires a major repair, in almost all cases the problem had existed for months prior to the final failure. That means with regular maintenance the issue would have been identified much earlier, resulting in a much lower repair bill and no interruption of service. This is why our twice-annual maintenance checks are free with our maintenance plans, so issues can be identified before they escalate.

Should I turn off AC if it’s not cooling?

Yes, and the easiest way to do that is by turning your thermostat switch to off. If that doesn’t work, most thermostats simply snap on to a wall mount and can be easily removed, which also turns off your AC system.

Which type of AC is best for home?

It depends. Often your new system is dictated by the original system in your home because it is too expensive and difficult to change. But that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your cooling and reduce your energy bills. You can accomplish both of these things by upgrading your unit to newer technology.

Which type of AC is best for office?

It depends. For an office you want a system that runs at a higher static pressure which delivers better airflow performance. Commercial systems tend to have belt-driven blowers which allow the system to produce more airflow for the office space.

How much does it cost to install air conditioning?

It depends on the brand, the efficiency level of your new AC unit, system size (tonnage), and the configuration of the installation. For instance, a unit in a very tight attic is more difficult and more expensive to install than a unit on an outside slab near the building. Likewise, split units in the attic or garage are harder and more expensive to install than package (all inclusive) units on the roof. Regarding efficiency, buying a high SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) unit is analogous to buying a car with a high miles per gallon rating. The higher the rating, the more money you save in gas. When it comes to AC units, the higher the SEER rating the more money you save in energy bills.

Can I install an AC unit myself?

Yes, but you will void any manufacturer’s warranty.

Why is AC installation so expensive?

AC installation is a highly technical and specialized field that utilizes deep expertise and expensive tools/equipment. Additionally, the industry has high levels of insurance and licensing requirements to ensure consumer safety, and workman’s compensation. For example, PriceMyAC.com carries $4 million in liability insurance, plus cyber security insurance, to protect our customers.

How much does an AC fix cost?

The average repair cost for an AC system in Arizona is around $850, but that depends on what’s wrong with the unit. Repair costs can range from $250 – $2,500. Some online repair sources show average repair costs based on national data and not local data, which creates false expectations because it does not account for market differences.

How much does it cost to service an AC unit?

That depends on whether or not you have one of our maintenance plans. For example, with our Platinum Maintenance Plan your repairs can cost you nothing (with a few exceptions) and your twice-annual maintenance checks are free. Without a maintenance plan, a typical service check can be $75-$150 with PriceMyAC.com. Use caution if you come across an AC provider that says they will service your unit for free. They may be willing to show up for free, but chances are they will find a lot of things wrong and give you a big bill before they leave.

How often should you service your AC?

According to most manufacturer warranties your unit should be serviced twice annually – in the Spring and Fall – prior to turning on your AC or heating. Manufacturers are enforcing this more and more often by requiring proof of maintenance service before they will repair your unit under the warranty. Additionally, most repairs can be caught early during a maintenance check, preventing escalation to a major, expensive repair or even unit replacement. These are the reasons why PriceMyAC.com includes both Spring and Fall maintenance service for free with our maintenance plans, so it’s easy and convenient to have your AC serviced.

What is included in AC servicing?

Servicing includes checking all of the key electrical components such as capacitors, amp draws, motor bearings, electrical connections and wires. Since the risk of expensive repair costs is significantly reduced with regular maintenance, PriceMyAC.com includes both Spring and Fall maintenance checks for free with all maintenance plans.

What is done for AC maintenance?

AC maintenance, proof of which is often required for repairs under your manufacturer’s warranty, should be performed in the Spring before using your AC and in the Fall before using your heat. Maintenance includes checking all of the key electrical components such as capacitors, amp draws, motor bearings, electrical connections and wires. Since the risk of expensive repair costs is significantly reduced with regular maintenance, PriceMyAC.com includes both Spring and Fall maintenance checks for free with all maintenance plans.

How often should you have your air conditioner serviced?

According to most manufacturer warranties your unit should be serviced twice annually – in the Spring and Fall – prior to turning on your AC or heating. Manufacturers are enforcing this more and more often by requiring proof of maintenance service before they will repair your unit under the warranty. Additionally, most repairs can be caught early during a maintenance check, preventing escalation to a major, expensive repair or even unit replacement. These are the reasons why PriceMyAC.com includes both Spring and Fall maintenance service for free with our maintenance plans, so it’s easy and convenient to have your AC serviced.

How many hours should AC run per day?

In Arizona, systems run 2,200 hours a year in cooling mode (vs. 300 hours a year in Chicago). That’s from roughly May through October, averaging about 12 hours a day (more during the day, less at night). While that’s a lot of run time, cycling on and off is what creates wear and tear on the units. That’s why high efficiency systems run longer with less cycling.

Can I run my AC 24/7?

AC units are designed to run, it’s cycling on and off that creates wear and tear on the units. Turning your system off, then back on when you get home, actually increases energy usage with less comfort because the entire house must now be cooled down. That’s why proper sizing is important, and why high efficiency systems run longer with less cycling.

How can I reduce my AC electricity bill?

There are three easy ways to reduce your AC electricity bill. First, annual maintenance (which is required by most manufacturer warranties) will pay for itself by identifying issues that create strain on the system, increasing your electricity bill. That’s why PriceMyAC,com offers twice-annual maintenance checks for free with all our maintenance plans. Second, when you’re ready to replace your existing system, investment in a higher efficiency system can reduce cooling costs by up to 40%. Third, changing air filters monthly and checking attic insulation can also lower your electricity bill.

Is it OK to run AC all day?

AC systems are meant to run, cycling on and off is what creates wear and tear on the units. So for example, if you turn your AC off when you leave the house and turn it back on again when you get home, that is harder on your AC than letting it run at a set temperature throughout the day. This will also increase your energy bill due to increased energy usage to get your home back to the desired temperature. We recommend a moderate temperature of 80-82 degrees while away.

How does an AC work?

AC systems work based on condensing a gas to a liquid, then heating that liquid back to a gas. The main heart of the AC system is the compressor and condenser. The compressor creates a high pressure gas which is “condensed” to a liquid. The fluid is pumped to the evaporator where before entering, the liquid Freon goes through a metering device. This device simply causes a large pressure drop in the liquid. This pressure drop causes the Freon to remain a liquid but is very cold. As the cold Freon moves through the evaporator it absorbs heat from the house air. The Freon continues to absorb heat unit it boils to a gas or “evaporates.” The gas is then returned back to the compressor where the process repeats.

Is refrigerant a liquid or gas?

The answer is both. Refrigerant is both a liquid and a gas (vapor) depending upon where it is within the cooling cycle. The refrigerant is a low pressure, low temperature gas when entering your compressor. The compressor boosts the pressure up significantly and is pumped through the condenser where it is “condensed” from a high-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid. This liquid refrigerant is then pumped to the indoor coil section of the AC system. There the liquid refrigerant goes through a device that drops the pressure significantly while it maintains a liquid state. At this point the refrigerant temperature drops from about 105 degrees to 45 degrees. This liquid state refrigerant is then pumped through the indoor coil where it absorbs heat from the house (hence cooling the air) which causes the refrigerant to boil, changing back from a liquid to a vapor. The process is then repeated by returning the gas back to the compressor.

What is Freon and how does it work?

Freon is a brand name for air conditioning refrigerant trademarked by DuPont, which has become synonymous with the word “refrigerant.” The term Freon and refrigerant are typically used interchangeably but in a true sense it’s not correct. Freon is a trade name for R22 which is being phased out because it was proven to harm the ozone. The manufacture and import of R22 was banned as of 2020. Puron is the trade name for R410A which is the new refrigerant. All cooling systems – including cars, walk-in freezers, and residential and commercial air conditioning systems – use some kind of refrigerant. There are hundreds of refrigerant blends on the market today for various cooling systems.

What are new Freon regulations in effect for 2020?

For decades Freon, also known as R-22, HCFC-22, and generally used interchangeably with “refrigerant,” was the main refrigerant used in residential AC units. However, new AC systems made since 2010 no longer rely on Freon, instead using a refrigerant called R410A, or Puron, that has been shown to be less harmful to the ozone. The manufacture and import of R22 was banned as of 2020. However, some reclamation companies are cleaning recaptured R22, and some drop-in substitutes are available. While this may see like a good option, it’s actually wasting money on a repair which could be used as down payment for a new, more efficient system.

My AC system is not dripping condensation water, should I be concerned?

Most AC systems produce a little water until around June.  This is because the humidity level in Arizona is so low.  However, its important to note that the condensation line should be cleaned every year as part of your unit’s annual, pre-summer maintenance check.

Why does it seem like my AC system does not “keep up” when the temperatures are higher?

This type of issue could have a variety of sources. For example, a dirty air filter that requires changing. Or the system needs to be cleaned. Or the system needs a charge. Or a bad thermal expansion valve. Contact us to schedule a service visit.

Why do my house lights blink when the AC system starts?

This can be caused by a bad compressor run capacitor, not having a compressor start assist kit, or a bad circuit wiring issue.  These are easily fixed and should be addressed quickly to prevent more serious issues from prolonged operation.

Why does my AC system make a loud, howling noise outside as its starting and running?

Most outdoor fan motors go bad at some point in time.  The noise is cause by electrical resonance and the motor will need to be replaced to prevent further damage to the system.

Why does my AC stop working in the heat of the day, but starts back up once its cooled off?

This is typical of a fan motor or bad capacitor issue.  The system overheats and causes a shut down when the temperature is high, then operates later when it cools down.  The system needs to be inspected and repairs made to prevent further system damage.   

What is the difference between a free estimate and diagnostic?

System replacement/new installation estimates are free. If you want us to provide a second opinion about someone else’s repair, diagnosis and/or estimate, that’s also free. However, when we are called because something is not working (i.e., a repair), we take significant time to properly diagnose and assess what’s needed. That’s why there is a diagnostic charge.

Do you provide free estimate on repairs?

Yes and no. Yes, if it’s a second opinion about someone else’s repair, diagnosis and/or repair estimate. No, when we are called because something is not working (i.e., a repair), because we take significant time to properly diagnose and assess what’s needed. That’s why there is a diagnostic charge.

What is the life expectancy of my HVAC system?

The life of your HVAC system depends largely on how well it’s been maintained – i.e., annual maintenance. That’s why all our maintenance plans include spring and fall maintenance for free. Generally speaking, the mean lifetime nationally is 12 years. In Arizona, your air conditioner runs more than 2,200 hours a year compared to 300 hours for a Chicago area system.  So, a shorter life can be expected, but proper maintenance extends the life. In fact, we have quite a few customers with units running 20 years! Check out our reviews and you’ll see.

My AC system is not dripping condensation water, should I be concerned?

Most AC systems produce a little water until around June.  This is because the humidity level in Arizona is so low.  However, its important to note that the condensation line should be cleaned every year as part of your unit’s annual, pre-summer maintenance check.

Why does it seem like my AC system does not “keep up” when the temperatures are higher?

This type of issue could have a variety of sources. For example, a dirty air filter that requires changing. Or the system needs to be cleaned. Or the system needs a charge. Or a bad thermal expansion valve. Contact us to schedule a service visit.

Why do my house lights blink when the AC system starts?

This can be caused by a bad compressor run capacitor, not having a compressor start assist kit, or a bad circuit wiring issue.  These are easily fixed and should be addressed quickly to prevent more serious issues from prolonged operation.

Why does my AC system make a loud, howling noise outside as its starting and running?

Most outdoor fan motors go bad at some point in time.  The noise is cause by electrical resonance and the motor will need to be replaced to prevent further damage to the system.

Why does my AC stop working in the heat of the day, but starts back up once its cooled off?

This is typical of a fan motor or bad capacitor issue.  The system overheats and causes a shut down when the temperature is high, then operates later when it cools down.  The system needs to be inspected and repairs made to prevent further system damage.   

What is the difference between a free estimate and diagnostic?

System replacement/new installation estimates are free. If you want us to provide a second opinion about someone else’s repair, diagnosis and/or estimate, that’s also free. However, when we are called because something is not working (i.e., a repair), we take significant time to properly diagnose and assess what’s needed. That’s why there is a diagnostic charge.

Do you provide free estimate on repairs?

Yes and no. Yes, if it’s a second opinion about someone else’s repair, diagnosis and/or repair estimate. No, when we are called because something is not working (i.e., a repair), because we take significant time to properly diagnose and assess what’s needed. That’s why there is a diagnostic charge.

What is the life expectancy of my HVAC system?

The life of your HVAC system depends largely on how well it’s been maintained – i.e., annual maintenance. That’s why all our maintenance plans include spring and fall maintenance for free. Generally speaking, the mean lifetime nationally is 12 years. In Arizona, your air conditioner runs more than 2,200 hours a year compared to 300 hours for a Chicago area system.  So, a shorter life can be expected, but proper maintenance extends the life. In fact, we have quite a few customers with units running 20 years! Check out our reviews and you’ll see.

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