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Central Air Conditioning Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long will my brand new A.C. system Last?

There is no definitive, one-size-fits-all answer to this query. Assuming the apparatus has no manufacturing defects, isn’t operated heedlessly, and it undergoes an annual inspection (just like most cars), you can expect about 15 to 18 years of service. Obviously, if the unit isn’t maintained and/or repaired properly it probably won’t run that long. “If you take care of your tools they will take care of you.” Modern-day systems are engineered to maximize efficiency while minimizing workload, which is healthy for the unit and your wallet.

Q: Why is my central A.C. blowing hot air?

There are a number of reasons that could explain this malfunction. Some of the most common reasons for this occurrence are: the circuit breaker was tripped, the fan setting input on the thermometer is incorrect, the air filter is dirty, the outdoor component is blocked by debris, or it could be leaking refrigerant. If you suspect refrigerant is leaking call a professional HVAC tech ASAP - this is not a DIY job.

Q: What does SEER mean?

An air conditioner’s size is rated by Tons or British Thermal Units (BTU), but the system’s efficiency is rated in terms of its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER, the less electricity needed to power the A.C. It’s kind of like a car’s MPG (miles per gallon), except it pertains to efficiency in air conditioners.

Q: What is “variable speed”?

An air conditioner with variable speed blowers employ decreased initial air velocities (thus, less noise) upon starting. When the unit is turned on the blower functions at low speed, allowing the compressor and coils to acclimate for the large volume of air that will eventually be moving through the system when the blower reaches full-throttle.

Q: How do I figure out what unit size to buy?

This is something that’s best left to the professionals. There are all sorts of variables that need to be taken into account when determining system size. Factors like what region of the country you live in, square-footage of the home and its layout, existing ductwork, insulation, other appliances, etc., need to be considered. Only a technician well-versed in HVAC will be able to interpret this data and make a proper recommendation.

Q: What is the “MERV Rating” on an air filter?

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV is rated from 1 - 16. The higher a filter’s MERV, the greater the percentage of particles or airborne contaminants that are quarantined each time air passes through the filter. Although lower-rated filters are not as adept at removing particles, they do allow the air to circulate easily, which is important. It’s necessary to match the proper MERV rating with your particular unit model for best air quality.

Q: What is Ductless Air Conditioning?

Like the name implies, ductless A.C. does not require air ducts to work. Also known as “split” systems, these do require an outdoor compressor (like traditional central air). However, the indoor “zone” or head is mounted atop the wall in each particular room that you want to cool. It’s practically non-invasive, as you only need to cut 3-inch holes to make way for the lines that connect with the compressor and provide electricity, refrigerant, and drainage to each separate zone. You can set different temperatures for different rooms, or turn a certain zone off altogether if the room is vacant.

Q: How much will central air cost me?

This is another question where no two homes, and no two air conditioners, are alike. Each particular house needs to take into account details like unit size, square footage, regional climate, insulation, home orientation, floor plan, ductwork, etc. It’s a good idea to get a few estimates from reputable dealers and contractors who can best hypothesize what the unit requirements are, and based on that, the eventual cost.


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