GCL HVAC Service Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How often should my heating system be serviced?
A. Heating systems need to be serviced depending on the type of system:
Heat Pump, Electric Resistance, Oil or Gas.
Electric Resistance systems require the least amount of service. It has the fewest amount of parts to go bad. Electric Resistance systems should have the heat elements checked/cleaned and blower assembly cleaned at least every 5 years.
Gas systems can be further divided into two categories High efficiency and Mid efficiency. Gas Mid eff. is next to Electric Resistance the most maintenance free system available. Gas Mid eff. system should have combustion efficiency, carbon monoxide and general P.M. routine performed at least every 2 years.
Gas High eff. have an extra feature of creating water during run time. The water drain side of the system requires the Gas High eff. system to be serviced more frequently. Gas High eff. system should have the same maintenance as the Gas Mid eff. and also the drain system cleaned every year or two depending on the type of system.
Heat Pump systems require service every one or two years depending on how much run time they receive. Maintenance should include refrigerant check and defrost control check.
Oil systems by far require the most amount of maintenance. Maintenance should include cleaning and minor part replacement. Maintenance should be performed every year.
Q. Should my system need refrigerant "Freon" every year?
A. No. If refrigerant is added every year there is a leak somewhere in the system. The leak should be found and repaired. Adding refrigerant should always be noted including date and amount added. In some cases adding refrigerant every 5 years or more is acceptable.
Q. How often should my A/C system be serviced?
A. A/C systems should be serviced at least every 2 years depending on the amount of run time. Service should include: refrigerant check, coil cleanings, air flow check, temperature drop and drain cleaning.
Q. Does annual service really do anything?
A. Yes! Annual service by a qualified person can be the difference from a system that last 10 years to a system that lasts 20 years.
Q. How much does service cost?
A. The price of service can change with the weather. Currently the average service call is about $200. Prices of service can be lowered with service agreements, quality service and quality equipment
Q. What's wrong with my system?
A. Today's heating and A/C equipment is so complex and diverse it is next to impossible to give simple answers to this question. Having a qualified technician diagnose a problem is the best way to keep yourself informed.
Q. When should expect to replace my heating or A/C system?
A. Typically: A/C systems last 15 to 20 years. Oil heat systems last 20 to 25 years. Heat pump systems last 12 to 15 years. Gas systems last 20 years.
Q. How do I know if I am getting quality service?
A. Talking to the technician performing the work, asking questions and getting documentation is best. If a service person does not seem comfortable talking about his work or documenting it is an indication of poor qualifications.
Q. What qualifications should I require a person to have to work on my heating or A/C system?
A. The service company generally qualifies it's own employees. As a customer it is only necessary to qualify the company. Questions to ask before ordering service could be: Are your service tech's CFC certified? Are your service tech's NORA certified (for oil)? Do you require your tech's to have a journeyman's license? What is the companies HVAC license number (should be posted on all vehicles)? Are your tech's NATE certified?
Q. Are heat pumps any good?
A. Yes. Heat pumps are limited to a range of about 30 degrees. Any heat pump system north of South Carolina should have a back up source of heat (electric, gas or oil). Heat pumps can be very efficient if proper back up and controls are in place.
Q. What is the best system to have?
A. This question is best asked companied by a geographical location such as “by a river on one acre in Maryland” or “for a town home in the city in Virginia“. Your needs and fuel sources will ultimately dictate what system is best. Some cases make only electricity available for fuel others allow for natural gas. In the first case above ”by a river on one acre in Maryland“ a Geothermal system would be best. In the second “for a town home in the city in Virginia” a natural gas condensing furnace may be best.
Q. What is S.E.E.R.?
A. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating! This ranges from 8 to about 20 seer. The current standard rating is 13 seer. The price tag is significantly changed with this rating. For instance a 2 Ton 13 SEER heat pump system may cost $5000 installed versus a 2 ton 18 SEER may cost $9000!
Q. What are common problem with A/C systems?
A. Bad capacitor. Low of refrigerant. Bad motor. Blocked drain line. Blocked air flow (change filter). Bad contactor.
Q. What is a common problem with Heat systems?
A. Generally: Bad capacitor. Bad motor. Bad contactor. Bad relay.
Heat Pump: Bad defrost sensor. Bad defrost board. No change over control.
Gas: Bad ingnitor. Bad thermocouple. Bad control board.
Oil: Blocked oil filter. Blocked nozzle. Blocked heat exchanger.
Q. What is a P.M.?
A. Preventive Maintenance! P.M. is a generic term used in the trade for any service routine designed to prevent a common problem(s).
Q. Can I fix it myself?
A. Be Safe! Check fuel supply (propane, electricity, oil, ect.), filters, breakers, safety switches and the thermostat. If you feel the need to open up panels of the equipment ->DON'T ! After checking filters, breakers, safety switches and the thermostat, there is no need to go further. More than likely you do not have the tools necessary to work on the system.
Q. Is my thermostat broke?
A. Probably not! It is common to point a finger at the thermostat as a problem when it is one of the more rare problems.