FAQ – Air Conditioners

1. My air conditioner does not appear to be cooling. What should I do?

Answer #1:

Is the power switch turned on? Generally there are two switches: one for the furnace and one outside by the air conditioner unit.

* Is your switch off? If it is, turn the switch to the on position.
* If you find that the unit is still not cooling after turning on the switch, please make a service call.
* If the switch is on, but not cooling, a service call is required.
* Is your thermostat set to the cooling position? If the answer is no, turn your thermostat to the cooling setting. If the air conditioner is still not cooling, a service call is required.

Answer #2:

Have you checked the fuses/electrical breaker to ensure it is switched on?

* If you have, turn the breaker on or change the fuse.
* If the unit is still not cooling after turning the breaker on, a service call is required.

Answer #3:

Check your furnace filter. A furnace filter that is clogged with dust and dirt can result in your air conditioner not working.

* Is the furnace filter dirty? If the answer is yes, change the filter and call for service if the system is still not cooling.
* If the furnace filter is clean, a service call is required.

Answer #4:

Check the outside temperature. If the temperature is below 13 degrees Celsius or 55F, your A/C may have a safety measure that prevents the unit from running when temperatures are below 13C/55F.

* Is the outside temperature above 13C? If the answer is yes, a service call is required.
* Is the outside temperature below 13C? If the answer is no, wait until the outside temperatures are greater than 13C and call us back if system is still not cooling.

2. Why is ice covering the outside of the cooling coil on my furnace?

Before our technician can work on the equipment, you need to get rid of the ice. Here is what you need to do:

* Turn the air conditioning switch on the thermostat to OFF. This will prevent your heating and cooling equipment from turning on.
* Raise the temperature on the thermostat to the maximum temperature. This will prevent the outside (condenser) unit from coming on.
* Turn the Fan switch to ON (it is probably in the AUTO position right now).
* Leave the furnace fan running until a technician arrives. This will allow the ice to melt and the technician will be able to diagnose the air conditioner system upon arrival.
* After clearing the ice, feel free to place a service call.

3. My air conditioner is fine until midday – then my home heats up?

Ensure you have all south facing window shades drawn to reduce heat from the sun first thing in the morning.

* Is your filter clean?
* If dirty, change it and see if that makes a difference. If it still doesn’t work, please make a service call.
* If clean, the outdoor unit may be dirty and may need to be cleaned by one of our service technicians. Or, the unit could have a leak and require a service technician.

4. Why is there water on the floor by the furnace?

Your condensate drain for the air conditioner may be clogged with debris. Please make a service call to clear it.

5. My air conditioner is running all day, but my house is still not cool. What

Please check the following things:

* Is your furnace filter dirty? Please check your filter and change it if it is clogged with dirt and dust.
* Check your outdoor unit – it may be dirty and require cleaning.
* Check all return air grilles to make sure they are not blocked by furniture.
* Check all supply air registers to make sure they are open and blowing air. (The return air grilles are normally located on your walls and are wide and flat).
* Check the SSU switch (it looks like a light switch on a gray box located at the furnace) to be sure it is in the “ON” position.

Other possibilities that will require a service call:

* The compressor could be damaged.
* The refrigerant charge could need attention

6. What do I need to know to properly maintain my home’s heating system?

Follow recommended maintenance procedures for cleaning and servicing. For an oil furnace and boiler, this means a thorough cleaning and tune-up each spring.

For gas furnaces and boilers, servicing should be carried out at least once every two years. The tune-ups should be carried out by a qualified service technician or heating contractor.

If you have an electric baseboard system, keep your heating units clean. Vacuuming them twice a year should prevent dust buildup.

Hydronic systems perform best when radiators are relatively free of air. This means you must remember to bleed your radiators on a regular basis unless the system has an automatic bleeding capability. Further savings can be achieved by adjusting the operating temperature of the water to reflect outside conditions. A control can adjust the water temperature to match the changing demand for heat.

Many houses will benefit from a complete heating system tune-up. This should analyze and correct any problems with the furnace or boiler, the distribution system, and the controls. Upgrading or replacing the unit with a high-efficiency model will provide substantial savings.

A total tune-up of the heating system is another inexpensive, effective and invisible measure for older homes.

7. What is the EnerGuide energy efficiency rating system?

The EnerGuide energy efficiency rating system provides manufacturers and their dealers with the tools they need to promote the efficiency rating of their heating and cooling equipment. EnerGuide ratings for residential gas furnaces, central air-conditioners and air-to-air heat pumps are published on the back page of manufacturers’ product literature. The rating shows a horizontal bar scale that enables consumers to compare the equipment described in the brochure with the typical efficiency ratings of other equipment sold in Canada. EnerGuide ratings are based on standard testing procedures established by accredited certification organizations. Find out what the information on the EnerGuide Rating (AFUE/ SEER) means so that you can promote the sale of energy-efficient HVAC equipment.

HRAI administers and delivers the EnerGuide Rating System for HVAC Equipment in all provinces except Quebec. In Quebec, the Corporation des ma?tres mcaniciens en tuyauterie du Qubec (CMMTQ) delivers the program.

8. What are the different types of Chimney Liners?

Metal is the most common type of liner. It fits inside the chimney and ensures that the chimney is properly sized. This properly vents the products of combustion from the gas-fired appliances and prevents chimney deterioration.

Many masonry chimneys have clay tiles. They are inexpensive, readily available and perform quite well for open fireplace chimneys that are properly maintained.

Cast in place liners are lightweight, Castile, cement-like products that are installed inside the chimney forming a smooth, seamless, insulated passageway for the flue gases. They add structural integrity to aging chimneys.

9. How can I avoid and deal with Ice Damming?

To avoid Ice Damming, you need to stop the warm air that is leaking from the interior of your house and keep the attic temperature cooler. You also need to adequately ventilate your attic. Direct Energy can provide the roofing or insulation expertise with a no-obligation, in-home estimate. Have ice removed by a professional – do not attempt to do it yourself.

10. What is the best way to run my air conditioner?

The most common mistake people make in running their air conditioners is to open their windows at night. Half the job of an air conditioner is to remove the humidity from the air. Relative humidity increases at night because the temperatures are generally cooler. The air conditioner works all day long to reduce the temperature AND remove the humidity. Opening the windows at night lets all the humidity back in the house and causes the air conditioner to have to work harder the next day to remove it. Therefore, you get less comfort and reduced or no savings.

Choose a strategy. One strategy is to leave the windows open all the time and don’t run the air conditioner. The other strategy is to leave the windows closed all the time and run the air conditioner. The only bad strategy is to open and close the windows each day while you are running your air conditioner.

11. What are some tips for maintaining my central air conditioner?

Regular maintenance by the homeowner and a dealer helps AC units operate efficiently year after year.

Homeowner Maintenance

* Clean and replace filters as needed during cooling season
* Clean air conditioner coils
* Keep debris and leaves away from air conditioner unit
* Use a hose to clear the aluminum fins from airborne debris

Dealer Maintenance

* Have dealer make sure correct amount of refrigerant is in air conditioner; do not overcharge refrigerant when filling
* Find and repair any leaks in system
* Measure air flow through coil
* Verify correct electronic control sequence
* Inspect electrical terminals
* Oil motor and check belts
* Check accuracy of thermostat

12. When should I replace my air conditioner?

The same conditions hold true for an air conditioner as with the furnace. The main difference is that having no air conditioning is generally not a life-threatening situation as it is with heating. Therefore, you are not in an emergency situation to replace the air conditioner when it fails.

The average central air conditioner lasts 15 years while the average room air conditioner lasts 10 years. Once you pass the life expectancy of an air conditioner you may want to begin gathering information on which bands of equipment and which dealer you want to replace the air conditioner.

When replacing an air conditioner, make sure it is installed in a shady spot. This can save one to two percent of the energy bill. Avoid placing the air conditioner on the roof or in the attic whenever possible.

13. Is proper sizing important for an air conditioner?

Bigger isn’t better. Smaller isn’t cheaper. If an air conditioner is too small it won’t keep a house cool enough on hot days. If the air conditioner is too big it will cool the house too quickly without removing the humidity. This will make the house clammy and uncomfortable. The best comfort and efficiency are by a properly sized air conditioner. We recommend that an air conditioner be specified to maintain 20 degrees cooling below outside temperature. Therefore, the house should be able to maintain 70 degrees when it is 90 degrees outside.

To properly size an air conditioner, a dealer should do a heat gain calculation. This is sometimes called a Manual J calculation. If a dealer does not do this calculation, you may want to consider a different dealer.