No matter what name brand (York, Trane, Carrier, Goodman, Lennox, Rheem) of air conditioning and/or heating unit you purchase some time or the other you will need to have that air conditioning and heating equipment checked for a problem and repaired. Even if you have regular air conditioning maintenance done. While there are air conditioning and heating manufacturers that engineer quality into their air conditioning and heating equipment, that equipment is prone to breakdown simply because it is a mechanical/electrical device and will need repair sometime throughout its useful life. Most of the time diagnosing problems is simple and other times it can be a complicated process where the HVAC technician calls in another HVAC technician or even an HVAC manufacturer representative. Residential and commercial heating and cooling is important and you want the best possible HVAC air conditioning and heating service. It does not matter whether you have a Carrier Air Conditioner, Trane Air Conditioners, or need a replacement whatever the manufacturer, it is best to get a qualified technician to look at your system before a decision is made to repair or replace the air conditioner or heat pump systems.
Once a diagnosis is made to your air conditioning and/or heating system, the unit can be repaired, in most situations, with stock HVAC parts off the truck. Sometimes the HVAC part has to be ordered because it is a specialty part that only the HVAC manufacturer of your equipment can provide. If the part can be picked up locally then you can expect to pay for travel time to and from the HVAC parts dealer. It is practically impossible to carry every single HVAC part for every single HVAC breakdown that occurs.
Finally, air conditioning and heating maintenance, provided on a regular schedule, can prevent many air conditioner or heater breakdowns thereby preventing the need for you to call an air conditioning and heating repair person for air conditioning and heating troubleshooting. Maintenance can save you lots of money in the long run but even so, problems can still occur.
The Cost of an Air Conditioning Business
The cost of service varies widely from one region to the next so it is next to impossible to give you prices for air conditioning service. The best way to check prices is to shop around. Be aware though that sometimes the cheapest price for HVAC air conditioning and heating service and repair is not always the best way to go. Your main concern should be getting knowledgeable HVAC service technicians, reliability, punctually, honesty, integrity, and guaranteed work.
Air Conditioning and heater service prices may seem high but if you consider the overhead involved in maintaining a service such as a heating and air conditioner company you will be surprised. Look at some of the things involved here and you will understand why service companies must charge a premium to stay in business. It costs approximately $35,000.00 to properly stock an HVAC air conditioning and heating service van (not mentioning the cost of the van itself), office overhead including marketing, phone, fax, business licenses, professional licenses, insurance, advertising, marketing, and did I mention advertising and marketing, Employee costs including payroll, insurance (out of control), benefits, etc…………, and ongoing training and HVAC educational requirements to remain knowledgeable, competitive, and to retain HVAC professional licenses. You want a sharp (smart), licensed HVAC technician to troubleshoot the problem.(HVAC troubleshooting can be simple in some cases and complex in others). After all that is paid, the boss hopes he has enough left over to give him/herself a decent paycheck.
Per hour service charges are not the only way companies charge their customers. There are also service companies that flat rate their services. Either way you pay, you want the service and troubleshooting done in a quick and efficient manner with a guarantee. Do your research before selecting a company to provide reliable, honest service to your home.
Additionally, new technology and government requirements are pushing manufacturers to build more energy efficient HVAC equipment. January 2006 we observed the end of 10 SEER units with 13 SEER air conditioning units mandated by the government. This only makes sense; however, with the higher efficiency there comes complexity in the technology engineered into the equipment. A problem can be difficult to troubleshoot and diagnose and may require more time than the lower efficiency, less complex units. While it should be rare to have problems occur with new equipment, it does happen. When it does, you want a good troubleshooter who is knowledgeable and can make the diagnosis and repair in a timely and efficient manner. That means you want that HVAC contractor who sends their technicians to HVAC technical seminars and factory sponsored training classes. That can make the difference between solving the problem quickly and efficiently in hours or being frustrated waiting days or weeks to have the problem solved. Take the time to choose your contractor wisely and it will save you a lot of heartache and frustration.
Common Air Conditioning Preventive Maintenance & Repairs
Labor (troubleshooting and repair) Time: 1 hour approximate
This is a very common air conditioning problem. The unit will cool for a few hours and then it stops cooling all together. The next day or several hours later the air conditioning is cooling again but for only a few hours and then the air conditioning stops again. The reason this is happening is because the air conditioning unit is low on refrigerant (the unit could freeze because of a few other air conditioning problems but this is the most common reason). Believe it or not the evaporator coils inside the AHU (Air Handling Unit) are freezing. You may notice the refrigerant lines on the condenser or at the AHU are frozen with ice build-up. The frost or ice builds up on the coils and blocks air flow (low air flow and no cooling are a sign of a low charge). A low refrigerant charge will cause the evaporator coil to operate at or below freezing. Since the coil typically operates below the dew point, it draws condensation out of the air. When the evaporator coil begins operating below freezing all this condensation freezes to the evaporator coil and the unit stops cooling.
The myth that most people believe is that if you add more refrigerant to the unit it will cool better. This is only true if the evaporator coil is operating below freezing. The unit must have a balanced charge at the correct refrigerant pressure for the temperature and usually only an HVAC professional can charge your unit properly. Another misconception about refrigerant is that the unit burns it up and it must be replaced from time to time. This is not true. The refrigerant loop is a closed system and barring any leaks the air conditioning system should never need any refrigerant. Click here to see a simple representation of the refrigeration cycle.
Refrigerant leaks should be repaired for the following reasons:
- Many refrigerants have been deemed hazardous to the atmosphere by the EPA and have either Ozone Depleting Potential (O.D.P.) and/or Global Warming Potential (G.W.P.)
- Low refrigerant charges hurt the efficiency of the unit.
- Low refrigerant charges take away from the life of the compressor. The compressor is cooled from the return refrigerant vapor. When there is a low charge there is fewer vapors to cool the compressor therefore it runs hotter. Any compressor (or electric motor for that matter) which runs above the recommended temperature range will have a shorter life span and cost more to operate.
- Typically refrigerant oil leaks out of the system at the leak point. Eventually, the oil level in your HVAC system will drop below safe levels and the compressor will seize up from lack of proper lubrication.
The Refrigeration Loop is a closed system and refrigerant should never have to be added to the unit unless there is a leak. Most residential units use R-22 refrigerant. Prices of R-22 are rising every year as we get closer to the date when refrigerant manufacturers will no longer be able make R-22. Phase-out of R-22, an HCFC, begins in 2010 and expected to be complete by 2020.). Make sure you ask what the service company charges for R-22 when you are calling an HVAC contractor. If your unit needs more than two pounds or charged more than once a year it is recommended you have a refrigerant leak check done to your system. You most likely have a serious refrigerant leak and it needs to be repaired. Leaking units do not operate efficiently; take their toll on the environment, and can cause serious HVAC mechanical problems in the future. A good HVAC service tech will attempt to find the refrigerant leak within the hour’s air conditioning service you are paying for in addition to the refrigerant charge. Finally, after the air conditioning unit has been properly charged, the unit should have a temperature difference between the return and supply of 12° to 20° Fahrenheit (delta T). The range is generally an acceptable practice to determine if your air conditioning system is operating efficiently. If you do not have this range of temperature differential with your air conditioning system then there are problems which need to be addressed whether it is bad duct or a mechanical or electrical issue causing the problem the unit is simply not providing the cooling it needs to provide to make you comfortable.