HVAC systems are not easy to understand. Sometimes they make funny noises or smells. And sometimes they just do unexpected things. For example, your heat pump will frost over during the winter time and it’s nothing to worry about. It’s just normal, in fact; a little silly considering it’s a heat pump, but normal.
We’ve conjured up a few common questions and general tips about heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units and service and listed them here to help you understand your HVAC system. If you don’t find your question’s answer on this page, please contact us at support@MidloMechanical.com or 804-379-6222.
What should I do before I call for emergency service on my air conditioning system?
- Check the filters to make sure that they are clean and properly installed.
- Check the breaker that serves the indoor furnace and the outdoor unit.
- Are the outdoor unit and the indoor unit both running?
- Check the thermostat to insure that it is properly set below the room temperature and the system switch is in the cool position.
- Check to see if there is water in the emergency drain pan (Note: Only units installed in the attic or above a ceiling have drain pans).
- Is there frost on the larger refrigerant line with the black pipe insulation? If so, turn the system switch off and call for service. This will allow the unit to defrost before we arrive.
Once you have checked all these items, please call 804-379-6222 to have one of our qualified technicians dispatched to your house or building to take care of the problem in a timely manner.
Why does my heat pump ice up in the wintertime?
Heat pumps frost up in the wintertime, but should not turn into a block of ice.
A heat pump is designed to take the available heat from the outdoors and inject it into the indoor space. Ice or frost can form on the coil when the outdoor temperature drops below 40 degrees. The unit should go into a defrost cycle to remove the ice automatically. When the system goes into defrost, the outdoor fan will shut off and the compressor will continue to run. After no more than 10 minutes, the fan will start back up and you will see steam rising from the outdoor unit. This is a perfectly normal operation.
If you notice the ice or frost growing on the top of the unit or not going away, call us at 804-379-6222 to prevent damage to your system.
Are there add-on solutions to help with indoor air quality & allergies?
Yes, several inexpensive add-on options are available. The EPA has stated indoor air quality is several times worse than outdoor air quality. Adding an AprilAire media air filter provides 72 square feet of filtration, effectively removing up to 99% of pollen and mold spores, and up to 90% of particle pollutants such as dust. Compare that with the standard throw away filter, which filters 4 or 5 square feet!
Adding a UV ultraviolet light will kill mold and allergens that travel through your ducts and cause unpleasant odors. A humidifier will moisten the air coming out of the supply vents and prevent dry nostrils, allowing easier breathing.
Along with a regular maintenance contract, these products will improve your indoor air quality significantly. Give us a call at 804-379-6222 to discuss your particular concerns with one of our design specialists.
Why do I need maintenance on my system?
Maintenance is very important for proper HVAC system operation. It can prevent premature unit failure, nuisance breakdowns and insures that your unit is operating at maximum efficiency. A well maintained HVAC system can operate 15-20 years while an improperly maintained system normally lasts only 10-15 years.
There are several safety devices that need to be checked and calibrated annually to insure safe operation. The motors that provide cooling and heating also need regular maintenance to provide years of worry free service. Many major breakdowns can also be prevented with routine maintenance. Your heating and cooling system is the most expensive appliance in your home. You wouldn’t drive your car across the country without first servicing it...would you? Your HVAC unit will make this trip several times during the course of the year.
Why does my crawl space or attic feel warm in the winter time and cool in the summer time?
The biggest cause is leaking duct work. This is exactly like opening your front door and throwing your hard-earned money out of it. Only recently have building codes addressed this problem. All duct joints should be sealed and taped. Call one of our duct specialists at 804-379-6222. We can discuss your system and help you start saving money on your heating and cooling bills.
Why do some rooms in my house feel warmer or cooler than others?
Many times when houses are built, contractors do not put a lot of thought into the duct system they are installing, and sometimes home owners have added onto their home or building without resizing their ducts. This creates a large problem as each room or zone is dependent upon a certain amount of air being delivered to each supply register to heat and cool properly.
Think of your ductwork like a fire hose. If it takes 100 gallons per minute to put out the fire, you do not want a hose too small or you cannot put out the fire. Neither do you want one too big, or else the water will trickle out the end and not have enough pressure to reach the fire. Air is the same way, only you cannot see it.
Call one of our design specialists at 804-379-6222 and we will use our computer software to calculate the proper amount of air needed to comfortably heat and cool each area of your home.
Why does my house smell like dirty socks when the heat comes on?
This is known in the industry as dirty socks syndrome, a situation whereby mold is growing on the indoor air handler coil. When hot air passes over the coil, the foul odor of the mold spreads throughout the house.
Call Midlothian Mechanical at 804-379-6222 to schedule a coil cleaning, and discuss how UV lighting can bring an end to this odorous problem.
What is the best system on the market today?
This changes from year to year and most manufacturers offer good, better and best models. Some manufactures, however, do incorporate design improvements quicker than others and use higher grade components. For this reason, these “better” units are more expensive, last longer, and operate most efficiently. Regardless, any unit will only be as good as the system design and the quality of the installation that is performed.
A survey must be done on your home to determine the proper equipment size, duct work specifications, and any special needs that your home or building may need. Midlothian Mechanical’s computer software will size the proper unit for your home. We can also anticipate future additions and improvements to your home. We offer custom designed comfort at no additional cost to you. Call our design build department for an on site evaluation at 804-379-6222.
Midlothian Mechanical is a full service Heating and Air Conditioning Company that always puts the customer first. We strive to exceed your expectations.
Commercial: Call our commercial sales staff for an estimate on a customized commercial maintenance program that will not only save you money, but increase productivity and prolong equipment life.
Residential: Residential customers can review our maintenance agreement online. This is a very comprehensive service agreement, often copied, but never duplicated.
Midlothian Mechanical can handle all of your home or building’s mechanical needs, from HVAC to electrical and plumbing. Call 804-379-6222 and ask for an estimate today.