How to Avoid Common HVAC Scams

The hot weather is here to stay, and that means it’s air conditioning season in Philadelphia. If you have an air conditioner breakdown, you’ll need emergency HVAC service to get your house to a comfortable climate ASAP. It’ s important to hire the right HVAC company when you need quick service. While the majority of HVAC companies are honest, there will always be a few bad apples out there who will try to take advantage of your situation with a variety of common HVAC scams. At HVAC Philly, we want to provide you with tips to identify and avoid common HVAC scams, so you can protect your wallet and report predatory HVAC companies.

HVAC Scam #1: The Tune-Up

Have you ever seen an ad or been contacted about an air conditioner tune up for a price of around $59? The price seems too good to be true, and it is. If you fall for one of these tune-ups, you’re really just paying a contractor to come give you a sales pitch. 9 times out of 10, they’ll perform a “tune-up” and proceed to tell you about a serious problem they found that needs replacing. If you think about it, these tune-ups only benefit the HVAC company if they can sell you an expensive repair or new part. When contractors are paid an average of $35/hr, they’re losing money to send a technician to drive out to your house and perform a tune-up for only $59.

In general, you should be avoid these tune-ups. If you do have one, don’t be surprised if the technician finds a “problem” that needs repairing. Remember, you can always get a second opinion if you want to be sure that there’s no problem. You’re not obligated to the company who performed the “tune-up” to fix it.

HVAC Scam #2: The 12 Year Warranty

Popular manufactures of air conditioning and heating equipment such as Lennox, Bryant, Trane, and Goodman all provide free warranties on their parts that are attached to the serial number on your unit. Often, you can extend these warranties by 2 years for just a few dollars more. Some HVAC companies might try to sell you on an extended warranty for your newly installed air conditioning system. Again, if the warranty seems too good to be true, it probably is. Commonly, these companies will offer a 12 year parts and labor warranty for FREE. What’s the catch? Well, hidden in the contract you sign, there will be a preventative service agreement stating that you’ll agree to pay hundreds of dollars per year in preventative service to be eligible for the warranty.

If you see these kinds of warranties, be sure to ask about any preventive service agreements and carefully read anything before you sign it.

HVAC Scam #3: The Ever-changing Estimate

Whenever you agree to pay a HVAC company for services, make sure you have an agreed upon price in writing. If your HVAC technician tells you a repair will be “about $_____”, he might as well be waving a big red flag around. In other words, he’ll probably try to charge you a higher price when the repair is over.

A written estimate protects you from paying predatory prices and allows you to protect yourself if the repair isn’t completed. You can also use a written estimate to get a second opinion and make sure you aren’t paying too much for a simple repair.

HVAC Scam #4: The “Professional” Contractor

Out of all the HVAC scams we’ve covered so far, this one will cost you the most money. Have you ever had an amateur repair job? They usually cost you more money than you should have to pay. Beware of amateur contractors who try to pass themselves off as licensed HVAC technicians. Do your research before hiring a HVAC company; read their reviews, and check their rates online. It’s perfectly okay to ask for a HVAC technician’s license when they come to your house. If a company has too many bad reviews or gives you excuses as to why they can’t show you their license, look for another company.

Hopefully you never have to deal with any of these HVAC scams, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you live in Philadelphia, Bucks, or Montgomery County, call HVAC Philly at 215-725-6111 for trustworthy and professional air conditioning repair.

Stay cool my friends.

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Investing Wisely In Your HVAC System By Using Preventive Maintenance: Part 2

Part 2 of this blog post series picks up where Part  1 left off. Catch up here and learn how preventative maintenance can save you time and money in the future.

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Focus Areas
Some facets of a maintenance plan are straight forward – change the oil, change the belts, change the filters (just like your car). However, to keep a system running at peak efficiency, you’ll need to expend more elbow grease beyond the basics from time to time. Air-handler coils need to be cleaned regularly to keep heat transfer at maximum amounts. Boilers need to be cleaned once a year; even 1/16-inch of soot and ash on heat-exchange surfaces in an oil-firing boiler can reduce efficiency by 10 percent.

Also, do not forget fire testing. Fire testing and flame adjustment should be performed every 3 years. Measurement is important, you can not just eye the flame in a boiler.

Predictive maintenance is important as well. Tracking different system indicators such as oil temperature, RPM speeds, and other factors,  will allow you to pick up on many rising problems before they reach a crisis situation.  Many different diagnostics can point to issues where service isn’t being performed in the repetitive, regular nature that it is supposed to be.

Erecting automation systems can be an invaluable in maintenance diagnostic by greatly improving response time to maintenance issues via troubleshooting. Building automation systems can also be linked to computerized maintenance management systems (CMMSs) to further enhance your operations.

Keeping Tabs on Work
Once you have your plan ironed out, take the list of HVAC tasks that need to be done monthly, quarterly, annually, etc., and input them into your maintenance management system, as well as any of the documentation that goes with it, no matter if it is a paper-based system or a computerized one. Be sure it is easily retrievable for anyone who works on the system. A steady program should provide a an easily understood history of maintenance conducted on every piece of equipment, also the corrective costs incurred.

It’s important to have a clear record of service being performed and when it was performed, and to keep a paper trail. By doing that, you will be able to see trends and better predict what should be done.

Another way to keep maintenance professionals advised of the work that as been done on HVAC systems is by placing stickers on your equipment. A simple decal attached to the equipment that lists the last time the equipment was serviced, what was done, and who serviced it is invaluable. If you have a record of the last time someone was in this piece of [HVAC] equipment and what they did to it, all it will take is a quick visual check.

Repair vs. Replace
In any system’s life-cycle, there will come a point where you need to decide whether it is fiscally and practically feasible to continue maintaining and repairing an aging, degrading piece of equipment. It is important to do a life-cycle cost analysis when deciding if you should repair or replace an aging HVAC system component.

For example if you have a 30-year-old chiller and have spent more money than expected on maintenance; and, new chillers have twice the efficiency of the old chiller. The decision to replace is an easy one, if you run a life-cycle cost analysis.

Ideally, the ratio of spending for HVAC systems should be 70-percent preventive maintenance and 30-percent corrective maintenance. While every piece of equipment will need to be replaced eventually, following a strict, comprehensive maintenance schedule will prolong your building’s HVAC system and maintain not only a healthy bottom line, a comfortable home.

Follow us on Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Twitter,or LinkedIn to learn more. HVAC Philly is readily available to answer any questions or to schedule an appointment. www.hvacphilly.com

HVAC Service Provided to

Philadelphia, South PhiladelphiaFeastervilleBensalem, Bristol, Langhorne, Yardley, Fairless hills, Churchville, Newtown, Southamptown,  Warminster,  Holland,  Jamison,  Morrisville.Elkins park, Cheltenham, Glenside, Abington, Huntingdon valley, Willow grooveHorsham and Jenkintown.

 

Investing Wisely In Your HVAC System By Using Preventive Maintenance: Part 1

HVAC Philly highlights the reasons why it’s important to make a regular HVAC maintenance schedule.

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Very similar to how you would maintain your car, your HVAC system uses the same TLC and maintenance.  If you neglected your vehicle, you would be looking at some serious consequences down the line, in the way of something more serious than a loose belt or flat tire.  Your engine could seize up and cost of replacement would be through the roof.  By thinking of your HVAC system in this same manner you can see how not performing regular maintenance can cause a much more costly and significant problem down the line.

The thought of sitting in a sweltering home or office in the dead heat of the summer, with no relief from the heat should be enough of a reason to reach for your phone and call HVAC Philly, TODAY, to make sure all your maintenance needs are met. (215-725-6111)

For business and building owners you would be losing income. Potential renters or customers will no doubt walk in and quickly walk out once the heat hits them immediately when walking into your space. Building systems are the lifeblood of any facility. Without lighting, water, or heating and cooling, a building would be uninhabitable. That’s why a strong preventive and predictive HVAC maintenance program isn’t an option; it’s a must.

Maintenance is not costly in comparison to what you could potentially be spending if your system goes downhill and eventually fails. Conventional maintenance will cost significantly less over the life of the equipment than to replace your AC unit on a more frequent basis. Preventative maintenance of your air conditioning unit, keeps things from happening.

Creating a Maintenance Plan
Two main issues to consider when making a HVAC maintenance program:

  1. The recommended performance and maintenance tasks for each piece of equipment.
  2. The overall operation of the system in relation to the building in which it’s installed.

By taking those two issues into consideration as well as the composition of the equipment, and the  environment and operation of the overall system – you need to decide if your preventive maintenance plan is a full-maintenance-coverage plan or if there’s an opportunity for system-performance enhancement.

The first place to turn to if you have questions about how to build a successful HVAC maintenance plan should be to contact a professional like HVAC Philly who service the greater Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery County, PA areas.

Also important is to not overlook your maintenance manuals. They will provide a solid blueprint for the steps you need to take to maintain chillers, boilers, motors, air-handling units – every piece of equipment in a building’s HVAC system. Manufacturers spend a lot of time and money testing their equipment to determine what the maintenance will be and they put this information into the manuals. That is why it is important to be thorough when reading through your provided manuals.

Once you read the manuals and consider your system’s specific needs, you will have all the necessary information to get a successful preventive and predictive maintenance program off the ground – one that is tailored to your building’s HVAC system and operating environment.

Part Two of this post on preventative HVAC maintenance will provide more information on basic areas to focus on, and what to look out for determine if your system is need of repair or a replacement.

Follow us on Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Twitter,or LinkedIn to learn more. HVAC Philly is readily available to answer any questions or to schedule an appointment. www.hvacphilly.com

HVAC Service Provided to

Philadelphia, South PhiladelphiaFeastervilleBensalem, Bristol, Langhorne, Yardley, Fairless hills, Churchville, Newtown, Southamptown,  Warminster,  Holland,  Jamison,  Morrisville.Elkins park, Cheltenham, Glenside, Abington, Huntingdon valley, Willow grooveHorsham and Jenkintown.

Tips On How To Save on Energy Costs This Spring and Summer

HVAC Philly, provides helpful tips to help you save energy during the warm spring and summer months, when HotSummerThermometersummer vacation and holidays put a strain on your wallet, these tips will help ease some strain on you and your AC Unit. HVAC Philly has been serving the greater Philadelphia, Montgomery and Bucks County PA areas with their expertise and knowledge for over 20 years.  In towns like Huntington Valley, PA and Morrisville, PA we have been able to provide comfort through AC Repair, Air Conditioning Installation, and A/C Maintenance. By sharing some of our knowledge we hope to add a little more understanding and relief to your spring and summer months. Take what works best for you and as always we at HVAC Philly are happily on hand to answer any questions and quick to respond to any of your AC Repair and Installation needs. .

 

USE YOUR WINDOWS TO BRING IN COOL AIR AND ALSO TO KEEP OUT HEAT

  • Most areas in Philadelphia, Bucks, and Montgomery Counties in PA will generally cool off at night.  Use the change in climate to turn off your cooling system and open your windows to cool down your home while sleeping. When you wake in the morning, shut the windows and blinds to capture the cool air.
  • Install window coverings to prevent heat gain through your windows. You can find great quality, inexpensive window covering that will block the sun helping to your room cool, especially when it’s not being used.

MAKE SURE YOU ARE OPERATING YOUR THERMOSTAT EFFICIENTLY

  • Set your thermostat as high as you comfortably can in the summer. Making as small of a difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures will lower your overall cooling bill.
  • If going away or leaving the home for long periods of time, keep your house warmer than you usually would when you are away, and lower the thermostat setting to 78°F (26°C) only when you are at home and need cooling. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
  • Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.

USE FANS AND VENTILATION TECHNIQUES TO COOL YOUR HOME

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  • If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will help you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no negative effect in your comfort level.
  • Turn off ceiling fans when you leave the room. Remember that fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect.
  • When you shower or take a bath, use the bathroom fan to remove the heat and humidity from your home. Your laundry room might also benefit from spot ventilation. Make sure bathroom and kitchen fans are vented to the outside (not just to the attic).

KEEP YOUR COOLING SYSTEM RUNNING EFFICIENTLY

Photo of an HVAC professional performing maintenance on an outdoor air conditioning unit.

  • Schedule regular maintenance for your cooling equipment.
  • Avoid placing lamps or TV sets near your room air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • Vacuum registers regularly to remove any dust buildup. Ensure that furniture and other objects are not blocking the airflow through your registers.

AVOID USING APPLIANCES AND LIGHTS WHEN NOT NECESSARY

  • On hot days, avoid using the oven; cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside. The will add heat to your home and have your thermostat kick in, when not really needed.
  • Install efficient lighting that runs cooler. Only about 10% to 15% of the electricity that incandescent lights consume results in light—the rest is turned into heat.
  • Take advantage of daylight instead of artificial lighting, but avoid direct sunlight.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. Consider air drying both dishes and clothing.
  • Take short showers instead of baths.
  • Minimize activities that generate a lot of heat, such as running a computer, burning open flames, running a dishwasher, and using hot devices such as curling irons or hair dryers. Even stereos and televisions will add some heat to your home.

KEEP HOT AIR OUT OF YOUR HOME

  • Seal cracks and openings to prevent warm air from leaking into your home.
  • Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.

We hope some of these tips will help you to enjoy a nice, comfortable spring and summer this year with your family and friends.  Don’t forget to schedule your annual AC Unit Maintenance with HVAC Philly online or call 215-725-6111!

 

It May Be Time For an Air Conditioning Upgrade If….

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The warm weather is here in the Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery counties…and it is only getting warmer.  The biggest questions for home and business owners are:”How old is your air conditioner?” “When was it last replaced?” A common mistake is to take your air conditioning unit for granted.  The last thing you want is for your air conditioning unit to quit working during a heat wave. HVAC Philly, your leading AC Repair, and Instillation specialist in the Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery County, PA areas offer some great tips on what to look for to know when the time to replace your cooling unit with a new one is, before the summer heat comes rapidly upon us.

What Is The Age Of Your Air Conditioner?

Like any other mechanical equipment age certainly does matter when it comes to the condition of your AC unit. By properly maintaining, an air conditioner can it can last up to 15 years, however, keep in mind, if you were not the original purchaser you, unfortunately will not truly know how well it was cared for. If the unit is 10 years old and you find that you are frequently repairing your system, it may be better for your home and your wallet to replace it now. With a new unit technology has improved the efficiency and performance of new air conditioners, and that will save on energy costs.

Does Your Electric Bill Keep Increasing?

Have you seen and increase in your energy costs? Check your Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating. New air conditioners are required to have a minimum of a 13 SEER rating. If your rating is under 13, your unit is not performing efficiently. Replacing your current air conditioner with a more efficient unit will lower your energy costs and keep your home at a comfortably sustained temperature.

Are You Frequently Doing Repairs On Your Unit?

If your air conditioning unit is breaking down frequently and needing costly repairs, it would be wiser to replace it. When an older unit needs a repair, HVAC Philly technicians may not have parts on hand. Waiting for replacement parts in the heat of the summer can be extremely uncomfortable. Parts for newer models, however are almost always in stock, and that means your unit will be working at capacity in a short time.

Are You Performing An Annual Maintenance?

An important way to extend the life of your air conditioning unit is to have regular annual maintenance performed on your unit. Neglecting this step in years past, may cause your unit to stop operating efficiently. If your home was purchased with its current air conditioner already installed, you will not know how often maintenance was performed. Make a maintenance appointment, with HVAC Philly and find out what condition your unit is in. It might be in need of a replacement. Finding out the problems before your AC unit breaks down will help ease any issues, so you are not left sitting in the heat while you wait for a new air conditioner to arrive.

Are You Finding It Increasingly Hard To Cool Your Home?

If your air conditioner is not keeping your home cool and comfortable, there is a definite problem. It could that your unit is old and over run, you may also have the wrong size air conditioner for your home. Whichever situation is keeping your home from being cool and comfortable, you can make a change by replacing it with a new unit. Getting a current air conditioner with a smart unit will give you the ability to check temperatures and settings remotely and adjust them through your smartphone.

Is Your AC Unit Noisy While Running?

If you are hearing unusual sounds while your air conditioning unit is running, or you find just the overall volume in your house seems to be constantly on high, you may have a serious problem. Call HVAC Philly 215 -725-6111 and have the unit checked.

Does Your Unit Use R-22?

Any time your air conditioner needs refrigerant added, it signals there is a coolant leak. It’s very expensive to top off your system with R-22 refrigerant (Freon). It can cost over $150.00 per pound plus the charge for the service call. The total cost can easily run between $500 and $1,000. If your unit uses R-22 and has a leak, you can expect the compressor to go next. That can cost up to $2,000. Since R-22 is being phased out and will no longer be produced in 2020, it makes financial sense to replace the leaking unit instead of throwing away money on an air conditioning unit that will be useless in the near future. The cost of the remaining R-22 in the marketplace after production stops is expected to skyrocket.

So if you have looked over this list and noticed that you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to start looking into getting a new air conditioner installed.

If you have any other questions or would like to schedule maintenance or please feel free to contact HVAC Philly at www.hvacphilly.com, or call 215-725-6111

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Ductless Air Conditioning Services in the Greater Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery Counties

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Some homes just do not have the space required for the installation of air ducts, as well not all homeowner are inclined to use a duct work system when cooling their home. However there is no reason that you have to be restricted to using an air ducts system in order to enjoy an efficient home cooling experience. Call HVAC Philly today if you would like to learn more about an equally great alternative. When you take advantage of ductless air conditioning, you can utilize the benefits of using a centralized cooling system, and without needing a singular air duct within your home. Contact us with any questions you have regarding the installation of a ductless AC system.

The Philadelphia ductless air conditioning experts at HVAC Philly offer quality repair, installation and other heating, cooling and refrigeration services throughout the greater Philadelphia, Bucks, and Montgomery County, PA areas.

HOW DO I USE A DUCTLESS AIR CONDITIONER?

Ductless air conditioners, or ductless mini splits, as they are also known, are an outstanding alternative to ducted cooling systems. They are far more efficient and effective than window units, but allow for much greater flexibility than a standard central air conditioner does. This is thanks to their unique, ductless design.

Ductless air conditioners use an outdoor compressor unit much like any other central AC. However, this outdoor unit is connected to an indoor component through a simple conduit containing refrigerant and power lines. Using this particular setup allows for individual, wall mounted blowers to cool several rooms within your home directly. They are controlled individually of one another by using more than one thermostat placed throughout the house. What is needed to connect the indoor and outdoor components of your ductless AC system is a 3″ hole through which the conduit may pass. If you’d like to learn more about the design of a ductless split system, or to help determine if this is the right option for your cooling needs and the layout of your home, just call one of our representatives today. 215-725-6111

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DUCTLESS AIR CONDITIONING?

There are a lot of different ways in which using a ductless air conditioner can be beneficial. Ductless mini splits utilize heat pump technology, which means that they are capable of both heating and cooling your home. Their installation – though necessitating the services of a qualified professional, of course – is a lot less disruptive than that of a ducted system. When you hire a trained technician to do the job, you can count on a quick and painless AC installation.

Another great benefit that ductless ACs can offer is improved energy efficiency. Because there is no chance for air loss via duct leaks, there is no need to worry about wasting energy in such a manner. Ductless systems are used to zone controlled heating and cooling also, so you can heat and cool different areas of your home to different temperatures as needed. Also, you will not have the indoor air quality problems that air ducts can lead to. For more information about ductless air conditioning services in Philadelphia and Bucks and Montgomery County, PA, you need only call the experts at HVAC Philly..

Bring Ductless Air Conditioning to Your Home: Schedule an Appointment Online or Request an Estimate