Frequently Asked Questions
First Coast Air can help you sort through the maze of HVAC questions.
What is a SEER rating?
SEER is an acronym for "Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating" which is the number of BTU's of cooling removed by an air conditioner for each watt of electricity consumed. Much like the MPG on your car, the higher the SEER the more your energy cost savings. The minimum Federal Standard is now 13 SEER, which is a step up from the previous minimum of 10 SEER. Most quality systems are in the 14 -18 SEER range. (Learn more about SEER.)
Can I get a quote over the phone or online for a replacement system?
Giving a quote over the phone is difficult. In order to give a proper price for a new system, we will need to see where the equipment is located, if the air handler is vertical or horizontal, we will also inspect your duct work, etc. There are a great number of practical and technical factors to consider when replacing a central heating and cooling system. It would be impossible to accurately design and quote a proper system without a physical inspection of the property. This is why we give free estimates or second opinions.
What is the service area of First Coast Air Conditioning & Heating, Inc.?
Our focus is on our customers in St. Johns and Flagler counties.
How often should I change my air filter?
There are many factors involved in required filter changes: filter types, filter efficiencies and the dust condition in your home. We suggest checking your filter monthly and change or clean it only when it is dirty. A dirty filter can cause many problems with your system and decrease efficiency.
Where should I leave my thermostat set if I go out of town?
In the summertime, you can leave your thermostat set at 80* and in the winter, you can leave the heat set at 65*. 80* in the summer will run your unit just enough to keep humidity down and prevent mildew and mold from growing.
What are the differences between an air conditioner and a heat pump?
An air conditioning system distributes cool air throughout your home and discharges the heat to the outside. A heat pump has the ability to reverse the flow of the refrigerant and discharge the warm air to your duct system and extracts the heat from the outdoors. A heat pump is a very economical method of heating your home. It is much less expensive to use a heat pump compared to using electric heat strips.
My thermostat has an emergency heat switch, what is the purpose?
Most heat pumps have an auxiliary heat strip built in to the blower section. Emergency heat will disable the heat pump and make the heat strips the primary source of heat. This will allow you to have heat in case the heat pump experiences a problem. This should be used only while waiting for a technician, as it is more expensive to operate than your heat pump.
My heat pump seems to have a buildup of ice all around the coils outside, is this a problem?
Heat pumps will cause frost to build up on the coils when it is cold outside. This is normal and will correct itself within a couple of hours. The system will go into defrost mode, melt the frost then switch back to heat. This is all automatic. If the frost does not melt within a couple of hours but continues to grow thicker you may have a problem with the defrost cycle and you should call us for service.
I sometimes see steam coming from my outdoor unit in the winter months, why?
If you have a heat pump, it is in the defrost mode. It is just melting any ice or frost. It will return to normal mode within a few minutes.
What is a zoned heating or cooling system?
A zoning system allows you to control separate areas of your home or office with a single system. Each zone in your home has its own thermostat and damper which gives you much better control over your comfort level. Zoning allows you to both conserve energy and increase comfort along with using the correct system (2 speed compressor and variable speed blower).
Where can I find odd sized air filters?
You can purchase filters online on numerous websites. You may also call us at First Coast Air and if we don’t stock your particular filter, we can order it for you. Just email or call us with your filter needs.
How often should I have my heating and cooling system serviced?
Routine maintenance is necessary to ensure efficiency, prolong the useful life and prevent major repairs of your heating and cooling equipment. Manufacturers recommend having periodic maintenance performed by a heating and air conditioning professional. Call First Coast Air Conditioning today to schedule your A/C maintenance!
In between my routine maintenance, should I pour bleach down the drain line?
No, this is not recommended. The bleach can corrode the evaporator coils and copper tubing. Hot water and a wet/dry vac is recommended to clear clogged drain lines.
How do I determine the size, or capacity, of my HVAC system?
Factors affecting the size of your new system include the humidity levels, the number of windows in your dwelling, total square footage of your home, the direction your home faces, the number of heat-producing appliances in your home, the type of insulation you have and the number of people that live in your residence.
What goes into installing a new system?
Putting a new system in a home that has not had central air and heat before will require the installation of ductwork, insulation, refrigerant piping, electrical service, wiring, thermostat, condensate piping, slabs, filter, driers, registers, grills, drain pans and evaporator coil. Beyond equipment, the most important component installed with a new system, however, is the ductwork.
Ductwork is composed of two parts, supply and return. Supply duct is attached to the outflow of the new system, delivering air to each zone in a home. The amount of air reaching each zone is determined by the size of supply ductwork connecting it to your system. The second part of the ductwork, the return duct, attaches to the inlet of the new system and draws air out of the spaces to be heated or cooled.
Do I need to change my indoor unit coil (Air Handler)?
It is generally a good idea to replace the indoor coil (Air Handler) if you are also replacing your air conditioner or heat pump (Condenser). There is a correlation between the efficiency of your heating or cooling system and the performance of the indoor coil and changing out the current indoor coil for a new one may be critical to optimizing the performance, the efficiency and the savings potential of your new system.
What can I do to control the humidity levels in my home?
Humidity levels can be reduced by using a variable-speed furnace or air handler as part of your HVAC system. Variable speed units run at lower speeds, allowing air to constantly circulate against the cooling coil and remove more moisture. Variable speed motors also use less electricity than regular motors, reducing your energy costs.
What can I do before calling someone to service my system?
HVAC systems are complicated networks of machinery that should be serviced by a certified professional. However, if your HVAC system seems to be malfunctioning, you can try a few basic steps, which may correct your problem. If you do not feel comfortable performing any of these tasks, however, do not hesitate to call First Coast Air Conditioning.
- Make sure your circuit breakers are in the ON position.
- Make sure your filters are clean.
- Open supply and return vents and make sure they are unobstructed.
- Check the settings on your thermostat.
- Make sure the system switch is on the appropriate COOL or HEAT setting.
What is R-22?
R-22 is the common name for hydro-chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC). R-22 has been used as a refrigerant by HVAC manufacturers for over 40 years, but studies in the past decade have shown that HCFCs contain chlorine, an ozone-depleting agent. For this reason, the United States Clean Air Act has set a date of January 1, 2010, on which HVAC manufacturers must cease the production of products that use R-22.
What is R-410A?
R-410A has replaced R-22 as the preferred refrigerant for use in residential and commercial air conditioners in Japan, Europe and the United States. R-410A is more environmentally friendly than R-22.
What is ENERGY STAR?
ENERGY STAR is a program that was created by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help businesses and individuals make energy efficient purchases. This program places the ENERGY STAR label, a small blue and white logo, on items that meet superior energy efficiency standards. This label provides an easy way for consumers to identify quality, high efficiency products.