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Residential FAQs

At Southern Air, we provide high-quality residential services for any and all project needs. Please continue reading to learn more about some frequently asked questions!

Residential HVAC, Plumbing, and Electrical FAQs

NATE-Certified Technicians are technicians you can trust.

NATE-certified technicians have demonstrated their knowledge of today’s increasingly sophisticated heating and cooling systems by passing a nationally recognized test developed and supported by all segments of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning industry. Consumers can rest assured that with a NATE-certified technician, they are getting the best installation and service for maximum comfort and economy in their heating and cooling system. Better installation and service mean a longer life for your heating and cooling equipment and increased energy efficiency. Technicians who are NATE-certified know that NATE stands for excellence and quality service.

When Using a NATE-Certified Technician, You Benefit From:

  • Lower utility bills through proper installation and maintenance
  • Fewer callbacks and warranty returns
  • Fast, efficient service
  • Job done right the first time
  • Equipment that runs at peak efficiency
  • Advice & knowledge of skilled, certified technician
  • Greater peace of mind

From air conditioning and heating installer certifications to residential and light commercial maintenance, NATE technicians are the best in the business, and every technician at Southern Air is NATE-Certified.

Learn more at the NATE website.

For more information, please complete this contact form or call  434-385-1200.

Is it time to upgrade your heating and air conditioning system?

It’s not easy to know whether you should repair or replace your home’s heating and cooling system, especially if your system isn’t working at the moment. While there’s no hard-and-fast rule, there are some important considerations to keep in mind as you make your decision.

Age of Your System

Air conditioners and heat pumps last an average of 10 to 12 years, while furnaces have a life span of around 15 to 20 years. If your equipment is within those ranges, expect more repairs in the near future.

If your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR label. Installed correctly, these high-efficiency units can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs.

If your furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old, consider replacing with an ENERGY STAR qualified furnace, which is 15% more efficient than a conventional furnace. If you have a boiler, consider replacing with an ENERGY STAR qualified boiler that is 5% more efficient than a new, standard model.

Outdated Technology

Technology changes all the time. This is as true for your heating and cooling system as it is for your phone. By replacing aging equipment, you’ll be able to take advantage of smart new features and increased efficiencies that can save you money on your utility bills.
If there are periods of time when no one is at home and you do not have a programmable thermostat, you’re probably spending more on your energy bills than you should. Install a programmable thermostat – or have the comfort experts at Southern Air install one and instruct you on its use — to start saving energy and money while they’re away or sleeping.

Cost of Repairs; Frequent Repairs

As a good rule of thumb, Consumer Reports recommends replacing a product when repairs exceed 50% of the cost of a new one. The experts at Angie’s list recommend the “$5000 rule” to determine if you need to replace your air conditioning unit: To decide if you need to replace your AC unit, multiply the age of the system by the estimated cost of the repair. If the total exceeds $5,000, replace your air conditioner instead of fixing it again. After all, in addition to enjoying a more efficient unit, you can also enjoy the bells and whistles modern AC systems offer.

Southern Air is a great resource for current promotions that could significantly reduce the cost of a new system, and our expert technicians offer a free consultation so you can rest assured the new system installed is right for your home.

Energy Bills Increasing; Some Rooms Too Hot or Too Cold

If your electric and or gas bills are increasingly higher, it could be a sign that your heating and cooling systems are not operating efficiently. Improper equipment operation, duct problems or inadequate insulation could be the cause. If your system is having to work harder than it should to keep you comfortable and you have areas of your home which are too hot or too cold, you should consider having an evaluation of your system to determine whether repairs can be made, or whether a newer, energy efficient system should be considered.

Research has shown that replacing an air conditioner that is as young as 10 years old with a newer, more efficient version can cut your energy costs by as much as 40%. To put this number into perspective, if you spend $300 a month on power during the summer months, updating your air conditioner could reduce your bill to as little as $180, leaving you with more wiggle room in your budget.

Poor Air Quality

Poor equipment operation, inadequate equipment, and leaky ductwork can cause the air to be too dry in the winter or too humid in the summer. Leaky ducts can pull particles and air from attics, crawl spaces and basements and distribute them throughout your house. Sealing your ducts may be a solution.

Home Energy Yardstick Score

If your score on the Home Energy Yardstick is below five, your energy use at home is above average and you’re probably paying more than you need to on energy bills.

Tax Credits

Purchasing high-efficiency systems can make you eligible for state and local tax credits. A federal tax credit is available through 2021. For more information on available tax credits, click here and enter your ZIP code to see what is available to you, or contact your Southern Air Home Comfort Specialist.

For more information, please complete this contact form or call 434-385-1200.

 

There are many brands of equipment available for your heating and air conditioning needs, and some are less costly than others up front. Choosing long-term reliability with a higher quality system will save you money in the long term by eliminating the need for repairs.

What to look for in a trustworthy contractor:

  • Ask family, friends and colleagues for a referral – or, ask the contractor to provide you with references.
  • Ask for verification of bonding, insurance and required contractor’s licenses.
  • Check whether technicians are certified by a trade organization such as North American Technician Excellence (NATE) to service residential heating and cooling equipment. Your contractor should also have a master certification from the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). Such certifications confirm their knowledge of specific types of equipment and their proper service methods.
  • Get specifics – your contractor should use a recognized method to run a load on your home to calculate required capacity. The calculations produce a detailed, room-by-room analysis. You can ask for a printout of all calculations and assumptions, including duct-work design. Be leery of a contractor who bases estimates merely on house size or rules of thumb.

Factors to consider when choosing a new system:

  • Size. A properly sized system is essential for proper operation. Your contractor should calculate the size of equipment you need by using recognized methods.
  • Efficiency. Efficiency is expressed as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). Your contractor should advise you on SEER ratings for recommended equipment.
  • Maintenance. A service plan that combines regular inspections with discounts on repairs and labor should be included with your installation.
  • Programmable Thermostats. Proper use of a programmable thermostat can reduce your cooling costs by up to 20%.

Some factors to consider when upgrading an existing system:

  • Size. Have your contractor do a load calculation based on a recognized method.
  • Ducts. May need to be re-sized, sealed, insulated or replaced.
  • New systems are 20-40% more efficient than systems made only 10 years ago.

Keeping your system in good working order:

  • Keep it clean. Be sure hedges and plants are at least 2 feet away from the outside of unit. Change filters monthly.
  • Seal and insulate ducts. Cool or warm air can escape through leaks when ducts aren’t insulated properly, wasting up to 40% of energy used to run your system.
  • Seasonal checks. Twice a year, have a licensed professional change all filters, clean and flush the coils, drain the pan and drainage system, vacuum the blower compartments, check that the system is properly charged, that there are no leaks, and that all mechanical components are working properly.

For more information, please complete this contact form or call 434-385-1200.

We’re always ready to assist you, but if your system isn’t working for you, following these simple steps may help you avoid a service call.

Air Conditioner Maintenance:

  • Change your air filters regularly.
  • Be sure to avoid blocking floor, wall or ceiling vents.
  • Make sure your outside condensing unit isn’t covered or clogged with leaves or debris.
  • Check to make sure the drainage system isn’t clogged.
  • Don’t run your system in cooling mode when outdoor temperatures are lower than 55° F or 13° C.
  • Have a Southern Air expert clean your indoor coil regularly.
  • Check for water at the base of your outdoor unit. Water likely means the support base has shifted since installation and is no longer level.
  • Consider sealing or insulating your ducts.

If Your System Isn’t Running:

Check to make sure your control or thermostat is set in cooling mode. Make sure the temperature is set cooler than the current indoor temperature.

If it isn’t, your system won’t know to provide cooling.

Make sure your outdoor condensing unit is running. If it is not running, make sure the breakers in your home’s breaker box or electrical panel are in the ON position.

Check the main power switch for your outdoor unit, usually found within a few feet of the unit in a box mounted to the exterior of the house. Make sure it’s in the ON position.

Ensure that the blower motor in your furnace or fan coil is running. If the system is set for cooling, the blower motor should be running. If not, check to make sure your indoor unit switch is in the ON position.

If Your System Isn’t Cooling Enough:

Check the filter for buildup. If you have one-inch-thick furnace filters, a once-a-month change is recommended. Two-inch-thick filters – and other high-capacity pleated filters – usually only need to be changed every other month, depending on the type. If you don’t change it, the filter will eventually block the proper airflow and cause your outdoor air conditioner unit to shut down.

Check all return air grilles to make sure they are not blocked. Return air grilles are larger and are located on a wall or the ceiling in newer homes. Older homes frequently have return air grilles on the floor.

Check all supply registers to make sure they are open and blowing air.

If you still don’t feel the flow of cool air or your system is under-delivering, it’s time to contact your Southern Air expert for service.

Other Signs That Indicate A Service Call May Be In Order:

  • Your system is struggling to keep up and seems to be turning itself on and off frequently.
  • Your indoor summer humidity levels seem unusually high.
  • You hear your indoor-unit fan coming on, but the air from the registers isn’t cool or the fan is turning on and off more frequently than usual. NOTE: If your system control has a “Constant ON” feature, you will not always feel warmth, even though air may be blowing.

Furnace and Boiler Maintenance:

  • Confirm that the furnace/boiler turns on and off via your thermostat by setting the temperature higher than the current indoor temperature and setting the system to heat mode.
  • Check the temperature of air supply grates or radiant system to ensure you’re able to feel warmth.
  • If you have an older thermostat that could have mercury switches, clean and level it to ensure it works properly.
  • Check all visible wiring and electrical connections for signs of damage like burns, unraveling wires and loose nuts.
  • Check vent connection pipe and chimney for rust or gaps. (Venting systems can deteriorate over time.)
  • If you have a gas or oil furnace, make sure you have a clean air filter in the proper size.
  • When you restart your heating system each fall, you might consider an inspection of the burners, combustion area, venting and even flame appearance.

If Your System Isn’t Running:

Check to make sure your control or thermostat is set in the HEAT position. (You’d be surprised; often that’s the problem.) Make sure the temperature is set warmer than the current indoor temperature. If it isn’t, your system won’t know to provide heating.

Ensure your furnace’s power is on. Try turning the fan to ON using the fan switch on the control or thermostat to test for power to the furnace.

Check the circuit breakers in your home’s circuit breaker box (electrical panel) to make sure they’re in the ON position.

Check the furnace power switch to be sure it’s in the ON position (it looks like a light switch on a gray box located at the furnace).

System Not Heating Enough:

Check the filter for buildup. If you have one-inch-thick furnace filters, a once-a-month change is recommended. Two-inch-thick filters – and other high-capacity pleated filters – usually only need to be changed every other month or less, depending on the type. If you don’t change it, the filter will block the proper airflow and strain your furnace.

Check all return air grilles to make sure they are not blocked. Return air grilles are larger and are located on a wall or the ceiling in newer homes. Older homes frequently have return air grilles on the floor.

Check all supply registers to make sure they are open and blowing air.

If you still don’t feel that wonderful rush of warmth throughout your home, it’s time to contact your Southern Air expert for service.

Other Signs That Indicate A Service Call May Be In Order:

You hear your indoor-unit fan coming on, but the air from the registers isn’t warm or the fan is turning on and off more frequently than usual. NOTE: If your system control has a “Constant ON” feature, you will not always feel warmth, even though air may be blowing.

Before You Request a Service Call For Your Ventilator:

Check the main power disconnect switch. Verify that the circuit breakers are ON or that fuses have not blown. If you must reset breakers or replace fuses, do so only once. Contact your Southern Air expert for assistance if the breakers trip or the fuses blow a second time.

Check for sufficient airflow. Check air filters for accumulations of large particles. Check for blocked exhaust air grilles or ductwork. Keep grilles and ductwork open and unobstructed.

Email Our Master Technicians:

Send your questions to info@southern-air.com. Our Master Technicians will get back to you with an answer.

For more information, please complete this contact form or call 434-385-1200.

The average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of this going to heating and cooling costs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can help you make smart decisions about your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system that can help save on energy costs, improve your overall comfort at home, and help fight global warming.

Click here for a helpful and informative guide from Energy Star.

For more information, please complete this contact form or call 434-385-1200.

Each home experiences 300-plus potentially damaging electrical surges per year. Home appliances and HVAC equipment, which depend on electronics, are sensitive to these surges. These units are a costly investment for the homeowner, and there typically is no protection.

A surge is a high-amplitude, short-duration electrical fluctuation that can cause harm to electrical, electromechanical, and electronic equipment. Surges are caused by lightning, utility events, and internal events:

Lightning is the most obvious and most sensational type of surge. Lightning can travel up to 1/2 mile from where it strikes. Nothing can prevent a direct strike.

Utility events consist of crossover of phases, capacitor switching, grid shifting, inductive loads, and open neutrals.
Internal events in the home, however, are the most likely source of a surge. A General Electric (GE) and National Power Labs (NPL) study shows that 65 percent to 80 percent of transient surges are caused internally from:

  • Pumps (well or pool)
  • A/C condenser motors
  • Refrigeration motors
  • Dishwasher motors
  • Washer/dryer motors
  • These events can result in the three D’s of surge problems: degradation (of equipment components), destruction, and downtime.

Surge Solutions:

Surge protectors provide protection against:

  • Incoming surges
  • Bounce surges from inrush current; and outdoor moisture conduction from local lightning (as noted above, from as much as 1/2 mile away).

A surge protector works by shunting the voltage surge to ground. A good ground is imperative. The National Electrical Code (NEC) maximum resistance at ground is 25 ohms.

For more information, please complete this contact form or call 434-385-1200.

 

Synchrony is one of the nation’s premier consumer financial services companies. Our roots in consumer finance trace back to 1932, and today we are the largest provider of private label credit cards in the United States based on purchase volume and receivables.

  • A simple application process, and fast credit decisions
  • Unsecured, revolving credit lines
  • Promotional financing options1
  • Convenient monthly payment options
  • Online account management

1Subject to credit approval. Minimum monthly payments required. See store for details.

For all promotions: Qualifying purchase must be made with your Home Design credit card issued by Synchrony Bank and a $29 account activation fee will apply and be charged at the time first purchase posts to account. For new accounts: Purchase APR is 26.99%; Minimum Monthly Interest Charge is $2. Existing cardholders should see their credit card agreement for their applicable terms. Subject to credit approval.

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