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General AC FAQs

Q: How does air-conditioning work?
A: Air-conditioning works by transferring warm air from inside the home to the outside via several components: 1) freon (the transfer medium). 2) refrigeration lines (freon movement). 3) indoor refrigeration coil (allowing change of freon from liquid to gas because of temperature difference across the coil with assistance from indoor fan blower). 4) AC condenser (condenses the gas vapor back to liquid).

Q: How does an air-conditioner differ from a heat pump?
A: An air-conditioner allows freon to move in only 1 direction. Hence, the air-conditioning cycle mentioned above. A heat pump, via a reversing-valve, allows freon to move in 1 of 2 directions. This freon movement allows for air-conditioning or heating of the home.  

Q: I requested a proposal recently. During the conversation, I was told about the need for a proper coil and AC match-up. What does this mean?
A: A new condenser has a listed efficiency rating on it (i.e. Up to 13.50 SEER). However, this efficiency rating is based on a proper match-up between the indoor refrigeration coil and the outdoor condenser (the furnace blower can also affect this rating). It's important to know that the SEER rating is NOT based on the condenser alone. This means you could be getting higher or lower efficiencies than listed on the equipment. The manufacturer or independent agencies (ARI/AHRI) are good sources of information about your prospective efficiencies (see http://www.ahrinet.org/). 

Q: My condenser is frosting/freezing over. Is this a problem?
A: Yes. Condenser failure can occur if this problem is not corrected. Common reasons include: dirty filter(s), inadequate freon charge, condenser fin debris, dirty indoor refrigeration coil, or indoor blower fan problem.  

Q: I have to add freon every year. Is this a problem?
A: Yes. Adjusting the freon charge should be done during the original installation, with no further freon needed. Hefty fines can be levied with regards the release of freon (whether intentional or because of repeated repairs of a leaking system).

Q: Are there restrictions about where an AC condenser can be placed outside the home?
A: Yes. Please see installation instructions and/or talk to your local HVAC contractor. 

Q: Where should the disconnect box be located?
A: Next to or within sight of the condenser (see installation instructions, discuss with your local heating contractor, and talk with the local electrical inspecting authority). It should not be located behind the equipment. 

Q: My AC condenser is close to a dryer vent. Is this a problem?
A: Yes. Lint material can (and does) cling to the outside fins of the condenser. This will cause the equipment to lose efficiency and possibly fail. 

Q: I've had my equipment for several years. It works fine, but I've been told I should get it serviced. Is this true? Why?
A: Documented annual service is a requirement for most major brands of HVAC equipment. Without documentation, the HVAC manufacturer can limit or negate any associated equipment warranty. Also, annual service helps keep equipment in peak performance which assists in energy consumption.