FAQs – Home Air Conditioning Information

The technicians at White Goods Services answer many air conditioner questions every day. We have collected the most common ones and posted them below for your convenience. If you cannot find the question you are looking for in our FAQ, feel free to contact us. We are always only a phone call away and will be happy to provide the answers you need to improve your home comfort.

Product Research Information

What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need?

Every home has unique cooling needs. While there is no simple answer to this question, proper sizing is the key to great long-term comfort. An under-sized air conditioner will suffer pre-mature wear and tear as it struggles to cool your home. An over-sized unit, on the other hand, will constantly cycle on and off, leading to uncomfortable temperature changes, mold and mildew and wasted energy.

Before every installation project, we perform a full load calculation to determine exactly how much cooling power your home needs, taking into account square footage, layout, insulation and load-generating appliances. Even if you’re replacing an existing unit, we’ll do a fresh load calculation; after all, the old unit may have been sized incorrectly, or your home’s cooling needs may have changed.

What do SEER, MERV and All Those Air Conditioner and Heating Ratings Mean?

The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) for an air conditioner or heat pump is a measure of the cooling cycle’s energy efficiency. The higher the SEER, the less electricity the unit uses to cool your home. Most current air conditioners range from SEER 13 at the low end to SEER 20 and up for high-efficiency units. To qualify for an Energy Star rating, a central air conditioner must have at least SEER 14.

A heat pump’s heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) measures the heating cycle’s energy efficiency. As with SEER, a higher HSPF means that the heat pump uses less energy to heat your home. High-efficiency systems are usually HSPF 8 or better.

For furnaces and boilers, the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) measures energy efficiency. The AFUE rating is the percentage of fuel that the system turns into usable heat. For instance, an AFUE 90 furnace converts 90 percent of the fuel it burns into heat for your home; the remaining 10 percent is lost in the exhaust.

The minimum energy reporting value (MERV) measures the effectiveness of an air filter. The higher a filter’s MERV rating, the smaller the particles it can remove. Most residential air filters are between MERV 1 and 12; higher-efficiency units are used for specialized applications in medicine and industry.

How Do I Know if I Have an Existing Warranty on My Furnace, Air Conditioner or HVAC System?

The quickest way to assess whether your system may still be under warranty is to look at the label and find the date of manufacture. Systems made within the last five years are likely under warranty, but because warranty terms vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, there is no guarantee. If you still have the documents that were given to you when the system was installed, check them for warranty information. Finally, White Goods Services can assess your system and let you know if it’s still covered under the warranty. Call us with the model and serial numbers and we will find out for you.

When Replacing the Outdoor Unit, Should the Indoor Unit Also be Replaced?

As a rule, yes, you should replace both units at once. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense if one unit is broken and the other is running fine, you’ll end up losing much more money in the long run due to the lack of efficiency and effectiveness with a mismatched system. It’s generally only worth keeping the existing indoor unit if your system is less than five years old. Consideration of minimum SEER rating and refrigerant type of today’s equipment is also a factor.

Which Type of System is Better: Ductless, Heat Pump or Central Air Conditioning?

Again, every home has unique cooling and heating needs, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Each of these systems has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Central air conditioners provide efficient, powerful cooling at a generally affordable price. The HVAC industry has been working for decades to produce better air conditioners, and today’s units are more efficient, more reliable, and quieter than ever before. Still, central air conditioners tend to be fairly bulky machines, and they make more noise than some alternative systems.

Heat pumps are dual-use systems that can run the cooling cycle in reverse to heat your home during the winter. Because they essentially pull double duty, heat pumps save both space and energy, making them ideal for smaller homes. Homeowners in areas with fairly mild climates get a lot of use out of heat pumps. However, a heat pump requires somewhat more maintenance than most HVAC systems because it runs throughout the year.

Ductless air conditioners and heat pumps are some of the most advanced HVAC systems on the market today. They are incredibly compact and unobtrusive, making them great for smaller homes, condominiums and apartments where space is limited. Because there’s no need to install or extend a duct system, these units are also common choices for new additions, and above all, they’re designed for maximum energy efficiency. However, going ductless can be a significant up-front cost.

How Long do Air Conditioning Units Last?

The average lifespan varies somewhat between makes and models. The national average is 12-15 years. Of course, to actually reach that maximum lifespan, you will need to keep your unit well-maintained. Good ongoing maintenance not only increases energy efficiency, but also saves you money in the future by preventing costly repairs and replacements.

How Can I Improve Indoor Air Quality and Circulation Without Losing Cooling Power?

During the cooling season, many homeowners face an air quality conundrum. They’d like to let in fresh air to breathe easier throughout the day, but they can’t just open a window while the air conditioner is on. The HVAC industry’s solution to this problem is the energy recovery ventilator.

A ventilator brings in fresh air from outside your home and exchanges it with stale air that has already been cooled by your air conditioner, improving indoor air quality while minimizing the loss of energy to the outdoors. Good ventilation can have your entire family breathing easier without increasing your energy costs.


What is the Best Thermostat Setting for My Air Conditioner?

One of the most effective ways to save money during the cooling season is to set your thermostat to a higher temperature. Each degree of difference on the thermostat changes your air conditioner’s energy usage by as much as seven percent. In addition to those immediate savings, the reduced wear and tear on the unit will extend your air conditioner’s lifespan, saving you even more money down the road.

Every family’s comfort preferences are different, so the rule of thumb is to set the thermostat as high as you can comfortably stand. For most people, that’s between 76 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

To save even more throughout the cooling season, invest in a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust for changing cooling needs throughout the day. Why waste money cooling your home when no one is home? Modern thermostats also offer zoned control to set different temperature levels in different parts of the house.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Turn On and Off?

It’s normal for your air conditioner to turn on and off occasionally as it adjusts to changes in the indoor temperature, but too much cycling can indicate the presence of a problem. Check the wires going into your unit for corrosion, rust, and other damage. An issue with the wires can interrupt the flow of power to your air conditioner, causing it to turn on and off.

Frequent cycling may also be a sign that your air conditioner is too large for your home. If you’re certain that there is no physical issue with the unit, have White Goods Services come and take a look to determine whether you have a sizing issue.

Does Freon Need To Be Recharged Regularly?

If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, recharging it will temporarily improve performance. However, refrigerant never goes bad, never wears out, and never has to be replaced unless there is a leak in the system. Freon leaks only get worse over time… they need to be located and repaired as soon as possible. Continued recharges shorten the life of an air conditioning system, cause it to be very unreliable, and waste energy.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Keep Freezing Up?

Freezing up is one of the most common air conditioning issues we encounter, and it’s typically caused by one of these issues. The most common problem is a dirty air filter, which can restrict the flow of cold air out of the unit. As more and more cold air builds up inside your air conditioner, the interior temperature drops, which in turn causes ice to form on the coils.

A final possibility is a low refrigerant level, which upsets the inner workings of the air conditioner and causes temperature changes. Because your air conditioner doesn’t actually use up refrigerant during normal operation, this is a sign of a leak. Call us immediately to have your system repaired and recharged.

Maintenance Questions

What are the Benefits of an Air Conditioning Tune-Up?

Air conditioners work very hard throughout the cooling season to keep you and your family comfortable, and there’s a lot of wear and tear that comes with the cooling cycle. Frequent tune-ups give us an opportunity to find and repair any small, emerging issues before they can become big problems that would require expensive repairs. In other words, investing in a tune-up now will prevent you from having to pay much more to fix the system later.

Maintenance is about much more than fixing future problems, though. During each tune-up, we make the small calibration adjustments needed to maximize energy efficiency, and you’ll see the difference reflected on your next utility bill. Thus, an AC tune-up saves you money on electricity now and on potential future repairs.

What Is Duct Cleaning?

Your home’s duct system plays a vital role by carrying hot and cold air from your forced-air systems throughout the house, raising or lowering indoor temperatures as needed. Over time, the ducts tend to become clogged with dust and debris, which can impact energy efficiency and indoor air quality. Duct cleaning removes all debris and restores the ducts to a clean, efficient state. You’ll also need to have your ducts cleaned if they are filled with mold or infested with vermin.

During each duct cleaning visit, we start by disassembling the duct system and, when necessary, opening our own access holes so we can reach every nook and cranny. Our technicians use special brushes to dislodge debris without damaging the ductwork itself, then suck it all out of the ducts with high-powered vacuum cleaners. We’ll use chemical treatments to remove any harmful mold or bacteria before sealing up the entire system and cleaning the job site.

After your ducts have been cleaned, you’ll notice a significantly cleaner smell in the air, and residents with asthma or respiratory allergies may report reduced symptoms. If dust and debris in the ducts were causing energy efficiency to fall, you’ll see the difference on your next utility bill.

Moreover, once your ducts have been professionally cleaned, they tend to stay clean for a while. We generally recommend having your ducts cleaned every three to ten years, depending on factors, such as smoking, pets, and general home cleanliness.

Virginia Beach, Chesapeake & Norfolk, VA