Air Conditioning Confidential 2021: The View from the Truck

If you’re a homeowner living in the Decatur area, the chances are pretty good that you rely on your home’s air conditioning system to keep you cool when Mother Nature turns up the heat outside. What’s more, you probably rely as much on Empire to keep your air conditioning system working smoothly.

Our technicians know how important it is to you that you and your family have cool, reliable comfort. They’re trained professionals when it comes to all things HVAC, and one of our technicians has shared with us their view from the truck. Here’s a brief Q&A that can give you some insight into common AC concerns, and what your technician can do to help!

What do customers call about most often during a heatwave?

Okay, here are the ones we get all the time.

Water leaks

That’s an easy one — it’s just an abundance of condensate. It looks scary but it just means your system is working. A lot. Make sure that water has a place to drain or it could create some other problems due to dripping or pooling.

The unit runs all the time, but the home is not comfortable

This usually means that the air conditioner is not cooling properly, or at all. While this is definitely not good, it’s not always an expensive repair — read on!

HVAC technician testing central air conditioning units

What are the top situations you encounter on your air conditioning service calls?

These are the situations we seem to find the most, especially during a heatwave.

Bad run capacitor

This causes the compressor to overheat and shut off so the unit is running but not cooling. Happily, the typical cost for repair including service call, capacitor, installation, and complete system check is around $250. We’re proud to say that we use a better grade of capacitor for our typical replacement. Occasionally a specialty capacitor is needed that costs more. Many other outfits charge much more.

Unit is iced up

This is due to a dirty filter or evaporator (indoor) coil and requires a new filter or cleaning. Fortunately, these solutions are generally simple, and not too expensive.

Unit overheats

This is due to a dirty condenser (outdoor) coil and requires cleaning. Again, fairly simple solution, and not too costly to the homeowner.

Unit is low on refrigerant (R-22)

This is due to leakage and requires leak search and repair. Often this is very simple and straightforward, but sometimes requires the replacement of a major component.

What are key things you wish customers knew about their AC systems when the weather gets hot?

  • Systems in Atlanta are properly designed to maintain 75 degrees indoors when it’s 92 degrees outdoor. This is based on national weather data. If your home gets a bit warm on the afternoon of a 105-degree day but cools down overnight, it’s probably OK. Maintaining 20 degrees below the outdoor temperature is within the acceptable industry range. If you were to size a typical unit for 100-degree days in Atlanta it would create an uncomfortably humid indoor environment during milder weather. Two-stage equipment is a good alternative for up-sizing without generating high humidity in mild demand.
  • A service call that is free — if you agree to the repair — is not actually free, they just charge you more for the repair. If you call ten legit companies for air conditioning service during a heatwave and find yourself waitlisted, and then call a guy who says “Sure, I can be there in an hour”, there might be a reason he’s not busy.
  • If you turned your unit off or it was broken for a day or two during a heatwave when you turn it on your house could take 24-48 hours to cool down. This is normal. Central air systems are built for continuous operation. As long as the air blowing out of the ducts is about 18 to 22 degrees cooler than the temperature in the space, it’s working.
  • Turning the thermostat down to 55 does not make it cool down to 72 any faster.
  • Running a ceiling fan with the air blowing downward when the AC is on does actually make the air feel cooler.
  • Opening the doors and windows when the air is on, or if you plan to run the air the next day, is probably going to make the unit work harder and take longer to cool down a humid space.
  • Keeping the blinds closed on the south side of the house does actually cut down on the cooling load.
  • Ants really do cause problems that result in some very expensive repairs. Keep them away from your unit.

If you’re experiencing any of the above concerns, Empire is ready to help you.

So, folks, there you have it. We hope these tips and insights are helpful. If you see your own home comfort issues described here, we encourage you to schedule a service call – simply give us a call at 404-294-0900 and we will be happy to help you!