Category Archives: HVAC

Replace or Repair

Most homeowners do not think about their HVAC system until a problem is impossible to ignore. The heat stops working in the middle of a cold snap, the air conditioning goes out during a heat wave, or the system begins to make noises that are keeping those living in the home up at night. At this point, it is time to get a technician out to service the unit and often times, to make a big decision – do we replace the unit or do we repair? It may be assumed that as an HVAC company, we’d automatically encourage our customers to replace their units, but that is far from the truth. Many things go into the decision of whether to replace or repair, and while facing this decision may seem like a daunting task, McClintock Heating & Cooling employees are well trained to help you to navigate all of these considerations.

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As we have discussed in the past, regular maintenance is imperative for the overall well-being of your unit. If you have been having regular maintenance on your unit, the odds are good that repairs will be the most cost efficient way for you to address the problem. But even if your unit has been well maintained, there are still other situations that may call for a system replacement, such as the initial quality of the unit. If you’re finding yourself calling for repairs several times per year, it probably makes the most long-term financial sense to go with the replacement.

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One of the biggest considerations that goes into the decision of whether to replace or repair is age. When a system is relatively young, in most cases it makes sense to move forward with the repairs and put off replacement. As the unit ages, however, efficiency decreases while the amount of repairs tends to increase, making the decision to replace more evident. The EPA and Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR program recommends replacement when your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 10 years old and when your furnace is more than 15 years old.

A great rule of thumb that technicians often use when working with homeowners is the 50% rule. If the cost of the repairs near 50% of the value of the unit, it is probably time for a replacement. Conversely, if the cost of the repairs is significantly less than 50% of the value of the heating and cooling system, moving forward with just repairs may be the best choice.

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Ultimately, the decision to replace or repair must come from you, the homeowner, but with advice and assistance from sources such as McClintock Heating and Cooling and the ENERGY STAR online checklist you’ll be able to make the best decision to keep your home comfortable and your unit working well!

Preventing & Detecting Carbon Monoxide

One threat that enters our homes is one that we rarely even think about. It’s colorless, odorless and tasteless. It has the ability to float through our homes just like the air we breathe, yet unlike oxygen, it’s certainly not essential to our lives. In fact, this threat is the exact opposite; causing serious illness or even death to those it attacks.

So what is this threat? It’s carbon monoxide – a gas that is produced by the burning of fuels such as coal, natural gas, oil, wood, kerosene and charcoal. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, on average approximately 170 people die and many others experience serious illness each year from carbon monoxide poisoning from non-automotive consumer products including furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, portable room heaters and generators.

The first signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the symptoms that accompany the flu. These symptoms will include headache, achiness, fatigue and even vomiting and nausea, however, unlike the flu, you will not have a fever with the symptoms. If you are feeling that you may be experiencing CO poisoning, you will want to get fresh air immediately. Open all of the windows in your home and go to the nearest emergency room.

While we all understand the importance of having smoke detectors in our homes to alert us of possible fire, it’s just as important to have a carbon monoxide detector to warn us when this poisonous gas is present. Similar to a smoke alarm, a carbon monoxide detector will sound an alarm if the levels of the gas rise to a dangerous level.

Carbon monoxide detectors are most effective when combined with preventative maintenance on your appliances, including your furnace. The leaking of carbon monoxide occurs when a part of the furnace malfunctions and releases the toxic gas. To prevent this from occurring, technicians like those at McClintock Heating & Cooling will thoroughly inspect your heating system to ensure that all parts are running properly and will repair any parts that may not be working up to par. The preventative maintenance combined with detectors throughout your home will leave you with the comfort of knowing that your family is protected from carbon monoxide.

Furnace Inspection Details

Since our last post about the importance of getting your heating system tuned-up before the start of each cold weather season, the temperatures here in Charlotte have certainly changed. For a while, it seemed as if Fall may never arrive, but alas, cooler temperatures are finally showing up on the forecast. Odds are that most of us have not turned our heating system on yet, but it’s just a matter of time! Let’s discuss what’s going to happen during the yearly inspection, so that your furnace is in top shape once that time comes.

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When making an appointment for a furnace inspection with McClintock Heating & Cooling, keep in mind that the appointment will last for approximately 60 to 90 minutes per system.  The first thing that your McClintock Heating & Cooling technician will do is to check the overall exterior condition and appearance of your unit. Has rust or corrosion formed since the last inspection? Is the furnace off balance? Are there any abnormal noises coming from the unit or any household items stored a little too closely to the furnace? These small details are things that we as homeowners overlook in our day to day lives, but with the trained eye of the technician can be caught and quickly fixed before they cause a major problem.

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After the initial assessment, the technician will begin the more detailed tasks of the inspection. Fans, burner assembly, ignition assembly and heat exchanger will be cleaned while the technician checks each for any defects. All exposed ductwork will be assessed for leaks and thermostats will be checked and calibrated if needed. Indoor coils are then inspected, the outdoor coils are cleaned and air filters are inspected and replaced if requested. Be sure to have the correct size filters on hand or when scheduling your appointment, ask about your service company about providing them.

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Once complete, the McClintock Heating & Cooling technician furnishes an inspection report that includes details of any abnormal conditions. If there are problems to be fixed, the technician will be able to make the fixes right then and there, or can re-schedule a time that is more convenient for you!

Though you may be sad to see the warmer temperatures hibernate for the winter, after your seasonal furnace inspection, you can rest assured that you’ll still have warm temperatures inside!

Decline in Supply, Increase in Price: Phasing Out R-22

It’s mid-summer in the Carolinas and as always, that means the heat is on outside. This is the busiest season for air conditioners and air conditioner technicians alike, and if your unit that uses R-22 Freon breaks down, you unfortunately may be surprised at the repair cost.

Over the past couple of years, the question that we have received most often has been, “Why has the cost of the Freon for my unit gone up so much?” The good news is that the Environmental Protection Agency has taken steps to reduce greenhouse gases by phasing out R-22 Freon. The bad news is that the phasing out of R-22 has caused a low supply, resulting in prices to skyrocket and repair bills to reflect the higher prices.

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R-22 Freon has been the refrigerant of choice for residential heat pump and air conditioning systems for the past 40 years. Over time, however, it was found that the manufacturing of R-22 results in a by-product that contributes to global warming. The EPA’s phasing out of R-22 began in 2010 when air conditioning manufacturers were banned from making units that use R-22 and the production of that Freon has been on the steady decline ever since. Production was reduced by 45% in 2012 and another 30% is slated to be cut this year. By 2015, production will have to be reduced by 90%, and in 2020, R-22 will be banned entirely.

So what does this mean for your unit that uses R-22? There are various factors that come into play. How old is your unit? Is there still a warranty on it? How much is the R-22 currently selling for, and how much would a new unit cost you? These are all important questions to be discussed with your McClintock Heating and Cooling technician. There’s not one answer for everyone, but the fact remains that the cost of R-22 will continue to rise and eventually, it will be gone for good.

What type of air conditioning unit do you have in your home? If you have an R-22 unit, do you plan on replacing it the next time it breaks?