Our FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions

Technical Questions

We have provided answers to the most frequently asked questions about air conditioning.

Should you still not find the answer to your question, please contact us for assistance or advice.


- Why is my unit icing up?
- I have frost on the coil and copper tubing?
- There's water spilling out of my inside unit, what can I do about this?
- The system is running but the air is not very cold, what's wrong?
- The system will not run at all, what do you think?
- Heat pump iced-up in winter?
- Heat pump/Air Conditioner iced-up in summer?
- Heat pump never quite reaches temperature?
- Heat pump blowing cold air?
- Heat pump never shuts off, runs all the time?
- High Electric bills?
- Outdoor unit won't come on?
- Outdoor unit makes strange/loud noises?
- Outdoor unit won't shut off unless I use the circuit breaker?
- Steam coming from outdoor unit?
- It's never the temperature I set my thermostat for?
- Some rooms are warmer or colder than others?
- Not enough airflow?
- Water leak at indoor unit?
- Indoor fan won't shut off unless I use the circuit breaker?
- Odours?
- Circuit breaker keeps tripping?
- Not cooling?
- Noisy indoor unit?
- Noisy air vents?

 

Why is my unit icing-up?

There are several things that can cause frost on your coil and/or reduced air flow.

Anything that restricts the airflow through the inside unit will cause frost. As the frost builds up on the coil, the airflow becomes more and more restricted making the condition worse. When the frost is also on the outside pipes next to the compressor, damage to the compressor can occur.

1. Extremely dirty air filter restricting the airflow through the inside unit.
2. Extremely dirty (clogged) cooling coil restricting airflow through inside unit.
3. System low on freon, causing coil to freeze up.
4. Check your return grill to make sure that it is not being obstructed.
5. Blower motor overheats and "kicks off" on safety switch.

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There's water spilling out of my inside unit, what can I do about this?

If you do not see ice build-up on the larger copper tubing (covered with a black, sponge insulation) when you run your system, then you probably have a clogged drain line. A clogged drain line is usually caused by algae build-up inside the drain line. And yes, there is something you can do to prevent this condition. Algae is a living plant and will grow in your drain line until it clogs the line. The air handler provides a cool, damp environment for development of molds and mildew and if left untreated these growths can spread into your ductwork.

If only moderate to light buildup is present then there are chemical disinfectants specifically designed for use in air handlers that will kill the existing mold and mildew and control new growth. These disinfectants are safe and very effective and are applied by simply spraying into the filter intake and by placing "Algae Strips" directly in the drain pan. If the coil has mold or mildew present then it also should be treated. Make sure that the face of the cooling or evaporator coil is clean so that air can pass through freely.

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The system is running but the air is not very cold, what's wrong?

If you have some cooling, but not enough, then chances are that the system is low on freon. The only reason a system would need freon is because the freon leaked out. If the leak is not sealed before recharging with freon, the freon will eventually leak out again.

Leak repairs are expensive so if it's a small leak it may be more cost effective to recharge the system every two or three years. Freon recharging is not a do-it-yourself job. Only people certified to handle refrigerant (freon) are allowed to recharge an air conditioning system.

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The System will not run at all, what do you think?

The most common reason that a system will not run is because of a loss of power. In almost every situation an air conditioning system is protected electrically by a breaker or fuse which is located somewhere in the power supply lines upstream from both the air handler and condenser units. This breaker is designed to provide over current protection and prevent electrical damage to your equipment. Find this breaker, turn it completely "off" even if it appears to be "off", then turn it back on again. If it trips again, leave it alone and call your contractor.

The second most common reason for a system not to respond when called for, is problems in the low voltage (24v) control circuit. This circuit is comprised of the controllers and relays that send signals to the components in your system to perform specific functions like heating, cooling and fan only. The most common problems are found in the thermostat connections and with failure of the transformer.

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Heat pump iced-up in winter?

Heat pumps do ice-up in the winter time. It is normal for the entire coil to be covered in a white frost, even light ice, during certain weather conditions. It is not normal however, for the entire unit to be encased in ice, including the top of the unit and the insides of the coil for an extended period of time.

This indicates a problem and should be addressed quickly to save energy and avoid serious damage to the equipment.

Heat pumps will naturally ice-up in the winter but will periodically go into a defrost cycle to de-ice the coils. This keeps the unit running efficiently. If the coils are blocked by ice, proper heat transfer between the freon and the outside air cannot occur.

How does the defrost mode work?

On a call for defrost, the reversing valve is energized, switching the system into the air conditioning mode. That is right - Air Conditioning. The outdoor evaporator becomes the condenser but at the same time the outdoor fan shuts off. This allows the high pressure refrigerant circulating through the outdoor coil to get very warm, melting the ice.
At the same, the second stage heat [the back-up heat] is energized to offset or temper the cold air now blowing out the vents. When a sensor or thermostat in the outdoor unit reaches a certain temperature and/or a certain amount of time goes by, the system goes back to normal heating mode.

At this time a cloud of water vapor can usually be seen rising out of the outdoor unit and a "whoosh" sound can be heard as the refrigerant reverses direction. The entire process usually takes between 2 to 10 minutes depending on conditions.

Different heat pumps have different ways of determining when to go into defrost. Some use mechanical timers in conjunction with a defrost thermostat. If the thermostat is cold enough and enough time goes by, the unit will go into the defrost mode whether it is iced-up or not. When the thermostat heats up to a certain temperature, defrost is terminated.

Most of the newer equipment today uses solid-state control modules with temperature sensors. Even more sophisticated is the Demand Defrost system which makes calculations based on the outside air, the freon temperature in the coil and run time. This is the most efficient way to defrost.

If a heat pump is severely iced-up in the winter it is possible that it isn't defrosting but there are many other causes. Below is a list of possible causes. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Bad defrost control or timer
  • Bad defrost thermostat or sensor
  • Bad defrost relay
  • Sticking reversing valve
  • Bad reversing valve solenoid coil
  • Bad outdoor fan motor
  • Low refrigerant charge
  • Restriction
  • Outdoor coil blocked - possibly with leaves or snow drift
  • Unit sunk in ground - nowhere for ice to melt and drain off
  • Leaking gutter dripping water onto top of unit Freezing rain - causes top of unit to freeze over - once this happens the rest of the unit will also freeze over.

The bottom four causes in pink are common problems and can be addressed by the homeowner. If the top of the unit is covered in ice, turn it off and remove the ice. If a gutter is dripping, repair the gutter. Keep snow and leaves away from unit including underneath it. If the unit has settled in the ground, it must be elevated. With the unit off, ice can be removed with a garden hose. If the unit ices-up again, it is time to schedule a service call.

Whatever you do, please, never pick the ice off with a sharp object. The refrigerant coils can be damaged very easily.

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Heat pump/Air Conditioner iced-up in summer?

It is never normal to see ice in the summer anywhere on a heat pump or central air conditioner. This includes the indoor unit, outdoor unit and interconnecting line-set. It is possible to ice-up the indoor coil however, if the air conditioner is running in very cold weather or if the thermostat is turned down extremely low.
We recommend never turning the thermostat below 70 degrees. If air conditioning is needed during winter months, such as for restaurants or businesses, then a "Low ambient kit" is required and can be installed by a service technician.

If you see ice on a heat pump or air conditioner in the summer there most likely is a problem. Below is a list of possible causes. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Bad indoor fan motor- not running/running slow
  • Loose, worn, or broken fan belt
  • Bad indoor fan relay
  • Clogged blower wheel
  • Low refrigerant charge
  • Restriction
  • Blocked capillary tube
  • Blocked orifice
  • Faulty expansion valve
  • Stuck compressor contactor
  • Faulty thermostat
  • Extremely dirty or damaged indoor coil
  • Clogged or blocked air filter
  • Supply and/or Return vents closed
  • Running air conditioner with windows open
  • Setting thermostat too low
  • The bottom causes in red are common problems and can be addressed by the homeowner. One other thing to keep in mind: If you have a central humidifier, make sure it is shut off and if it has a damper - close it for the summer.

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Heat pump never quite reaches temperature?

In other words, if you set your thermostat for 21 degrees in the winter and your building only seems to get up to 20 degrees. This problem generates many service calls. And sometimes this is caused by a genuine problem but unfortunately, in extremely, cold weather even a properly working heat pump may have trouble maintaining desired temperature.

Why is this? When it gets below a certain temperature, in our area around 1 degrees a heat pump loses efficiency and cannot keep up with the heat loss of the structure. When the temperature in the building drops approximately 2 degrees below room temperature, supplemental heat comes on to assist the heat pump (usually in the form of electric resistance heaters). When it gets to within 1.5 degrees of room temperature, the back-up heat cycles off and the heat pump continues running tying to reach temperature but cannot. This usually happens when the temperature is at it's coldest - 0 to 1 degrees.

This is however the way heat pumps were designed to operate. Even though they don't put a lot of heat into the house and they run for long periods of time, they are still quite efficient.

So, if it is very cold out and you desire your house to be a certain temperature, you might have to raise your thermostat by 2 degrees to maintain it. Now, if it isn't extremely cold out and your heat pump isn't maintaining temperature, this indicates a problem.

Below is a list of possible causes. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Thermostat not calibrated/not level/faulty
  • Low refrigerant charge
  • Refrigerant flow-related problem - restriction/bad metering device
  • Poor efficiency- needs cleaning and servicing
  • Bad reversing valve
  • Bad compressor valves
  • Compressor not running
  • Outdoor unit iced-up
  • Snow drift against outdoor unit
  • Outdoor unit not running
  • Open windows/poorly insulated
  • Closed vents

The bottom causes in pink are common problems and can be addressed by the homeowner.

Here is a checklist to go through before making a service call:

  • Make sure your outdoor heat pump is actually running and that it's not just cycling on the back-up heat.
  • If your outdoor heat pump isn't running, check our page on "Outdoor unit won't come on". If your not reaching temperature in cooling, please see: Not Cooling

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Heat pump blowing cold air?

There are two parts to this problem.

1. The heat pump really is blowing cold air.
2. The customer just thinks it is blowing cold air.

The second one usually happens with new heat pump owners, it happens often, and it is easy - so we will tackle this one first.

It is quite simple. A heat pump puts out much cooler air than a gas or oil furnace that most customers are used to. Furnaces tend to put out about 130 to 140 degree air. A heat pump running on first stage on a 35 degree day, depending on the return house temperature might only put out 92 degree air. On a 20 degree day, it might drop to 85 degrees.

Well, this is less than your body temperature so it feels like cold air. It is still warmer than the house so it is still putting heat into the house. Unlike a furnace that puts out a lot of heat for short periods of time, a heat pump will put out less heat for longer periods of time.

So if you are new to heat pumps, try measuring the air temperature with an accurate thermometer before calling for service. If there is no difference between the return temperature and the supply temperature then there is a problem.

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Now, what if the heat pump really is blowing cold air? In other words, it's not putting out any heat at all. Well this could be several things. Sometimes it could even be running in the air conditioning mode due to a malfunction.

Below is a list of possible causes. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Low refrigerant charge
  • Refrigerant flow-related problem - restriction/bad metering device
  • Poor efficiency- needs cleaning and servicing
  • Bad reversing valve
  • Bad compressor valves
  • Compressor not running
  • Running in A/C mode
  • Outdoor unit iced-up because of a malfunction
  • Outdoor unit iced-up - weather related
  • Snow drift against outdoor unit
  • Outdoor unit not running
  • Cold return temperatures - example: air handler in attic and return trunk disconnected from unit, pulling in cold attic air. Unit in basement with a basement return and open windows or a flapping dog door stuck open. Thermostat set below 65 degrees.
  • Return duct leakage

The bottom causes in pink are common problems and can be addressed by the homeowner.

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Heat pump never shuts off, runs all the time?

Details coming soon ...

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High Electric bills?

Like the previous complaint, if you are experiencing this problem in the cooling mode during the summer, you should probably call for service. This is mostly a winter-time heating complaint.

Many things can cause high electric bills. This includes a mistake from the electric company, poorly insulated homes, old, inefficient appliances such as electric water heaters and old refrigerators and freezers and just wasting energy.

Ruling these things out usually leaves one culprit - The Heating System, specially if it is a heat pump. The electric bill will be high in the coldest months because that is when the supplemental heat is on the most. But if electric bills are higher than normal it is almost always a sign there could be a problem with the heat pump.

This can range from minor things like a very dirty air filter or an iced-up outdoor unit to severe problems like a damaged compressor.

Below is a list of possible causes. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Outdoor unit not running, using back-up heat
  • Low refrigerant charge
  • Refrigerant flow-related problem - restriction/bad metering device
  • Poor efficiency- needs cleaning and servicing
  • Bad reversing valve
  • Bad compressor valves
  • Compressor not running
  • Running in A/C mode
  • Outdoor unit iced-up because of a malfunction
  • Undersized equipment and/or ductwork
  • Outdoor unit iced-up - weather related
  • Snow drift against outdoor unit
  • Outdoor unit not running, using back-up heat
  • Dirty air filter
  • Poorly insulated house, air leaks

The bottom causes in pink are common problems and can be addressed by the homeowner. Try to check for these conditions first before calling for service.

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Outdoor unit won't come on?

This is a very common problem, whether it is an air conditioner or a heat pump. Unfortunately, many times the service technician is dispatched only to find a simple problem that the homeowner could have fixed himself.

Below is a list of possible causes. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Faulty thermostat
  • Faulty contactor
  • Faulty time- delay relay
  • faulty thermostat cable
  • Off on a safety device- (low pressure, low temp, high pressure, high temp...)
  • Faulty control module
  • Thermostat not set properly
  • Emergency or shut-off switch turned off
  • Blown fuse in panel box
  • Circuit breaker tripped or off- (sometimes a breaker will trip but it won't move)
  • Outdoor disconnect turned off- (some have an internal pull-out plug)
  • Condensate pump safety switch opened- (check pump, usually located near indoor unit)
  • Off on outdoor reset button
  • Unit "locked-out"- (reset by turning off then turning back on)

The bottom causes in pink are common problems and can be addressed by the homeowner.

Here is a checklist to go through before making a service call:

  • Make sure there is a call from the thermostat
  • Make sure no Emergency switches are turned off (including the furnace switch)
  • Make sure the breakers for the indoor and outdoor equipment are in the "on" position- reset if necessary
  • Make sure the outdoor disconnect is on- some have internal fuses or circuit breakers- if you
  • know how to check fuses you may do so
  • If you have a condensate pump with a safety switch, check to see if the pump is completely full of water- If so, make sure pump is plugged-in and hose isn't clogged (could be a bad pump)
  • If your outdoor unit has a "Reset Button" press it- if that was the problem and you have to press it a second time, there is a problem and a service call will be needed
  • Your unit could have a safety device locking it out. Reset it by turning system off at thermostat or breaker, wait 1 minute and turn back on. Wait up to 10 minutes to see if outdoor unit starts

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Outdoor unit makes strange/loud noises?

Heat pumps do tend to makes strange and/or loud noises at times, more so in the winter. Heat pumps have reversing valves that reverse the flow of refrigerant between the heating and cooling modes. During the winter, whenever the heat pump goes into the defrost mode, this valve shifts. Along with that is a "wooshing sound" which usually lasts for a couple of seconds. After that, the compressor sometimes sounds much louder than usual, almost a "tinny sound". After shutdown the freon pressures equalize, during this period sometimes sounds are heard but this is normal
Another common loud sound is when the outdoor unit starts up or shuts off. Specifically, the newer "Scroll" type compressors. They make a "back peddling type of noise on shutdown and on start-up they sometimes sound like an "out of balanced washing machine".

Sometimes customers complain of a buzzing noise from the outdoor unit when it's not even running. This is usually the reversing valve solenoid coil. It's low voltage (24 volts) so it isn't really wasting energy and sometimes they can be heard.

If you are hearing a very loud "metal hitting metal type sound", the fan blade could be hitting something. Possibly ice, or a wire, or tubing. Take a look and shut the unit off immediately. This almost always ruins the fan blades and possibly the motor as well. If a piece of copper tubing shifted and is being hit by the blades, they could put a hole in it causing the freon to leak out.

Then there is always the vibration noise, which sounds simple but can be the most difficult to eliminate. Sometimes it is just a matter of installing rubber isolation pads under the unit. Sometimes the refrigerant piping is strapped too tightly to the joists. Sometimes it is in the unit itself and cannot be eliminated.

Below is a list of possible causes. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Low refrigerant charge - can cause "gurgling sounds"
  • Bad reversing valve - passes freon internally, makes "hissing sound"
  • Bad compressor valves
  • Bad motor
  • Out of balanced or broken fan blades
  • Buzzing contactor or noisy solenoid coil
  • Loud compressor
  • Loud unit
  • Outdoor unit iced-up, fan blades hitting ice - weather related
  • Fan blades hitting some other obstruction
  • Vibration due to out of balanced fan blade
  • Vibration due to loose parts.
  • Vibration due to piping strapped too tight

The bottom causes in pink are common problems and can be addressed by the homeowner. Try to check for these conditions first before calling for service.

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Outdoor unit won't shut off unless I use the circuit breaker?

This happens occasionally. The thermostat reaches the desired temperature, the indoor unit shuts off but the outdoor unit keeps on running. In the heating mode it could eventually go off on a high pressure safety device. But in the summer it will run forever unless you turn the breaker off. And the indoor coil will probably be frozen solid.
This is usually caused by only a few things. The most common of which is a stuck compressor contactor. This is located in the outdoor unit. The contacts tend to get pitted-up. Eventually they can weld shut. This can cause serious damage to the system. It is good practice to replace the contactor every few years or when pitted - just like spark plugs in a car.

Other causes would be a shorted thermostat cable. This can be caused by a weed-whacker hitting the wire outside, or a wire-staple digging into the wire too tightly, rodents chewing on it, or just bad wire.

The thermostat itself could be bad, sending a signal to the outdoor unit when it isn't supposed to.

Below is a list of possible causes and things to check. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Stuck contactor
  • Bad thermostat
  • Thermostat cable shorted

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Steam coming from outdoor unit?

We hear this complaint mostly from new heat pump owners at the beginning of each heating season. Sometimes they think it is smoke and that their outdoor fan motor burned-up because when this is happening the motor actually stops running.

Don't worry, this is a good thing! This is your unit during the "Defrost Mode". It happens regularly during the heating season. The outdoor coils tend to frost or ice-up during the winter. This causes the unit to loose efficiency. By regularly defrosting itself, the heat pump runs more efficiently.

When the unit goes into defrost, a couple of things happen. First, the outdoor fan motor stops running. This helps build-up more heat to melt the ice. Also the reversing valve shifts from the heating mode to the air conditioning mode. That's right, you are actually running the air conditioner. By making the outdoor unit the condenser, the hot freon gas passing through the coils accomplishes the defrosting. Lastly, the supplemental heat is energized to offset the now, cold air blowing in the house.

Yes, it does sound a little bizarre to run the air conditioning and back-up heat at the same time during the winter. But it usually only happens for a few minutes at a time and only when needed.

Now, this should only happen periodically except for severe weather conditions (snow, rain, sleet). If your unit is constantly going into defrost, this indicates a problem.

Below is a list of possible causes. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Bad defrost control
  • Bad defrost sensors or thermostats
  • Bad outdoor fan motor
  • Low charge or restriction
  • Outdoor coil blocked - possibly with leaves

The bottom causes in pink are common problems and can be addressed by the homeowner. Try to check for these conditions first before calling for service.

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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It's never the temperature I set my thermostat for?

This is usually a thermostat that isn't properly calibrated. This can be a nuisance call because some thermostats after being calibrated lose their calibration again shortly afterwards. Brand new thermostats out of the box can do this.

What is the answer? Digital thermostats. They never lose calibration and they are extremely accurate. Older mercury-styled thermostats are slowly being phased out. New digital thermostats are also very sophisticated with programmable features saving customers up to 30% in utility costs.

There are a few other things that could cause this problem besides the thermostat though.

Below is a list of possible causes and things to check. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Draft through hole in wall behind thermostat
  • Thermostat not level
  • Direct sun or another heat source hitting thermostat

The bottom causes in pink are common problems and can be addressed by the homeowner. Try to check for these conditions first before calling for service.

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Some rooms are warmer or colder than others?

This is usually just a matter of balancing. Meaning adjusting the airflow to each room so they all even out. Or sometimes making the rooms you want comfortable and unused rooms less so. If a room is heating or cooling much quicker than other rooms, the air-flow can be lowered to that room to even things out, also sending more air to other areas.
If some rooms can't keep up with others and the airflow isn't as noticeable, make sure the vents are fully opened.

What is the best way to balance? Many systems have dampers installed on the individual supply runs coming off the main supply trunk. This is either in the basement or attic. They are identified by little metal handles which open, close and adjust a metal damper controlling the amount of air through the duct. By dampening the air-flow here to rooms with too much air, it will send more air to the rooms that need it.

If your system doesn't have dampers or if they are inaccessible, then dampening and balancing will have to be done at the supply registers themselves. Just adjust as necessary.

In most homes, mostly two-story homes, there is always one or two rooms that just can't keep up with the others. Maybe it has the longest duct run with the most elbows and turns. Maybe it is over a garage with more heat loss or isn't insulated as well. Whatever the case, balancing should help.

Below is a list of possible causes and things to check. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Open return vents, you can only push as much air as you pull
  • Check for proper insulation
  • Check dampers
  • Check windows
  • Check fan speed, possibly boosting to higher speed
  • Check for clean blower wheel and coil
  • Check for properly sized and installed ductwork
  • Check for debri or obstruction in ductwork
  • Dirty filter - the cleaner the filter the better the air-flow
  • Make sure vents are open, including return vents
  • Check for proper damper positions
  • Make sure windows are fully closed and in good condition
  • Close shades and/or curtains

The bottom causes in pink are common problems and can be addressed by the homeowner. Try to check for these conditions first before calling for service.

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Not enough airflow?

If there doesn't seem to be enough airflow or it is less than it used to be, there are some things to check before calling for service.
Keep in mind that many of today's high efficiency and electrostatic air filters do restrict more air. They must really be kept clean or they can cause airflow problems.

Below is a list of possible causes and things to check. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Faulty indoor blower motor
  • Loose, worn fan belt
  • Incorrect pulley sizes
  • Indoor coil frozen due to malfunction, restricting airflow
  • Fan speed set too low, possibly boosting to higher speed
  • Blower wheel and/or coil could be dirty
  • Ductwork not properly sized or installed
  • Debri, obstruction, or closed damper in ductwork
  • Dirty filter - the cleaner the filter the better the air-flow
  • Make sure vents are open, including return vents
  • Make sure dampers are opened - handle should be in-line with duct. Turning handle 90 degrees closes damper

The bottom causes in pink are common problems and can be addressed by the homeowner. Try to check for these conditions first before calling for service.

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Water leak at indoor unit?

Under no circumstances should you ever see water around the indoor unit. This is a sign that something is either dripping, leaking, or not draining. But don't panic, sometimes it can be a very minor problem.

In the cooling mode, the indoor evaporator coil and the suction line (the large freon line inside of black insulation) sweats. That is part of the purpose of the black insulation, to keep the condensation from dripping. Sometimes if the insulation is missing or if it has open seems, it can cause dripping and obviously this is an easy fix.

The evaporator produces a lot of water during the summer which runs down the coil into a pan, then down a drain. The drain goes either into the ground, outside the house or into a condensate pump. Then in turn, the pump takes the water either outside the house or into a plumbing drain. If the coil is dirty, the water, instead of running down the coil, will hit the dirt, then drip onto the floor. This is one reason why the coil should be cleaned annually.

Now if the coil is dirty, the water will mix with the dirt and the dirt will end up in the pan and it will end up in the drain, the drain trap and anywhere else it can cause a problem. It doesn't take much dirt to clog a drain. And if your unit is in an attic or a finished basement this can cause terrible damage. This is another reason why it is important to always have a good clean air filter and have annual inspections.

Sometimes the indoor coil can actually ice-up. And when the ice melts, it drips onto the floor. Like water, you should never see ice during the cooling season.

Indoor water problems aren't only during the summer. Many of today's high efficiency furnaces produce condensate as well. They also have to drain the water. There are many parts in the furnace that can leak, drip, or crack, causing a water leak. Along with the furnace comes the central humidifier which can cause leaks.

So keep your eyes open, if you see water try to trace where it is coming from. Sometimes it is a simple fix. Sometimes not.

Below is a list of possible causes and things to check. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Blocked pan, trap, or drain
  • Faulty condensate pump
  • Blocked pump tubing
  • Indoor coil frozen due to malfunction, causing melting ice to drip
  • Dirty or faulty evaporator coil
  • Cracked condensate pan
  • Broken fittings or pipe, unglued joints
  • Kinked tubing
  • Humidifier over-filling or leaking
  • Suction line missing armaflex (insulation)
  • Condensate pump unplugged
  • Drain line moved, not pitched downward
  • Floor drain clogged with dirt
  • Leaking boiler drain

The bottom causes in pink are common problems and can be addressed by the homeowner. Try to check for these conditions first before calling for service.

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Indoor fan won't shut off unless I use the circuit breaker?

The indoor fan never stops running. You checked the obvious. The fan switch on the thermostat is in the "auto" position, not the "on" position. You try turning the thermostat to the "off" position. Nothing works, the only way to get that pesky fan to stop is to shut the power off.

Well, if you are going to have a problem with your HVAC equipment, this is the one to have. The heating and air conditioning still works fine. If you have allergies your fan should be running all of time anyway to filter the air more. It really doesn't hurt the motor running all of time. And it usually isn't an expensive repair.

Just like the previous problem there are usually only three things that cause this. A stuck fan relay, shorted thermostat cable, or a bad thermostat.

That is about all there is to this problem. So if your fan doesn't shut off, don't panic - just schedule a service call and have it repaired.

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Odours?

Odor complaints are common. There are many different types of odors and different causes but for the most part they can be broken down into five different categories.

1. Electrical odor

2. Damp and musty odor

Odor problems can be as serious as a gas leak or as simple as a dirty air filter. But remember, a good mechanic doesn't just use his hands. He uses his ears and nose. Unusual odors could indicate a serious problem and should not be ignored.

We will go through each of the five categories and list the possible causes and things to check.

1. Electrical odor Electrical odors are usually caused by parts overheating. Indoor blower motors are a common example. If there is a mechanical failure such as the bearings seizing up, the motor over-heats and the insulation on the wires and the motor windings themselves start to melt, causing the odor.

Sometimes loose electrical connections cause wires or plastic relays to overheat causing electrical odors.

It is possible for a very dirty air filter to cause the odor. If the airflow is restricted enough, it could cause electric resistance heaters to overheat, even burn-out.

If you smell an electrical odor, check your air filter. If it is not blocked, shut off equipment at the breaker if possible and call for service.

2. Damp and musty odor This is more common in the air conditioning mode. Sometimes attic units or very damp basements have this problem. Check for air leaks in the return ducts. Check for water damage to the ducts or air handler itself. Possibly consider having your ducts cleaned. Run a dehumidifier and see if the odor goes away.

But this odor problem is almost never due to a problem with your equipment.

Final Tips:

Keep in mind that almost all heating systems cause an odor the first time they are fired-up. And the first few times at the beginning of each heating season. Brand new furnaces are coated with oil to keep the heat exchangers from rusting. This burns off, creating a bad odor - even smoke. But it usually only lasts for about 20 minutes. Opening the windows usually solves the problem. And the first few times the backup heat on a heat pump kicks on, it smells like an electrical smell. This might last for a few days but isn't that bad. If you are worried, call for service.

Remember to check for a clean air filter and that your vents are opened. Check to see if the fan is working which mean your motor hasn't burned-up.

Check for air leaks in damp areas, oil stains or rumbling sounds, strong gas odors - these all indicate problems. Do not ignore them.

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Circuit breaker keeps tripping?

If the circuit breaker to your indoor or outdoor unit trips, you may reset it. Turn it to the "off" position if it isn't there already, then back to the "on" position. If the breaker trips a second time, then you should schedule a service call.

The breaker is tripping for a reason. It is protecting the equipment, the wiring, and the house. Do not just keep resetting it and ignoring the situation. Yes, it is possible that maybe it is just a bad breaker or maybe it was just a thunderstorm. But you are dealing with high voltage and amperage and possibly high temperatures which could cause melting of wires and possibly a fire.

One very common cause for breakers to trip is loose electrical connections. Larger aluminum wires tend to expand and contract with the weather causing the connections to loosen over time. It is just a matter of tightening the connections. * Use extreme caution - High Voltage!

Another common cause is a direct electrical short in the wiring or equipment. This is identified by the breaker tripping instantly, once the unit attempts to start. In this situation, do not even try to reset the breaker again. Call for service immediately.

Sometimes the breaker for the outdoor unit trips because the compressor is having trouble starting. It could be old or weak or just tight and a "hard start kit" will do the job getting it going again. Or it may be as simple as replacing a bad capacitor which helps start the compressor.

Below is a list of possible causes and things to check. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Shorted component or wiring
  • Locked-up motor or compressor
  • Weak or ruptured capacitor
  • Loose electrical connection
  • Loose breaker
  • Bad breaker
  • Over-amping due to a mechanical problem
  • Under-sized breaker or wire
  • Weak compressor
  • Low voltage to the house, brown-out
  • Severe thunderstorm

The bottom causes in pink are common problems and can be addressed by the homeowner. Try to check for these conditions first before calling for service.

Note - a circuit breaker should not feel hot to the touch. You can touch the breaker with the backs of your fingers. The breaker should feel room temperature or warm. If it is hot, this could indicate a problem. Do not ignore it.

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Not cooling?

This is probably the most common Summer-Time Complaint!

First things first. Please check all of the obvious things before calling for a service-call.

  • Is the thermostat on "cool" and turned down below room temperature?
  • Is the Power on to the indoor unit? Did you check the breaker?
  • Is the Power on to the outdoor unit? Did you check the breaker?
  • If yes to these, is the outdoor unit running?
  • If no, see if the outdoor unit has a red reset button(most Rheem equipment does) and push it.
  • If that didn't work, see if you have a condensate pump at the indoor unit. If you do, some pumps have a safety switch that shuts off the outdoor unit if the pump overfills and fails to pump. So check the pump to see if it is working.
  • If that wasn't the problem, back outside at the unit there usually is a disconnect box mounted on the wall. Some of these have fuses or a breaker inside. If there is a breaker, make sure it didn't trip. If there are fuses, they should be checked. But please do not attempt this unless you are familiar with working with electricity.
    After having checked all of these things and your unit still isn't running, now you can call for service.

For more possible causes as to why your outdoor unit isn't running, please see:
Outdoor Unit Won't Come On

If your outdoor and indoor units ARE RUNNING but not cooling, you will most likely need to make a service-call.

Below is a list of possible causes. Items in blue usually require a service call. Items in red however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Low refrigerant charge
  • Refrigerant flow-related problem - restriction/bad metering device
  • Poor efficiency- needs cleaning and servicing
  • Bad reversing valve
  • Bad compressor valves
  • Duct leak in unconditioned space
  • Clogged air filter
  • Outdoor coils blocked or very dirty
  • Open windows/poorly insulated
  • Closed vents
  • Humidifier running

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Noisy indoor unit?

Noisy indoor unit complaints usually fall into one of six different categories:

1. Loud scraping, metal hitting metal sound

2. Loud thumping or vibrating noise

3. Loud humming noise

4. Rattling, squealing or high-pitched sound

5. Loud pop or bang sound

6. Rumbling


1. Loud scraping, metal hitting metal sound
First of all, turn the system off immediately. This is usually the worst of the five different sounds. One cause for this sound is that the blower wheel came loose from the motor shaft, moved and is hitting the blower housing. In this case, if no damage was done to the wheel or the motor shaft, it could be moved back to the proper spot and re-tightened to the motor.

Another and more likely cause is that the blower wheel actually broke, in which case it would need to be replaced. This makes a very disturbing sound almost as bad as fingernails on a chalk board.

A third possibility is that a motor mount broke, causing the entire motor and blower assembly to drop and the blower wheel is hitting the housing. In any case, please shut off the system ASAP when this sound is heard or the repair bill could significantly increase.


2. Loud thumping or vibrating noise
Sometimes this sounds like an out of balance washing machine. This is usually a blower wheel out of balance. Sometimes the motor itself can become out of balance as well. The sound isn't usually too bad but shouldn't be ignored because it can cause other problems to the system.


3. Loud humming noise
If the unit is working fine then most likely it is just a noisy transformer. Some transformers are louder than others and they all hum to some degree.

If the unit is not working and a hum is heard it could be a bad indoor fan motor and/or capacitor.


4. Rattling, squealing or high-pitched sound
This is for Heat Pumps only. This is usually refrigerant-flow related, such as a check valve. Not always a problem. Some units have noisy check valves or metering devices. If the sound gets louder or annoying and the air filter has been checked then a service call should be placed.


5. Loud pop or bang sound
This usually happens when the system fan first starts and/or stops. This is also only found on systems with sheet metal ductwork and it is usually the return trunk.

When the fan first starts the duct "pops in" from the negative pressure of the fan. When the fan shuts off, the pressure releases and the duct "pops-out".

This could be as sign of undersized duct, a clogged filter, closed vents or flimsy duct requiring bracing.


6. Rumbling
This applies to a Gas or Oil-fired system.

If you hear an unusual rumbling sound associated with combustion from your gas or oil-fired appliance, call for service immediately. This indicates what could be a serious problem with the burner portion of your appliance. Turn off equipment if necessary.

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So to sum it all up, below is a list of possible causes and things to check. Items in blue usually require a service call.

  • Loose blower wheel
  • Broken blower wheel
  • Out of balance blower wheel
  • Broken motor mount
  • Bad motor bearings
  • Noisy transformer
  • Noisy refrigerant check valve
  • Sheet metal duct-popping
  • Faulty combustion

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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Noisy air vents?

All air vents, meaning supply registers and return grilles make some noise when the system fan is running. This is normal. Some systems are louder than others. Some systems are much louder.
For example; a house with plenty of return air including return vents in every room will probably be quieter than a system with just one large return cut directly into the return side of the equipment. There is nothing really wrong with the latter, it is just a less expensive and very basic approach to ducting the equipment.

The most common complaint we get on this matter is usually from return vents making a high-pitched, tuning-fork type of sound. This usually, not always, but usually indicates a lack of return air. The system needs to pull more air so the pressure and velocity increases, thus increasing the sound level. By adding more return air, the pressure reduces, the system doesn't have to works as hard and it quiets down.

Now, why do we have a lack of return air? It could be as simple as a blocked air filter. Maybe someone shut off the supply vents- yes this could cause the problem as well. The system is designed to move a certain amount of air. By blocking either the return or supply vents it causes a pressure problem - increasing the sound level. We have seen furniture blocking return vents, restricting air flow.

After checking the obvious, the next step would be to have a technician inspect the system's performance. Hannabery's service technicians can not only check the equipment but can diagnose the ductwork for proper air-flow. Along with system pressures and temperature splits, we can check for proper CFM and static pressures.

Below is a list of possible causes and things to check. Items in black usually require a service call. Items in pink however can be addressed, even fixed by the homeowner.

  • Undersized ductwork
  • Restricted ductwork
  • Faulty grille
  • Large return very close to unit
  • Filter blocked
  • Return vents blocked or shut off
  • Supply vents blocked or shut off
  • Dampers shut off

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered.

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For further information, contact Trac on 0121 585 1080 or email enquiries@trac-aircon.co.uk