Homeowner's Guide to HVAC Terms and Services

Homeowner's Guide to HVAC Terms and Services

Here is a guide that breaks down HVAC services and terms in easy-to-understand language for home and business owners:

Air Conditioning Repair

  1. Circuit Breaker, Fuses and DisconnectsCircuit Breaker, Fuses and Disconnects: Provides safety from excessive amperage flow. Fails from excessive starting, low amp draw, short cycling, electrical spites or improper sizing. A Compressor Start Kit will help prevent most failures.
  2. Compressor Start DevicesCompressor Start Devices: Extends the life of an air conditioner. Fails due to stalling, high starting amps, short cycling, internal overloads or simply old age. If none exist, install to keep delay system replacement.
  3. Condenser Fan and Blower MotorCondenser Fan and Blower Motor: Removes heat from the refrigerant and delivers air through the evaporative coil, absorbing moisture and distributing through ducts. Capacitor, low oil or age causes failure. Don't repair if the system is near 10 years old.
  4. ContactorContactor: Controls power to condenser and compressor. Failure is caused by pitted or corroded points, short cycling, burnt wiring, shorted coils or frozen contacts. Top killer of the compressor. Replace if over 5-years old.
  5. Run CapacitorsRun Capacitors: Are the air conditioner's start devices. Fails due to open circuit, weak capacity, leaking, bulging or a hard starting or short cycling compressor. Can damage motor if microfarad is 8-10 3/4 off specs.
  6. ThermostatsThermostats: Controls cycle times. Common failure from worn sub-base, low voltage short or ground, defective system controls, power spike, loose wiring or calibration. Replace with a digital or programmable thermostat.
  7. Transformers and Time Delay RelaysTransformers and Time Delay Relays: Transformer provides voltage to equipment and time delay relays prevents the system from short cycling by protecting against brown-outs and frequent start-ups. Lessens wear on the compressor and stabilizes refrigerant.
  8. Compressor, TXV and Reversing ValvesCompressor, TXV and Reversing Valves: Heart of the system that regulates the flow of refrigerant through the system. Liquid refrigerant, burnt terminals, bad winding, overheating, improper charge, dirty coils, restricted airflow or contaminants can kill the compressor.
  9. Evaporative and Condenser CoilsEvaporative and Condenser Coils: The indoor and outdoor coils are where the refrigerant changes phase, absorbing or releasing heat through boiling and condensing. Dirt or restricted airflow will affect the refrigerant cycle.
  10. Refrigerant R-22 and R-410aRefrigerant R-22 and R-410a: Fluid that moves heat from one place to another by boiling at a lower temperature than water. New R-410 is better for the environment but has higher pressures. Systems lose refrigerant by evaporation or leaks.
  11. Efficiency and Performance (Output)Efficiency and Performance (Output): Temperature measurements on airflow, superheat and subcooling will tell us if your system is operating at its peak performance and efficiency. Split temperature under 20 degrees spells trouble.

Life Expectancy for Arizona, 8-12 years


Furnace Repair

  1. Heat Exchanger and ExhaustHeat Exchanger and Exhaust: Combustion chamber and heart of the furnace that separates combustion gases from the household air. Holes, cracks, stress, excessive heat and internal condensation are cause for immediate replacement.
  2. Gas Valve, Whip and Shut OffGas Valve, Whip and Shut Off: Controls the gas flow to the main burners. Shorted or open circuitry, mechanical failure, gas leakage or intermittence requires automatic replacement. Replace entire furnace if it's approaching 10 years old.
  3. Hot Surface Ignitor/PilotHot Surface Ignitor/Pilot: Devices used fo burner ignition. Fails from age, short cycling, direct contact or impact, dirty flame sensor, bad thermocouple, corroded pilot burner or bad gas valve. Should be checked or cleaned annually.
  4. Pressure Fan and Limit SwitchesPressure Fan and Limit Switches: Safety devices that confirm the proper sequence, fan operations and safety high limit device. Fails from age, short cycling, excessive temperatures, bad diaphragm, moisture or electrical failure of the safety switch.
  5. Burners and Ignition DelayBurners and Ignition Delay: Should displace gas evenly without delay. Fails from low gas pressure, dirt in burners, out-of-place burners, improper positioning of pilot or ignitor. Gas ignition can be a serious problem. Check annually.
  6. Blower Motor and Inducer AssemblyBlower Motor and Inducer Assembly: Circulates air and provides the draft for furnaces. Failures arise from rust, obstructions, worn bearings, weak capacitor, unbalanced wheel, dirt or electric failure. If the system is around 10-years-old, don't replace.
  7. Circuit BoardCircuit Board: Controls the operation sequence of the system and monitors system safety. Fails from age, high amps, power strike, water, cold solder or shorted coil. Very often, another component caused its failure.

Life Expectancy for Arizona, 10-15 years



What does a contactor do?

The contactor's purpose is to send 240 volts to the Air Conditioning Condenser or Heat Pump compressor, crankcase heater and outdoor fan motor. As your thermostat calls for heating or cooling, the 240-volt coil "pulls" in through a magnetic action, making contact from the always powered 240-volt side of the contactor (called the line side) to the compressor and fan motor side (called the load side). When the thermostat de-energizes, the contactor opens and totally stops all power to the equipment.

Why should I change it?

Arching from High Voltage. Note that a contactor is giving voltage to the compressor and fan motor and can cause serious electrical damage to the equipment. Contactors usually need to be changed every 5 years under normal operation. Since the contactor is always arching from 240 volts being applied across the contacts, it doesn't take too many years before the contacts get burnt and pitted. This pitting doesn't allow a full 240 volts of power from getting to the compressor and fan motor. This is known as "Voltage Drop." This Voltage Drop results in heat which then leads to burnt wires and possibly burnt motors and compressors.

Bad contact points are the No. 1 killer of compressors.


Indoor Air Quality

  1. Condensate Drain and Indoor CoilCondensate Drain and Indoor Coil: The air we breathe passes through the drain and coil which, unmaintained, leads to odors, bacteria and mold growth. Poor filtration and dirty coils clog drains. Avoid an unhealthy home. Have them checked often.
  2. Central Air DuctsCentral Air Ducts: Air ducts are the lungs of your home. They build up dirt, dust mites, dead skin and allergies over time. They should be cleaned every few years depending on your lifestyle (smoking, pets, etc.) and filtration system.
  3. Air Flow and FiltrationAir Flow and Filtration: A quality air filter will prevent harmful debris from entering your system, protect your equipment, improve efficiency and provide you with a healthier home. Dirty or restrictive filters reduce airflow and harm the system.

Complete Cleaning, every 4-6 years