HVAC Repair Services: Common Issues & How To Find Qualified Technicians In Your Area
Whether you are working in the office or relaxing at home, having your HVAC break is a major problem. In the summer, especially in the warmer states, not having reliable HVAC is a miserable experience. Depending on where you are, it even presents health risks. In the winter, losing your heat is equally dangerous. There are a few HVAC issues you can fix on your own, even with minimal technical experience, but there are many issues where you need an experienced technician.
Another risk you run into when making your own repairs is making the problem worse. What was a simple issue may become much more complex if you incorrectly make a change to your HVAC. You also risk damaging the components. This leads to longer wait times, as parts must be ordered, and depending on your HVAC unit, this may be quite expensive. More information about diagnosing and repairing HVAC units is detailed below.
Common HVAC Issues
Even if you plan on hiring a technician, it is important to understand common HVAC issues. Once you know what is wrong, it is easier to estimate how much the repair will cost, as well as how long it will take. Additionally, your HVAC unit may be connected to another part of your house, such as connecting to your water heater. In these situations, you know to check other components in the house to make sure everything is working correctly.
One of the most common issues is the thermostat being incorrectly set. If something seems off with your HVAC unit, always check the thermostat settings first. It is possible someone accidentally changed the settings. It is also possible the batteries in your thermostat died and must be replaced. In addition to checking the thermostat, make sure your circuit breaker was not tripped. Power surges, brownouts, bad storms or running too many appliances at once can cause your breaker to trip, which powers off your HVAC.
If your HVAC stops cooling the house, it is possible your unit ran out of refrigerant. Refrigerant is what your HVAC uses to cool warm air when it passes through your ducts. If you do not have any refrigerant, your HVAC only produces warm air.
Another issue is if the filter gets dirty or clogged. How often you need to change filters depends on your HVAC unit. For most units, this is a task you can do on your own, but if you are not confident, you can hire a technician. If the issue is at work, for safety reasons the company may have to hire an outside technician. Even if your HVAC unit is working fine, it is a good idea to check the filters every three to six months. In many cases, it takes a long time for damage to occur from a clogged filter, but once it does cause damage, it is difficult to fix. Some common signs of a dirty filter include overheating, freezing and leaks from the unit.
A more complex issue occurs when your evaporator or condenser coils get dirty. Evaporator coils are found on the inside, while condensers are on the outside. If you do not clean your HVAC unit, it is possible for dust, mold or other debris to cause blockages in the coils. Normally, you can clean out the coils, but if there is enough buildup, you may need to replace the coils entirely. You can clean out your coils by gently vacuuming. If you notice mold growing in the coils, do not try and clean it on your own and call a technician immediately.
Paying for HVAC Repair Services
HVAC repair services vary depending on where you live and the complexity of the issue. In most cases, it costs anywhere between $150 and $450. Typically, AC repair services are more expensive than fixing heating issues, costing around $40 to $50 more. Most HVAC technicians charge an hourly rate. Additionally, you may have to pay extra for parts. Many HVAC technicians also charge a minimum fee.
Picking an HVAC Technician
There are several tips to follow when you are looking for an HVAC technician. The first thing to look for when considering an HVAC repair company is whether the company is certified. The largest certification for HVAC repair is North American Technician Excellence (NATE). Technicians are required to get re-certified every couple of years, ensuring they are up to date with the latest HVAC technology. You can go through your state’s contractor licensing board to look up company certification.
It is important to find a company specializing in the brand of your HVAC unit. Most companies specialize in multiple brands, but it saves time if you know the brand in advance so you can ask for a specialized technician.
If you do not have any HVAC repair companies in your area, check to see if any of the major electronic chains provide HVAC services. Some big chains, such as Sears Home Services or Home Depot offer HVAC repair.
When you are negotiating with an HVAC repair technician, make sure you are both on the same page with costs. If a part needs to be replaced, asked if there are additional services fees to order or install the new item. Before you agree to hire a technician, ask if there are any assessment fees.