(770) 455-6722

Serving Metro Atlanta & Surrounding Areas

Cunningham Associates
Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.

Protecting your HVAC System from a Power Surge

By this point in the season, your heating and cooling system has likely been serviced and fine-tuned to accommodate the demands of the summer heat. While preventative maintenance is a great way to limit the possibilities of a disruption in service, sometimes severe or inclement weather can cause problems far exceeding the scope of routine HVAC care. One such instance is a power surge to your home caused by a thunder storm of other power-related failure.

 
Power surges are extreme momentary spikes in the electrical current coming into the home. Despite only lasting for fractions of a second, they can still cause damage to electronics and appliances. Causes of a power surge include:

 

  • Lightning storms
  • Downed power lines or damage to a transformer
  • Poor wiring in the home
  • Faulty or damaged breakers, fuses, or electrical boxes

 
Many homeowners combat the potentially damaging effects of a power surge by using surge protector power strips for important electronic equipment such as computers and televisions. Unfortunately, few realize the importance of also protecting your HVAC unit as well. A power surge can cause significant damage to the internal components of your unit that will require air conditioner repair – or in many instances – complete replacement. Not only will this interrupt the cool airflow in your home, but it will also be at great expense to correct.

 
If a power surge occurs in your home, call Cunningham Services to schedule an inspection.

Repair or Replace?

There’s nothing more stressful than an air conditioner that’s on the fritz, especially during the warmest days of spring and summer. Before you panic, remember that your air conditioning system is made of up many parts, and sometimes it’s a simple fix. A reputable company who does air conditioning repair can help you out with the repair, and make recommendations about replacement too.

Across the industry, there are some recommendations about making decisions regarding HVAC system replacement. In general, if your system is three-quarters of its way through its life span, and a repair is going to cost more than a third of the replacement cost, it’s time to think about a new system. These are indicators that the system is getting up there in age, and more repairs might be needed soon, so it might be better to invest in a new one.

Another reason why these recommendations were made is because of the increase in efficiency in new systems. Typically, systems in the 90’s had a 70% efficiency rate. Some of the best ones on the market today are 95% efficient, which will save you money on energy bills and help pay for the new system.

An HVAC system typically lasts 15 to 20 years, so use that as a guideline if you’re weighing repair or replacement. Then, call a company you can depend on to assess the current need, and make the decision. An honest and highly-trained technician, like the ones here at Cunningham Associates, can also give an opinion on what’s best for your home.

No one wants to wake up to a sweltering house, so it’s important to have a reliable air conditioner. When something goes wrong, it may not mean you need a replacement, but it’s important to look at the whole picture to make the best decision.

 

Not sure whether it’s time to replace your HVAC system? Give us a call today to schedule an inspection!

How Proper HVAC Maintenance will Keep Your System Working Well

Never is it more apparent how much we rely on proper heating or cooling than when we must endure a breakdown with a home’s HVAC system. The most common cause of failure is lack of routine cleaning and maintenance. These are crucial in preventing malfunctions and ensuring that the system is working at peak efficiency. Here are four reasons why proper HVAC maintenance will keep your system working well:

Energy Efficient

Depending on the size of the home and HVAC unit, heating and cooling costs account for about 48% of the overall energy bill. Keeping the system running efficiently reduces energy consumption and can significantly impact monthly expenditures.

Safety

Over time, components of an HVAC system can loosen, corrode, or become defective. Not only will this issues cause a disruption in heating and cooling, but could become dangerous as well. Never attempt to fix these problems yourself – especially in the case of faulty electric connections. Instead, contact a professional heating and cooling service technician, like the ones here at Cunningham Associates.

Comfort

Ultimately, HVAC systems have one goal – to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, regardless of outside conditions. Especially in the Atlanta area where there are extreme temperatures, HVAC systems may become overworked trying to maintain the appropriate temperature. Routine cleanings optimize the system’s responsiveness to extreme temperatures.

System Longevity

You wouldn’t neglect routine oil changes for your vehicle – don’t ignore the need for routine maintenance for your HVAC system. Like any piece of complex equipment, HVAC system components rapidly degrade (and ultimately fail) when not properly maintained. A well-maintained system not only runs better, but saves money in repair and replacement costs.

Routine maintenance is necessary for keeping a HVAC system functioning properly. Contact us to learn how we can assist in establishing a routine HVAC maintenance plan.

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

It’s not unusual this time of year to hear a devastating story of a family who succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning in their home. We encourage you to know the signs, symptoms, and steps to prevent carbon monoxide and keep your family safe.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless gas. Because you can’t see it, taste it, or smell it, it can kill without warning. Those at especially high risk are babies, children, senior citizens, and others with respiratory problems, but all people are in danger.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning mimic the flu, such as fatigue, headache, and dizziness. If irritability, confusion, loss of consciousness, and vomiting start, it’s important to check CO levels.

Most carbon monoxide problems come from a gas furnace that hasn’t been inspected or maintained. All gas appliances emit carbon monoxide, but have some way to vent it to the outdoors. When there are cracks or leaks in the system, this dangerous gas gets trapped inside the house, having sometimes serious consequences.

The best course of action is to invest in carbon monoxide detectors and install one on each level of the home, by the sleeping areas. Like a smoke detector, it will emit an alarm when the level of carbon monoxide reaches a certain level, alerting residents to seek fresh air.

It’s also crucial to get your furnace inspected regularly. Older furnaces, especially, can develop cracks in the combustion chamber that may not be visible to the naked eye. Vent connections may come loose over time, blowers might stop working well, or thermostat problems could force the furnace to run too long. In some cases, the pilot flame might appear yellow, a sign that fuel is not burning correctly.

Carbon monoxide is a serious problem, so make sure your furnace and other gas appliances are inspected regularly to keep your family safe. Overdue for an inspection? Contact us today for a tune-up!

What Is “Indoor Air Quality” and Why Is It So Important?

We need fresh air to survive, and so it goes without saying that we want the air we breathe in to be safe and clean. We know that the air outside (especially in large cities) can carry some dangerous stuff, but what we often forget is that the air inside of our homes can contain many of the same toxins! Indoor air quality is just as important as outdoor, and here are a few things you should know about indoor air quality and why it’s so important.

Indoor air quality is a term that describes the air in and around buildings; namely your home, your workplace, your children’s schools, etc. It’s easy to assume that being inside protects you from the harmful elements outdoors, but indoor pollutants can also wreak havoc on your air quality.

Some of the most common pollutants we see indoors are pests (such as cockroaches and dust mites), secondhand tobacco smoke, radon, and formaldehyde. Exposure to these things can lead to headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea and fatigue. In more severe cases, these pollutants can contribute to the development of lung cancer and chronic lung diseases. Additionally, poor indoor air quality can also contribute to structural rotting in your home.

Such illnesses can be scary to think about, but the good news is, there are a lot of different things you can do to improve the indoor air quality of your home!

  • Add an air filtration system. Filters will help outside debris and toxins from ever entering your home. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can also help to keep your home at the proper moisture level.
  • Keep the air clean by keeping your home clean. Dust, vacuum, and mop your floors frequently to remove any dirt and debris.
  • Make your home a no-smoking zone. Encourage smokers in your family to do so outside.
  • Go natural. Use chemical-free products to do your laundry and clean your kitchen. A potted plant in your home will also help to purify the air.

We can help you breathe easy! Contact us today to learn more about indoor air quality solutions!

Causes of HVAC Problems

Your HVAC system is comprised of many complex components used to control the temperature within your home and provide you with a less stressful and more comfortable living space. Here at Cunningham Associates, we know that you’ve probably come to rely on your HVAC system this summer, but consider this: what would you do if it stopped working? Before you panic and book the next available emergency service appointment with us, consider these common HVAC problems to determine if there’s a quick fix.

Is the Filter Dirty?

A dirty air filter will not only lead to less effective heating and cooling, but it will put added stress on your whole HVAC system. Filters can be disposable or permanent, so it may be necessary to either purchase a new filter to replace the old one or clean out the existing filter.

Did You Check Outside?

If your HVAC system has an outside unit, double-check to make sure it is not damaged or clogged up with debris, like grass, rocks, sticks, or leaves. This can affect your system’s overall ability to heat and cool your home by causing internal damage to the motor or other critical components.

Is the Thermostat Broken?

A broken thermostat is likely to cause uncomfortable temperatures within your home and, if not fixed quickly, can skyrocket your utility bills. Try troubleshooting your thermostat to check if it is working properly by changing the temperature to see if the corresponding HVAC system kicks on.

Did You Check the Breaker?

Check your circuit breaker box to see if the breaker is tripped. It may be as simple as flicking the switch from “off” to “on.”

These common issues may seem easy to fix, but it’s important to consider that there may be additional underlying issues that only a professional can recognize. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns regarding the functionality of your HVAC system.

Eliminating the Confusion about Chlorine-Free HVAC Options

By now, you may have heard that Americans are switching their residential and commercial cooling systems to ones that rely on chlorine-free refrigerant. It is a move that air conditioning contractors have been preparing for since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a chlorofluorocarbon phase-out several years ago. But many Americans didn’t notice the initial announcement. As such, they are just getting up to speed on what chlorine-free refrigerants are and why the government initiated the switch. This brings us to the purpose of today’s blog: answering those two pressing questions, in layman’s terms, for those that may still be bewildered by the mandated change.

Simply put, chlorine-free refrigerants are kinder to the environment. They are less likely to contribute to certain types of pollution and ozone-depletion, but they are not totally impact free. For example, many environmentalists believe that the refrigerants still contribute towards greenhouse emissions. Consequently, investigative work goes on in the hopes that an environment neutral cooling system will be discovered in the future.

Until that time, Americans will have to rely upon chlorine-free refrigerants to get the job done. Residential and commercial consumers with old-school systems in place and concerns about financing the switch should note that making the move towards kinder systems may not be as expensive as initially expected. Air conditioning contractors have come up with cost-effective ways to complete retrofits.

In retrofit situations, the existing residential or commercial cooling system is often modified in at least two ways. First, some of the systems’ internal components are either replaced or altered to accommodate the new refrigerant. Second, the refrigerant is altered in order to make it compatible with the system’s new or modified parts. To find out if an existing system is a candidate for a retro fit or replacement, please reach out to an air conditioning contractor today.

Six Reasons Why Your Air Conditioning Unit Makes Odd Sounds

Your air conditioning unit is a mechanical device with moving parts and will never run completely silently. However, it is designed to make minimal noise. When it gets really loud or makes odd sounds, something is wrong. Learn the meaning of these sounds so that you can get your air conditioner repaired before it breaks down and leaves you sweating in the hot weather. Here are six common reasons for a noisy air conditioner.

Loose Screws

The moving parts of your AC unit cause vibrations, which in turn may loosen panels and/or mounting screws. When this happens, you will hear rattling sounds. The good news is that it’s easily fixed by tightening the screws with a screwdriver. Beware of opening the AC unit to tighten screws because the thermostat may turn it on while your hands are inside. Leave this type of work to a professional.

Fan Blades Are Rubbing Against Something

Sometimes a stick, branch, or other form of debris rubs against the fan blades. The fan blades may also rub against a warped or damaged fan cage. If you hear very loud rattling sounds, quickly turn the unit off to prevent damage to the fan blades.

Leaking Ductwork

If your ductwork has air leaks from cracks or seams, it may make whistling sounds. Leaks from seams may be easily repaired by tightening the appropriate screws or bolts.

Worn Belt

When a belt wears out, its grip weakens and will slip whenever you turn on your air conditioner. The screeching sound you hear will be momentary. This is similar to the behavior of a loose fan belt in your car that only screeches when you press down on the gas pedal. When you hear this sound, have the belt replaced.

Loud Fan Motor Bearings

This problem usually occurs after many years of use. The lubrication in the fan motor bearings will eventually break down. The bearings then make noise and become damaged from the lack of lubrication. Depending on the AC unit, the bearings might be replaceable. Often the motor isn’t designed for easy bearing replacement, so you may have to replace the entire thing.

Noisy Compressor

Compressors often make noise, but if it’s louder than usual, it may be wearing out. If the noise is accompanied by weak cooling air, your compressor is the likely cause.

Pay attention to the sounds your air conditioner makes because it may be telling you it needs repair or adjustment. Contact Cunningham Associates to resolve the issue before a breakdown occurs.

What to Look for When It Comes to Air Conditioning Installation

Air conditioning is a staple in most homes today. When it’s time for air conditioning installation, you’ll want to do it right the first time since it’s such a time-consuming job. For this reason, there are a few things you need to consider before getting started:

You want an efficient unit so that it doesn’t cause a drag on your energy bill, thus costing you a lot of money. In order to understand this, you need to know what the SEER (Season Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating is.

It’s also important to install the right size unit. If it’s too small, it won’t cool your home adequately. However, if the unit is too big, it will continuously turn off and on in just a short amount of time. Not only will this use a lot of energy, it will place a lot of strain on each part of the unit.

Another important thing to do is what’s known as an energy audit. This looks at your insulation, air sealing, and whether there are any leaks in your ductwork. If any problems are found, you should take remedial actions at the time that you install your new central air conditioning system.

Now that you understand how vital it is to choose the right air-conditioning unit, you can see why it’s just as important to choose an experienced contractor, like Cunningham Associates. We can help you work through all the necessary considerations that you need for finding the best air-conditioning system for your home.

Introducing the NEST Learning Thermostat

Thermostats usually aren’t the first things a person would like to upgrade in their home. They think about their bigger appliances like a fridge or a stove. But upgrading your thermostat can save you the most money throughout the year, and we want to tell you why the Nest Thermostat can save you the most.

Here at Cunningham Associates, we offer one of the best thermostats around: The Nest Thermostat. This thermostat allows you to preset your thermostat so that it drops or increases the temperature when you’re not using it. With the digital screen in front of you, there’s no more guessing as to which degree you’ve set your thermostat to. It also gives you a green leaf icon, to assure you that you are saving energy.

If you’re worried about your filters, and never know when to call us to get it cleaned – Nest can help with that too. The Nest thermostat tracks how long you run your system and will alarm you when your filter needs to be changed. According to Nest, a dirty filter can cost you 5% more on your heating and cooling bills, but also decreases the quality of the air your breathing.

The Nest thermostat learns from your previous settings, and will set it so that when you leave the house in the summer it will increase the temperature while no one is home, and vice versa in the wintertime. If something unexpected comes up and you need to change your thermostat, not to worry – it can be controlled by your smartphone.

Nest wants to save you money and make your home as safe as possible. The Nest thermostat and carbon monoxide detector work together. If the carbon monoxide detector goes off, your gas furnace will automatically shut off too.

We understand with this new, high-tech thermostat you might have some questions – and we’re here to answer them! Feel free to give us a call or email with any questions you might have.