(770) 455-6722

Serving Metro Atlanta & Surrounding Areas

Cunningham Associates
Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.

How to Avoid Air Conditioning Repair Rip Offs

Every year as the temperatures start to rise, scam artists and fly-by-night service companies seem to come out of the woodwork to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners who need air conditioner service or repairs. The following are a few tips to make sure that you do not get taken advantage of the next time you need an AC tune-up or repair.

Do Your Homework:

You certainly do not have to become and HVAC expert, but if a technician tells you that a part is broken, take a moment to ask a few questions. Ask the technician the name of the part and its function. The explanation should sound logical even to a layman. If possible, do a quick online search to find out more about the part and the type of repair.

Get Referrals:

A company’s online reviews can provide insight into a company’s level of customer service and expertise; however, some disreputable companies will post fake reviews. The best referral is always word of mouth. Ask your friends, family, and co-workers about who they would use and recommend.

Look for the Catch:

Disreputable companies often offer unrealistically low prices for services calls only to hit you with a laundry list of expensive and unnecessary repairs once they get in the door. You should avoid the offer that seems too good to be true. Get several estimates and look for a company whose prices are in line with the local market.

Avoid the Phone Solicitation:

Some companies hire phone solicitors in an effort to drum up business using high-pressure sales tactics. Any company with a good reputation within the community will have more than enough business without resorting to this type of tactic.

Ask for a Physical Address:

Any company that does not publish a physical address on its website, business cards, or other literature is probably hiding something and should be avoided.

Contact Cunningham Associates today for more information about our services or to schedule a service call.

Understanding Filter Driers: Desiccant

A large proportion of air conditioning systems being manufactured today include the component known as a filter drier. This useful part is responsible for capturing water and other contaminants that would otherwise contribute to wear, corrosion, and other serious problems. Of course, not all filter driers are made in the exact same way. This article will discuss differences in one key aspect of a filter drier’s composition: the type of desiccant material used.

The Basics 

Desiccants are one of the most important aspects of a filter drier. Just as with the desiccant packets used to eliminate unwanted moisture in packaged food, the desiccant in a filter drier is there to suck up any moisture that manages to get into the refrigerant lines. This is important because that water would otherwise mix with the lubricants used inside of the system, forming highly corrosive acids as a result. Such acids greatly accelerate the processes of wear and corrosion.

Desiccant Materials 

There are two main types of desiccant used in filter driers: molecular sieve and activated alumina. The particulars of how these materials do their job is somewhat complex; all you really need to understand is that each type has its particular strengths. Activated alumina is prized for its ability to absorb much large quantities of water. This acts to extend the lifespan of the filter drier.

Molecular sieve on the other hand, is prized for its ability to capture not just water, but also any organic acids that have formed as the result of that water mixing with lubricants. In other words, molecular sieve is capable of protecting your system to a much higher degree. Which type of filter drier you choose has a lot to do with the needs of your particular air conditioning system.

Contact Cunningham Associates today. We’ll be able to answer your air conditioning service questions or concerns.

3 Reasons to Schedule an Air Conditioning Service in the Spring

Before you know it, the hot and humid days of summer will be here, and it is important to know that your air conditioning system is going to keep you cool and comfortable. Many people just keep running their system year after year with little to no maintenance, but in the long run, that can be detrimental. Here are 3 good reasons why you should have your air conditioning system serviced every spring.

  1. Regular service will keep your air conditioner efficient. When things aren’t taken care of, you will find yourself lowering the thermostat to stay comfortable. The system will have to work harder to keep things cool and the humidity low, which will, in the long run, cost you money on your utility bills.
  2. A system that is taken care of will not break down unexpectedly. If you have it looked at before the season starts, chances are a worn-out part will be noticed and replaced before the hot weather starts. It’s no fun not having air conditioning during the dog days of summer when you have to wait for a part or a technician who is busy with other air conditioning issues.
  3. Your air conditioner will have a longer life span. We know replacing an entire air conditioning system takes a toll on the finances, so it is wise to do whatever you can to keep it in good working order. An annual tune-up will keep everything running well so you can rest assured your system will be there to serve you for many years.

Scheduling service on your air conditioner system is a comprehensive way to make sure it is ready for the summer ahead. A technician will clean the system including the coils, lube moving parts, replace the filter, drain the condensate line, check fluid levels, inspect ductwork, and inspect wiring. This regular service will ensure your system is dependable and efficient, and ready to keep you cool.

Contact Cunningham Associates today. We’ll be able to answer your air conditioning service questions or concerns.

Furnace Flame Sensor Problems

There are a multitude of different components inside of a gas furnace, all of which have to be kept working to ensure that your house stays heated. When things do go wrong, it pays to be able to understand the various roles of the components in your furnace. This will make it easier to diagnose potential problems, thus saving your repair person the trouble of starting from scratch. In this article, you will learn about what the flame sensor is used for–and what can cause it to stop working.

The Flame Sensor 

Flame sensors are found in gas furnaces that utilize hot surface igniters rather than pilot lights. A hot surface igniter utilizes electrical energy as a way of sparking the combustion at the heart of your furnace. The flame sensor’s job is to test for the increased heat that should accompany this combustion. If it does, gas is allowed to continue flowing into the combustion chamber. If it does not, it will shut down the gas flow, thus preventing the risk of explosions and gas poisoning.

Problems 

As you can see, the flame sensor is a vital piece of your furnace’s safety system. Yet it can lead to unwanted problems if it loses its ability to correctly assess the temperature inside the furnace. This will cause the sensor to cut off the gas flow even when combustion is taking place–thus keeping your furnace from warming up your home.

By far the most common cause of a malfunctioning flame sensor is that it has become excessively dirty. As layers of soot and other combustion by products build up, they make it harder and harder for the sensor to detect heat. Fortunately, this problem can be kept at bay by having your flame sensor cleaned on a yearly basis.

Questions? Call Cunningham Associates, we’re a heating repair company in Atlanta GA, today at (770) 455-6722.

Furnace Repair Expert Offers Four Tips on Improving Winter Home Air Quality

Many homeowners today keep their heating bills down over the winter by insulating their homes against the cold and sealing off cold air drafts entering from the outside. However, without the influx of fresh outside air, the air inside becomes stale and unhealthy.

Dust, pet dander, and other allergens build up. Combustion gases from gas stoves, and heating systems badly in need of furnace repair also contribute to the unhealthy air. While opening the windows isn’t an option in the winter, there are other ways of solving this problem. Here are four suggestions:

  • Use your fan hood when cooking. While in use, your gas stove releases combustion gases into the kitchen air. You may not see or smell them, but they are there if you don’t use a fan hood. These combustion gases include nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde.
  • Keep your house clean. House dust contains skin cells, human hair, pet dander, cloth fibers, paper fibers, mold spores, and plant pollen. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which filters out small particles that would otherwise get blown back into the air. Have your HVAC ducting system cleaned of dirt and debris buildup and get it sealed to prevent it from drawing in contaminants.
  • Use heat recovery ventilators. A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) draws in fresh outside air with one fan, and exhausts stale indoor air to the outside with a second fan. The heat from the outgoing air is extracted and transferred to the incoming air. HRVs use heat exchangers that allow heat from the warm outgoing air to flow into and warm up the cool incoming air. HRVs also use filters to remove particulate matter.
  • Keep up with your furnace maintenance. An inefficient and poorly maintained furnace can produce and possibly release carbon monoxide and other combustion gases into your home. A furnace has many components that age and become filled with dirt over the years. Like all mechanical systems, it requires regular maintenance.

To prevent your furnace from breaking down or contributing to air quality problems this winter, call Cunningham Associates, we’re a heating repair company in Atlanta, GA, today at (770) 455-6722.

The Basics of Furnace Combustion Analysis

Hiring a professional furnace technician to perform regular maintenance can do much more than simply keep your furnace running. Thanks to the technique known as combustion analysis, a trained HVAC professional can also improve your energy efficiency and your family’s safety. Read on to learn more about what combustion analysis is–and what it can do for you.

The Basic Idea

The reaction taking place at the heart of your furnace is both complex and difficult to measure accurately. The ratio of air and fuel being mixed in the combustion chamber, as well as other factors, can directly influence how much heat your furnace is able to generate. Combustion analysis is a technique that allows you to get a better picture of how efficiently your furnace is working by taking measurements of the chemical substances present in your exhaust gases.

The Tools

Combustion analysis is performed using a tool known as a digital combustion analyzer. This tool has two components. First there is a probe that is inserted into the flue pipe coming out of your furnace. This probe is capable of measuring the amounts of various exhaust substances. This data is then sent to a hand-held analyzer, which allows the technician to understand the amounts of the various exhaust substances being produced.

Benefits of Combustion Analysis

When the levels of unwanted substances such as carbon monoxide and sulfur monoxide are too high, this is generally a sign that the combustion taking place in your furnace is incomplete. By altering the amount and/or the pressure of the fuel entering the chamber, a furnace technician can help your furnace reach peak efficiency. Such adjustments will also act to decrease the levels of toxic substances, thus protecting both your family and the environment.

 
For more information about furnaces contact Cunningham Associates today at (770) 455-6722.

Common Problems Requiring Heating Service

Having problems with your furnace is a major concern, especially with winter quickly approaching! A broken furnace isn’t an option or something you can just live without for a while. Below are three common problems with furnaces that require service. If you have one of these problems, you may need to contact an HVAC specialist you can trust.

  1. Complete loss of heat. If you turn your heater on and nothing happens, there could be a number of problems. Is your furnace getting electricity? If not an electrician is the right person to call. Is the pilot light igniting? If not, there could be an issue with the gas. And although it seems like a no-brainer, it is always important to double-check that your thermostat is turned on, turned to heat, and set at a temperature that will trigger the heat to turn on.
  2. Partial loss of heat. When your furnace is turning on but you aren’t getting all the heat you want, you could have a problem with your ducts. If you have radiators, they may need to be bled to release trapped air.
  3. Malfunctioning thermostat. If your thermostat is doing all sorts of crazy things like misreading the temperature and not running when it should, you will need to contact a professional to recalibrate your thermostat.
    For more information about heating service contact Cunningham Associates today at (770) 455-6722.

3 Reasons Why the “Wait and See” Approach to Heating Repair or Replacement May Cost You More Money

As you think about the upcoming winter season, you may have some concerns when it comes to your heating system. Perhaps your furnace worked fine last winter, but it is older, and you’re not sure how long it will last. Maybe you saw signs of problems towards the end of last year, such as increasing noises, or poor performance. Some homeowners are determined to keep an old furnace until it completely dies, but there are several reasons why waiting on heating repair or replacement may cost you more money.

  1. Emergency fees. Unfortunately, when your heating system fails you on a cold day, you need to call for service immediately, even if it is on a weekend, holiday, or during the night. Most contractors will charge extra fees for service calls during those times.
  2. Alternative heating options. It isn’t an option to have no heat during the winter, so homeowners will need to work out another plan. Often that means investing in space heaters, and sometimes even staying in a hotel until the furnace is fixed.
  3. Damage to pipes. When your furnace isn’t working, the house can get extremely cold in some areas, which can lead to frozen pipes. If they burst, the pipes will not only need repair, but there can be damage to walls, floors, ceilings, and belongings.

If your heating system is older, or showing signs of not performing well, it’s best to get it checked out now before the coldest weather arrives. The “wait and see” approach often ends up costing homeowners more money in the long run. Contact Cunningham Associates today – we complete furnace installation in Atlanta, GA.

Want to Avoid High Heating Bills This Winter? Install an Energy Efficient System Now

The weather is still beautiful here in Georgia, but colder temperatures are just around the corner. And if you are one of the homeowners who are still paying off last winter’s heating bills, it’s time to be proactive.

 
In many cases, if your heating system is older, it’s a better decision to put your money into a more energy efficient system than keep paying those high utility bills. In time, the savings will pay for the system itself, and having a newer furnace will give you peace of mind that your heat will not suddenly stop working mid-winter.

 
If you’re considering a new furnace, but aren’t sure where to start, there are several factors to consider. First, look at energy efficiency. All furnaces have an efficiency rating, often referred to as AFUE. AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, and each unit is assigned a percentage of how much fuel it can convert into usable heat. A furnace with an AFUE rating of 90 means 90 percent of the fuel is used to heat, and 10 percent is lost. Most furnaces sold today have AFUE ratings of 80 percent, all the way up to 98 percent.

 
When choosing a new furnace, the higher the AFUE, the lower your utility bills will be, but some of the very high efficiency furnaces are also very expensive, so homeowners must weigh their options. When looking for other features that might make a furnace more efficient, electronic pilot, condensing gas furnaces, two-stage gas valves, and variable speed motors are other items that might save on bills.

 
While the options can be confusing, an experienced, reliable heating contractor can help you evaluate your current system, and give you an idea of how much you will save with a variety of new furnaces. This can help homeowners make an informed decision about which one to choose when it is time to replace the furnace. Contact Cunningham Associates today – we complete furnace installation in Atlanta, GA.

Heating Service: Five things to Consider

With temperatures in the eastern United States around 90 degrees F, you’re probably thinking about your AC rather than your heater. But, fall is the time for heating service. Here are some questions to ask in order to get your furnace or head pump ready for the cooler weather.

  1. Can I do any service myself? Yes–you can check your air filters. Typically, you should change the filters once every 3-6 months. If you aren’t sure about how to do this, a professional technician will be happy to help.
  2. When should I schedule the heating service? This fall. You’ll want to schedule a service visit ahead of the cooler weather.
  3. What if I skip heating service? Angie’s List reports that approximately 75% of winter service calls occur because the owner did not do annual maintenance.
  4. Will it extend the life of my heater? It can. Typically, HVAC units last 10-15 years. Annual service calls can help forestall major problems and keep the unit operating at its peak efficiency. This in turn, will help save you money over the life of the unit. In addition, annual maintenance can help address any safety or health issues that may develop around your heater.
  5. What if I need a new heater? We’ll be happy to help you assess whether you should repair or replace your heater. If you do need a new heater, we can discuss replacement options with you through our company.

Because you can prolong the life of your heater, improve your energy efficiency, and prevent emergency winter visits, make sure that you take the time to schedule annual maintenance within the next few weeks by calling Cunningham Associates today at (770) 455-6722.