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Serving Metro Atlanta & Surrounding Areas

Cunningham Associates
Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.

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.

Why Your Air Conditioner Leaks

One of the most common air conditioning problems is leakage or pool buildup. Water is a natural byproduct of the air conditioning process. When warm humid air passes over the evaporator coil, the air is cooled and the humidity condenses on the cold surface of the coil. This condensate collects in a sloped drip pan and then leaves via a drain line. When this drainage is blocked or prevented in some way, you will have a leakage problem. The following are a few reasons why you might have a leakage problem:

Blocked Condensate Drain Line: A common reason for water leakage is a clogged drain line that is blocked by dirt, insects, or other debris. When the drain line can’t carry the water out of your house, the drip pan overflows!

Leaking Drip Pan or Condensate Drain Line: Cracks or holes in either the drip pan or condensate drain line will leak water into your home. A damaged drain line or a rusted drip pan may be responsible for this problem.

Condensate Pump Doesn’t Work: Some air conditioners use a pump to force the condensate out of your home. These are used when the water must flow uphill. When the pump doesn’t work, water builds up and leaks.

If your air conditioner is leaking, don’t ignore the problem because water-soaked walls and floors lead to mold damage which is expensive to repair. Contact us to get the problem resolved.

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.

How to Save on Your Air Conditioning Bill

During the summer months, air conditioning is a necessity for most parts of the country. High temperatures combined with high humidity make it especially difficult for the body to cool itself. While air conditioning is a welcome piece of technology, it does consume a lot of power. However, there are many things you can do that reduce its power consumption.

Take Advantage of New Technology

If you have a very old air conditioner, consider buying a newer unit. Specifically, you want to look for a unit with a very high energy-efficiency ratio (EER). The higher the EER, the less power required for the same cooling you get now with your old unit. Investing in a newer air conditioner will quickly pay for itself in energy savings. Have questions on this? Give us a call!

Keep the Filter Clean

A dirty filter reduces airflow through the air conditioner, which reduces its efficiency and overworks the fan.

Keep the Condenser Shaded

When the condenser is exposed to direct sunlight, it consumes more power.

Keep Your Home Well Insulated

Everyone understands how insulation keeps out the cold in the winter. However, it also keeps out the heat in the summer. Insulate your home, including the attic, so excess heat can’t get inside.

Keep Your House Shaded

A lot of the heat that your air conditioner battles against comes from the exposure of your house to direct sunlight. If you are thinking about cutting down trees that are shading your house, weigh in increased cooling costs as one of the cons to this decision. If you are considering transplanting trees from a nursery, place them on the sun-exposed side of your house so that your windows and AC window units are in the shade. Also, install solar screens on windows with sun exposure.

Use a Programmable Thermostat

Set the programmable thermostat to raise temperatures while you’re away from home and lower them when you’re back. Maintaining a constant low temperature when you are away is a mistake because the AC unit consumes more power maintaining a low temperature than a higher one.

Use a Ceiling Fan

When the fan is pushing air downward on you, it has a natural cooling effect on your body, which makes it easier to tolerate a higher temperature setting. The additional power it uses is more than offset by the lower AC setting.

Steps to a Greener Home

Are you thinking about “going green” in your home, but you’re not sure how? Going green can be hard and a huge transition for you and your family – but well worth it in the end. Here are a few small steps you can take before turning your home entirely green!

Paint: If you’re up for a home project, get to painting! There are new paints that have low and even no “VOC” options that will not give off harmful compounds like traditional paint.

Upgrade Your Thermostat: If you don’t already have one, install a programmable thermostat to change the temperature in your home much easier. This will help you figure out when, and how much to lower the temperature while you’re gone, or increase it. Check out our Nest Thermostat!

Cracks: Walk around your home and look for any cracks and openings. Fill them with caulk in order to decrease the amount of air that gets let out or let it!

Switch Your Lights: An easy way to save money is to switch your light bulbs to LED or CFL bulbs. These use 75% less energy than your average light bulbs. Also, don’t forget to turn off your lights when you leave the house or room.

Temperatures: Make sure your fridge and freezer are set correctly. You can set your fridge at 37˚ F, and it will be able to keep your food at a good temperature. If your freezer isn’t as full as your fridge, don’t waste that energy. With less amount of food in the freezer, it can be set at -3˚ F.

Carbon Monoxide: Since carbon monoxide is almost impossible to catch without a detector, make sure you get one installed. Before you do, call us to have one of our technicians come take a look at your home to look for possible leaks and faulty equipment that can be contaminating your home and family with this deadly poisonous gas. We can also install a detector that day!

Why Efficient Duct Work Matters

Did you know that indoor air pollution can be just as bad, if not worse, than outdoor pollution? We understand that cleaning your ducts and vents can be easily overlooked, but it makes a huge difference. Do you remember the last time you cleaned them? A lot of people answer no to that question, and we want to explain why that’s bad for your health.

The longer you wait to clean your system, the worse your indoor air is getting for you and your family. We’re talking about the place where you spend most of your time! Whether it’s at work, at home, or even school – these places are where the majority of people spend their time and they all have HVAC systems that need regularly maintenance in order to improve the air quality.

A clean duct and HVAC system can improve indoor air quality, create a more comfortable interior environment, save energy and lengthen the life of your system. We offer complete duct cleaning for your HVAC system – coils, coil drain pans, plenums, air filters, ducts, fans, vents and registers. Not only can cleaning your ducts improve your air quality, it will also result in you using your air conditioner/heating system less since the airflow will improve, which means a lower energy bill!

If you don’t remember the last time you had your ducts cleaned, here are a few reasons to get them cleaned as soon as possible:

    • Allergies: If your family suffers from severe allergies then cleaning your system could improve their symptoms.
    • New Home: If you just moved into your new home and didn’t check with the previous owners about when the last time the ducts were cleaned, now is the perfect time to get them cleaned!
    • Construction: Did you just get construction done on your home? With all the dust and work that went on, your system may be dirtier than usual. If you were thinking about getting the ducts cleaned, do them sooner rather than later.

Still have questions? Give us a call – we’d be happy to help!

Our Customer Loyalty Reward Program

We at Cunningham Associates respect our customers’ opinions and appreciate their great reviews and referrals. Most of our business comes from the word of mouth and great reviews our clients provide us with and of course, we want to be able to thank them!

We have been rewarding you for each new client that you send to Cunningham Associates. Our loyal customers who are spreading the word about Cunningham Associates’ unparalleled customer service and long-term commitment to excellence will receive a certificate valued at 5% of what the client spends with us, up to a maximum of $250.00. The referral certificate can be redeemed for CASH or SERVICES. The choice is yours!

Cunningham Associates has worked hard for years to provide excellent service. We are happy to know that the level of service that we bring to our clients hasn’t gone unnoticed and our client referrals are a testament to that!

Refer your friends to Cunningham Associates and also reap the benefits! (And don’t forget to schedule your maintenance tune-up today!)

5 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Spring

Spring is finally upon us! We might still have a bit of a winter chill lingering on, but spring and even summer’s weather is on its way. Have you gotten your home ready yet? Check out our tips for making sure that your home is prepared to spring into spring:

Clean, Repair or Replace Your Furnace Filters: Make sure that you clean, replace or repair the filters in your home before the spring and summer months. Doing this can improve the air quality in your home, as well as ensure that your cooling unit is operating at its most efficient.

Clean Your Outdoor Equipment: One step that might be the most important, but often goes overlooked: cleaning out your outdoor coils! Dirt, leaves, twigs or other debris can really reduce the efficiency of your system and need to be removed. You can use a brush and water from a hose to clean out the debris that you can’t reach with your hands.

Flip the Switch: Flipping the switch on the humidifier may be one of the most overlooked things that you can do to get ready for the spring and summer months. A humidifier is important in the winter months to add moisture and improve indoor air quality but in the spring and summer months you can flip that switch and allow a cool breeze to flow throughout your home.

Duct Sealing and Insulation: If there’s a crack or leak in your ductwork or insulation, your air conditioning unit will not perform at its full efficiency. Because of that, check your insulation and ductwork before springing into the spring months and the inevitable summer heat wave. That way, you can ensure your AC unit will function as best it can!

Arrange for Routine Maintenance: You wouldn’t want to turn your AC on to find it isn’t working! Get a check-up for your cooling system and fix any issues before the cooling season begins. That way, you won’t run into any heat waves inside your home this summer. Our seasoned professionals at Cunningham Associates Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. will make sure that you’re ready for the months ahead leading into our Atlanta summers. Schedule your maintenance check-up today!