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Serving Metro Atlanta & Surrounding Areas

Cunningham Associates
Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.

Is it Time for the Installation of a New Heating System?

Furnaces last for years, and in many cases, it can be hard to tell when it’s time to get a new one. The most obvious sign, a complete failure, is actually the end stage of a long process of deterioration. It’s better to get a new heating installation long before this point. When is it a good time to go ahead with the upgrade?

 
Your old furnace has become a pain in the neck.
Old furnaces become troublesome because their parts wear out over time. Whichever parts are the most worn-out will likely show problems first. Things like pilot lights that constantly go out, blower motors that need frequent adjusting, safety switches that repeatedly shut things down for no apparent reason, and similar issues all point to the fact that the furnace has gotten too old to function well. While individual parts can be replaced, the other parts in the furnace will be just as old and likely to cause hassles. Save yourself the trouble and expense of repeated repair calls and get a new furnace.

 
Your gas bills are rising faster than can be explained by inflation.
Assuming your house or building hasn’t suffered draft-causing structural damage, this means that your furnace has lost a significant amount of efficiency. If it’s also an old machine, chances are good that it’s time to get a new and efficient replacement.

 
Your furnace is more than 10-15 years old.
Constant advances in technology mean that new ones are more efficient than those made years ago. This is true even if both units are brand new, so if one has been in use that long, the difference is even greater. This efficiency difference means that you can often make your money back in fuel savings over the next few years.

 
If you think it’s time for a new furnace, give us a call – we can talk through all of your options and help you pick the best system for your home.

Four Sounds that Indicate You Need Furnace Repair

Although furnace repair may not be exactly the fun activity you had in mind for this weekend, having a working furnace in winter is crucial and you can’t afford to let yours break down. On the plus side, hiring a professional means you won’t need to spend your time on repairs and can still have time for your fun weekend. Here are four sounds that indicate you should call in Cunningham Associates to repair your furnace:

1. Banging
If you hear a banging sound from your furnace, listen closely for the frequency and placement of the sound. If the sound is coming from the ductwork, it could simply mean that a piece of ductwork needs reinforcing, but if it comes from the furnace itself the problem may be much more serious. If you hear a bang from the furnace itself just when it’s starting up, you could have a problem with delayed ignition. If you don’t get this fixed, it could damage the internal workings of your furnace.

2. Excessive Rumbling
If the furnace is making a sound that is a bit like a car’s wheel bearing going bad, it could be the sound of bad bearings inside the furnace. Like wheel bearings, this is a dangerous condition.

3. Any Strange Motor Sounds
Because your furnace’s motor may have individual quirks, you should compare any sounds it makes to its normal operational sounds. If you hear any unusual sounds coming from the motor, something has changed and that usually indicates a motor problem.

4. Screeching or Shrieking
If you hear a shrieking sound, it could be that the blower fan has come loose, changed position, or in some other way malfunctioned. You should get this fixed right away because a loose fan can not only beat itself up but also damage other parts that it hits.

Any of these types of sounds show that you should call a repair professional for your furnace. If you hear one of these sounds (or another odd sound) and aren’t sure how to fix it, don’t be embarrassed to give us a call for some professional advice!

What is the NEST Thermostat and what are its benefits?

When it comes to keeping warm in the winter, nothing is more important than your heating system and the thermostat you use to control it! If you’re looking to lower your energy usage and utility bill costs this winter season, the NEST thermostat is a great option for you and your home! The NEST thermostat starts learning about you and your heating needs from the very first time that you adjust it. Within a week’s time, NEST has gathered enough information to know your routine and keep your home at the optimum temperature for when you’re at home, work, or asleep! Here are few of the benefits of investing in a NEST Learning Thermostat:

It Learns and Adapts. Your NEST thermostat learns your routine by tracking each time you adjust the temperature. With each turn of the dial, your NEST thermostat is able to determine what time you wake up, leave the house for work, come home, and go to sleep. The best part is your NEST thermostat is never finished learning; it understands that your heating and cooling needs change with the seasons. NEST is sensitive to your busy schedule and will pick up how to always keep your home at the best temperature.

It Conserves Energy. Since NEST knows your daily routine, you won’t have to worry about forgetting to turn the heat down before you leave for work or go to sleep. Your NEST thermostat will stay on top of it, helping to lower your energy usage and, in turn, decrease your utility bill each month. The NEST thermostat will even generate daily reports to help you keep track of how much energy you are saving!

You can Adjust it from anywhere.  With a simple smartphone app, you can adjust your thermostat from anywhere! With this technology, you’ll always arrive home to the perfect temperature!

It Lets you know When Something is Wrong. One of the most important features of the NEST thermostat is that it will alert you to when your heating system appears to be malfunctioning. If the temperature drops to a dangerously low level or your furnace isn’t functioning properly, the NEST thermostat will let you know so that you are able to address the problem before a more serious issue arises.

Want to learn more about the NEST learning thermostat? Give us a call today to speak to one of our knowledgeable team members!

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.

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.

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!

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!