Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What simple maintenance and troubleshooting can I do myself?

A: With the proper maintenance and care, your heating and cooling equipment will operate economically and dependably. There are a few simple, routine maintenance operations you can do to help ensure the best performance and comfort from your system.

But, before you perform any kind of maintenance, consider these important safety precautions:

  • Disconnect all electrical power to the unit before removing access panels to perform maintenance. Please note that there may be more than one power connection switch.
  • Although companies take special care to prevent sharp edges in the construction of their equipment, it's best to be very careful when you handle parts or reach into units.

Routine Maintenance:

  1. Check the air filter in your Air Handler, Furnace or Intake Grill every three to four weeks. A dirty filter will cause excessive strain on your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump. Replace your filter when necessary, or clean it if you have the reusable type. (If you have a reusable filter, make sure it's completely dry before you re-install it.) The pre-filter and collection cells of an electronic air cleaner should be cleaned at least two or three times per year.
  2. Keep your outdoor condensing unit free of debris. If you keep grass clippings, leaves, shrubbery and debris away from your outdoor unit, it should only require minimal care to operate properly. Check the base pan (under the unit) occasionally and remove debris, to help the unit drain correctly.

Before You Request A Service Call:

  1. Check disconnect switches (indoor and outdoor if you have a split system). Make sure that circuit breakers are ON or that fuses have not blown.
  2. Check for sufficient airflow. Make sure air filters are clean and that supply-air and return-air grilles are open and unobstructed.
  3. Check the settings on your thermostat. If you want cooling, make sure the temperature control selector is set below room temperature and the system switch is on the "Cool" or "Auto" position. If you want heat, make sure the temperature control selector is set above room temperature and the system switch is on "Heat" or "Auto". The fan switch should be set at "On" for continuous blower operation or "Auto" if you want the blower to function only while the unit is operating.

In addition to the routine maintenance you perform, your home comfort system should be inspected at least once a year by a properly trained service technician. Galassi Services, Inc. will make sure your system operates safely and gives you the best performance at the lowest cost. You may also purchase an economical service contract that covers seasonal inspections for a flat fee.

Q: When should I repair older equipment and when do I need to replace it?

A: When you're frustrated with an equipment breakdown, it can be tempting to find the least expensive "quick fix" to get on with your life in relative comfort. That quick fix may be the least expensive option now, but it may not give you the most value — or cost you the least — in the long run. Paying for repairs to an old or inefficient system often simply prolongs the inevitable. It's almost like putting a bandage on a serious injury. An older system that breaks down once is likely to break down again and again. That means more emergency service calls, or worse yet, the risk of damage to your home or to other components of your heating and cooling system. There's also an ongoing cost factor to consider. Restoring your old system will only bring it back to its current level of energy efficiency. After you've recovered from the repair bills and the frustration of system breakdowns, you still won't save on your energy bills.

Even six-year-old heat pumps and air conditioners are considered grossly inefficient by today's energy efficiency standards. You could save up to 60% on your energy bills with new, high-efficiency equipment. That's why installing a new heating and cooling system can actually pay for itself in energy savings within a relatively short time.

Look at the Big Picture.

When one component of your system breaks down unexpectedly, it's easy to just focus on repairing or replacing that component. But each part of your system works with the others to boost efficiency and reliability, so it helps to keep the big picture in mind. For example, replacing your A/C with a new higher-efficiency model, but leaving your old mechanical thermostat in place, won't allow you to enjoy all the efficiency advantages the new A/C has to offer. Likewise, if you install a new A/C but don't get a humidifier, the air will seem cooler, forcing you to operate your new system at a higher temperature to be comfortable. Plus, you can often save on installation costs if you have several components of your system (for example, a furnace and an air conditioner) replaced at the same time.

Q: How do heat pumps and central air conditioners work?

A: While heat pumps and air conditioners require the use of some different components in your heating and cooling system, they operate on the same basic principles. Heat pumps and central air conditioners are split systems, which means that there are an outdoor unit (condenser) and an indoor unit (coil). The "vehicle" your system uses to carry the heat is called refrigerant.

In air conditioning operation, the compressor in your outdoor unit will change the gaseous refrigerant into a high temperature, high pressure gas. As that gas flows through the outdoor coil, it will lose heat and condense into a high temperature, high pressure liquid. The liquid refrigerant travels through copper tubing into the evaporator coil, located in your fan coil unit or attached to your A/C. The liquid refrigerant is then allowed to expand.

This sudden expansion turns the refrigerant into a low temperature, low pressure gas. The gas then absorbs heat from the air circulating in the duct work, leaving it full of cooler air to be distributed throughout your house. Meanwhile, the low temperature, low pressure refrigerant gas returns to the compressor to begin the cycle all over again. While it's keeping you cool, your air conditioner or heat pump also works as an effective dehumidifier. As warm air passes over the indoor evaporator coil, it can no longer hold as much moisture as it carried at higher temperatures. The extra moisture condenses on the outside of the coils and is carried away through a drain. The process is similar to what happens when moisture condenses on the outside of a glass of ice water on a hot, humid day. A heat pump basically reverses that process in cold weather. It takes heat out of the outside air (or the ground, if you have a ground-source heat pump) and moves it inside, where it is transferred from the evaporator coil to the air circulating through your home.

Comfort Features

Some air conditioners and heat pumps offer additional features that provide greater comfort, as well as additional energy savings. Two-speed units can run on low speed (using 50% of the energy) up to 80% of the time, so they operate more quietly and run for longer periods of time than single-speed models. Longer operating periods translate into fewer on/off cycles, fewer drafts and much smaller temperature swings – only two or three degrees instead of the four-degree swings common with single-speed units. Plus, better air circulation helps prevent air "stratification" — warm air rising to the ceiling and cold air settling on the floor. In short, you get consistent, even cooling throughout your home. If you purchase a multi-speed or variable-capacity A/C or fan coil with your unit, you will enhance both the comfort and the efficiency of your air conditioning or heat pump system even further.

Q: Why should I replace my existing heating or air conditioning system?

A: You may wish to consider replacing your air conditioning or heating system if it is old, inefficient or in need of repair. Today's systems are as much as 60% more efficient than those systems manufactured as little as ten years ago. In addition, if not properly maintained, wear and tear on a system can reduce the actual or realized efficiency of the system. If you are concerned about utility bills or are faced with an expensive repair, you may want to consider replacing your system rather than enduring another costly season or paying to replace an expensive component. The utility cost savings of a new unit may provide an attractive return on your investment. If you plan on financing the purchase, the monthly savings on your utility bill should be considered when determining the actual monthly cost of replacing a system. The offsetting savings may permit you to purchase a more efficient system.

Q: How expensive are air conditioning and heat pump systems?

A: Many factors affect the cost of a heating or air conditioning system, including the size of your home, the type and condition of the ductwork installed and accessories you might need such as a thermostat or an electronic air cleaner. A new system can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $9,000. We have a complete range of systems and accessories available to meet all your needs, as well as your budget!

Q: How long can I expect a new system to last?

A: If you have a qualified technician perform regular preventative maintenance and service suggested for your unit, industry averages suggest that an air conditioner should last 10-12 years.

Q: If my air conditioner is no longer cooling properly, what is the most likely problem?

A: It could be as simple as replacing a fuse, resetting a circuit breaker or checking to see if the thermostat is set properly. If an electrical problem isn't the cause and the system still runs, but does not cool properly, the refrigerant may be low. This can be corrected by having a Galassi Services technician add necessary refrigerant. Most likely, if the problem involves any major part, such as the compressor, you would hear strange noises similar to those of any mechanical equipment not running correctly, or the unit might not run at all.

Q: Can homeowners repair their own air conditioners?

A: No, doing so will void your warranty. Cooling systems today are more complicated to service and usually require expert attention in order to comply with federal regulations, such as the Clean Air Act, which prohibits releasing refrigerants into the atmosphere. A Galassi Services technician should be called at the first sign of trouble.

Q: Which is better… letting a central cooling system wear out before replacing it, or replacing it at some point before it wears out?

A: Because newer equipment usually is more energy efficient than older central air conditioning or heat pump systems, you will save money by replacing your old system before it completely wears out. Contact Galassi Services, Inc. and ask for an estimate. In some cases, the money you save in reduced utility costs might pay back your purchase price of a new system years earlier than you might think.

Q: What is a heat pump?

A: A heat pump is like a conventional air conditioner except it also can provide heat in winter. In the summer, the heat pump collects heat from the house and expels it outside. In the winter, the heat pump extracts heat from outside air and circulates it inside the house. The heat pump works best when the outdoor temperature is above freezing. Below that, supplementary heat often is needed. A heat pump can save 30 to 60 percent less energy to supply the same heat when compared to an electric furnace with a resistance heating element.

Q: Are air conditioners and heat pumps efficiency rated?

A: Yes. Central air conditioning systems are rated by the EER, and heat pump systems are rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). Many older systems now in use have SEERs of 10 or below. The higher the rating, the more efficient the system. 

Q: What are the advantages of buying a system with a high SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio)?

A: You will use less energy to cool your house and have more control of your comfort, resulting in lower electric bills. Sometimes the savings are enough to partially or fully offset the cost of the new equipment within a few years. In all cases, it's an individual calculation which the homeowner should figure out with their contractor of choice.

Q: What is the difference between a split system and a single package central air conditioner or heat pump?

A: A split system has one of its heat exchangers (which includes the compressor) located outdoors and the other (the indoor coil) located indoors. A single package has both heat exchangers located in the same unit, usually indoors. Package units are best for mobile homes. Most residential central air conditioners and heat pumps in Florida are split systems.

Q: What percentage of my utility bill is caused by air conditioning?

A: It depends on how much you use your air conditioning, how efficient your equipment is, and how much you conserve energy by actions ranging from insulating your home to keeping doors and windows closed when the system is operating. The average per U.S. household is 750 hours each year. Your local electric company is the best source for specifics in your area.

Q: Is there any advantage to letting the air conditioner or heat pump fan run all the time (the "on" setting on the thermostat) instead of periodically (the "auto" or "automatic" setting on the thermostat)?

A: If you live in a very humid climate you may not want to run the fan continuously because this reduces dehumidification. Otherwise, there are some potential advantages. Continuously circulating the air keeps the temperature more even throughout the house by alleviating temperature stratification. It keeps air circulating through the comfort system's air filter, which depending on filter type and efficiency, can keep the home cleaner and the air fresher to breathe. When the fan is operating continuously, the compressor continues to periodically cycle on and off automatically to cool and dehumidify your home, just as it does on the "auto" setting.

Q: In hot weather, should I turn my thermostat up when I leave for work in the morning?

A: If your house is going to be empty for more than about four hours, it's a good idea to turn your thermostat up to about 82 degrees instead of the 78 degrees that is usually recommended. Keep the house closed to minimize heat buildup. When you come home, don't set the thermostat any lower than the temperature you actually want it to be indoors. Your air conditioning system won't cool your home any faster by setting it to a lower temperature, but it will likely waste money by cooling your home more than needed.