4 Things To Do Before Turning On Your AC

So, it’s safe to say that Virginia’s winter season is finally nearing an end.  It won’t be long before we’ll be switching that thermostat over to “cool” and preparing for the hot, humid days ahead.  Before you reach for that thermostat and turn the AC back on, take advantage of these energy reducing, repair preventing tips.  Here are four items you should check before kicking on that cooling: check your air filter, clear the outdoor unit, double check your thermostat settings, and most importantly, schedule your AC Precision Tune-up!

Most homeowners don’t realize that the heating side of their home comfort system shares a filter with the air conditioning side.  If you’ve been running your heat for the past few months (even if only at night), your filter has been sucking up and trapping air pollutants non-stop.  Check your filter and if it’s clogged, change it immediately.  Why?  A clogged air filter can eventually suffocate your AC system.  Just like you, your AC system has to breathe.  If a thick layer of dirt and dust is blocking air from getting into and through your system, it won’t be long before you notice big problems like ice on your refrigerant lines, freezing of the evaporator (cooling) coil, weak airflow through your vents, and higher than normal utility bills.

After a windy and nasty winter, you’ll want to make sure the outdoor unit (the condenser) is free of leaves, sticks, debris, etc.  Even though it seems harmless, a thin layer of dirt and the leaves stuck in the condenser can harm the AC’s ability to properly transfer heat and raise your energy bills.  Your outdoor coil’s main job is to collect all the heat that was removed from inside your home and release all that heat into the outdoor air.  If the outdoor coil is covered in dirt and leaves, it will struggle to remove all of that heat.  Not only will this increase your utility bills, it will also increase the internal refrigerant (Freon) pressure and shorten the life of the unit.  Grab your hose, set it to a gentle spray and remove all of that debris.

Always double check that you’ve moved your thermostat setting from “heat” to “cool”.  Air conditioning companies get a lot of service calls at the start of the AC season just because someone has forgotten to change the thermostat setting.  In addition, make sure your fan setting is in “auto” and not “on”.  By leaving the fan switch in the “on” position, the blower will run 24/7 even when the AC system as a whole is not running.  This will not only increase your energy bills, but will also make the house more humid.  When your AC system is running, not only does it remove heat from the indoor air, but it also removes humidity from the air.  The system’s indoor cooling (evaporator) coil collects this moisture and drips it into a pan to drain out of the home.  If the fan continues to run non-stop, the water won’t have a chance to drip into the pan and is actually reintroduced into the air stream making the home “muggy”.  Setting your fan to “auto” helps lower energy usage and helps dehumidify your home.

Lastly, right now is the perfect time to schedule your AC Precision Tune-up.  You may be asking: “Why get maintenance done now?  I haven’t run my AC yet?”.  That’s the point.  When you schedule your AC Precision Tune-up before the heavy cooling season, you’re making sure any small problems are resolved before the AC is running non-stop and full bore.  Small problems can become big problems fast and you don’t want to compromise your comfort when you need it the most-on a hot July day in Virginia.

3 Common HVAC Noises: What They Mean & What You Should Do About Them

Can’t hear the TV because your vents are so loud? While some noises are normal, such as a quiet hum or the sounds of air whooshing through the vents, sometimes HVAC systems make strange noises and can become loud, disruptive annoyances in the home. This doesn’t have to be the case. Check out these common causes of noises in an HVAC system and what you can do about them:


Hearing a rattling noise coming from your HVAC system could mean a few things. If it originates from the outdoor unit, chances are you have some kind of debris in the system, such as a twig. (While the grate will protect your system from most large debris, it’s still possible for small things to get through.)

Turn your system off and cut the power to the unit, then remove the debris. If you see visible damage to the condenser coils, compressor, or fan, call your HVAC technician.

If the rattling seems to be internal, from a furnace or other internal component, turn the system off and call your HVAC technician since removing the obstacle isn’t as simple.


Hearing a hissing noise most likely means air is escaping from your system. If the noise is coming from the walls, there’s a good chance your ducts are leaking. Not only can this cause noise, it also wastes money because the air that should be circulating throughout your home is leaking into the walls.

Duct repair isn’t really a repair homeowners can do on their own, so if your system is making a loud hissing noise,  call a technician. However, if the hissing is light, it could originate from your air vents. Typically when you hear this noise it is because your filter is not “set” right or you have the wrong size filter which is creating the gap in the seal. If this is the case, the air is squeezing past the filter or around it, instead of being pulled through it. This is a simple fix that starts with ensuring the filter is the right size and is placed correctly, leaving no room for gaps.


An HVAC system that is running normally will make a humming noise. But if it’s clanking, that’s a sign that something is wrong. It could be loose parts, such as the blower motor fan, loose blades, or loose pipes that are rubbing together.

Clanking noises are a bit more serious because  loose parts, if not addressed, can cause costly damage to your system. Your best bet is to turn the system off and call your technician.

Keep in mind that your HVAC system is exactly that — a system. As it works, it will make noise. Hearing the motor running or humming, as wells as the fans blowing or air moving through the vents, is totally normal. However, unnatural sounds like rattling, hissing or clanking, or the sounds becoming loud enough to be disruptive, can be signs of problems.

As with anything else, regular maintenance tune-ups, changing air filters, and other general repairs are the best way to avoid this, as well as knowing what sounds are normal and which ones are cause for concern.

Tips for Prolonging the Life of Your HVAC System

HVAC systems can be a costly investment, one most homeowners should only have to make a few times in their life. The average system lasts about 15 to 20 years, and there are several things homeowners can do to maximize the life of their system and get the most out of their investment.

Pre-season cleaning and check-ups.

It’s important to get your system cleaned and checked before the start of each season, generally once in the spring (for cooling systems) and once in the fall (for heating systems). This will catch any problems before the season starts and ensure your system runs smoothly. Schedule maintenance cleaning and check-ups early to ensure you have a quality visit from a licensed technician.

Checking air filters regularly.

Clogged or dirty air filters can restrict the flow of air to your HVAC system, which creates extra stress for it by making the system work harder. This can cause costly damage to the blower motor because it has to work harder.

Checking filters regularly can help avoid the build-up of dirt or dust, ultimately causing less stress on the motor and prolonging the life of your HVAC system.

Inspecting your equipment.

Regularly inspecting your HVAC equipment can help catch small problems before they turn into big ones. While you’ll want a technician to inspect your ducts for air leaks and maintain your equipment, there are things you can check yourself.

Keep an eye on any equipment that is vulnerable to excess corrosion or wear and tear. In the case of central air conditioning systems or heat pumps, any parts of the system that are located outside the house need to be visually checked for damage or a buildup of leaves and debris regularly. Out of sight, out of mind can’t become a habit, as the systems need checked even when not in use!

In addition, every homeowner should regularly check for leaks in outdoor equipment. For example, finding an oily substance on outdoor surfaces could indicate a refrigerant leak, which can be a costly and damaging problem if not caught early.

Give your system a break.

For a lot of homes in America, your HVAC system runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s a lot for any system to handle. Giving it a break can help to keep your system from being overworked and prolong its life.

Installing and using a programmable thermostat can help with this, because it will allow you to adjust your temperature at night or when you aren’t home to a temperature that isn’t too high or too low. This way, when you return home, it’s less work on the system to get your house back to the ideal temperature. Overall, that slight ‘break’ for your system will make a big difference when it comes to the stress on it in the long run, and will help you to get the max savings possible.

There’s no way to predict or guarantee the life of an HVAC system, but with these tips you can keep your system running smoothly and efficiently, prolonging its life and helping you get the most out of your investment.

Common Heating and Air Conditioning Questions from Homeowners

York HVAC UnitHeating and cooling systems are an important aspect of every home – they affect your comfort and energy consumption significantly! Homeowners have many heating and air conditioning questions as they get to know their homes’ systems, troubleshoot them, and work to conserve energy.

The Support Staff at Art Newsome, Inc. holds the answers to many common heating and air conditioning questions. We have worked tirelessly to compile a thorough resource for you, providing easy to understand answers regarding your home’s heating and air conditioning systems, as well as indoor air quality equipment and other system components.

Below, find the answers to some of the most common heating and cooling questions we hear from homeowners just like you.

How Can I Save on Energy Costs?

There are several ways to save on your energy costs. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Upgrade to a high efficiency system
  2. Adjust the temperature when you will be gone for more than a couple of hours
  3. Use ceiling fans to move the air around
  4. Change your filters
  5. Have annual maintenance performed on your system to ensure efficient performance
  6. Install a programmable thermostat

Does a Bigger Heating or Cooling System Offer Better Performance?

No! It is important that you buy a system specific to your home’s square footage. An air conditioner/furnace that is too large will cool/heat your home faster than an adequate sized one, however it will operate under “short cycles” causing the system to start and stop more often, increasing your electricity costs exponentially and not properly dehumidifying the home. A system that is too small, will run continuously; overexerting itself to reach the desired temperature, which will also have an adverse effect on your electricity bill. In the long run, short cycling or running continuously can also shorten the life of your system.

Is It Best to Repair My Heating or Cooling System, or Replace It?

It is advised to replace your system if your unit is 10 years old (or older) AND requires frequent repairs. It is also recommended to replace it if the system stops working altogether – fails to heat or cool areas of your home. Another situation in which it will save you money to replace it is if the system runs excessively or constantly turns on and off (running on short cycles). All of these options will result in high electricity or contractor bills which leads to the conclusion that it would be a more economical choice in the long run to replace your current system.

Does My Air Conditioning System Need a Filter?

You can run the AC system without a filter, but you definitely SHOULD NOT! The air filter in the AC/heating system keeps the inside of your air handler or furnace clean, keeps debris off the blower motor and evaporator coil, and helps ensure that your AC system runs efficiently while minimizing the likelihood of a breakdown. Dirt is the #1 cause of breakdowns with AC and heating systems, so make sure to keep a clean filter in your AC system at all times.

How Often Do Air Filters Need to Be Changed?

Every air filter and every air conditioning system are different so it depends on a variety of factors.

  • On average, 1″ disposable filters should be changed every 1 – 3 months.
  • If you have a thick, high-efficiency furnace filter, it could last anywhere from 6 months to a year!

Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to filter replacement schedule. The timing of furnace filter replacement depends on the type and efficiency of your filter, whether you have pets or smokers in the home, any allergy or asthma conditions within your family, and other factors as well. To be safe, set a reminder to check your filter at least once a month and don’t wait any longer than the manufacturer’s recommended schedule to replace your air filter.

How Long Do HVAC Systems Last?

HVAC equipments’ life expectancy is critically dependent on the preventative maintenance and service you perform on your system. It is important you have a qualified technician perform a bi-yearly inspection to ensure proper performance. Under the assumption that you have kept up with routine maintenance, it is suggested that a system will last anywhere from 15-25 years. For more specific information, check below.

Protect Your Family From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Protect Your Family From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

It’s home heating season, which means homeowners should be on high alert against carbon monoxide leaks. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is produced anytime fuel is consumed, and it can be deadly to humans and pets.

Carbon monoxide leaks from household furnaces, boilers, water heaters and other household appliances are rare, but such leaks are leading causes of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is because carbon monoxide leaks are difficult to detect without special alarms, and homeowners may only become aware of a leak when they begin experiencing symptoms.

Raise the Alarm

It’s frightening that such a deadly gas can start flowing through your home without your knowledge, but fortunately, carbon monoxide detectors are cheap, reliable and easy to find at retail.Just like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors can alert everyone in the household to even a small leak, and can save lives if leaks occur when everyone in the house is asleep.

When picking out a carbon monoxide detector, choose a model that plugs into a standard outlet and has a battery backup in the event of a power outage. Since they’re generally affordable, consider purchasing at least one for every floor of your home, one for every bedroom and one more for the area where your furnace is located.

Plug your detectors into outlets that are close to the floor. Unlike smoke, which rises, carbon monoxide is heavier than air and accumulates on the ground.

You should maintain your carbon monoxide detectors twice per year, just as with your smoke alarms. Test each unit, replace the batteries and replace the entire detector if it’s past its expiration date.

Serious Health Risk

Even if you have carbon monoxide detectors in your own home, you might someday find yourself in an environment with dangerous carbon monoxide levels and no alarm system. In that case, it’s important to know the symptoms and what to do.

Victims of carbon monoxide poisoning may experience dizziness, nausea, headaches, weakness, confusion or chest pain. After enough exposure, victims lose consciousness. It’s critical that everyone go outside and into the fresh air as quickly as possible, and then seek medical attention. Even if the symptoms gradually disappear on their own, carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious medical event that requires treatment.

No one should re-enter the home or building until HVAC technicians have been contacted for emergency service. Carbon monoxide may still be building up inside, and the structure will need to be completely ventilated before it’s safe to reenter.

Stop Leaks Before They Start

The best way to prevent carbon monoxide leaks is to have your HVAC system inspected and maintained every year. Small problems, like hairline cracks in your heat exchanger, can be found and repaired before they grow into major problems that could result in leaks.

If you’re overdue for a furnace inspection, call Art Newsome, Inc. without delay (873-0345). And even if your furnace gets a clean bill of health, be sure to protect your family with well-maintained carbon monoxide detectors!