It’s hard to imagine a worse feeling than finding out that your heat is out during one of Austin’s infamous January cold spells. Maybe finding out that your HVAC system has gone out in the middle of July is worse, but that’s not what’s important.
What matters is that you rely on your heating and cooling system more than you realize. Without regular service from an HVAC technician, you could find yourself in a less than desirable situation where you have to choose between replacement and HVAC repair in Austin.
If you suspect that your system is already having problems, read on to learn how to tell whether you need a repair or replacement, some simple steps you can take to extend the life of your HVAC system, and how we can help.
Signs You Need An HVAC Repair in Austin
Ideally, your situation isn’t bad enough to require you to get a brand new unit since HVAC replacement is more expensive than repairs. The good news is that a skilled HVAC technician can not only make repairs but also help you prolong the life of your heat and air.
Here are the key signs you should watch for that you need HVAC repairs.
Follow Your Nose
While we would normally recommend not taking advice from breakfast cereals, in this case, Toucan Sam is right. Following your nose can help you determine if something is wrong with your HVAC unit.
When your system works correctly, it shouldn’t produce any smells. Any strange odors in your home is a sure sign that you need to call a technician. Each distinct smell can mean something different, so it’s important to let your technician know what you’re experiencing.
An electric smell could mean that your system overheats. If this continues to happen, your system could break and require extensive repairs or replacement.
If you have a burning smell in your home when your heat or air comes on, the motor of your unit is more than likely going out. Once your motor goes out, you’ll probably have to replace your unit, which could cost you thousands of dollars. Call an HVAC technician and turn your unit off immediately. Keep it off until you get service.
If you smell rotten eggs, this could be several things. If your home has natural gas, call someone immediately, as it could mean a leak. If you don’t have natural gas, it could mean an issue with your HVAC.
A musty smell means that there’s moisture coming from somewhere in the HVAC system. There could be several reasons for this, but you should have it checked out immediately. Moisture could lead to mold, which spreads quickly and can have negative health effects on you and your family.
Leaking From Your Unit
Have you recently noticed water or moisture coming from your HVAC unit? Many people will see this problem but assume that everything is okay because they can continue to heat and cool their home with no issues.
Unfortunately, this is a sign that there’s something wrong with your unit, and if you ignore it because it’s still doing its job, you could cost yourself a lot of money.
Usually, a leaking unit means that either your condensation pump or evaporator coil is having issues. These parts can lead to other problems that could cause a total system failure. Continuing to use your system after you notice a leak or moisture will eventually lead to a replacement.
Every part of your system is important. Your HVAC is a finely tuned system, so when one part goes, it increases the chances of other parts having issues and breaking. This is why we always recommend having your unit checked at least once a year, but even with these professional inspections, you should proactively keep an eye out for signs of distress.
This water can lead to other problems as well. First, a leaking HVAC unit can cause water damage, which is an expensive issue to fix. It can also lead to mold. As we mentioned earlier, mold is a severe health problem for your family.
The first time you notice a puddle of water or excess moisture, call us and schedule an inspection.
Rising Energy Bills
In the United States, air conditioners make up around 6% of electricity bills, which amounts to about $29 billion dollars.
If you don’t want to add more than your fair share to that number, it’s important to keep your HVAC serviced and running smoothly.
Most people either pay their bill without thinking twice about it or they have autopay set up. While this is convenient, it can cause you to miss one of the biggest signs that something is wrong with your HVAC.
If your bill seems higher than usual, there’s a good chance that your HVAC unit needs servicing. When not working properly, your system has to work harder to cool and heat your home, meaning it will use more power. This causes a spike in your usage and a higher bill.
Noticing Strange Noises
Does your system sound like it’s crying out for help whenever it comes on? Have you noticed a clunking or grinding sound when it runs? These noises are signs that your HVAC has a problem and that you should call a technician.
Anytime you notice strange sounds, make a note of them so you can describe them to the repairman. These provide valuable clues as to what the problem is.
A clanging sound (one that sounds like metal hitting metal) usually means damaged fan blades. Since these blades are metal, they can bend or break, particularly if they’re outside and ice over. If they bend, break, or disengage from the fan, they can cause severe damage to other components and lead to a total system failure.
A buzzing noise could mean that your fan motor or capacitor needs repair or replacement. There are two capacitors in your unit that serve different purposes. The startup capacitor holds an extra charge and is what gets your unit going. As the name suggests, it’s there to start your system. The run capacitor keeps everything running smoothly and limits spikes in the energy your HVAC uses.
A popping noise usually means that you have clogged air filters. This will reduce the airflow in your home and can cause dust and allergens to get into the air, leading to allergy issues. A clogged air filter can also cause a whistling sound, although whistling could also mean that you have a blocked duct.
A rattling noise points towards broken hardware. You’ll need a professional HVAC in Austin repair company to examine your HVAC and locate the broken parts. The sooner you call our HVAC repair in Austin service, the better.
Low Air Flow Coming From Your Vents
When you come into your home after a long day of working out in the Texas heat or after a night out when the temperatures drop, you want to feel the air coming from your vents. Nothing’s more satisfying than standing over a floor vent blowing out cold air when it’s 95 degrees outside.
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that a steady stream of air will come. If your HVAC isn’t working properly, it can affect the airflow coming out of your vents. The good news is that, in most cases, there’s an easy fix.
This problem normally happens because one of the filters inside of your unit either has a block or needs a replacement. A technician can easily fix this for you, and it won’t cost you much money. The bad news is that if you don’t have it fixed early, it can lead to other problems.
Your HVAC will have to work harder to heat or cool your home, causing the motor to burn out faster. It will also cause your electric bill to increase in the short term, meaning it’s cheaper now and in the long-term to call for HVAC repair in Austin ASAP.
The Air Isn’t Cool Anymore
If you’ve ever gone inside of your home after a long day in the sun and thought “out of the frying pan and into the fire,” your HVAC needs work. At some point, the air that comes out of your vents won’t be as cold as you’d like.
If your AC feels warmer than usual, there are a few issues that could be the cause. The first thing to check is the refrigerant. Over time, your HVAC will use up refrigerant, which is what cools the air that comes out of your vents. A technician can refill this and get your home back to a nice 72 in no time.
There’s also the possibility that your unit leaks refrigerant, which is bad because of both the environmental consequences and because your home won’t cool off as fast as you’d like. Refrigerants can seep into the soil and damage it, and some older refrigerants can harm the ozone layer.
You could also need to have your condenser looked at, especially if your unit (like most) is on the outside of your home. A dirty condenser or one that’s affected by vegetation around your unit can cause it to not work properly. A damaged coil will require a service call for air conditioning service.
You could also have a leak coming from your ducts, but this is another issue that a technician can take care of pretty quickly for you.
Now that you know what could cause you to need a repair, let’s look at when you should consider replacing your HVAC.
When Should I Replace My HVAC in Austin?
This list is much shorter than the one that lists the times you need a replacement because it comes down to one factor: math.
We’re not fans of math either, but bear with us.
Anything in your home that relies on multiple components will fail at some point. Nothing lasts forever, including your HVAC. You can prolong the life of your system by having yearly inspections and fixing issues as soon as they pop up, but eventually, you’ll reach a point of no return.
How do you know when it’s time to replace instead of repair?
At some point, you’ll notice that your HVAC unit is going to need repairs more often than before. These costs will add up quickly as the issues become more serious. Once your repairs start coming frequently AND they become more expensive, it’s time to get a new unit.
In short, if you’re going to pay over 20% of the total value of a new unit in one year, get a new unit. While that first year may be 20%, the next year will be 40%. The prices of repair on a unit that’s on its last legs normally increase exponentially from one year to the next.
By the time you get to the third year of increased repairs, you could have already bought a new HVAC. After that point, you’re just throwing away money.
We know that we said there’s only one factor, but really there are two.
This one is obvious, but to be thorough, we figured we’d mention it. In the event of catastrophic damage, such as a lightning strike, extreme flooding, a tree falling on your unit, etc, you need HVAC replacement. While you may run across a contractor that promises that he can fix it, a duct tape solution is both unreasonable and unsafe.
We’ve seen plenty of cases where a contractor has promised a homeowner that they can deliver a miracle only to patch up the unit, take the money, and run. The homeowner then had to dish out more money for a replacement. A reputable business will try to save you money in the long-term without promising you miracles.
If a contractor ever tells you something that seems too good to be true, call us for a second opinion. Don’t spend good money on a bad HVAC unit.
The Good News About Replacing an HVAC Unit
There is a bright side to replacing your system.
Getting a new unit will save you money on both your electricity bill and repair costs. While this won’t pay for the investment right away, in the long term you’ll save a good amount of money. There’s also something satisfying about not having to write a check three times a year for inspections, repairs, and parts.
Energy-efficient HVAC units, especially Energy Star units, last longer than older models and will almost always save you money in the long-term. Make sure that you let a professional install your new unit to maximize its life. We’ve seen many homeowners who have paid someone $50 bucks and a case of beer for an install only to have problems within weeks.
How To Prolong The Life of Your HVAC Unit
If you’re worried about having to dish out money right now for a replacement, don’t fret. There are things that you can do right now to extend the life of your HVAC unit and increase your return on investment.
Replace Your Filters On a Regular Basis
As mentioned earlier, your filters keep dirt, pet dander, and other particulates out of the air. Once they get clogged up, they don’t work well and can cause your HVAC unit to work harder than necessary.
Changing your filters every three months is a cheap and easy way to prolong the life of your unit.
Maintain Good Air Quality in Your Home
This tip relates to the previous one, in that the better the air quality in your home, the less often you have to change your filters. Most people assume that the air in their home is fine, but in reality, the air in your home can be worse than the air outside.
There are a few simple ways to fix this. Get some indoor plants, smoke outside of your home, and install a dehumidifier. This will make your HVAC last longer and improve your health!
Take Care of Your Condenser
Most homes have their unit installed outside of their home, which can cause problems without general upkeep. Anything around or above your condenser can cause damage, requiring repairs or even replacement in extreme circumstances.
Make sure you keep grass, vines, and other vegetation cleared around your condenser. You also want to keep any nearby trees trimmed so that no branches fall onto your unit. Make sure nothing sits on top of your unit and protect it from the elements.
Taking care of your condenser doesn’t take much time or effort, and it prolongs the life of your investment.
Clean The Ducts
Over time, your ducts will get dirt and debris in them, which makes it harder for your unit to deliver cold air into your home. This causes your HVAC to work harder, which in turn lowers its lifespan.
Clean out your air ducts to keep the cold air coming. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, you can use a professional air conditioning service. The money you spend on cleaning the ducts will pay for itself by prolonging the life of your system.
Get Regular Inspections and Preventative Maintenance
What would happen if you decided that oil changes for your car were too much of a bother? Do you think your car would keep chugging along?
The answer, of course, is that it would break down sooner than you’d like, and you’d get stuck with a massive bill to replace the transmission. Oil changes are preventative maintenance for your car, in that they help maintain essential functions and keep you on the road.
The same principle applies to your HVAC unit. Preventative maintenance is an important part of maintaining your system. Without it, you end up paying more money later to fix something that shouldn’t have failed to begin with.
Using a professional company to perform yearly and seasonal tasks on your unit can save you thousands of dollars in the long term. Regular inspections will also help you get the best return on investment for your system.
We mentioned earlier that you want to be careful about who you trust with your HVAC unit. There are certain things that you should look for when choosing a company to perform maintenance and repairs on your HVAC in Austin.
Licensed and Insured
First, you want to make sure that the company you choose is fully licensed with the state of Texas and insured. This protects you from claims made due to any injuries during the service call and allows you to seek recourse if a company damages your home. Never trust a company or contractor that can’t provide you with their licensing number. We put ours directly on our website so that you know we’re a professional company that takes our responsibility seriously.
License #: TACLA00028781C
You also want to work with a company that has the experience and training necessary to handle any situation. We’ve served Austin and surrounding areas since 2009 with a team that has decades of HVAC experience. There’s nothing that we haven’t seen. You can bet your bottom dollar that we can fix anything.
Integrity and Honesty
Whenever you hire a company to work on your HVAC system, you’re trusting them with both your hard-earned money and your home. We know that it’s an honor when someone chooses us to work on their system, and we will always treat your property with the respect it deserves.
Our rule is simple: we’ll treat your home like we’d expect someone to treat ours.
We aren’t a national company that focuses on volume, but a local company that focuses on quality. Everyone that works for us lives in the communities we serve, so we know that we aren’t just dealing with customers, but with neighbors, friends, and family.
We’re also dedicated to giving our customers reasonable quotes and honest opinions and offer financing for those that need it. We believe in doing what we say we can do when we say we’re going to do it. It’s one reason we’ve been able to grow and thrive in Austin for over a decade.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late: Contact Us Today
You don’t want to find out that your HVAC system isn’t working until the middle of a cold night or Austin heatwave (although we offer 24/7 emergency HVAC repair in Austin, just in case). Get your HVAC system inspected now!
We’ll come out, make sure everything works the way it should, and let you know if there’s anything that your system needs. We even offer financing in case you need help! Contact us today and set up an appointment with one of our professional technicians.