Q&A with Chas Roberts Master Technician Pete Huey

Technician/Supervisor Pete Huey has been with Chas Roberts Air Conditioning and Plumbing for 12 years. He recently sat down to answer some of the most frequently asked questions he gets asked about Phoenix AC.

Q: Repair or replace my cooling and heating system – how do I know which is best?

A: The comfort cooling and heating appliances in your home are a huge investment. The decision to repair or replace a unit should be weighed between the factors of cost to operate, value of the current system, cost of repairs, warranty status, and of course, financial burden. The idea that a repair is less expensive on an older system than replacement is somewhat misleading. The cooling appliance in your home runs 12 to 15 hours a day, 7 days a week for 7-9 months a year. Equate that into mileage on a car and it would be equivalent to driving across the country twice every year. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the machine. The average life expectancy of a unit in these conditions is 8-10 years with routine maintenance, so if the unit has a major mechanical failure after this point the cost of repair will most likely exceed the value you will receive from repair. If the unit is older and has a minor part failure or parts are merely worn from use and the unit is not having performance issues beyond the immediate failure, repair may be a viable option over replacement. When in doubt, schedule a consultation with a comfort specialist to weigh all the options.

Q: What size air conditioning system is right for my home?

A: There is no rule of thumb for sizing an air conditioning system to a home. With building trends getting tighter and tighter, the industry has made many changes to the structures in the last 12 years alone to make heads spin. The best practice is to have a licensed contractor visit your home and determine what equipment will be needed to properly heat and cool your home efficiently and comfortably.

Q: How can I increase the efficiency and prolong the life of my Phoenix AC?

A: The answer to this question is simple: maintenance. A properly maintained system will greatly improve the odds against mechanical failures and costly repairs. Simple things like replacing filters regularly and using the correct filter for your system will save you money over the long run. Keeping the outdoor coils clean and free from obstructions is another way to keep the unit running at its peak. Using window treatments to prevent heat infiltration through the glass and insuring the seals on doors and windows are snug to prevent loss of conditioned air will also keep utility bills lower. Above all, have the unit inspected at least annually by a licensed contractor to identify worn or damaged parts before the unit fails and keep records of maintenance on your system.

Q: What temperature should I set my thermostat?

A: The industry recommendation is to maintain a temperature between 78-82 degrees in the summer for best cooling versus efficiency, and between 68-72 degrees in the winter for heating. Most people find this to be the easiest balance for comfort versus cost in the home. The cost of electricity in peak demand hours is high and although the utility companies have plans to help with the cost of cooling, the penalties for over-usage are expensive. As a technician I usually recommend my customers find a set point that is comfortable and maintain it through the season. If you are purchasing programmable thermostats to keep your home running economically, try not to turn the set point up more than 4-5 degrees, as the heat load in the space will increase and require longer runtimes to cool it. In the heating season the amount of comfort from your system is dramatically affected by the base temperature you have when beginning to heat and in some cases is directly proportional to the outdoor temperature, as is the case with electric heat pumps.

Q: What maintenance can I do myself on my Phoenix AC? What maintenance should be left to the professionals?

A: The most valuable and frequently overlooked maintenance a homeowner can do is replacing the air filter in the return side of the system. The best running air conditioner in the world cannot work properly if the airflow is being blocked by a dirty filter. Next, keep the air space around the outdoor unit free from clutter and debris which will clog the outdoor coil and reduce the cooling effect. Also be prudent about keeping pets and vermin from the unit as their urine can damage the soft metals in the coil and they can damage wires and seals by chewing. Be sure to use caution when doing landscaping around the unit as well to prevent accidentally damaging the coil or control wiring.

Manufacturers recommend having a licensed contractor perform mechanical maintenance on the equipment at least once a year. If the equipment is under warranty, maintenance is required to comply with the terms of the warranty. Service companies like Chas Roberts recommend seasonal maintenance in the spring and fall to help identify issues and potential problems before the unit fails. Resolving the issues greatly reduces the likelihood of an emergency in the summer or winter months. It is a good idea to consider purchasing a service agreement, like the Comfort Assurance Plan offered by Chas Roberts, which is designed to keep the system running at peak efficiency year-round.

Q: Does Chas Roberts offer any special financing for repairs or replacement?

A: Yes, Chas Roberts offers financing programs for our customers. We have pre-approved financing through Wells Fargo Financial and multiple options through GE Capital to ensure a convenient monthly payment to help keep our customers comfortable and cool.

Pete is just one of the many highly-skilled, reliable technicians at Chas Roberts. If you have more cooling and heating questions or if you want to schedule a repair or replacement, visit ChasRoberts.com to schedule an appointment or call (602) 943-3426 in Phoenix, (520) 618-1884 in Tucson or (505) 264-7257 in New Mexico.