McCullough is Austin’s largest family-owned air conditioning and energy conservation company We've been serving the Greater Austin area with trustworthy and dependable service since 1977. We are industry leaders providing quality air conditioning, heating and indoor air quality services.
Things sure do get hot here in Texas! With the temperatures outside rising, you want your home to be as cool and comfortable as possible.
There are so many AC options on the market today, it can be difficult to decide what's best for you and your family's needs.
With the increased awareness in energy conservation throughout the US, the Department of Energy has been encouraging homeowners to install the most energy-efficient air conditioning system they can afford – but are these new energy efficient units the best choice for your comfort?
How is efficiency in AC systems measured?
The cooling efficiency of AC devices is recorded as a SEER rating. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It is the “miles per gallon” rating for AC systems. A higher SEER rating means a more efficient system. The Environmental Protection Agency requires all brands of air conditioning systems to have a SEER ratio of 14 or higher, (since January 1, 2015). Some modern cooling systems have earned up to a rating of 26 SEER and some specialty systems higher than that.
Generally speaking, the older your air conditioner, the less efficient it will be. Technology has advanced since your system was installed, raising the bar for what is considered “high-efficiency”. As your system ages and the more it gets used, the less efficient it will run – this is due to regular wear and the build up of dirt and debris on indoor and outdoor coils, the blower, etc.
Maintenance plays a role here, too.
If you have your system inspected and maintained regularly, it will be much more efficient than if you just ignore it. If you don’t maintain your system, it will likely reach that “end of life” point faster. The bottom line is that lower efficiency systems will cost more to run on a day-to-day basis and all central systems should be kept in top operating condition by way of quality periodic inspections and maintenance.
Think of AC efficiency like this:
How efficient is your air conditioner at turning your hard-earned dollars into cold air? The more efficient, the better! Just about any system will deliver cold air, but at what cost?
How can I make my current AC more efficient?
Basic maintenance and upkeep will help keep your AC unit working as efficient as possible. A few things to keep in mind:
Air conditioning systems must have a decent airflow to work properly. Anything that gets in the way of your AC system getting the air that it needs will reduce efficiency and performance by putting undue load on the motor and restricting air from traveling across the evaporator coil (the cold part!).
Airflow and your outdoor unit: Keep outdoor units clear of plants and overgrown weeds. Your AC needs to push all that hot air somewhere! You'll find your radiator fins work like a car radiator – if the radiator is blocked, the unit will have to work harder to produce that cool air you crave. The harder the unit has to work, the more it will cost to run and the more poorly it will perform.
Preventative maintenance: Get it serviced regularly. It's recommended to get your AC serviced at least once a year. This is no different than your car or your body; things need to checked out regularly to catch problems early. If an AC system isn't maintained properly, it gets dirty – REAL dirty! If it's not serviced, your AC can get full of hair, dust and debris and can even become a ripe environment biological growth. This can affect the air you breathe. The inside coils can even develop rust, and this can be blown through the plenum to every room in your home. This is a potential hazard for asthma/allergy sufferers and your health in general, but it's also bad for your A/C system too. When you get your annual service, the technician should clean the outside condenser coil and inspect the rest of the system for further maintenance needs. Getting everything looked at, cleaned and maintained properly will go far to help your A/C system run more efficiently, cool your home better and last longer.
Change your filter regularly: We can’t stress this enough! PLEASE change your filter regularly! When you don’t change your AC filter, your central unit gets less airflow delivered to it. Try running up a hill with your mouth covered… it's no fun. Reduced airflow means your AC has to work harder to get the temperature you want. This added pressure to the system can lead to your evaporator coil (the part of your AC that actively cools the air) to freeze up – stopping your system from operating properly and potentially causing some very expensive issues to repair!
Fix leaking ducts: A leaky duct could lose up to 30% of that sweet, cool air before it even reaches the room you’re in! Stop pulling hot, humid air from the attic or, worse, paying to air condition it!
Replace components when they start failing: Get a pro to replace failing capacitors or other components that aren’t working properly as soon as possible. If your A/C has parts that aren’t functioning at their full potential, it can cause other (more expensive) parts to work harder and fail sooner than expected, raising your costs considerably. If your service technician suggests replacing capacitors, don’t wait until these components completely die – this will cause the system to stop working completely and can damage expensive components in the meantime. Don’t forget – Murphy’s Law tells us the system failure will happen on the hottest day of the year, often on a holiday when you have family or friends in town! Be proactive.
Why are high efficiency air conditioners better?
Higher efficiency systems are newer systems that outperform their predecessors because they have taken advantage of changes in technology. The best of these systems operate with exceptional variable compressors that help maintain the optimal comfort level by turning on and off as little as possible. The key to your home comfort lies inside the indoor variable speed blower, the outdoor condensing unit and the intelligence of the controller, or thermostat. The compressor on today’s highest efficiency AC systems can variably control the flow of refrigerant and airflow going through the system, meaning you get the capacity you want when you need it, nothing more or less.
This chart illustrates how the temperature in your home is maintained with a minimal amount of energy being spent to keep the temperature consistent over a long period of time. Cycling on and off, not only puts wear and tear on your system, it takes many large bursts of expensive energy to… not really keep your home consistently cool.
Your existing AC system may be 15 to 20 years old. A lot of efficiency improvements have taken place during that time. Those advancements make high-efficiency systems cheaper to run because they are more effective at turning hot air into cold air. Due to the advancements in design and technology, today’s AC systems are more efficient than ever before. Using less energy makes them better for our environment too.
It's definitely worth considering investing in a newer, more efficient air conditioner for your home – benefits of newer AC units include:
They’re less expensive to run: by being more efficient at turning hot air into cold, your energy bills are significantly lower
Variable speed adjusters: Many high efficiency air conditioners are now equipped with variable air speed adjusters – giving the system more control over efficiency, performance and occupant comfort. The Carrier Infinity 20 has load matching performance with speed ranges between 40% and 100% capacity.
Media filters for better filtration: High-efficiency media filters are 4-inches or more thick and have more surface area due to their accordion-style design. This means the air that circulates through your home is actually a lot cleaner and less dirt makes it into your AC system.
Optimal humidity and temperature controls
Sound reduction as low as 58 decibels* in some models due to compressor sound blankets and upgraded fan blades.
Continuous blower system: A major bonus of installing a high efficiency, variable capacity (multi-stage) AC is the more continuous nature of air circulation. Rather than the irritating on/off cycle of older, less efficient single-stage models, this approach helps regulate humidity and helps to reduce random bursts of cold air. Without having to constantly restart, a high efficiency air conditioner is considerably quieter than their low efficiency alternatives.This move away from the on/off cycling also means there's less wear and tear on the AC unit motors – reducing the risk of early breakdowns.
Are high efficiency air conditioning units expensive?
Although they may cost more in the short term, high efficiency ACs end up costing less in the long term. They cost less to maintain, they last longer, and they use less electricity. But like buying anything new, you need to weigh up the investment, the length of time you will remain in the home and the savings you will see on your energy bill. Your comfort advisor can help you work through this so that you can weigh up your options.
Investing in a quality AC system is a critical part of maintaining your home and creating a comfortable space for your family to live. Spending a little more on a better model now can save you money in the long run, provide you a greater return on investment, and keep you and your family comfortable in your home.
If your current AC system is struggling to keep your home cool, call McCullough Heating & Air Conditioning to come out and investigate what's causing your AC to struggle.
Contact us today and we can send an expert technician to your home to diagnosis your problem, fast!
* Proper sizing and installation of equipment is critical to achieve optimal performance. Split system air conditioners and heat pumps must be matched with appropriate coil components to meet ENERGY STAR criteria. Ask your contractor for details or visit www.energystar.gov. Quietest size within each model group during most common operating condition.
That's more than just an annoyance; it could be a warning sign that important components are starting to fail or need cleaning.
Some expensive items in your AC unit, like the compressor and fan or blower motors, rely on other components to do their job efficiently. As an example, when capacitors begin to fail, they stop regulating current, causing motors to use more electricity and run hot. As a result, you will use more electricity and the overheated component will probably fail prematurely. Dirty indoor and outdoor coils, fans and blowers can severely impact AC system performance and efficiency and cause expensive components to fail prematurely.
Your air conditioner is constantly at risk because the compressor unit is outdoors, battling the elements. In addition to the usual wear-and-tear of your system, these other elements can impact the performance of your air conditioner:
Outdoor Enemies of your AC system:
Dirt & debris: If you leave a white, plastic lawn chair out in your yard for ten years, would it still be white? No! Months and months of dirt, grime, foliage, debris, and other gunk would leave that lawn chair looking brownish-grey and dingy! Your air conditioner has an outdoor component that is exposed to the same elements!
Ants and other pests: Can you imagine if the hood of your car were just open all the time, for birds to peck, bugs to infest, and rodents to curiously investigate? Your air conditioner’s outdoor condenser endures this kind of abuse by being outdoors. The netted exterior is a breeding ground for insects, birds, and other pests.
Bushes, trees & fences: It can be tempting to plant a bramble bush, hedgerow or build a pretty fence around your not-so-gorgeous AC unit but resist the temptation! An onslaught of plant matter can really do damage to your air conditioner and put its performance and efficiency at risk. It’s best to leave a several-foot radius around the unit completely clear of interference. Airflow is necessary to keep your A/C unit healthy.
If none of these issues are plaguing your system, and your AC is struggling to keep your home cool, you may have internal issues that are causing your system to overheat, which is a problem that can cause even bigger problems if kept unchecked.
Excess heat from failing components is what kills motors.
Your AC system has multiple motors:
Fan motor on the condenser outside
Compressor motor in the condenser outside
Blower motor in the furnace, air handler or heat pump inside
With excess heat and labor in the system, any or all of these motors can labor themselves to death. If you don’t realize components are failing or you ignore the symptoms, small, easy-to-fix issues can snowball into bigger issues with bigger price tags. It is important to promptly diagnose small signs of distress in your AC such as slowness to kick on, failure to kick on when prompted, strange odors, or failure to cool properly. Keeping an eye on these red flags can help you stay ahead of a big meltdown.
What can you do if you notice your AC struggling or not cooling your home well? Call McCullough Heating & Air Conditioning to come out to investigate what is causing your AC to struggle. Contact us today and we will send an expert technician to your home to solve your problems, fast!
Five Reasons Your AC System is Not Performing - YouTube
What kind of air filter should you use? There's a lot of confusion about air filtration and even people in the AC industry struggle with it. Homeowners will ask me often, “Do you know what we should we do about filtration?”. They may have family members who have allergies or asthma and they're trying to improve indoor air quality, so it's a question that comes up a lot.
One of the most important things to know is that the “high-dollar expensive filters” that you find in home-improvement stores are really not helping you. They are dense, which may make you think they are better, but they are very restrictive to air flow, which is a no-no for a healthy AC system. To get the performance, efficiency, and longevity out of your AC equipment, it has to be able to breathe freely.
If we look at a typical 1-inch filter that most people have, there's not a lot of surface area to this and when you buy an expensive one the material that it's made of becomes more and more restrictive. The idea is that it filters out everything down to the particle level of a virus, however if you're filtering the smallest particles out, down to viruses, then that fine-weave material is going to make it harder for air molecules to pass through as well, and you may not be able to get enough air through that filter to serve the needs of your central heating and air-conditioning system. So the system and the equipment is designed to have a certain amount of airflow and if it doesn't get the airflow that it needs, you're not going to get the performance or the efficiency that the system is capable of delivering. It's a little bit like drinking a milkshake through a straw or the other analogy I use is trying to run around the block with your hand over your mouth. Try that and see how it works. If you do, you’ll know how your poor AC equipment feels when you come home all excited about the new “high efficiency” filter you a lot on.
AC filters - Clearing up the Confusion - YouTube
When we put these really expensive very restrictive filters in our homes, we are effectively starving our central system of the airflow needed for the system to perform and run efficiently. And most returns air systems are too small, to begin with, so the restrictive filter makes an already bad situation worse.
What should somebody do if your system can only accommodate a one-inch filter? We recommend the homeowners to put in a less restrictive filter.
Filters are rated in what's called Merv, and the most restrictive filter is going to be a higher number, like 11 or 13, and your typical blue fiberglass filter might be a Merv 3 or 4. Pleated filters like this might range from Merv 6 up to Merv 12 or 13.
If you can use only a one-inch filter, we would recommend you use a pleated filter but use a Merv 6 filter and change the filter regularly. That's going to let the system get more air and it'll still filter better than just a fiberglass filter.
What a lot of people don't realize is that the filter on the system isn't there for indoor air quality. It's primarily there to protect the equipment and so if you think about the indoor coil that gets cold and wet and if you've got dirt going through the system that's going to be collecting on that wet evaporator coil. Over time that's going to build up a whole layer of dust and dirt and it will stop working properly.
The first thing you want is a filter that can protect the equipment, secondarily if you can also help the indoor air quality that's a good thing. The best thing you can do for filtration air filtration I feel is getting what we call a media filter. A media filter is similar to the one-inch filter but as you can see here, this one is thick, They're typically four to four to five inches thick and the filter media is accordioned in here and so if I was to take this filter apart, the filter media would be twenty to thirty feet of surface area. Even though it's in this small package here the amount of surface area is much much bigger than a one-inch filter and what that gives you is is the surface area allows more air to flow through and far more air than the one-inch filter.
Media filters are the best combination in terms of allowing air flow that your system needs to perform and deliver the efficiency it's capable of and being able to filter particles from the air in your home.
A lot of new homes are equipped with a system that accepts media filters. Media filters are recommended by the Austin Energy Green Builder Program. The other benefit of media filters is that they tend to last six months to a year vs. the one-inch filter that has to be changed every month.
A lot of times, if you have a one-inch filter now, and you have a vertical system that's in a closet when we replace the system we can put a media filter cabinet underneath the unit. There's usually enough room for that. In cases where there isn't room to do that which happens sometimes, we can put this in the return, up under the unit, behind the return grill so it sits up in there. If the unit is in the attic typically there is plenty of room to add a filter cabinet.
We highly recommend media filters to most of our customers because they're not electronic, they are not a super expensive thing and they really do work well.
One question we are asked quite regularly is, “Do I need to have my ducts cleaned?” or “Is it necessary to have my ducts professionally cleaned?” While the answer isn’t always straightforward, the answer is generally “No, it is not necessary to have your air ducts cleaned.”
Should I have my air ducts cleaned? - YouTube
If you’ve talked to someone in the duct cleaning business, this may surprise you. However, we’d like to explain a few facts to you and perhaps you’ll understand the concept a bit more clearly.
Realize that the air that moves through the supply duct system is moving at 500-600 feet per minute–that’s moving pretty quickly. This speed tends to keep things pretty clean.
The EPA agrees that homeowners, typically, don't need to clean their air ducts unless they have had some type of major event that introduced a significant amount of dirt or debris into the duct system.
Duct cleaning can be invasive and can actually damage your duct system. We constantly remind homeowners that they need to be careful that they don't have someone talk them into cleaning the ducts only to run some sort of electric equipment with brushes through the duct system that will end up damaging ducts or tearing parts of the duct system apart. Your duct system is like your arterial system when an artery is blocked or damaged… it’s a big deal.
Isn’t the dirt around the vent evidence that I need to clean my ducts?
When we tell homeowners they don’t need to clean their ducts, a common question is, “But what about the dust and dirt I see around my return grills? I see an area of discolored paint surrounding the air vent.” Most people assume that this is dirt from their duct system and it must be super dirty in there. The majority of the time, however, what is really happening is a static electric charge that is created by the high-speed air coming out of your air vent, which flows along your ceiling, creates a static electric charge on your ceiling. The static electric charge causes dust and dirt particles that are floating in the air — from carpeting, candles, cooking, pets and people — to be attracted to the ceiling and then stick to it. This dirty halo effect is most common if you have curved blade supply grills and/or you have a popcorn textured ceiling.
“If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.” — Mark Twain
Another possibility is that you have duct leakage.
If you see a lot of dirt and dust in your duct system, and your filter gets dirty very quickly, it may be that your duct system is leaky and you are sucking air in from the attic or some other space that contains a lot of dirt and dust. You could be sucking insulation or dust that is in your attic into your duct system and it is need of a good sealing. If you have a concern regarding growth in your ducts or you’re seeing a lot of dirt inside the duct system or collecting on the filter, it might be a good idea to have a professional AC contractor look into the problem.
Before you let a duct cleaning company do any work on your system, we highly recommend you call us at McCullough Heating and Air. We care about your HVAC system from top to bottom. We’d love the chance to inspect your system and make suggestions on the best way to keep everything working its best today AND in the future.
On a hot summer evening, you expect your air conditioning system to be working at peak performance, keeping your family cool and comfortable. Afterall, it’s a good quality system and it is fairly new. But overall you are disappointed in the performance of your system, and this may be why. A federal study published in 2015 by the National Institute of Standards stated that a typical central air conditioning system installed in the United States works to 65% or less of its rated capacity from the very first day it is installed.
You may think that buying a central air conditioner is like buying a refrigerator or a dishwasher.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. With those types of appliances, the equipment is a self-contained unit, built in a factory that has a consistent environment, with highly control standards. They make it, you buy it, bring it home, plug it in and it works as expected.
Central air conditioning systems are not “plug and play”
AC systems are designed and built in your home by a contractor. Your system is made up of many components, not just one, and they all have to work together for you to most out of your expensive equipment. Typically, there is a condenser, an air handler or furnace, an evaporator coil, an airflow system (ducts), your filter, and so much more. All of these must be properly selected for your specific home and climate, then installed correctly in order for your new super duper high-efficiency AC equipment to properly work to cool your home and achieve the performance and efficiency that you paid for and expect. Because your system is custom built in your home, there are actually five major reasons why you may not get the expected HVAC performance from your system.
Assuming your system components are in good working order, these would be the next culprits for a poorly performing system:
The refrigerant is not properly charged – An equipment charge that is off by 10% could have an impact of 20% of even more on the performance and efficiency. Charging the refrigerant is a tricky matter and AC installers often prefer to guess and save time, which can cost you a lot.
Fan speed wasn’t set correctly – Most systems come from the factory with the fan set on high. If it isn’t adjusted to match the needs of the other equipment installed, the system may be trying to move far too much air for your needs, making a lot of extra noise and using more electricity than needed. Further, if the air moves through your system too fast, the moisture, or humidity, may not be removed as effectively as it could be with slower moving air.
Airflow systems (ducts, returns, registers) don’t meet the needs of the home – The duct system needs to be designed and laid out with the airflow needs of the home and the AC equipment in mind. If the ducts (returns and registers) are not properly designed and installed, your AC equipment can be damaged and your AC equipment won’t be able to perform properly, leaving you paying more for utilities than you should and enduring an uncomfortable home.
Air Duct Leakage – Several years back, Austin Energy determined that most duct systems are not sealed properly and lose more than 25% of their air to leakage. With duct leakage, you are either sucking in a hot or cold attic air into the system (instead of conditioned air from your home) or you’re sending the air you just paid to cool or heat into the attic or outside your home.
As you can see, there are many things that can lead to reduced HVAC performance. Typically, it’s not one thing that causes the system to not perform, it is a combination of things. Working with the experts at McCullough Heating and Air is the best way to diagnose performance issues, give us a call (512) 280-0011.
Five Reasons Your AC System is Not Performing - YouTube
Should you call a technician right away if your HVAC system is struggling to keep your home cool or it has stopped working altogether? Maybe. However, there are a few things you can check yourself before you make that phone call. Here’s our list of the most common things you should look into to see if you may be able to prevent that service call.
Look at the Thermostat – First, check to make sure the thermostat is set on air conditioning and that the temperature is set lower than the ambient temperature of the home. Also, make sure the fan isn’t set to the “off” position. If the screen is blank or there are any error symbols showing, there may be a problem with the batteries and you can try replacing them. Another issue could be that you have a programmable thermostat. If the program is not set up properly, the thermostat could be shutting your AC off at inopportune times and causing your home to heat up.
Check the Breaker – Checking the breaker switches for the AC and/or heating equipment to make they are turned “On” and that there is electricity going to the system. If workers have been in the home, the breaker(s) may have been turned off and never turned back on. If the breaker trips to “Off” on a regular basis, there may be a problem with your electrical system or the AC equipment you may need professional assistance.
Check for Switches – With most systems, there is a switch that looks just like a light switch near the indoor equipment. It is used to turn the unit on or off in order to disconnect power to the unit for servicing. This “disconnect” switch is often confused with a closet or attic light switch, and gets turned off mistakenly by a homeowner or service provider. If this disconnect switch is inadvertently turned off — thinking it was the attic light switch — you may think your system is not working, when it has really just been inadvertently turned off. It can often be just as simple as that.
Change the Filter – You could be starving your system of airflow with a clogged filter. If the filter hasn’t been changed recently, it could be causing you some serious problems. If a filter is loaded with dirt and dust, the air required by your central AC and heating system will not be able to flow properly and the equipment may shut itself off. Change your filter now, and also consider vacuuming out your returns to keep things from getting clogged up so quickly in the future.
Turn it Off – It may seem crazy, but turning off the system for a few moments and letting it rest may make a difference. Let it rest and turn it back on and see what happens. If things are still working less-than-perfectly, then it may be time to call a professional.
Once you’ve tried a few of these ideas and you see that there is no improvement, it is time to call the pros. If you have any questions or if you’d like us to come to inspect your system and repair any problems, give us a call today at (512) 280-0011.
What to do before calling an AC repair company - YouTube
Choosing an HVAC contractor is a BIG decision. After all, this is the AC system that will keep your home comfortable for years to come, and this is the company you are trusting to make sure the system does its job. Therefore, it makes sense to do your homework and check out the contractors ahead of time–to make sure you hire the right contractor. Just like when you paint or build something, it should be 90% preparation and 10% action.
The Red Flags
#1 The Contractor Doesn’t Ask About Your Comfort – The reality is, to choose the best system for your future needs, it is important to understand how the system you have now has been performing for you. Has it kept you and your family comfortable? How are your utility bills? Do you have hot or cold spots? Not doing this sets a situation up for failure.
#2 Failure to Inspect Ductwork – An HVAC system is only as good as the ductwork that supports it. Airflow is everything. Do you have enough return ductwork and airflow? Do you have enough supply ductwork to support the system you need? Not checking these out is a serious red flag. Installing a new system without evaluating the existing ductwork — which may be inadequate or leaky — is a recipe for trouble; you may “buy” high-efficiency equipment, however, what you “get” will be a low efficiency and poorly performing system.
#3 Not Performing a Load Calculation – A good HVAC professional will not guess on the size of unit you need for your home or just install the same size that was there before. They will do a load calculation to determine if the size of the system that is appropriate for your home. They shouldn’t pick a system off the top of their head or just install the same size as the one that is being replaced without having a principle-based reason for doing so—if they do, it’s a red flag.
Your Contractor, Your System
If you’re like a lot of people, you may say: “I want a bigger system.” It seems logical that a bigger system will perform better and cool you off quicker. What you don't know is that in central heating and air system design, bigger isn’t always better. While a bigger system may get the house to a comfortable level quickly on a very hot day, on an average day it will not run long enough to take the humidity out of the air. So, for that speed, you are paying a big penalty in terms of comfort, performance, and efficiency. You want a contractor who seriously considers things like this, not just one who is looking to increase the amount of the invoice, regardless of your true needs. You may also be interested in a variable speed system.
Oversized systems are such an energy-wasting problem nationally that the federal government is getting involved, by trying to get contractors to pay attention to this critical capacity sizing issue. According to the law, HVAC contractors have to follow both the energy and mechanical code and should be sizing the system properly for the home. It is actually against the law to install an oversized AC system, even though it happens every single day by AC contractors who don’t know better or who do not care.
Think Utility Smart
When choosing your AC contractor, look towards your utility program. In Central Texas, many homeowners have Austin Energy as their electric utility. AE has taken a major role in reducing the consumption load on our grid and balancing that with customers comfort. Austin Energy has a 30-year history of performance and efficiency programs that reward homeowners and contractors for doing things the right way. Often, when a homeowner comes to us at McCullough Heating and Air and asks about the best way to do things, we suggest that they look to Austin Energy for unbiased guidance on best practices.
While we feel confident in the work we do here at McCullough, and want you to choose the right contractor for your job no matter who it is, we’d love to talk to you about your project or give you a second opinion on a new system. We also recommend you look to Austin Energy to learn about energy efficiency options and the recommendations they make regarding contractors who can do the best job possible for you, your family and your home.
HVAC systems are like any other electro-mechanical device, in that, they only work as advertised when they are installed properly. And even then, they don’t work at peak performance until they are fine-tuned after proper installation.
You may be asking yourself, “doesn’t every HVAC contractor design and install HVAC systems properly?”
No. We wish they did. Nothing would make me happier than to know every new system sold by the over 1,000 HVAC contractors in Central Texas, was configured, installed and fine-tuned for each and every customer. Seriously – that would be a dream. We would love for all families to have comfortable and efficient homes – even if we're not the company doing the job every time.
Sadly, only about 5% of the HVAC contractors in town truly make the industry proud.
When your HVAC contractor does not do a professional job, it has immediate and long-term consequences to you, such as…
Energy usage and costs that are higher than they should be
Substantially lower energy efficiency (SEER) than you purchased
Uncomfortable home with inconsistent temperatures from room to room
A central comfort system that is unnecessarily noisy and that annoyingly “blows” on occupants
High humidity that can support mold, mildew and other organic growth
Premature failure of expensive HVAC assets such as the blower motor, evaporator coil, and compressor.
This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of business.
There are no absolutes, bigger isn't always better and smaller isn't always most efficient. The size, effectiveness, and efficiency of your heating and air conditioning equipment is substantially affected by the size and condition of the air ducts, the amount of attic insulation present, drafts and leaks in the home and whether windows are shaded from the hot Texas sun. A whole-house approach is the only way to ensure you are getting the right system for your home. A great contractor which
Ductwork – the air delivery system – is a factor
Ductwork that is improperly sized can cause uneven cooling and, quite possibly, introduce dust or mold into your home. If your duct system is not big enough to handle the increased airflow required by an “oversized” air conditioner, the evaporator coil may freeze and the system won’t work at all. Even if the coil doesn’t freeze, reduced airflow will impact operating efficiency and effectiveness and cause premature failure of expensive components, such as the compressor.
A Load test is the only way to size your system correctly. Eyeballing it is not good enough.
In order to get a system to perform at peak levels, the HVAC contractor will perform a heating and cooling load tests using a Manual-J calculation. Since these loads vary from room to room, the output from both the heating and air conditioning components will need to be considered alongside important information about your whole home, including:
Home living area, construction, and orientation to the sun
Window area, construction, and type
Foundation and roof construction
And duct system location, size, supply, return airflow and condition
You will need to speak with an HVAC expert, like a McCullough Comfort Advisor, with years of training and experience in the field. They can properly design and configure a system unique to the needs of your home and, in turn, reduce energy usage and save you money without compromising health and safety of your family.
Once the design and configuration is complete, It’s time to install
A well-designed system can still be ruined with improper installation. It’s important to work with a contractor who employs experienced, licensed technicians with rigorous training. They need to know how to safely install reliable systems according to manufacturer speculations.
With McCullough, you can rest assured knowing that our technicians are some of the most experienced, well-trained heating and air conditioning technicians in the business. We pride ourselves in our Whole-house-as-a-system mindset.
We provide a structured continuing education program that keeps all service and installation personnel on top of the latest trends. Our technicians are pleasant and professional, too, and they’ll treat you and your home with respect.
Even if the guy down the street says he can offer you a better price, remember that an energy-efficient system is an investment in your home’s value and your family’s comfort and safety.
Is your AC struggling to keep your home cool? Call McCullough Heating & Air Conditioning to come out and investigate what's causing your AC to struggle. Contact us today and we will send an expert technician to your home to solve your problems, fast!
Think of AC efficiency like this:
How efficient is your air conditioner at turning your hard-earned cash into cold air? The more efficient, the better! Just about any system will deliver cold air, but at what cost?
The greatest amount of energy usage and wear and tear on your equipment occurs at system startup (it takes tremendous torque and, hence, amperage to get your compressor turning). Once started, it takes 10 to 15 minutes before your system is operating at peak efficiency and performance. Because an oversized system will often bring the temperature down to the thermostat setting in just a few minutes, your oversized system will never get to operate at peak performance and will end up “short-cycling” — starting and stopping over and over again – a fact which will cost you plenty in terms of comfort, utility bills and added repairs.
Sizing your system with Manual J
Manual J is an industry standard that describes a method for determining, basically, how “big” your air conditioning system should be for the size and type of house you live in.
A If your contractor says that a Manual J isn’t needed for your system replacement — even if that contractor is a member of ACCA — you should find another contractor. Full system replacements always require Manual J as a fundamental step toward quality installation.
When so-called contractors say, “Oh, your home is X square feet, so you need a X-ton unit,” you should tread very carefully! This “rule of thumb” is always wildly inaccurate. It results in the installation of systems that are often too big for your actual needs.
It is against the law to install an oversized AC system.
Temperature & Humility
Another factor to consider with regard to system size is that comfort is a function of temperature and humidity. That is, you can have low humidity (relatively dry air) and be comfortable when the temperature is 77 degrees or be absolutely miserable when you have high humidity and a temperature of 72 degrees. One of the most important jobs your air conditioning systems performs is removing moisture (humidity) from the air in your home or office.
Removing moisture requires long run times so that enough moisture-laden air has a chance to blow across the cold indoor coil and condense into the water which then drains from your system. Today’s high-efficiency central air conditioners may remove as much as two gallons of water from the air in your home every hour, which makes you far more comfortable.
If your system is oversized, it will cool the temperature down to the thermostat setting too rapidly and the system will shut off before proper dehumidification of the air can occur. Taken to the extreme, a severely oversized system will create “rain forest” like conditions in your home: you’ll have water dripping from your cold supply grills and, very soon, mold and mildew covering your ducts and walls.
Duct system sizing must be considered too.
If your duct system is not big enough to handle the increased airflow required by an “oversized” air conditioner, the evaporator coil may freeze and the system won’t work at all. Even if the coil doesn’t freeze, reduced airflow will impact operating efficiency and effectiveness and cause premature failure of expense components such as the compressor.
Obviously the air conditioner must be sized big enough to cool your house, but too big is just as bad. We can measure the heating and cooling load on your particular home and then recommend a system that is properly sized to cool your home to 77 degrees when it is 100 degrees outside, then increase the size slightly, if needed, based on your temperature preferences.
To ensure that you're getting customized sizing, professional courtesy, and an expert installation, upgrade your system with McCullough. Call us to get started – (512) 280 0011.
As temperatures rise and we go from winter to spring, and soon to the hot summer, it’s time to transition from operating your furnace to running your air conditioner. Just like you wouldn’t run a marathon without proper preparation, you want to make sure that your air conditioner is ready for the hot Texas summer ahead.
Now is the time to inspect your air conditioner and HVAC system as a whole. Whether you’re looking to maintain your current system or want to improve your home’s energy efficiency, spring is an excellent time to inspect your system and evaluate all options.
Schedule an AC system inspection
As your condenser remained unused throughout the winter season, a number of issues may have occurred. Something as simple as dust collecting in the wrong valve can seriously damage your condenser performance. In addition, serious issues may go unnoticed, even when following a standard checklist found online. This is why it is crucial to get an expert’s opinion for a complete understanding of your system is and whether or not any repairs are needed.
Heading into summer with awareness of your system’s status enables you as a homeowner to make the best decision for your home.
Maintain your cooling system
Routine maintenance makes the difference between a reliable, long-lasting and efficient system and one that struggles to cool your home. So many things are only noticed during an inspection. Any issue is better off addressed right away rather than left to become worse over time.
The math is simple. The cost of annual or bi-annual maintenance is a fraction of the cost of a new system. Realize that routine maintenance will (1) prolong your system’s life, (2) prevent more expensive and serious repairs and (3) ensure your system is functioning at its maximum efficiency which will lower your monthly energy bills.
If you HVAC is still under warranty, you must get your system inspected each fall and spring.
maintain the validity of the warranty
catch issues early while they are covered
catch issues while they are small and have not cascaded into larger problems
a well-maintained system lasts longer
have peace-of-mind knowing the health of your system
You know the condenser… that AC component that sits in the side yard, often ignored, it's important. Your condenser is one of, if not the most, important components of your entire HVAC system. In the warmer months, it is even more important to realize that without a working condenser, you’ll never keep your home and family cool. This is why homeowners need to make every effort to prevent pests (fire ants) and debris from impacting this vital HVAC component.
Trim back the grass, weeds and other brush around your outdoor unit to create less of an opportunity for bugs and other pests to thrive. Without weeds, tall grass or tree branches hanging over the unit, you limit the exposure your condenser has to the elements. The same goes for trash, as it can attract scavengers, like raccoons, to bite, scratch or defecate on the unit as they look for food and shelter.
Consider upgrades for your HVAC system
With spring comes change. It’s the first new season of the year. Spring cleaning brings an air of “out with the old and in with the new.” You may have also received a refund on your taxes.
Taking into account your budget, HVAC system and plans for your home, spring is the perfect time to consider one or multiple upgrades to your system to prepare for the cooling season. If you plan to live in your home for the foreseeable future and your system could use some updates, think about the long-term benefits. Upgrades will vary in cost but will all have profound impacts on your energy efficiency and monthly energy bill.
If you aren’t planning on being in your home long-term but still have the budget to invest in it, attic insulation is the perfect option. Purchasing insulation is much more affordable than getting a new system and best of all, it has a 116% ROI for resale, so you may even make money on this investment.
Spring is a great time to prepare for the hot Texas heat that we all know is coming. The temperatures in Austin put every component to the test. Will your system survive the strain? The knowledge that comes from the annual AC inspection is vital and allows you to help your system do its job of keeping your family cool this summer.