Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I have an existing warranty on my furnace, air conditioner or HVAC system?

Locate the label on the exterior of the system component for a manufacture date. If the equipment is less than five years old it may have a warranty, but also may not based on the make. Warranty terms and conditions vary by manufacturer and the installing company. Strand Brothers Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can figure out the warranty status of your heating and cooling system via System Inspection. We also offer a Platinum PLUSTM Protection Plan for residential heating and air conditioning systems, regardless of the equipment age or manufacturer warranty status.

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Is sound an issue for heating and air conditioning?

Yes. Heating and cooling that make a lot of noiseadd to sound pollution.While no cost savings are tied to less sound in your home, the sound rating of a cooling system can have a significant effect on comfort and enjoyment of your Austin home. The sound level of an air conditioner or heat pump depends on a variety of factors, such as how old and who manufactured the unit, and whether the compressor is insulated or not can contribute to the amount of noise it makes.

Although the majority of heating and cooling systems built today are quieter now more than ever, it's a good  idea to compare sound ratings when assessing a new air conditioner or heat pump, particularly if the equipment location is near bedrooms or living rooms.

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What is a Precision Tune-up and how much does it cost?

In addition to the comprehensive visual inspection that comes with our System Inspection, a Precision Tune-up also comes with a total maintenance cleaning and lubrication of the heating or air conditioning equipment components. Discover more here about Strand Brothers Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning’s Precision Tune-up steps . The expense of a tune-up varies by season, and printable coupons with seasonal discounts on tune-ups are also usually available on our Coupons page.

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What's causing my duct work to pop when the furnace starts or stops?

A popping disturbance is a typically sign of an under-sized duct design. It may be attributed to greater air flow than the duct work is built for. Have a qualified company analyze your home's ventilation system for proper design and provide a written recommendation. Improper duct work layout can be attributed to several ventilation and air quality problems, including: 

  1. loud popping
  2. higher energy consumption
  3. lowered life expectancy of the system
  4. uneven temperatures throughout your home
  5. damaged compressor in summer
  6. overheated unit in the cooler months
In addition, if your ductwork is incorrectly sized you may have other concerns, such as leaky ducts and poor layout that restricts airflow. In humid climates this can cause mold growth within your ductwork.

 

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When substituting the outdoor unit, should the indoor unit also be changed?

The answer is, probably so. Here's why.

Matched System Design: All air conditioner and heat pump outdoor units are specially created to work with a matched indoor unit for ideal efficiency and performance. The consequence of this matched equipment is a coordinated, top-performance team that ensures dependability and efficiency. Air conditioner and heat pump outdoor units may "work" with indoor units other than those for which they have been specifically intended; however, the result would be a definite compromise in system performance.

Design Advances: Over time, indoor blower coil units have undergone numerous design advances — especially in the areas of air handling performance, filtering efficiency and operating sound levels. A new outdoor unit will also comprise the latest design advances.

Higher Cooling And Heating Efficiency: The cooling and/or heating efficiency ratings that are advertised for an air conditioner or heat pump are based on their performance as matched systems. While changing only the outdoor unit may give you improved efficiency when looking at your old system, but efficiency will be lacking from what it was designed to be, and your savings will be lower than with a matched system.

Equipment Age: If an air conditioner or heat pump is 10 years old or more and is ready for replacement, the indoor unit is likely just as old and has been subjected to the same amount of degradation. Substituting both units means you won't have to replace the indoor unit in a brief time period… you'll have many years of efficient service from both units.

New Warranty: A new set of equipment also delivers you a new product warranty. Substituting the indoor unit together with the outdoor unit results in peace of mind, knowing that the new warranty covers the entire system for the same period of time.

A Bargain: At first glance, substituting only the outdoor air conditioner or heat pump may appear to be a bargain. But, when you consider the lower cooling and heating efficiencies, decreased reliability and high cost of ownership that results, it's not such a bargain. Replacing an entire system may cost more, but you benefit from efficiency, reliability and comfort for years into the future.

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Why don't you charge by the hour?

Similar to a value menu at nearby restaurants, charging a flat rate cost as opposed to an hourly charge makes available more value for our customers because nothing is excluded, the pricing is up-front, and it does not change. Regardless of the cost of parts or amount of time it takes to complete the repairs, the price will not change. This is just one reason why Strand Brothers Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning is the most trusted name in Austin.

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Why is it important to have regular maintenance on my home comfort system?

You probably wouldn't get a brand-new car and plan to not ever have to inflate the tires, change the oil and examine any abnormal noises. Your home comfort system is like your car’s engine; it’s a mechanical device with a motor, electrical components... and even fuel. So it is critical to have routine maintenance of your home comfort system by a qualified technician. If not maintained properly and routinely, even the best heating and air conditioning equipment could cause problems and become less 'fuel' efficient over time.

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Why is my AC system freezing up?

There are an abundance of items that can trigger your HVAC system to freeze up; almost all of them usually need to be corrected by a professional technician. Determining the air filter is clean or replaced and determining the airflow is not restricted are about the only things a homeowner should safely investigate or handle themself.

Low refrigerant: In some cases, freezing up is caused by a leak in the refrigerant lines. Weak solder joints, friction from piping rubbing or vibrating against an object, leaking valves or loose fittings can cause leaks. The age of the system and the kind and location of the leak will determine whether to have the system repaired or replaced.

Dirty evaporator coil: As time passes, the evaporator coil will become dirty. When this happens, the results are similar to those of having a dirty filter. Gradually you will lose airflow, slowly enough that you probably would not realize it until it freezes up or is not cooling adequately. You will need to contact your local Service Experts sales and service center to remedy the problem.

Defective blower motor or relay: A blower motor not running at the proper speed or not running at all can cause freezing. It can also be sporadic, starting at full speed and slowing down after it heats up. Or a relay could cause it to start one time and not the next. In either scenario, you will need to contact your local Service Experts sales and service center to correct the problem.

Should you discover that your system was freezing due to a dirty air filter, after replacing or cleaning the filter, you can speed up the thawing process by turning the system off and then turning on only the fan. If you have a heat pump system, you can try turning the system to heating mode until the ice has melted. After the ice has melted, turn the system settings back to normal. If the system refreezes, contact Strand Brothers Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning in Austin to solve the problem.

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What is a Zoning System for a heating and air conditioning system?

Zoning Systems separate your home’s duct work into individual comfort areas, providing for independent temperature control in distinct areas that require specific temperature conditioning.

For example, a cathedral-style room with large bay windows may remain too hot in the summer and feel too cold in the winter. A Zoning System will direct more conditioned air to this large, sun-drenched area to help make up for the heat gained or lost through the windows. An additional example of areas that might benefit from Zoning might be a nursery, home theater or music studio, where different temperatures may be needed in each room for the comfort and enjoyment of the people occupying these rooms. Today's families have different lifestyles and comfort needs. Maybe you have a home office that needs extra conditioning during the day and none at night. Or you only use the upstairs or back bedrooms when guests visit. In any case, a zoning system can keep each area of your house at the perfect temperature for you and each family member.

Strand Brothers Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning provides free estimates and a complimentary consultation on Zoning Systems, call 512-596-1257 today if you think a new Zoning System is what your family needs.

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512-596-1257 today if you think a new Zoning System is what your family needs.">
When should I install a Zoning System?

If you are modifying your Austin area home air conditioner, furnace or heat pump, it is a good time to also install a new zoning system to fix hot and cold spots or special temperature preferences in the home. When your new comfort equipment is coordinated by a zoning system, you will gain precision temperature control in each zone.

Zoning is also excellent for new homes since the system can be installed during construction. If you are buying a new home, check with your builder about a zoning system. It could make the difference between just enjoying your new house and being truly comfortable in it.

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Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary due to quality and size, and some have technology that others don't. Usually we recommend installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing up with your installed system, however you may be tempted to try a different filter type for convenience or to remove additional pollutants from the air.

Filters have something called MERV ratings, which range from 1-20. MERV is an acronym for "minimum efficiency reporting value". A higher MERV rating equates to fewer contaiminants pass through, and it catches finer particulates. This sounds fantastic, and it can be, but a filter that catches finer dust and dirt will also stop up quicker, and pressure on your system will rise. If your system has not been crafted to operate with this kind of filter, it can actually reduce your airflow around your house, putting the hurt on your comfort and energy costs. So what should you know before you buy? Unless you're buying for a hospital, you definitely don't need a MERV rating above 13. In fact, most residential units are specifically designed to work with a filter with a MERV rating below 13, and frequently you will learn that quality systems have been made to operate with a MERV rating of 8 or 11. All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should eliminate most of the common nuisances everyone cares about such as pollen, pet dander, and dirt. While some filters claim to be able to capture mold spores, we recommend hiring a pro to clean out any mold from your home you find, instead of trying to delay the issue with a finer filter.

Usually the packaging tells how often your filter is recommended to be replaced. There are one-month filters and there are 3-month filters. Additionally we have filters that are made flat like screen windows, and you have some that are built accordian style with supporting wire. In our experience, the accordian style filters weather better, and are worth it for the extra durability.

You could also consider washable filters, also sometimes called reusable filters. Some homeowners like the environmentally friendly aspect of it, as they don't pile onto a dump, and others consider it more convenient to simply yank out the filter and clean it off rather than making a special trip to the local hardware store for a filter of the proper size. These filters are often designed to work several years and will save you cash over the long run, though they cost more initially. However, washable filters should be dried out thoroughly before returning it back to prevent mold growth in your ductwork. In addition, most washable filters typically have a MERV rating between 1 and 4, and they lose their efficiency over the years. Some washable filters have been built with new technology, such as electrostatic air filters, that are meant to effectively improve the MERV rating.

And lastly, filters are built with different materials. Fiberglass filters are what is commonly used, and are the disposable type. Polyester and pleated filters are known to catch more debris, but also decrease the airflow in your residence. And there are high efficiency particulate arrestance filters, or HEPA for short. While you may be tempted to put in a HEPA filter, just consider that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC system and it's not unlikely that your equipment was made to handle that kind of resistance.

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Can indoor air be hazardous to your health?

Absolutely. Exposure to air pollutants can be up to 100 times higher indoors than outdoors. The American Lung Association estimates that most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, making indoor air quality (IAQ) a critical component of home comfort. Many common household items contribute to poor indoor air quality. Compounds found in carpeting, furniture, upholstery and drapery fabric constantly emit fumes. Other sources of pollutants can include cleaning agents, paints and personal care products. The tight construction of today's homes also contributes significantly to poor IAQ. Things like weather stripping and storm doors are designed to save on energy costs. However, they also prevent proper ventilation by keeping indoor air in and outdoor air out. The result can be a buildup of contaminants within the home.

Poor IAQ can contribute to several health problems. Medical groups report that as many as half of all illnesses are caused or aggravated by indoor air pollution. Pollutants within the home can cause homeowners to suffer from flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and respiratory irritation. As well, two existing health problems that can be helped by improving indoor air quality are allergies and asthma. By removing airborne dust particles, the amount of exposure the respiratory system has to them is reduced. Proper ventilation also plays an important role in improving indoor air quality, helping to reduce the concentration of pollutants inside the home.

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How can I find carbon monoxide in my home?

The best method of detection is to use a carbon monoxide detector indoors. A carbon monoxide detector is like a smoke alarm. It monitors the air for carbon monoxide and emits an alarm if a specific level is detected. Ideally, you should have at least one detector adjacent to every living area, centrally located, or on each floor in your home. Carbon monoxide detectors are very effective when used in combination with preventive maintenance. Call 512-596-1257 for additional details about purchasing a carbon monoxide detector.

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512-596-1257 for additional details about purchasing a carbon monoxide detector.">
How can I eliminate indoor odors?

You may have tried to cover up indoor odors by spraying air fresheners or lighting candles. Unfortunately, these tactics only mask the odors, they don't get rid of them. These remedies may in fact negatively affect indoor air quality from chemicals that cause allergic reactions or eye irritation for homeowners.

Bacteria, dust mites, animal dander, cat saliva and mold may also be roots of your home's odor problem. One method to purify the air is installing germicidal (UV) lights in your home, which helps kill odors and inhibit the growth of biological contaminants, sterilizing surfaces in the HVAC system. They also purify the air, preventing the growth of contaminants. The UV lights are installed to work with your home comfort system.

Sometimes poor ventilation is also a cause of unpleasant odors. Moisture condensation on walls windows and stagnate air are signs of poor ventilation. A qualified Strand Brothers technician can inspect your home comfort system to determine if this is an issue that should be addressed. The technician can also inform you how to improve the ventilation system’s ability to properly circulate and ventilate indoor air.

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How do I choose the right humidifier?

An excellent way to choose the correct humidifier is by having a home health report performed by Strand Brothers. Every dwelling is different, and every family is different. So, every humidification need is also different. There are a few factors to evaluate when purchasing a humidifier for your home, Strand Brothers can help you understand and consider these issues.

Consider size. A humidifier's capacity, or the amount of moisture it can dispense in a given time, should match your particular household's needs. The capacity is measured as gallons per day of operation. One method that is used to determine the correct-sized humidifier for your home is by multiplying the total floor area in by the ceiling height. We can provide you with this information and additional information to help you figure out which type of humidifier will best suit you and your family’s comfort needs.

Consider cost. Consider not only the purchase price of the humidifier, but also operating and maintenance costs. Some products consume more energy than others, so choosing a model that is right for your home and budget is extremely important.

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How do I know which indoor air quality product is right for me?

Every person and every home entails a different comfort need. The threshold of irritancy and triggers that affect people’s health and comfort combine to determine the proper solutions. High threshold levels may require simple solutions like a better air filter. Low threshold levels may require an air purification system for the reduction of triggers and irritants. With a Home Health Report Card, Strand Brothers can help you decide which indoor air improvement products are right for you.

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How healthy is my indoor air?

According to studies created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to air pollutants indoors can be 100 times higher than outdoors. Frequent dusting and vacuuming can help reduce the amount of dust and dust mites present in your home. However, not all airborne particles can be eliminated. Filtration devices can help eliminate particles that are too small to be picked up by vacuuming. Some filtration devices include UV light units, air filters, energy recovery ventilators (ERVs), heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) and electronic air cleaners. A Home Health Report Card from Strand Brothers will provide the information about which indoor air improvement devices are right for you. To receive a Home Health Report Card and personal air quality consultation Strand Brothers at 512-596-1257.

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How much water does a humidifier use?

Depending on the product you choose and the size of your home, a humidifier may use from 1.5 to 12 gallons per day when the furnace is operating. The amount of liquid used is enough to raise the humidity to the proper level, but not enough to notice a difference on your water bill.

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