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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

What is the most common type of heating system?

The most common type of home heating system is a forced-air heating and cooling system. This type of heater involves a furnace, which is commonly powered by natural gas, forcing air through a series of ducts that distribute the hot air through different rooms in a house. Furnaces can run on other types of fuel, including electricity, propane and oil. This type of heating system is quite popular because it doubles as a path for air conditioning in the summer.

Why is my air conditioner leaking water?

An air conditioner leaking inside the house is a common problem. It could indicate that the air filter is dirty. Or, one of the following may be the culprit:

  • Clogged condensate drain line
  • Leaky, damaged, cracked or rusted drain pan
  • Dirty or broken coils
  • Frozen evaporator coils
  • Broken condensate pump
  • Not enough refrigerant
  • Disconnected drain line

If your AC is leaking, contact a repair service to find out what the problem is — and how much it will cost to fix it.

What is the most efficient heating system for a house?

Geothermal heating tends to be the most efficient way to heat a house when compared to traditional HVAC systems, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Geothermal heat pumps (also called ground-source heat pumps) transfer energy to and from the ground to supply heat, cool air and hot water.

Note that one of the most important ways to boost efficiency, save electricity and lower your heating bills is to make sure your house is weather-tight and well-insulated.

How much does it cost to install a heating system?

The cost of a heating system depends largely on the type and size of the heating system. For example:

To find out how much your new heating system will cost, contact heating and air companies near you and ask for free cost estimates.

Can I install central air myself?

While you may be able to do some preparation work for central air installation, you should hire a licensed contractor to complete the project and handle the air conditioning refrigerants. 

Also, unless you have the proper credentials, you risk making common mistakes when installing central air. This may include installing the wrong-size furnace, improperly installing ductwork and exhaust systems, and incorrectly managing drainage.

To ensure your central air is installed correctly, contact the best HVAC pros near you and start getting free estimates today.

Does central air add value to a home?

A central air unit or HVAC system may add value to your home. Or, if you’re in the process of selling your home, it may help you close a sale.

The Remodeling Impact report found that 20% of realtors have suggested that home sellers replace their HVAC before attempting to sell their homes, and 7% said this project did help close a sale. 

Talk with an expert to figure out if adding an HVAC system is a good idea for your home. And contact the best HVAC pros near you to get free estimates so you’ll know how much this project will cost you.

Is it worth it to install central air?

Depending on where you live, it might be worth it to install central air. Central air makes your house comfortable on hot summer days. And although it’s hard to predict if adding central air will increase your home’s value, prospective homebuyers will certainly notice if it’s missing.

Another advantage of central air is that it can help dehumidify your home. Not only will it make your home more comfortable and enjoyable, but it can also  help prevent mold from growing or spreading.

Contact the best HVAC contractors near you to learn more about the central air installation process and to start receiving free estimates.

How do I find a good HVAC or AC contractor?

Performing an online search is the quickest way to locate the best HVAC or AC contractors near you. This makes it easier to view multiple top-rated pros quickly and efficiently.

Start by looking at the contractors’ ratings and reading the customer reviews. Pay attention to reviews that mention details about the HVAC contractors’ quality of work. Did they complete the job on time? Did they overcharge? Were they communicative with the customer throughout the process? 

You should also review any photos of past projects that customers (or pros) may have uploaded. Looking at before-and-after photos of air conditioners and HVAC systems will give you a good idea of how skilled the contractors are.

Next, check whether your state or city requires HVAC and AC professionals to be licensed. If so, anyone you work with should comply with these requirements. 

Once you’ve chosen a few potential contractors, ask for free estimates. Compare their quotes, and choose a HVAC contractor who is qualified, affordable and reputable.

Do HVAC technicians offer remote or virtual services?

Because HVAC technicians need to be physically present to do their work, they have not conventionally offered remote or virtual services. However, with the importance of social distancing due to COVID-19, the need for remote capabilities is greater than ever. If you come across a profile that states the HVAC technician or AC professional is offering remote services, message the pro to find out what those services include.

Consult with your technician to see if the technician will be able to perform a video call consultation. You can find local technicians near you by searching online.

How long does it take to install a new heating system?

A new heating system generally takes a few days to install. Jobs that require new ductwork will take more time. And switching to a different type of heat fuel — propane, natural gas, oil or electricity — may require longer installation times as well, as they could require routing piping, regulators and other adjustments to your home.

What you need to know about HVAC contractors.

What do you call someone who installs HVAC systems?

A professional that installs HVAC systems is an HVAC technician. They have special training in HVAC repair and installation, which includes ventilation, refrigeration and air conditioning systems for homes and businesses. 

What is HVAC in construction?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. These are the mechanical systems that provide safe and comfortable air quality inside your house. 

How much is a contractor for an AC unit?

Contractor prices vary widely depending on the area where you live and the type of job you need done. On average, AC contractors charge between $925-$1,034 to install an AC unit with 0.5 ton cooling. Installing a complete HVAC system with ductwork will cost anywhere from $7,217-$12,569. 

Whether you’re thinking about installing a small AC unit or a HVAC system, get cost estimates from several HVAC contractors near you.

What do residential HVACs do?

The three main functions of an HVAC system or heating, cooling and ventilation. HVAC systems in a house control the cooling and heating of the interior spaces. A home's HVAC system uses air from outside and cools or heats it before pushing it into the interior of the house. Your HVAC may also remove smoke, moisture, odors, bacteria, dust and other allergens from the air. 

What do air conditioning companies do?

In general, air conditioning companies and HVAC technicians help maintain, install and repair your home’s cooling and heating systems. Some HVAC companies focus on just repair or installation. They may offer solar panel installation, commercial refrigeration, water-based heating and other HVAC micro-niches. 

How long does an HVAC system last?

A heating and cooling system may last between 15 and 25 years with proper maintenance, depending on the type of system. If you have concerns about your system’s lifespan, an HVAC contractor near you can tell you more about the specific pros and cons of the system you’ve chosen. They can also help you inspect and maintain your HVAC each year. 

What are the different types of HVAC systems?

Heating and cooling split systems are common. They include two separate units, a cooling system that’s installed outside of the building, and a heating system installed inside. The heating unit typically uses gas as fuel. A thermostat placed inside your home lets you adjust the temperature to your comfort level. 

A hybrid split system uses gas or electricity, depending on the homeowner's preferences. This system uses traditional thermostats and ducts and may help reduce utility bills and energy use.

A duct-free mini-split system works well if there aren't traditional ducts to support other systems. Up to four inside units for each outside unit can help control the interior temperature of a home or building.

A packaged heating and air condition system is a single unit placed outside the building. It heats and cools the interior spaces. For homes with limited space, this option could be your best option. 

What kind of HVAC system is best?

When choosing an HVAC system, it's important to consult with a professional HVAC technician who can explain your options and evaluate your choices based on your climate and budget.

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