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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.

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.

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.

How often should you get your air ducts cleaned?

How often you should clean your air ducts depends on your situation. If you or someone in the home has asthma or is acutely allergic to certain airborne materials or pollen, regular duct cleaning may be helpful. The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have an official position on the necessity of air duct cleaning unless the ducts have been contaminated by rodents, insects or mold, or you are aware of particles blowing out through the vents. The EPA recommends you have your air ducts cleaned on an as-needed basis. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) suggests having air ducts cleaned every three to five years.

Be cautious with companies that offer “whole house air duct cleaning,” urges the NADCA. The company may be using unscrupulous tactics to upsell you once they get started. Before any work begins, always clarify in writing what the job entails and what the cost will be. To protect yourself against fraud, read customer reviews and verify that your HVAC cleaning service has applicable licenses and certifications.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Does an HVAC technician need to enter my home?

Because most HVAC systems are located in the home, it’s likely that an HVAC technician would need to enter yours when working on the projects. However, there might be exceptions. Some HVAC systems are located in garages or in areas of the house that are sectioned off. During the consultation, ask your technician if they'll need to enter your home.

When you contact local technicians, ask if they’ll perform a video call in place of a traditional consultation. Be sure to send all materials like photos and documents digitally, and comply with all relevant guidelines.

Reviews for Ashburn hvac technicians
Al J.
Extremely overpriced and very inconsistent with the pricing. Quoted $1300 for cleaning 2 HVAC units. A buddy of mine called him and he was given a completely different quote. There are other NATE certified technicians who are more reasonably priced.
Integrity Duct Cleaning  And Hvac Service’s.Integrity Duct Cleaning And Hvac Service’s.
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Everything you need to know about HVAC technicians and services.

A heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) company provides services related to your home's air conditioner and furnace. The technicians may diagnose and fix problems for both heating and AC systems, or they may specialize in fixing central air conditioners. 

HVAC technicians can help you in a variety of ways, including but not limited to: 

  • HVAC installation for new construction or existing home
  • HVAC problem diagnostics and repair
  • 24/7 HVAC service
  • Troubleshooting an HVAC system
  • Advice about whether to repair or replace an unit
  • Regular HVAC service and maintenance

Signs your HVAC needs repairs.

If your air conditioner quits working or isn't cooling your home, you may need help from an HVAC repair service. Here are some common heating and cooling problems, and signs that your HVAC system needs professional attention:

  • Your home won’t get cool or warm.
  • Your AC is blowing warm air out of the vents.
  • Your thermostat won't regulate properly.
  • There is zero or low-air flow coming from vents when the AC is running.
  • The AC unit is making loud noises.
  • You notice a strange smell.
  • Water leaks around the unit.
  • You’re receiving higher-than-normal electric bills.
  • The unit is short cycling (the AC turns on and off).
  • The filter is dirty or clogged.
  • The refrigerator is leaking.
  • Your evaporator coils are corroded.
  • Your condenser coils are dirty.
  • There’s a tripped breaker or blown fuse.

When to repair vs. replace your HVAC system.

If your AC unit is more than 7-15 years old and it's failed more than once, it may be time to consider replacing it. You may also need to replace other components of your HVAC system. Here’s the typical life expectancy of those components, according to the International Association of Home Inspectors:

  • AC unit: 7-15 years
  • Air exchanger: 15 years
  • Boiler: 40 years
  • Burner: 10 or more years
  • Ducting: 60 to 100 years
  • Condenser: 8 to 20 years
  • Evaporative cooler: 15 to 25 years
  • Furnace: 15 to 25 years
  • Heat exchanger: 10 to 15 years
  • Heat pump: 10 to 15 years
  • Thermostats: 35 years

If the repair is simple and you aren't ready to go through the hassle of replacing your HVAC system, talk with your repair tech to find out how much longer your current system will function properly. 

If you want to get a bit more life out of your AC unit, make sure you change the filter regularly and keep the outdoor unit free of debris. Your local HVAC tech can help you with routine tune-ups, as well. 

Before deciding whether to repair or replace an AC unit, get quotes from HVAC technicians on Thumbtack.

How much do HVAC repairs cost?

Repairing your AC system may cost an average of $300 if the problem requires a parts replacement. A repair-only service call costs an average of $50-$100. Depending on the HVAC repair service company, you may simply pay a flat rate for a diagnostic visit during regular business hours. 

To learn how much it may cost for HVAC repairs, search for a technician near you on Thumbtack.

How to choose the best HVAC technician.

When choosing a local HVAC technician, check reviews from current and past customers on Thumbtack. Look for companies with mostly positive reviews and high ratings.

Before you hire a company, read their profiles and make sure they offer the services you need. Contact a few companies you like, ask about their pricing and explain the problems you’re experiencing with your HVAC system.

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