Category Archives: Furnace Repairs

Which AC Brand is Best?


So you are in the process of deciding on a new AC or Heating system. You’ve done your homework and received multiple quotes. Now you are asking yourself, which quote and which brand is better?

Lets begin this discussion by talking about the offers before we get into the Brands. Take a look at the offers. Is the company making the offer reputable? What are their reviews on such sites as Angie’s List or Google? I don’t recommend Yelp. The reason is that you have to take into account that Yelp tends to be a place for disgruntled people to slam any business they want to without the business being able to dispute the issue. The reviewer is hidden behind only a first name and is at times difficult to identify by the business who may want to reach out and try to rectify the problem. Google and Angie’s List make it easier for the company to discuss solutions with the customer and the reviews are more reliable because the review is identified. This make it hard for fake reviews which are very common on Yelp.

So you’ve narrowed your selection down to a few good companies. This is important. And the reason you want a good company is because your new system will be warrantied the first year through the installer, not the brand. You don’t want to risk a problem with the installation on someone who might not return your phone calls the day after he installed your unit. Second reason is what if the installer has some sort of problem and cannot continue to work? Maybe a workman’s compensation claim, and accident, a legal violation or some other health issue prevents them from doing any further work? What if they move out of your local area? Established companies are far less likely to have any of these issues affect their ability to provide warranty work.

Now you might be down to 2 or 3 companies. All with excellent reviews and a well established presence in your community or geographic area. The offers look very similar, the prices are close with a few differences. These differences may be due to different company policies or overhead costs. Some companies go the extra distance and replace components that other companies my leave behind. Others put in a few extra safety features or upgrade thermostats, just to name a few differences. It is now time to look at the Brands.

We look at the brands last because the installation problems are 80% due to the installation and 20% on the equipment. Most of the equipment goes through rigorous quality testing at the factories and there is less variability in equipment quality from one unit to the next. The installer has less consistency and their reliability is less easier to measure. With that said, lets look at brands.

Some brands are designed, manufactured and assembled in the US. Others are completely designed and assembled in another country and shipped to the US. But no brand is 100% designed, manufactured and assembled in the US. There are small components that are common to many brands that may be manufactured and shipped to the assembly plant. Here in lies the true quality of the Brands. Most brands share the same compressor manufacture, such as Bristol or Copeland. And all those manufacturers make is the compressors. There are electrical components that are purchased as well, such as circuit boards, relays, gas valves, contactors, and capacitors. The Brands typically keep in-house the coils, heat exchangers, and cabinet designs. In essence they are all almost equal. There is a variety of quality in the components and that can make a huge difference in the system quality. There are brands that will be cheaper due to using lower quality components. There are what I consider the “off-brand” products. I would stay away from those if you plan to stay in your home for any period of time. They may be a good option for a builder or a person selling their home or a landlord. These owners typically are not worried about the maintenance costs.

Of the big name brands, Carrier, Lennox, Rheem, Trane, York, the quality is comparable to each other. Not much help? Then lets look at the warranties. Many of these companies farm out their labor warranties to a third

party warranty company. I hope you are asking why they would do that? I know I do. Most companies force the first year labor warranty back on to the installer. Yes I brought that back. And for a reason. Remember I said 80% of the first year issues is due to the installation and not the equipment. Now that starts to make since. But why do they farm out the extended labor warranty? I always wondered if this meant that they don’t have faith in their own equipment.

Warning, here’s where I pitch the brand I carry. York is the only brand that is designed, manufactured, quality tested and assembled in the USA that the extended 10 year labor warranty is backed by the manufacturer and not through a third part. I truly believe this is because they have faith in their product and are willing to stand behind it for 10 years. I know of no other brand that does that.

Call us today. We are your award winning Heating, Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical contractor servicing Raleigh-Durham area since 2012.




Help! My heat is not working. I set my thermostat to 69 but my heat only gets up to 67 then it stops. What is wrong?

This sounds like a common problem that we run into many times during the heating season. It is especially common for people with image of digital thermostatheat pump systems. A heat pump system typically has two different heat sources, the primary heat and the secondary heat. The primary heat is supplied by the heat pump which is just an air conditioner in reverse gear. The secondary heat is usually electric heat strips similar to the plug in space heaters you find in many retail stores. This type of secondary heat is what is called radiant heat and is very inefficient. You can tell how frequently your system uses radiant heat by how high your electric utility bill gets in the winter.

This secondary heat is sometimes referred to as emergency heat or AUX heat on your thermostat. It Picture of resistance heat stripsusually will have an indicator light or some other indication on touch screen thermostats. It can also be the primary source of heat if the thermostat is manually set to AUX HEAT or EM HEAT. Setting this mode will turn off the heat pump and only use the secondary heat. But this is very expensive so only use this if your heat pump is not working and until the service technician can get it back up and working properly.

In our case, what is happening is that the heat pump is not working and the system is relying only on the secondary heat. With a properly matched thermostat, the internal program recognizes when the heat pump is struggling to heat the house in cold temperatures and initiates the secondary heat to help the heat pump. The program also limits this help to when the actual house temperature is 2 or more degrees below the set temperature. This restriction, which is built into the thermostat program, is why the house will never get all the way up to the set temperature with the malfunctioning heat pump and the thermostat on the normal settings.

The situation does require further investigation as to why the heat pump is not working, but the information provided here is not enough to make a proper diagnosis. That will require someone to put their test equipment on the unit. The home owner can switch the thermostat to AUX HEAT in the meantime and it will keep the house at the set temperature, but it will be very expensive to leave it that way for too long.

Top 4 HVAC Repair Myths

  1. A technician said my coil is rusty therefore I must have a leak. Although likely to be true, it is not 100% accurate. The coil rusts when too much water or ice builds up on the coil over time. Ice can build up on the coil for other reasons, not just for leaks. Air flow has just as much impact on creating a frozen coil situation. Crushed ducts, poor design or dirty air York Air Conditionerfilters can all prevent enough warm air from flowing across the coil to prevent it from freezing. Proper maintenance and routine filter changes can help prevent frozen coils.
  2. My Capacitor is not swollen so it must be good. Not necessarily. A capacitor can be weak but not dead. A weak capacitor can wreak more havoc than a dead capacitor. Usually a dead capacitor will prevent the motor from running. Whereas a weak capacitor will allow the motor to run under poor conditions and quickly shorten the life of the motor. Motor replacements are expensive.
  3. A technician said a UV light would prevent dirt in my ducts. While a UV light helps prevent bacteria from growing on your coil, it does not prevent or destroy dust particles. Those pass the light unaffected and build up on motors and insulation that allows mold growth.
  4. I don’t need to maintain my heating or air conditioning system until it stops working. Although this is the choice most homeowners make, it is incorrect to assume the system will run fine without maintenance. Hidden dangers build up every year that a system goes without maintenance. Capacitors start to go weak (see item #2), compressors start to run hotter, drain lies build up with mildew. Delaying the maintenance will likely force the homeowner to spend more money on major repairs sooner than would be normal for a well maintained system. Maintenance does not guaranty your system will not need any repairs, but it does improve the life span of one of the most expensive systems in your home. You change the oil in your car every 3000 miles, why wouldn’t you have your system cleaned and inspected every year too.



alexander hvac logo Large 300dpi

Are You at Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?


  • Have an older home?
  • Is your furnace over 20 years old?
  • Do you have a carbon monoxide detector?

Don’t be like one of our recent clients!!

After installing a carbon monoxide detector, it went off immediately that night. The gas company came and read 4 times the allowable limit in the house. That is a significant risk to life. All due to a hole in the furnace heat exchanger. This deadly situation was avoided when we replaced their 25 year old furnace, saving the family from a high probability of carbon monoxide poisoning or even death.

Don’t risk your family’s life.

Call Alexander Heating and Air Conditioning today for a furnace check up. We will inspect your heat exchanger and make sure it is safe for you and your family.

Read More…


My Furnace Stopped Working!

Furnace Problems?

You wake up in the middle of the night shivering cold. Throwing the blankets aside you rush to the thermostat only to find the set temperature is 70 but your house is now below 60! The


furnace is either not running or blowing cold air.

But before you go call an HVAC company and spend hundreds of dollars for emergency hours fees, how about taking a minute to figure out what might be wrong with the furnace?

Here’s a little article I wrote today about some furnace diagnostics. It may help you know if the HVAC person who comes to your house actually knows what he is doing. this can save you a lot of time and money.

Read More…