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Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we get about Smith & Keene, HVAC systems, Generators, Plumbing, and Electrical and answered them.

General Questions

Does Smith & Keene offer financing?

We understand that HVAC replacements and new installations can be a big expense for families and small businesses. That’s why we’re happy to offer a variety of financing options from which our customers can choose. All of the lending institutions we work with are FDIC insured and offer competitive options. Learn more about our financing options.

How much experience do Smith & Keene’s techs and installers have?

At Smith & Keene, we only employ dedicated, long-term employees with hundreds of years of combined experience. Our technicians and installers are our team of Smith & Keene employees, no middle-man subcontractors. Learn more about Smith & Keene’s commitment to excellence.

HVAC Questions

What is the difference between a furnace and a heat pump?

Both furnaces and heat pumps are used to keep your home warm. Furnaces are some of the oldest heating devices still used to keep residential homes warm. They convert a fuel source, such as natural gas, oil, electricity, or induction, into heat.

Heat pumps are part of a central heating and cooling system. They use electricity or natural gas and refrigerant to convert heat from outside air inside your home to keep it warm in the winter and remove hot air from inside your home to keep it cool in the summer.

Learn more about the HVAC systems on the market and which one is better for your home. Call the expert HVAC technician team at Smith & Keene for a free consultation to install your new HVAC system today.

What does HVAC stand for?

HVAC is an acronym for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. Your HVAC system, or home comfort system, has three main functions. “H,” heating your home in the cooler winter months. “V,” ventilating the air in your home. Your ventilation system filters the air in your home, recirculates it, and redistributes the temperature-controlled air in your home. “AC,” air conditioning – cooling your home in the hot summer season. Learn more about key HVAC terms.

What are the different types of HVAC systems?

There are two main options of HVAC systems in Hampton Roads. There are split systems (a furnace and air conditioner paired unit, or an air handler and heat pump paired unit), and all-in-one package units. Learn more about different HVAC systems. Contact Smith & Keene to schedule our certified technicians to guide you through the right HVAC system to most efficiently and effectively keep your home comfortable year-round.

What are the parts of HVAC Systems?

Whether your home has an all-in-one package unit or a split system (of either a furnace and air conditioner matched unit, or an air handler and heat pump matched unit), the system will also include two additional key components. Your HVAC system will also include a thermostat and ventilation system. Learn more about key HVAC components.

What are the signs that your HVAC System is nearing the end?

There are several indicators that the time to replace your HVAC system is near. The age of your unit, airflow, and the ability to blow air that is the right temperature,  unusual noises, foul odors, leaks, and other maintenance issues can be indicators that your HVAC will need to be replaced soon. Learn more about 10 signs that it's time to replace your HVAC system.

What are some signs that I will need a new furnace?

Your furnace is an appliance with telltale signs indicating the tipping point to invest in a new unit is near. If your furnace is 15 years or older, your heat is inefficient, energy bills are exceedingly high, or making loud noises, then a new furnace may be on the horizon. Learn more about indicators that you may need a new furnace.

What should I do if my heater is not working?

If you run into issues with your heating unit test these areas first: thermostat, power source, filters, condensation plans, and motor reset. For more details on testing a heater that is not functioning well read this blog. After troubleshooting, if you are still experiencing issues, it is time to contact the expert team of technicians at Smith & Keene.

What is R-22 and why is it so expensive?

R-22 refrigerant, commonly known as Freon, is a cooling agent that was used in many air conditioning units prior to 2010. Because it is not good for the environment, In 2010, production of R-22 refrigerant was required to be reduced by 75%, and the manufacturing of equipment containing R-22 was no longer allowed. Learn more about what to do if you have existing HVAC equipment that still use R-22.

How should I maintenance my HVAC system before winter?

The fall season in Hampton Roads is the ideal time to give your HVAC a once-over. Maintenance your HVAC system in the fall to help prevent costly repair bills in the harsher winter season. Clean your vents and replace filters, clean your outdoor condenser unit and condensation drain line, check and reprogram your thermostat. Schedule an annual maintenance check by a professional HVAC company to catch minor problems that could turn into major repairs. Learn more on how to maintain your HVAC before winter.

When are Ductless Mini Split Systems the right choice?

Ductless Mitsubishi Mini Split System is a zoned heating and cooling system without the requirement of an air duct. These heating and cooling systems are made up of an outdoor pump unit and one or more indoor wall unit consoles. Many homeowners across Hampton Roads are moving to a Mini-Split System to heat and cool hard-to-control spaces in their homes.  Other homeowners are using Ductless Mini Split Systems to heat and cool their entire home using a zone model. Learn more about the benefits of a Ductless Mitsubishi Mini Split System by reading this blog.

How can I keep my home cool and efficient in the summer?

When the summer heatwaves hit Hampton Roads, staying cool is the name of the game. Running your air conditioner full-blast all summer long can run up your utility bills quickly. There are several steps that you can take to keep your home cool and efficient in the midst of the summer heat.  Those include routine maintenance of your HVAC system, adjusting your thermostat, utilizing fans, insulating, and avoid overheating appliances. Read to learn more about these five tips to improve your home’s energy efficiency while enhancing the cooling effects of your air conditioner.

Generator Questions

What does an automatic transfer switch do?

An automatic transfer switch recognizes when the prime power source from your home is lost and automatically transfers to the generator for power, without you lifting a finger! Learn more about how an automatic transfer switch works and its benefits.

How do I know what size generator my home needs?

The best way to determine what size generator your home needs is to consult the experts. If the wrong size generator is bought and it is ill-equipped to handle the number of appliances or power needed, it can cause stress on the generator and the appliances.

How does a home standby generator with automatic switch work?

When your home’s main power source is cut-off, the generator automatically initiates as an alternative power source.  When your home’s main power source is restored, the generator automatically turns off.  No messing with gas cans and setting up extension cords which are necessary with portable generators.  The standby generator provides peace of mind that your home’s power never goes out. Learn more about how an automatic transfer switch works and its benefits.

How much does a whole house generator add to the value of a house?

According to Consumer Reports, installing a whole-home standby generator can increase your home’s value by 3-5%. Learn more about the value of a whole house generator.

Plumbing Questions

What size water heater do I need to provide hot water to my home?

There are several factors that go into determining the right size water heater to supply your home with the appropriate amount of hot water. Some considerations include the number of people in your home, the number of appliances, sinks, and bathrooms that will require a hot water supply. For more information on selecting the right hot water heater for your home or business, schedule a consultation today. The expert plumbers of Smith & Keene will evaluate your home’s water needs and select the optimum water heater system to meet your needs.  

How do you know that your hot water heater will need replacing soon?

The average hot water heater lasts 8 – 12 years, some tankless models can last up to 20 years.  If your hot water heater is nearing the 10-year mark, you should prepare for its replacement. Learn more about the signs that your hot water heater is nearing the end.

Do you have maintenance tips for garbage disposals?

Yes, we have 10 proven do’s and don’ts that will extend the life of your garbage disposal. Read all 10 tips here. If your garbage disposal requires repair or overall replacement, contact the experienced Smith & Keene plumbing team to get your system running smoothly.

What is the advantage of a tankless water heater?

To overcome the issue of insufficient hot water in their home, many homeowners are upgrading their hot water heaters from a traditional tank system to an on-demand tankless unit. There are several advantages to a tankless water heater including: space-saving, an endless supply of hot water, hot water on demand, energy efficiency and cost savings. Learn more about the advantages to considering a tankless hot water heater for your home.

Electrical Questions

What are some types of recessed lighting that Smith & Keene can install?

Smith & Keene’s certified electrician team is equipped to handle any lighting installation. Several popular installations include layered lighting, ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. Learn more about recessed lighting installation options. Before tackling the installation of lighting on your own, contact the expert electricians at Smith & Keene.

Fresh-Aire System Questions

What Is A Whole-House Air Treatment System?

The EPA found that indoor air quality typically has 2 to 5 times more pollutants than outdoor air. While traditional air filters associated with your home’s heating and cooling system capture some contaminants, they don’t truly purify the air. To tackle biological and chemical pollutants circulating in your home’s air requires a whole-house air treatment system.

A whole-house air treatment system is a purifying system that attaches to your home’s air handler. Utilizing specialized technology, whole house air treatment systems aim to better purify your indoor air by cleaning biological and chemical pollutants.

Why Install A Whole-House Air Treatment System?

Improve In-Home Air Quality

Most obviously, a whole-house air treatment system provides safer and cleaner air to breathe in your home. Many homeowners in Hampton Roads are concerned with the mold and bacteria that frequently collects in the ductwork in this highly humid area. Mold and bacteria are biological contaminants that will continue to grow and multiply if not addressed.

Foul odors from HVAC systems are another common complaint. In addition to the musty smell of mold growth in ductwork, chemical contaminants can cause ill smells. No amount of air fresheners can eliminate the odors of chemical contaminants nor remove their toxicity.

Whole-house air treatment systems address both the biological contaminants (mold, bacteria, and viruses) and chemical contaminants.

Improve Life Of Your HVAC System

The cleaner your HVAC system is, the more efficient it will run. The more efficient your heating and cooling system runs, the less you will pay on utility bills. Additionally, if your system is running smoothly and efficiently, it will be less likely to need costly repairs. The life of your HVAC system will be extended by being cleaner and more efficient.

Is A Whole-Home Air Treatment System A Convenient Air Purifying Option?

Whole-home air treatment systems are easily integrated into existing HVAC systems and or ductwork. Unlike room purifiers, whole-home systems do not take up space in your home. They are integrated with your current HVAC system. Additionally, whole-home air treatment systems are self-cleaning. They require little to no maintenance.

Why Does UV Light Kill Germs?

UV-C light (the frequency used in germicidal UV lights) kills germs by disrupting their DNA which prevents them from reproducing, effectively killing them. In nature, this frequency of light is filtered out by the Earth’s atmosphere so microbes have no defense against it. Source: Fresh-Aire UV

Is UV Light Safe For Children And Pets?

When a UV light system is installed in a central air system the germ-killing effect takes place inside the air system and is limited to that area. There is no danger to any living thing in the home except microbes that are carried by the air into the central air system. Source: Fresh-Aire UV

How Long Does It Take For The UV Light To Kill Mold?