fixing a ductless ac unit

Common Reasons Why Your AC Won’t Turn On

With warmer weather right around the corner, many people in and around the Boston area will turn on their air conditioner for the first time.

Upon doing so, it’s your hope that it fires up quickly and cools you down in a hurry.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. It’s possible that your AC won’t turn on, thus leaving you in a hot house with nothing but a bunch of questions.

Here are some of the more common reasons for an air conditioner that won’t turn on after a long winter:

Incorrect Thermostat Setting

This is the first thing you should check, as it’s often the culprit. And if it is, you’ll be glad to know that it won’t cost you anything to make things right.

Check to make sure that you switched your thermostat from “heat” to “cool.” If you didn’t do this, your air conditioner will not come on – no matter how hot your house gets.

Once you do that, set it approximately three to five degrees cooler than your current indoor temperature. This prompts the unit to turn on, while also giving you time to see if it’s working.

Note: start by checking the outdoor unit to ensure that the fan is spinning. From there, head back inside to see if cool air is coming from your vents.

Switches or Breakers are Turned Off

Depending on how you shut down your AC at the end of last season, it’s possible that a switch and/or breaker needs to be turned to the on position.

For example, many homeowners are in the habit of turning off the outdoor power switch before winter arrives. It’s okay to do this, but only if you remember to turn it back on in the spring.

Also, check the breaker for your AC in the panel box, as it should be in the on position.

If you don’t turn all applicable switches and breakers on, you could go on a “wild goose chase” for no reason.

Malfunctioning Motor

This is one of those problems you don’t want to have, but it’s actually a common occurrence (especially in older units).

There are many signs of a malfunctioning or broken motor, such as a fan that doesn’t spin or loud noises that appear when your unit turns on.[i]

Without a functioning motor, it goes without saying that your AC won’t produce cold air.

What Should You Do?

If your AC won’t turn on this spring, start by checking the thermostat, switches and breakers. Should you find something wrong with one or more of these, you can probably adjust it yourself and begin to enjoy a cool home.

However, if you run into a more serious issue, such as a malfunctioning motor or warm air coming from your vents, it’s time to contact a professional.

At Boston Standard Plumbing, we’re happy to visit your home to help start your air conditioner or diagnose and repair any problems you’re having. Contact us to schedule an appointment.



central air conditioning units

How to Choose the Right Central Air Conditioner

A large number of Boston residents rely on their central air conditioner to keep them cool during the hot summer months. While everything is fine and dandy when your AC system is working as expected, there may come a point when you run into trouble.

Do you need to replace your old air conditioner with a new unit? Are you interested in adding central AC to your home?

There are many benefits of upgrading your system, ranging from cost savings to quieter performance – and that’s just the start.

If the time comes to choose a central air conditioner, here’s where you should focus your attention:

AC Unit Size

Bigger is better, right? Well, when it comes to your central air conditioner, nothing could be further from the truth.

You want to choose a unit that is large enough to cool your entire home, but not so large that it’s inefficient. If you end up with an AC that’s too large for the square footage of your home, it’ll cycle on and off too often, thus consuming more energy.

The perfect size will cool your home on even the hottest of days, all while maintaining a high level of efficiency.

Energy Efficiency

Speaking of efficiency, not every AC unit is as efficient as the next. When buying, pay attention to the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER).

Even though the government requires every newly manufactured AC unit to have a SEER rating of 13 or above, some are better than others.[i] Generally, you’ll find units that are rated anywhere from 14 to 22, with higher numbers being more energy efficient.

The Type of Compressor

An often overlooked detail, the type of compressor has a big impact on the ability of an air conditioner to efficiently cool your home.

There are three types of units:

  • Single-stage: Shorter run cycles that often result in temperature swings (periods of comfort and feeling overheated).
  • Two-stage: Longer run cycles with the ability to maintain a stable temperature.
  • Variable speed: With continuous operation, it’s able to effectively maintain a constant temperature.

Two-stage and variable speed units are the most efficient.[ii]

What About Price?

The average cost of installing a new central AC unit varies greatly based on factors such as:

  • Type of unit
  • Manufacturer
  • Location
  • Other required services

According to HomeAdvisor, expect to pay between $1,500 and $4,000 for a central air conditioner.[iii]

Consult with your AC contractor to find a unit that will work for your home, while also fitting into your budget.

It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in a new central AC unit or re quire service or maintenance, we’re here to provide you with high quality service at a competitive price.

Contact us for answers to your questions, professional advice, and/or to schedule an appointment. We’ll make sure you have the central AC system you need to keep you, your family, and your home cool this summer.


outdoor condenser unit

How to Clean Your AC Condenser Unit This Spring

As a Boston resident, you wait all winter long for warm weather to arrive. And when it finally does, you’re ready to take full advantage.

While it’s enjoyable to spend time outdoors, there comes a point when you want to relax in a cool home. And that’s why you need your air conditioner to be working at its peak efficiency throughout the duration of summer (and maybe into fall).

Proper maintenance is critical to the overall performance of your HVAC system. Not to mention the fact that it also extends the life of your AC.

When the time comes this spring, head outside your home, pull the cover off your AC condenser, and take a closer look. From there, it’s time to take action. It’s time to clean your AC condenser unit. Here’s what you need to do:[i]

Shut Off the Power

Before you do anything, shut off the power to your air conditioner. Safety always comes first.

You need to do the following:

  • Turn the power off at the breaker box inside your home
  • Turn the power off in the shut-off box located near the condenser

Once you do this, you can confidently clean your condenser without fears of injury.

Remove Debris

This includes both inside and outside the condenser itself. If you didn’t cover your condenser over the winter, there’s a good chance debris – such as sticks, leaves, and other miscellaneous items – have built up inside.

Start by removing the fan cage from the unit. From there, use your hands or a vacuum to clean out the debris.

As for the exterior, remove any debris, including shrubs, that are against the condenser. You want to give it plenty of room to breathe.

Clean and Straighten the Fins

With the help of a hose, spray water through the fins from the inside out. This helps remove any debris that gathered in them over the winter months.

Tip: never use a pressure washer, as doing so can damage the fins, along with other parts of the condenser unit.

Upon completion, visually inspect the fins for straightness. If any of them are bent, use a butter knife to gently return them to their original shape. Too many crooked fins can restrict airflow, which reduces the efficiency of your system.

As a homeowner, these are the types of things you can do to clean your AC condenser unit this spring.

Should you need to get into more detailed maintenance and repairs – such as cleaning the evaporator coil – it’s best to consult with a professional. You don’t want to tackle a job that’s over your head, as you could end up causing more harm than good.

It doesn’t matter if you need an AC repair service or are interested in installing central air in your home, don’t hesitate to contact us.

With many years of service and installation experience in and around the Boston area, we’re here to keep you and your home cool this summer.



changing an air conditioning filter

A Spring AC Checklist for Homeowners

After a long winter, residents of Boston are ready for warm weather to move into the area. And when this happens, it won’t be long before you’re turning on your air conditioner and hoping that your house cools down as expected.

If you want your AC to provide you with many months of efficient service, there are a few important steps you can take before the hot summer season arrives.

Here’s a spring AC checklist for homeowners:

Inspect the Compressor

With snow and super-cold temperatures in the past, head outdoors to check on the condition of your compressor.

Does it visibly appear to be in good working order? Do you notice anything that’s changed since you last laid eyes on it? Do you see any debris inside the unit? Is there any overgrown vegetation to clear?

If everything checks out, you can move on to the next points on your checklist.

Change the Air Filter

As a general rule of thumb, you should change the air filter – typically located next to your furnace – every 90 days to ensure efficient operation of your air conditioner.[i]

Many people assume that the filter only comes into play when using the furnace, but that’s a myth. It also cleans your air when your AC is running.

Tip: keep track of how often you change your filter so you never let more than 90 days pass by.

Check the Thermostat

It doesn’t matter if you have one thermostat or several, you should check these for proper operation before turning on your air conditioner for the season.

For example, this is a good time to change the batteries and adjust timer functions.

Tip: don’t forget to change your thermostat from heat to cool. Without this, your AC won’t work. It sounds like a silly mistake, but it’s one that many people make.

Check the Electrical System

To start, make sure your air conditioner is turned on at the compressor. You may have turned it off before winter.

This is also a good time to check the breaker for your AC in the panel box.

Once you’ve done those two things, inspect all wiring, contactors, and fuses. If you come across a loose connection, tighten it before doing anything else.[ii]

Tip: don’t touch any electrical components until you’re 100 percent sure that all power is shut off to the AC system.

When You Need Us, Boston Standard is Here for You

This spring checklist will help you get your air conditioner up and running when Spring arrives in Boston this year. It’s critical to inspect all components for proper operation before turning your system on.

Should you run into any issues, such as loud noises or warm air coming from your vents, turn off your AC.

From there, contact us to explain the problem and schedule an air conditioning service appointment. We can visit your home, diagnose your problem, and ensure that your AC is functional in no time. We’ll do whatever it takes to keep you cool this summer!


preparing ac for summer

How to Prepare Your AC for the Warmer Summer Months

After you make your way through a long and cold Boston winter, you’re looking forward to warmer temperatures moving into the area. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself firing up your AC with hopes of it keeping you and your home cool over the months to come.

If you have central air conditioning, it’s imperative to prepare it to perform at peak efficiency all summer long. Here are some of the steps you can take:

Change Your Air Filter

Generally speaking, you should change your HVAC system’s air filter every 90 days.[i] And yes, you need to do this even when your furnace isn’t running.

Get into the habit of marking down when you last changed your filter. This way, you know when it’s due again, ensuring that you never forget.

A dirty air filter will bog down your system, while also making it more difficult to push cool air to every room in your home. And when your AC has to work overtime, your energy bill will soar.

Check Your Thermostat

This is a relatively quick step, as long as you don’t run into any problems.

First off, swap out the batteries if the thermostat is indicating that it’s time to do so. If you can’t remember the last time you did this, it never hurts to replace the batteries.

From there, switch your thermostat to cool and set the appropriate temperature.

Tip: if your old thermostat is no longer providing you with the service you’ve come to expect, consider swapping it out for a more modern Wi-Fi unit.

Clean the Outdoor Condenser

After a harsh winter, your condenser may be covered in dirt and debris. If you don’t clean it thoroughly, dirt and debris will continue to accumulate, eventually taking its toll on the efficiency of your unit.

This is also a good time of the year to cut back any vegetation, such as tall grass or weeds, that are growing around the unit.

Inspect Ductwork for Leaks

When your AC powers on, you expect it to deliver cold air to the designated rooms. However, if you have leaks in your ductwork, you won’t get the performance you’re looking for.

If you’re aware of any leaks that are easily accessible, seal them before turning your AC on for the first time. And if you’re unable to access a leak, contact a professional to assist you.

These are some of the more important steps to take as you prepare your AC for the warmer summer months. Once you do these things, you’re in better position for your unit to provide top-notch performance until cooler air moves back into the area.

HVAC Service for Hot & Humid Boston Summer Months

If you have any questions or concerns about preparing your AC for the summer months, contact us for advice or to schedule a service appointment. We can visit your home, inspect your entire HVAC system, and ensure that it’s ready to keep you cool.


man inspecting blocked hvac duct

Common Causes and Solutions of Blocked HVAC Ducts

A blocked HVAC duct can wreak havoc on both you and your home. For example, if a block occurs during the winter months, some (or all) of the rooms in your home may not receive heat, thus making them uninhabitable.

Understanding the most common causes of blocked ducts can help you pinpoint the problem and find a solution. You may also be able to use this knowledge to prevent trouble in the first place.

How to Check for a Blocked HVAC Duct

Since a blocked HVAC duct can share symptoms with a variety of other issues, it’s important to take immediate action to determine what you’re up against. Here are three questions to answer:

  • Are you experiencing air flow in some parts of your home but not others?
  • Does the temperature vary greatly from room to room?
  • Have you noticed a recent increase in your energy bill?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, there’s a chance you have a blocked duct. It’s at that point that you can do the following[i]:

  • Turn on the air conditioning or heat: Once it’s on, check the vents throughout your home for airflow. Make note of any rooms that are getting no air or a limited supply.
  • Inspect your furnace filter: Not only are you checking for a clogged filter, but you’re also checking to see if it’s properly installed. If it’s been a while since you last changed it, every duct may appear to have a block. That’s because the air flows through your filter before the rest of your home.
  • Check at the vents: You won’t be able to see the entire duct, but upon reviewing the cover you can use a flashlight to take a closer look. You never know what you’ll find in the ductwork, ranging from construction debris to child toys. If you spot something, take caution in removing it.
  • Inspect the ductwork from the outside: You won’t be able to see areas that are covered by drywall, so head to your basement and attic for a closer look. You could find everything from a hole in the duct to missing duct tape to something that’s impaled it and requires removal.
  • Inspect the dampers: Dampers are common with multi-zone HVAC systems, with these opening and closing to control airflow to specific parts of the home. If a damper is not opening and closing as designed, it can block air from reaching its destination.

As a roundup, common causes of blocked HVAC ducts can include but are not limited to:

  • Clogged furnace filter
  • Improperly installed furnace filter
  • An object(s) in the duct
  • Damaged ductwork
  • A malfunctioning damper

Each one of these problems has its own solution, some of which are easier to tackle than others.

For example, it’s easier to replace a furnace filter than it is to repair damaged ductwork behind a wall or swap out a bad damper.

Fortunately, even if you’re facing a challenge, there’s a solution to every problem. And if you require professional help, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can visit your home, pinpoint the cause of your block, and talk to you about the best solution.



Changing your habits can save money on energy bills*

Changing your habits can save money on energy bills*

*Your mileage may vary.

A recent study by researchers at the Australian National University showed that behavior has the potential to save 10%-25% on residential energy costs. Saving 10%-25% on energy costs sounds good, especially since the average Massachusetts household spends more than $2,500 on energy costs each year. That means optimizing your energy consumption could reduce your energy bills by $250-$625 per year.

Now, for the bad news. Another equally relevant Israeli study showed that providing people with a lot of personalized energy consumption data had no positive effect on their behavior.

At all.

In fact, study participants who had been given very detailed information about their energy consumption actually used more energy than those who just received general tips on how to reduce their utility bills. Those with the most information about their specific energy habits could have easily spotted costly consumption behaviors. Yet, the exact opposite outcome occurred, even after adjusting for external factors like weather changes and weather extremes.

It’s easy to focus on the “save money on energy bills” part of the headline here (especially when $625 is at stake), but it is harder to succeed at the “changing your habits” stuff. So, if knowledge can’t help you when it comes to changing your energy consumption patterns, is there a strategy that can work?

How to lower your energy bills

“Automating” energy-saving habits is one way to change your actual energy consumption. That would include using a programmable thermostat- which won’t forget to turn the heat or A/C down. Motion-sensing light switches and timers also ensure that the lights get turned off when they’re not in use. Today, lighting won’t account for much of your home’s electric bill, as long as you have switched to LED bulbs. (If you haven’t, switch!)

Another major behavior change involves your buying habits. When you have to replace an appliance, look for EnergyStar-compliant models. Likewise, using WaterSense-compliant faucets, showerheads and appliances can reduce your water consumption significantly. These appliances and fixtures will cost more up-front, but they will quickly repay you in the form of lowered operating costs. You may also need to reconsider replacing appliances that still work well, but consume a lot of energy. This situation can happen easily with freezers and refrigerators. By replacing energy-hogging major appliances even though they may still work, you can reduce your utility bill significantly.

Take the time to seal the drafts and gaps in your home’s “thermal envelope.” Improperly insulated and sealed gaps can leak a lot of air into (and out of) your home. Closing these gaps will reduce your winter heating bill and your summer cooling bill.

Consider using fans to cool your home at night. Typically, the temperature drops after the sun sets. Bringing naturally cooled air into your home with fans can reduce the temperature and save money. But there’s a big caveat here. The humidity is a major factor. If the humidity is high, you’re better off leaving cool-but-wet air outside. You’ll ultimately spend less to cool the drier air that’s already in your home.

Your heating and cooling equipment consume most of your energy

Finally, take the time to understand how much your heating and cooling systems actually cost to operate. It’s very tempting to let an older, less efficient system run. A new, high efficiency replacement could pay for itself in just a few years through sharply reduced operating costs. A newer, high-efficiency system can help you lock in savings, while your older less efficient model locks in your expenses.

If you’d like more information about reducing your heating and cooling costs, give us a call at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to show you how you can take advantage of rebates and tax incentives to lower your energy consumption affordably.

Photo Credit: Nan Palmero, via Flickr

MassSave Heating and Cooling Rebates Available for 2019

MassSave Heating and Cooling Rebates Available for 2019

MassSave is offering new rebates and incentives on residential heating and cooling products and installation. Now is a good time to consider upgrading, replacing or converting your heating and cooling equipment.

New heat pumps, furnaces or boilers can save money on your heating and cooling bills year-round. If your home heating and cooling equipment was installed before 1992, your savings could be even larger. The new rebate programs also allow you to save on conversions from one fuel type to another.

Just a note about the acronyms and abbreviations you’ll find below:
AFUE: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency
EER: Energy Efficiency Ratio
HSPF: Heating Season Performance Factor
SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio

Here is a look at some of the new rebate programs.

Air conditioning

The available air conditioning rebates are based on the size and the efficiency of the air conditioner. If you have an old ducted air conditioning system or you want to install a new one, you can claim a rebate of $50 per ton rebate. This assumes that your new air conditioning system has a SEER ≥ 16 and an EER ≥ 13.

Air Source Heat Pump Rebates

You can claim a rebate of $350 per ton on air source heat pumps that have a SEER ≥ 15 and a HSPF ≥ 9.

If you would like to use an oil or propane system in combination with an air source heat pump, you can also claim a rebate of $1,000 per ton on an air source heat pump with a SEER ≥ 15 and an HSPF ≥ 9 if the replacement system also features integrated controls. Integrated controls manage the selection of either the oil/propane system or the air source heat pump, depending on the outside temperature. You could instead claim a rebate of $1,600 per ton if the selected air source heat pump meets the Cold-Climate Air-Source Heat Pump Specification V3.0 and features integrated controls.

You can claim a credit of $150/ton on a ductless air source heat pump, provided the selected system meets the Cold-Climate Air-Source Heat Pump Specification V3.0.

If you already use an air source heat pump and an oil/propane system in combination, you can claim a rebate of between $500-$1,500 if you add qualified integrated controls to your system. You can claim one $500 rebate for each zone, up to a maximum of $1,500.

Natural Gas Furnace and Boiler Rebates

If you want to install or replace a warm-air furnace, you can claim a rebate of between $950 and $1,250, depending upon the efficiency of the new system. To qualify for this rebate, the replacement furnace must be at least 95% efficient and must be equipped with an Electronic Commutated Motor (ECM) or an advanced furnace fan system.

If you want to replace a forced hot water boiler, you can claim a rebate of $2,000 on boilers with an AFUE ≥90% and outdoor reset controls. On new boilers with a AFUE ≥95%, the rebate climbs to $2,750, provided the new unit also has an outdoor reset control.

On combination condensing boilers/on-demand water heaters, you can claim a rebate of $2,400, provided that the new boiler has an AFUE ≥ 95% and is a single-unit device.

If you do not want to replace your boiler, but you’d like to make it more efficient, consider adding an outdoor reset control. An ORC can be added to an existing unit to help make your home more comfortable on milder winter days that don’t require maximum output from your boiler. Outdoor reset controls can lower your heating costs between 5% and 30%, depending upon the boiler and temperature conditions. If you have an oil or propane boiler, you can claim a $100 rebate on an after-market ORC. If you have a natural gas boiler, you can claim a rebate of $225.

If you’d like more information about these rebate programs, or would like to know how you can take advantage of them, please contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to explain your options, make recommendations and start the installation and rebate processes.

Photo Credit: Tekmar

Your home's energy efficiency can affect your health

Your home's energy efficiency can affect your health

A new Colorado School of Public Health study says that people living in drafty homes have increased rates of respiratory illness. The study looked at the impact of high air exchange rates on respiratory health among low-income residents. “Air exchange” refers to leaks that allow indoor air to escape and outdoor air to enter a home. Researchers found that drafty homes promoted a higher incidence of chronic coughs, asthma and asthma-like illnesses.

The researchers also found that the rate of air exchange directly correlated to the incidence of respiratory illness. The draftier the home, the more likely its inhabitants were to develop chronic breathing problems. One possible explanation for the results is that poor weatherization in older homes could trap industrial pollutants indoors.

The researchers suggest that weatherization efforts directed toward lower-income homes could produce a double benefit. In addition to lowering heating and cooling costs, air sealing older homes could also reduce healthcare costs in urban areas. Researchers also said that improving energy efficiency in homes near major roads could yield similar results. Improving indoor air quality is important, since Americans spend approximately 21.5 hours per day indoors.

Improving your home’s energy efficiency

One obvious benefit of improving your home’s energy efficiency is lowered heating and cooling costs. By sealing leaks around foundations, windows and doors, you can minimize the exchange of indoor and outdoor air. By keeping your heated or cooled air in place, you can reduce the amount of energy needed to make your home comfortable. You can also help control the moisture content of your home’s air.

Your home does require some ventilation! Without proper ventilation, moisture and “indoor pollutants” like smoke particles can hang around your home. Over time, this can lead to poor air quality, and can promote mold and mildew growth. If you’re serious about sealing your home, it’s best to work with an efficiency professional. One standard test is called a blower-door test. This measures the amount of air your home exchanges with the outside. If your home exchanges too much air, you’re wasting energy on heating and cooling. If your home exchanges too little air, you could experience problems like mold and mildew.

One option to reduce air exchange is to heat and cool with a ductless air-source heat pump. Because these devices don’t rely on a blower motor, they don’t affect the air exchange rate like a furnace can. More heated (or cooled) air stays in your home, making your home more efficient.

If you’d like more information about ductless heating and cooling options, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to discuss energy efficient options for your home.

Photo Credit: Clean Energy Economy For The Region, via Flickr

How China's air conditioning use might affect you

How China's air conditioning use might affect you

You’ve probably never devoted a lot of thought to how your air conditioning use affects the rest of the world. So why should China’s newfound love of air conditioning bother you? The rapid adoption of climate control technologies in China and elsewhere may have a major impact on the world in the coming decades.

Air conditioning in the United States consumes more electricity than anywhere else – 616 TWh annually to be exact. In terms of the number of installed units, however, China far exceeds the US. As of 2016, China had 569 million installed AC units, compared to 374 million units in the US. Unlike the US market for AC (which is stable), the Chinese market for climate control is hot, hot, hot! As consumers in the country install more units, the demand for electricity will rise significantly. China will soon overtake the US in terms of its AC energy demands.

Globally, air conditioning consumes about 10% of all electricity produced today. Global electricity production will have to increase to meet the demand for air conditioning in emerging markets.

How you can help reduce electricity demand for air conditioning

So what does this all mean for us? In short, current methods of electricity production tend to increase atmospheric CO2 levels. To offset the growing demand for electricity, both power production and power consumption must become much more efficient.

One recommendation by the International Energy Agency is to encourage the installation of more energy-efficient air conditioning units. One reason the US currently consumes more energy on air conditioning is the large number of inefficient units still in service. Reducing the number of low-efficiency units in operation will reduce energy consumption, along with the need to produce more electricity.

Today’s high-efficiency air conditioning units offer a lot of environmental benefits. New AC units use more environmentally friendly refrigerants, take up less space, use less electricity and operate more quietly. Lower electricity usage means lower operating costs without sacrificing comfort.

Currently MassSave is offering a rebate of between $250-$500 on new central air conditioning and heat pump installations. The amount of the rebate depends upon the efficiency of the new equipment. You can qualify for a rebate of up to a $1,000 if you retire a working unit manufactured before 2007.

It’s not too late to take advantage of these exceptional incentives to install or replace your AC unit. Contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911 for more information on these great rebate options.

Photo Credit: Darren Poon, via Flickr