HVAC maintenance tools and a scheduling reminder

Questions Homeowners Ask About HVAC Systems

Home Heating and Cooling FAQs

When an HVAC system works, most homeowners don’t think twice about it. When it doesn’t work, they may have many questions about heating and cooling units, energy efficiency and repairs. Here are some questions homeowners might ask when they are considering repair or replacement or trying to learn more about their major home appliances.

What is the HVAC system?

First-time homeowners may be unfamiliar with HVAC systems and might ask individuals in the HVAC trade questions about their purpose and how they work. HVAC stands for heating, ventilating and air conditioning, and they provide heating and cooling for indoor comfort. Air conditioning systems have one unit inside the residence that absorbs heat from the home’s air and one outdoor unit that empties that absorbed heat outside.

Does a larger HVAC system offer better performance?

Some people may wonder if a bigger HVAC system is better than a smaller model. After all, bigger is better—right? According to individuals in the HVAC trade, the answer is no. An HVAC system that is too large for the size of your home uses too much energy. Overly large systems are less efficient and cost more money to run than properly sized units.

Because large HVAC systems require more energy to start up, they may short cycle or turn off and on many times. The result is wasted energy, higher electric bills and lower comfort levels in the home.

HVAC technician replaces an air conditioning filter

How often should I change my filters?

Don’t forget about regular HVAC maintenance. To keep your air conditioner and furnace running smoothly and your energy bills low, replace the air filter on a routine basis. Individuals in the HVAC trade recommend replacing your filter every 90 days. However, there are a few additional factors you may want to consider.

If you have a pet in the home, such as a dog or cat, replace your filter every 30–60 days. Some pets shed more when the seasons change. Consider installing filter replacements in the fall and spring. If someone in the home suffers from asthma or allergies, replace the filter every 20–45 days.

How long do HVAC systems last?

Different types of air conditioners and furnaces have different life expectancies. Typically, the average lifespan is 10–20 years. However, with regular HVAC maintenance, cleaning and refrigerant replacement, some HVAC systems may last up to 30 years. Life expectancies for a variety of HVAC types include:

  • Air conditioners: 10 to 15 years
  • Furnaces and boilers: 15 to 20 years
  • Geothermal: 30 years
  • Water heaters: 10 years
  • Tankless water heaters: 20 years

How do you know if your HVAC system is going bad?

Your HVAC system can experience troubling symptoms, indicating it might be time for repair or replacement.

  1. Unusual smells

  2. Bad odors in your home could indicate motor or wiring problems inside your HVAC system. If the air smells stale or burnt, let the system run for 30 minutes. If the smell persists, call an HVAC specialist. If the air smells moldy, your system may not be draining moisture properly. Schedule a maintenance checkup before drainage issues result in rust build up or health problems.

  3. Slow air flow

  4. Dirty air filters can cause slow or restricted air flow. If changing the filter doesn’t return the air flow level to normal, call an HVAC professional. Long-term restricted air flow can cause compressor failure.

  5. Thermostat problems

  6. The temperature in your home should feel like the temperature reading on the thermostat. When your thermostat reading doesn’t match the temperature in the home, there is likely an issue with your HVAC unit. If your thermostat says 68 degrees but your home feels like 80 degrees, it’s time to schedule a repair.

  7. Noises

  8. Loud or strange noises indicate problems in an HVAC system. Some homeowners report mysterious rattling, whirring, buzzing or clicking sounds coming from their units. Noises may be a symptom of the following issues and should be handled quickly:

    • Refrigerant leaks
    • Loose mechanisms
    • Clogs
    • Compressor failure
    • Broken fan

Air conditioning repair technician uses a drill to make HVAC repairs

Why is my air conditioner running but not cooling my home?

Inadequate air flow is the most common cause of inadequate cooling. When the HVAC system cannot pull air into the system, it cannot recirculate cooled air back into the home. A dirty air filter is often to blame for an air conditioner that doesn’t cool the home.

If this doesn’t solve the problem, check to see if the outdoor unit is covered in dirt, debris or grass. Clean it with a garden hose on a gentle setting. If the unit still doesn’t cool the home, it’s time to call an individual who works in the HVAC trade who can identify and fix the problem.

Interested in learning if an HVAC career path is right for you? Check out this blog post or contact us to learn more about the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration program at Apex.


*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the State of New York, New York State Education Department.

Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.

What Are the 7 Trade School Programs at Apex?

There’s no one size fits all when it comes to school. Some students attend a traditional college to earn a two- or four-year degree. Many others discover a combination of knowledge, skills and technical training is the right path for them. A vocation education at trade school provides students with a variety of positive benefits. If you’re interested in attending trade classes, keep reading to learn about our programs.


Automotive Service Repair

At Apex, the automotive service repair program helps students learn to repair vehicles, help vehicles operate safely and get specialized training for an entry-level position. It provides a foundation of technical skills students use to evaluate mechanical systems and make repairs, as well as:


  • Fix and maintain the inner parts of the vehicle
  • Test major components when a vehicle breaks down
  • Work on engines, transmissions and brakes
  • Perform basic car care and maintenance, including oil changes


Students spend time in the classroom and shop where instructors incorporate diagnostic procedures, proper tool usage and much more. Auto mechanic classes are often a good fit for individuals who enjoy hands-on learning and have a passion for cars. Discover four signs auto mechanic school is right for you.


Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, Appliance/Controls

This vocational program focuses on teaching skills related to repairing and troubleshooting air conditioners, refrigeration systems, electrical control panels, major home appliances and gas-fired heating systems. Students in the HVAC program at Apex learn how to:


  • Use the basics of electricity for installation, service and maintenance
  • Repair and maintain domestic and commercial units
  • Learn about cooling towers, piping and ductwork
  • Follow codes and safety practices


HVAC training classes include both basic and advanced segments where students split their learning time between the classroom and shop. Interested in the HVAC field? Learn more about


Auto Body Repair

From preparing a car for body repairs to learning how to weld and retexture plastic, students in this vocational program train to enter the auto body repair industry. Students not only learn to improve a vehicle’s appearance but also:


  • Work on collision repairs, windshields and window glass
  • Fix structural, safety and cosmetic issues, such as dented doors and bumpers
  • Use paint and welding techniques
  • Restore older cars damaged by rust and age


In auto body repair classes, experienced instructors teach students techniques for fixing everything from minor to major auto collision damage. Explore the differences between the


Combination Welding Technology

Apex’s trade classes give students hands-on experience and teach a range of welding knowledge. Students learn techniques for welding repair and maintenance as well as how to use some forms of advanced welding equipment. Apex instructors focus on helping students:


  • Read blueprints and interpret welding symbols
  • Perform the four major welding processes, including SMAW, GMAW, GTAW and FCAW
  • Weld plates and pipes in multiple positions


Welding has been used for centuries to join two pieces of material together and continues to be a viable modern career option. Interested in learning if combination welding classes might be a good fit for you? Here are three signs you should consider welding training.


Electrical and Advanced Electrical

This trade school program prepares students to perform a variety of electrical tasks—from reading circuit diagrams and installing wiring for lighting to learning about green energy systems and more. Apex students learn with instructors and peers, study theories in the classroom and get hands-on experiences in the shop. Students training in the electrical program learn to:


  • Use basic tools and equipment to repair electrical conductors and components
  • Perform splices, bonding and grounding
  • Install circuit breakers, fuses and wiring
  • Install security systems, fire alarms, intercoms and other electronic systems


Electrical and advanced electrical classes span six segments and help students earn 900 hours of trade school training. Interested in exploring a bright future in the electrical field? Discover four reasons the electrical trade could be the path for you.


Construction and Building Skills

Individuals in the construction and building trade program touch upon a variety of skills—ranging from carpentry and electrical familiarity to plumbing, kitchen and bath knowledge. These tradesmen and women use their hands-on skills to:


  • Troubleshoot and repair electrical boxes and fittings
  • Frame windows and doors
  • Install light fixtures, wiring and countertops
  • Use power tools and plumbing blueprints


At Apex, students prepare to enter the construction field by taking six segments of carpentry and building skills classes, as well as learning to build a model house in the shop. Think you might be a good fit? Explore five signs a construction career path is right for you.


Plumbing and Pipefitting

Students in this vocational program learn how to install water heaters, water supply and waste disposal systems found in private kitchens and bathrooms. They also learn the basics and practice real techniques, including:


  • Assemble pipe sections, tubing and fittings
  • Locate leaks and repair pipes, fixtures and drainage systems
  • Follow blueprints, codes and safety specifications
  • Use a variety of hand and power tools, levels and other materials


Plumbing classes give students the opportunity to learn how to find the source of a problem, as well as what it takes to solve the problem. Wondering if you’re ready to pursue the plumbing trade? Here are four signs a plumbing career could be a good fit.


*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the State of New York, New York State Education Department.


Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.