Residential Q&As

Residential Q&As

Your questions answered by Tom Pugh, Residential Operations Manager at James River.

QUESTION: I'm concerned about power surges damaging my home's heating and cooling equipment; what can I do to help prevent this?

ANSWER: Power surges can be a problem; we've probably all had at least one appliance ruined by a power surge. Lightning is the most obvious cause of power surges, but cycling of home appliances, heating and cooling equipment, etc. can also cause them.

James River Air offers a couple different solutions to protect against damage to your home comfort system caused by power surges.

The first option is a condensing unit surge protector. Installed next to your condensing unit, these are very affordable, protect against up to 100,000 amps of current surge, and come with a limited lifetime parts warranty. Damage to your condensing unit (especially to the compressor) can be very costly, so these are a wise investment.

The second option is a whole-house surge protector. These are installed next to your breaker panel; one of these is required for each breaker panel up to 400 amps. They protect against surges up to 48,000 amps, feature LED indicators to confirm proper operation, and come with a five-year parts warranty. This will help protect everything connected to your electrical panel.

Our electricians have installed hundreds of these devices for area homeowners. You can be confident that a surge protector from James River Air has been installed properly and will be there when you need it.

QUESTION: My outdoor unit has got frost on it, or looks frozen. Is something wrong with it?
This is a common question that we get every fall when we start into the heating season.

Rule of thumb: In general, it is okay to get frost on the coils of your unit that is the thickness of a dime. It is also a natural occurrence to have a defrost cycle in which you will see steam rolling out of the top of your unit. A lot of people think it is smoke or that the unit is burning, but it is really a natural occurrence.

What is not a natural occurrence is ice thicker than 1/4" on the unit. This can come from low refrigerant levels, inclement weather, or stopped up gutters on your home.

If we have an ice storm and your unit ices up, please allow the unit to completely thaw and run on emergency strip heat until the storm and ice are gone. If you still have an ice problem after that, call us to set up a service call.