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Frequently Asked Questions

We have compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions below to help you with most issues that you may encounter. If you do not see your question below be sure to contact us and one of our customer representatives will help you.


What should I do If my heating system doesn't work?

Before you call or e-mail us, go through the troubleshooting steps below to make sure a service call is really needed. It will save you the cost and inconvenience of an unnecessary service visit, and will ensure our technicians are working where they are most needed.

  • Make sure the thermostat is set above room temperature or in the "heat" position. If it's a digital thermostat and the display screen is blank, you either need new batteries or the power supply has been interrupted.
  • Check for a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse.
  • Look to see If the power switch for your heating system is turned on. Sometimes, these get turned off accidentally.
  • Check your tank to see If you have heating fuel.
  • If you have an oil heating system, press the reset button on the burner relay-ONCE ONLY. If your system doesn't start after you push the reset button the first time, do not push it again. Pushing this button more than once can cause your heating system to "flood." Too much oil will get pumped into the combustion chamber, resulting in a lengthy and costly repair.

If at this point you still don't get heat, call Standard Oil immediately.

When a service technician arrives, let him know everything you did to the system before he begins working on it. You should also let him know If anything out of the ordinary happened, like an unusual noise, a strange smell or smoke.

In many cases, this will help the technician find the problem-and get your heat back on again-faster.

How does a furnace work?

Heat is generated by burning natural gas or propane inside the furnace. This happens in the combustion chamber, which gets very hot. Air absorbs this heat in the furnace's heat exchanger. Next, the blower sends the heated air through a system of ducts, and warm air circulates through the home.

What is a cracked heat exchanger?

The heat exchanger is the main component of your furnace. If the heat exchanger has a crack or a rust hole, combustion fumes (including carbon monoxide) can contaminate the air in your home. This is a potentially deadly situation and should be addressed IMMEDIATELY. A cracked heat exchanger usually requires replacing the entire furnace. If you suspect that you might have a cracked heat exchanger, or a carbon monoxide problem caused by your furnace, turn the system off immediately.){call us right away for service.

On mild winter days my furnace runs in short blasts and my home alternates from being too hot to being too cold. How can I fix this?

Installing a new furnace with a variable speed motor is a good solution. These "smart" motors automatically adjust the volume and speed of air based on your home's temperature requirements.

There will be fewer on/off cycles, smaller temperature swings, consistent, even heat, and lower fuel bills.

I hear a lot of talk about high-efficiency heating systems. How do you determine a heating system's efficiency?

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). All heating equipment manufactured after 1980 has been required to have a label indicating its AFUE. The AFUE ratio is a measurement of a heating system's seasonal efficiency, taking into account how well the system performs over an entire season of starts and stops. Modern heating systems can range in efficiency from 81% to 95%. If your system's AFUE is lower than this range, talk to us about your replacement options.

At what temperature should I set my thermostat?

Different people feel comfortable at different temperatures. Pay less attention to the number on the thermostat display (or the position of the temperature indicator on a nondigital display) and more to how comfortable the room feels to you. When you feel comfortable, check the setting. That's the right temperature for you.

What does (lo-bat) on the thermostat mean?

This means the battery is almost dead should be replaced immediately.

Should I install a programmable thermostat?

Absolutely! Programmable thermostats are especially useful for people who are away from home at regular intervals. They allow for customized comfort settings around the clock, and they can cut heating and cooling costs by as much as 10%!

My thermostat is suddenly reading Celsius. What can I do?

Either find your owner's manual to get it back to Fahrenheit, or call us to help you out. Some of the older models will read Celsius If you accidentally push two buttons by mistake.

Air Conditioning

How much does an air conditioner cost?

There are many different factors that come into play when determining the cost of your air conditioner. When you buy a car for example, you just pick your amenities and it's ready to drive away. But when it comes to AC, aside from the actual unit it also needs to installed properly first in order for it work. It's a FREE estimate, no obligation, no high pressure.

Can I get a quote over the phone?

If you're out of town we can go over and check it out, we can give a ballpark If we have enough information, but it's hard to determine.

If I'm looking to replace my air conditioning, how many bids should I get?

Typically you're told 3, so you really need to look at apples to apples. Most of the time it's just a change-out, but we do quality installations, including duct and leakage testing because we include a lot more. Sometimes getting a bid will be a good indicator of the kind of company you're working with.

What's the difference between a regular installation and an Energy-star rated qualified installation?

A regular installation (or a change-out) is normally what people get when you're bidding jobs, which includes the replacing of your equipment and takes 1 day; after the installation it's turned on, the Freon levels look OK, and the job is done. We typically have equipment installed and running in 1 day; however testing and systems commissioning takes another day. An ESQI follows recommended industry standards by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, starting with load calc and you measure everything. Most houses across the country deliver less than 60% of what you're paying for in terms of BTU's. If you have a 5 ton, you only actually get 3 ton. So you're wasting 40%.

What does SEER stand for?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It is used to indicate the efficiency of air conditioning systems. The higher the SEER number, the more cooling you get per unit of energy. As of January 2006, only units with a SEER of 13 or higher will be allowed to be sold in the United States. Today's cooling units are up to 40% more efficient than those made as recently as 10 years ago.

Is it OK to "mix and match" air conditioning components of different efficiencies? Just because my compressor is on its way out, does it mean I have to replace my indoor unit as well?

It's never a good idea to mix and match a/c components of different SEER. You might save money initially by replacing only your outdoor unit with one of the new mandated 13 or higher SEER compressors and hooking it up to your 10 or 12 SEER system. However, it just doesn't make sense in the long run. It's like buying a brand-new stereo set and hooking it up to your old, antiquated speakers. You're just not going to get your money's worth in terms of comfort and efficiency. You're better off paying a little extra up front because you'll be saving a lot more over time. At Standard Oil, we have the expertise to help you choose the right efficiency system for your home.

My home has a forced-air furnace but no air conditioning. Can I add central air?

You bet! We can mount a cooling coil on top of the furnace and install a condensing unit outside. For a no-obligation evaluation, click here.

My home does NOT have forced-air heating, and, therefore, there is no ductwork. Can I still get central air conditioning?

Absolutely! Today simple, ductless air conditioning options make it possible to install a quiet, efficient air-conditioning system in your home even If it doesn't have ductwork.

Ductless air-conditioning systems consist of one or more indoor air-distribution units linked by refrigeration lines to an outdoor compressor. These flexible "hoses" can be positioned inside your walls and ceilings with a minimum of inconvenience. Installing ductless air conditioning costs a little more than standard central air-conditioning systems but much less than the cost of installing ductwork and a central air-conditioner.

I've heard that they are phasing out the old A/C refrigerant in favor of a new, more environmentally friendly version.

That's right. As of January, 2010, cooling system manufacturers can no longer make equipment that uses R-22, commonly known as Freon. R-22 has been found to damage the Earth's ozone layer, which is a key factor involved in global warming. By 2020, R-22 will no longer be produced. The coolant that has replaced R-22 is known as R-410A, which was developed by the Allied signal company in 1991. Several companies have since trademarked their own version of R-410A, including Carrier (Puron®), Honeywell (Genetron® AZ20) and Dupont (Suva® 410A). Years of commercial use and testing have proven that, in addition to being more environmentally friendly, R-410A is superior in performance and energy efficiency to Freon.

Why does it cost so much to run an air conditioning system?

Air conditioners run on electricity, and electricity is the most expensive energy source. Converting fuels like coal or natural gas into electricity is inherently inefficient. What's more, much of the original electricity generated at the power plant is lost during transmission over power lines. So, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, by the time it reaches your home, electricity is only 33% efficient on average.

The good news today is that air conditioning systems are much more energy efficient than they once were, and things are improving all the time. Another important factor is design-If your AC system is not carefully planned to meet the cooling needs of your home, it will run less efficiently than it should. Standard Oil takes great care in evaluating and designing efficient systems, and we can recommend high efficiency equipment from quality manufacturers like American Standard.

Do I really need a tune-up for my air conditioner?

An air conditioning tune-up and inspection will help catch service problems before they get you hot under the collar. Many breakdowns occur on the hottest day of the year - because that's when your a/c is under the most stress. And because a tune-up ensures that your system will run at peak efficiency, you'll lower your electric bills. A system that's running efficiently can save you as much as 30% on your cooling costs. So give us a call to schedule your annual tune up!

Water Heaters

What can I do to maintain my water heater?

You'll get longer life from your water heater and prevent breakdowns If you follow these simple guidelines:

  • Every three months, drain a gallon of water from the tank. Do it every month If you have hard water. This reduces the amount of sediment collecting in the bottom of the tank, which can make the burner or heating coils work harder.
  • Every year have your water heater inspected by a service technician to keep it in peak operating condition.
What is a tankless water heater? How much do they cost? Can I save money?

As its name implies, a tankless water heater doesn't look like a traditional water heater because it doesn't have a tank. That is because tankless water heaters supply hot water "on demand" when you need it--which means there's no need to keep 40 or 50 gallons of water hot all of the time. this reduces energy costs vs. a gas-fueled heater, and eve more vs. an electric water heater.

Other advantages of a tankless water heater include fresher, cleaner hot water (no storage); longer water heater life; and space savings (a tankless water heater is much smaller and it hangs on a wall). But the benefit you'll notice most is an unlimited supply of precisely heated water on demand.

Tankless water heater cost more initially, but because they outlive tank water heaters, and they require less fuel, the offer better long-term value than conventional water heaters.


Do you provide 24-hour service?

Absolutely! Every day of the year!

How long do customers have to wait for emergency service?

In most cases we will arrive at your location within two hours.

How does your emergency service work?

If you call us after-hours, your call will be answered by a person, not a machine. If you need immediate service and say "Yes", an on-call technician will receive a text message and call you back within 15 minutes. During a really hot or busy time, technicians may sometimes be on another job but they will still be available, and they will call you as soon as possible.

If you are calling to schedule a tune-up, we'll put you on the schedule and confirm the date and time with you the next day during regular business hours.

Do you use your own installation specialists or do you hire subcontractors?

We use only our own certified, factory-trained technicians. We never hire subcontractors. Our technicians are the most highly trained in the industry. To use subcontractors would be like taking a step down. Your comfort and our reputation are too important to put in anyone else's hands.

How long does it take to get an estimate?

Usually it's only a matter of a couple of days. We can come out to your home at your convenience during the day or in the evening. To recommend the right size system for you, we do a lot of calculations. One thing we look at is heat loss, or the amount of heat your home loses in the winter. This is just one way we figure how much Btu "power" your home's heating system needs.

Approximately how long does it take you to complete an installation of an air conditioning or heating system?

Most of our installations are done in a day and a half, although every job is different and some take longer than others. In extreme climate conditions we usually get your system working the same day.

Do you offer service plans?

Standard Oil offers you a choice of two service plans; a basic protection plan and our advanced protection plan. The basic plan provides 24-hour "no heat" protection as well as parts and labor coverage on a long list of heating of system components; the advanced plan provides all the coverage in the basic plan plus coverage for an even longer list of parts.

Both plans include a preventive maintenance tune-up which keeps your system running efficiently and has the potential to lower you heating bill as much as 10%. You'll also receive priority service, which means that in most cases, a technician will respond to your "no heat" call in less than two hours!

Is annual maintenance necessary?

Yes! In our area, air conditioning systems work hard. When anything is operating virtually non-stop for months on end, it needs regular maintenance-just like your car. Without the regular maintenance of a tune-up, you lose efficiency and money.

Annual tune-ups keep your system working at peak efficiency and give our technicians a chance to catch minor problems and signs of wear before they turn into major trouble down the road. An annual tune-up also protects your family by helping prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

In addition, regular maintenance can extend the life of your equipment.

How do I know what size system to install?

The experts at Standard Oil will be happy to come to your home and calculate your cooling and heating "loads." They will){be able to recommend a system that is the correct size and model to meet your home's requirements. Please call us for more details.

Does Standard Oil do electrical work?

Only as it relates to the installation.

Replace or Repair

How do I know If it is more cost-efficient to repair my old air conditioning system or replace it?

If you're like many people, the frustration of an equipment breakdown can make it tempting to solve the problem with a quick fix that doesn't cost you a lot of money. That way you can get on with your busy life in relative comfort. But while a quick fix may be the least expensive solution in the short run, it may not give you the most value in the long run.

It's a fact of life: Older systems are more likely to break down. That means a bigger chance of emergency service calls and repairs-and paying for them.

There's also an ongoing cost factor. Repairing an old system can only restore it to something less than its original level of efficiency. After you've recovered from the repair bill and the frustration of a system breakdown, you'll still be battling high energy bills. What's more, even a system that doesn't break down loses efficiency as it ages. A 15-year-old system doesn't operate anywhere near the efficiency it had when it was new!

Plus, when compared with modern, technologically advanced equipment, 15-year-old cooling systems are considered inefficient by today's standards. The average homeowner can save up to 40% on cooling costs with new high-efficiency equipment.

Here are some rules of thumb to help you decide whether to replace or repair.

Replace your system if:

  • it is more than 10 years old and only in average condition.
  • it does not keep you as comfortable as you would like.
  • it breaks down frequently.
  • you will be living in your home for at least five more years.

Repair your system if:

  • it is less than 10 years old and in good condition.
  • your cooling costs have been acceptable.
  • you're pleased with your level of comfort.
  • its performance is reliable.
  • you will be moving within the next five years.
  • it is still under warranty.