Why You Can’t Ignore Late Summer Air Conditioner Problems

Summer is winding down. Within another week or two, the kids will be back at school. Autumn is right around the corner. This means we have just a few more weeks of heat before temperatures begin to cool and the leaves change colors. It also means that some of you, whether you admit to it or not, are ignoring some type of problem with your home’s air conditioning system. There’s a strange noise coming from the unit. Some rooms aren’t cooling as well as others. Something just isn’t right and you know it.

You also know you’re putting it off. You’re justifying it for one reason or another. Perhaps money is tight. Or you might just be thinking to yourself, “Why schedule an AC repair now when I’m just 2 to 3 months away from possibly having to turn the furnace on?”

Well, there are a few reasons you shouldn’t shrug off an air conditioner problem this time of year – here are several.

The Hot Weather Isn’t Over Yet

Pittsburgh weather isn’t predictable. A stretch of July or August-like hot temperatures in September or October isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Needless to say, if your air conditioner isn’t optimally performing, there’s a very good chance it’ll fail you when you need it the most. Why take that chance? At the very least, if you suspect a problem, rather than cover up the unit for the winter; subsequently kicking that can down the road until May or June, why not get your yearly AC tuneup in September instead of next year? This way, it’s ready for that surprise stretch of hot weather around Halloween and primed for the Spring.

Small AC Problems Get Worse the Longer They’re Ignored

You really shouldn’t run an air conditioner if you sense any type of problem whatsoever. Any type of fault or malfunction will get progressively worse if you ignore it and continue to run the AC. There’s often a chain reaction effect when one component of a cooling system wears down. You may think you’re saving money by putting off a late summer AC repair, but you’re likely making that inevitable repair a far more expensive one by the time you call.

Higher Utility Bills if You Continue Running Your AC

If you run an air conditioner while it has a mechanical or electrical problem, the extra strain placed on the system drains more power. This results in a higher utility bill. Nobody wants to go into winter’s high gas bills with unnecessarily high electric bills in the late summer or fall.

Why not head into the fall knowing your air conditioner is ready for action whenever it’s needed again – even if that’s not until Spring? If you’re in the Pittsburgh area and you detect even the slightest potential issue with your Ac right now, get a top-notch tuneup from one of the best air conditioning contractors in town!

Project Spotlight: New High-End Luxury Home on Grandview Avenue in Mount Washington

Bill Reilly and the crew at Top Notch Heating & Air were pleased to be chosen by Senko Construction for HVAC installation at a newly-constructed luxury townhome on Grandview Avenue in Mount Washington.

This high-end single-family home, one of several Senko Construction is building along Grandview Avenue, is ideal for anyone wanting to live in one of Pittsburgh’s most visited neighborhoods.

Grandview Avenue runs the length of Mount Washington and provides many unique views of Pittsburgh’s breathtaking skyline. While there was interest in building apartment buildings, duplexes, condos, and even a boutique hotel along this street, it was decided single-family homes are what’s best for the neighborhood right now. Especially luxury homes like this one, which will include a scenic rooftop deck, small swimming pool, and jacuzzi tub.

In this video posted to YouTube, Bill Reilly takes us on a walkthrough of the property. Of course, Bill spotlights the ductwork and HVAC equipment installed – in this case, Trane heating and cooling systems – which the space was fit for. Air filtration and humidifiers were also part of the install. Being that this is a high-end home, nothing from an HVAC perspective was off the table.

Senko Construction – specializing in both residential and commercial construction – has built more than 50 townhomes in Pittsburgh neighborhoods such as the North Side, Lawrenceville, and Oakland. Their typical time to complete a build is eight to ten months. They are the owners, developers, and contractors on eight high-end single-family homes planned for the corner of Grandview Ave. and Merrimac St. – right at the top of P.J. McArdle Roadway.

Please check out the video. If you’re shopping for a luxury home in the Pittsburgh area, you absolutely must inquire about these high-end single-family homes designed by Hart Architectural Services and being built by Senko Construction. In addition to living along one of Pittsburgh’s premier tourist destinations, and having a view all of your guests will envy, you’re also just a short walk from the neighborhood’s business district on Shiloh Street – host to a number of restaurants and stops for ice cream, baked goods, or an ice-cold beer or refreshing cocktail at the end of a workday.

Here are more images from the project! And, don’t forget, if you are a homeowner, business owner, or a residential or commercial builder, choose Top Notch for the best HVAC in Pittsburgh!

7 Most Common Reasons for Air Conditioning Repairs

Is there anything more miserable than a hot and muggy August day under a gray Pittsburgh sky? How about coming home from work that day to a broken air conditioner?

Why chance your comfort this summer? As much as we at Top Notch love all yinz, so many of the emergency AC repair calls we get are preventable. People just aren’t familiar with the most common causes of air conditioner problems and how to be proactive with maintenance to prevent them.

So, we thought it would be helpful to talk about seven of the most common causes of air conditioner problems. You’ll see that many of these problems are preventable with routine maintenance.

Dirty Condenser Coils

Warm air inside your house is caught and released outside your house by your AC’s condenser coils. Condenser coils don’t work as well when they’re covered in dirt and grime. This impedes heat transfer. The unit has to work much harder to sufficiently cool your home. This increases wear and tear on parts, raises your utility bill, and ultimately leads to a complete system failure. While Pittsburgh is no longer the “smokey city” it once was, soot and pollution still fill the air. Dirty condenser coils are a very common cause for air conditioner repair in Pittsburgh.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

Refrigerant fills your AC’s evaporator coil. An air conditioner’s evaporator coil sucks up heat from the air – similar to how a sponge absorbs water. While it may sound weird, these coils only work properly if warm air circulates around them. If anything restricts airflow, ice may build up on the outer part of the coil. When this occurs, you might notice warm air – or no air at all – coming from registers.

Low Refrigerant

Your air conditioner relies on refrigerant to remove heat and humidity from the air inside your home. Sometimes leaks in the refrigerant lines will result in low refrigerant. When this happens, your AC loses its ability to effectively cool the air. Unfortunately, this AC repair is more complex than just replenishing the lost refrigerant. The source of the leak must first be detected. Any holes in lines must then be repaired. Sometimes there can even be multiple leaks. This makes for a time-consuming and often expensive air conditioner repair.

Fan Problems

To cool the air inside your home, a fan inside your air conditioner blows indoor air over the unit’s evaporator coil. At the same time, another fan expels heat from inside to the outside of the house through the outdoor unit’s condenser.

Several problems can keep either of these fans from working properly. Anything from a lack of lubrication to a faulty motor, worn belts, and a build up of dirt and debris. Anytime airflow is affected, as in the case of fan problems, many air conditioner problems can arise. Overlooking or neglecting these issues can result in a complete compressor failure, which is often fatal to an air conditioner unit.

Thermostat Problems

Believe it or not, there are still plenty of old Pittsburgh homes with dial-type thermostats. Sometimes these aren’t calibrated correctly. This means the control system doesn’t send the right instructions to the air conditioner. The fix can either be to replace or re-calibrate the thermostat.

The newer programmable thermostats aren’t without their hiccups either. Programming these thermostats can be tricky and result in them being set incorrectly.

While we certainly don’t mind visiting you, before calling us, check your thermostat’s manual to confirm the settings are correct. It’s a quick painless trip for us, but it can be a little embarrassing for the homeowner. However, it’s very common. Many air conditioner repair calls we get end up being nothing more than a thermostat’s settings. That said, many times the thermostat itself needs to be repaired or replaced.

Leaking Ducts

The cool air coming from your AC is carried throughout your house by the duct work running through your walls. Any break or hole in these ducts can trap all this coolness inside your walls. That does no one any good. It also makes your air conditioner work harder to cool your house to the thermostat’s setting. This spikes your energy consumption and utility bill.

Clogged Drains

Ever wonder what your AC does with all of that moisture it removes from the air? Well, ideally, it’s emitted into a pan and down the drain through a drain line. But problems arise when the drain or line gets clogged or the pan fills and a water backup damages the cooling system. Leaks can also cause significant property damage – potentially damaging your ceilings, walls, furniture, etc.


Don’t wait until your AC completely breaks down to get an HVAC tech to your house. A yearly AC tuneup should get your home’s central air in shape for the demands of summer.

  • Dirty air filters can be replaced too prevent frozen evaporator coils.
  • The condition of your ductwork can be assessed.
  • A modern programmable thermostat can be installed and controlled remotely with a tablet or smartphone. Bill or one of our Top Notch techs can even give you a brief tutorial so you’ll know how to use it.
  • A springtime air conditioner tune up lets us clear brush and debris from around the unit so the unit can more effectively expel heat.

If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, and you’d like an AC inspection and tune up each spring, it’s a relatively inexpensive maintenance call with short and long term monetary benefits.

Call 412-381-0598 or contact us online to schedule a spring time Pittsburgh air conditioner inspection and tuneup.

A Yearly Air Conditioner Check Up Pays Big Dividends

A yearly air conditioner check up is highly recommended to any homeowner. Is it absolutely necessary? No. Your AC might work just fine throughout the summer if you skip a preseason maintenance check. Your car may also run just fine if you drive it beyond 3,000 miles without an oil change. That doesn’t mean you should though. Annual AC tuneups maximize your investment and make financial sense for a number of reasons.

“Look at it this way. Think about how hard your air conditioner worked last summer. It has also sat all winter long, possibly exposed to the elements if it wasn’t properly covered. Air conditioner tuneups pay for themselves in a variety of direct and indirect savings,” says Bill Reilly, owner of Top Notch Heating & Cooling – a Pittsburgh AC contractor.

Here are several reasons you shouldn’t skip out on that annual air conditioner maintenance service!

A Spring Air Conditioner Tuneup Gives the Unit a Head Start

You’ve gone some time now without running your air conditioner. Can you really expect it to run at peak efficiency now that you’ll again be depending on it every day?

Would you just start up a car that’s been sitting in the driveway for six months and embark on a cross-country drive without first taking it to a mechanic?

Naturally, you’d consider getting an oil change, tuneup, and having the tired checked or rotated. You’d want to make sure the car was good to go before you hit the highway.

Scheduling spring time AC maintenance gets your system primed to keep you cool all summer long. Not only that, it helps ensure it runs efficiently, which helps keep your utility bills low.

Air Conditioner Maintenance Services Are Usually Less Expensive than Emergency Repairs

Sure, there’s no guarantee your air conditioner still won’t malfunction or conk out even after a tuneup. But, if a problem does arise this summer, we’d be willing to bet the repair will be less expensive than it would be had you skipped the tuneup.

From our experience, roughly half of the emergency AC repair calls we get could’ve been prevented with an annual checkup.

When we perform a yearly air conditioner maintenance service, small problems are often detected before there’s even a warning sign they exist. This keeps them from becoming bigger more expensive problems. This saves homeowners the higher cost – and bigger hassle – of calling for an emergency air conditioner repair when it’s 90 degrees in July.

Neglecting Regular AC Maintenance Could Void Your Warranty

Most new air conditioner installations come with a limited warranty from the manufacturer. One of the requirements from this warranty could be the upkeep of regular AC maintenance.

Many of these manufacturer warranties won’t cover the cost of replacement parts without routine maintenance checks from a HVAC professional.

Be sure to check your air conditioner’s warranty – specifically any section titled “Exclusions” or “Eligibility Requirements.”

You’ll Get More Years from a Well-Maintained Air Conditioner

Routine air conditioner maintenance results in fewer repairs over time. This also prolongs the lifespan of your AC unit. In contrast, by neglecting regular air conditioning maintenance, you’ll be reducing its lifespan.

Back to the car analogy, how long do you think a car would run if its owner never changed its oil and neglected all recommended maintenance? Meanwhile, someone who takes good care of his or her automobile will likely get miles and years from it.

A well-maintained air conditioner maximizes your investment. It also increases its operating efficiency, which can translate into lowering energy costs by as much as 15%.


Top Notch Heating & Cooling provide yearly air conditioner maintenance services to homeowners throughout the city of Pittsburgh and surrounding suburbs. Call 412-381-0598 or contact us online to schedule your annual Pittsburgh air conditioner check up or if you need an AC repair or AC installation.

Spring Forward With An Air Conditioning Tuneup

Springtime is the right time for an air conditioning tuneup. Many people wonder if they can perform an AC tuneup on their own. While most of us admittedly have a little bit of a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) attitude, it’s always good to pick your battles.

With in-home comfort and perhaps your manufacturer’s warranty at risk, fine-tuning your home’s AC for optimal summertime performance might be best left to the professionals.

Doing it yourself may result in more problems and necessitate more costly repairs in the end.

Annual air conditioner maintenance is important. For starters, the likelihood of your AC unit going on the fritz on a sweltering hot afternoon significantly decreases. Secondly, we all like extending the lifespan of any significant investment we make.

A yearly Pittsburgh air conditioner tuneup not only increases its seasonal dependability but also it’s durability as well.

Here are three reasons annual AC maintenance is a smart investment this spring

It Might Lower Your Utility Bill

Most people don’t notice their AC is no longer working until it completely shuts down. Then, when they look back, they realize there had been gradual warning signs for days, sometimes weeks, or even months.

The first thing a sick air conditioner will do is lose its ability to cool as effectively and efficiently as it needs to. You’ll notice you’re still hot after coming in from the outdoors. You’ll notice certain rooms in your house don’t feel as cool as they should. Perhaps it may even feel like your AC is blowing hot air.

If you’re like most people, your response to this lost cooling will be to lower the thermostat a few degrees. You’ll convince yourself this will power up the cooling. For a while, this approach may actually work. However, soon enough, it won’t help at all.

A common culprit of inadequate cooling is a dirty evaporator. If your air conditioner isn’t cooling at all, a dirty, blocked, or faulty condenser or inadequate refrigerant are the most likely sources.

A yearly inspection of the unit by a seasoned HVAC tech can identify the aforementioned issues before they even present problems. Saving you time, money, and securing your summer-long comfort indoors.

It May Benefit You & Your Family’s Health

The longer an AC goes without maintenance, the dirtier it gets. This dirt is distributed throughout your house anytime the AC runs. This can compromise you and your family’s health. Allergy sufferers will have problems. Chronic Rhinitis becomes unbearable. Even asthma attacks can be triggered by allergens like dust, dust mites, or pet dander spread throughout the house via the AC and ductwork.

Your AC May Already Be Crying for Help

While chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) like Freon are no longer used in air conditioners, the elimination of that environmental pollutant has made way for another type of pollutant. Noise pollution. New energy efficient air conditioner units can make quite a bit of noise. Sometimes this noise is nothing to worry about. What you’re hearing is a machine doing its job.

But every now and then some noises can be telltale signs that something potentially more serious is going on. Sounds like buzzing, clicking, or rattling could actually be warning signs. A squeal or screaming sound is another major signal of distress that’s often related to the refrigerant. These are again scenarios that are completely preventable with yearly air conditioner maintenance in Pittsburgh.


Baseball season is approaching. Soon it will be time to Regatta and we’ll all be complaining about how miserably hot (and gray since it’s Pittsburgh) it is outside. Why not make sure your air conditioner is ready to handle the workload with a yearly AC tuneup from Top Notch Heating & Cooling. Call us at 412-381-0598 or reach out to us online to schedule your air conditioner inspection and cleaning.

Benefits of Replacing Your AC and Furnace at the Same Time

If you want year-round comfort in your home, it all comes down to the HVAC systems you choose to cool your home in the summer and warm your home in the winter.

When it comes time to replace a unit, it’s tempting to replace them one at a time. Most homeowners will replace the system that’s giving them the most trouble at the time. The one they’ll rely on the most in the next few months.

For example, if your furnace is on the fritz in December, you’ll want to install a new one ASAP with more blistering cold on the way. No different than how you’ll replace your home’s AC system if your current unit craps out in July with the heat and humidity of August still to come.

Few people stop to realize that they’d conserve more energy and save more money over the long haul if they replace both systems at the same time – even one that’s seen better days but is still working.

Here are a few reasons replacing your furnace and A/C systems at the same time will benefit your home and your wallet.

Energy Efficiency

The heating and cooling systems manufactured today are incredibly energy efficient – much more than the HVAC systems built just 10 to 15 years ago.

The SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating is how you’ll compare the efficiency of different air conditioning systems. The higher the SEER, the less energy it uses and the less it will cost to operate. Newer systems will have a SEER rating of 13 or higher. 13 is the government’s minimum standard for cooling systems.

Furnaces are measured by their AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). A unit with an AFUE of 90% or more is considered an energy efficient furnace system.

Did you know? Depending on the quality and efficiency of the unit, today’s furnaces will generally last you anywhere from 15 to 20 years; a central air conditioning system can last anywhere from 12 to 15 years.

Optimal Performance

Replacing just one component of your HVAC system can actually decrease the overall performance and efficiency of both your heating and cooling system.

For instance, if you install a new high-efficiency central AC, but you’re still hanging on to an older less-energy efficient furnace, you’re not getting the best bang for your buck from the newer more energy efficient system.

Think of your furnace and air conditioning system as a powerful one-two punch. Matched systems will complement one another. After all, your AC and furnace share the same air handler/blower. A matched system with an efficient handler will result in optimal system operation and home comfort.

Simply put, a matched system might cost you more right now but it will save you more in the long run. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Matched components will work in sync together for maximum efficiency.
  • Matching a new system with an older inefficient one can quite possibly decrease the lifespan of the new system you’ve just invested in.
  • When it comes to warranties, manufacturers aren’t required to honor warranties of new systems that break down during the warranty period if they were combined with an older system.

You also have to remember that both new systems will be under warranty, which will save you money if repairs are ever needed within a few years. That’s a luxury you won’t have if you have an old dated furnace in need or repairs every remaining year you rely on it.

Overall, new systems will require fewer repairs. Additionally, you’re likely to save money on installation by purchasing both systems together and having them installed by the same HVAC pro. For them, their job becomes much less complicated when installing both a new heating and cooling system at the same time.


If you’d like a comprehensive assessment of your current HVAC system and to go over your options for air conditioning or furnace replacement, contact Top Notch Heating & Air at 412-381-0598 or visit https://topnotchair.com. We specialize in both air conditioning and furnace installation in Pittsburgh.

How Much Does Air Conditioning Installation Cost in Pittsburgh?

A common question that we get at Top Notch is ‘How much will it cost to install an air conditioning system in my home?’ Well, every home is different and therefore every air conditioning installation price is unique. Make sure you take a look at our last blog post that goes over ‘Professional AC Installation Criteria’. That way you will know what Top Notch Heating and Cooling takes into consideration when outfitting your home with the ideal equipment (and know when another company might not have all the information necessary to make an informed AC decision for your home as well).

Top Notch installs everything from Central Air Conditioning Systems, to Ductless Split Air Conditioning Systems, and Window Units. We do maintenance on all different makes and models of HVAC equipment, but stand by the following brands when it comes to new installations: Goodman and Airtemp; Sea Breeze, Fujitsu, and Daikin for mini split systems, as well as Crown, Utica, HTP for boilers.

Goodman Air Conditioning and Heating Pittsburgh

Goodman: The Goodman brand has been building air conditioning equipment since 1982. Given their decades of experience in the heating and cooling business, customers can be assured that Goodman brand air conditioning systems meet the highest industry standards and are installed by some of the best and most experienced professionals in the industry. Goodman offers a 10-year Parts Limited Warranty coverage on all functional parts, and a Lifetime Compressor Limited Warranty on the compressor in our air conditioning products, as well as similar warrantees are their heating products too.

AirTemp Air Conditioning Pittsburgh

AirTemp: Airtemp air conditioning systems are designed, assembled and repeatedly and thoroughly tested in North America. AirTemp only uses reliable components and proven technology, and builds quality into their products during every step of the manufacturing process. They have a 10-Year All-Parts Limited Warranty and also stand by a 1-Year Replacement Pledge (in case of compressor, or the heart of the system, failure).


Top Notch relies on a combination of things for our Top Notch Service. We have a strong team of skilled, experienced professionals that install and maintain our top of the line products, which are backed by strong warranties. This winning combination and our fare prices make Top Notch a reliable source for your HVAC needs.

At Top Notch, we steer clear of partnerships with dealers such as Lennox, Carrier, Bryant, and Trane…. Partnering with dealers makes HVAC companies inflate customer prices and promote their products, which may not be the best for the specific needs of the customer at hand. By staying independent, Top Notch is able to choose the nest, and most correct product for the job at hand, and charge customers the proper fee, without having to increase it to pay off the partnership of a distributor.

In general, Air Conditioning Installation Cost with Top Notch starts at $2800. Depending on size, efficiency, and the number of bells and whistles required for the job, the price goes up from there. When you are looking for a company to install HVAC systems in your home, call around to different companies and get pricing and ask them what criteria they use to decide what option is best for your home, and which brand product they will use. And make sure you start with us, here at Top Notch.


Professional Air Conditioning Installation Criteria in Pittsburgh

goodman HVAC units
A frequent question we get at Top Notch Heating and Cooling is, “How much does it cost to get a new air conditioning system installed in my home?” This is a hard question to answer, given that every home is unique, which in turn makes every air conditioning installation different. Air Conditioning Installation is a big purchase and decision and is therefore heavily considered. Most people looking to install a new air conditioning system will buy a good quality system that lasts longer, uses less energy, and therefore pans out over the course of the years they plan to spend in their home.

The first question you have to answer is: ‘What’s the best type of Air Conditioner for My Home?

Your home is unique. From its components, to its size, location, your style of living, your preferences, heat loss, and so on. Your air conditioning system will be specific to you. Below we will try our best to break down how we assess which AC system is best for your home, dependant on your situation. Below lists how we, as HVAC professionals, arrive at the expert advice we give to the unique homeowners that we serve in and around the Pittsburgh area.

Measuring Home Size (BTUs)
The size of your home is a major factor in determining the best air conditioning system. AC units are measured in British thermal units, (BTUs). They are measured by the amount of heat they remove in a home in one hour. The bigger your house, the more cooling power it will need. Get too large of a system, and it will cycle on and off which created a loud sound and also wastes energy. Get too small a system, and your AC will run all the time and inefficiently cool your home.

The unique build of your home and how you use it will greatly affect which Air Conditioning System fits you best. Answering questions such as: Is your basement finished? How well is your attic insulated? How do you currently heat your home? Do you want the capability to cool some rooms and not others? Etc.

Calculated Heat Loss
A multitude of factors determines how much heat-loss your home has; this information helps decide its’ air conditioning needs. Your geographic location, area of ceilings, floors, and walls exposed to outside temperatures, the number and quality of windows and doors, the perimeter length of Slab on grade floors, your homes volume, and internal heat gains (from warm bodies, lights, appliances, etc) are all factors that make up your calculated heat loss.

Additional Considerations
At Top Notch, we also factor in such things as; the materials that make up your home, when it was built, past duct infrastructure, and more. We also look for problem areas such as preexisting duct leaks and seal problems, as well as potential draft locations, cheap windows, etc.

Unit Load Calculations
An air conditioning contractor will do a load calculation to determine the proper air conditioning unit for your home. We use a variety of computations to properly analyze your home’s cooling characteristics. We do this both for the whole house, and/or room by room to help determine duct size and assess all needs of the home thoroughly.

Would you like to get your home assessed by a Top Notch Cooling and Heating Professional? Let us help you find the best cooling solution for your unique home and lifestyle. Serving homeowners in and around the Pittsburgh area including:
• Allegheny County
• Butler County
• Somerset County
• Armstrong County
• Fayette County
• Washington County
• Beaver County
• Greene County
• Westmoreland County

Give us a Call today at 412-381-0598 or send us an email on our contact page. We look forward to serving you and making your home nice and cool for the rest of summer!

Stay tuned for our next blog post that will answer the question: How Much Does Air Conditioning Installation Cost for an Average Pittsburgh Home?

Summer Savings Tips for Homeowners

Homeowner expenses

High Summer Temperatures outside often mean higher electricity bills to keep your homes cool inside. Below are some simple tips to help cut down on energy use and lower your electric bill at the same time. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Top Notch Technician if you want to chat with an expert directly about maintaining a more energy efficient home.

Air Conditioning

Make sure your Air Conditioning System is running at Top Notch this Summer by keeping your air filters updated, assessing air and water leaks, checking your compressors health, and fixing a noisy AC. Read our blog post, ‘How to Maintain and Troubleshoot your Air Conditioning System’ to learn how to check and maintain the items lists above. If you didn’t get your system inspected prior to the season starting and you’re running into issues now, not to worry, a Top Notch Technician can still inspect your system and make sure it’s running at full capacity for the second half on Summer, no problem!

should you turn off AC when not home?


Should you turn your AC off when your not home to save energy?

Yes. People often think it takes more energy to re-cool a room than to just keep the AC running at a higher temperature all day, but that is simply not true. Turning off your AC unit saves energy. Running it at a higher temperature all day, only turns things on and off at different rates, and doesn’t use so much less energy that it is more worth it to leave it on. When your asleep, or away for the weekend or at work for the day, turn off your AC. When you come home, turn it back on. Programmable thermostats are great for this purpose.

Use of Appliances

Oven – An easy way to keep your home cool and use less electricity in the Summer, is to use the oven and other heat generating appliances more sparingly. Cook dinners that don’t require use of the oven. (Here’s 100+ No Oven Recipes).

Washer/Dryer – Only do loads of laundry when they are full. Use drying racks instead of the dryer. Wash in cold water.

use ceiling fan with AC

Fans – Use your bathroom exhaust fan after showering to remove heat and humidity. Use ceiling fans when in rooms to circulate air better.

Lighting – Turn off and unplug lights/appliances when you aren’t using them. Buy energy efficient bulbs. Check out Consumer Reports ‘Choosing the Best Energy-Saving Lightbulbs’ to see how your bulbs compare, and what you should buy next time your bulbs burn out!

Save energy and money by following these energy saving tips! Both your wallet – and the environment, will thank you for your decreased use of energy! Here’s to a cool and comfortable Summer while using less energy! Share these tips with the homeowners you know, and help them save and decrease their energy usage too!


Why You Should Hire Professionals for Air Conditioning Installation

Everyone likes to save money. Sometimes, that involves cutting corners. This tactic for saving works on many things. But sometimes cutting corners in an effort to save a few bucks just isn’t worth it in the end… Like when your daughter tried to cut her hair and ended up with a mullet, or when the dollar store trash bags made a mess in your kitchen. Somethings, like Air Conditioner Installation, should be left to the experts because in the end, spending those extra bucks will end up saving you money in the long run.How Does an Air Conditioning System Work?


A recent NIST study has gathered Air Conditioning systems operate inefficiently and waste significant energy due to a variety of installation errors. These set up errors range from improper refrigerant charge, incorrect airflow, oversized equipment to leaky ducts. These errors can raise your energy bill by as much as 30%. That is why professionals like the Top Notch team should install your Air Conditioning System, and get it set up right the first time. (Read the full NIST study to find out exactly how much energy can be wasted through insufficiently set up air conditioning equipment. )

Professional Air Conditioning Installation

A major strength of the team here at Top Notch Heating and Cooling, is the amount of experience we have in the industry. Top Notch has served over 20,000 customers and has been serving the Pittsburgh area for the last 20 years. With this experience, we are able to make educated decisions with homeowners about which system is best for them given the unique area, home, and owners. We find the air conditioning unit that fits all of your criteria best. Then we perform a heating and cooling load calculation, which helps us determine the correct unit size, which is important for the systems functionality, and the amount of energy it uses. Many factors about your home help us make this determination, such as: foundation type, type/ color of roof, insulation values in walls/floors/ ceilings, window type/location/quantity, size of home, and more.

Your air conditioning system is a major piece of equipment that you use regularly and for many years. Remember that somethings should be left to the professionals, and for good reason. Save yourself money in the long run by getting your system installed the right way, the first time.

If you live in or around the Pittsburgh area and need help with your heating or cooling systems, give us a call at 412.381.0598 or send us a message through the Top Notch Air website. We look forward to serving you and saving you money.


How to Maintain and Troubleshoot your Air Conditioning System

Air Conditiong Maintenance Allegheny County

Keep your Air Conditioning Systems running well with the tips and troubleshooting answers listed below. Maintaining your AC will keep your systems performing at Top Notch, help you save money by using less energy, and stop major problems from occurring by assessing the smaller ones. Protect your home investment and read on to learn about how and why to check your system, assess issues, and ultimately uphold the value of your air conditioning system. Read on for 5 tips to help you maintain and prevent problems with your air conditioning system.

  1. Update Air Filter. The top cause of HVAC system malfunction is dirty filters. Also, those dirty filters make it harder for air to pass through, which causes the system to use more energy in pushing the air through all of the debris. If that isn’t enough to make you change your filter, then think about it this way: Dirty filters mean dirty air ducts which means the house is dirty and full of allergens. Keep your filters clean to avoid more problems, and keep the air in your house clean.
  2. Assess Air Leaks. If your system used to work better and make the air cooler and it isn’t anymore, then one of the many reasons that can occur is from leakage. Make sure your window units are sealed properly, (Tip: follow Top Notch on Facebook for tips on how to find leaks and more useful info!) and if they are leaking air, try stuffing foam in between the device and window frame. For central air-conditioning, check for leaks around duct connections. For ductwork, you can use foil tape to seal tiny gaps, and duct mastic for larger leaks.
  3. Check Compressor Health. Put your central air compressor and condensor on the north or east side of your house to keep it out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Place it in a clear area, 24 inches away from anything else to keep it running at its best. Troubleshooting compressor problems: If your compressor starts and the fan does not, then the condensor fan motor could be the issue. If the fan starts, and the compressor does not, your refrigerant could be low or the compressor might be bad.
  4. Assess Water Leaks. If your Air Conditioner is leaking water, then it may be due to a clogged tube, or due to a problem with the condensation pump. If ice is blocking the tube, then clean or change your filters and/or check refrigerant levels. If your refrigerant is low, a Top Notch technician will gladly refill it for you. If it’s not due to a tube, make sure the condensation pump is plugged into a working outlet, and then pour water into its collector, and then see if the pump starts. If it doesn’t start or does but doesn’t empty the water, its stuck or broken.
  5. Fix Noisy AC. Most newer air handlers have direct-drive motors, but older units may be belt driven. Squealing sounds can occur from air conditioning systems reliant on belts. See our previous blog post, to make sure a repair on an older machine is the right move, or if you need to prepare for the Freon Phase Out which may prove your system obsolete in light of new government changes for refrigerants. If your direct-drive motor is making noises that sound like squealing or grinding, call Top Notch – the motors bearings are probably shot.

If you have a question about maintenance or troubleshooting your AC unit or system that is not listed above, reach out to the Top Notch Heating and Cooling Experts. We service areas in and area Pittsburgh, including but not limited to homes in Allegheny County, Washington County, and some of Beaver and Fayette counties.

Find out more about Top Notch on the Top Notch website.

Air Conditioning System Update: Plan Ahead for the Freon Phase Out

Air Conditioning regulation is in the process of making changes that you need to know about. Be aware of the updates you are going to have to make in the next few years and make the most cost effective decisions by understanding the changes and how they will effect you, your family, and your current air conditioning systems with help from Top Notch Heating and Cooling of Pittsburgh.

No more Freon in Air Conditioning Units

The Freon Phase Out:

In 2010, air conditioning manufacturers discontinued the production of equipment that utilize R-22 Refrigerant, also known as Freon.

Prior to 2010, Freon based Air Conditioning Systems were the popular AC Unit, used for decades in residential homes and for commercial businesses. However, in recent years we have learned that Freon is a fluorocarbon pollutant that removes the ozone layer, which as you know, acts as a protective layer against harmful ultraviolent rays from the sun. If you currently use equipment that recharges with Freon, you can continue to recharge your equipment up until 2020. Meaning that you will absolutely need to get new equipment that does not rely on Freon after January 1st, 2020, as it will not be available thereafter. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ruled to completely stop production of HCFC-22 by the year 2020.

So Why Upgrade before you absolutely have to in 2020?

  1. As Freon becomes more difficult to obtain, it will also become more expensive. In 2014, 51 million pounds of Freon were produced for consumption. In 2015, that numbered dropped to 22 million. By 2020, that number will drop to zero.
  2. You are hurting the ozone layer and quality of life for all of its inhabitants by using a fluorocarbon pollutant that has been classified as harmful to the environment.
  3. There is an alternate cooling unit, R-410A (brand name Puron), which is just as efficient as Freon at cooling and does not harm the environment like Freon. New air conditioning systems use Puron, which is currently about half the cost of Freon, which will become increasingly more expensive until its deletion in 2020.

Update your Air Conditioning Unit before 2020

See what KDKA has to say about the Freon to Puron Phase Over: ‘Switch To New Refrigerant Likely To Boost Cost For Consumers

Top Notch supports the Airtemp and Goodman brands for residential air conditioning systems. All Top Notch installed Air Conditioners utilize refrigerant R-410A, specialty warrantee options, and high performance and quality products that Top Notch stands by and that our customers can rely on. Learn more about Top Notch Cooling Services on our Cooling Page.


When, Why, and How You Should Get Your AC Inspected This Spring

Air Conditioning Inspection

Before using your air conditioner, you should make sure that air can flow through it freely and most efficiently. This preventative measure can improve the air quality within your home, and save you money in the long run.

So when exactly should you get your air-conditioning inspected? A tell tale sign its time to get your system inspected are the budding of plants and flowers which mark the start of Spring and the warmer months to come. Other times you may want to get your AC system inspected are from sensory clues that there may be an issue. Sometimes AC problems are visually noticeable. Here are some Ductwork problem you might be able to identify through sensory clues:

  1. Peeling duct tape and loosely fitting seams
  2. Dirt marks that signify escaping air
  3. Damaged ducts that look flat or torn
  4. Dents in the system itself
  5. Damage from plant growth on the outside of compressors
  6. Bent condenser unit fins that obstruct airflow
  7. Thermostat not working property or displaying incorrect information
  8. Warm air coming through the air vents when on a cool setting
  9. Different temperatures in different rooms
  10. Outdoor unit making strange noises

So why should you get your AC inspected? Because inspections more than pay for themselves in improved energy efficiency, which ultimately saves money through lower utility bills and making your AC unit last you a longer time. Inspection of your AC unit can lower your monthly energy bill by up to 15%! That’s huge! AC inspection can prevent your AC unit from breaking down as well by addressing small problems, before they become big, costly problems.

When a TopNotch team member comes out to your home to inspect your AC unit, we check your systems connections, refrigerant levels, operating temperatures, return and supply lines, operating pressures, as well as the motor, blower, drain line, and coils to make sure they are functioning properly. We also clean the filters, connection points, motor, and coils, too, with out current promotional offer listed below.

In the least, one thing that you can do yourself to help maintain the efficiency of your AC, is replace or clean its filters on a regular basis. Clogged, dirty filters block airflow and increase your air conditioners energy consumption. Dirty filters can also cause other, bigger issues, like bringing dirty into the evaporator coil, which lowers the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity and ultimately makes your AC less effective.

Here’s an interesting fact about AC Inspection:

Did you know that in the United Kingdom, you get fined if you fail to get your air-conditioning inspected at least once every 5 years?

TopNotch recommends that you get your air-conditioning inspected at least once a year, to keep your systems working at peak performance. In fact, at TopNotch, we have a special! Get your air-conditioning inspected and cleaned for only $58! Find out about more Top Notch specials on the Top Notch Promotion Page.


When Is It Time to Replace Air Conditioning Ducts

When Is It Time to Replace Air Conditioning Ducts?

It’s likely the largest appliance in your home. But aside from changing a filter every so often, adjusting the thermostat, and taking refuge in that cool house of yours on a hot humid summer’s day, most people don’t think very much about their air conditioning system. Until the moment it stops working.

Quite often, we’ll get a call from someone irritated that certain rooms of their home are hotter or colder than others. When we stop by their home, and conclude that nothing is wrong with the air conditioning unit itself, we’ll ask if their ductwork has ever been inspected or tested for leaks. More than a few homeowners have absolutely no idea.

Although it’s hidden throughout your home, it’s critical that your ductwork is in good condition. Leaky ducts can lead to air that is either too dry in winter months or too humid in the summertime.

Duct work that is in poor condition can also be a health hazard, particularly for anyone with allergies or asthma, since particles pulled from the attic will lead to the presence of excessive dust throughout your home.

If you’re wondering if now is the time to replace air conditioning ducts, please call TopNotch Heating and Cooling at 412-381-0598 or 724-693-0598 to have your ductwork’s condition inspected and tested.

Start Breathing Better By Improving Indoor Air Quality

Start Breathing Better By Improving Indoor Air Quality

We can’t see it, but it’s all around us. It’s a critical component to our day-to-day lives, yet it’s all too easy to never think of it or completely take it for granted. We’re talking about the air we breathe – both outside and indoors.

The air we breathe impacts both our health and overall quality of life. We feel better and healthier when we’re breathing in air that is pure and clean. Nobody gets any relief when they step outside for a breath of fresh air only to be smacked in the face by emissions from a passing truck, bus, or a nearby factory. Yuck.

Nobody knows this more than life-long Pittsburgh residents who still remember a time when today’s “Most Livable City” had the dubious distinction of being known as the “Smoky City.” And, if you’re new here, or too young to understand, all it takes is one look at an old black-and-white photo of a downtown Pittsburgh street so smoky that its street lights are on in the middle of daylight. Need further proof? Look at the still soot-stained old buildings in downtown Pittsburgh for further evidence.

But air quality isn’t something that only affects us when we step outside. It’s also something we have to consider when we’re at home or our workplace. Newer buildings today are airtight because they’re built to be energy efficient. This means fresh air outside can’t get in and bad air indoors stays inside. This is why it’s important to consider the quality of our indoor air, too. There are a number of air filters and cleaners available that significantly reduce pollutants and improve indoor air quality.

Limiting indoor pollutants is especially important if anyone in your home suffers from respiratory ailments, allergies, or similar illnesses that complicate breathing. Make sure any air conditioning or furnace unit has good filters. There are even UV lights that can be installed that purify indoor air, improving indoor air quality tremendously.

Call TopNotch Heating and Cooling at 412-381-0598 or 724-693-0598 if you’d like to hear about our solutions for improving indoor air quality.