Finding a reliable heating and air conditioning company isn’t easy. But this provider has been building trust throughout Central Florida for 40-plus years. A close-knit business, their sole focus is personalized treatment for all customers. AJ Munson tells the story.
When did Gary Munson Heating & A/C Services come onto the HVAC scene?
The early ’80s were the “big boom” of air conditioning in Central Florida. A number of companies started up around that time. We opened our doors in 1984 when my dad started the business. He began as a small service company and he’s grown it to the point where we’ve done everything, both commercial and residential. I tell people I’ve worked in one-bedroom HUD housing studios, and I’ve been on the rooftop of Cinderella’s Castle doing work at night. We have a huge customer base ranging from Tampa to Daytona.
How did you get involved in the business?
I’ve been involved my whole life, but I’ve been doing this officially since I was 16. My brother works on the service side and I do the install side. We were attracted to the field because we grew up in it. And my dad is highly involved in the company. He still answers the phone for on-calls over the weekends at night. We don’t send them to voicemail or to some robot or overseas service.
What sets your company apart?
We’re very personal in the way we take care of our customers and employees. We’re family owned and we have employees who retire after 20 to 30 years in the field. We’ve built a culture that’s all about treating our employees as family, and trying to keep our customers as family. For example, we’d rather help a customer save money than do what some companies do — tell them they need a new system. Instead of spending $4,000 to $5,000 the customer spends $200 to $300 replacing a capacitor, and their system works for a couple more years if they maintain and keep the system up. We’re big about maintenance and getting the most out of the life of a system.
Would you say the average customer has a good handle on how their HVAC system works?
Most homeowners understand how to keep their house hot or cool, but they don’t truly know the maintenance part of it. To help, I’ve created a series of easy maintenance steps videos that are launching on our website and on YouTube — three things you can do to extend the life of your system. For example, it talks about changing filters regularly, cleaning out your drain line, and making sure your thermostat isn’t experiencing calibration issues.
What can homeowners do to keep their systems healthy?
I keep going back to maintenance because I truly believe in it. Whether you do it on your own or bring us in for a maintenance call, you should take care of your HVAC system like you do your car. A lot of people don’t think about this until something happens. Cleaning a drain line or changing a filter are fairly simple. It seems easy but, for instance, there are a lot of people who don’t understand what the arrow on the filter is for. I point out in the video that the airflow is going up, so the arrow on the filter should go up as well. For some, that’s a real aha moment. But the best advice I can give readers is to service their HVAC regularly. It’s one of the most important systems your home, and it’s the second most expensive product in your house besides your roof.
What are the most frequent HVAC problems that homeowners deal with, and what can they do to prevent them?
The most common and the easiest problems homeowners have to deal with are two-fold. First, change your filter out regularly so that your HVAC doesn’t struggle and your coil isn’t getting dirty. Make sure you always have a clean filter in there. The biggest challenge, though, is that drain line systems now have drain line safeties on them. If a drain line backs up, that safety is supposed to stop it so the water doesn’t flood into the house. I tell every homeowner to clean their drain line out when they change their filter. You can use a small shop vac to suck the water out. The other thing we recommend is putting in some Dawn soap followed by a cup of hot water. If you see bubbles, you know it’s draining outside. You could use vinegar but you can’t see it coming out of the drain. These are all services we provide on our maintenance program for homeowners who want someone to do it for them.