Author Archives: Elite HVAC

How often should I have my commercial AC serviced?

air conditioning equipment on top of a commercial roof

Taking Care of Your Building

Sunny California leads to a hot California during the summer. When you’re the one responsible for the comfort inside a commercial building, routine maintenance is important. This is true whether you’re doing your own maintenance or having professional preventive maintenance performed on a regular basis by a commercial AC contractor.

What is commercial HVAC preventive maintenance?

Preventive maintenance is a strategy for being proactive in keeping the HVAC system in good working order. PM (preventive maintenance) by a professional commercial AC contractor will include routine inspections with selective service and needed repairs to the HVAC equipment at scheduled intervals. 

The objective of having a commercial AC contractor perform this preventive maintenance routine is to extend the life expectancy of the HVAC system and prevent disruptions, and unscheduled downtime and reduce maintenance costs overall by correcting defects and issues at the onset. Some specific types of commercial HVAC preventive maintenance strategies are: 

  • Routine Maintenance: Cleaning, inspecting, and servicing is important, and should include changing air filters and other small tasks. This can be done by the building maintenance crew or a professional commercial AC contractor.
  • Proactive Replacements: During professional maintenance by a commercial AC contractor, this will include replacing broken, non-working, and worn building components. 
  • Scheduled Refurbishment: This service is typically done by schools and other learning institutes during scheduled closings. A commercial AC contractor will inspect all components that have defective and deteriorated components, then repair or replace them as needed. 

Preventive maintenance by a commercial AC contractor on a commercial building is akin to that of oil changes on a vehicle. These measures listed above prevent costly repairs over time while extending the life of the system. This saves money for the company and keeps the HVAC system in a healthy and safe operating mode. 

How often should commercial air conditioning units be serviced?

Regular inspections should be performed on commercial, industrial, and other large facilities by the staff maintenance crew on a monthly routine. Professional commercial AC contractors should be inspected and serviced is dependent on the property and any unique considerations. Those considerations can vary based on the occupancy and purpose of the building type, which can include:

  • Apartment Buildings and Condominiums
  • Educational Facilities
  • Healthcare Facilities
  • Historic Buildings
  • Hospitality Real Estate
  • Manufacturing Facilities
  • Office Buildings
  • Retail Facilities

What does AC servicing include?

Preventative maintenance on a commercial or other unique building setups should be serviced by professional commercial AC contractors that include such tasks as:

Twice a year system checkups (fall and spring) should consist of:

  • Cleaning and inspecting the outdoor components
  • Check and regard the refrigerant levels 
  • Inspection and cleaning of blower, belts, evaporator coil, and all indoor cooling system components, replace any as needed 
  • Inspection and cleaning of burner assemblies, ignition systems, and all indoor heating system components
  • Test control systems
  • Inspect and change if needed all air filters in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Check thermostat functioning and reset programming as needed for the season

How often should you inspect your AC unit?

And how do you maintain a commercial air conditioner? There are a few things to keep in mind. The staff maintenance crew should perform the following on a monthly schedule: 

  1. Air Filter Change 
  2. Visually Inspect all areas of the system
  3. Clean Drain Lines and Drain Pans
  4. Clean AC Evaporator 
  5. Clean Condenser Coils

What happens if AC is not serviced?

Neglecting the recommended monthly staff maintenance and annual or bi-annual professional HVAC maintenance by a professional commercial AC contractor can lead to the system becoming inefficient. This causes the energy bills to increase as the system works harder. An HVAC system that must work harder has frequent failures and will need to be replaced sooner than it should. 

How long does a commercial AC last?

If you’re purchasing a new HVAC system for your commercial structure, after the initial sticker shock, you’ll likely want to know, “How long should a commercial air conditioner last?”. In general, the typical lifespan of a properly maintained commercial HVAC system is between ten and fifteen years. With proper monthly maintenance and annual or bi-annual maintenance and inspection by commercial AC contractors, the lifespan can be extended to another 30% or longer. 

air conditioning equipment along the side of a building

Keeping Things Cool

A commercial HVAC system isn’t going to be cheap, so, as a commercial structure owner, you’ll want to hold out as long as possible, right? If you’re wondering, “Should I replace my 20-year-old commercial air conditioner?”. A few factors to help you make the decision “now or later” are:

  • The Age: A 20-year-old commercial HVAC system probably looks like a rusty chunk of metal. If it does, there’s your sign! 
  • Wear and Tear: Quality of the equipment and original installation will have a lot to do with this, and so will your diligence in monthly, bi-annual, and annual maintenance. At the 15-year mark, if you’ve had it serviced frequently over the last 5 years by a professional commercial AC contractor, it is time t replace it. 
  • Malfunctioning: When an HVAC unit has minor malfunctions, like dirty filters, squeaking motor, or blown fuses, that isn’t much concern. If it has consistent refrigerant leaking or the fan quits, get the opinion of a professional commercial AC contractor if replacement is the better option. 
  • Outdated: If your commercial system requires R-22 refrigerant still, it is outdated, time to replace the system.

Keeping all this in mind can help you make the right decision, and if you still aren’t sure, a commercial AC contractor can help determine when it’s time to go ahead and update your system.

How often is AC maintenance needed?

close-up of a dusty air conditioning vent

The Importance of AC Maintenance

Summertime can get hot here in California, so even when the heaters have been blasting for a couple of months, before long the air conditioning is going to be turned up to its max. But when was the last time you did any AC maintenance, or had it professionally serviced?

 Is annual AC maintenance really necessary?

Paying bills, buying groceries, and putting gas in the car are all things that you know are necessary. But is AC maintenance necessary? No, not really. Yes, you read that right – an annual ac maintenance plan is not necessary. 

If your air conditioner is running okay, why waste your money on an AC maintenance appointment? But we can’t promise you nothing will happen going forward into a hot summer, like a blower motor going out, or an air conditioner that will only blow hot air. If you’re lucky, your air conditioning system may continue to run just fine. However, there is no guarantee you’ll be lucky, and having that maintenance can identify and prevent plenty of the problems that may crop up if you aren’t lucky.

What maintenance does an air conditioner need?

Okay, the salesperson that sold the AC system to you recommended an AC maintenance plan. You declined, then the 30-day checkup appointment, the technician recommended an AC maintenance plan. Again, you declined, but you may be wondering, “What does ac maintenance include?”

The two basic maintenance steps are routine filter change and cleaning the condenser and evaporator coil. You’re in charge of the filter changing – every 30 days, the same time you change the smoke alarm batteries. While every HVAC company will have its own process and routines, the following are generally a part of any professional AC maintenance check: 

  • Calibrate the Thermostat
  • Examine the Equipment Condition
  • Blower components
  • Check the Air Handler and Furnace
  • Check Electrical Connections
  • Measure the Airflow
  • Check Safety Controls
  • Check Refrigerant Pressure
  • Check and Clean Drip Pan and Condensation Drain Lines

Once the technician has completed the AC maintenance and inspection, they will review what they found and advise if anything needs to be replaced. They will also discuss with you when to schedule ac maintenance for the next appointment.

What kind of problems does air conditioning maintenance prevent?

Preventative AC maintenance will keep your air conditioner operating at optimum capacity. With the professional AC maintenance of all the components and if any are malfunctioning, the technician replaces the part, lubricates all components required. These steps keep your AC from freezing up and leaving your home amid a hot summer and maximize energy efficiency, which will save you money on your monthly utility bills.

How often should you clean your outside AC unit?

This step of AC maintenance doing it twice a year is sufficient, once at the beginning of summer and again just before fall arrives. All year long you should check around it to make sure there isn’t any grass or other debris sucked up against the unit and always keep the grass trimmed back.         

During the professional AC maintenance check-up and inspection, the technician will check outside components too. This is where they will check the refrigerant pressure, they will open the unit up, and check the electrical components and blower motor.

Should I pay for AC maintenance?

And are AC maintenance plans worth it? Yes, an AC maintenance plan is well worth the cost, within reason. You don’t have to go with the company that installed your unit, although that will probably be the best pricing. The cost of the AC maintenance contract is minimal compared to the cost of a replacement unit! 

How long do AC units typically last?

Today air conditioners can have a lifespan up to 20 years when proper AC maintenance is performed. An older air conditioner will typically last 12 years. There are several factors that will give you the longest lifespan possible from your air condition system, one starting with the quality of the system. A better grade and model, and a quality installation are key in getting a long lifespan. 

Routine homeowner AC maintenance of changing the filter every 30 days has an impact on the lifespan as will annual professional AC maintenance and inspection. By keeping professional appointments, any small issues are found and handled before they become more expensive problems, or worse, replacement! 

couple sitting underneath a vent and enjoying their air conditioning

In Closing 

Here are the four indications that you and the AC maintenance technician will know that it is time to replace your AC unit: 

  • It is older than ten years 
  • Has frequent breaks down requiring returns
  • Energy bills skyrocket
  • AC system is leaking refrigerant

Any of these things individually or a combination of these can be indicators your air conditioning unit is nearing its end of service life. It is important to note that an air condition system that is leaking refrigerant is not normal. If the system is leaking and it isn’t one of the lines, the system will need replacement. 

How can I keep my house cool when the AC is broken?

close-up of air conditioning being repaired

Dealing With a Broken AC

Way back in time, or so we’ve heard, there wasn’t such a thing as emergency ac repair. Why? Because there wasn’t air conditioning, even here in Orange, California. But today, we are fortunate to have this available to us, and now when it isn’t working, it is an emergency!

What do you do if your house doesn’t have air conditioning? Fortunately, there are other methods for cooling a home like: 

  • Swamp Coolers: Call it old-school, but swamp coolers gave us cooled air for many years before Mr. Carrier invented the air conditioner. They are either mounted on top of the home or installed in a window. There is a sponge insert on 3 sides and you spray those with water. Then the air is pulled in through the soaked sponges and blows into the house. 
  • Attic Fans: Another old-school way of cooling a home by lowering the temperature by keeping a constant circulation of air in the attic The hot air is vented out while the cool air is pulled in. 
  • Geothermal Cooling and Heating: A far cry from the above-mentioned swamp cooler, but geothermal is as old as the earth itself. The underground temps are more consistent than on the surface, usually around 54 degrees, just 10 feet down! A Geothermal system takes advantage of this stable temperature by pulling heated air out in the winter to warm your home. Or it exchanges the warm air indoors for that 54-degree cooler temperature underground. 
  • Heat Pumps: An air-source heat pump will provide an efficient way to cool your home by pumping a refrigerant like that of a refrigerator, through the coils indoors and outdoors. This works like that of a central air unit. 
  • Other Options: To keep your home cool besides central heating and air conditioning include room-to-room air condition solutions like a ductless mini-split system or portable window units.

Should I open the windows if the AC is out?

Yes, should you find yourself waiting for emergency AC repair, here are some helpful suggestions to keeping cool in the meantime: 

1. OPEN THE WINDOWS: While you’re waiting for your emergency AC repair appointment open the windows while the temperatures are cool, usually early morning and late night. Open them in a method where you can get a cross breeze through the house. 

2. COVER THE WINDOWS: Keep blinds and curtains closed in the windows where the sun is shining through the windows directly. If you can hang blankets over the windows to minimize the UV rays coming through. 

3. STAY HYDRATED: Sip cold water or any other cold beverage, avoiding caffeinated drinks and others that can potentially cause dehydration. Sipping is key to making it last longer and not upsetting your stomach. 

4. WEAR BREATHABLE LIGHT COLORS: Dress in fabrics that are lightweight and light colors for the most comfort. Fabrics that are breathable include, cotton, linen, nylon, rayon, and silk. 

5. COOK OUTDOORS: Now is the time to grill outside!  If you must cook indoors, avoid using the oven, or microwave as much as you can. 

6. WATER: Other than for drinking, use water to cool down by taking a cool shower at the hottest time of the day, or mist yourself with cool water and stand in front of a fan. Cold, damp washcloths can keep kids cool as they play (making a game of tossing them back and forth), and of course, water sprinkler time is great while waiting on an emergency AC repair technician. Hook up a dehumidifier can help too.

7. FAN IT AWAY: Set your ceiling fans in a counterclockwise rotation to pull the hot air up to the ceiling. Does putting ice in front of a fan work? Definitely! Place a bowl of frozen ice in front of stand fans to blow the cooled air and ice sprinkles throughout the rooms. 

Is it cheaper to run the fan or the AC?

A fan is a lot less expensive on utility bills than central air conditioning or window units. However, using your ceiling fans WITH the air conditioning is cheaper because the thermostat can be set higher, and the fan will do the cooling. 

What is the best AC temperature to save money?

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) advises setting your thermostat at 78 or higher in the summer and 68 in the winter. Because most of us in California and other areas of the country where the summers are blisteringly hot, we want our thermostats much lower. 

For that purpose, a programmable thermostat is ideal. When you’re not home, you can have it set for 78 to 80 degrees during the day (or night) and then have it programmed to cut on to a lower setting within 30 minutes of getting home. Your home will be nice and cool when you come from a long day’s work! 

How many hours should your AC run per day?

A central air conditioning system will cycle every 15 to 20 minutes when in proper working order. At the end of the day, it should not have run more than a total of eight hours with a 24-hour time frame. 

What happens if the AC runs for too long?

The evaporator and coils will freeze up, and the cooled air won’t get blown through the system as intended. Eventually, this will cause the condenser to freeze up and the entire system can burn up. At that point, it is beyond an emergency AC repair, but instead, you’ll find yourself buying a new unit. 

woman enjoying the air conditioning in her home

An Ever-Present Question: Should I leave the AC on when I’m not home?

We’ve heard yes and no to this question, but in the end, turning it off while you’re gone to work and then back on when you get home will make the system work harder. The harder it works, the more energy it uses, and it will wear the system down faster, needing more frequent emergency AC repair or replacing it before its time. 

How does central heating work?

outdoor unit for a central heat and air system

Understanding Central Heating

Winter is coming to a close, but the nights can still get cool. Cool enough that sometimes, a few of us may still turn on the heat for a few hours. A central heating system is wonderful – when it is working correctly. The house gets warm all the way through, spreading heat evenly through each room. But when it isn’t working, central heating repair becomes something you have to worry about. 

What is central heating?

Basic central heating is a system that provides heat to the entire home after being generated in a central location, typically a closet. Once the heat is generated there, a blower motor forces the warmed air and distributes it throughout the home via the air ducts. 

Central heating systems typically work in the same manner that central cooling systems work, moving the air around to meet the temperature setting on the thermostat in your home. Some central heating systems produce their own heat. There are two primary options for central heating systems: 

  • Furnace Central Heating: The most traditional form which uses a natural fuel source and makes the heat from scratch. Air from that heat is then distributed through air ducts. 
  • Heat pumps:  A common type of central heating that works year round, switching from cool to heat based on the temperature. 

Is central heating gas or electric?

It can be either, actually. Gas central heating uses either natural gas or propane gas to make heat. However, a central heating system can also be powered by electricity. Both are common in this part of the country, with gas-powered options said to provide a hotter heat. 

When it comes to central heating, electrically powered central heating is easier and less expensive. Electric central heating repairs are also easier because there are only electrical components involved. With a gas central heating repair, it could be the gas supply or the electrical component like the blower motor that needs to be taken care of. 

How much does it cost to install a central heating system?

The cost can vary based on the size of the house, the size of the system, and the work needed to install the system. A gas-powered central heating system for a house that has never had central installed before will require air ducts to be installed as well as the central heating system. 

That means some renovation to the home in the attic, ceilings, crawl space, and the walls of the home. The cost can start around $10,000 and go upward of $15,000 or more. It will take one full day minimum for installation in a single-floor home. A multi-floor home can take up to two days. 

If there is pre-existing ductwork in good condition, the cost is considerably less, being between $6,000 and $8,000 to $10,000 for gas-powered central heating system installation. However, if the ductwork needs extending, repairing, or replacing, this can add another $1,000 to $2,000 and can take longer to complete the job. 

Is central heating expensive to operate and maintain?

Finding the perfect balance for heating your home at an economical cost is a hurdle all homeowners face. What type of heating system is best for being the most comfortable and what type of heating is cheaper to install, operate and maintain – oh the confusion!  So, let’s look that the pros and cons for both electric and gas; you can make your decision from that: 

Gas Furnace

The most common source for a heating system in this country. The thermostat controls when the gas furnace ignites to heat the exchanger for the blower motor to move the air through the house. 

The Pros

  • The newer the gas furnace, the more efficient, resulting in less environmental impact. 
  • Operating a gas furnace is less expensive than an electric furnace. 

The Cons

  • More expensive to purchase, install, and gas central heating repairs are typically more expensive. 
  • Gas furnaces must be consistently maintained to keep from deteriorating, which will cause it to use more gas. They typically need inspecting more frequently, they are noisy and if there are any malfunctions with the heat exchanger like cracking, gas central heating becomes dangerous with carbon monoxide leakage.

Electric Furnace

For multi-unit structures like apartments, electric heating is used more commonly. Newer home developments are often all-electric because gas isn’t available in the area. An electric furnace heats the air as it passes over the coils and then a blower motor distributes the heat through the duct system. 

The Pros

  • Electric furnaces are cheaper to purchase and install.
  • Electric furnaces have a longer lifespan because there isn’t any combustible air involved in the operation. 
  • Electric central heating repairs are less expensive because there are fewer moving parts. 

The Cons

  • Electrical power can be more expensive in some areas, making operating an electric furnace cost more in monthly utility bills.
  • Electric powered heating systems seem to be more eco-friendly until you do an in-depth search of how the power is generated. Some electric power plants are powered by coal, which minimizes the eco-friendly factor of electric powered furnaces.

What is the difference between central heating and forced air?

With a central heating system, there is a central location where the heat is produced and then it is distributed throughout the home. A forced-air system, typically referred to as an HVAC system, utilizes air ducts and vents to send the heated air, or cooled air, through the home using air ducts. 

Will central heating work without a thermostat?

No, a thermostat is what tells the heater to engage so the blower motor can blow the warmed air throughout the home. When the thermostat goes out, usually between eight and 10 years, you can replace it yourself or call for a central heating repair service to change the thermostat out for you. Changing over to a programmable unit will cost more upfront but will save you money over time.

What does it mean when central heating smells like burning?

If you notice a burning smell when you first turn on your central heating system, it is most likely the dust that has accumulated over the spring and summer. Dust collects on a furnace during those months it isn’t in use, so the first time it is operating for the winter, that dust will burn off, causing a burning smell. 

You could also have a burning odor from things being dropped into the floor vents over the summer. Another common issue found by central heating repair service technicians is a dirty air filter. The filter should be changed or cleaned every 30 days so the system is working more efficiently and healthier. 

Sometimes, a burning smell with a central heating unit is an issue with the electrical wiring. This will need a professional central heating repair technician to evaluate, inspect, and repair accordingly. 

What does it mean when central heating is blowing cold air? 

There can be several reasons why central heating is not working. The first thing you should check is the thermostat setting. Make sure it is set to “heat” and in the “auto” position. Check the thermostat setting is at a level that will engage the heat to turn on. 

Another thing to check before calling for a professional central heating repair service is the air filter. If the filter is clogged and dirty, the heating system will shut down for safety because the air isn’t circulating properly.

If you have a gas-powered central heat system, check that the pilot is on. Older systems do not have the enclosed system that newer systems do today and the pilot light often will blow out. Relight if needed and if there is still cool air blowing, call your professional central heating repair technician.

man in winter clothes adjusting a thermostat

In Closing 

No matter what type of power or type of heating your home has, maintenance is key to it working correctly. Follow through with your monthly maintenance and schedule the professional central heating repair and inspections as recommended by the manufacturer, your home should be toasty warm through the rest of the winter and for the winter to come. 

What kind of maintenance does a gas furnace need?

cover of a gas furnace being cleaned

Time for Gas Furnace Maintenance

Football season is here, and Halloween has passed. Do you know what else that means? It is time to get your gas furnace maintenance caught up on before the weather turns even colder. To understand why gas furnace maintenance is important, let’s review how a gas furnace works. 

The basic heating cycle for a forced-air furnace heats by way of the following process: 

  1. The gas is ignited in the burner.
  2. A metal heat exchanger is heated up by the heat of the flames and it exhausts out the flue.
  3. The heat is transferred into the air through the exchanger.
  4. The heated air is forced by the blower through the ductwork, distributing it through the home.
  5. Cold air is denser than warm air, and because of that, it is drawn back in the furnace as the warm air fills the house.

There are several components that, in a gas furnace, work together to make your home comfortable and warm. Some of the components, their functions, and why gas furnace maintenance is important include:

  • Thermostat: This is a temperature-activated switch. When the indoor temperature drops below the setting it tells the furnace to cut on. 
  • Draft Hood and Fan: As the burners draw air in, the air mixes with the gas and becomes combustible. Today, there are high-efficiency models with a draft-induced fan that makes the combustion leaner and offers better gas furnace efficiency. The fan blows the heat from the burners into the heat exchanger. Exhaust gases are then vented outside.
  • Burners: Furnace burners consist of tubes that gas goes through, and then a gas valve, the igniter, and a flame sensor to control the flames. As the heating system requires heat, the gas valves are opened, and the air/gas mixture is ignited. 
  • Heat exchanger: There are metal tubes that the burners heat up, and as the gas becomes combustible inside the heat exchanger, metal baffles are heated and transfer the radiant heat to the passing air. If the heat exchanger is damaged in any way, that combustible gas will leak in the house, putting everyone at risk. This is one reason routine gas furnace maintenance and inspection are so important. 
  • Blower: The blower motor directs air with a fan, taking the return ducts air into the heat exchanger and forcing the warmed air through the ductwork. 
  • Flue: This is where the combustion gases are collected and sent outside, away from your home. They are typically made of galvanized steel. 

How long does a gas furnace usually last?

A quality gas furnace that is professionally installed and has the recommended and needed furnace maintenance performed may last up to 20 years, and perhaps even longer. If your gas furnace is reaching that 15 to 16-year mark, begin shopping around so that you’re better prepared when the time comes and you don’t find yourself making a panic decision with your purchase. 

How much does it cost to replace and install a furnace?

There are multitudes of brands on the market today when it comes to gas furnaces. You want to do some research before purchasing one, which is why you need to start shopping before you need one. Get one that is the right size for your home, and note that too small is just as bad as too large. A gas furnace installation can start around $3,500 and go as high as $10,000, depending on the area where you live and the brand and model of gas furnace you choose. 

If you’re trying to choose between a gas furnace vs heat pump, but not sure which is better for you, consider that here in California, natural gas is cheaper than electricity. With that in mind, operating a gas-powered furnace will cost less than a heat pump. However, the more energy-efficient an HVAC system is, regardless of how it is powered, the less power it will take no matter whether it is electric or gas. 

Will a gas furnace work without electricity? 

You’ve likely heard many say that they like having electricity and gas because they can still keep warm with their gas furnace even if there is a power outage. To clarify, while a gas furnace will need gas to heat your home, it will also need electricity for the blower motor and the igniter. Even if you can get it lit and started without the igniter, it won’t blow the heat out as it should. 

What does a gas furnace that smells like burning mean? 

There are three categories that a gas furnace maintenance call will usually fall under when the complaint is a burning smell:

  • Dusty burning smell: This could be because the filter needs to be changed. Try that before you call for a professional gas furnace maintenance service. It can also come from the unit sitting up all summer with dirt and dust accumulating. 
  • Rotten egg smell: That is the smell of sulfuric acid that is added to natural gas to give a warning there is a leak. As soon as you smell that, turn the system off, vacate your home, and call for emergency gas furnace maintenance.
  • Burning metallic smell: If it isn’t dust burning off or leaking gas, a burning smell could be telling you there is an electrical or mechanical problem that needs immediate gas furnace maintenance service. 

What does a gas furnace blowing cold air mean?

If your gas furnace is giving you the cold shoulder, so to speak, there are several causes. Note that some of them you can fix yourself without needing professional gas maintenance service.

Check the Thermostat Setting

If the thermostat fan setting may be set to ON, the blower motor will run constantly no matter whether you need air conditioning or heat. You want to have it set at AUTO for the best results.

Check the Air Filter

Change the air filter. This should be done every 30 days at the very minimum. When the air filter is dirty, the airflow is blocked from the heat exchanger. This can cause the system to overheat and trip the switch that turns the burner off. After changing the filter, if it is still blowing cold, you’ll need to call for a professional gas furnace maintenance service. 

Check the Pilot Light

If your gas furnace has a pilot light, make sure it is lit. If it is off, then follow these steps: 

Step 1: Turn the furnace 

Step 2: Reset the pilot light assembly switch

Step 3: Turn the assembly knob to “off” and wait 5 minutes

Step 4: Turn the assembly knob to “pilot”, press down hold a lighter to the pilot until you see the flame light up

Step 8: Turn the assembly knob to “on”

Step 7: Turn the thermostat to heat and on

Check the Condensation Line

Check to see if there is water pooled up around the furnace. If so, check that the condensate line is clear and if blocked use can air to clear it. 

close-up of a thermostat being adjusted

In Closing

Whether you choose to have a gas furnace or electric furnace, both will need maintenance and cleaning, annual inspections by a professional are always advised. Reach out to us at (714) 464-6622 if you have found yourself in need of professional gas furnace maintenance.

Do you need an AC recharge?

Technician performing a refrigerant recharge.

When should I recharge my AC?

Air conditioning needs refrigerant in order to cool, and sometimes a refrigerant recharge is needed. But what is refrigerant recharge? Refrigerant recharge is the product that is added to the air conditioning that allows the air to keep blowing cold air. 

An important fact about refrigerant recharge is that typically if an air conditioner needs more, there is something wrong with the system. It is with that in mind we’ll answer some common and frequent questions that will educate and inform you. And if you find yourself in need of refrigerant recharge in Orange, CA, the Elite HVAC can be there to help – just call at (714) 464-6622.

Why do you have to recharge AC?

Your air conditioning relies on refrigerant; it is the lifeblood it needs to function. Refrigerant is the substance that absorbs heat from inside the home and carries it outside. Without the refrigerant substance, the entire cooling process of the air conditioning system doesn’t work. This is why if an air conditioner is low on refrigerant, a recharge is necessary to get the unit cooling again. 

Can you recharge a home air conditioner?

Yes, there is recharge refrigerant for home ac units. However, it should be understood that the refrigerant level in a home air conditioning does not get lower the more you use it. The refrigerant in a home air conditioning unit cycles with itself between the indoor and outdoor components. If all components are working as they are designed and intended to, the system should always have the same level of refrigerant. A refrigerant recharge shouldn’t ever be needed as long as the system is working properly. 

There are two circumstances in which an air conditioner may need refrigerant recharge: 

  1. A refrigerant leak. The most common reason for a low refrigerant level is a leak in one of the refrigerant lines. If this happens the line needs to be patched or replaced before a refrigerant recharge is done. 
  2. An undercharged system. If a system wasn’t charged sufficiently upon installation, it will need a refrigerant recharge. 

Another important note about refrigerant charging for ac in a home, business, or vehicle is that it must be done by a certified and licensed technician. This is because refrigerant is a government monitored substance, much like prescription medications, and not something that can be purchased off th shelf today. 

How do you recharge your AC? 

If somebody suggests that your air conditioning needs a refrigerant recharge, adding more of the substance that makes it absorb the heat and pushes it outside, keep in mind that this isn’t a DIY project. With the EPA regulations that are in place today, AKA the law, a refrigerant recharge can only be done by a certified professional that has been trained in how to recharge refrigerant central air conditioners and licensed to administer this process. 

How much refrigerant do I need?

This is one of the important things technicians receive training for when it comes to working with air conditioning systems. The basic rule followed for the amount of refrigerant recharge needed for a residential air conditioning unit is two to four pounds. 

How much does it cost to recharge AC?

Since an air conditioner should never run low on refrigerant, recharge is only done when there is a leak, and the cost of the recharge will depend on what the certified technician finds wrong. The leak will need to be patched or the line that’s leaking will need to be replaced, if possible. After that, the refrigerant recharge takes place. Because it is charged by the pound, how many pounds a unit needs will also determine the cost of the refrigerant recharge, parts, and labor. 

An experienced certified technician will discuss the problem found and advise you if repairing the unit and the refrigerant recharge is worthwhile or if you should get a new unit. If the unit is older, a refrigerant recharge is only a temporary fix. 

Technician recharging refrigerant in an AC unit.

Closing Words – When Should You Replace the Unit? 

There are times when replacing your system is the better option financially: 

  • A central air conditioning system that is 15 years old should be replaced instead of having the refrigerant recharged. New air conditioners will give you up to 20 years lifespan while older ones typically have lifespans of about 12 to 15 years. However, even an older air conditioning system that has been properly maintained and had routine service calls with no refrigerant recharge needs could last 20 years. 
  • The most common issue with air conditioners is lack of a homeowner maintenance routine. Making annual service calls and keeping the air filter changed are two big issues that are often overlooked and often the big reason for a system breakdown. If you have to sink money into repairs for the unit every summer month, it is time for replacement. 
  • It isn’t unusual if the energy bill shoots up a little each summer. However, if it isn’t going back down after summer, or it shoots up to an unreasonably extremely high amount, your central air conditioning unit is possibly malfunctioning and not providing you with energy efficient cooling. 
  • If your air condition system is using the R-22 refrigerant, as of 2020 it is outdated, as this is no longer manufactured, and not being sold to anyone. Replacing your AC unit is your only option should it need a refrigerant recharge. 

Whatever the case may be, if you find yourself in need of a refrigerant recharge in Orange, CA, you can rely on the professionals at Elite HVAC to help. All you need to do is call us today at (714) 464-6622.

Are air purifiers worth it?

air purifier in house

How clean and healthy is the air in your home?

Like most homeowners, you most likely believe it is clean and healthy, but is it really? You change the air filter every 30 days, you’ve placed a few houseplants for air filtration and décor around the house, but is the air in your home really clean and healthy? 

If anyone in your home is suffering from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues, maybe you should consider what in house air filtration systems could do for your home. Yes, those room air purifiers help some, but they can’t match what whole house air filtration systems can do.  Exactly, what is a whole house air filter though? 

A whole house filter maybe in a housing or it may be a cartridge that is installed into the ductwork right in front of the HVAC unit in your home. Some varieties fit in prior to being installed. Whole house air filtration systems purpose is to remove harmful particulates from the air in a home. Particles like the airborne viruses we don’t see along with mold, pet dander, pollen, and those everyday odors that we become accustomed to in our homes. Whole house air filtration systems clean and create healthy air for the whole home, not just one or two rooms. 

Where should I put my air purifier in my house?

Experts recommend that you place a stand-alone air purifier where the odor is the most offensive, the strongest. For instance, where the smoker in your home does most of their smoking or in a room that tends to have that funky odor. A few pointers where to place a stand-alone air purifier: 

  • An air purifier should not be placed  behind furniture or under furniture or shelving. 
  • An air purifier should be elevated, but not any higher than 5 feet from the floor. 
  • All exterior doors and windows should be closed when the air purifier is on. 
  • An air purifier should not be placed near electronics like microwaves, stereo equipment, or near a television. 
  • Keep your air purifier opposite side of the roof of a humidifier. 

Trapping odors that aren’t originated inside your home can be difficult, but placement of an purifier where the odor(s) are coming is recommended along with following the above listed pointers. 

Can air purifiers be harmful?

Yes, but no, maybe?  Indoor air purification systems and unit have become widely popular with more and more homeowners concerned with air pollution and the health of their family. While an air purifier targets airborne particles, dust, pollen, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds), there are some unit that produce ozone in the process of cleaning the air. 

There are ionic air purifiers that charge airborne particles and attract them electrostatically to metal electrodes, then as an ionization byproduct, emit ozone. Even if only a few milligrams of ozone are emitted each hour, it is the same amount as what dry-process photocopier emits with continuous operation.

Ozone has been known to cause chest pains, coughing, and damage, irritate throats and cause shortness of breath. Where air purifiers are intended to help those with respirator disease and issues, the ozone created can worsen them and compromise the body’s ability to fight a respiratory infection. 

 If you’re in the market for an air purifier, here are some tips as what to avoid: 

  • Ozone Production. There are air purifiers on the market that produce ozone, a known lung irritant. Choose an air purifier that doesn’t emit ozone. 
  • HEPA Filters. Choose an air purifier that uses a HEPA  air purifier, the gold standard for creating pure air. Hospitals and other healthcare settings use only HEPA filters for a reason. 
  • Individual Room Units. Experts recommend whole house air filtration systems versus individual room unit. Keeping clean, fresh air for the entire home makes more sense then pick and choosing rooms. 
air purifier in bedroom

Are air purifiers a waste of money or Do whole house air filtration systems work?

Whole house air filtration systems offer many health advantages, among them are: 

1. Allergy and Asthma Triggers Lowered

Whole house air filtration systems reduce the contaminants that can trigger these respiratory issues like, dust, mold, pollen, and VOCs.

2. Issues Causing Poor IAQ Reduced 

Even if allergies or asthma aren’t a concern or issue in your home, whole house air filtration systems can reduce the thing that poor indoor air quality causes or irritates like dizziness, fatigue, headaches, itchy eyes, nose, skin, and throat. Coughing, sneezing, and nausea are reduced as well, even if these things aren’t specifically linked to the IAQ of your home, your family will feel better overall. 

3. Rid Odors

A home with persistent odors from cooking or tobacco can be hard to eliminate. Whole house air filtration systems with activated carbon filter or charcoal filters are ideal in helping with those odors and more.

4. Reduces Everyone Getting Sick

Whole house air filtration systems remove some bacteria and that are keeping everyone in your home from being in good health, especially during the winter  months when houses are shut up. pathogens.

Whole house air filtration systems are the best way to go, but not always affordable or feasible. When that is the case, household air purifiers comparison is better than nothing, and when combined with replacing the central air filter, dirty air has less chance of making everyone sick. Call (714) 464-6622 today for your air purifier installation in Orange, CA.

How Do I Test the Air in My Home?

indoor air quality

What is indoor air quality?

Your home is a place where you and your family should feel protected and safe.  Protected and safe from the climate, uninvited strangers, and the environment.  That includes the indoor air quality of your home.  Contrary to standard beliefs that the outdoor air is worse with pollution than staying indoors, you may be surprised to learn it is actually worse inside your fortress of protection and safety.  Yes, your home has unhealthy air, and your family is breathing it in every day and every night.

Indoor Air  Quality (IAQ) represents the quality of the air inside your home, office, or other structures. Indoor air quality of a business can affect the health of the employees, customers, and visitors and the IAQ of your home can affect your family’s health. Sometime the health effects from poor indoor air quality is immediate and other times, it can take years.

What are the symptoms of bad air quality in the home?

Your family’s health is one of the best ways to determine if the indoor air quality of your home is bad. If any member for your family suffers from these things, it may not “just allergies” causing them:

  • Congestion and coughing
  • Sneezing and watery eyes
  • Headaches
  • Frequent nosebleeds

Pay close attention to anyone that shows these symptoms and if they didn’t show them until they had been in your home for period of time.  Things that can cause poor indoor air quality include asbestos, off-gassing, and toxic mold spores.  These can all create and lead to your family suffering extreme health consequences and developing into a chronic sickness including and beyond chills, dizziness, fatigue, fever, muscle aches, nausea/vomiting, rashes, and shortness of breath.

Your home could be telling you that you have poor indoor air quality too with things like:

  • Dust Buildup: If you have a significant buildup of dust on surfaces and around the vents, your home probably has indoor air quality issues. Simply upgrading your air filter to an HEPA filter could be all the fix your home needs.
  • Inconsistent Air Distribution: Does your home have cold and warm spots? This is indicative that your home has poor air distribution which probably means you have poor indoor air quality. Have your HVAC system professionally inspected and consider either new windows or having the windows tinted.
  • Humidity Issues: The relative humidity in your home should be between 35% and 50% for ideal comfort and prevent the grown of microorganism. When there isn’t enough humidity, it creates a poor indoor air quality everyone suffers from dry and itchy eyes, sinus, and skin. There is n increase in upper respiratory infections and furniture begins to warp. When the humidity is too high, it creates the perfect setting for mildew, mold, and microbe growth. These things can be remedied by adding dehumidifiers and humidifiers.
  • Mildew & Mold Growth: Mildew and mold growth typically happen when the relative humidity level is high the air circulation is poor.  A musty odor accompanies mold issues with black and green spots around sinks, tubs, and other moist areas, all creating poor indoor air quality.
  • Unpleasant Odors: A home with that musty, unpleasant odors of mildew and mold will usually have a pest infestation, and decomposition of dirt, debris, and dust on surfaces in your home.

What are the 4 major indoor air pollutants?

The Environmental Protection Agency says there are thirteen common sources for indoor air pollutants within four categories:

  • VOC
  • Biological pollutants
  • Combustion byproducts
  • Legacy pollutants

 Yes, polluted air isn’t just from factories and vehicles. Four of the most common factors to poor indoor air quality are:

  • Carbon Monoxide – an invisible and odorless gas from fossil fuels.
  • Radon – a colorless and odorless gas from uranium breaking down in the Earth.
  • Nitrogen Dioxide – a corrosive and toxic gas.
  • Secondhand smoke – containing over 4,000 chemical ingredients from tobacco smoke

How do you test indoor air quality?

Technology today provides us a less expensive and smaller types of indoor air quality tests using sensors. By strategically placing these sensors around your home as instructed, one very ten thousand square feet is recommended, you’ll be able to test your home for measurement of the following pollutants:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Formaldehyde
  • Humidity
  • Particulate matter
  • Radon
  • VOC’s

There are sensors that can measure bioaerosols, methane, and more that can all effect the indoor air quality of your home.

How much does an indoor air quality test cost?

 There are indoor air quality testing kits for various pollutants you can purchase for as little as $10.00 at your local hardware or big box home improvement stores.  Along with those kids, you an also purchase alarms for carbon dioxide, fire alarm, smoke alarm, and radon.

Or you can have your home tested by a professional, with rates starting around $250.00 up to $500.00 and more.  The professional tests are more detailed and extensive, including samples collected for analyzing. The more extensive testing, the more it will cost and the longer it will take to get results.

dusty vent

How can I improve indoor air quality?

  There are several ways on How to indoor air quality improvements. Once is having an air purifier installed in your home that is fitted to your HVAC unit or the air duct system. You can also purchase portable room air purifiers.  Other things you can do to improve your home’s indoor air quality are:

  1. Change or clean the air filter in your HVAC system.
  2. Change other air filters like the vent-a-hood and exhaust fans.
  3. Have the air ducts professionally cleaned.
  4. Use the vent-a-hood and exhaust fans once a week even if you’re not bathing or cooking.
  5. Have the carpets and rugs professional cleaned.
  6. Keep the humidity in your home controlled.
  7. Buy plants for indoors and place around your home.

Need help with indoor air quality in Orange, CA? Call (714) 464-6622 today.

How often should a heating system be serviced?

HVAC units outside

Keeping your HVAC at its best

One of the most important things a homeowner can do for their home is routine HVAC maintenance. The practice of preventive hvac maintenance is a good investment that protects an important component of the home that is too often taken for granted. No matter the season, knowing that you have kept your HVAC maintenance routine in line, your home will be comfortable because your HVAC system is tuned up and ready. 

Your vehicle is an expensive purchase, and you have routine maintenance to keep it in top condition. The same should be true of your HVAC system and the HVAC maintenance. Do furnaces need to be serviced? Absolutely!  With a routine schedule of hvac maintenance, benefits you will gain include: 

  • Energy Bills Lowered: Examine your energy bill and you may notice slight increases. This is can often be because of the HVAC system isn’t operating as efficient as it could. With a professional HVAC maintenance and inspection, it will be tuned up and operating better. Keeping a routine of annual HVAC maintenance and inspection by a professional HVAC contractor will keep it in that condition. 
  • Less Unexpected Repairs: With routine professional HVAC maintenance and inspection, those pesky issues get found and taken care of before they become an expensive repair. When you notice any odd odor or sound coming from your HVAC system, take that as an indication it is time to schedule a professional HVAC maintenance appointment, then keep a routine of an annual appointment to avoid those unexpected repairs.
  • Breakdowns Become Minimal: Even nonexistent! Having the air conditioning quit on the hottest day of summer or the heater does not turn on the coldest night of winter is the last thing anybody wants to happen. With a professional routine of HVAC maintenance and inspections, the things that cause either of those are less likely to happen. 
  • Extended Lifespan: A new HVAC system is a huge expense for any homeowner. To get the most out of your expenditure, having a regular routine of HVAC maintenance by you and routine professional HVAC check-ups and inspections, you’ll extend the life of your HVAC system, and delay the need to purchase another one anytime soon. 
  • Safety: Safety is one of the most biggest things why hvac maintenance is important. With regular HVAC maintenance checks and inspections by you on a monthly routine and by a professional annually, potentially dangerous problems are found and resolved. A malfunctioning heater can be hazardous to the health and lives of your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. The possibility of fires become more possible when HVAC maintenance has been ignored. 

What is routine maintenance on a furnace?

A routine HVAC maintenance for the furnace is a common sense and small amount of effort. The TLC you extend to your air conditioning and furnace will keep your home comfortable and safe while extending the life of the system. Routine HVAC maintenance will give you all the benefits we listed above, and the biggest two that you’ll notice is energy bill savings and possible down time on a cold freezing night or blistering hot day.  

How do I maintain my heating system?

We offer this  simple checklist for your furnace HVAC maintenance: 

1. Clean or change the air  filter

The air filter has a crucial job of the air delivered from the furnace being clean. The air filter removes particulates out of the air it takes in from your home before it heats it and sends it back out. Those particulates can affect your family’s health include bacterial, dust and dust mites, pet dander, pollen, spores, and more. Cleaning or changing the air filter every 30 days is an easy and an inexpensive way to provide your home a basic HVAC maintenance and protection. 

2. Correctly Functioning Blower Motor

The blower motor in the furnace is what drives the fan to get the air movement through the furnace over the heating element and through the heat exchanger. All of that activity is what keeps your home at a comfortable and desired temperature as the blower motor pushes that air out. Keep the blower motor surface clean and if you hear loud noises like metal grinding or scraping, call a professional furnace technician for service. 

3. Reduce the Load

Keeping your home’s structure sound and stable will reduce the load on the furnace for keeping your home comfortable and warm.  The more leaks to the attic (remember hot air rises), and around the doors and windows, the harder your furnace has to work. Part of your HVAC maintenance routine is check for any weakness in these areas and addressing them promptly.   

4. Keeping Vents Clear and Free

For your furnace heating system to work as well as you expect and the warm air circulating, throughout the system, make sure all the vents are opened and clear of anything blocking them. From boxes and curtains to furniture and toys, anything that is in front of or on top of the vents will eliminate that furnace warmed air from circulating and the furnace will work harder to maintain the temperature you desire. 

5. Keep Exhaust Flue Clear

The exhaust flue is on the outside of your home and should be included on your regular HVAC maintenance routine. A flue that is blocked or malfunctioning can create dangerous setting with carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide that will fill your home. These can each cause multiple health issues and even death. 

6. Keep the Furnace Clear

A furnace is often located in a basement, a closet, the crawl space, or a storage room. Keep flammable things away from the furnace like aerosols, gasoline, and paint that are usually found in garages. Or things like boxes, clothes, and furniture found in attics and closets. These things are flammable and having them stored around or near the furnace is a dangerous risk. 

7. Keep Ductwork and Vents Clean

To get the most from your cooling and heating system, an important part of the HVAC maintenance process is keeping the ductwork and vents clean. You can do this yourself or hire an air duct cleaning service, once every 2 to 3 years is recommended. This will also minimize the dust in your home! 

Is annual maintenance on furnace necessary?

Manufacturers of furnaces and HVAC systems recommend having a professional contractor inspect your hvac for maintenance and longevity. These annual inspections and HVAC maintenance appointment with a qualified technician will not only keep your system operating correctly, but guarantee the warranty is honored. A HVAC system that is not properly maintained can void any manufacturer warranty, citing owner neglect.

a line of hvac systems

How do I test my heating system?

Even if you have kept a routine HVAC maintenance with your own tasks and having a professional appointment, you want to check the heating system before winter arrives each years. To do that, follow these three steps for a heating system check: 

  • Safety Check: Make sure that anything combustible is removed from the heating system. This includes boxes, chemicals, fabrics, etc. 
  • Thermostat Check: Make sure any emergency switch or valve are on and the thermostat is set 10 degrees higher. 
  • Listen: If you hear a humming sound and the furnace doesn’t start, push the reset button. If still nothing, then call your furnace, HVAC specialist. 

Need help with your HVAC system in Orange, CA? Call (714) 464-6622 today!

Should I repair or replace my HVAC system?

HVAc unit outside of house

Can HVAC last 30 years?

In Orange, California, and the surrounding area, it is sunny and beautiful, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have cool days or nights in the winter. So having the heater in working condition is just as important for us as it is everywhere else, and that means we need professional heater repair from time to time too. Having a professional heater repair service with a company or contractor that knows hvac parts and what they do is important as is the knowing hvac parts and functions. 

There is no doubt that an HVAC system is a major expense, but it is also an investment in your home. This is why you want to get the longest lifespan from a unit as possible. There are a few factors to be considered like the brand, quality, annual inspection, and routine maintenance, including heater repair when needed that affect that lifespan.

 With proper maintenance, a gas powered HVAC can last as long as 30 years or longer, whereas an electric powered HVAC system lifespan is a minimum of 15 years.  Getting heater repair when it is needed is a key factor in the longevity of any HVAC system.

How many years does HVAC last?

With proper maintenance by the homeowner, including monthly air filter change,  and professional inspection and maintenance annually, a HVAC system can last up to 15 years  or longer.  When air conditioning and heater repair is needed, it is important to the efficiency and lifespan, EOM  hvac parts and accessories be used, not any cross-referenced or generic. Places that sell hvac parts to the public  are known for cross-referencing brand name parts or selling generic parts. They don’t always work correctly and can void any possible warranty you have left for your HVAC system.

Is switching between heat and AC bad?

Frequent switching between heater to air conditioning is fine, when done correctly. This shouldn’t create an increase in your utilities or put any extra strain or your HVAC system that would require air conditioner or heater repair. 

So, what is the correct way to switch from air conditioning to heating or vice versa? First, you need to let the unit complete the current cycle, meaning if the air condition is on, wait until it completes and does auto off before switching to heater. The same is to be done if it is in heater mode, let it finish the cycle before switching to air conditioning. Keep these two things in mind to help minimize the need for air conditioning or heater repair:

  • Patience: If you’re cold or hot, waiting that five minutes for the air condition refrigerant to return to the starting pressure may seem like an hour. However, by turning it back immediately while the pressure is high can lock up the compressor or trip the breaker.  
  • Be Gentle: When switching between cooling and heating, refrain from drastic changes and adjust the temperature just a few degrees at a time. This efficient process will prevent the system from being overworked and the need for air conditioning or heater repair.

You need to realize that while it is okay to switch the system from cold to heat, it does make the system work harder. If this is a practice within your household, you should consider having a professional inspection and maintenance twice a year versus the recommended annual appointment. 

HVAC units

How do you know if your HVAC blower motor is bad?

An HVAC blower motor is an important that blows the cooled or heated air through the air ducts and vents throughout your home. There is a fan that spins for this task to be performed, and when the blower motor isn’t working, a professional air conditioning and heater repair service is needed. 

There are two blower motor types: single-speed which operates at full capacity by the signals it receives from the thermostat. Then there is the variable-speed blower motor that operates at low and high speed, keeping the temperature consistent with energy efficiency.

The blower motor can be vulnerable to mechanical failures as it ages and has wear and tear. As the HVAC system ages, the components like the blower motor become problematic, and the blower motor is often one of the first things to quit. The following 5 things are indications that your air conditioner or heater repair may be the blower motor: 

  • Air flow is weak coming through the vents: this is an indication the blower motor isn’t blowing as hard and can’t push the air through the vents. This issue can also be from a clogged or dirty air filter. Change or clean the air filter to see if that helps and you may be able to avoid having a heater repair service call. 
  • There isn’t any airflow is often the blower motor has totally quit. It can also be the thermostat batter, the fan control switch, or several other factors. You can change the batteries out in the thermostat before you call for an air conditioner and heater repair service. 
  • Energy bills have gotten unusually high because it is taking more electricity to turn the blower motor and circulate the air throughout the house.  
  • Loud and strange noises coming from your HVAC system is often the blower motor. This is a situation that you need to schedule a air conditioning and heater repair service call. 
  • Overheating blower motor can be from a buildup of dirt, dust, and grime that isn’t allowing it to operate as intended. A  professional air and heater repair service call will include the system being inspected and if the blower needs to be repaired or replaced, the technician can address that with you. 

Do your part in HVAC maintenance will help minimize the possibility of heater repair service calls, including changing or cleaning the air filter.  How often should HVAC filter be replaced? Basic recommendations is every 30 days, more frequent if you live on a dirt road or have animals in the house. Need HVAC repair or replacement in Orange, CA? Call (714) 464-6622 today.