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What You Need to Know about HVAC Filters

This entry was posted in HVAC on by .

With any forced-air HVAC system, air filters play a key role. Thus, it’s important to do more than just grab the first filter you see off the store shelf. Yes, there are different types available and getting familiar with them can help you identify what you need to make a smart choice.

Fiberglass/Synthetic Filters

This type of filter is probably what you’re most familiar with. These are the inexpensive, disposable options that are widely available in home-improvement retailers and even grocery stores. Fiberglass or synthetic filters are relatively efficient – catching up to 80 percent of particles that are 50 microns and larger. They can effectively minimize the buildup of dust and dirt on heat exchangers, fan motors and other surfaces of your HVAC system.

Polyester Filters

Made from higher quality material, polyester filters trap and remove 80 to 95% of particles 5 microns or larger. With their greater effectiveness comes a higher price. Expect to pay approximately four times more for a polyester filter than a standard fiberglass/synthetic filter.

Pleated Filters

For even greater efficiency, choose a pleated filter that traps particulates 0.3 micron in size, including bacteria and viruses. Pleated filters also last longer than fiberglass/synthetic filters.

Electrostatic Filters

Electrostatic filters leverage the innovation of self-charging fibers to attract and remove particles from your air. Both disposable and washable electrostatic filters are available.

HEPA Filters

High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters offer high filtration capabilities, capturing 99% of particles 0.3 microns or larger. It’s important to consider that these filters are excellent at removing indoor pollutants and creating an easier-to-breath-in household environment. However, they can reduce your HVAC system’s air flow, resulting in higher utility costs.

Choose the Right Size

Along with type, you also need to consider size when it comes to HVAC filters. You’ll want to choose one that fits into the filter cabinet correctly to ensure there are no airflow obstructions that could hinder system performance. The most common sizes are:

10 X 20, 14 X 20, 16 X 24, 18 X 30, 12 X 12, 14 X 24, 16 X 25, 20 X 20, 12 X 20, 14 X 25, 18 X 18, 20 X 24, 12 X 24, 14 X 30, 18 X 20, 20 X 25, 12 X 30, 15 X 20, 18 X 24, 20 X 30, 12 X 36, 16 X 20, 18 X 25, 4 X 24 and 25 X 25

Change Filters Regularly

The importance of changing HVAC filters on a regular basis cannot be overstated. Over time, filters become clogged with pollutants – particularly here in Arizona. Forgetting to change your filter can cause costly airflow obstructions and can even damage your system. Stick to a set schedule of replacing or cleaning your HVAC filter at least once a month.

Get HVAC Filter Help

Have questions or need help with your HVAC system? Call the experts at Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating today at 480-968-5652.

Winter Wellness for Your Air Conditioner

This entry was posted in Maintenance on by .

“Welcome to Arizona – where summer goes to winter,” so says the old quote. Winter weather in the Valley of the Sun is as good as it gets in the US. In November, when temperatures dip into the 70s, many desert dwellers bid farewell to their air conditioner for the next six months. In fact, we’ve had clients tell us they’ve had years where they’ve gone the entire winter season without touching their thermostat. That means, once they turned off their air conditioner, they never even bothered to switch their furnace on. Now that’s a perfect winter in Phoenix.

One thing is for certain, once you turn off your air conditioner for the season, it’s going to be idle for many months. Let’s face it, even your lawn mower needs service after sitting in the garage for six months. Here’s a handy checklist of things to do to prepare your air conditioner for the winter season ahead.

  • Perform a Visual Inspection – If you can possibly manage the time, set aside a few minutes to visually inspect your air conditioner. Would it surprise you to know that many people rarely even look at their unit because it’s simply located on the far side of the house or up on the roof. If your unit is located on the ground, check to see if it has become overgrown with weeds or if there’s any evidence of animal infestation. Look to see if there was any damage to your HVAC unit during the monsoon season. Occasionally, branches or leaves can be blown into or under your unit, hindering airflow or causing obstruction.
  • Replace Your Air Filters – Air filters are the number one guardian protecting you and your family from dirt, dust and particulate air pollution floating in the desert air. Air filters should be changed at the very least, once every three months. However, if you have pets or if you suffer from respiratory challenges, you might consider changing your filters more often. It is a common misconception that since the air conditioner has been turned off, you don’t need to change your air filters. You’ll breathe easier if you get into the habit of replacing your air filters at least six times per year.
  • Check Your Thermostat – Since you are taking the time to review your HVAC system, it might also be a good idea to check your thermostat and consider upgrading to a new smart, wi-fi enabled programmable thermostat which will save you both time and money. It has been our experience that most homeowners rarely think about their HVAC system or their thermostat until they malfunction. However, the new smart thermostats are just that – smart. They remember to adjust the temperature at night and when you are away at work, so you don’t have to think about it. Many homeowners are seeing significant savings from their smart thermostats.

Time to Schedule a Winter Service

Even though your air conditioner may have the next six months off, scheduling a winter service might be the best thing for it. If you’ve experienced any nagging problems with your air conditioner over the summer, give us a call. If you noticed any strange noises coming from your air conditioner toward the end of the season, don’t wait until spring to deal with it. November and December are great months for service because the workload is not as crushing as it is in the heat of summer. Don’t forget, performing upgrades while the temperatures are lower means you won’t have to sweat it out while the repairs are being done. Why not call us today to schedule your winter service.

Trick or Heat – Does Your HVAC System Make Frightening Noises?

This entry was posted in HVAC on by .

When kids come trick or treating, it’s a yearly reminder that summer is over, the days are getting shorter and colder nights are coming soon. Halloween season is the perfect time to schedule a fall HVAC checkup. Is your home comfort system making frightening noises? Here’s the spooky truth. Your heater has been idle (and we all know, idleness is the devil’s workshop) for six months. While ghosts and ghouls may invade your front porch this time of year, scary noises from your HVAC system might mean it’s time to call Bruce’s Air Conditioning for service. Here’s a goblin’s guide to the sounds that are haunting your HVAC system.

Vampire Banging

When a vampire wants out of a chained coffin, you hear a lot of haunted muttering and banging. When you set your thermostat for heat, there’s generally a pause, then a rumbling noise as the gas ignites. The furnace kicks in, and the fan starts blowing heat. If you turn on your furnace and experience a longer hesitation with a banging sound, it may mean there’s an ignition problem or that the gas burners are not igniting properly.

The Rattle of Witches

Witches stir magic potions in their cauldrons with giant rusty metal spoons, often making an incredibly annoying rattling sound as they call out their secret ingredients – Eye of newt, toe of frog (you get the idea.) Loose fan blades or faulty motor blades can make a similar maddening metallic or plastic rattling sound. No magic potion will eliminate this scary noise. Best to call the experts at Bruce’s Air Conditioning.

The Zombie Whine

It’s common knowledge that zombies whine when they don’t get their pound of flesh. Just like zombies, faulty or worn bearings make an ear-piercing whine, usually upon start up. If you notice this high-pitched sound, check the front porch for zombies first, then call for service.
Werewolf Whistling Through the Rafters
Unless you live in a haunted castle that actually has rafters, that whistling sound is probably an indication of a problem with your duct system (not a werewolf with laryngitis). The whistling or whooshing sound is the air escaping through a crack or break in your duct system or a vent that was not installed correctly.

Day of the Dead

One of the scariest sounds of a haunted HVAC system is no sound at all. On the day of the your-HVAC-is-dead day, your system remains alarmingly silent. Of course, this is often due to electrical issues and may be fixed by resetting your breaker switch. However, if resetting the breaker doesn’t fire up your system, a service call is probably in order.

Haunted HVAC systems are a ghastly challenge this time of year. A fall service call will get you ready for winter and insure that all your components are in top form. Why not give the pro’s at Bruce’s Air Conditioning a chance to exorcise the demons from your HVAC system?

Don’t Be Left in the Cold – Heater Strategies You Need Now

This entry was posted in Heating on by .

Arizona is known for its sun and heat for most of the year. And, many newcomers are surprised to discover that it can get downright chilly in the Valley of the Sun during the late fall and winter months. This is exactly why it’s vital to ensure your heater is functioning and ready to go when the temperatures begin to dip.

Too often, homeowners are unpleasantly surprised that their heater isn’t functioning or showing unusual signs when they turn it on for the first time of the season. Here’s what you need to know:

Burning Smell

After months of heater sitting dormant, it can collect dust and debris. When you turn on the heater for the first time on a cold fall evening, don’t be surprised to catch a whiff of burning dust. No, it’s not a pleasant odor, but it typically dissipates within the first few minutes. However, if you continue to smell something burning, there could be a problem, and it’s worthwhile to call a technician to find out what’s going on. A skilled contractor will blow out dust and debris inside your furnace and change air filters, as well as fix any problems causing the smell.

Clunky Sounds

Arizona homeowners are often so used to the sound of the air conditioner that they barely hear it. However, a furnace or heater is a different story. They can make a thump or clunk when you turn on the heat. But, this shouldn’t be as loud as a bang. If this is what you’re hearing, you could have a problem with an ignitor.

Schedule Your Tune Up Before You Need Heat

You are unlikely to need heat until November, but you will want to be ready when the cold weather hits. Schedule a tune up today. Your HVAC system will be thoroughly checked with an extra emphasis on the heater. This includes ensuring that the gas pilot is lit and ready to go.

With the holidays around the corner, avoid the rush and schedule your fall heater tune-up today!

HVAC Problems Can Be Scary – Is It Time to Prepare for Colder Nights?

This entry was posted in Maintenance on by .

For many families, especially kids, the holiday season starts with Halloween. The Great Pumpkin, children in colorful costumes, hayrides and trick or treating – all are welcome hints that summer is over and cooler nights will soon be here. When you live in the desert, waving goodbye to triple digit temperatures for another year feels liberating. Walking the dog in the middle of the day (instead of 6 am) or just enjoying the perfect fall weather reminds Arizonans why they moved here in the first place.

October is also a great month to have the “H” in your HVAC checked. Firing up the furnace for the first cold night can sometimes bring unwelcome surprises. Many homeowners schedule two HVAC checkups per year; one in early spring for air conditioning and another in fall to check the furnace and prepare for winter.

Your Furnace Has Been Idle All Summer Long

Many Phoenix residents chuckle at the thought of getting their furnace inspected. “It’s been as hot as blazes, and you want me to have my heater checked?” It’s important to note, though winters are mild in Arizona, desert nights can get downright cold. Any appliance that has been unused and collecting dust for six months can benefit from a service inspection. Here are a few reasons why October is the perfect time for an HVAC checkup:

  • The First Time Is Not Always a Charm – The intense summers in Arizona push your air conditioner to the limit. Monsoon dust storms deposit fine desert dirt and dust in your HVAC system. Depending on the type of air conditioner/furnace combination you have installed in your home, the constant vibration from the air conditioner can cause problems with other moving parts including your heater. As the weather cools down, we often receive calls from concerned customers telling us there’s a burning smell coming from their furnace. This may be something as simple as dust burning off or, if it persists, it might be something more serious. If you notice a burning smell you haven’t noticed before, please call for service immediately.
  • Gas Furnaces – Gas furnaces do a great job of providing heat for homes. However, because they are slightly more complex than electric heaters, they don’t always fire up perfectly the first time after their summer vacation. Our experienced technicians will check all aspects of your gas furnace (including that darn pilot light that always seems to need relighting) to insure a safe, first time start up when the temperature drops.
  • Have You Installed a New Thermostat? – Thermostats are generally very reliable and problem free. However, many homeowners have elected to install smart thermostats which give them more control over their HVAC system. As with any new piece of equipment, it may be a good idea to have one of our technicians double check the thermostat and make sure the settings are correct for both the AC and the heater.
  • Prepare for the Holidays – Scheduling a HVAC checkup in October means you will be all set for the coming holidays. There’s nothing worse than a furnace malfunction on a holiday weekend. With summer over, the air conditioning emergency calls slow down and regular maintenance appointments can be scheduled and completed in a jiffy.

Furnace Problems Can Be as Scary as Halloween – But Not As Fun

It’s best to play it safe with winter on the way. If your furnace has not been checked for over a year, why not call us to schedule a check up and make sure everything is in proper working order. One thing is for certain, turning on your heater on the first cold night only to find out it’s not working is downright scary. Call Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating today.