Author Archives: Bruce's Air Conditioning

Avoid Furnace Frustration – First Time Fire Up Checklist

Temperatures have been dropping, and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, most Phoenix homeowners will soon be firing up their furnace for the first time this year. To get ready for the holidays and avoid common furnace frustrations, please take a few minutes to perform a brief checkup to ensure the safe and successful operation of your furnace before you turn it on. It’s important to remember, where there is heat there is always a potential for danger. We’re not trying to alarm you, just providing a friendly word of caution. Your furnace has been sitting idle for six or more months – you never know what may have happened over its long summer vacation.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

In our many years of providing HVAC service to Phoenix homes, we’ve seen it all. Furnaces are sometimes shoe-horned into unusual places – small HVAC closets, utility rooms or garages. One of the most common mistakes we see is allowing clutter and miscellaneous stuff to pile up on or around furnaces. Whether it’s toys, bikes, tools or storage boxes, the area around your furnace should always be completely clear. Take special care to be on the lookout for old newspapers, rags, combustible chemical cleaning solutions or aerosol cans.

Forced air heating can be broken down into four main phases; temperature control or

  • Ignition/Combustion

    Gas furnaces do a dependable job of economically heating homes. With gas being highly flammable, you should always maintain a safety-first attitude. If you notice the smell of gas at any time, you should immediately open doors and windows and call for service. The ignition sequence for your gas furnace is triggered by the pilot light, which should be on and ready to go. If it is not on, you will need to follow the instructions carefully to reignite your pilot light. If you’ve never performed this task, it can be slightly challenging. Until your pilot light is on, your furnace will not work at all. If you’re having difficulty lighting your pilot, just give us a call.

  • Airflow

    The importance of unobstructed airflow in forced air heating cannot overstated. Both in terms of exhaust and distributing heat throughout your home. The danger of gas heaters is real. Burning fossil fuels produces carbon monoxide, which can be lethal if not properly vented from your home. It is recommended that you have professionals check your HVAC system once a year to guard against CO poisoning. During a fall tune-up we will also inspect your draft inducer fan which feeds air to the heat exchanger and check your blower fan which pushes warm air throughout your house.

  • Thermostat

    One of the most common problems we encounter in service calls this time of year is the case of mistaken identification. Many times, homeowners go to turn on the heat for the first time and nothing happens. People often assume something is wrong with their furnace. However, many times the issue is with the thermostat – not the furnace. Is it time for you to replace your old thermostat with a new wi-fi enabled smart thermostat? Our service technicians can fill you in on all the advantage of going digital.

The Heat Is On

Having the heat work properly and safely in your home should be a top priority with the holidays approaching. Why not give us a call and we’ll schedule your fall furnace tune up pronto!

Understanding the Upcoming Ban on R22 Freon

In less than 60 days, a new law will enforce a complete ban on the production and importation of R22 refrigerant, the refrigerant that has been widely used in the air conditioning industry for decades. While the benefits of this ban are clear, it will help protect the earth’s ozone layer, it does cause some challenges for homeowners with aging HVAC systems.

As of January 1, 2020, there will only be a limited supply of recycled or existing quantities of R22. So, if you have an older system, you may want to start considering your options now.

Do Nothing

If your current HVAC system has an air conditioning unit with R22, you don’t necessarily have to do anything immediately. If it’s running fine without any refrigerant leaks, you can cross your fingers and hope that things remain the same for now. However, it’s important to note that if and when you need refrigerant, the cost of stockpiled R22 is skyrocketing, and it’s unclear how long there will continue to be a supply at all.

Retrofit Your Existing Air Conditioner

The newer, legal refrigerant available is R410A, called Puron. Air conditioners can be retrofitted to use this type of refrigerant, but this comes at a cost. If your system is already on the decline, it may not be your best option. At Bruce’s, we’re happy to assess the condition of your air conditioner to determine if it’s a possible candidate for retrofitting.

Replace Your System with a New Air Conditioner

Yes, new air conditioners can dip into your budget. However, replacing an older air conditioner that uses R22 with a new, more energy-efficient model that uses R410A will save you monthly on your utility bill. And, you won’t have to be rolling the dice with an aging system that will eventually break down. Contact us for a free estimate and to learn about your financing options.

The switch to non-ozone depleting refrigerants is a good thing, and we support this shift. And as your HVAC experts, we’re here to help you through this transition while ensuring the function and efficiency of your air conditioner.

The Cold Facts About Pests and Your HVAC System

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Summer in Arizona is officially over. November has arrived, and temperatures have been dropping accordingly. As the seasons change and nights get colder, neighborhood critters may be considering setting up a winter residence in your home. That’s not a pleasant thought, however, we receive calls every fall from Phoenix homeowners who’ve noticed something is amiss when they fire up their furnace for the first time. Heat will sometimes reveal surprising odors that may have gone unnoticed with the air conditioning blowing cold air for the last six months.

Pests – Unwanted Furry Friends

The dictionary defines pests as an annoying or troublesome person or animal – a nuisance. We can’t do anything about irritating relatives residing under your roof, but we do have extensive experience with mice, squirrels, rats and raccoons. Unfortunately, air conditioning ducts and idle furnaces are perfect places for animals to nest. It may surprise you to know that rodents chewing on wires can cause extensive damage to HVAC systems and even trigger fires. Up to 20 percent of fires with an “unknown origin” are attributed to exposed wires from rodent chewing.

Steps to Take to Eliminate Pests

Protect your family, home and investment by taking these steps:

  • Be Aware

    Rats and mice are particularly adept at hiding out. We’ve performed many air duct inspections and informed shocked homeowners they’ve got a rodent infestation problem on their hands. “I had no idea,” is the usual response from the distressed residents. Rodents leave telltale signs and droppings. Also, heat from the furnace will sometimes release unpleasant odors from urine or feces. A visual inspection is the best way to determine if your ducts are free from unwanted furry visitors.

  • Seal Points of Entry

    Pests can find their way into your house through tiny openings you would never imagine they can fit through. Attic vents and openings around your AC unit, compressor or furnaces are particularly vulnerable. Cracks and loose fittings in your duct system provide a point of entry for rodents and once they are in, they have a ready-made highway to every room in your home.

  • Schedule Your Fall Checkup

    You may be tempted to skip your fall AC tune up. Especially if your air conditioner has been running smoothly all summer. However, if you fire up your furnace and notice unwelcome odors, or if you’ve seen any telltale signs of pests, schedule a full HVAC inspection pronto.

We Love Pets – Not Pests!

Whether you have an unwanted furry guest residing in your duct, or you just want to make sure your furnace is tuned up and ready to go, please give us a call.

5 Frightening HVAC Noises and What to Do About Them

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With Halloween just around the corner, you may enjoy hearing the spooky sounds from little ghosts and goblins dressed in their costumes. Yet, haunting sounds aren’t quite so entertaining when they’re coming from your HVAC system. In fact, they can be downright alarming, so it’s a good idea to know what to do when you hear them.

Clunk, Clunk, Clunk

It’s the start of furnace season, and a banging can indicate an ignition problem. When a gas valve opens the pilot light or electric starter, it should fire up immediately. If it doesn’t the gas can make a banging sound not unlike that of a zombie knocking on a door. Like with the walking dead, you don’t want to take a wait and see approach. Instead, call out the professionals who can ensure turning on your furnace is a quieter and safer experience.

Rattle, Rattle

Could that rattling sound be from spirits from beyond? Doubtful. It’s more likely the result of a loose blower motor or fan blade in your air conditioner. As time goes on, the sound will grow louder, so why not get it fixed now?

Whining and Moaning

It may sound like ghosts are haunting your house when you hear that telltale whooshing whine or moan. However, this noise typically indicates a malfunction of your system’s motor. Often, it’s a matter of worn bearings which require a technician to replace.

Clacking and Crackling

The sound of a witch’s hands mixing up a deadly brew in her cauldron or just frozen evaporator coils on your air conditioner? The wicked sounding clacking and crackling sound you hear from your air conditioning vents is often the result of dirty evaporator coils that restrict airflow and cause ice buildup.

Have a fun and safe Halloween and don’t forget to overcome your fear of HVAC-related noises by calling Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating.

Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners – Not Just for Cooling

Ductless mini-split air conditioners are becoming a popular home cooling choice for many Phoenix residents – especially for room additions, garage workshops, home offices or anywhere air conditioning ducts are not a viable option. What may come as a surprise to many homeowners is these energy efficient units also do an excellent job of heating, especially in regions of the country with moderate winters, like the Southwest.

What Makes Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners Different?

So there would be no confusion, manufacturers labeled their number one product advantage right up front – ductless. No air ducts or venting systems are needed for these units. When properly installed and maintained, traditional air ducts provide the conventional pathways for cooled or heated air to be dispersed throughout your house from your HVAC unit.

However, air ducts are not always the most energy efficient way to reach every area of the house. In fact, leaky air ducts can cause a loss of up to 40 percent of cooled air. With ductless systems, being installed directly in the room where cool or warm air is needed, there is virtually no loss in the process. Ductless mini-split air conditioners also take up a relatively small amount of space and require only a small hole to the outside condenser, which makes them less of a security risk than window air conditioners.

When considering a ductless mini-split system for your home, keep these advantages in mind:

  • Energy Savers

    Ductless mini-split systems are big energy savers and have high SEER ratings. SEER ratings indicate the energy efficiency of various air conditioners. Because there is no loss of air through vents and due to their energy efficient inverter-driven compressors design, ductless mini-split systems can save you up to 30 percent on your monthly utility bills.

  • Remote Controlled

    Most units come with a hand-held remote control that also serves as a thermostat. This is very convenient for night-time adjustments or changing the setting from your easy chair.

  • Wall and Ceiling Units

    Ductless mini-split units can be installed on your walls or in the ceiling. Ceiling units are popular in kitchen installations. Multiple units can run inside the home from one outside condenser. These units are remarkably quiet and blend in well with their surroundings.

Learn More About Ductless Mini-split Systems

Ductless mini-split air conditioners have proven to be an excellent option for many of our customers. If you’d like more information on these innovative units, please give us a call.