There’s an old saying, “Arizona – where summer spends the winter.” The Valley of the Sun is a beautiful place to be for the holidays. People migrate to Phoenix during the winter months precisely because the desert weather is so delightful. However, December is here, and nighttime temperatures have been dropping into the 40s and below. January, which is generally considered the coldest month of the year, is just around the corner. If you haven’t done so already, you might want to spend a few hours preparing your home for the cold weather ahead. Consider a pre-winter walk through your house to review your heating system and to make sure there are no surprises during your holiday celebrations.
Pre-Winter Walk Through
By December, your furnace has been sitting idle for many months. Taking the time to go through your house and check all the various elements of your heating system will pay big dividends when the cold weather rolls in. Here are a few important things to review during your walk through:
Check Your Gas Furnace to Make Sure the Pilot Light is On
We often receive calls from customers on the first truly cold day of winter claiming their heat won’t go on. If you’ve got a gas furnace, check the pilot light before you do anything else. If you’re not familiar with the procedure, lighting a gas pilot can be tricky. Furnaces get dusty and this can cause issues. You will also notice an unusual smell the first time you fire up your furnace as the dust burns off. These are all items we can take care of during your pre-winter tune-up.
Is the Area Clear Surrounding Your Heating Elements?
Over the summer, stuff can accumulate around your furnace and heating elements. Furnaces located in the garage particularly are in a position to be surrounded by boxes, toys or other household items. Make sure there’s nothing combustible anywhere near your furnace.
Walk Through Your House and Check All Vents and Registers
The key to properly heating your home is to make sure the heated air is unobstructed and circulating properly. Sometimes vents are covered by furniture, boxes, suitcases or throw rugs. Are all the registers fully open? Dust can accumulate on the registers, so it’s a good idea to vacuum them or blow them out if you can.
Indoor Air Quality – Check Your Air Filters
One of the best ways to improve your overall HVAC performance and your indoor air quality, is to make sure you are changing your air filters on a regular basis. Clean air filters are the key to removing desert dust, pet dander and other irritants from the air circulating in your home.
Heavy Curtains Can Cut Down on Energy Costs
Many homeowners think of curtains as a design or aesthetic choice, which they certainly are. However, when we observe lightweight or sheer curtains adorning a house, we see energy dollars going out the window. Heavy or black out drapes help hold heat in and they also keep the sun out in the summer.
Check Window and Door Insulation – Don’t Forget the Garage Door
One of the biggest heat-stealers in your home is the off-kilter garage door that leaves a gap open at the bottom all winter long. In fact, you might be surprised during your walk through to find you have gaps in your window or door insulation. Yes, these are annoying problems to fix, but they can have a major impact on the efficiency of your home heating costs.
Our Friendly Service Technicians Will Be Happy to Help You Prepare for Winter
If the above list sounds daunting, give Bruce’s a call at 480-968-5652, and we’ll schedule one of our highly experienced professionals to come over and help you get your entire HVAC system ready for winter.
Summer spends the winter in Phoenix. It’s the perfect time of year. Daytime temperatures in January hover around an ideal 75 degrees. Nights dip into the 40s with an occasional cold spell. This means your furnace is getting infrequent use and due to the moderate temperatures, not nearly working to its full capacity. The problem with many Arizona heaters is they suffer from abandonment issues. Some homeowners haven’t checked their furnace for years. The fact that furnaces are so reliable, yet used so sparingly in Arizona, means when it comes to maintenance, they often don’t get the attention they deserve.
Simple Steps to Keep Your Furnace Running Smoothly
Without a doubt, the number one step to keeping your furnace running flawlessly is to schedule a professional inspection and checkup once a year. Late fall is generally ideal. However, January, the coldest month of the year, is also an excellent time for a service tune-up. It’s important to remember, there are safety issues involved with furnaces that should be checked by an experienced technician. Here are some other helpful things you can do to care for your furnace:
- Replace Air Filters – Dirt is the nemesis of your entire HVAC system. Depending on where your furnace is located, dust storms can blow fine desert dirt into the inner workings and moving parts of your furnace. Changing the air filters on a regular basis keeps the dirt out and the air inside your home clean.
- Check Vents and the Fresh Air Intake – Furnaces are often located in closets, basements, crawlspaces and attics. Because these locations sometimes double as storage areas, it is a good idea to check to make sure nothing is blocking the free flow of air to your furnace.
- Eliminate Clutter – Papers, toys, clothing or other items on top of or around a furnace can be hazardous. Over the years, we have seen all kinds of potentially dangerous items sitting on top of working furnaces. It is important to make sure the area surrounding your furnace is clutter-free.
- Create an HVAC/Furnace File – Take a few minutes to compile all the information, owner’s manuals, HVAC warranties and service records you have in one place. Keeping track of the service performed on your furnace (and AC unit) will help you control costs and know when it’s time to repair or replace.
A furnace in Arizona is a little like a screen door on a submarine. It’s not crucial, like air conditioning. In fact, it’s rarely considered except on those few cold days when you really need it. Take a moment to schedule a furnace inspection with one of our friendly service technicians, and we promise you won’t regret it!
As the holidays approach, the tree, lights and decorations go up, and the temperatures go down. December days tend to be a pleasant 65 to 70 degrees. However, Arizona winter nights and early mornings can dip into the 40s or below – often chilly enough to require firing up the heater. Many Phoenix area homes were built with gas furnaces. Yet, not all Phoenix neighborhoods are serviced with gas lines. When a gas furnace is not possible, other options include electric furnaces, electric baseboard heaters or a heat pump.
What Is a Heat Pump?
In simplified terms, a heat pump moves or transfers heat from one place to another. In appearance, a heat pump looks almost identical to an air conditioner, and the inner workings are very similar. There is, however, one pivotal difference. A heat pump contains a reversing valve which allows it to pull heat from the outdoors and “pump” it indoors. Heat pumps are very energy efficient and take advantage of naturally occurring heat in the outside air. Furnaces burn fuel to create heat which is then blown into your home. Heat pumps are often considered an excellent option for Arizona homes especially if gas lines are not available.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages Between a Heat Pump and a Gas Furnace?
Heat pumps are a clean source of energy, powered by electricity. Furnaces burn gas, which is cheaper, but like any fossil fuel, results in exhaust containing carbon monoxide which can be dangerous. Heat pumps run year-round while gas furnaces are in use for a few short months during winter. A gas furnace may last for 20 to 30 years while a heat pump will have a much shorter life span. The truth is, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Our expert service technicians will be happy to explain the pros and cons to you during a home consultation.
Do Heat Pumps Work When It’s Really Cold?
Heat pumps are popular in Arizona because the winters are very mild. Extracting heat from the air tends to work best at 40 degrees and above. When the temperature dips into the 30s or below freezing, a heat pump may not be able to provide all the warm air needed to heat your home. Many heat pump systems include a secondary system – an air handler with electric heating coils which warm the air and heat up your home to whatever temperature you desire.
When It Comes to Heat – We’ve Got You Covered
If your old furnace needs to be replaced or if you’re considering installing a new heat pump, why not give us a call. Our friendly experts have decades of experience heating and cooling Arizona homes. We will perform a thorough inspection of your current HVAC system and provide you with options, so you can make an informed decision about what’s right for your home. Call Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating today.
Although the fall months are ideal in terms of temperature, Arizona weather can turn downright chilly in the winter. Each year there always are at least a few cold snaps that warrant flipping your thermostat to the ‘heat’ setting. Ideally, your heater should consistently warm every room of your home. Yet, this isn’t always the case if you’re struggling with an HVAC system that delivers unbalanced heat.
If you struggle with one or two rooms that always seem chilly regardless of the temperature you set your thermostat, it’s time to determine what is causing your system’s unbalanced heat distribution.
If you’re still using that decades old thermostat, it may not be able to effectively monitor the temperature in a far bedroom or bathroom. Setting the thermostat to compensate for temperature and distance is one solution to this problem, but it will cost you with increased energy consumption. A wiser choice is to update your system with a smart thermostat which can effectively regulate temperatures throughout different zones of your home. Call Bruce’s today to speak with an expert who can share with you the many benefits of making this simple upgrade to your system.
It Could Be the Ducts
After heat is generated by your furnace or heat pump, it’s delivered via your duct system. If ducts are leaky, hot air will escape into your attic space or behind walls, wasting valuable energy. And, if your ductwork is improperly sized or was never installed correctly, you’ll also experience temperature variation issues – especially in the rooms that are the furthest away from the heat source. If you haven’t had your duct system inspected, it can be well worth the effort to do so.
A Failing System
Is your heating system as old as your home? Houses built in the early 1980s or earlier often have the original furnace, but they can be highly inefficient. It may be time to consider replacing your unit with an energy efficient heat pump or an EPA certified Energy Star furnace. Home heating technology has improved over the last several decades, and problems with unbalanced heat can be solved with a new system.
Why continue to struggle with uneven heat? Call the experts at Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating today to solve the problem.
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:
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.
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!