Category Archives: Maintenance

The Problem with Reusing Air Conditioning Filters

First, it’s important to note that there are specific types of air conditioning filters which are designed to be reused. However, unless you know for certain that you have this type of filter in your HVAC system, you shouldn’t assume that it’s wise to clean and reuse them. In other words, unless your filters are built for reuse, you should remove them when they’re dirty, discard them and install new ones in their place.

Why Cleaning Filters Isn’t Enough

In the dry, desert environment where we live, HVAC filters trap a tremendous amount of debris which lodges in the fibers of a filter. There is no amount of surface cleaning, scrubbing or vacuuming that is going to completely remove the dust, dirt and pollen that collects over the course of time. Rather, these particulates create a barrier which can hinder the passage of air through the filter. This makes a unit less efficient. And over time, it can cause it to break down.

Mold and Mildew

Cleaning with water can lead to retained moisture that promotes the growth of mold and mildew on the filter. This is then distributed throughout your home, negatively impacting your indoor air. It can even cause a variety of health problems for you and your loved ones.

Damaged Filters

Don’t be tempted to slap dirty filters against a hard surface to remove dirt and debris. This will only damage the delicate construction of the filter and compromise its functionality. Ideally, replaceable filters should be changed every few months to maintain your home’s indoor air quality and to support the efficiency of your entire HVAC system. Make it a point to keep replacement filters on hand and to establish a regular schedule for replacement. It only takes a minute, but it is a truly valuable home improvement task that you don’t want to ignore.

Have questions about your HVAC system? Call the experts at Bruce’s today.

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!

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.

My Air Conditioner Keeps Tripping the Breaker – Is That Normal During This Time of Year?

During periods of extreme heat and constant use, you may occasionally need to reset the circuit breaker for your air conditioner. Especially after a severe thunderstorm or power outage. During the hottest months of the summer, Phoenix’s electrical power grid is pushed to the limits and fluctuations in power or brown outs can cause your breaker to disengage. However, if you find yourself resetting your AC circuit breaker two or three times within the same day, you probably have a problem that needs to be addressed. In the interest of safety for you and your family, please do not keep constantly resetting your breaker. The circuit breaker trips when your air conditioner is drawing too much power and is a clear warning that some part of your AC unit is not working properly.

Electrical Issues – A Major Cause of Air Conditioner Repairs

Electrical problems are the cause of over 80 percent of all AC repairs. Your air conditioner is a complex, multi-component system loaded with fans, electric motors, capacitors, condensers, electric wiring, switches and many other electrical parts that can wear down and malfunction. When electrical parts breakdown, it may cause your AC unit to come to a complete halt or make your air conditioner work harder, thereby drawing excess power and tripping the breaker. Here are a few of the most common reasons your AC circuit breaker is being tripped:

Faulty Capacitors

Replacing worn, defective or blown capacitors is a common electrical repair. The startup capacitor provides a high-voltage electrical boost to initiate your compressor. When this startup capacitor fails, your compressor stops working. As with all electrical repairs, we recommend you do not attempt to replace capacitors on your own. Always call professionals for electrical repairs.

Condenser Coil Issues

It is the job of your condenser coils to dissipate heat from your home into the outside air. Over time, condenser coils can become covered with dirt, dust, grime and debris which prevents heat from being dispersed properly. When this happens, your AC unit has to work harder and this may cause your unit to overheat, tripping the breaker. If your condenser coils have not been cleaned recently, it’s a good idea to have them checked.

Low Refrigerant

Refrigerant is held within a closed system of pressurized pipes. If you are running with low refrigerant it indicates there is a leak in your system. Refrigerant leaks should be repaired rather than constantly adding more refrigerant to your system. When you air conditioner is low on refrigerant, you may notice warm air coming out of your vents. Your air conditioner has to work a lot harder when your system is low on refrigerant. Once again, this can cause your AC unit to overheat and trip the breaker.

Electrical Problems Are Best Left to Professionals

It’s important to remember, electrical issues can cause serious problems and result in fires if ignored. We don’t want to scare our customers, but unfortunately, we’ve seen many dangerous situations over the years due to unaddressed electrical issues. If you’re constantly resetting your AC breaker, please give us a call so we can fix the problem.

Home Improvements – Projects That Will Increase the Efficiency of Your Air Conditioning

Being a homeowner in Arizona means you’re the director of your own little show called Home Improvements. Whether you bought a fixer upper or a brand-new house (or something in between), there’s always a project or repair that needs to be done. In Phoenix, the hottest city in America, improving the effectiveness of your air conditioning is a constant challenge and always a concern. If your electric bills have been getting out of control this summer, you might want to consider some long-term home improvements that will retain more cool air where it belongs – inside your home and keep the hot air out.

Projects That Lower Your Utility Bills

Painting your kitchen a splashy new color may make you smile when you’re cooking, but it won’t lower your utility bills. During the summer months, air conditioning can account for over 60 percent of the total of your electric bill. One of the keys to increasing your overall AC efficiency is upgrading your home’s insulation factor. Here are some home improvement projects geared towards improving your home’s ability to retain the cool comfort your AC unit is delivering to every room in your house:

  • Attic and Duct Insulation

    Many Phoenix homes have their AC unit located on the roof. This means the air conditioner expends energy lowering the temperature of the air in the cooling process, then the cold air is immediately dispersed through ducts in the hottest part of your home – the attic. The ducts in your attic, especially if they are leaking or not insulated, can rob your AC efficiency by up to 40 percent. Improving the insulation surrounding your AC ducts and fixing leaks can greatly increase the amount of cold air reaching the rooms in your house. Increasing the amount of insulation in your attic in general can have a dramatic effect on lowering your utility expenditures.

  • Windows and Doors

    Depending on how old your home is, you may want to consider replacing your windows or having all your windows and doors checked and sealed. Older Arizona homes do not have the benefit of energy efficient, double or triple insulated windows, which help retain the cold air inside your home. Sealing windows and doors can pay huge dividends when it comes to preventing the loss of cold air and keeping the hot air out. Many people are shocked to find out how much they are spending to cool the great outdoors. Having a home energy audit will provide you with useful information about your home’s energy efficiency.

  • Dirty Air Filters, Clogged Condenser Coils

    One of the most important aspects of effective air conditioning is the free flow of air throughout your entire system. Air from your home is constantly being circulated through your air conditioner and whether it’s passing through air filters or condenser coils, these components need to be cleaned or replaced regularly. Dirt, grime, pet hair, dander, dust and other particulates will accumulate on air filters or coils and negatively impact the cooling process. Air filters should be changed at least six times per year and condenser coils should be cleaned as part of your spring and fall service calls.

Long Term Home Improvements Will Create a More Energy Efficient Home

We encourage all of our customers to make their homes as energy efficient as possible. High electric bills are a monthly annoyance we can live without. Call us today to schedule a fall checkup and one of our friendly service technicians will be happy to provide you with an evaluation of how you can make your home a model of energy efficiency.