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The Cold Facts About Pests and Your HVAC System

This entry was posted in Maintenance on by .

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

This entry was posted in HVAC on by .

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.

Remodeling? How Adding a Room or Wing Can Change the Calculus for Your Air Conditioner 

Remodeling your home can prove to be a wise investment and an enjoyable design challenge. Expanding the kitchen to include an island with increased workspace which opens to a great room, creates an area where families can spend more time together. Adding a master suite to an older, three bedroom Arizona home is a popular addition for growing families. During the design process, it’s easy to get excited about the look of the space, choosing surfaces and selecting colors and finishes. However, don’t forget one of the most crucial elements to enjoying any room – air conditioning.

Why It’s Important to Factor Air Conditioning into Your Remodeling Equation

The hidden aspects and engineering details of most building projects, such as plumbing, wiring and ductwork (for AC and proper ventilation) don’t always receive as much attention as design elements. Most homeowners trust the architect and contractor to do what’s necessary to meet building codes and satisfy permit inspections. Unfortunately, air conditioning often is not as high on the list as it should be when it comes to prioritizing. Depending on the size of your addition, your air conditioner may or may not be able to handle cooling the additional square footage. Over the years, we have responded to many service calls with frustrated homeowners bemoaning the fact that the new master suite (or addition) is always hotter than the rest of the house. That’s why we strongly encourage our customers to get HVAC professionals involved early in the design process.

When adding on to your home, there are three main options to consider:

Extend Your Existing Ductwork

It seems logical that if you have a small or modest sized room addition you ought to be able to extend your existing ductwork and utilize your current equipment. In many cases, this is true – but not always. The safest approach is to have us perform a load calculation on your air conditioner and determine if your AC system can handle cooling the additional square footage. Once the room is enclosed and finished your AC system will need re-balancing so proper airflow will be directed to all areas of your home.

Upgrade Your Air Conditioner

If after completing an evaluation and load calculation it’s determined that your current air conditioner cannot meet the requirements for the new addition, then you will need to upgrade to a larger, more powerful AC system. Depending on how old your air conditioner is, this may turn out to be a smart option. New energy saving air conditioners operate and cool more efficiently and will help lower your monthly utility bills.

Ductless System or Mini-Split

A third option is to leave your existing air conditioner intact and treat your addition as a separate unit with its own system. Some homeowners opt for a ductless air conditioner or a mini-split system. Our service technicians can explain how these units work and advise you of the pros and cons for each. 

If You’re Planning an Addition to Your Home, Please Give Us A Call

When you engage in the design and planning of your new room addition, remember to get us involved early in the process. We’ll be happy to do a service check on your current unit and calculate what you’ll need for your new addition. Call us today.

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.