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HVAC Parts And Terminology That Every Homeowner Should Know

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HVAC Parts And Terminology That Every Homeowner Should KnowThe heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one of the most important parts of any home. It keeps a house warm in the winter and cool in the summer, making the environment comfortable year round.

Because this system is so important, homeowners should know some of the basic parts involved in its operation as well as the common terminology used to discuss HVAC systems. Knowing these things will allow homeowners to more easily recognize and diagnose problems, enable them to fix some simple issues themselves, and allow them to more effectively communicate with HVAC professionals when needed.

Common HVAC Parts

Every HVAC system is set up slightly differently to allow for various building sizes and layouts. However, they all serve the same function and thus have several common parts. There are eight parts to all HVAC setups that homeowners should know about:

  1. The furnace is one of the largest single parts of the system. It’s usually installed in its own particular space within a building, often in the basement, the attic, or a closet. Despite common belief, the furnace isn’t the part that creates heat; it’s only responsible for pushing air – hot or cold – through the ducts and into the rest of the home.
  1. Heat exchanger. This is the part that actually warms a house. The heat exchanger is housed inside of the larger furnace unit. When it’s turned on, air is sucked into the heat exchanger from outside of the house or through specific vents inside (these vents are known as cold air return chases). Once the air is in the heat exchanger, it’s rapidly heated and then blown out through the ductwork and into the house.
  1. Evaporator coil. This part is normally housed ON the top or side of the furnace in its own metal housing. The evaporator coil serves the opposite function from the heat exchanger, providing cold air to cool the house when turned on.
  1. Condensing unit. Evaporator coils are connected to the condensing unit. This is the part most people think of when they picture air conditioners. Condensing units sit outside of the home, where they cool a special refrigerant gas that’s passed into the evaporator coils, used to cool the air, and sent back to the condensing unit.
  1. Refrigerant lines. These are the metal pipes, through which the refrigerant flows, connecting the evaporator coil and condensing unit.
  1. Homeowners should already know about the thermostats in their properties. This is the part of the HVAC system that people interact with the most. It controls the rest of the system.
  1. Ducts run throughout a building, connecting the vents to the furnace and allowing for hot or cold air to be distributed.
  1. Air vents are usually placed near the ceiling, are rectangular, and should be in every room. They simply allow air to exit the ducts into a home. Most ducts contain slats to direct the air flowing out; some slats have manual controls to allow homeowners to close a vent or change the direction of the air flow.

Common HVAC Terms

When talking with an HVAC professional, it can be helpful to understand some of the common terms used in the industry. Here are a few of the most frequently used:

  • This is a rating system for the energy efficiency of gas furnaces. Ratings are out of 100. Higher is better.
  • Air Handler – This separate part of some systems allows for better airflow through a building.
  • In the HVAC industry, British Thermal Units are a measure of heat used.
  • CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) – This is a measure of airflow.
  • Cycling – This is when the system turns on or off.
  • HEPA filter – These air filters are designed to improve air quality in homes.
  • The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor  – Rates the efficiency of a heat pump. Higher is better.
  • The Season Energy Efficiency Ratio – Rates the energy efficiency of air conditioners. Higher is better.

When homeowners know the parts of their HVAC systems and the terms used when referring to different things in the industry, they can understand and explain any problems with the system more fully. If you need professional help with your HVAC system, contact Bruce’s AC today.

How Does A Gas Water Heater Work? Can I Easily Maintain It?

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Man Working On Water Heater-Maintain Gas Water HeaterGas water heaters are a triumph of simplicity in engineering. Without significant energy consumption they can supply showers, faucets and washing machines with all the heated water they need for extended periods of time.

Unlike many household appliances, gas water heaters are relatively easy to “decode” once you know a little bit about them. In other words, after our rundown of your water heater’s anatomy and what to maintain, you should be able to understand how your water heater works, how each part contributes to its functioning and how you can properly maintain unit to make it last for years.

How Gas Water Heaters Work

Here’s a brief description of how your gas water heater works:

When a hot water faucet is turned on in your home, water is transported from the water heater tank to the faucet through the heater’s hot water outlet. To replace what is lost, fresh water is then added to the tank through the cold water inlet, which feeds into the bottom of the tank through a long tube (the dip tube).

Whenever cold water is added to the tank the gas burner underneath the tank is triggered into action, and it will reheat the water until the proper temperature setting has been reached.

There is a control connected to the gas burner that can turn it on and off as needed, so that the preferred water temperature can be maintained at all times.

Simple Gas Water Heater Maintenance

Easy Gas Heater MaintenanceThere are two important home maintenance procedures you can perform to help keep your gas water heater in great working order.

Monitor The Sacrificial Anode

First, you can monitor the condition of the sacrificial anode. This is a long rod made of magnesium or aluminum that protects the metal interior of the water tank by rusting away in its place. When two metals are in contact under water the one that is more reactive will corrode down to nothing before the second metal is affected. As long as sacrificial anodes are replaced before all the magnesium or aluminum is corroded, it will prevent the interior of the tank from rusting.

Sacrificial anode maintenance is simple and straightforward. You can remove the anode from the top of the tank, and put it back again, by unscrewing it with a wrench, and if you see it has been rusted away to the point that six inches of its wire core is showing you should buy a replacement right away. You can look online for guidance or ask your plumber for more detailed instructions on how to check and replace your sacrificial anode—but it should be an easy task to perform.

Drain Your Water Heater

Next, you can protect your water heater from the damaging effects of sedimentation by draining it completely with a hose attached to the drain valve, which is located at the bottom of the tank. There are plenty of ‘how to’ guides available on the Internet that can show you the specifics. Draining a water heater can be done without the assistance of a plumber (make sure the power and the water supply are both shut off). How often you will need to drain your water heater depends on how hard your water is (harder water causes faster sedimentation), but in general it is a good idea to do it annually at a minimum.

Keep in mind that a licensed plumber is always the recommended and safe way to properly drain your unit.

By simply maintaining these two components of your gas water heater, you can extend both the efficiency as well as the life of your unit.

Now discover how to increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system below.

Save Money On Your HVAC System This Summer

As the temperature continues to increase in Arizona, we are all looking for easy ways to increase our AC’s efficiency and save money on our utility bill. Check out 3 tips to save money on your HVAC system.

Does Your Home Have A Heat Loss Problem?

Does Your Home Have A Heat Loss ProblemDuring cold winter months, you are perfectly aware that heating costs make up the bulk of your electricity or gas bill.

Consequently you want your HVAC system to work as efficiently and as effortlessly as possible, so you can enjoy the warmth it produces without worrying yourself to death about how rapidly the dial on your energy meter is spinning.

Unfortunately, wintertime heat loss is a common source of waste in most homes. Even well-constructed buildings are far from airtight and it is amazing how much heat can escape into the open air if sources of leakage go unnoticed.

As winter has progressed have you noticed your energy costs rising? Do your bills seem out-of-proportion in comparison to friends and neighbors? Do you notice your furnace kicking on and off more frequently than in the past? Are there certain rooms in your home that seem noticeably colder than others?

All of these indicate you have a heat loss problem and that it is significant enough to be having a measurable impact.

Learn the sources of heat loss problems.

Identifying The Sources Of Heat Loss Trouble

HeatAir leaks in homes can happen just about anywhere. The best way to detect them is to contact your local energy company and ask them to send a consultant to your home to perform a heat loss audit (this service may be offered for free). If they can’t or won’t send someone you can always hire a private home energy auditor, who will most likely do it for a relatively small fee.

In the meantime, you can look around on your own to see what you can spot. Here are a few things to check for:

Doors And Windows

Cracks and spaces here are fairly easy to find. Just stand on the other side, feel around the perimeter of your doors and windows and see if streams of warm air are escaping (or cool air is coming in). It can usually be fairly easy to fix door and window gaps with caulk or weather stripping that you can buy and apply yourself.

Other locations where gaps may be causing air leakage include electrical outlets, plumbing cuts beneath sinks and dryer vents on outside walls. All can be plugged with caulk or foam sealers (just make sure to remove the foam sealer before using your dryer).

Filters And Vents

HVAC units won’t move air properly if filters are clogged or vents plugged or blocked. It’s fairly easy to check for this and to take action to combat it, either by cleaning where you can or buying a replacement air filter when it’s dirty.

Attic Heat Loss

This can be traced to inadequate insulation, unsealed wall partitions that channel heat from below or even poor attic ventilation.


For the most part you won’t be able to tell if the insulation in your walls, floors and ceilings is adequate or has somehow been compromised. Bad insulation is a big source of leakage, however, and it is one problem a home heat loss audit can help you uncover.

Heat Loss Is Your Loss

Heat loss will make you colder, cost you money and put undue stress on your furnace to the point where its life span may be reduced.

If You’ve Noticed Heat Loss, Call The Heating Experts

Have you noticed heat loss in your home or problems with your heater? Contact the heating and cooling experts at Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating. Our licensed and professional technicians will thoroughly inspect your heater and home and provide a viable solution to your problem.

Trust the industry experts and call us today! And don’t forget to “Follow Us” for future Post and Information

What Is An Energy Management System?

Energy Management SystemThe term “energy management system” refers to the process of monitoring energy usage and improving energy savings in businesses and homes. To put it simply, business and home owners can observe how much energy is being used on site and then implement strategies to decrease this usage.

There are many benefits to saving energy, including lowering monthly electrical costs and reducing dependency on fossil fuels.

Learn what’s involved in implementing an energy management system.

Factors Involved In An Energy Management System

Monitoring Energy

Energy usage can come from such things as appliances, lights and equipment.

The first step in managing energy is to be aware of how much is being used. You can check your meters weekly or monthly to obtain data regarding your energy usage. This process is rather laborious, however, so a better option is to use interval-metering systems.

These systems automatically record energy usage at specific intervals, such as every 15 or 30 minutes. This data lets you know how much energy is being used at certain times of the day and certain days of the week, which makes it much easier to determine how you can best find ways to save energy.

Controlling Energy

Once you’ve gotten a handle on how much energy is being used and when, you can begin to make changes. You may need to replace old appliances or install time-controlled light switches.

An easy way to lessen energy in an office building is to get employees in the habit of turning off electronics after the workday is completed. You can also install better lighting systems, and replace outdated insulation.

An important way to control energy from heating and cooling systems is to make sure that an empty building isn’t being heated or cooled after workers have gone home, or over the weekend if the offices are closed.

Optimizing Energy

Naturally, when energy is controlled, it is also optimized. However, energy management systems are a process that is ever evolving. It’s important not just to implement measures to lessen energy usage, but also to revisit your usage on a regular basis in order to ensure that nothing has changed.

For instance, sometimes during power failures, heating, cooling and lighting that is on any kind of automated track can reset back to the default. In these instances, you would need to manually reset the system to the desired schedule.

Commercial And Residential Heating And Cooling Solutions

At Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating, we offer solutions for both commercial and residential clients, including greater efficiency heating and cooling systems, programmable thermostats and more. Call us now to learn more about the options we have to save you money while keeping you comfortable!

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How Can I Reduce My Energy Costs In The Winter?

How Can I Reduce My Energy Costs In The WinterWhen winter sets in and temperatures start to drop, you can expect your heating bill will go up

However, there are various ways you can reduce the cost of electricity without necessarily having to sacrifice on comfort.

Make sure to follow these tips to help you and your family reduce energy costs in the winter.

Ways To Reduce Energy Costs In The Winter

Here are some effective ways you can control your winter energy costs.

Unplug Electronics When Not In Use

For instance, turning off electronics when they are not in use will ensure less electricity goes to waste. You should need to note that even when these items are turned off, they still drain electricity. Idle gadgets will still slowly suck electricity, increasing energy bills. A good way to go about this would be to unplug gadgets such as computers and TV sets from their outlets to ensure no electricity goes to waste.

If you don’t want to sacrifice the convenience of having your gadgets ready to go when you need them, then you can always invest in power switches which will give better control over your electronics.

Seal House Leaks

Sealing gaps around window’s, door’s and duct’s to prevent heat loss is a common winter fix that helps lower energy bills.

Lower Usage During Peak Hours It is very common for most electric companies to raise prices by up to 60% during peak hours, which is usually between 3 and 7pm and/or 6am and 10am. Limiting usage of electronics during these hours can help you control electric bills. For example, doing your laundry or operating the oven during off-peak hours helps you save. Note, that different electric companies have varying definitions of peak hours and it would be best to find this out from the company itself.

Invest In Energy-Saving Devices

Energy-saving gadgets such as Energy Star appliances will not only help you keep electric bills low, but can also qualify you for rebates, saving you even more money.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can lower the cost of electricity during winter. All you need to do is look around your home or business and determine what changes need to be done.

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