Types of Heat Pumps

January 26th, 2015

Heat pumps are slowly gaining ground as primary choices for home heating systems across the country. However, there are still a lot of facts about how they work that most homeowners don’t know. One of those facts is that there are actually many different kinds of heat pumps. In this article, however, we’re going to be talking about the two most popular types: air source and geothermal.

Air Source Heat Pumps

Air source heat pumps are called such because they draw thermal energy from the air around themselves in order to heat the home. Air source heat pumps are primarily comprised of two units, an indoor unit and an outdoor unit. As you might expect, the indoor unit is installed inside the home while the outdoor unit is installed outside. These two units are connected by a conduit, inside which is a number of power and refrigerant lines.

When the heat is turned on, the outdoor unit begins evaporating refrigerant inside a coil housed inside the casing. This siphons thermal energy from the surrounding air and into the gaseous refrigerant inside the coil. The refrigerant gas, now full of thermal energy, is then sent to the indoor unit. The indoor unit uses its own coil to condense the refrigerant back into a liquid. This releases the thermal energy to heat the house.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Air source heat pumps are great for a lot of reasons, but they do have one weakness. By relying out the outside air, the heat pump is relying on a heat source that can and does change all the time with the weather. In areas with a particularly cold climate, an air source heat pump can struggle with the lack of thermal energy available in the air. A geothermal heat pump is meant to solve this problem.

A geothermal heat pump does not rely on the air for its heat. Instead, it uses a wide pipe loop buried between 10 and 15 feet belowground. This pipe loop is filled with water or refrigerant, and absorbs the temperature of the surrounding environment. That far belowground, the temperature is a fairly constant 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of the weather above ground. In this way, the geothermal heat pump can make use of a renewable heat source without ever being affected by weather conditions outside.

If you’d like to know more about heat pump types, call Ace Air Conditioning. We provide heat pump services throughout the Atwater area.

How Zone Control Saves You Money in the Heating Season

January 19th, 2015

For all its widespread use, central heating actually isn’t at all efficient in the way it heats a home. This is for two reasons: the placement of the thermostat, and the one-size-fits-all method of heating every room in the house. Luckily, there is a solution for both of these issues in zone control. Let’s take a look at what zone control is, and how it can save you money during the heating season.

What is Zone Control?

Zone control is a system that splits up your house into several different zones for the purposes of heating. It does this through the use of dampers, with one installed in the ducts connecting to each room. The damper is basically a giant valve, which opens or closes based on the orders of the thermostat. Instead of one thermostat controlling the whole system, a separate thermostat is installed in each room. This way, each room has control of its own damper, and thus its own climate.

How can it Save Money?

A normal central heating system only has one thermostat, which is often installed on an interior wall and can only sense the temperature in the immediate area. When the thermostat turns the heat on, it heats the entire house regardless of the temperature in the other rooms. This wastes a lot of heat, both because some rooms won’t need the extra heat and because there are probably plenty of unoccupied rooms that don’t have anyone inside to benefit from it. When the thermostat turns the system off, it does so regardless of the temperature in the other rooms as well. This leads to an uneven climate across the house, with some rooms not being warm at all while others are stiflingly hot.

Zone control solves this issue by directing heat only where it is needed. If everyone in the house is gathered in one room, zone control can ensure that only that room is heated. This eases the load on the heater by making it not have to run as long, thus saving money.

If you’d like to know more about zone control, call Goettl Good Guys Air Conditioning. We provide zone heating systems throughout Benson, AZ.

Items to Check before Calling for Heating Repair

January 12th, 2015

When a sudden heating breakdown interferes with your daily activities, you may wish there was something you could do on your own. After all, do-it-yourself projects are popular among homeowners looking to save some money, and there must be something you can do to alleviate the damage. However most contractors would recommend saving the job for a contractor. It happens all too often that a heating technician shows up for a job only to find a botched amateur repair is partly to blame for the heating trouble. But there are actually a few things you can and should do before calling for heating repair in Turlock, which we’ve broken down in this guide.

Make Sure You’re Not in Danger

Modern heating systems are built with safety measures in place that leave very little possibility of a gas leak or other safety hazard. But if you do suspect a gas or carbon monoxide leak, your first step should not be calling a technician. Turn off the heater and leave the windows and doors open (but do not reenter the home to do so), exit the house, and call your local utility company or alternative emergency services from a safe location. You may notice a gas leak if you smell something akin to rotten eggs or hear a hissing sound.

Check the Filter

One of the most common reasons for heating repair is surprising to many homeowners because it actually has to do with the filter. If you’re not feeling enough warm air in the home, it may be because a clogged filter does not allow enough airflow to pass through the unit. If you haven’t changed your filter in a while, it could be the source of the trouble, but sometimes further damage is sustained in the unit because the system was unable to run as intended when the unit was clogged.

Turn off Your Unit If Necessary

Before the heating repair technician shows up, you should be sure to turn off your unit if it appears to be struggling to run. While you may want to leave it on to describe a noise, a smell, or other strange behavior to the technician, leaving it on will likely just overwork the system more.

The technicians at Ace Air Conditioning can make your job easier when it comes to heating repair in Turlock by explaining the proper steps to take and performing the necessary repairs quickly and professionally. Call us today!

Do You Need to Upgrade Your Heating Equipment?

January 9th, 2015

Even if you take good care of your heating system, you will eventually have to replace it. Though that need is often the result of your heating system reaching the end of its life, you should also consider that more modern systems are quite a bit more efficient than older ones. They save more energy, heat better, and offer more control over your home’s climate, and new innovations are being made all the time. Let’s take a look at some of the times that you may want to consider upgrading your heating system, even if it isn’t quite dead yet.

Rising Heating Bills

Your heating bill is always going to fluctuate a little from month to month, as your demand for heat will be different. However, if your heating bill begins to consistently get higher you likely have a problem with your heating system. This is often a sign that your heating system is losing efficiency, having to run for longer and longer times to reach the same temperature. A rise in heating bills is also a good indication that your heating system is reaching the end of its lifespan, so you may have to upgrade soon regardless.

Age

Age claims all heating systems, eventually. The older your heating system is, the more likely it is that you’re going to have problems with it. The bigger consideration here, however, is how far heating technology has progressed while you’ve been using your older system. It’s not financially viable, or all that smart, to upgrade your heating system every single time something new comes out. However, if upgrading your system will move your home heating forward by about twenty years, it’s probably a good idea. Remember: even if your heating system is in perfect health, upgrading to a new one can save you much more money through energy savings and heat output.

If you’re still unsure about whether or not to upgrade your heating equipment, it’s best to talk to a professional and see what they recommend. If you’d like to know more, call Ace Air Conditioning. We provide heating services throughout the Merced area.

When New Year’s Day Was Not on January 1st

January 1st, 2015

Some holidays fall on shifting calendar days for every year, such as Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) and Easter (the first Sunday after the first full moon to occur on or after March 21). Other holidays, such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween, are fixed. No holiday has a more solid calendar date attached to it than New Year’s Day. It has to fall on January 1st because it celebrates the first day of a new year. That only makes sense…

…except that, like most things that at first appear obvious, there is a bit more to the story. The beginning of the year was not always on the first of January. As with an enormous numbers of traditions in the Western World, the establishment of January 1st as the inaugural day of a new year goes back to the ancient Romans.

The modern solar calendar is derived from the Roman model, but the earliest Roman calendars did not have 365 days in a year spread over 12 months. Instead, there were 304 days spread over 10 months. The Romans believed this calendar originated with the mythical founder of the city, Romulus. If Romulus were a real person, we can credit him with a poor understanding of the seasons, as this abbreviated calendar soon got out of sync with Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Numa, one of the Kings of Rome (probably also fictional) receives credit for creating a longer year with two added months, Ianuarius and Februarius, bringing the number of days in the year to 355. The new month of Ianuarius, named after Ianus (Janus in contemporary spelling), the god of beginnings, would eventually be known in English as January. But when this new calendar was instituted, January was not the first month. March, named after the god of war, remained the first month, and March 1st was New Year’s Day.

This extended calendar still did not keep in synch with the seasons. In 45 BCE, Julius Caesar instituted reforms to align the calendar correctly according to calculations of astronomers, with an additional 10 days distributed across the year. January also became set as the first month, and offerings to the god Janus on this day started the tradition we now know as New Year’s. The date still fluctuated during the ensuing centuries, with a number of Western European holy days treated as the beginning of the year instead. It wasn’t until the next calendar reform in 1582, the Gregorian Calendar, that the date of the New Year was fixed at January 1st.

However you choose to celebrate the beginning of the current calendar, everyone here at Ace Air Conditioning  hopes you have a wonderful 2015!

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

December 25th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from Ace Air Conditioning!

Steps to Take Before Heating Installation

December 19th, 2014

Is your heater finally on its last legs, so to speak? Not to worry; any heating system will unfortunately break down eventually, but a trained technician can help to make the replacement process go smoothly and can even assist you in saving some money over time. Today’s units are much more efficient than they once were, with many homeowners noting significant savings on their utility bills. If you’re feeling a bit unsure of what to expect during installation, we’ve detailed a couple of important steps to help you prepare.

Plan for a Full Day of Service

One of the number one questions we get from homeowners is how long the heating installation process we’ll take. And before you turn to another company after hearing a lengthy time estimate from your contractor, remember this: a lengthy installation period simply means the technician is taking the time to ensure every part of the installation process is done properly.

Working with heating systems, especially those that require the use of natural gas, can be unsafe if a technician does not spend time carefully installing and inspecting a unit. Improper ventilation and gas leaks are just a couple of the risks you take with a quick installation, so a thorough inspection (as well as yearly maintenance) is key to ensuring your home safety. Always plan for a full day of service for heating installation. In some cases, such as when there is trouble with the ducts or if you require an additional HVAC installation (like an AC system) as well, installation will take longer.

Make Sure to Locate Residential Heating Professionals

All too often when we’re called to repair a broken down furnace, we hear a homeowner tell us that a family member or a buddy recently installed the unit for them. Amateur installation can result in safety hazards as well as improper sizing, which could ultimately lead to a breakdown. Your friend may hook the furnace up to the ventilation unit incorrectly, causing the safety switch to trigger and shut off the furnace every time it runs. Or, your new heat pump may not circulate enough refrigerant when you choose a family member for the job, causing it to fail well before its time.

Call the professionals at Ace Air Conditioning for quality services from technicians you can trust. Don’t wait until it gets any colder; schedule your new heating installation in Merced today!

3 Common Repairs with Gas Furnaces

December 12th, 2014

Gas furnaces are among the most common home heating systems in the country. They’re relatively cheap, versatile, and widespread enough that almost every HVAC company is capable of servicing them. If you’re one of the many homeowners who owns a gas furnace, it pays to know some of the common repair needs that it can experience.

Let’s examine the top 3 gas furnace repairs.

Broken Pilot Light

Standing pilot lights have a terrible reputation for wasting energy and going out frequently. This is often because pilot lights have little or no protection from air currents in the home. This is usually easily fixed; most furnaces have an ignition button that re-lights the pilot light. In some cases, however, the pilot light may refuse to stay lit.

In older furnaces, the pilot light is controlled by a part called the “thermocouple.” This part is basically a composite metal wire, with one end installed near the pilot burner and the other wired into the gas valve. When the pilot light is turned on, the thermocouple senses the heat and produces an electrical current that keeps the gas valve open. When the pilot light goes out, the gas valve closes to keep your home from filling up with gas.

When the thermocouple goes bad, however, it closes the gas valve while the pilot light is still lit. This smothers the flame. A pilot light that keeps going out may have a bad thermocouple.

Dirty Burners

The burners are the parts of the furnace that actually combust the gas to create heat. As gas furnaces are an incomplete combustion system, there are byproducts of the process like toxic gases and leftover carbon. Most of these byproducts are vented out of the house, but carbon can collect on the burners instead. Dirty burners can have difficulty starting, or even burn at a lower intensity, leading to heating problems in the home.

Cracked Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger is responsible for both heating the air and getting rid of toxic combustion byproducts. Over time, the constant expansion and contraction from the heat can cause the heat exchanger to crack, letting the combustion gases mix with the air being circulated. Because of the health risks involved, a cracked heat exchanger should be replaced as soon as possible.

If you need to schedule repair service for your furnace in the Merced area, call Ace Air Conditioning. We provide fast and reliable heating services.

Why Is My Pilot Light Going Out?

December 5th, 2014

Having the pilot light blow out is a pretty common occurrence for homeowners. After all, it’s an open flame, often with no protection from sudden drafts aside from being under the furnace. It’s often a simple affair to relight your pilot light when it goes out. If the pilot light refuses to stay lit, however, you may have a bigger problem than a simple draft. Let’s examine the biggest reason why your pilot light refuses to stay lit.

The Thermocouple

The thermocouple is a long wire made of metal composite. One end of this wire is installed next to the pilot light, close enough to conduct heat from the flame. The other end of the wire is connected to a gas valve, which controls the flow of fuel to the pilot light. The thermocouple acts as a heat sensor for the pilot light, determining whether it is on or off. When the pilot light is on, the thermocouple keeps the gas valve open to keep the flame burning. When the pilot light goes out, the thermocouple closes the gas valve to prevent your home from filling up with gas. This is done by utilizing something called the Seebeck Effect.

Named after the physicist that discovered it, the Seebeck Effect states that any conductor will produce an electric current when exposed to uneven heat. This means that when one end of the thermocouple is heated by the pilot light, it generates an electric current that travels to the gas valve. When the gas valve registers this current, it opens, and stays open as long as it keeps receiving the current. When the pilot light goes out, it terminates the current and causes the valve to close.

A bad thermocouple is one that has lost the ability to produce an electrical current when exposed to heat. This is why the pilot light keeps going out, because there is nothing to keep the flow of fuel to it going.

If your pilot light keeps going out, call Ace Air Conditioning. We provide heating services throughout the Merced area.

Do I Repair or Replace My Heating System?

November 28th, 2014

No one really wants to get rid of their heating system and replace it with a new one. New heaters are often expensive, the installation can be a pain, and in general it’s just a lot less hassle to repair individual things as they break down. Unfortunately, there will come a point where repairing your old heater will become just as expensive, if not more so, than replacing it with a new one. Let’s take a look at when exactly that point is.

Age of Unit

The rule of thumb when thinking about whether to replace most heaters is to look at their age. If the heater is under 15 years old, you may want to just repair it. If the heater is older than 15, chances are you would be better served by getting a new one. Of course, the best way to tell is by calling a professional to look at it for you.

Short-Cycling

Short-cycling is the name for when a heater constantly turns on and off in rapid succession throughout the day. This is often caused by overheating in the system. When the heater starts, the internal temperature of the unit quickly reaches a level beyond the system’s safety limit. When that happens, the system turns the heater off to prevent further damage. Once the heater cools down enough, it starts up and repeats the entire process over again. This is often the result of more serious issues in the heater, like a cracked heat exchanger. You may want to replace your heating system if you notice this occurring, but depending on the source of the short-cycling it could be cheaper to repair it.

Odd Noises

Unusual noises are a common complaint among homeowners when it comes to heating issues. Grinding, banging, whistling, gurgling, and many other sounds may occur when starting up your heater. The thing is, there are as many different causes for these sounds as there are sounds themselves. All of them should be looked at immediately, as there are some that signal a more serious issue than others. For the most part, however, you should be safe simply getting your system repaired. There is rarely a case where an odd noise has led to the need to replace the whole system.

If you’re having problems with your heater, call Ace Air Conditioning. Our HVAC technicians provide heating services throughout the Merced area.