What Kind of Heating System Should I Install?

February 27th, 2015

If you need a new heating system for your home, you may not be sure what type of unit to go for. Maybe your old unit was inefficient and unreliable, and you’re not sure if you should switch over to a new type of system. Maybe you don’t know what your options are if there are no ducts installed in your home.

We’re here to help; the people at Ace Air Conditioning have put together this quick list of some of our favorite systems for heating installation in Atwater, CA, and we’d like to offer our services to anyone looking for a new, efficient unit.

  • Furnace – The furnace is the most common type of heating system found in homes in the United States. If you’ve owned a furnace in the past, you may be skeptical about installing a new one, but keep in mind that today’s units are much more efficient and far safer than ever before.
  • Heat Pump – Heat pumps are heating and cooling systems in one. These run on electricity, but they’re highly efficient because they move heat from place to place instead of generating it.
  • Ductless – Ductless heat pumps can heat or cool a home as efficiently as a standard heat pump without the need for any ductwork at all!
  • Gas Fireplace – Ducts or no ducts, a gas fireplace is a great addition to any home, drawing on natural gas to create a warm, comforting experience.

In general, choosing a heating system is a job best left to a professional. You may know which type of heater you want, but choosing the exact model and size for your home is a job more suited for someone with experience in the field. Sizing involves a complex set of calculations. If these are not completed correctly, you may end up with a system that is too large or too small. A large system may short cycle and utilize too much energy, while a smaller system won’t heat your home completely and may fail very early on.

Allow professionals to help you select a new system, size the unit, and make sure that all of the parts are securely in place. The friendly people at Ace Air Conditioning are trained in heating installation in Atwater, CA, including furnaces, heat pumps, ductless units, and gas fireplaces. Call on our team of experts today!

Why there is Ice on Your Heat Pump

February 20th, 2015

Finding ice on your heat pump can be a pretty strange experience, especially if the temperature isn’t below freezing.

If your heat pump is inexplicably icing over, it can’t be a good sign, right? Well, yes and no. Actually, it’s pretty common for heat pumps to have ice form on their casings during cold days. It’s not necessarily a problem, with a couple of exceptions. Let’s examine why the ice forms in the first place. After that, we’ll outline the circumstances in which it may require some heat pump repairs.

Heat Siphoning

Heat pumps are called such because they don’t create any heat on their own. Instead, the outside part of the heat pump siphons heat from the surrounding air and sends it inside to warm the house. This is done by evaporating refrigerant in a coil inside the outside unit. The refrigerant gas acts as a heat sink, leeching heat out of the surrounding air and into the coil. There are two side effects to this process. First, the temperature in the air directly around the heat pump drops. Second, the coil inside the heat pump heats up, causing condensation to form on it and on the other parts of the casing. The combination of condensation and suddenly-colder surrounding temperatures can cause ice to start forming on the heat pump.

When it’s a Problem

If the ice builds up far enough to cover most or all of the heat pump, it will cut off the coil’s access to the thermal energy it needs to heat the house. This is when it becomes a problem, because the heat pump loses its ability to function. Heat pumps are designed with this problem in mind, however, and include defrost cycles that are designed to melt the ice off of the casing. That’s why you normally don’t need to worry about a little ice on the heat pump. However, if the defrost cycle stops working it can allow the ice to build up too high and cripple the unit. So, if you notice a little ice on your heat pump you should check on it every hour or so. If the ice is decreasing, then don’t worry about it. Your defrost cycle is working properly. If the ice is steadily increasing, or if it’s already covering ¾ or more of the unit, then you should call a professional to look at it.

If your heat pump is encased in ice, call Ace Air Conditioning. We provide heat pump repair services throughout Turlock, CA.

Lupercalia: The Origin of St. Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2015

Many people may think of Valentine’s Day as a holiday essentially created by card and gift companies, but the truth is that the holiday has long-standing roots going back to the Roman Empire. The name “Lupercalia” has its origins in the word “lupus”, which means wolf, and the reason for this is that according to Roman pagan religion, the she-wolf Lupa nursed the two orphaned infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

The Festival

The Festival of Lupercalia spanned two days each February, from February 13th to 15th. The festival was about fertility and was led by Luperci priests, known as “brothers of the wolf”. The festival was serious with intention (fertility) but was executed as quite a romp for both the priests and citizens of Rome. The process was this: two male goats and a dog were sacrificed at the beginning of the festival by the priests; two young Luperci were then anointed with the blood from the animals, and the hides of the animals were cut into straps. As food and drink flowed, the male priests would run around the city wearing nothing but thongs made from the animal skins, and they also carried a strap from one of the sacrificed animals. The strap was used to strike the palms of Roman women waiting for the priests in the city, as it was believed that being hit with the strap could help with infertility issues and a safe, healthy labor for women who were pregnant.

The Transition to St. Valentine’s Day

The Christian influence of the holiday came around the 5th century. The Roman Empire was still strong, but Christianity was rapidly taking hold throughout the world. It is believed that to try and remove the paganism from the holiday, the deaths of two men, supposedly both named Valentine, were added into the mix. During the 3rd and 4th centuries, a law created by Claudius II forbade young men eligible for military service to marry, because Rome wanted a strong army. The two men named Valentine were priests, and married young couples in secret. Both were found out and executed on February 14th, although in separate years. The Church made Valentine a saint (they chose one), and Lupercalia became St. Valentine’s Day.

Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Why Your Furnace Keeps Turning On and Off Quickly

February 9th, 2015

Have you noticed that your furnace keeps rapidly cycling on and off, as though it can’t decide what to do? If so, don’t ignore it! That kind of behavior isn’t some harmless quirk that your furnace has picked up. Rapidly turning on and off is called “short-cycling,” and it’s a very serious problem. Let’s take a look at the common causes of short-cycling, and what needs to be done about it.

The Source of Short-Cycling

Short-cycling is caused by an interaction between the furnace and a safety device called the “limit switch.” The limit switch monitors the temperature inside the furnace’s main chamber, or “plenum.” When the temperature inside the plenum gets too high, the limit switch activates and shuts down the furnace to prevent damage from overheating. Unfortunately, this does not actually solve for whatever problem was causing the overheating in the first place. When the furnace cools off and restarts, it will overheat again and the cycle will continue indefinitely.

The actual cause of the overheating problem can vary, from something as simple as a clogged air filter to a more complex issue like a malfunctioning air handler. It will take professional examination of the system to tell for certain.

Consequences of Short-Cycling

Short-cycling is among one of the most damaging problems that a furnace can have. It locks the furnace into its initial startup cycle, which is the most physically stressful part of normal operation. Normally, the furnace works harder to reach the target temperature, after which it slows down and only makes slight adjustments of one or two degrees. Short-cycling prevents the furnace from ever reaching the second part of its cycle. The added stress of starting and stopping over and over can cause crippling damage to many parts of the furnace. This includes the heat exchanger, a vital and expensive part, which often needs to be replaced after prolonged short-cycling has taken its toll.

The best thing that you can do to prevent short-cycling is to change your air filter every 1-3 months. This keeps air flowing into the furnace to cool it down and maintain a safe temperature. If you do notice that your furnace is short-cycling, though, you should turn it off and call a professional as soon as possible to limit the damage.

If your furnace is experiencing problems, call Ace Air Conditioning. We provide furnace services throughout Turlock.

Reasons It May Be Time for a New Heating Installation

February 4th, 2015

No matter how well you maintain your heating system, there will come a time when it just isn’t financially viable to keep it anymore. While most people accept that they will eventually need to replace their heating systems, few are able to tell when that time actually is. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common reasons to replace an old heating system with a new one.

Repairs Become More Expensive

As a heating system gets older, the individual parts that compose it become more and more rare. This causes the cost of repairs to go up, as an HVAC company may no longer have the required replacement part available anymore. Taken to an extreme, some very old heating systems may not have any parts still being manufactured anymore. This can make them all but impossible to repair, depending on the problem.

On top of being more expensive to repair, older heating systems will break much more often. In younger heating systems, the occasional heating repair often results either from faulty parts or sub-par conditions in general. Older heating systems, however, have years and years of regular use behind them, and it shows. The parts in older systems wear down to the point where several of them can break in rapid succession, exacerbating the issue of replacement parts being hard to find.

Age

As mentioned above, age is a major contributor to a lot of the problems that older systems face. Whether directly or indirectly, the age of your system is going to have a definite effect on its operation. The general rule is that if your heating system is older than 15 years, it’s probably time to replace it. If it’s younger than that, then you can probably get more good use out of it. Of course, if you have a heating system that is older than 15 years, but doesn’t have any other issues, then you should feel free to keep using it. However, if you are having other issues with it and it’s already an old system, then that’s one more reason to replace it.

If you think it may be time for a new heating installation, call Ace Air Conditioning. We provide furnace installation services throughout Merced.

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!