Ace Air, Inc. Blog: Archive for February, 2012

How Do I Choose an Appliance for My Delhi Home?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

There are a lot of responsibilities you’ll face as a homeowner in Delhi, but one of the most important is the selection of good appliances that will keep your energy bills down and improve the value of your home. But, what factors should you consider when choosing a new appliance to ensure you get the very best? Here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Capacity – First, make sure you know the capacity you need for your new appliance, along with the size available for the cooling or heating system installation. Choosing the perfect refrigerator or dishwasher is great, but if it doesn’t hold enough or doesn’t fit the space you have available, it might not be a good selection.
  2. Energy Efficiency – Next on the list should be energy efficiency. Be aware that this will directly affect the price. So, if price is a major issue for you, move it up on the list by at least one spot. However, if you want to save money in the long term on electricity and water and you want to do your part for the environment, look for Energy Star labels and the highest efficiency ratings on the market.
  3. Cost – Cost is a big deal for almost all homeowners. Unless you have very specific needs, you should break down your search by budget range. Most of the time, you can contact an appliance salesperson or contractor and give them a budget with which to work. If researching online, use ConsumerReports.org or Amazon.com to review specific models by price range (you may even find a good deal).
  4. Noise Factor – Many people forget just how much noise an appliance makes until they install it and realize they can’t hear a person from three feet away in the laundry room. Noise cancellation costs more, but in some instances, especially for appliances in the living space like a refrigerator, air conditioner or bathroom fixture, it’s a major plus.
  5. Digital Controls – Most new top of the line appliances, like thermostats,  have digital readouts and LCD displays that allow you to review your options, reduce energy consumption and make quick adjustments. However, digital readouts and expert controls are not always necessary to get an efficient, affordable device, so this becomes a convenience factor.

Review your options carefully before selecting an appliance for your home. Organize the above five factors by importance to you and review the options in that range accordingly. You’ll hopefully find the perfect appliance for your needs.  If you have any questions about this helpful guide please contact Ace Air Conditioning for more information.

Continue Reading

Simple Steps to Prevent Heat Loss in Winton

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

There are two fundamental ways to make your house warmer in Winton. One is to generate heat, which is the job of your furnace or boiler. The second is to keep the warm air in — and thereby keep cold air out — which is the job of your system of insulation.

The idea that the physical structure of a home can be a component of the HVAC system is one that is often overlooked, but when you think about it, it makes sense. The insulation, windows, doors and building materials that comprise your home are designed to keep the place warm against the cold and vice versa.

So, when bolstering your HVAC system to promote efficient heating, it is important to also consider heat loss and how to prevent it. This is a process that can get out of hand if you go overboard, so it is important to prioritize. Let’s look at the top 3 places to start when trying to prevent heat loss.

  1. Keep doors and windows closed. This seems obvious when you read it, but you would be surprised how often people overlook this one. When it is cold outside, keep doors and windows closed as much as possible. This one small step can prevent a lot of escaped heat.
  1. Sniff out and seal off drafts. Even when closed, your doors and windows could still be letting warm air out. If they are worn, improperly sealed, improperly installed or if the surrounding construction is deteriorating, your doors and windows can’t work optimally. Additionally, see if your vents or ducts are leaky.
  1. Start at the top. If you want to go farther in sealing your house up against the cold, it is time to work on the insulation. When installing new insulation, remember that heat rises, so you get the most bang for your buck by starting at the top. If you only have the budget or time to insulate one space, make it the attic. You can work down from there.

These areas should be your top three priorities on your mission to prevent heat loss in your home. If you start here, you will get the best gains with the least effort.

Continue Reading

Happy Valentine’s Day From Your Local HVAC Technicians!

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

We wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day! Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show your appreciation to everyone who makes a difference in your life. Even a small gift, like a batch of cookies or a homemade card, can really make someone feel special. Your friends, your family, and your significant other will all have a fantastic Valentine’s Day if you take a moment to let them know how important they are to you.

Calling us for an HVAC upgrade might seem like a usual gift, but it can actually be something that benefits your whole family. An improved indoor air quality system can make air cleaner and healthier, and a new heating system can make your home more comfortable and save you money by lowering your utility bills. Those are improvements that every member of your family can enjoy.

If you have any questions about upgrades for your heating and air conditioning system, give Ace Air Conditioning and Heating a call today! And to help you celebrate this sweet holiday, here is a recipe for Chocolate Mint Cookies.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 36 chocolate mint wafer candies

Directions

  1. In a large pan over low heat, cook butter, sugar and water until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips and stir until partially melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into a large bowl and let stand 10 minutes to cool off slightly.
  2. At high speed, beat in eggs, one at a time into chocolate mixture. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, beating until blended. Chill dough about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  4. Roll dough into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes. While cookies are baking unwrap mints and divide each in half. When cookies are brought out of the oven, put 1/2 mint on top of each cookie. Let the mint sit for up to 5 minutes until melted, then spread the mint on top of the cookie. Eat and enjoy!

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

Continue Reading

Air Conditioning Tips: Things to Check on Your Broken AC Before Calling a Professional

Monday, February 13th, 2012

A broken air conditioner in Atwater is a stressful situation, especially since you’re considering whether you need a professional to come out. No one likes spending hundreds of dollars on air conditioning maintenance, so before you call anyone, make sure to check these problems. You may be able to fix the problem on your own without spending a dime.

Thermostat

The thermostat is one of the most common problems you’ll have with an air conditioner.  Make sure the thermostat wasn’t knocked out of position and the sensors near your coils are in the right place. Often times, a bumped sensor or a slightly off thermostat can cause this kind of problem and as a result, you’ll be left without steady cooling.

Check Your Filters

Another common problem that can cause issues with your air conditioner is filter clogging. While the system will continue to run with a clogged filter, there are a few issues that might pop up – it could smell funny or you might notice icing on the outside line (a major problem). If you allow the filter to get so clogged as to block the air flow from your system, you can expect a number of problems to crop up.

Blower Belts

Check the system’s blower belt for damage like cracking, excess slack or general wear. A blower belt that isn’t properly installed or that needs to be replaced will reduce air flow which can result in ice buildup or poor air flow – it will make it harder for your system to maintain a steady temperature.

Check the Outdoor Unit

Check to make sure nothing is blocking the outdoor unit. Clean the condenser coils and remove any debris that might have built up around the outdoor unit. Often, slowed air flow is caused by nothing more than leaves piled in front of your condenser.

If none of these problems is the culprit or if you fix them all and your system continues to struggle, it is time to call Ace Air Conditioning.

Continue Reading

What Happens if My Heat Pump Loses Power?

Friday, February 10th, 2012

One of the advantages of heat pumps in Le Grand is that they operate on electricity, so you don’t need to worry about having maintaining a supply of fuel to keep yours running. Where a furnace or boiler might call for you to purchase supplies of oil or natural gas, and a wood stove means keeping potentially messy firewood around, a heat pump runs cleanly on electricity.

Heat pumps are good at using electricity, too. They are often able to produce heat energy that can be as much as three times the electricity they draw to produce it. This means not just convenience, but also a big savings, just by virtue of using electrical power.

The risk there, of course, is that if and when the power goes out, so does the heat pump. That means when a big winter storm drops a tree on the local power line, things can get cold inside mighty quickly. For these situations, you should have a backup heating solution on hand to keep everyone comfortable in the short term. And, as a responsible homeowner, you likely already have this taken care of.

But what happens when the power comes back on? Can you just fire your heat pump right back up without missing a beat?

The short answer is “no.” You should not do that, for at least two reasons. First of all, after any power outage, you should always take care to turn on appliances gradually over a period of time rather than all at once in order to avoid a spike in demand at the power company, which can blow a grid. That’s just a general tip.

Specific to heat pumps, though, there is a unique concern. If the heat pump loses power for more than 30 minutes, the refrigerant can get too cold to flow properly, so turning it right back on can cause the whole thing to conk right out. Instead, do the following:

  1. Make sure the heat pump is off. You can do this during the power outage.
  2. Once power comes back on, turn the heat pump to the “Emergency Heat” setting. This will allow the compressor to warm up slowly and get the refrigerant warm enough to start flow freely again.
  3. Wait. The time you need to wait varies depending on the size and manufacturer of your heat pump, so refer to the manual. In general, you should wait at least 6 hours.

After this process, your heat pump should be ready to resume normal operation without issue.  If you have any questions about this topic please call Ace Air Air Conditioning and Heating.

Continue Reading

HVAC Tips: Components of a Heat Pump

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Because of their simply designed function – pumping heat one way or the other – heat pumps in Gustine have relatively few components. However, these components do not work the way you might expect, if you are picturing, for example, a fan that blows heat in or out.

A heat pump operates on the same principle as an air conditioner or refrigerator, which may seem complicated at first, but it’s not. The heat pump consists of five main functional components, which are outlined below:

  1. The coils absorb heat from the surrounding air and channel it in or out of the home. There are two different types of coils in a heat pump. Condenser coils are outside the home transferring heat to and from the outside air. Evaporator coils are the reverse, transferring heat to and from the air inside the home.
  2. The coils are filled with a refrigerant, which is the medium that carries heat into or out of the home. On a cold day, for example, when the heat pump is in heating mode, the refrigerant in the condenser coils will absorb heat from the outside air, the flow inward into the evaporator coils, warming the interior of the house.
  3. The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant so that it is able to readily absorb as much heat from the air as possible. This is how your heat pump is able to gather warm air from the chilly outdoors to keep your home warm.
  4. The reversing valve is the component that changes the flow of the refrigerant when switching from heating mode to cooling mode, or vice versa.
  5. Finally, the air handler is the fan component that distributed the heat throughout the house via your home’s ductwork.

While these are the five main components, there are several smaller parts involved within and alongside each of these, as well. You need not concern yourself with them, since you won’t have occasion to interact with them. A professional will be able to identify and repair any of the components of a heat pump as needed.

In addition to these five primary components, most heat pumps also include a heater pack, which is a bunch of actual heating elements for use when the heat pump cannot operate on its own. For example, you would turn on the “Emergency Heat” setting of your heat pump after a power outage to warm the refrigerant before use. That setting is supported by the heater pack.  If you have any questions about your heat pump please don’t hesitate to contact Ace Air Conditioning & Heating.

Continue Reading

Different Types of Refrigerants Used in HVAC Throughout Merced Homes

Monday, February 6th, 2012

In Merced we have all heard the phrases like “save the planet” or “save the ozone layer.” Up until the 1960s there wasn’t a lot of attention paid to the disintegrating protective ozone layer around the Earth’s surface. Since then, ozone-depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) have been seen as the ozone-depleting culprit and new laws regulating the use of CFCs have had a direct impact on heating and cooling (HVAC) systems.

The “lifeblood” of any air conditioning and heat pump system is its refrigerants – a chemical used in the refrigeration cycle. For several decades, the “refrigerant of choice” in HVAC systems has been HCFC-22, also known as R-22. The problem is, HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) are harmful to the ozone layer because they contain ozone-destroying chlorine.

Because of this, the use of R-22 is being slowly phased out from usage in HVAC systems. The Clean Air Act of 1970 has provisions in it to phase out HCFC refrigerants. As a result, chemical manufacturers will no longer be able to produce, and companies will no longer be able to import, R-22 for use in new air conditioning equipment (effective this year),  but they can continue production and import of R-22 until 2020 for use in servicing existing equipment. So, R-22 should continue to be available for all systems that require R-22 for servicing for many years to come.

But the “new kid on the block” replacing R-22 has been getting up a head of steam for several years now. Among the new alternative refrigerants recommended by the U.S. EPA is R-410A, a blend of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that does not contribute to depletion of the ozone layer, but, like R-22, contributes to global warming. R-410A is manufactured and sold under various trade names, including GENETRON AZ-20®, SUVA 410A®, Forane® 410A, and Puron®.

There are several other substitute refrigerants going by the names of R-407C, HFC-134A, and R-422C. A complete list can be found at www.epa.gov.

According to the U.S. EPA, homeowners with existing units using R-22 can continue to use R-22 since there is “no requirement to change or convert R-22 units for use with a non-ozone-depleting substitute refrigerant.” And it is important to note that R-407C is allowed for retrofits but R-410A is not, due to its higher working pressures. Substitute refrigerants would not work well with existing components unless a retrofit was made or in the case of using R-410A, a complete system changeout.

One of the leading causes for air conditioner and heat pump failure are lower levels of refrigerant. If you are working on your own equipment, it is important to note that replacing refrigerants like R-22 and R-410A should only be done by certified HVAC professionals. You must show EPA certification to purchase these refrigerants.

If you are interested in “saving the planet” you might do well to give the boot to your HCFC-consuming appliance.  Please contact your HVAC experts at Ace Air with any questions about your HVAC systems.

Continue Reading

Indoor Air Quality Options

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Maintaining high indoor air quality in Winton is always worth investing time and money in. After all, if the air inside your home isn’t healthy, it can cause all kinds of health problems for you and your family. The state of the art home heating and cooling systems we have today make it possible to enjoy a perfectly temperature controlled indoor environment all year long, but they also trap indoor air pollutants and contaminants inside without proper ventilation.

Choosing a System that Works

Luckily there are a number of great products out there designed to remove these pollutants before they cause you and your family discomfort or illness. Before you run out to buy a new system, however, you should first consider what each has to offer and what pollutants you need to remove. You might have some idea about this already, but the best thing to do is talk to a professional who can help assess your indoor air and determine which types of contaminants are most prevalent in your home.

Different types of indoor air cleaners are better at targeting different types of contaminants. For instance, HEPA filters can remove up to 99.97% of particulate contaminants that measure 0.3 microns or larger. This includes things like pollen, pet dander, dust mites and mold spores, so if these are the things you want to target, an indoor air system that uses HEPA filters is probably right for you.

However, if you’re more concerned with getting rid of smoke odors and cooking fumes, you probably want a system that targets even smaller particles. Air ionizers are more appropriate for these types of indoor air quality issues, as they can effectively remove much smaller particles than most HEPA filters. On the flip side, ionizers aren’t as efficient at removing the larger contaminant particles, so if you want to target both small and large contaminants, you need a system that combines both of these technologies.

Bacteria and viruses are also a problem when they find their way into your indoor air and they can be particularly tricky to get rid of. HEPA filters and air ionizers both have trouble completely eradicating these pathogens, but UV germicidal lights can be incorporated into your indoor air cleaning system to tackle biological contaminants effectively.

No matter what type of home air quality problem you have, there is a system on the market that will target and remove the pollutant. The key is to know which pollutants effect you the most and which products will do the best job of removing them from your home.  Learn more on our website or call us for a quick estimate on your next indoor air quality system.

Continue Reading

Worst Rooms in Your Dos Palos Home to Collect Allergens

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Your Dos Palos home can be a haven for allergens, and some rooms in particular are much worse than others . They are damp. They are warm. They often have garbage in them. These are the rooms that need especially close attention when trying to maintain air quality in your home.

Basement

First on the list is your basement. A basement is the biggest problem when it’s either unfinished or does not have and air filtration. If you have water leaks in your basement or poor insulation, it’s important to have a moisture barrier put in and have your pipes checked. If the water comes from a drainage pipe or your sewer line, repairs can be made. If it comes from excess ground water or leaks in the foundation, a sump pump or drain tile system will help remove the excess water. Either way, the wetter your basement gets, the higher the risk of mold and other contaminants becomes.

Beyond moisture, a basement tends to collect a lot of dust. After all, it is where we put many of our old and unwanted possessions, and because the furnace is often in your basement, all that damp, allergen filled air gets cycled back into your home.

Bathroom

Bathrooms are allergen havens for two reasons. They are filled with moisture, and without proper ventilation they will soon be filled with mold and mildew. Additionally, when not cleaned regularly they can house buildups of hair, skin, and other dust building residue that tend to trigger allergies.

The easiest way to handle this problem is to clean your bathroom regularly and make sure it is properly ventilated. Short of an exhaust fan in your bathroom, keep the door and windows open to help it dry faster.

Kitchen

Your kitchen produces allergens like mold and mildew due to the presence of garbage and fruit. It can also attract bugs and the dirt that accrues from people passing through constantly. Pets tend to eat in the kitchen, leaving behind dander. Additionally, plants and vegetables in the kitchen release pollen that circulates through your home to trigger additional allergies. Exhaust from cooking and smoke can also be a harmful allergen trigger.

The kitchen should be kept well ventilated and clean at all times. Check for any gaps in your insulation and have your exhaust fan and hood cleaned regularly to avoid backups of smoke or gas.

Allergens are everywhere in your home – with careful attention, however, you can stop them from affecting your family negatively.

Continue Reading