Be Prepared with Your AC for More Hot Weather

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningThe early fall is still a hot time of the year in Southern California, and although we’ll have short cool spells, we will also experience periods of extreme heat. This is why you have to be vigilant about your air conditioning system at this time of year. With all the work the AC has already done over a hot summer, the stress on it places it in danger of a possible breakdown when further heat waves strike. Ensuring your air conditioner can still take on this late-year heat is important.

What You Can Do to Help

First, give your air conditioning as much of a break as possible during cool stretches. It’s common for people to keep their air conditioner running when they come out of summer, even during mild warm days. We recommend you don’t run the air conditioner unless the outdoor temperature climbs above 80°F. Set the thermostat to 78°F. You can even have the AC shut off entirely and simply use the HVAC fan while opening up windows and doors to allow for improve air circulation. The less stress you put on the cooling system this later in the year, the better.

Second, don’t forget about the air filter in the HVAC cabinet. It still needs to be regularly changed, and people often forget to do the last change at the end of summer. Nothing will cause a faster increase in strain on an HVAC system, even when running in fan-only mode, than a clogged air filter.

Third, always have the air conditioner repaired if there are any indications that something is wrong with it. Even if it isn’t outwardly affecting performance (such as a strange noise from the cabinet). A malfunction of any kind creates a high risk of a full system breakdown.

We’re open 24 hours to assist you with air conditioning repairs in Cathedral City, CA and throughout the Inland Empire and the Desert cities.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning has offered great AC service since 1980.

Does My Heater Really Need Maintenance?

The question about whether a home heating system requires maintenance is one you encounter more often in warm climates, like Southern California, than in places used to arduous and lengthy winter seasons. Simply put, people in Southern California don’t think about their household heaters that often. If they switch on the heater during the occasional cold day and it seems to do the job adequately, fine. No need to worry about it any further than that, right?

Well, no need to worry about it… until it doesn’t turn on.

Yes, your heater absolutely requires regular maintenance. Any complex machine that does such important work will start to wear down and eventually need repairs, and you don’t want to realize this on the coldest day of the year. If more than a year has passed since you had your home’s heater inspected and given a tune-up, you should sign up for a maintenance program right away. Get your heater ready for the cold surprises that lay in wait. Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning offers excellent heating maintenance in Redlands, CA. Contact us today to get started.

Reasons your heater needs maintenance

Prevent expensive repairs: A maintenance technician will give your heater a thorough inspection to see that no part is wearing down or in danger of breaking. Small adjustments and minor replacements will keep away a large, more costly repair down the road.

Increase efficiency: If you leave your heater without regular care, its parts will start to wear down and it will need to work harder to supply you with warmth. This will show up as an increase on your energy bills. Proper maintenance will keep your heater working at its most energy efficient.

Longer service life: All the extra stress and numerous repairs will result in a heating system that will break down long before its manufacturer’s estimated lifespan. You can get the most years out of your heater with regular care.

We hope you see now that heating maintenance in Redlands, CA isn’t optional. You may not think about your heater during much of the year, but consider how much you appreciate it on those winter days when you have to turn it on. Avoid freezing surprises and steep bills—schedule heating maintenance today with Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning. And if your heater needs help right now before the start of the season, we have 24-hour emergency service to help you.

It’s Late Summer… Is Your AC Doing Any of These Things?

“Late summer” is a relative term in Palm Springs. It’s hot during most the year, and when the rest of the country is experiencing deep cold temperatures, we’ll be enjoying warm vacation weather. However, summer remains the hottest part of the year, and as the end of the season approaches, air conditioning systems can often give into the massive amount of stress they’ve been under through the scorching weather.

Take some time this week to pay attention to the way your air conditioner is operating. There might be a few things amiss that point toward the need for late-season repairs. We’ve listed some things to watch for below.

Clicking sounds from the cabinet at start-up

When the compressor kicks in to begin the cooling cycle, do you hear a clicking noise? If you do, then it’s likely that the capacitors that send voltage to the compressor motors are starting to fail. Capacitors are one of the more heat-sensitive components in an AC and can fail after a hot summer. Have repairs done fast to replace the capacitors before the problem worsens. Capacitor replacement is a straightforward job for professionals.

The compressor is starting and stopping more than normal

If it seems that the compressor is running for a shorter period than it used to, but starts up again only a brief time later, than the AC may be short-cycling. This places immense strain on the entire system, especially the compressor. There are different possible causes for this, but after a full summer of work, the most likely culprit is wear and tear on the compressor that is making it harder for it to keep running. Technicians can install a special hard-start kit to give the compressor an extra kick.

The cool air from the vents doesn’t feel cool enough

In other words, the air conditioner isn’t doing the job it used to. It’s possible that this is a sign you need an air conditioner replacement. But if the system is still less than 10 years old, it might be suffering from dirt along the indoor coils, ice on the indoor coils, a clogged air filter, or a loss of refrigerant. You’ll need an HVAC professional to locate what’s wrong and repair it.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning offers air conditioning repairs in Palm Springs, CA. For exceptional customer service, please give our office a call.

Now Is the Time to Schedule Your Annual Heating Maintenance

Southern California isn’t known for its blistering winters, and if you live in one of the Desert Communities, such as Palm Springs, you usually won’t have to worry about keeping your home warm during the day at any time of the year. But the desert nights can get quite cool, sometimes dropping into the low 40s, and to make sure that you and your family remain comfortable, you need to know that your heater is ready to go to work.

To prepare your home’s heating system for the cool nights, arrange maintenance for it during the fall. Right now is an excellent time to call up our HVAC team and schedule a maintenance visit. The process only takes about an hour, and once our professionals are finished, you will enjoy the following benefits:

  • A system that runs at high energy efficiency: One of the principle goals of heating maintenance is to make sure that the system doesn’t drain excess energy because of wear and tear. Our technicians will clean and adjust the unit so that it works its best and doesn’t cost you more to run than it should.
  • Reduced repair needs: Heating maintenance is sometimes called preventive maintenance because it helps prevent malfunctions in the future. You can expect to have few to no repair calls during the winter if you prepare your heater with professional maintenance.
  • Extended equipment life: To get the best return on your original investment in a heating system, you want it to last for as many years as possible. Maintenance will help your heater enjoy a long service life.
  • Peace of mind: Perhaps the best benefit of heating maintenance is that it will put your mind at ease that the heater will work when it is supposed to and that it won’t break down abruptly.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning offers heating maintenance in Palm Springs, CA. For exceptional customer service, give our offices a call.

Are You in Need of Professional Duct Repair?

How much do you really know about the ducts in your home? Unfortunately, ducts are known to develop holes and cracks that can greatly interfere with your home heating and air conditioning system. Of course, your ducts are most likely hidden from view, and it’s very difficult for most homeowners to detect whether this is a problem in their homes. Detecting leaks requires professional equipment and a trained eye, so when you notice you’re spending far more on heating or cooling than you’d like, contact the experienced professionals at Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning for duct repair and leak detection in Yucaipa.

The Trouble with Leaky Ducts

When a duct collapses, the problem may be obvious, but minor holes and cracks are not usually so apparent. Many ducts develop such problems over time, and while it may not seem like such a big deal, it can actually add a lot of extra work for your heating and cooling system. As air leaks out into unoccupied spaces (attics or crawlspaces, for example), it takes a lot longer for the rooms in your home to reach the proper temperature.

When your air conditioning and heating system runs for longer, you end up paying more on your utilities. And as your AC or heating system works overtime, some of the most important components may wear down quickly. Furthermore, holes in the ducts may allow dust, debris, and insulation to move into the air your family breathes in.

How to Tell You Need Repair

Be sure to pay attention to how well your forced-air heating or air conditioning system works. If some of the rooms in your home are consistently warmer or cooler than the others, there is likely a problem. You should also pay attention to your monthly energy bills. If you keep your thermostat at an efficient setting, you should not notice too much of a difference from one year to the next, unless your air conditioner or heater is forced to run for longer.

We offer professional duct repair in Yucaipa and the surrounding areas.

When you find that your heating or cooling system is not running efficiently, or when your family members complain about the temperature throughout the home, call Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning.

What You Can Expect with Air Conditioning Maintenance

Now that it’s spring, you should definitely schedule regular maintenance for your air conditioner sooner rather than later. Southern California warms up fast in spring, and true summer temperatures will start to strike long before the actual summer arrives. A maintenance inspection and tune-up will give your air conditioning system the best fighting chance against the harsh heat of the middle of the year: the AC will have less chance of breaking down, suffering from performance-impairing malfunctions, or wasting energy.

What happens during maintenance?

Understanding what AC maintenance technicians do when they go to homes to inspect and tune-up a cooling system will help you understand why this job is so important. Here are some of the steps technicians go through:

  • Check and calibrate the thermostat.
  • Clean or change the air filter (make sure you watch how this is done, since you’ll need to take care of this job yourself once a month during the summer).
  • Check on the level of refrigerant to determine if there are leaks, and refill the refrigerant to the proper level if necessary.
  • Check the pressure of the refrigerant
  • Lubricate all moving parts as necessary to reduce mechanical strain.
  • Remove and clean the evaporator coil and the condenser coil if they’re dirty.
  • Tighten electrical connections.
  • Check the voltage and amperage on the motors.
  • Clean the condensate drain and pan.
  • Check and adjust the air flow for proper temperature rise and fall.

All of these jobs should leave your air conditioner in top shape for the summer. If the technician finds anything that requires a more extensive repair, such as replacing a motor or sealing up leaking refrigerant lines, you’ll have enough time to arrange for the repair work before the summer begins.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning Cathedral City, CA. Right now we’re offering a special for first-time customers: 15% off repair service! This will be a great help if maintenance finds out that you need repair work. Call us for more information.

Why AFUE Is Important

If you’ve taken the time to consider your options for a new heating installation in Redlands, CA to prepare for the winter, you’ve probably come across these letters: AFUE. You should know what they stand for and why it’s important to understand what they mean.

The initials AFUE stand for “annual fuel utilization efficiency.” AFUE describes how effectively a specific heating system uses the energy from fuel to provide heat. It’s important to understand this because it translates into how much you can expect to spend warming your home during the time the heater works for you. Although an AFUE rating isn’t the only criteria to use as a basis for purchasing a heating system, it is among the most important.

We’ll explain a bit more about how AFUE is measured. When you need professional help to navigate the options available today for residential heating, contact Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning, where we’ve served Redlands since 1980. We’ll help you select the best heater for your home and install it so it provides you many years of comfort.

An AFUE rating is measured as a percentage, which denotes how much fuel a heating system converts to heat. For example, if a heater has an AFUE rating of 90%, that means for every 100 units of fuel it consumes (for example, burning natural gas) it return 90 units of heat (measure in BTUs, British Thermal Units). As a benchmark, conventional wood has a 45%-55% AFUE rating. The Department of Energy requires that all furnaces sold in the U.S. must have a minimum AFUE rating of 78%. Some high-efficiency gas-powered furnaces can have ratings of 96%. Boilers score in the range of 85% to 95%, and are among the most efficient of all home heating systems.

When you’re trying to select a heater type and model for your house, you will have to weigh various factors against the AFUE ratings of your top choices. A furnace with an AFUE of 96% will offer large energy savings—but it will cost more upfront to install, and you may prefer the cleaner air heating from a boiler. If you don’t plan to use your heater often, perhaps a less expensive model with a lower AFUE rating will work better for you.

Also keep in mind that AFUE measures energy efficiency, not how well the heating system will warm your home. Just because a heater makes the best use of its energy source does not mean it will provide you with the level of warmth you want.

If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, try not to worry. If you have professionals helping with your Redlands, CA heating installation from the start, you will have every step of the process explained to you. The staff at Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning has many years of heating installation experience in Redlands, CA; we will help you narrow your choices to the ideal units. Contact us today to get started on the path toward superb home heating.

The Thermal Expansion Valve and Better Air Conditioning Performance

Now is one of the best times to consider replacing your old AC and installing a new system. Hotter weather is already arriving, and we can expect to experience another scorching summer, when it’ll be necessary to have air conditioners in our homes that are capable of handling 100°F+ temperatures on a regular basis.

But putting in a new air conditioner is also about having a system that will save money while working with greater reliability. One of the key components of the an effective and efficient air conditioner is a part called the thermal expansion valve (or TXV). We’re going to take a look at what this component does and how it significantly improves efficiency and performance in a cooling system.

What the thermal expansion valve (TXV) does

A TXV is designed to regulate the flow of refrigerant into the evaporator (the indoor part of an air conditioning system containing the evaporator coils). Controlling this flow is important to increase the evaporator’s energy efficiency, but it also stops excess liquid refrigerant from getting into the compressor, a condition known as floodback that can cause the compressor serious damage, even leading to it burning out.

When refrigerant first enters the TXV, it’s in liquid form, having cooled down after moving from the outdoor condenser coils. The TXV reduces the pressure of the liquid, which causes it too cool down more. The valve then controls the rate at which the cold liquid refrigerant flows into the evaporator in order to match the flow rate against the speed at which the refrigerant evaporates in the coil. This ensures the most efficient evaporation (which absorbs heat) and keeps a flood of refrigerant from getting to the compressor.

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that when you’re looking for a new AC that you check to see that the model you purchase has a high-temperature rating (EER) greater than 11.6 and a thermostat expansion valve in order to ensure the best performance under even the hottest conditions.

To arrange for new air conditioning installation in Desert Hot Springs, CA, contact Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning.

Time to Look into Installing a High Efficiency Air Conditioner!

For much of the rest of the country, thinking about installing central air conditioning during mid-February sounds a bit nutty. But here in Southern California’s desert communities, it’s always a good time to investigate options for better cooling. Especially when that better cooling also comes with energy-saving performance!

Going high efficiency with your AC

Every year, air conditioning technology advances farther. New ACs in general use less power than older ones, thanks in part to the development of thinner aluminum refrigerant coils that helps them absorb heat faster and more effectively before. The SEER rating of air conditioners (a measure of how much cooling a system produces compared to the electricity it draws) is risen significantly, and you should aim to find a system with a SEER rating of 14.5 of higher, which is the requirement for a system to earnt the ENERGY STAR label.

Among the various types of air conditioners available, there are some special high-efficiency models that can score 18 SEER and above. These air conditioners are variable-speed models. What this means is that the blower fan on the AC can operate at different power levels. The conventional AC has a fan that is simply “on” or “off”; when running, it runs at top capacity, and that’s not always the most effective use of energy. A variable-speed air conditioner can run at a lower capacity for the fan, and it will automatically adjust itself to match the comfort needs of the house. Nearly 80% of the time, the air conditioner will run at the lower speed, and this mean a significant reduction in energy consumption.

Be cautious in choosing a high-efficiency system!

Something to keep in mind: a high-efficiency rating doesn’t automatically mean a system that’s better for your home. A system with a high SEER rating may not effectively cool your house. Talk to professional installers before making a decision about your new AC.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning will guide you toward the best air conditioning installation for your Palm Desert, CA home.

How Your Ducts May Be Stealing from Your This Summer

The blazing hot weather of summer has arrived, with days starting to crest over 100°F. You’ll certainly have your home’s air conditioning system putting in plenty of extra work to keep your family cool. (We hope you’ve already gotten the AC’s annual maintenance inspection and tune-up taken care of.)

You’ll expect to see a rise in electricity costs at this time of year because of the increased use of the air conditioner. However, you might be paying much more than you should to run the AC and not realize it. If the ducts in your home are in poor condition, they might be stealing money from you every time the air conditioner comes on!

Duct Leaks vs. The Air Conditioner

Unless you use a ductless air conditioning system, your central AC sends air to the rooms through a series of ducts. Ducts can suffer damage over time, eventually creating air leaks. Even small leaks can create problems for the air conditioner: any air that escapes goes to waste, and it contributes to a drop in the air pressure through the system that will force the air conditioner to work hard. The Department of Energy has determined that as much a 30% of the air moving through the ventilation system can be lost to leaks, and that will have a large impact on your bills.

How to fix this problem

If you suspect that you have damaged air ducts because your bills look higher than they should be, or you simply want a professional check to see if there are leaks, call our indoor air quality experts. They’ll find out if your ventilation system has lost its airtight integrity. If they determine that your ducts are losing air, they’ll provide the necessary duct repair and duct sealing work. Once our team is done, you’ll have a ventilation system that helps and never hurts your AC and its energy efficiency.

Schedule ductwork services in Banning, CA and throughout the Inland Empire and Desert Communities with Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning.

Is Duct Sealing Really Necessary?

We offer a wide range of services to help homes stay comfortable around the year. Among them are services to clean and repair the ductwork of HVAC systems. We’ve recently discussed the importance of regular duct cleaning. Today, we’re going to look at another service, duct sealing, that many homeowners don’t realize they need.

Why would my ducts need sealing?

You can’t see most of the ductwork that serves your house, so it’s hard to get a gauge on the condition it’s in, or how durable it is. Unfortunately, ducts are prone to a number of issues that can lead to them developing air leaks. Corrosion, insects, and simple wear from air pressure are all causes of air leaks, although the main cause is that the ducts were poorly installed in the first place.

An air leak here and there may not sound like it’s a big deal. But it is. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that up to 30% of the air inside an HVAC system can escape through air leaks. That means you’re simply letting energy escape from the system, leading to poorer comfort and higher bills.

Proper air duct sealing will make the ductwork airtight again and prevent your HVAC system from losing energy efficiency. We use a special process called Aeroseal to make sure we reach all the leaks throughout your ductwork. It’s a fast and effective process, and you’ll soon notice the results.

If you are unsure if you have air leaks in your ducts, simply contact our team. We can test the airtightness of the ductwork and offer recommendations for how to proceed. (You may simply need duct cleaning, and we can take care of that as well!)

For air duct sealing in Palm Desert, CA or elsewhere in the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities, rely on Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning!

What’s Involved in Heating Maintenance

The time for heating in Redlands, CA is coming to an end as the last few chilly days shake themselves out and homeowners start preparing for the summer. That makes it the perfect time to schedule a routine maintenance session on your heater. It’s more of a tune-up than a repair session: designed to clean components and spot big problems while they’re still small for a later repair session. Ideally, you should schedule a session at least once a year to keep your furnace in the best shape it can be.

What’s involved in heating maintenance? A brief rundown of the various steps is included below:

  • The technician shuts down the furnace and turns off the gas flow at the source to ensure that he works in safety.
  • The technician cleans the combustion chamber and clears soot build-up on components like the burners. He’ll also check those components for signs of corrosion or damage.
  • The technician checks the flue pipe, gas lines and other connections for loose fittings or clogs in their length.
  • The technician will replace any filters and check the ignition system to make sure it ignites when it is supposed to.
  • The technician inspects the burner, the heat exchanger and other components for any damage or signs of problems.
  • The technician restores power to the system and allows it to run for 15-20 minutes, examining it for any problems all the while.
  • The technician closes up the system.

The results allow you to spot any problems and schedule a more focused repair session to deal with it. More importantly, it helps the furnace run more efficiently, reducing the costs of running your heater and leaving it ready to go when the temperatures start to drop next fall. Considering the amount of dust in our desert environment, what’s involved in heating maintenance can do wonders for protecting and extending the life of your furnace. For more information, or to schedule a maintenance session, give the experts at Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning a call. We handle all matters concerning heating in Redlands, and we won’t rest until you’re 100% satisfied!

Summer’s Almost Over… But the Heat Isn’t! Here’s Some Late Season AC Tips

August is almost out the door, and we’re heading into September. But even though the summer season is in the rearview mirror, that doesn’t mean that your air conditioning system is going to receive much of a break. The hot weather is going to continue through much of the fall, and you risk an overstrained AC that could run into repair problems, inefficiency, even a complete breakdown.

If you scheduled a routine maintenance visit in the spring for the AC, the unit should be in good shape even with all the summer work. This reliability is one of the main reasons to have maintenance annually. There are still some concerns to watch for and steps you should take to see that the air conditioner remains in top shape.

Don’t forget to change the air filter

This needs to be done once a month, not just during the summer, but at any time the air conditioner runs on the regular basis. So if you’ve kept the air conditioner humming through much of September, you still need to change or clean the air filter in order for the AC to maintain its energy efficiency and avoid trouble from dirt and dust entering the cabinet.

Check around the condenser unit

The condenser is the outdoor cabinet of the air conditioner, and it needs to have about a foot of clearance on all sides in order to allow it to exhaust heat. Plants and tree branches may have grown closer to it over the summer, or rocks and debris blown around it. Clear away any blockages, and do some trimming to the foliage to give the condenser breathing space.

Raise the thermostat higher when you can

Keeping the thermostat steadily set at a comfortable temperature (such as 72°F) during summer will help conserve energy. But nudge it up a bit during this late warm period to help ease the stress on the system. See if you can stay comfortable at 75°F or even 78°F.

For exceptional customer service, call Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning. We offer air conditioning services in Redlands, CA.

Common Electric Furnace Repairs

Electric furnaces are a relatively new type of heating system, in comparison to more traditional combustion-based furnaces. They have a number of advantages over more traditional systems, as well. Electric furnaces are more reliable, versatile, and environmentally friendly than gas-powered systems. They are not without their flaws, however. Let’s take a look at some common electric furnace repairs.

Burned Out Heating Element

Electric furnaces heat by running an electric current through a large heating element in the bottom of the furnace. As this heating element heats up, it warms the air being blown over it by the air handler. There is no need for a heat exchanger, because there are no combustion byproducts to worry about. However, the extreme amount of strain that these elements are put under over a long period of time eventually cause them to burn out. This is similar to the way a lightbulb burns out, except much, much larger. When this happens, it can completely remove the furnace’s ability to heat.

Short-Cycling

Short-cycling is when your furnace keeps rapidly turning on and off throughout the day. It is caused by the furnace limit switch detecting dangerously high internal furnace temperatures during operation. When this happens, the switch shuts the furnace down as a safety measure. The problem is that this does not address the root of the overheating problem. When the system cools off and starts up again, it overheats again, and the whole process repeats indefinitely. Usually, the root cause of this kind of problem is poor airflow in the furnace.

Blown Out Motor

The blower motor is responsible for powering the fan that circulates warm air throughout the house. In order to keep the motor running smoothly, it is equipped with oil-lubricated bearings that reduce friction while it is running. If the bearings are not oiled every 1-2 years, however, they can dry up and actually increase the resistance to the motor. This will eventually cause the motor to burn itself out from overheating.

If your electric furnace is having problems, call Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning. We provide furnace repair services throughout Yucaipa.

3 Signs That You May Need New Commercial HVAC Installation

The summer is the period when you will have the most concerns about your business’ HVAC system. The temperatures in the Inland Empire and the other Desert Communities can often reach brutal levels, and an air conditioning system that fails on one of the hottest days of the year usually means major trouble for any sort of commercial establishment.

If the current HVAC system that keeps your business cooled down during the summer is an older one, pay special attention to signs that it has worn down to the point where you should schedule a replacement. Repairs sometimes can keep systems running a bit longer; a commercial HVAC specialist will tell you when it is more economical to replace a system rather than letting it limp along with continual repairs.

Here are 3 indications that it’s time to replace your current HVAC system

  1. Constant noisy operation: Most commercial HVAC systems are located on the roof to keep down the noise level. However, sound will still reach through the vents—and if the sounds coming from those vents are turning into an unpleasant distraction in the workplace, it is probably a wise idea to consider replacing the aging system.
  2. Numerous refrigerant leaks: One of the major warnings that a packaged commercial unit is over the hill is when it leaks refrigerant from multiple places. The cooling level will drop and ice begin to form over the coils in the system. Needing to repair a single refrigerant leak isn’t a reason to replace an HVAC system. But if you must have a few repaired a year, or the technicians finds more than one at a time, it’s time to retire the system.
  3. Rising power bills with no end in sight: If your monthly utility bills are rising and you can’t tell why, the problem may stem from an old HVAC system that simply cannot handle its job any longer. When repairs and routine maintenance do nothing to change the upward trend in costs, replace the system.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning has over 30 years of experience working with commercial HVAC needs in Yucaipa, CA. Call us when you think you need a new HVAC installation.

Can Duct Sealing Help with Indoor Air Quality?

Duct sealing is often cited as the best way to improve the energy efficiency of your home’s forced air system. Most homes are in desperate need of it. The US Department of Energy has found that the average home heating system loses approximately 30% of its total heat output to leaks in the ductwork. That’s nearly one-third of your total heat that’s completely going to waste. Beyond drastically improving heating and cooling efficiency, though, duct sealing can also help improve the air quality in your home. Why do you need your air quality improved? Let’s take a look at some of the common airborne contaminants that can be found in an average home, and how duct sealing helps to get rid of them.

Airborne Contaminants

Have you ever seen a ray of sunlight shining through a part of your house, and noticed thousands of dust motes moving through the light? Those particles are only a tiny fraction of the millions of microscopic contaminants that constantly circulate through the average home’s air. Not all of these particles are harmful, but there are a few that are. Dust, dust mites, pet dander, and pollen are all lung irritants, and can aggravate the symptoms of allergy sufferers. Meanwhile, viruses, bacteria, and mold spores are capable of infecting and sickening people who are exposed to them. These contaminants can be found anywhere in the house, but they have a strong tendency to congregate in ducts. This is because ducts are dark, and more or less undisturbed by human activity.

Duct Sealing

The process of duct sealing consists of finding and closing any and all leaks that might be present in the home’s ductwork. While this may not seem to have anything to do with improving the quality of your air, there are two things you should consider. First, sealing leaks in the ducts decreases the available points of entry for contaminants. That includes any moisture that might promote mold growth. Second, the close inspection of the ducts required for duct sealing gives the HVAC technician a thorough impression of how dirty your ducts actually are. If the ducts seem to be in dire need of a more thorough cleaning process, your HVAC technician can take additional steps. Prevention and vigilance are the two biggest measures that duct sealing provides with regard to your indoor air quality.

If you’d like to know more about duct sealing, call Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning. We provide indoor air quality services throughout the Yucaipa area.

Why Low Refrigerant in Your Air Conditioner Is a Big Problem

Refrigerant is a chemical blend that cycles through an air conditioner, changing from a liquid to a gas and back again as it releases and absorbs heat. Through this process, heat exchange, the refrigerant removes heat from inside a house, cooling down the space, and releases the heat to the outdoors. Although the refrigerant goes through repeated cycles of evaporation (when it absorbs heat) and condensation (when it releases heat), it does not dissipate: it remains at a set level, known as its charge. Every air conditioner has a set charge level to provide the right balance for heat exchange.

What happens if your air conditioner has a low refrigerant charge? This will cause serious problems with the AC’s operation and will eventually lead to a complete loss of cooling ability. Whenever you think your air conditioner is malfunctioning, call right away for repairs. Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning has 24-hour emergency service for air conditioning repairs in Redlands, CA.

What goes wrong when the refrigerant is low

Low refrigerant usually occurs because of leaks along the line or in the compressor. Because refrigerant usually evaporates as it escapes, you won’t notice any dripping. Instead, the first sign you’ll see of the loss of refrigerant will be frost over the indoor coils.

Why would losing refrigerant make the coils frost over? The reason is that the indoor coil serves as the evaporator coil, where the refrigerant absorbs heat. With less refrigerant, there is less heat absorption. The coil remains cold, and moisture begins to freeze across it. The more frost develops, the more the level of heat absorption drops, initiating a downward cycle the will end with a solid block of ice covering the indoor coil that fully blocks heat exchange.

Another problem that low refrigerant causes is damage to the compressor. This pump device supplies the energy to the refrigerant to make it into a hot gas. The compressor will start to suffer damage if there is too little refrigerant in the system, since it is designed to compress a specific amount of the chemical. The compressor might break, which will stop the AC from working at all.

The repairs are simple—for professionals

Locating a refrigerant leak and sealing it is something that only trained HVAC technicians should do. Once they closed up the leak, they will recharge the refrigerant, making certain not to overcharge it (which is as problematic as a loss of refrigerant) using the correct blend. This will return the air conditioner to its normal operation.

Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning has 30 years of history with air conditioning repair service in Redlands, CA. No matter your trouble with your cooling system, our skilled technicians can fix it fast and right the first time.

A UV Air Purifier Is Great to Stop Winter Illnesses

The winter season, even in a place as warm as the desert towns of Southern California, is also cold and flu season. People are more likely to get sick during the coming months than in any other time of the year, as cold and flu bugs proliferate and drier air makes it easier for them to spread from person to person. You can defend against this in a number of ways (such as with a humidifier). There’s another powerful indoor air quality tool you can use, the UV air purifier.

How UV Air Purifiers Help Out with Winter Illness

It’s difficult to get rid of microbes moving through the air of a home without using some type of chemical against them—and these chemicals often cause as many problems as they cure. A UV air purifier provides a, well, purer way to eliminate the germs that can lead to illness.

A UV air purifier consists of a set of lamps that are installed into the HVAC system near where the air conditioner coil is, which is a place where all air from the blower fan must pass. The lamps send out ultraviolet rays, which are deadly to organic tissue. The power of these lights isn’t enough to hurt people or pets, but it is strong enough to destroy simple organisms such as viruses, bacteria, and mold spores. The rays disrupt these contaminants’ cellular functions, either killing them outright or rendering them inert and unable to reproduce.

One of the best things about UV air purifiers is that they are simple to install (for professionals) and require little in the way of maintenance. They do their work without people in the house noticing it. The only difference is people won’t get sick as often. The purifiers will also eliminate the sort of unpleasant smells that can come from the development of mold.

Call Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning to find out more about UV air purifiers for your home in Mentone, CA or elsewhere in the Desert Communities and the Inland Empire.

Air Conditioner Efficiency: What Are EER and SEER?

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningWe’re in the middle of the time of the year when homeowners are often looking into replacing their air conditioning systems. Having a new air conditioning installation in Palm Desert, CA before the big heat of summer strikes is a good idea. If you have any suspicions that your current AC won’t make it through the coming season, make an appointment with our team to look over the air conditioner and offer you recommendations about whether to replace it or not… and what kind of system to replace it with.

The Question of Efficiency

When looking into the installation of a new air conditioning system, one of the key things to investigate is energy efficiency. Newer air conditioners have higher energy-efficiency ratings than ever before, and requirements of the U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR program have increased since 2015.

However, just because one AC model has a higher efficiency rating than another doesn’t automatically mean it will save you more money. It’s vital to have professionals assist you with locating a system that not only has the best efficiency for your needs, but also is the right size for your home’s cooling requirements.

With this in mind, let’s take a close look at the two efficiency ratings you find on air conditioners—EER and SEER—and what makes them different.

EER = Energy Efficiency Ratio

The energy efficiency ratio (EER) is the basic way of measuring how much electrical energy an air conditioner uses to provide cooling. The ratio is the amount of heat removed from the air (measured as BTUs, British Thermal Units) to the amount of electricity consumed (measured in watt-hours). The test to determine EER is done under a set of specific conditions: outdoor temperatures of 95°F, indoor temperatures of 80°F, and 50% relative humidity levels. The higher the resulting number, the less electricity the system uses to produce cooling. The current EER requirement for ENERGY STAR certification is 12.5 or greater for split systems.

SEER = Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio

If SEER and EER look like they are almost the same thing, it’s no accident. SEER is the same ratio of heat removed from the air to electricity consumed, and the higher SEER, the more efficient the system. So what difference does that “S” make? It’s the difference in how the measurements are made. SEER is determined over an entire season and a variety of conditions, rather than a single spot test under one set of conditions. Testing for SEER uses indoor and outdoor temperatures from as low as 65°F to as high as 105°F, with an equally wide range of relative humidity levels. This gives a sense of how efficiency an AC will perform over an entire summer season. The current SEER requirement for ENERGY STAR certification is 15 or greater for split systems.

Which Rating Is More Important?

They’re both important, although you’ll probably lean a bit more on SEER since it allows an easier calculation of what you might save over a whole season of cooling. As long as you have a professional HVAC technician to assist you with your new air conditioning installation, you shouldn’t have a difficult time finding the SEER/EER combination that will work best for your home and deliver genuine energy savings this summer and many summers to come.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning has served the Desert Communities and the Inland Empire since 1980.

5 Things We Wish Everyone Knew About Air Conditioning

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningLiving in Southern California makes air conditioners a part of daily life during the summers—as well as other parts of the year. But how much do you really know about the AC system that keeps your home cool? Below are five facts about air conditioning systems that we wish everybody knew, since they make it easier to understand when an air conditioner needs repairs or a full replacement.

ONE: ACs don’t “create” cooling

This is a basic fact about how any refrigeration system works that few people know. This is because they immediately think of cooling systems as being the opposite of something like, say, a stove or furnace, where heat is created. But cooling is the absence of heat. What an air conditioner does is remove the heat from the air inside a house, making it cooler. The heat has to go somewhere, and that’s why an air conditioner must have an outside unit to release the heat.

TWO: Air conditioners circulate the same amount of refrigerant

It’s unfortunately common for people to think that the refrigerant inside an air conditioning system is a type of fuel that an AC consumes as it works. But this isn’t the case. The actual fuel the air conditioner consumes is electricity. The electricity powers the components that move the refrigerant around the system so it can transport heat from inside the house to the outside. The refrigerant doesn’t dissipate as it does this, so as long as there are no refrigerant leaks, an AC should keep the same refrigerant charge for its entire service life.

THREE: The AC’s filter must be changed regularly

The filter in an AC isn’t there to improve the quality of the indoor air. (You need special air filters installed into the HVAC system for that.) Its job is to stop dust and other particles from getting inside the HVAC cabinet and creating trouble. This filter isn’t self-cleaning! It will eventually become congested and block airflow through the system, harming both performance and efficiency. We recommend changing the filter every 1 to 3 months. Less expensive panel filters need the more frequent changes than pleated filters.

FOUR: Dirt is one of the biggest enemies of air conditioner efficiency and operation

An air conditioner picks up dirt in both the indoor and outdoor cabinet over time, and this will cause the system to lose energy efficiency and run into other problems like frozen coils and burnt-out motors. Regular maintenance handles cleaning the AC unit so it runs at its best.

FIVE: R-22 refrigerant will soon be unavailable

For decades, air conditioners used a refrigerant blend called R-22. Because R-22 creates ozone-depleting emissions, it is being gradually phased-out in favor of R-410A, or “Puron.” Manufacturing of new R-22 has already stopped, so only recycled refrigerant can be used to repair older systems. By 2020, it won’t be legal to replace lost R-22. If you have an old AC system that uses R-22, we recommend putting in a new system at your earliest convenience.

When you need air conditioning service in San Bernardino, CA or the surrounding areas, you can trust to our experienced team. We have a long history of helping homes enjoy comfort through our extremely hot summers.

Service your AC today: Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning serves the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities.