Why Heat Pumps Are a Smart Choice

Heating in Redlands, CA is largely a winter affair, when our desert nights get cold and you want a furnace to help keep warm. In the summer, when temperatures climb into the triple digits, the focus is on air conditioning instead of heating. In light of that, heat pumps make a very smart option for homeowners in the area. The technology uses the basic system of most air conditioners to both heat and cool your home. In the summer, it brings in cold air, while in the winter, the same process creates warm air for your home. The Redlands area is an almost ideal spot to install one in your home. Here’s a brief rundown on why heat pumps are a smart choice:

  • Lower monthly bills.
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Why Consider a Heat Pump for Heating

Both your air conditioning and heating system no longer perform the way you’d like them to. You know it’s time for replacement, but you’re not sure if you want to go through the trouble of replacing both systems. This is the situation that leads many homeowners to decide to purchase a heat pump. A heat pump is a heating and air conditioning system all in one that works perfectly in the Yucaipa weather. In fact, heat pumps are one of the most efficient types of systems available on the market today. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits of using a heat pump for heating.

Optimal Performance

Heat pumps generally work like air conditioners, with both an indoor and outdoor unit.… Read more

Why a Furnace Tune-Up in Fall Is Important

We’re deep into October, and although the weather is still warm, we can expect to start running into cooler evenings in the near future. Eventually, furnaces will start firing up to provide comfort during these nights and even some of the days. If you haven’t already arranged for a fall tune-up for your furnace, we strongly recommend that you have it done during the next few weeks.

Yes, Furnace Maintenance Is an Annual Service

We understand that when you live in a place as warm as the Southern California deserts that taking care of a home heating system may not seem like that much of a priority. Air conditioners are the comfort systems that people here tend to worry about. But even though a furnace doesn’t receive the same level of workout each year as an air conditioner, it still must have an annual fall maintenance tune-up and inspection.… Read more

Furnace Guide: 3 Components You Should Know

Furnaces are one of the most commonly-used heating systems, and while they are durable, it is likely that at some point your furnace will require repair. Heating systems are complex, and working with a system that uses fossil fuels requires expertise and training. Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning has offered comprehensive heating services in Yucaipa since 1980, so if you experience problems with your furnace, call us right away.

3 Main Components

Here are 3 main components of a gas furnace:


The igniter is responsible for lighting the gas so that combustion occurs. There are two types of igniters:

  • Intermittent pilot – a small pilot gas line opens when the thermostat cues the ignition process, and an electronic spark lights the pilot.
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Why Does My Heating System Smell Funny?

One of the early warning signs that a heating system needs professionals to repair it is when strange, often unpleasant smells start to come from the vents. The smell of rotten eggs, burning wires, and mold can all point to major problems. There are some odors that are only minor issues, but when you have any doubts, don’t try to fix the problem yourself! Just call our repair skilled and honest professionals to take care of the heating repairs necessary.

Some warning odors from your home’s heating system

  • Musty, moldy smells: This probably means that the air filter of the furnace or heat pump has mold developing inside it. Change out of the filter or clean it, and keep doing this once a month.
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Advantages to Installing a Package Unit for Heating

Here in Redlands, heating services often have to handle package units, which combine traditional heaters with air conditioning systems. Heat pumps – which function as heaters in the winter and air conditioners in the summer – and similar systems make a lot of sense in desert communities like ours. If you’re looking at installing a new heating system, you might want to consider some version of a package unit. Here are some advantages to installing a package unit for heating:

  • It’s efficient. Heat pumps are prized for their ability to warm and cool the air while using much less energy (and costing much less money in monthly bills) than gas furnaces. That efficiency drops when the temperature goes below 40 degrees, but that’s not a huge concern in towns like Redlands, and if it is, you can include a smaller electric furnace as part of your package unit to make up the difference.
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Do I Need Heating Maintenance—In the Desert? (Yes!)

To the rest of the world, Southern California is a vision of warmth. When you mention the desert areas of Southern California, places like Palm Desert, people can only imagine intense heat through most of the year, with maybe a touch cooling off to merely “very hot” during other parts of the year.

Why would a home need to have maintenance for its heating system in a place like the deserts of Southern California? There are a few reasons that, even in our hot climate, professional heating maintenance is an annual fall necessity.

Yes, it can get cool at night

During December, the days usually peak at a pleasant temperature in the high 60s or low 70s. This is ideal comfort weather for most people.… Read more

What Type of Heating System Is Right for Your Home?

There’s a reason Palm Springs is a famous vacation spot, popular enough to inspire the jazz classic “Palm Springs Jump” by Slim Gaillard: beautiful warm weather around the year. But… cold weather happens, and if you want to stay comfortable during those December-through-February days when the temperature can drop to the 40s at night, you’ll need an efficient heating system. What sort of Palm Springs, CA heating installation will work best for you?

We can’t give you a direct answer to that in a blog post, because we don’t know your home’s specific needs. However, we can find out: give us a call at Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning and we’ll look over which of these options (and others) will give you the comfort you need:

Heat pump: These are superb systems for a location with hot summers and mild winters, since they act as both air conditioners and heaters.… Read more

Why Do I Have Hot and Colds Spots in My Home?

This is a question that we sometime hear from our clients: “Why am I finding cold and hot spots around my house?” This is a result of uneven heating and cooling, and there are a number of different reasons for it to occur. We’ll look at some of the more common as well as what you can do to restore the even comfort in your household.

Hot and Cold Spots—Why It Happens

  • The simplest reason is because of heat escaping or entering a room through a window or other air leak. Check to make sure windows in the hot/cold areas are secure and there are no draughts entering.
  • Problems with the ventilation system are one of the most common reasons for uneven temperatures around a house.
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Furnace Replacement? Now Is a Good Time For It!

Here’s a problem that we’ve seen in Southern Californian homes before: a furnace starts to fail to do its job, producing inferior heat, struggling to start up, or shutting off too early. And yet the homeowners don’t do anything to replace it because they imagine they can bundle up a bit and wait until the warm weather starts again.

But, if your home has an old furnace that’s no longer able to do its job, you have to have it replaced. Leaving it there not only means discomfort, but also a spike in costs to run it and the possibility of safety hazards (if it’s a gas furnace, which are the most common type). Upgrading to a higher efficiency furnace will give you many years of worry-free comfort, and the energy savings will help it begin paying for itself the moment it turns on for the first time.… Read more

How Do Cooling Towers Work in a Commercial HVAC System?

Commercial HVAC systems are designed for much higher use than residential HVAC systems, and as such must adopt slightly different qualities. In practice, however, the qualities are more a matter of sizing than technique. Commercial cooling towers are bigger, sturdier and built to handle higher loads than cooling towers in residential systems. In Redlands, CA heating installation services can provide more specific guidelines on cooling towers. But in general terms, how do cooling towers work in a commercial HVAC system?

Cooling towers work on the condenser coils, which can get very hot when the system goes through its cycle and cause problems with the air conditioning process. The tower moves cold water through the heated coils, and then into a heat exchanger, which pulls the heat out of the water and sends it back over the coils to continue the process.… Read more

Why Does the Pilot Light in My Heater Keeping Going Out?

If you use an older natural gas furnace to provide heat for your house, it probably has a standing pilot light to ignite the burners whenever the system turns on. When the furnace is working as it should, the pilot light will remain burning steadily throughout the season.

But a common problem that people with furnaces run into is a pilot light that keeps going out. An unlit pilot light means that the burners can’t come on and the furnace won’t work. (A device called a thermocouple is designed to recognize when the pilot light fails and then shut off the burner as a safety precaution.)

Our customers often call us because of a pilot light they can’t keep lit. Below are some of the reasons this might happen:

  • Faulty thermocouple – The thermocouple detects when the pilot light is on, and sends an electric current to the gas line to keep a valve open.
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Are Gas Furnaces Dangerous?

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningNatural gas is a common energy source used in homes and businesses around the country. If your home has a connection to a natural gas line, you probably use gas to power your oven, stove, water heater, and furnace.

Natural gas systems have a tendency to make people nervous. They’re concerned about toxic gas leaks, such as carbon monoxide, and combustion hazards. Most of these fears are exaggerated, but we do recommend people take caution when it comes to any natural gas appliance. We’re trained professionals in handling heating repair in La Quinta, CA and the surrounding areas, so we know a great deal about the safety level of gas furnaces—and how to keep them safe.

Let’s take a closer look at the safety of your home’s gas furnace.… Read more

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.… Read more

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.
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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.… Read more

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.
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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.… Read more

Watch out for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Your Home

Last week we addressed an issue that can affect furnaces that still use a standing pilot light: the flame changing to a color other than blue, which often means the pilot light is burning something besides methane, which can lead to the release of toxic chemicals. Sometimes, it can also indicate that the furnace is leaking carbon monoxide, which is a serious danger. We want to look into this more specifically in this post, because if you use natural gas in your for any appliances, you must take precautions regarding carbon monoxide.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (chemical symbol: CO) is a colorless, odorless, and highly toxic gas. It is a common byproduct of combusting natural gas, such as in your furnace or stove. … Read more

Why Is There a Strange Smell Coming from My Heater?

You don’t have many opportunities to turn on your heating system in Southern California. When you do start to run the heater, you might be surprised at discovering odd and unpleasant odors coming from the vents. What’s this about… and is it something you need to worry about?

There’s no single cause for strange odors emanating from a heating system. Below are some of the possible reasons for these smells and what you should do about them.

Billowing and burning dust

A Southern California furnace doesn’t see much “action” during the year, and that often means that dust will build up on it over the months. When the furnace turns on, it will start to blow this dust around the house.… Read more

Protecting Yourself from Carbon Monoxide

Gas furnaces are the most common type of heating system found in homes around the U.S. Even here in Southern California, where we only need heaters running for a short period during the mild winters, gas furnaces are the number one choice for household warmth.

And where there’s a natural gas furnace, there’s also the potential for harmful carbon monoxide leaks.

The dangers of carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that results from incomplete fuel combustion. Anything that burns can create carbon monoxide, but the major danger for modern homes comes from the combustion of natural gas. If the heat exchanger in a gas furnace develops cracks, or the furnace stops ventilating effectively, it can result in CO entering the home.… Read more

Why Won’t My Electric Furnace Work?

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningElectric furnaces are common in Southern California because they can provide sufficient heat for the mild winters and don’t require a house to have a full gas hook-up. Electric furnaces are also less prone to break downs than gas furnaces, and it’s nice not to deal with those types of hassles when the heating system doesn’t need to run often.

An electric furnace can still create headaches for a home. No heating system can ever work entirely free from malfunctions! You may turn on your electric furnace to warm up your home during one of our occasional cold spells and discover you’re not getting heat. What’s wrong?

Check the circuit breaker

The furnace may not be getting any power because a circuit breaker has tripped.… Read more

How to Tell if Your Home Needs a New Heater

In Palm Springs, CA heating installation services are usually provided by the same people who handle your air conditioning system. Air conditioning tends to loom larger in people’s minds here since our summers are as hot as they come. But the desert can get cold in the winter at night, and we shouldn’t let our blazing Julys overshadow the needs for our chilly Januaries. Heaters can last a long time in our weather, but when they break down you need to install a new one quickly before the temperatures start to drop. Call our Palm Springs heating installation technicians if you think you might need a new heater.

Here’s how to tell if your home needs a new heater.

In general, you need to look for a failing performance on your old heater.… Read more

Why Is There a Burning Smell When My Furnace Comes On?

If you have either a gas or electric furnace in your home, you’ll get sporadic use out of it over the winter season. Temperatures can get cool during the evenings, even here in the deserts of California, and it’s probably around November when you’ll find yourself switching on the furnace to provide occasional warmth. (We recommend having maintenance for it, no matter how often you use it, at this time of year. Sign up for our maintenance program to get started.)

Something you may notice when your furnace starts running for the first time during the season is a burning smell coming from the vents. This might seem alarming, but it’s actually a common occurrence. In most cases, there’s nothing to worry about.… Read more

When Is It Time to Call for Commercial HVAC Repair?

Making sure your work environment is comfortable is critical to your business. But when you are in your business space, you are busy working, and it may not be so easy to determine when something is going wrong with your HVAC system. To help you get ahead of problems and know when to call for commercial HVAC repair in Yucaipa, the technicians here at Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning have put together a short list to help you see the signs of impending problems:

Strange Sounds

Your business space may be large, but you’ll still hear strange sounds if they occur. Things like banging, buzzing, popping and screeching are not normal sounds and often indicate that a problem has developed with your system.… Read more

Last Minute “Touch-Ups” for Your Heating System

We can now expect hot weather for much of the rest of the year. However, this doesn’t mean you can forget about your heating system in the last days before you shut it down for the spring and summer. There are a number of last-minute repairs and touch-ups you can arrange for the heater that will make sure it’s in the best condition when it finally shuts off to hibernate for summer.

Duct Sealing

This is a fix that affects the entire HVAC system, not only the heater. It’s therefore a good idea to have it done before the air conditioner comes on to handle the heavy work of the summer. If you’ve had trouble over the winter with cold spots in the house or higher utility bills than normal, we recommend having the ducts tested to see if there are air leaks.… Read more

Customer Question: What’s the Difference Between Orange Flame and Blue Flame on My Pilot Light?

With cooler weather arriving, people are now turning on their gas furnaces for the season. This is a time of the year when we often receive questions from customers about how their furnaces are supposed to operate. A question that frequently comes up is about the color of the pilot light in a furnace. Usually it burns blue, but sometimes to switches to orange. Why does this happen, and is it something to worry about?

Blue vs. Orange Pilot Lights

The first thing you need to know is that blue is the correct color for a pilot light. The reason that this happens is that methane—the primary chemical compound in natural gas—gives off a blue radiance when it’s ignited. You’ll probably see a touch of yellow near the tip of the flame, and that’s normal.… Read more

Heating and AC Trouble? It May Be Time to Replace the Ducts

Faulty ductwork can account for up to 30% of your home’s total air loss, plus serious problems with indoor air quality. However, sometimes the faults in the ductwork are too great and/or numerous to consider duct sealing or repair; in these cases, duct replacement may be necessary for your La Quinta home.

Signs You Need Replacement

Here are some signs that can indicate that it is best to replace your ductwork:

Poor Installation

Ductwork should be designed so that there are as few turns in the system as possible; the route from your HVAC system should also be as straight as possible to allow for the highest capacity of air to blow. The ductwork should also be the correct size for your HVAC unit so that the air pressure inside allows for system balance.… Read more

Why You Should Replace Your Old Floor Furnace

Furnaces have come a long way in only the last few decades, with many advances that have made them both safer and more energy efficient than ever before. However, many homeowners cling to the older furnaces in their home, reluctant to replace them because of concerns about expense, or because they simply don’t realize that these out-of-date models are inferior and might even be safety hazards.
If you live in an older house, you might have a gas-fired floor furnace. This is definitely something that you should consider replacing with a newer model.

What’s a floor furnace?

A simply description is that a floor furnace is a furnace that’s level with the ground floor of a home. They’re located in a small room and often don’t even use blower fans, instead letting convection currents carry the heat up through the ventilation system.… Read more

Why Is Good Insulation Important?

Most people understand that having good insulation is important, but do you know why? Do you also know that having good insulation isn’t important just for the winter season, but year-round? Are you aware that there are several types of insulation available for homeowners to use? Having a basic understanding of how insulation works and the types available can help to answer why having good insulation in your home is so important.

What Does Insulation Do?

Heat naturally moves toward colder air; the job of insulation is to slow the transfer heat, significantly slowing this natural movement toward cooler air. During the winter, insulation stops heat from moving toward the colder areas of your home and the outside; in summer, insulation slows the hot air from the outdoors from moving into your cooled living spaces.… Read more

What Problems Can Heating Maintenance Address?

The weather here in the Desert Communities is still soaring in the 80s and low 90s, but that doesn’t mean we can simply forget about the dormant heating systems in our homes. We are definitely going to need them at some point in the coming months, and it’s vital that they are working at their best, ready to switch on a moment’s notice. We’ve already talked a bit about how the fall is an ideal time to schedule your annual heating maintenance visit. Now we would not like to take a closer look at the sorts of problems you can prevent and address with maintenance.

Burnt-out motors

Motors form a part of most heating systems, and they are an essential part of any forced-air heater such as a furnace or heat pump.… Read more

IHACI Tradeshow

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning took the time to explore the IHACI Tradeshow in Pasadena, CA last month on November 13th, 2013. The IHACI Tradeshow is a highly recognized event by the United States HVAC industry. It was a fun event with a long list of exhibitors for the team to check out. Tradeshows are a great way to network and become familiar with the latest technologies leading the way in the HVAC industry. We are always looking for ways to better serve our customers with new products and education and we have fun doing it!… Read more

How to Make Sure Your Furnace Runs Efficiently

Your furnace is built to last for many years, with parts that are resistant to wear and tear, a number of built-in safety features, and a filter to keep debris from interfering with the operation of your unit. And yet, as the years go on, you may begin to notice that you spend more and more money on heating every year. Thankfully, Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning knows a few ways to improve this situation, and we discuss three of them below.

Change the Filter

When we tell people that some of their heating trouble is caused by a dirty filter that needs to be changed, we’re often asked, “But isn’t the filter just meant to help with air quality?” Well, the filter actually serves a couple of purposes.… Read more

A Few Tips for Keeping Your Gas Furnace Running Safely

The most common type of heater found in U.S. homes is the natural gas furnace. There are a few good reasons why this heating system is so popular: it can deliver an immense amount of heat and it costs less to run than using an electrical furnace. Chances are good that your home has a furnace to take care of your family’s comfort needs during the mild Southern California winters.

But gas furnaces require some special precautions to make sure that they will run as safely as possible during the season. A gas furnace isn’t a “dangerous” appliance, per se, but you should always take a few steps to see that your furnace won’t create hazards in your home:

  • Schedule fall maintenance: This is the most important part of maintaining a safe furnace.
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Haven’t Had Heating Maintenance? Now’s the Time!

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningThe nights are turning cooler now that it’s December, although the day time still enjoys highs in the 70s and 80s. We can soon expect even cooler nights, and that means heating systems will start to come on for comfort.

We understand that running a heater in your home isn’t often on your mind here in the deserts of Southern California. But you can take away almost all concerns about the heater for the season if you arrange for annual heating maintenance. Right now is the time to have this job done. In other parts of the country, it’s best to do heating maintenance in early fall, since cold weather could sweep in at any time. But heating maintenance in Palm Desert, CA and the surrounding areas can wait for a bit longer.… Read more

Can a Furnace Suck Up a Filter?

The weather is cooling down from the summer highs now that we’re in mid-October, and soon heating systems will begin coming on during the evenings. For the majority of people, this means furnaces, which are the most popular kinds of home heating systems across the nation.

Before you start using your furnace this coming winter, make sure that you arrange for heating maintenance for it—and that you also take the time to change the filter. The air filter that protects both the furnace and the air conditioner will have collected plenty of debris over the summer, and if it isn’t changed on a regular basis, it can lead to problems. We’re going to look at the most extreme case in this post: the furnace’s blower fan sucking up the air filter.… Read more

Is a Ductless System Worth Installing?

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningIf you look at images of homes in Europe, you might notice that ductless heating and cooling systems are everywhere. You can tell a ductless system by the appearance of small unit place high up on a wall, looking something like a small window air conditioner, except it doesn’t extend through the back of the wall to the outside. (You see a picture at the top of this post.) This is the air handler of a ductless mini split—the “mini” part. A ductless system works through a network of these air handlers placed in different rooms, each of which connects to a single outdoor unit similar to the one found in split system air conditioners and heat pumps.

Ductless mini split heat pumps are becoming more popular in the U.S.… Read more

Does a Package Unit Work Much Differently from a Split System?

One of the installations that we offer to our customers is a packaged unit for indoor comfort. This is a type of heat pump or air conditioner that’s completely housed outside of a building, rather than half inside and half outside. Packaged units are the most common way for commercial buildings to enjoy central heating and cooling. (Those units you see on the top of commercial buildings? Those are packaged units.) But they sometimes have use for homes as well, such as smaller homes that don’t have room to house an indoor component for a heat pump or air conditioner.

People are often confused about what makes a packaged unit different from a split system, aside from the way the unit is laid out.… Read more

Cracked Heat Exchangers: Something to Watch for in Your Furnace

Even though we won’t rely on gas furnaces in Southern California as much as other parts of the country, we still have to exercise the same caution about how they work. Gas furnaces are not automatically hazardous appliances—they’re designed with safety uppermost in mind—but any appliance that uses natural gas can present safety issues from toxic gas leaks or explosions.

The most common gas furnace problem that can turn unsafe is cracks in the heat exchanger.

The job of the heat exchanger

If you look at the interior of a furnace, you’ll see metal chambers located above the burners. These metal chambers are the heat exchanger. It’s the part of the furnace that heats up in order to warm the air sent from the blower.… Read more

How do AFUE Ratings Work for Heaters

Here in Redlands, heating installation companies work on a wide variety of heaters, ranging from traditional furnaces to heat pumps to radiant systems built directly into your floor. All of them measure their heating capacity the same way however: with an AFUE rating, which stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. The number is an excellent and easy way to determine a given heater’s efficiency, which helps determine which one can save you the most on your monthly energy costs. But how do AFUE ratings work for heaters, specifically? A brief outline can be found below.

The AFUE rating is actually fairly easy to establish. It’s the ratio of heat output the unit produces to the total amount of energy it consumes.… Read more