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. Carbon monoxide is toxic and in high quantities will cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and various flu-like symptoms. Eventually, it leads to unconsciousness and death.

Protecting your home and family from CO poisoning

The first thing to keep in mind is that your home’s furnace isn’t inherently dangerous. If you keep the furnace professionally maintained each year, there will be a minimal chance for CO to leak from it. This is the most important reason for always scheduling a fall tune-up and inspection for your furnace. Call our team today and ask about our maintenance program to get you started.

Prompt furnace repair is another way to avoid carbon monoxide leaks. As soon as you notice anything amiss with your home’s furnace—odd sounds, burning smells, drops in heating output—call our licensed heating repair technicians for help. The quicker the problem is solved, the less likely there will be CO leaks.

Finally, if you use any natural gas in your home, you should have carbon monoxide detectors placed around the rooms. These detectors will sound an alarm if CO levels rise, giving you and your family enough time to vacate the house and call for help.

For assistance with your home’s gas furnace in Palm Springs, CA or elsewhere in the Desert Communities and the Inland Empire, contact Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning.

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. This is a common occurrence for a powerful electric system: the furnace has placed too much strain on the circuit and caused the breaker to trip. Reset the breaker and try the furnace again. If it trips the breaker once more, you’ve got a problem that will need electrical repair from HVAC professionals. One likely cause is a broken sequencer, which is the part of the furnace that staggers turning on the heating elements. If the heating elements all turn on at once, they’ll overload the circuit. The blower fan’s motor is another culprit leading to a tripped circuit breaker.

The issue may be with the thermostat connection

Another possibility is a lost connection to the thermostat. The thermostat controls turning on the heating elements in the furnace as well as the fan, and it uses different wires to control these parts. If the wiring trouble cuts off the connection to the heating elements, the furnace may turn on the fan only, sending out room temperature air. Technicians can look into the thermostat and the furnace to see what wiring repairs are necessary.

For fast help with needs for heating repair in Palm Desert, CA or the surrounding areas, contact our HVAC experts. They’re on call 24/7 to help you!

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning serves the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities.

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. The specifics of that can vary a great deal and may depend on your individual needs. It usually translates to more frequent repair calls, as parts of the heater grow old or malfunction with increasing speed. There comes a point when it becomes easier just to replace the unit entirely rather than pay for repairs only to see another component fail just a few months later.

Similarly, as your heater becomes less efficient, it will start using much more energy to do the job. A new heater will likely cut down on your monthly energy bills quite a bit, which can come as a great relief if you feel they’re too high. If you notice that your energy bills spike higher than you’re used to, even though you’re not using your heater any more than normal, then a new unit may be what’s required.

Finally, while age shouldn’t be a determining factor, a heater that is over 10 years’ old and experiencing problems is probably due for retirement. Well-maintained heaters may be able to go for quite a while longer than that, but age coupled with higher bills usually add up to a need for a new unit.

If you know how to tell if your home needs a new heater, the next step is to call Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning for advice and installation service. We work in Palm Springs, CA, heating installation is our specialty and we’re dedicated to your complete satisfaction. Give us a call today!

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.

The source of the acrid odor is dust

The reason for the acrid smell is that either the heat exchanger (in a gas furnace) or the electric heating elements (in an electric furnace) is burning off a layer of dust. Furnaces go for long stretches here in Southern California without use, and that gives the unit time to gather a thin layer of dust across the heating elements or heat exchanger. There’s nothing detrimental about this, although maintenance will wipe off excess dust that may cause harm to other components like the blower motor. The hot exchanger/heating elements burn away the layer and create a distinct acrid smell. It should only last for a short time. You may also notice dust smells from the vents, which is the blower motor sending out any dust that collected in the vents during period between when you stopped using the air conditioning.

If the odor persists, you may have problems with a motor. Should you need furnace repair service for your furnace in La Quinta, CA or elsewhere, simply give us a call.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning serves the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities. Open 24 hours!

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. It’s never a good idea to ignore strange sounds, so if you hear something off-kilter, call for help immediately.

Abnormal Odors

No one wants to think of foul smells coming from their HVAC system, but it isn’t uncommon. A burning smell can indicate a wiring issue while a stale smell can indicate the development of mold or mildew growth in the ductwork. As with strange sounds, abnormal odors are indication that something isn’t right, so don’t wait to call for a specialist.

No Air

If there is no air blowing through your vents at all, whether it’s winter or summer, there is definitely something wrong with your HVAC system. When you have no air, there may be a problem with the blower, the ductwork or individual components like the compressor. Don’t try to determine the problem yourself; instead, call for a commercial HVAC specialist who can pinpoint the problem.

Are you seeing the signs of HVAC problems in your business space? Don’t wait for these problems to adversely affect your business.

Call Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning and schedule commercial HVAC repair in Yucaipa with one of our certified commercial HVAC experts.

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. Having leaks professionally sealed will help you save 20% to 30% off your heating and cooling bills and also improve comfort throughout the year. We use the special Aeroduct process for sealing ducts that’s one of the fastest and most effective methods available.

Arrange for any lingering heating repairs

If you’ve noticed trouble with your heater at this time of the year, you may simply shrug it off as something you can have dealt with later in the year when the heater starts up its winter work. But you should never allow any heating problem to continue, no matter your immediate plans for the system. With a natural gas furnace, allowing a malfunction to go without fixes can lead to serious safety hazards. And any repair issue for a heater will worsen over time, leading to both a more expensive repair and the possibility of a complete system breakdown.

Have an older heater replaced

This is definitely more than a “touch-up,” but it’s an important choice to make at this time of year if your home’s current heater is extremely old and giving off signs it’s unlikely to make it through another season. Even if the heater can struggle on for another year, the wasted energy and chance of an abrupt breakdown don’t make the effort worth it. A heating system that’s more than 15 years old is one to consider replacing, especially if it has given you recent problems and expensive repairs.

Spring is a great time to arrange for a new heating system installation. Professional technicians are less occupied with emergency calls during this time and can help to arrange for a great replacement. They can help a homeowner make the choice about what type of system to put in. For example, you may want to change the electric furnace for a heat pump, or you want to upgrade a gas furnace to a special high-efficiency system. Now is the time to give it serious thought.

No matter what heating installation of heating repair in Redlands, CA you need to end the season, you can trust to our technicians. We’re open 24 hours a day, so you never need to worry about reaching us when you’ve got an HVAC emergency.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning serves the Inland Empire and Desert Communities.

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.

If the flame should turn another color, such as orange (but also red or green), the likely reason is a combustion problem. What’s occurring is that other condensates aside from methane are burning along with the natural gas. These condensates can include rust, oil, and dust. A dusty burner is one of the main reasons for this orange flame to appear.

This is potentially dangerous, because burning these condensates can release harmful chemicals into the air. If you notice a change in the flame color of the pilot light, turn off the furnace right away and call for professionals to repair it. Don’t attempt to clean off the pilot light yourself.

As a precaution, check on the pilot light once a month during the rest of the season so you can catch troubles early. Remember also to schedule maintenance every fall, which will help prevent build-up of dust and other debris that can lead to this problem.

If you need furnace repair in Yucaipa, CA or the surrounding areas, just call Russell’s Heating & Air. We’ve served the Inland Empire and Desert Communities since 1980, and offer 24-hour emergency service.

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. If your ductwork is kinked (has lots of turns), is too narrow or too wide, or is simply designed poorly, replacement will most likely be needed to remedy the problems.

Mold/Mildew Growth

Mold and mildew can thrive inside ductwork because it is cool and dark, and if the ductwork is faulty, a good amount of moisture can get inside the ductwork, providing the food for the mold and mildew to grow. Mold and mildew growth on metal ductwork can be treated with sprays that can kill the biological growth, but permanently removing the spores from plastic ductwork is very hard, and might not be possible. As such, if you have a mold problem inside plastic ductwork, you’ll want to consider replacement to ensure that the problem won’t re-occur.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Damaged and/or faulty ductwork doesn’t just allow air to escape; it also acts as an open door for contaminants, pollution, moisture and other things to enter directly into your home’s air flow. If you’ve been noticing strange smells, excessive dust and dirt and greater moisture in your home, you may want to consider replacing the problem areas in your ductwork.

The skilled experts at Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning have the training and expertise to replace and restore your ductwork, so if you need ductwork replacement in La Quinta.

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. These types of furnaces were often installed in Southern California homes where proper heat dispersal wasn’t a large concern because of the mild winters.

Why you should replace a floor furnace

Floor furnaces are often very inefficient, especially in homes that don’t have good insulation (often true for older Southern California homes). The heat distribution is spotty, with areas closer becoming too hot and more distant rooms left too cold. The furnaces take up extra space on the ground floor. They can also present major health and safety hazards, which is something that is true of most older furnaces, but of floor furnaces in particular.

Replacement possibilities

You may wonder what you can use to replace a floor furnace in an old home that was specifically designed for it. A possibility to consider is a ductless heating and cooling system. A ductless mini split heat pump is easy to have installed (an outdoor unit that connects to a series of indoor air handlers that are mounted on walls) and offers both safety and energy efficiency. You might also think about switching to a radiant heating system.

If you’re interested in replacing your current heater, call on Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning. We serve Yucaipa, CA and through the Inland Empire and Desert Communities.

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. Heat moves in three ways:

  • Conduction – the way heat moves through materials
  • Convection – how heat moves through liquids and gases
  • Radiant – heat that travels in a straight line and heats any solid object capable of absorbing the heat

Without good insulation, there is no way to slow any kind of heat movement.

Types of Insulation

There are 4 main types of insulation:

  • Blanket/roll – this type of insulation comes in pink or yellow rolls, and is the most commonly-used type of insulation.
  • Foam board/rigid foam – this type of insulation comes in a rigid board that can be cut to size.
  • Spray foam – increasingly popular, spray foam is an adhesive that expands greatly when it makes contact with air and forms an air-tight seal with whatever it comes into contact with.
  • Loose-fill – loose-fill, also known as blown-in insulation, is made mostly of recycled materials and is blown into homes through a small hole cut into an exterior wall.

Reasons Insulation Is Important

  • Energy efficiency – without good insulation, you can’t maintain either heating or cooling.
  • Comfort – the absence of poor insulation can create drafts, hot and cold spots and general indoor temperature discomfort.
  • Less stress on your heating and cooling systems – your heating and cooling systems have to compensate for the lost heating or cooling, and will do so by working longer and harder. This can result in malfunction, breakdown and premature aging, in addition to higher monthly energy bills.

If you suspect you may be losing your heating to poor insulation, call Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning today and schedule service for your heating system in Yucaipa with one of our HVAC experts.