Why a Clogged Air Conditioning Filter Is a Problem

Earlier this this week we wrote about how important it is to rely on professionals to take care of regular annual maintenance on a central air conditioning system. However, there are a few simple maintenance tasks that you must see to yourself during the rest of the summer. The most important is to regularly change (or clean) the air conditioner’s filter. Depending on the filter and how often you run the AC, the filter will need to be swapped for a fresh one ever one to three months.

What happens if you don’t change the filter and it becomes clogged with dust, lint, and other debris? A number of unfortunate things:

Reduced energy efficiency

In the desert communities of Southern California, air conditioning bills during the summer often run high. You want to avoid paying any more than you absolutely have to, which is why you must keep an eye on the filter: clogging is the fastest way to create a sharp rise in your electrical bills. The AC will need to strain harder to draw air through a congested filter, and the system will experience a rapid drop in its energy efficiency.

Unnecessary repairs

The point of the air filter is to prevent debris coming through the return vents from entering the air conditioner’s cabinets and harming components. When the filter becomes clogged, it will start to allow dust through—the filter might even start to tear open. You could wind up needing to have motors and other parts repaired because the filter was no longer able to do its job.

Ice on the evaporator coil

The evaporator coil in the interior cabinet of an air conditioner contains cold refrigerant that absorbs heat from the air to cool it down. When the flow of warm air into the cabinet is blocked because of a clogged filter, the refrigerant will remain too cold, with the result of ice forming along the coil’s surface. The more ice that appears, the less effective the air conditioner will be at cooling down the house.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning serves Cathedral City, CA. Give our office a call for exceptional customer service and sign up for our regular maintenance program.

Why You Should Schedule Air Conditioning Maintenance This Spring

As we move out of spring and into summer, you’re going to start using your air conditioner more and more often. That means increased stress on the system, which means a greater chance that it will develop a problem. If you want your air conditioner to make it through the summer without any major issues, the best thing to do is have some preventive maintenance conducted on it. Read on to find out why you should schedule air conditioning maintenance this spring.

Prevention vs. Cure

Everyone knows the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This applies to air conditioning repairs as well. Problems that develop in air conditioning systems are often not cheap to repair, especially if they happen to afflict a major part like the compressor. If you wait to conduct repairs until a problem presents itself, you will almost always be paying a lot more money than if you scheduled maintenance and had the problem fixed before it got out of hand.

This is especially true of spring maintenance. Problems can start forming in your air conditioning system months or even years before they begin to cause damage. Increased stress on the system tends to accelerate that process, making it more likely for problems to show up during the summer. The last thing you want is for a major problem to develop with your air conditioner right in the middle of the season when you need it the most. So, the best thing to do is to schedule preventive maintenance before summer starts.

If you haven’t scheduled spring maintenance for your air conditioning system yet this year, call Russel’s Heating and Air Conditioning. We provide air conditioning maintenance services throughout Yucaipa, CA. 

How To Get Your Air Conditioning System Ready for Summer

Before you turn your air conditioning system on for the first time this summer there are a few things that you should consider doing for your AC. The Palm Springs, CA air conditioning professionals at Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning can help you with any services that you might need.

Benefits of Air Conditioning Maintenance in Palm Springs, CA

During the winter you likely leave your air conditioning system unattended. Before you go running all the time in the summer you may want to consider calling the Palm Springs, CA air conditioning pros at Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning today. We can visit your home and perform a full diagnostic inspection and tune-up on your system. Our experts will thoroughly inspect every component of your air conditioning system and look for any issues that could have developed over the winter. Doing this has a few potential benefits.

  • Reduced repair – When you have a professional inspecting your air conditioning system on a regular basis they will be able to find small problems and fix them early. This might be able to reduce the need for repairs.
  • Extended equipment life – Often it is small problems that can be the demise of your air conditioning system. By finding those issues during regular maintenance visits you might be able to extend the life of your air conditioner.
  • Efficiency – When you turn on your air conditioning system you want it to cool your home but use as little energy as possible. The small issues and problems that your AC unit develops over time can cause it to work harder to cool your home. Fixing those problems early can help return some of the efficiency to your system.

When to Consider Air Conditioning Replacement Service

Something else to consider before the summer is replacing your current air conditioning system. If you have an older air conditioning system or if yours has started to require more frequent repair you could benefit greatly from an air conditioning replacement.

For all your air conditioning services in Palm Springs, CA, call Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning. We Have years of experience working with all different kinds of AC systems.

The Biggest Air Conditioning Misconception: ACs “Don’t Need Maintenance”

A large number of misconceptions and myths swirl around residential air conditioning systems. (For example, “Air conditioners use up refrigerant as they work.” Not at all true: air conditioners circulate refrigerant, which does not dissipate during the process.) We are going to deal with one of the most unfortunate of these AC misconceptions, which leads to many air conditioners failing years before they should and costing their owners large amounts in replacement fees. The misunderstanding is that air conditioning systems can continue to work fine for years without requiring professional maintenance.

Just like a car, air conditioner must have routine maintenance

An air conditioner is a mechanical system, and any mechanical system will wear down over time because of stress. There is simply no way to avoid this—but it can be alleviated. When you consider how much work an air conditioner does during summer alone, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it will suffer serious wear and tear. But many homeowners let their AC continue working, seasons after season, without scheduling a maintenance session for it.

There are some significant consequences for an AC that goes without maintenance. Here are a few:

  • Higher utility bill – As parts of the air conditioner wear down, losing lubrication and becoming covered with dirt and grime, the system will need to draw on more electrical power to achieve its standard output of cooling. Every year that an AC misses maintenance, it will loss a percentage of its efficiency rating. After only a few years, you might pay 25% more for air conditioning your home than you should.
  • Numerous repairs – The extra strain on the ACs components will make malfunctions more likely, and you will end up scheduling repairs regularly.
  • Shortened system life – With regular maintenance, most air conditioning systems can last 15 years or more. If they don’t have maintenance, they may not even each half that age.

Make sure to arrange for maintenance each year for your air conditioner. Call Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning today to sign up for our maintenance program. We service Calimesa, CA and the rest of the Inland Empire and Desert Communities.

Air Conditioning Jobs Only a Professional Can Handle

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningMany homeowners enjoy taking on small fix-it and improvement jobs on their own. It’s not only a way to save money, it can be an exciting adventure on its own and the feeling of accomplishment that comes after it is its own reward.

But not every job in a home can be done as a DIY project. Most work for a central air conditioner should be left to professionals only. In fact, aside from some basic maintenance work such as replacing the air filter regularly and some adjustments to the thermostat, air conditioning tasks are something only trained technicians can do right. Let’s look at a few.

Diagnosing a short-cycling air conditioner

Short-cycling is a common type of malfunction for a central cooling system (as well as a heat pump). It’s when the compressor begins to turn on and off repeatedly over a short stretch of time, such as every fifteen minutes. Short-cycling is bad news for an AC because it increases the strain put on it and can lead to an early system breakdown. But there are many different possibilities for why it happens, ranging from air leaks in the ductwork to an air conditioner that was improperly installed in the first place. You can’t just guess at what’s wrong—it takes an expert to make the diagnosis and then apply the remedy.

Providing regular maintenance

We mentioned above about taking care of a few maintenance tasks yourself. But the actual annual maintenance an air conditioner requires in spring is something to leave to HVAC professionals. Maintenance involves an extensive inspection and tune-up, and only people with training in refrigeration equipment and the right tools can do the work accurately so the air conditioner receives the benefits of maintenance.

Fixing electrical problems

The majority of issues an AC might face during its service life are electrical in nature. Loose connections, wires that lose their insulation, burnt-out motors, etc. Unfortunately, no other type of AC malfunction is likely to get a homeowner to break out the tool box and attempt to tinker around inside the cabinet on their own. Don’t do it! Electrical work requires precision and the right tools.

Sizing a new air conditioner

What does “sizing” mean? It’s basically finding an air conditioner that provides the right amount of cooling for a home. Sizing an AC is an essential step in getting a new air conditioner installed. It’s not something that you can “guesstimate,” however. If you end up picking the wrong type of AC, one that’s either too large or too small, the system won’t work right and you’ll soon need to replace it. Professionals size an air conditioner by doing a cooling load calculation to determine how many “tons” of cooling the house needs. Then they’ll match the house with the ideal sized air conditioner.

If you’re looking for an air conditioning contractor in Redlands, CA you can trust for all your cooling system services, you’ve come to the right place. Our technicians are ready around the clock, 24 hours a day, to repair your AC. They also do maintenance, replacement, and installation.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning serves the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities. For exceptional customer service, please give our office a call.

Why You Need to Change Your AC’s Air Filter (And Where to Find It)

Every year in the spring, you must arrange for a maintenance visit for your air conditioning system from an HVAC professional. This will prepare for the rigors of another hot Southern California summer. But there is an important maintenance task that you will need to perform yourself each month during the summer: changing (or cleaning) the AC’s air filter.

Why do I need to do this?

The air filter protects the interior of the air conditioning cabinet from debris that enters through the return air ducts. As the filter traps dust, dander, and other particles, it will start to become congested. After a month of steady work (the sort you can expect during a California summer) the filter will be fully clogged. Much the same way that a clogged filter in a dryer will make the dryer inefficient, a clogged filter in an AC will force it to work harder and drain extra energy. It could even lead to debris infiltrating the cabinet. Changing the filter once a month (or cleaning it off if it uses a permanent filter) will keep your AC working at its best.

So where is the filter?

That’s a tougher question to answer, since it varies from home to home. First look over your air conditioning cabinet and locate the air handler, which should be near where the ductwork connects to the AC cabinet. The filter may be in a slot on the intake side of the air handler where it can slide out. If you can’t find the filter near the air conditioner, check on the return vent inside your house. The filter may be located behind the grill of the vent.

If you need help with locating the air filter, check with a technician. It is a wise idea during annual maintenance to have a technician show you where the filter is and how to change/clean it.

If you require professional assistance with your air conditioning system this summer, call Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning. We serve Yucaipa, CA and the rest of the Inland Empire and Desert Communities.

Why Air Conditioners May Start to Leak Refrigerant

In a post a few weeks ago, we discussed one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about air conditioning systems: that they will eventually run out of refrigerant. Your AC should retain the same charge of refrigerant for its entire service life, with no need to have professionals put in more.

But there is one exception: leaks along the refrigerant lines. When you notice signs that your air conditioner is losing refrigerant (frost along the evaporator coil, a drop in cooling power, a hissing sound from the cabinets) you need to call for repairs right away from HVAC professionals.

What causes these leaks to happen in the first place?

Well, it’s almost certainly nothing that you did wrong. Studies have shown that this problem stems from something called formicary corrosion, which is a type of corrosion that can affect the copper lines of an air conditioning system. Copper is primarily corrosion-resistant, which is one of the reasons that it’s so popular for plumbing systems. But this specific kind of corrosion, which is caused by formic acid developing along copper surfaces, is enough to open up small holes along the refrigerant tubing in an AC.

Where does this formic acid come from? The culprit is formaldehyde, one of the most common air pollutants found inside homes and a byproduct of a number of household chemicals. Although you can have air purifiers installed in your house to reduce formaldehyde levels, it’s almost impossible to thoroughly eliminate it.

Even though there is no fool-proof way of preventing refrigerant leaks, you can stay vigilant of their occurrences. Make sure that you always schedule annual maintenance for your AC from a professional (spring is the best time) so that technicians can detect leaks early on, and always call for repairs immediately after you notice warning signs of refrigerant loss.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning offers quality air conditioning repair and maintenance in Cherry Valley, CA. Call our offices for exceptional customer service.

In Southern California, March Means Prepping for the Heat

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningThere’s an old saying about March: “In like a lamb, out like a lion.” (And sometimes the reverse!) The earliest reference to this is from a 1732 volume of “wise sayings,” which means the phrase has been around far longer than that. It’s a cute way to say that March offers some of the most unpredictable weather of the year, sometimes acting like December, and at other times acting like July.

However, here in the deserts of Southern California, our unpredictability is a bit more… predictable. Winters are mild (it was wonderful that we got some much-needed rain this year) and warmer weather arrives early. March is the best time to start getting your home ready to face the extreme heat of the middle of the year, because that extreme heat can come roaring in at any moment.

How to Prepare Your HVAC Systems for the Coming Weather

You shouldn’t simply stop using your heater and start using your air conditioner and hope for the best. Making the change between seasons requires taking some additional steps and working with an HVAC professional on some of them. Here is our advice for shifting your home in Highland, CA to air conditioning season.

The Heater: See that the furnace is completely shutdown

If you use a gas furnace for heat—which the majority of homes do—then it needs to be completely shut off when it’s no longer needed. Turn off the gas valves to the furnace, including the pilot light. Change the furnace’s air filter. Check around the home to see that none of the air vents are blocked. Test all your carbon monoxide detectors.

The AC: Arrange for air conditioning maintenance service

Annual maintenance is the most important step to getting the heating system and the air conditioning system ready for their respective seasons: heating maintenance in fall, air conditioning maintenance in spring. Scheduling your AC maintenance during March will help you get on the schedule early so you’ll beat out the worst heat. You can contact our offices to find out about our regular maintenance program, which makes the job easy—both for the heater and the AC—each year.

Having this air conditioning maintenance visit annually provides you with a number of benefits:

  • It reduces the amount of work the air conditioner must do, improving its energy efficiency. A well-maintained air conditioning system will use 20% less energy than one that misses its regular inspections and tune-ups. That adds up to a great deal of money saved each year.
  • The inspection part of the maintenance checks over all the major components to find places where repair issues are developing. This way the technicians can schedule repairs before the problems become worse. For example, technicians check on the refrigerant level and pressure in the AC. This determines if refrigerant is leaking. Loss of refrigerant can cause permanent damage to the air conditioner if the system runs. Technicians can seal the leaks and restore the refrigerant to its proper level.
  • An AC that has its regular maintenance done each year will last longer than one that doesn’t. The standard lifespan of a central air conditioning system is between 10 to 15 years—but your AC won’t even reach half that if it isn’t tuned-up annually.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning is here to help whenever you need AC or heating assistance. We’re open 24 hours a day!

It’s Not Too Late to Schedule Air Conditioning Maintenance

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningWe’re deep into spring, and the official start of summer is only three weeks away. If you haven’t already arranged for your spring air conditioning maintenance with our HVAC professionals, you might think that it’s too late. Maybe you can skip this year and have maintenance done next spring? What’s the worst that can happen?

Here’s the Worst That Can Happen…

Your air conditioner will break down on the hottest day of the year. That’s not something you want to happen, especially when you consider what hot is down in the deserts of Southern California. Although you can always reach our technicians for repair service—we’re here 24 hours a day to help—this is a situation you want to avoid if at all possible. A broken AC can even be a life-threatening situation for a home with young children or elderly people.

Maintenance Is Always Beneficial, No Matter When It’s Done

There really is no such thing as “too late” when it comes to AC maintenance. It’s “better late than never”… and it’s not even too late! The worst of the summer weather arrives in July, so you have time to schedule a visit from one of our technicians. During maintenance, the technician will give the air conditioner a thorough inspection to find places that might require repairs, and also handle tune-up tasks such as cleaning coils, recalibrating the thermostat, lubricating motors, and tightening electrical connections. If your air conditioner is approaching the end of its lifecycle, your technician will be able to give you a warning about it and help you to arrange for a system replacement before the major heat arrives.

To arrange for your air conditioning maintenance in La Quinta, CA, contact us today. Our maintenance program will have you set up for annual inspections and tune-ups for both your AC and heating system.

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

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.