How Can I Lower My Air Conditioning Bills at the End of Summer?

We can expect to suffer from many more hot days in August through September, and even October here in the deserts of Southern California. That means plenty more work for our air conditioning systems. If you’re already tired of seeing high electrical bills this summer, there are some ways you can increase your home’s energy efficiency with your AC and cut down on costs for the rest of the season. Below are some energy-saving methods for the rest of the summer.

  • Clean/change the air filter if you haven’t already: It’s easy to forget to regularly clean or change the air filter in the HVAC system. This filter must be either swapped out or cleaned every 1 to 4 months, or clogging will force the AC to strain and begin to waste power. If you haven’t yet cleaned/changed the filter this summer, it’s probably overdue for the service.
  • Know the best energy-saving thermostat settings: When the heat rises past 100°F, you’ll be tempted crank the thermostat to as low a temperature as possible. On most thermostats, the lowest setting is 60°F, but this will create a huge amount of energy waste in your house without really giving you better comfort. Your home doesn’t get cooler any faster when the thermostat is set low; it only commits the AC to working longer. A good energy-saving setting for the thermostat during the day is 78°F. You can often reduce your air conditioning’s electrical usage by 25% thanks to maintaining higher thermostat settings.
  • Raise the thermostat temperature at night: You need less cooling during the night because your body is at rest. Set the thermostat ahead by 8°–10°F when you’re asleep. (Having a programmable thermostat will make this much easier.)
  • Replace your aging AC with a high-efficiency unit: This is the most drastic change, but if one of the reasons for your high bills is that the air conditioner is 15 to 20 years old or more, than the best choice for saving money is to replace it. A high-efficiency AC will quickly start to pay for its installation, and you’ll have many years to enjoy the benefits.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning serves Beaumont, CA and throughout the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities.

Why You Shouldn’t Try to Repair Your Air Conditioning System on Your Own

If you like to take care of various repairs and home improvements around your home as DIY projects, you should certainly be commended. However, you need to know that there are some jobs that you should never undertake on your own. One of these is repairing your central air conditioning system.

But what’s wrong with a little DIY on an AC?

The modern air conditioner is an extremely complicated refrigeration device, similar to an actual refrigerator. Just as you won’t be able to repair a refrigerator unless you have training, you can’t repair a malfunctioning air conditioner without the proper skills and professional equipment.

There are many things about air conditioners that make them difficult-to-impossible for amateurs to repair. But there’s one specific aspect of AC repair that we would like to focus on, which is diagnosis.

One of the hardest jobs for an AC technician during a repair call is actually finding the source of the problem. For every given symptom of air conditioning malfunction (a drop in cooling power, odd sounds from the cabinet, elevated electrical bills) there are multiple possible causes. Without years of training and experience, it would be extraordinarily difficult to find what is actually wrong. An amateur repair attempt is likely to apply the wrong type of repair—and that is often worse than no repairs at all. A mistaken repair can result in larger problems and an inefficient air conditioning system. The air conditioner will enter into a downward spiral of more and more repairs until it fails entirely.

If you should run into any problems with your air conditioner this summer, don’t tamper on your own. There are speedy and effective professionals only a phone call away.

For professional air conditioning repair in Beaumont, CA, look to Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning. For exceptional customer service, give our office a call.

Why Is My Air Conditioning Struggling to Keep the House Cool?

During the blistering hot summers in the desert towns of Southern California, there’s nothing worse than an air conditioning system that simply cannot deal with the heat. It takes a powerful and well-maintained AC to beat back intense summer temperatures that often rise above 100°F, and if your home’s air conditioner starts to fall down on the job, you’ll probably need to call on HVAC professionals to diagnose the problem and fix it.

Some Reasons Your AC May Be Struggling with the Heat

  • Excess age: If an air conditioning system receives annual maintenance (usually in the spring) it should be able to last 10 to 15 years, sometimes more. But it will eventually start to wear down, no matter how much attention it receives, and start to lose its cooling ability. If you have an AC that’s more than 15 years old, a drop in cooling power is a strong signal that it’s time to replace it.
  • Loss of refrigerant due to leaks: An AC is designed to handle a specific amount of refrigerant, known as its charge, and that charge will remain the same for the system’s lifetime… unless there are leaks. Loss of refrigerant puts the entire air conditioner in jeopardy, but loss of cooling power is an early warning that it’s happening. Call for professionals to seal the leaks and recharge the refrigerant.
  • Malfunctioning thermostat: The issue may lie in the thermostat that controls the HVAC system. A simple miscalibration so the unit reads false temperatures will cause the air conditioner to behave in strange ways, turning off prematurely and leaving the house too warm.
  • Damaged ductwork: If the ventilation system has gaps and holes in it, it will allow the cooled air to escape before it even enters your living spaces. Technicians will need to seal these leaks to restore the system.

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

How SEER Ratings Affect Air Conditioning Size

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it measures the efficiency of your air conditioning system. The higher the rating, the more efficient the air conditioner. Systems made since 2006 need to have a SEER rating of at least 13, but some units can go as high as 24. This can have a profound effect not only on your monthly energy bills, but on the proper size of your air conditioner. Services that offer air conditioning installation in Beaumont, CA can explain the specifics based on your particular household.

Here’s Some General Information about How SEER Ratings Affect Air Conditioning Size

By “size,” we mean the power output of the air conditioner, which needs to be carefully balanced against the specifics of your home. A unit that’s too small won’t have the power to adequately cool the hose. A unit that’s too large will cycle on and off too rapidly, increasing strain and wasting far too much energy. (Air conditioners use exponentially more energy when they start up and shut down than they do when they’re just running.) So sizing becomes very important when determining the most efficient unit for your home.

Some of that involves the physical dimensions of your house (square footage, leaky windows, the presence of insulation in the attic, etc.). But it also involves the SEER rating in your air conditioner. For example, a unit that performs 30% more efficiently than another unit is going to cool your home more quickly as a result. That means it doesn’t need to be as powerful in order to be properly balanced for your household. Indeed, it plays a major part in those considerations, meaning that you need to compare the SEER rating with the size (and price) of each of the units you consider.

The good news is that a qualified professional can provide strong advice on how SEER ratings affect air conditioning size. The experts at Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning handle air conditioning installation in Beaumont, CA and can help find the right sized system for you. Give us a call today and let us show you what we can do!

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. The dust cold also collect over the heat exchanger, so when the furnace turns on and the exchanger heats up, the dust will burn off and create an acrid odor. You shouldn’t worry about this—unless the smell persists. Regular maintenance will keep the furnace clean.

Mold

If you notice a moldy odor from the vents, it may be from mold developing inside the furnace filter. This is one of the reasons that you need to regularly replace the air filter, and should always start the heating season with a fresh filter. It’s also possible that the problem isn’t coming from the heating system, but from gaps and breaks in the ductwork that are drawing in moldy air from closed-in sections of the house. This problem will require professionals duct sealing to correct.

Overheating motors and cracked heat exchangers

An electrical burning smells can point to motors in a furnace or heat pump that are overheating and heading toward burning out. There’s also the chance of a cracked heat exchanger in a gas furnace, which can be dangerous because of the leaking of carbon monoxide. Shut down your heater and call for repair technicians.

When you need repairs for your home heating system, call on Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning. We serve Beaumont, CA and throughout the Inland Empire and Desert Communities.

Why Choose a Whole-House Humidifier in Beaumont

You’ve probably heard people complain about humidity levels in the air before. When forecasts explain that humidity levels will be high that day, you usually dress for warm weather. Many people complain about feeling hot and sticky in a humid climate and some even complain about the effects on their hair. But did you know that too little humidity can have an impact on your home and the people who reside there as well?

At Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning, we provide and service whole-house humidifiers to customers in the Beaumont area who are concerned about low humidity in the home.

3 Reasons to Choose a Whole-House Humidifier

There are a few different reasons homeowners choose to install a whole-house humidifier. Sometimes, health trouble calls for this installation, which injects moisture into the air through the ductwork in your home. Other times, humidity problems are so severe that a humidifier can actually protect your home. Here are the top three reasons our customers choose to install one.

  • Comfort – Dry air leads to dry skin and chapped lips, which means you may not feel comfortable at home and you might find yourself frequently reapplying lip balms and lotions. A humidifier can restore an adequate level of humidity to the home so that you can relax.
  • Health – When people are ill, some moisture in the air actually helps them to bounce back more quickly, adding moisture back to the sinuses, making it a little bit easier to breathe and recover during a respiratory infection like a cold.
  • Home – Finally, a whole-house humidifier can actually help to protect your wood furniture and floors from damage. When the air is too dry, these can chip or crack over time. You may also notice paint chipping or drywall cracking in some extreme cases. If low humidity is a pressing problem in your home during certain seasons, a humidifier may prevent this from becoming a larger issue.

We offer professional installation and service should your existing unit run into problems.

Call the friendly technicians at Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning for more information about installing whole-house humidifiers in Beaumont.

Common Compressor Problems in Your Air Conditioner

We live in a warm part of the country, which can be both a blessing and a curse. The winters here are very mild, but when summertime hits, watch out. Here in Beaumont, CA, air conditioning systems form the best defense against scorching temperatures, and when your air conditioner runs into problems, you need to get it fixed as quickly as possible. In particular, the compressor – which subjects refrigerant gas to heat and pressure as a key step in the refrigeration process – can create big problems when it runs into trouble. If you spot one of the common compressor problems in your air conditioner, you need to contact a service technician as quickly as possible.

Some types of compressor problems don’t actually originate in the compressor, but rather in the electrical system designed to bring power to it. Frayed wires and loose connectors can disrupt electrical flow to the compressor motor, which results in lost power or no power at all. In some cases, the compressor may appear to function as normal, but can overheat if it runs for a short period of time. The good news in this arena is that faulty electrical components are usually fairly inexpensive to fix, though only trained professionals should undertake such repairs.

More serious problems can arise with the compressor’s start capacitor, which holds an electrical charge designed to help the motor start up. If it runs into trouble, your compressor won’t start up and the entire air conditioning process will be short circuited. Even worse is a problem with the compressor motor itself. If the motor is broken, the system will shut down and you may need to buy a replacement unit to resolve the issue.

In Beaumont, CA, air conditioning systems can’t afford to be offline for even a day, and an issue with you compressor usually means that professional help is required. Common compressor problems in your air conditioner can be readily resolved by the Beaumont air conditioning service experts at Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning. We’re dedicated to your complete satisfaction at every turn, so don’t hesitate to give us a call today!

More about AC Filters: Different Types and When to Swap Them Out

Maintaining an air conditioning system involves many different steps, and you can count on professionals to go through all of them to make certain that your AC is prepped for the intense summer weather. One of these steps is swapping out the old HVAC system air filter for a new one. During the rest of the summer, all the way until your heating maintenance in the fall, you’ll need to take care of changing the filter yourself so it doesn’t become heavily clogged with debris. If you don’t know how to do this or where the filter is located, ask your maintenance technician for assistance.

How frequently should you change the filter?

There are different types of filters for HVAC systems, and they need to be swapped out on different schedules. If you have a permanent filter on your HVAC system, it doesn’t need to be changed, but it does need routine cleaning, usually every two months. (Check on it monthly to see if it’s clogged yet.) Remove the filter and use a garden hose on low pressure to clean it out. Make sure that you allow it to dry thoroughly before replacing it, otherwise it may develop mold and bacteria. (The danger of organic growth in a permanent filter is the reason many HVAC technicians don’t recommend them. They also have less powerful filtration than temporary filters.)

Among the temporary filters available, there are two basic types: panel and pleated filters. Panel filters are usually made from fiberglass and have lower efficiency the pleated filters, but they’re inexpensive: you can find them in packs where each filter costs about a $1 each. Panel filters will start to clog quickly. During the summer, you should expect to change the filter each month.

Pleated filters are the most effective at stopping contaminants, although if you purchase one that has a very high MERV rating, such as 12 or greater, it might choke off airflow because of the tight polyester weave. With the right pleated air filter, you can expect change it only every 3 to 6 months.

Have you scheduled your air conditioning maintenance yet? There’s still time: call Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning for service in Beaumont, CA and throughout the Inland Empire and Desert Communities.

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. During a professional maintenance visit, a technician will inspect the whole system to locate any places where adjustments and repairs will help prevent hazardous malfunctions. The technician will look for gas leaks and check for cracks in the heat exchanger, and then test the CO levels. Afterwards, you’ll know your furnace is in excellent condition.
  • Clear the area around the furnace cabinet: Do not store items right beside your furnace, since the cabinet grows hot when it’s running and will cause combustible material to ignite.
  • Change the air filter monthly: This is something your technician can show you how to do during the maintenance session. Regularly changing (or cleaning) the furnace’s air filter will prevent possible hazardous breakdowns.
  • Check your CO detectors: You should have carbon monoxide detectors in your home as a precaution when you have natural gas appliances. Check each detector before the winter starts to see if any need repairs or new batteries.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning has the furnace services you need for comfort in Beaumont, CA and throughout the Inland Empire and Desert Communities.

3 Ways That a Heat Pump Differs from an Air Conditioner

A popular choice for home comfort in the hot conditions of Southern California is a heat pump. Although the name may at first make it sound like a bad idea for a place that is warm for most of the year, a heat pump is able to move heat two different directions: out of your home, like a standard air conditioner, and into your home as well. Heat pumps work as effectively at cooling a home as a comparably-sized AC, and have the right level of energy efficiency to keep your home warm during the short periods of colder weather.

In most ways, a heat pumps works in the same fashion as an air conditioner. Both use indoor and outdoor units, circulate refrigerant to move heat, absorb and release heat through indoor and outdoor coils, and use a compressor to apply energy to the refrigerant. But here are three crucial differences between them:

ONE – The Reversing Valve

This is the key component that allows a heat pump to both heat and cool a home and differentiate it from an AC. This valve changes the direction of refrigerant as it leaves the compressor, sending it either to the indoor coil or outdoor coil first. Depending on the position of the valve, the heat pump will operate in either heating mode or cooling mode.

TWO – The Suction Line Accumulator

A heat pump uses less refrigerant when in heating mode than in cooling mode. Since a heat pump cannot lose refrigerant, it must have some place to store the extra refrigerant while in heating mode. This is the job of the suction line accumulator, which is located between the reversing valve and the compressor.

THREE – Dual condensate drainage systems

A standard air conditioner has only one drainage system, located in the indoor cabinet to catch moisture condensation. But because a heat pump collects moisture in both the indoor and outdoor unit, it needs to have two sets of condensate drainage systems.

For exceptional customer service in Beaumont, CA give our office a call. Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning offers heat pump installation, repair, and maintenance.