February Is Already AC Maintenance Time Around Here

If you told people in most other parts of the U.S. that they should start thinking about taking care of their air conditioning systems during February, they might laugh at you. They might even think you’d gone a bit nuts. But here in the deserts of Southern California, the temperatures are in the 80s during February, and allergy season is already getting underway. That means it’s time to plan for the big heat of the coming spring and summer with AC maintenance.

No, you don’t need to go grab a toolbox and find your best set of wrenches. Maintenance is something that requires trained and licensed HVAC professionals with the best tools and know-how. There’s only one maintenance task you can do on your own, and that’s to change out the air filter for the HVAC system. With all the work the AC does over an intense desert summer, you may need to change its filter on a monthly basis.

Signing up for routine maintenance is a win-win

In the coming months, we’ll go into more details about why annual air conditioning maintenance is so essential in our climate. For right now, we want you to know that professional AC maintenance is an easy annual chore when you sign up for our regular maintenance program. We take care of all the hard work.

One of our specialists will come to your home and give the air conditioning system a thorough inspection and tune-up. This includes examining both the indoor and outdoor units carefully to find places where repairs may be needed and making adjustments and cleaning necessary for top-operation through the summer. It’s a small investment in reliable cooling and energy-efficient performance that will pay you back each year.

Trust us in Indio, CA for air conditioning service that covers everything from maintenance to new installations.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning has served the Inland Empire and Desert Communities since 1980. Call today to sign up for our maintenance program.

As the Summer Scorcher Arrives, Watch for Warning Signs from Your AC

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningTemperatures here in the deserts and inland areas of Southern California are already rising above 100°F during the day—and it isn’t even officially summer yet! We hope you’ve already arranged for maintenance for your air conditioning system, but don’t panic if you haven’t: it’s not too late to contact our technicians to schedule this vital service.

But even the best maintenance job can’t stop all air conditioning problems, and the intense heat we experience puts immense strain on household cooling systems that can lead to malfunctions. During these first days of scorching hot weather, pay close attention to your AC system when it’s running. If you detect signs of anything that’s out of the ordinary, you’ll be able to arrange for air conditioning repair in Indio, CA or the surrounding areas in time to prevent more expensive repairs or even a complete system breakdown during one of those sizzling 100°+ days.

A Short Guide to Early Summer Warning Signs from an AC

Here are a few of the telltale signs something is wrong with an air conditioner during the early parts of the year.

  • Ice developing along the indoor coil: If you see this, and you haven’t yet scheduled maintenance, the likely cause is a clogged air filter. Change the filter for a new one (something you’ll need to continue every 4 to 6 weeks for the rest of the season). If the coil is still developing ice, you may have leaks in the refrigerant lines, which is a serious problem that puts the entire air conditioner in jeopardy—and requires professionals to repair.
  • Hot spots around the house: You’re getting cool air in the living room, but some of the bedrooms feel warmer than they should. This might be due to poor insulation or cracks around windows. But it’s also one of the first indications an air conditioner—for a number of reasons—is losing its cooling ability. The best step is to have HVAC technicians find out what’s wrong: miscalibrated thermostatfaulty zone controls, improperly sized system, refrigerant loss, etc.
  • The AC is short cycling: Short-cycling is when an air conditioner’s compressor turns on and off rapidly over a short period, such as every fifteen minutes. If you hear the noise of the AC compressor switching on and off multiple times during an hour, something is wrong. It could be stress on the compressor, air leaking from ducts, a clogged air filter, a loss of refrigerant, dying capacitors, a thermostat reading incorrect temperatures, or a number of other issues, all of which require assistance from HVAC professionals.
  • Acrid smells from the vents: When an air conditioning system first turns on for the season, you can expect the smell of dust coming from the vents. This is just the collection of dust in the ductwork getting blown out into the air. However, if you detect a persistent acrid odor, it often means one of the motors is running hot and in danger of burning out.

You may have noticed how the symptoms above often have multiple possible causes. This is one of the reasons you must have licensed HVAC technicians on the job: they’ll know how to diagnose the problem correctly so they can make accurate repairs.

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

Get Those Air Conditioning Repairs Done Now!

Does your air conditioner have a few… quirks? You’ve probably already started to run your AC this year, since the hot weather always starts early and we’ve had some 90°+ days roll through. It’s extremely important that you have any repairs your air conditioner may need done now, or else you may end up with a non-working cooling system the next time the temperature climbs that high.

Here are a few issues to watch for that will warn you to get on the phone and call our technicians for AC repairs:

  • Hissing sounds: This is an early indication that an air conditioning system is losing refrigerant. The hissing is the sound of gaseous refrigerant escaping from the copper lines. A drop in refrigerant will not only cause a loss of cooling power, but it can cause damage to the compressor because of the change in pressure throughout the system. Professionals will locate the leaks, seal them, and then recharge the refrigerant to its factory level.
  • Grinding and other mechanical noises: These warning sounds usually point toward overly stressed motors that need lubrication or their bearings replaced. If you let the trouble continue, the motors responsible for running the fans and the compressor may burn out.
  • Ice along the indoor coil: You should never see ice anywhere on your AC. It may seem like something that might occur normally, but it isn’t. Ice on the evaporator coil will restrict the coil from absorbing heat, and it could mean a loss of refrigerant, a clogged filter, or some other major problem in the air conditioner.
  • Short-cycling: When an air conditioner starts up its cooling cycle, only to shut down soon after, and then repeats the process, it’s short-cycling. The compressor is not completing the full cooling cycle, and the level of stress on the AC will cause it to wear down rapidly as well as cost more to operate. There are many possible causes for short-cycling, so call on professionals to find out the problem behind it and have it fixed.

Do you need air conditioner repair done fast? You can call Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning for service in Indio, CA and throughout the Inland Empire and Desert Communities 24 hours a day.

Should I Be Worried if My AC Is Short-Cycling?


Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningShort-cycling is a condition that’s easy to notice in an air conditioner, although people may not always know exactly what it is or why it’s a problem. To put it as simply as possible, short-cycling is when an air conditioner’s compressor turns on and off multiple times over an hour, with each cooling cycle lasting less than fifteen minutes. This shouldn’t be happening if the air conditioner is running properly. Short-cycling places enormous pressure on the components of an air conditioner, which creates high bills and a system that will wear down fast—to the point where it will need to be replaced years ahead of time. Short-cycling is often a sign of a specific malfunction that needs to be repaired.

Below we’ve listed some of the causes for an AC to short-cycle. In most situations, you’ll need air conditioning repairfrom professionals to fix these troubles—and you don’t want to hesitate about it, since some of these malfunctions can lead to a full system breakdown that will require a complete air conditioning replacement. If you live in the Desert Communities or the Inland Empire, you can reach our professional HVAC technicians 24 hours a day for assistance.

Common Reasons for a Short-Cycling AC

  • Clogged air filterWe talk about this a lot because when the air filter of an HVAC system becomes clogged it can cause numerous problems—but it’s also a fast fix. Just put in a clean filter! (Reminder: do this regularly, every 1 to 3 months.)
  • Loss of refrigerant: Here’s another concern about many air conditioners. When an AC is having trouble absorbing or releasing heat through its coils, it can cause the compressor to shut down prematurely. If an AC is allowed to run with a reduced refrigerant charge, it will eventually cause the compressor to burn out—and this usually means the compressor needs to be replaced, which is one of the most expensive repairs an AC may need. (Most people simply opt to have the air conditioner as a whole replaced when this happens.)
  • Thermostat malfunction: If the central thermostat in a home starts to register incorrect readings (“ghost readings”), it will cause the air conditioner to behave erratically and turn on and off rapidly. The best course of action is to replace the thermostat. This is a good opportunity to upgrade to a more advanced, energy-saving thermostat model.
  • Oversized AC: Has your air conditioner been short-cycling since Day One? In that case, the trouble is likely that the installers put in a unit that’s oversized for your home; i.e. it delivers too much cooling, which makes the system shut off the compressor’s cycle early. Avoiding an oversized AC is one of the reasons to always have trained professionals handle air conditioning installation. If you have an oversized air conditioner, you’ll need to have it replaced with one that’s professionally sized to meet your home’s exact cooling requirements.

We’re here to help you with air conditioning service in Indio, CA or elsewhere in the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities.

Russell's Heating and Air Conditioning

How Often to Change Your HVAC Filter

Spring is the season to arrange for air conditioning maintenance Indio, CA and elsewhere in the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities. The majority of maintenance services must be handled by an HVAC professional, which is why we recommend you sign up for our regular maintenance program. One of our highly trained technicians will come to your house to tune-up the AC, lubricate moving parts, check on refrigerant, clean components, and change the air filter. The program includes maintenance for your heater in fall as well.

We would like to talk a bit about the air filter, because changing it is something that needs must done on a routine basis, not only during spring maintenance. You must remove and change the filter yourself during the rest of the summer, and the continue doing the job during the fall and winter when the heating system is running. (In most HVAC systems, the heater and air conditioner use the same filter, which is attached close to the HVAC air handler.) A clean air filter in a requirement to keep the AC running at peak efficiency and to prevent trouble with airflow and frozen evaporator coils.

When to Change the HVAC Filter

How often do you need to change the filter? It depends on the type of filter you use, as well as how often you run the air conditioner. Since we experience intense heat here during the summer, we recommend you make a monthly check on the filter to see if it’s collected excess dust and dirt. Make a reminder to do this each time you receive a new utility bill.

Otherwise, here are some basic guidelines for the different types of filters and how often each needs to be changed.

  • Panel filters and permanent filters: A panel filter is the most basic type, a simple mesh of fiberglass fibers to stop the largest particles from coming through. They are inexpensive; you can purchase them in packs where each costs about a dollar. However, these filters must be changed often, usually once a month. This is also true for a permanent filter, which you’ll need to remove and clean on a monthly basis. (In general, we don’t recommend using permanent filters, which can start to develop mold and mildew in them, which decreases indoor air quality.)
  • Pleated filters: The next most powerful type of filter is the pleated filter, which is usually fashioned from polyester. They have a bit more airflow resistance, but they’re suitable for most residential air handlers. (If you aren’t sure about what strength to use, talk to our professionals and they’ll help you out.) These filters can last longer before they require a replacement, often up to 3 months. This means you can go a whole season with a single filter.
  • Whole-home media filters: These are thicker and deeper filters similar to pleated filters, but they are less likely to fold in and collapse, something that occasionally happens with pleated filters. Although these filters are the most expensive type, you can often get 6 months of service out of one before it needs to a replacement.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning: Serving the Inland Empire and Desert Communities Since 1980!

Why Your Ductless System Isn’t Heating or Cooling Your Home Right

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningWe’re at the time of year when you may need to have cooling power and heating power from your HVAC system during the same day. The weather remains warm through most of the year in Southern California, so air conditioners don’t get much of a break in winter. But our desert nights can get quite cool at this time of year, so having a heater ready to go is a necessity.

Having a ductless mini split heat pump is great for our climate because it can work as both a heater or air conditioner (just as with other heat pumps) and it only needs to run in occupied rooms, helping to save power. If it’s a cool night, you can just turn on the blower unit of the ductless system in a few rooms, or maybe even one, and not have to worry about the rest of the home.

But what if your ductless heating and cooling system isn’t doing what it’s supposed to? Are the units refusing to switch out of either heating or cooling mode, or is the air coming from the blower simply room temperature? There are a couple of possible causes for this.

First, check the batteries on the remote controls

Each wall-mounted blower unit has a remote control used to operate it. After all, it would be too much of a pain to have to find a step ladder and climb up to the unit each time you needed to adjust it! The remotes run on batteries, and if you find you can’t get one of the units to change its settings, try changing the batteries in the remote.

Check the central thermostat

Most ductless mini split systems are connected to a central control thermostat that can be used to operate the different blower units around the house. Look over this to see if a program isn’t overriding the settings elsewhere.

Broken reversing valve

If the above checks don’t solve the problem, there’s probably a more serious issue in the system. If none of the blower units will change over from heating to cooling mode (or vice versa), it’s likely there is a broken reversing valve in the outdoor unit. This valve is what allows the heat pump to change from cooling to heating. The valve controls the direction the refrigerant flows to each of the units, and this determines if the refrigerant coil in the unit either releases or absorbs heat. It takes professionals to either repair a stuck valve or replace it entirely.

Broken components of individual units

If only one of the blower units is behaving oddly and not providing the cooling/heating you want, the issue is probably mechanical trouble with the blower. You might want to tinker around with it yourself, but please don’t attempt this! These units are more complicated than they look. The good news is that it’s simply for a professional to replace an individual blower or replace it entirely without having to interfere with the rest of the system. (Yet another advantage of having a ductless system in the first place!)

For any repairs or other services you may need for ductless cooling or heating in Indio, CA, you can reach us 24 hours of the days.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning serves the Yucaipa and Palm Desert areas.