As much as you might want to think that you will notice serious furnace issues, there are a number of HVAC-related problems that can go unnoticed for some time, especially if you don’t keep up your regular furnace maintenance. Some issues might be easy to ignore during a mild Bay Area winter, but many of them can be hazardous to your family’s health and/or damage your HVAC system, shortening its life.
The V in HVAC means ventilation, which means it’s your HVAC system’s job to maintain your indoor air quality. As long as you schedule a regular winter heater inspection and keep up with your home furnace maintenance, air quality shouldn’t be a serious problem. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to overlook these crucial tasks, as the signs of allergens and viruses in the air are hard to spot.
Home Air Filtration Systems Catch Allergens and Viruses
The biggest reason why you should keep up with your heater maintenance this winter is to keep as many allergens and viruses scrubbed out of your indoor air as possible. Yes, there are always things that get past even the best air filtration systems, but for the most part a good HVAC air filtration system will keep dust, dander, pollen, and anything else that could trigger one’s allergies out of your home. And a high-level air filtration system will also capture viruses. On the other hand, when your HVAC system isn’t doing its job, you and your family could suffer reactions. Continue reading
Winter in the Bay Area may be milder than in other parts of the country, but you could still suffer a few uncomfortable months if you don’t keep your home furnace properly maintained. There are a lot of issues that could come up with your furnace in the winter, and a furnace inspection done now will catch many of these problems before they get out of hand.
What Issues Can You Expect With an Older Gas Furnace?
Here are four typical issues that arise with furnaces:
A Broken Thermostat
Your thermostat regulates the temperature in your home, and it can malfunction. If your home always feels too cold or too hot, it could be that your thermostat is malfunctioning or needs to be recalibrated. Fortunately, this is usually a quick fix. Many modern thermostats are programmable, so check whether yours needs reprogramming to a more winter-friendly setting. If that doesn’t work, an HVAC contractor can take a closer look at it and determine if it needs to be replaced.
You might find that some rooms are colder than others even when your furnace is on. This can be a serious problem that might involve multiple parts of your HVAC system. Dirty air ducts or an old furnace that doesn’t work as efficiently as it once did are possible culprits when this happens. It could also arise because of aging home insulation, or gaps around windowsills and doors. In any case, letting these issues go without remediation, will raise your utility bill as you try to keep every room in your home at a comfortable temperature.
Dirty Air Filters
Your HVAC system’s air filter should be checked every month, and switched out if it has collected a lot of dust and debris. This is true throughout the year, but it is especially important in the winter since you’ll be spending so much more time indoors and running your furnace. Your filter protects your home from dust, pollen, and other pollutants that could affect one’s allergies. A powerful air filtration system can also clear your indoor air of viruses.
A Pilot Light that Won’t Ignite
Gas furnaces rely on a pilot light that either stays lit or ignites when the furnace cycles on. If the pilot light doesn’t ignite, the furnace obviously will not work. This might happen if the flame sensor is damaged or dirty. A company that specializes in maintaining gas furnaces should be able to fix this sensor and keep your pilot light ignited for as long as you need it.
Find an Experienced Bay Area Gas Furnace Inspection and Maintenance Service
If you are in need of a furnace maintenance service in Oakland, the East Bay, or the surrounding area, contact Element Home Solutions. Our friendly staff will be happy to run an inspection of your heating system and provide you with the assistance you need.
Winter weather in the Bay Area is an unpredictable mix of heavy rain and strong winds. This sort of powerful weather can damage an outdoor air conditioning unit more than many people realize. The A/C units we install at Element Home Solutions are built to handle inclement weather, but why expose your investment to more stress than you have to? You likely won’t use your A/C unit when the temperature drops, so give your outdoor unit some winter protection.
How to Protect your A/C Unit from Winter Rain
If you live in an Oakland, San Jose or other Bay Area home with central air conditioning that you won’t be using this winter, follow these tips to avoid the dangers of leaving your air conditioner exposed to the elements.
1. Keep Your Unit Covered and Protected
The first step in protecting your air conditioner from winter rain is to keep the unit covered. Dedicated covers likely came with your unit, but a simple tarp with proper strapping can also provide winter protection from most of the rain and debris that comes with Bay Area winter storms. But also keep away from your unit lawn furniture, decorations, and anything else that could be blown around by a strong wind. And, have your trees grown to the point where a falling limb could land on your unit?
2. Disconnect Your A/C Unit
Since you probably won’t need your Bay Area HVAC unit for the next few months, you should shut it down and cover it up. You can cut the power to your unit with the circuit breakers, or you can simply turn off your cooling options with your thermostat.
3. Secure Your A/C Unit
One of the dangers of leaving an air conditioner exposed to the elements is the possibility that the unit itself could be damaged by inclement weather. To prevent this from happening, check to see that all of the bolts that hold your unit in place are tight and in good condition. Take a minute to inspect the concrete pad and/or metal stands your AC unit may be secured to. Are they still in good condition? If you see cracks in concrete, a lot of rust in metal supports or similar damage, give us a call to inspect it.
4. Protect Any Wires
While winterizing your AC unit against wind and rain, inspect the wiring between the unit and electrical outlets. Are they in good shape? No fraying or exposed wires? Insulated wires are usually safe from the elements, but they can accumulate damage over time if they aren’t maintained.
Never Neglect Air Conditioner Maintenance!
In effect, preparing your HVAC system for winter involves both inspecting the furnace to get it ready to heat your home properly, and inspecting the AC unit before taking it offline. Make regular air conditioner maintenance a habit! Contact us to schedule your inspection.
Leaving an air conditioner exposed to the elements during a Bay Area winter can accelerate aging. Protect your investment by catching any issues that need to be addressed before they get any worse!
It’s getting colder in the Bay Area, which means homeowners in the region will be turning up their thermostats and turning on their heaters for the winter. Many of them will take for granted that their heaters will be just fine, but while some of them may be right, there is an important part of home furnace maintenance that should never be overlooked: the winter heater inspection.
Why You Should Inspect Your Heater Every Winter
Having good indoor air quality is obviously very important in 2020 as more people work and learn at home. But it is especially vital in the Bay Area this year and in the future. The region is facing longer fire seasons than in the past, which creates multiple “bad air days” every year. So, homeowners need to make sure that their ventilation systems (the “V” in HVAC!) are up to the task of filtering out soot and other airborne irritants. Plus, having an air filtration system that can filter out airborne viruses is also critical.
How Air Filtration Systems Protect Your Family
A whole house air filtration system will always be best, and is likely a great investment that adds to your home valuation. But even basic HVAC system maintenance will help keep your family safe if more elaborate air filtration systems aren’t an option for you.
- You should have an HVAC professional perform routine maintenance twice a year on your HVAC system to make sure filters are replaced and air ducts are clear.
- Explore whether adding a whole house air filter like the popular IQAir Perfect 16 product to your ventilation system. These are powerful filters that remove over 95% of air contaminants.
- If that isn’t an option, there are portable air purifiers that do a good job of cleaning indoor air room by room. This could be effective if you live in a smaller space such as an apartment, too. Note that these products vary in power, so you need to match their specifications to the space you wish to purify.
- Taking it up a level (most homeowners don’t go this far, but businesses do), consider installing UV lights as part of your ventilation system. It might not seem like they would make a difference, but UV light kills mold and bacteria that grow inside of your air ducts. These UV lights will be out of sight while they keep HVAC systems a little cleaner and safer.
There are also some DIY things you can do to make sure that you have decent indoor air quality in your home, like changing the air filters every three months instead of annually.
Humidifiers can also be effective during dry seasons for any home in Oakland, San Jose or the surrounding areas. A longer fire season also means drier air, and a humidifier will ensure that there is plenty of moisture to make breathing easier.
Work with Element Home Solutions to Create the Ventilation and Air Filtration System That Best Suits Your Home
This year has been tough for everyone, especially those who need to spend more time indoors than usual. If you’re concerned about your home’s indoor air quality this year, contact Element Home Solutions to learn what kind of air filtration systems could work best in your home. We serve homeowners throughout the Bay Area, from Santa Rosa to San Jose. So don’t hesitate to give us a call for more information about our services.
We all know how much the recent wildfires have affected the outdoor air quality in Oakland, the East Bay and our surrounding areas, but not as much has been said about indoor air quality during wildfires. While being indoors will always offer some protection from the smoke and debris produced by wildfires, some smoke will almost certainly get into your home and affect your indoor air quality. This can pose a serious health risk, especially if you or anyone in your family has allergies or other respiratory issues. Fortunately, a good indoor air filtration system can filter out most of the smoke and chemicals that wildfires create.
How Does Wildfire Smoke Affect Indoor Air Quality?
Smoke from wildfires can get into the most well-insulated homes through open doors and windows, through an HVAC system with insufficient filters, and through small openings around closed doors and windows. With a strong wind, even tiny cracks and other small openings that may be too small for you to see could allow in particulates. Naturally, the problem gets worse the closer your home is to the wildfire.
If your home is too close to a wildfire, you might be better off evacuating your home before the smoke becomes too dense and the air quality becomes too toxic. Otherwise, keep your doors and windows closed as much as possible, and pay close attention to emergency alerts near you.
How to Protect Your Family from Wildfire Smoke
If you’re concerned about the air quality in your home, you can protect your family’s health by installing a high-efficiency HVAC filter system. We have been busy all summer adding IQAir and other air filtration systems to Bay Area homes battling wildfire smoke.
For improving air just a few rooms, a portable air cleaner may also serve. If you decide to purchase a portable air cleaner for one room in your home, match it to the size of the space you want to improve. An air cleaner that is too big or too small will either not work properly or be a waste of energy.
Having a supply of N95 respirator masks on hand will also be helpful. These masks can be purchased at most hardware stores and drugstores.
Finally, have your HVAC system checked out if it hasn’t received any maintenance in over six months. Regular visits from an air conditioning and furnace professional can really help improve your home’s air quality even if your home isn’t near a wildfire.
Work with Element Home Solutions to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Your Bay Area Home
To learn more about how to keep indoor air clean or about the best indoor air filtration systems, contact Element Home Solutions today. We serve homes throughout Oakland, East Bay, and all over the Bay Area, and we will be happy to help you during this difficult time.
We are all experiencing it. At the end of another 90-degree day in the Bay Area, our houses get hot just as we come home to have dinner and relax. If we have air conditioning, it goes into top gear to move the heat outside. If we don’t have AC, we wait for the outside temperature to drop below the inside temperature, and open all the windows and turn on all the fans to try to draw in cooler air.
A highly economical solution to this battle with the heat is to install a whole house fan.
Whole House Fans Help Beat Bay Area Heat Waves
If you want to keep your Bay Area home cool without installing a new air conditioner, a whole house fan might be a good alternative. While they do not cool your home in the same way that an air conditioner can, whole house fans can economically help keep your home feeling comfortable in warm weather. It’s also relatively easy to convert home ventilation systems to make use of these fans, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank when installing one.
How Do Whole House Fans Work?
Whole house fans work by drawing hot air from inside the house and expelling it through the attic, or directly outside for homes without attics. These are powerful fans that quickly circulate warm air out, drawing cooler air in from the outside via open windows.
A well-installed fan can greatly improve the ventilation in and through the attic, cooling your home faster at the end of a hot day. By installing an intake duct to pull air from your attic, you can use a whole house fan to direct this air into your home’s heating and cooling ducts. When this kind of HVAC system is combined with well-placed ceiling fans, you can keep your home cool and comfortable even during a hot East Bay summer season. Plus, by complementing the work of your central air conditioner, you can save money on air conditioning energy bills because the AC unit doesn’t have to work as hard.
As useful as whole house fans can be for most homes in Oakland and the East Bay area, they can be noisy when they aren’t installed properly. As a rule, a large-capacity fan operating at a lower speed will be less noisy than a smaller fan that needs to be on a faster setting. You might not need a larger fan if you have a smaller home, but a larger fan might be a better option if you or your family are sensitive to noise. In any case, any whole house fan that you install should be equipped with rubber or felt gaskets to dampen noise.
In general, a whole house fan can provide a great way to keep your home cool and comfortable in the summer months.
Whole House Fans for Bay Area Homes from Element Home Solutions
Many homes in the Bay Area can benefit from the cooling impact of a whole house fan on warm days. To learn more about getting a whole house fan installed in your home, contact Element Home Solutions today.
Every homeowner wants their home to feel comfortable in both the summer heat and the cold weather during the Bay Area rainy season. A great solution to achieve this year-round comfort for older Bay Area homes with central heating systems is to supplement that system with one or more heat pumps.
Is a Heat Pump Good for Bay Area Homes?
A heat pump is an energy-efficient heating and cooling solution just about everywhere. However, it is most popular in the parts of the country where the temperatures rarely go below freezing. In fact, it is most effective as a standalone heating and cooling system when the temperatures don’t range below 25-30 degrees Fahrenheit. In Oakland, the East Bay, and throughout the Bay Area, heat pumps work very well because the year-round temperatures rarely dip below freezing.
How Does a Heat Pump Work?
A heat pump is a device that cools a home in the summer and warms it in the winter by “pumping” or transferring heat from the inside to the outside in summer, and reverses that process in winter. It does this instead of generating heat like traditional forced-air gas furnaces, and heat pumps produce cold air differently than classic air conditioning units do.
A heat pump system is typically composed of:
- An outdoor unit containing a compressor, a coil and a fan. The coil operates as a condenser for cooling and an evaporator for heating. The fan blows the air over the coil to facilitate the heat exchange.
- An indoor unit, commonly called a mini-split unit, contains a coil and a fan, operating in the same way as the outdoor unit.
- The refrigerant in the units absorbs or rejects heat as it circulates through the system.
- The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant and moves it through the system.
- A reversing valve allows the system to switch between cooling and heating.
- An expansion valve regulates the flow of the refrigerant, allowing for pressure and temperature changes.
Heat Pump Installation Considerations
Heat pumps as air conditioners and heating systems can easily be installed in homes. They can work with air duct systems to condition the whole house. Or, to cool or heat specific rooms that are not well served by the central system, ductless mini-split units can be installed in each room to efficiently provide heating and cooling. And as with any AC unit, it is important to inspect the heat pump system annually to maintain it.
Improve Your Home’s Heating and Cooling
Contact the professionals at Element Home Solutions, serving the Bay Area from Santa Rosa to San Jose with comprehensive services including the installation of heating and cooling systems, air duct repair and installation, attic and crawlspace insulation services, and repairing HVAC systems.
Air conditioning and ventilation systems are getting a workout this summer, with temperature spikes and wildfire smoke. Our traditional Bay Area habit of opening windows at night to cool the house off isn’t available when trying to keep smoke from coming in! And, if you have a problem with airflow or if some areas of your home are significantly warmer than others, you may need to assess how your AC and airflow system is performing.
What are the Top Reasons your AC Unit Doesn’t Cool the House?
Here are four key areas you need to inspect to troubleshoot a balky AC unit:
Investigate Air Duct Airflow and Noises
Check every air vent to see if there is sufficient flow when the air conditioner is on. One key indication of air conditioning problems is when air flows weakly through specific vents. This may mean the air ducts have started to leak and need repair. Also, when the air is blowing do you hear rattles or other noises? We recommend that you investigate these strange sounds as they indicate a need to repair air ducts.
Is Your AC Blowing Warm Air?
Along with the strength of your airflow at each vent, is the air cool? If your air conditioner blows warm air instead of cool air, we need to talk! At this stage, the damage has advanced to the point that you should arrange for a Bay area air conditioning repair service immediately.
Common Causes of Airflow Problems
One of the most common reasons that air conditioners don’t work as they should is also one of the easiest to fix: Change the air filter of your HVAC system at least once every three months! These are inexpensive items that have a big impact on your AC unit’s performance, and on your energy bill! A good way to remember is to mark your calendar for January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1, the start of each new season.
Physical Blockage of Vents or Air Ducts
People sometimes don’t consider that placing furniture in front of a vent will prevent an HVAC unit from doing its job. A vent may also become so clogged full of debris that it can’t release air properly. Accumulated debris from years of neglect prevents air from flowing through duct work. Also, if the duct work is insufficient for the home’s current HVAC system, it won’t take long for it to become clogged unless you arrange for regular maintenance.
Contact Element Home Solutions for Regular HVAC Maintenance
These four areas of concern are just some of the common problems and reasons for an HVAC system to under perform. We invite you to schedule an inspection and maintenance appointment us at Element Home Solutions. We specialize in HVAC maintenance and Air Duct Repair. Request your seasonal preventive maintenance today..