• Maximize Your HVAC Investment

    attic HVAC unitHow to Make the Most of Your Heating and Cooling System Investment

    A new heating and cooling system is a big investment, so you need to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Consider the following tips for installing a new air conditioner, furnace or both in your Sacramento home.

    Invest in quality.

    As with any big investment, you shouldn’t go with the cheapest option available when installing a new HVAC system. Even if you can’t afford the most expensive system out there, you should at least purchase a good mid-grade one. If you install the cheapest system you can find, you may end up paying more in the long run—especially if it breaks down prematurely.

    This emphasis on quality also applies when looking at HVAC companies to hire. Rather than hiring the cheapest company you can find to install your new air conditioner or furnace, look for one that has a reputation for quality workmanship and great customer service.

    Take advantage of the latest technology.

    Many of today’s HVAC systems incorporate sophisticated technology that maximizes comfort and energy efficiency. Rather than choosing a basic one-stage furnace, consider investing in a two-stage or variable-speed furnace, which will provide superior performance and give you more control over things like energy usage. Additionally, alternative HVAC products like ductless mini-split systems and multi-zone systems can be good options, especially if you have a split-level home or need to address challenging airflow dynamics.

    Make sure your system is properly sized.

    Bigger isn’t always better, and that’s certainly the case for heating and cooling systems. Proper sizing is one of the most important factors for system installation, and if it’s overlooked, there can be major consequences for system performance. For example, an improperly sized system can lead to issues like short-cycling, where the unit continually turns on and off in an attempt to regulate constant fluctuations in temperature. To avoid this, have your HVAC contractor perform a load calculation to make sure your system is correctly sized for your home’s needs.

    Look beyond the unit itself.

    You can buy the most efficient heating and cooling system in the world, but if you neglect other aspects related to home energy efficiency, you won’t get the performance you’re looking for. For instance, leaky windows and poor insulation can offset any gains you get from a new system. The same goes for ductwork—it doesn’t make sense to install top-shelf HVAC equipment if your air ducts are full of holes.

    Get a good warranty.

    When it comes to something as expensive as a new heating and cooling system, the value of a strong warranty can’t be overstated. Even if that means hiring a more expensive company with manufacturer certifications, the extra assurance will be well worth the cost.

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  • Air Conditioning How-Tos

    outdoor air conditioning unitDIY Air Conditioning Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tips

    Preparing Your Air Conditioner for Summer

    If you live in Sacramento, you know the summers are anything but mild. During July and August, temperature highs in the River City average (and often exceed) 94 F and 93 F, respectively. To ensure your home stays cool during these hot summer months, it’s a good idea to inspect, clean and test your air conditioning system ahead of time. Here are some basic steps:

    1. Check your air filter. If it’s dirty, replace it before turning on your system for the season. Besides promoting healthy system performance, a new air filter will provide fresher, cleaner indoor air.
    1. Clean the outdoor condenser unit. Sweep off leaves and clear debris buildup. If you want to get it really clean, use a leaf blower or spray it down with a garden hose.
    1. Inspect the blower motor. When an air conditioner’s blower motor isn’t operating at full speed, it can inhibit the entire system’s performance, so check the electrical current and make sure your system is optimized for maximum efficiency.
    1. Get a professional inspection. An annual professional inspection of your air conditioner is the surest way to maximize system performance and avoid problems.

    Troubleshooting Your Air Conditioner

    If your air conditioner isn’t performing like it should be, there are a few things you can try before calling a professional. Consider the following steps:

    • Check the air filter. A dirty air filter can inhibit proper system performance.
    • Make sure your thermostat is set to “cool” and your set temperature is below your current indoor temperature.
    • Clean the evaporator coil, which is located inside or near the air handler (the large metal box that houses the blower and other system components). After dusting off the coil with a soft-bristled brush, spray it with a commercial coil cleaner.
    • Clean the condenser coils (the grill-like outer walls of the outdoor condenser unit). After using a brush to remove loose dirt buildup, spray the coils with a commercial coil cleaner. Allow the cleaner to remain on the coils for five to 10 minutes, then rinse with a hose.
    • Flush the condensation drain. Over time, the line from your air conditioner to the outdoor condensation drain can become clogged with algae and sludge, which can cause water to back up into the drain pan. To flush out this buildup, pour a solution of dish soap and warm water down the T-fitting of your drain line.
    • Clean and adjust your air conditioner’s blower to ensure proper system airflow.
    • Check the refrigerant level and adjust if necessary. Too much or too little refrigerant will make the system less efficient.

    If these steps don’t improve the situation (or you don’t feel confident doing them yourself), you’ll need to call a professional.

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  • Info on Air Ducts

    hvac units and water heatersAir Ducts: A Critical Aspect of HVAC System Performance

    If you think buying a top-of-the-line HVAC system will save you a lot of money on your energy bills…you’re probably right. However, a new air conditioner or furnace isn’t a cure-all—in reality, there are several factors that affect home energy efficiency, and a central heating and cooling system is just one of them. If any of these factors get overlooked, the performance of your new HVAC system will likely suffer.

    One important factor that often gets overlooked is air ducts, which deliver conditioned air throughout the home. When it comes to HVAC system efficiency (and home energy efficiency in general), there are a couple of issues that can arise with air ducts.

    1. Improper system sizing. If your ductwork isn’t properly sized in accordance with your heating and cooling system’s specifications, it can impact its energy efficiency. For example, if the return air is undersized, it can inhibit proper air flow and hamper system performance. This incompatibility typically results when an HVAC contractor neglects to calculate CFM (cubic feet per minute) prior to installing a new unit and/or ductwork. For this reason, it’s crucial to make sure your unit and ducting are compatible and make any necessary modifications to ensure proper air flow.
    1. Leaky air ducts. Another way ducting can hamper HVAC system efficiency is if it contains leaks. Leaky air ducts are one of the main culprits of energy loss, but since they’re out of sight, they often get overlooked. That’s why it’s important to have a professional technician periodically inspect your ducts for leaks and repair any that are found.

    One way to both locate and remedy duct leaks is with Aeroseal, a cutting-edge technology used by many Sacramento HVAC companies. First, a technician will use a special software program to test your ducting for leaks. If any leaks are detected, Aeroseal technology provides a simple and effective solution. After putting the ducts under pressure, the technician will inject a sealant, which works like an adhesive glue that covers the ductwork walls and seals any gaps or holes from the inside. Finally, a computer-generated analysis is generated to provide verification of the process’ success.

    Aeroseal is just one of many methods Sacramento HVAC companies employ to detect and repair leaky ductwork. Keep in mind that cases of significant ductwork damage may be deemed irreparable and require a complete replacement. While it certainly isn’t cheap, it’s absolutely necessary to take this step before you invest in expensive HVAC equipment.

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  • Tip Sheet

    professional HVAC tech at work in sacramento10 Ways to Maximize the Performance of Your HVAC System

    Consider the following tips to maximize the performance of your Sacramento home’s heating and cooling system:

    1. Regularly change your system’s air filter. In addition to being a preventative step against system failure, routinely changing your filter will enhance the air quality inside your home.
    1. Upgrade to a better filter. Whereas a standard, 1-inch fiberglass air filter will only provide a minimal amount of filtration, a high-grade, pleated filter will effectively capture dust, allergens and other airborne particles. The easiest way to assess the quality of an air filter is to check its Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). Filters are rated on a scale of MERV 1 to MERV 20, with 1 being the least effective and 20 being the most effective. To ensure a minimum baseline of performance, it’s best to avoid any air filter rated below MERV 5. MERV 9 filters, which are designated as “Better Residential,” are a good choice, but if you’re extra concerned about the quality of your indoor air, consider upgrading to a MERV 13 filter, which is designated as “Superior Residential.”
    1. Test your system before it’s needed. It’s better to find out that your furnace isn’t working in the autumn than in the dead of winter. Likewise, you’ll be glad to find out your air conditioner needs repairs in spring rather than on a hot Sacramento summer day.
    1. Maintain consistent temperatures. Rather than turn off your thermostat while you’re out, it’s better to maintain a consistent temperature point for the entire day. Not only will it take less time for your house to heat up/cool down to your desired temperature, your system won’t have to work as hard.
    1. Get a “smart” thermostat. Incorporating the latest in smart technology, today’s cutting-edge thermostats are programmable and capable of “learning” your habits and patterns, which allows them to make adjustments to minimize energy consumption. This can be particularly valuable in a large house that requires a lot of power to heat and cool.
    1. Replace old, inefficient HVAC equipment. If your HVAC system is more than 10 years old, it’s probably operating at about 70 percent efficiency, depending on the ductwork. By upgrading to a newer, high-efficiency HVAC system, you’ll easily see a 20 to 30 percent reduction in your energy bills.
    1. Keep heating and cooling registers unobstructed. Furniture or draperies that cover floor registers can inhibit air circulation and affect system performance.
    1. Have your air ducts professionally cleaned. A home’s air ducts should be professionally cleaned every two to three years—more often if there are inhabitants with severe allergies or respiratory issues. Remember, effective air duct cleaning requires the right equipment and techniques, so be sure to hire a certified professional for the job.
    1. Beware dubious money-saving strategies. To save on energy costs, some people employ strategies such as closing air vents in various rooms throughout their homes. However, in order for your system to run safely, 60 to 70 percent of your home’s air vents need to be left open. That means if you have 10 vents, you should keep at least six open to protect your system against a default shutdown. To ensure safety, always consult an HVAC professional before implementing questionable money-saving measures.
    1. Get regular professional inspections. Every manufacturer recommends annual maintenance to make sure the equipment is clean, safe to use and running at peak performance. During the appointment, an HVAC technician will inspect the furnace and air conditioning systems. Ideally, schedule two inspection appointments at different times of year: a furnace inspection in fall and an air conditioner inspection in spring.
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Additional companies within the Sacramento Area

The following companies have not applied or earned Diamond Certified. The performance of these companies is not backed by the Diamond Certified performance guarantee.  It is a good idea to check the license, insurance and performance history of these or any companies that are not Diamond Certified.

  • 7 Days Heating & A/C - (916) 519-9292
  • A1 Plumbing Heating & Air - (916) 489-5274
  • Abella’s Heating & Air - (916) 410-1779
  • Absolute Comfort Heating & Air - (916) 224-7159
  • Action Hvac - (916) 448-1760
  • Airflow Heating & Air - (916) 476-2222
  • Anderson Heating & Air Inc - (916) 585-9160
  • Andrade Heating & Air Cond - (916) 747-9882
  • Brad’s Heating & Air Condition - (916) 308-2349
  • Chavez Heating Air - (209) 744-8209
  • Complete Comfort Htg & A C - (916) 969-3185

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