5 Tips for Maintaining Your AC Unit



Maintaining Your AC Unit

Maintaining your property is one of the responsibilities you have as a homeowner. Whether it’s mowing your lawn, painting your house, or having a residential ac company in Placerville, stop by for an ac tune-up. You’ll need to stay on top of home maintenance in order to keep things running smoothly. Here are some simple tips Gilmore Heating, Air, and Plumbing⁣ recommend for maintaining your ac unit. 

Change Air Filters

Can you remember the last time you replaced the filters for your central AC unit? If not, they’re probably long overdue! Folsom AC service technicians recommend that you change disposable filters every 1-3 months. The actual replacement schedule that you follow will depend on several factors, i.e., if you have pets or live in a dusty area. Replace the filters more frequently during allergy season since the filters become clogged faster during this time of the year. Replacing your home’s ac filters is quick and easy. If you need assistance, our service techs are happy to help.

Clean the Condensing Unit

Most central AC systems have an outdoor heat pump or condensing unit. This unit has a fan mounted on top of it for the purpose of dispersing heat from the condenser. Our Folsom AC service technicians recommend that you periodically hose down this unit in order to get rid of all the pollen, dirt, and grime that accumulate and clog the fins. Try to avoid using a pressure washer since this can cause irreparable damage to the condenser or fins.

Check Around the Outdoor Unit

Our friends at McQuillan Bros, an Twin Peaks HVAC company, also recommend a visual inspection around the outdoor unit. You’ll typically need at least two feet of wiggle room around the unit. While inspecting your home’s ac unit, remove any debris and trim back any bushes or other vegetation that grows too close to the unit. Residential AC tune-up professionals recommend cleaning your ac unit often if you have trees or plants that produce high counts of pollen. This will help improve the air quality in your home. 

Check the Drain Pan and Drainpipe

If you didn’t know, your air conditioning system has a drain pan and drainpipe that help to collect and channel the moisture that is extracted from the air inside your home. The drainpipe may become clogged due to the growth of mold and other biological matter, and this could block the flow of water to the outside of the home. You may face the problem of a clogged drainpipe. If so, our friends at Tureks Plumbing, a Fox Valley plumbing company, recommends that you use a wet-dry vacuum to periodically unclog the drainpipe. If you aren’t sure about your drainpipe and drain pan on your central AC unit, contact your local HVAC company for help. At Gilmore Heating, Air, and Plumbing⁣, we provide residential ac tune-up services and more!

Residential AC Tune-Up

Gilmore Heating and Air strongly recommends that Sacramento homeowners stay on top of their ac maintenance. The last thing you want to worry about is a broken air conditioning unit in the middle of summer. Our HVAC technicians will analyze thoroughly check your air conditioning system to make sure that it’s running properly. Routine maintenance is an essential part of keeping your air conditioning system up and running. Just like a car, the more you maintain it, the longer it will last. 

You don’t have to struggle to maintain your AC on your own. Gilmore Heating and Air are happy to stop by for an ac tune-up. If you need residential ac repair or replacement, give us a call today and talk to one of our experienced HVAC professionals.

Duct Cleaning



Your home’s air ducts directly affect the quality of your indoor air, so it’s good to know exactly how they work—and how you should take care of them.

Duct cleaning generally refers to the cleaning of various heating and cooling system components of forced air systems, including the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers heating and cooling coils, condensate drain pans (drip pans), fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing.

If not properly installed, maintained, and operated, these components may become contaminated with particles of dust, pollen or other debris.

Even worse, if moisture is present, the potential for microbiological growth (e.g., mold) is increased and spores from such growth may be released into the home’s living space. Some of these contaminants may cause allergic reactions or other symptoms in people if they are exposed to them.

If you decide to have your heating and cooling system cleaned, make sure you hire a qualified service provider agrees to clean all components of the system. Failure to clean even one component can result in the re-contamination of the entire system. Typically, a service provider will use specialized tools to dislodge dirt and other debris in ducts, then vacuum them out with a high-powered vacuum cleaner.

Important News for Homeowners with Furnaces Manufactured Before 2001



 

More than 49 brands of furnaces produced prior to 2001 may possess potentially defective parts. Thousands of these furnaces may still be in homes today. Should these furnaces components fail, they present some possible risk to homeowners.

Potentially defective furnace parts were distributed to the public.

Consolidated Industries, one of the largest manufactures of HVAC equipment, built these furnace components. They supplied these components to leading HVAC companies in the industry who used them to manufacture residential furnaces.

Multiple reports of problems have surfaced.

In California, the furnaces contain NOx rods that could cause the burners to overheat and ignite a fire. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) received 50 reports of fires associated with 140,000 furnaces.

Later, these furnaces were found to have potentially defective burners, heat exchangers, and/or expansion joints. Should one of these critical parts fail, they pose a serious risk of fire and/or carbon monoxide.

Legal action has been taken against Consolidated Industries.

In 2002, due to the defective NOx rods, Consolidated Industries settled a class action lawsuit with California homeowners: Salah v. Consolidated Industries, Inc., Santa Clara County Superior Court, for the State of California, Case No. CV738376.

In 2009, due to the defective burners, heat exchangers, and/or expansion joints, Consolidated Industries bankruptcy estate settled a nationwide private class action lawsuite: Stefanyshyn v. Consolidated Industries, Inc., Tippecanoe County Superior Court, for the State of Indiana, Case No. 79D 01-9712-CT-59.

Get your furnace evaluated now to prevent potential hazards.

We want you to stay safe in your home. So make sure you contact a Gilmore professional to get your furnace inspected as soon as possible. We can easily identify Consolidated Industries furnaces and parts, and recommend a solution that will work more safely and efficiently for you.

Furnace Care



As summer turns to fall, inevitably the day comes where it’s time to switch your thermostat from ‘cool’ to ‘heat,’ and bring your furnace to life. But how well your furnace performs depends on how well it’s maintained, because even a new furnace loses efficiency after just one year.

The combustion chamber is a common source of lost efficiency.

Lost efficiency begins in the combustion chamber. Soot buildup can corrode chamber walls; cleaning it out boosts performance. Before replacing the cover, it’s important to inspect for holes and corrosion.

Damage to the heat exchanger can affect performance and safety.

The heat exchanger should be carefully inspected by a professional, because a cracked exchanger can potentially increase carbon monoxide levels, which can pose a danger to a home’s occupants. That’s why testing combustion ensures not just performance, but safety as well. Gases are measured in the exhaust flue, checking for proper fuel and air balance.

Burners and ignitors should be checked carefully.

The burner may need adjustment. The burner flame’s color and shape at the ignitor are the best indication of complete and stable combustion.

In gas furnaces, ignitor tubes are typically vacuumed clean as part of an annual checkup. Your system’s exhaust flue pipe also needs careful inspection for holes that could allow carbon monoxide leaks. While smaller holes can be patched, a corroded flue pipe should be replaced.

Finally, there are some steps homeowners can take to help their systems breathe easier.

Check and replace air filters regularly. Be sure to use the right size. Pleated ones work best. You should also annually remove and clean registers, and vacuum floor ducts. Lost efficiency means increased energy bills. That’s why annual maintenance helps keep your home warm and your system efficient.

Why is My Heat Pump Blowing Cold Air?



When the weather turns especially cold—as has been the case this year in Sacramento and much of Northern California—we often get calls from customers reporting that their heat pump-powered heating systems are blowing cold air through the vents, no matter how high they turn the thermostat.

This is a common complaint, and in order to explain what’s going on, first we have to backtrack and explain what a heat pump is.

How a Heat Pump Works

Classic furnaces work by generating heat—usually by burning natural gas or powering an electric heating element—and then using that heat to warm air that is blown through a heat exchanger.

Heat pumps are a different beast altogether. Heating up air uses a lot of energy and is financially costly. Heat pumps don’t have this problem because they don’t use an energy source to produce heat. Instead, they’re essentially two-way air conditioners, capable of removing heat from a home and emitting it outdoors, or vice versa. This versatility is what has made them increasingly popular: they’re relatively simple, and eliminate the need to install separate heating and cooling systems.

Whereas traditional heaters rely on heat generation, heat pumps work by transferring heat. Their operation relies on a key truth about heat: It wants to be evenly distributed, and will move from areas of high warmth to areas of low warmth. This is why your home warms up in the summertime, while the winter weather seems to suck the heat right out of your home.

Heat pumps take this process and crank it into overdrive, extracting heat from cool and even cold air. Most homes use air-source heat pumps, which run outside air through a series of coils that extract heat energy. This energy is transferred to internal air that is passed through the heat pump and then blown back into the home. Meanwhile, the outside air is redirected back into the outside environment as a blast of icy cold air.

The neat trick with heat pumps is that in summer, this process is easily reversed, allowing the same mechanism to instead transfer heat out of your home, cooling it in the process.

Why a Heat Pump Will Blow Cold Air

Here’s the downside of a heat pump: The warmth of the air it produces is entirely dependent upon the outside temperature. Generally speaking, a heat pump will produce air that is about 55 degrees warmer than the outside air. This isn’t a problem when it’s 55 degrees outside—your system will expel air that’s a toasty warm 110 degrees or so.

But when the winter weather drops to 40 degrees, that means your system will blow air that is about 95 degrees. If it drops to 30 outside, your system will blow 85 degree air, which is much cooler than your skin temperature. As a result, the air will actually feel cool against your skin.

However, this air is almost certainly warmer than the desired temperature of your home (unless you like living in a sauna), and thus will successfully maintain that temperature. You just won’t be able to warm your feet on a toasty warm vent like you would in a home heated with a traditional furnace.

Heat Pump Problems

It is important to note that occasionally, heat pumps will go through a defrost cycle, during which the unit will blow air that is truly cold. But this will only go on for a couple minutes, and won’t affect the overall temperature of your home.

However, if your heat pump blows cold air for more than a couple minutes every hour or so, then your system isn’t working properly. Check to make sure that the air intake isn’t blocked, the ductwork is properly connected, and the filter is clear. If there are no obvious issues, then it’s probably time to give your local heating and air company a call.

Common issues that require professional intervention include:

  • Low refrigerant
  • Internal debris buildup
  • Valve failure
  • Stuck in air conditioning mode
  • Compressor not operating
  • Failure of the deicing unit

If your heat pump isn’t working properly or has failed altogether, give Gilmore a call. We’ll fix it right the first time, so you can rest easy knowing that you and your family will be living in comfort again in no time!

Time for a Furnace Tune-Up



While we’ve been seeing some sunny days recently, Sacramento is definitely not out of the woods yet when it comes to cold weather. With our recent wet weather, chances are that you’ll have reason to be running your heater occasionally through at least April, if not later.

This is why we recommend having one of Gilmore’s expert technicians come out and perform a furnace tune-up, if you haven’t already. Furnaces, like cars, need the occasional inspection and tune-up for peak performance. Without maintenance, furnaces can develop problems resulting in costly energy bills, substandard performance, and even health risks for you and your family (carbon monoxide leaks are no joke!).

Here’s what you can expect from our furnace tune-up service calls:

  • Thermostat calibration
  • Wiring inspection
  • Visual heat exchanger inspection
  • Burner check
  • Removing all covers for full equipment inspection
  • Blower motor check
  • Gas leak check for units that use natural gas
  • Ensuring unimpeded air flow and venting
  • Checking for acceptable manifold pressure
  • Air filter inspection

Furnace tune-ups offer a variety of benefits.

In addition to peace of mind, having your furnace serviced provides a number of great benefits, included enhanced performance, lower energy bills, reduced repair costs, a longer lifespan for furnace components, and avoiding safety hazards such as carbon monoxide and natural gas leaks.

If you’re ready to have a Gilmore central heating expert perform a furnace tune-up on your central heating system, make an appointment today by calling Gilmore Heating, Air, and Plumbing at 888-868-2316, or use our convenient online contact form.

Have You Changed Your HVAC Air Filter?



When was the last time you changed the air filter (or filters) for your central heating and cooling system? Chances are that it has been months or even years since you even thought to check it, and many homeowners don’t even know where the air filters for their system are located. The unfortunate truth is that, while changing an air filter only takes a few seconds, most people neglect to do so, despite the fact that failing to do this simple task significantly impacts performance and can shorten the lifespan of HVAC system components.

A clogged filter allows less air to flow through, meaning that less of the air that your system heats or cools actually makes it into your home, forcing your system to work longer and harder. Ultimately, the cost of this is twofold: higher energy bills, and costly repair bills that could otherwise have been averted or delayed.

Check your filter monthly, and replace it as needed.

No two homes are the same. In some homes, an air filter may last for a year or more, whereas homes that have pets or are in a locale where dust and debris often blows in from outside may require much more frequent air filter replacements.

A good rule of thumb is to check your air filter on a monthly basis. Air filters need to be clean in order to operate properly. Don’t wait until it’s full of hair, dirt, and other debris to replace it. To determine if it’s time for a new air filter, hold it in front of a lighting fixture. If it’s difficult to see light through the filter, then it’s time to replace it.

When you purchase a new air filter, make sure that it matches the length and width of your old air filter. Installing one that is too small will allow debris to flow around the filter and potentially damage the blower motor your HVAC system, and also contaminate the inside of your home.

There are many types of air filters to choose from, from inexpensive glass fiber and paper filters to pricier electrostatic filters that use static to capture particles.

If you’re unsure about how to replace your HVAC system air filter, or you’d rather not worry about the hassle, the experts at Gilmore are happy to help! To schedule an appointment today, give us a call at 888-868-2316, or use our convenient online contact form.

Getting Your Home Air Conditioner Ready for Summer



The year hardly feels like it’s even started, and spring is already here! We’ve gotten a few warm days already, and anyone who lives in or around Sacramento knows that it’s going to warm up fast over the next couple of months.

Watch the video above for a few tips on what you can do to prepare your air conditioner for warm summer weather, or read on below.

Change the filters.

As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, many homeowners forget to change their HVAC system air filters on a regular basis. If air can’t easily pass through the filter, you’ll receive less of that wonderfully cool air, and your air conditioner will have to work harder and will break down sooner.

Remove any covers or lids from the condenser.

Whether you own a normal air conditioning system or a heat pump, you have a condenser installed somewhere outside your home, either in your backyard or in a side yard. While appearances can vary a great deal depending on brand and age, it will look something like the unit below:

 

If any protective covers or lids have been placed on the condenser to protect it from winter rain and debris, make sure to remove them. Running your air conditioner with a cover still on the condenser can cause extremely costly damage to your A/C.

Clear away debris from the condenser.

It’s very easy for condensers to become obstructed by windblown leaves and branches, or by gardening mulch and soil that have been placed too close to the unit. Take the time to carefully remove all of the foreign material heaped up against the unit or jammed into the vents. Please note that condensers are installed on cement slabs. If you can’t see the slab, then you need to dig down and remove all debris on and around it until it’s visible and the surface is well elevated above the surrounding ground, as in the photo above.

If you find that vent guards or electrical panels are missing from the condenser, be sure to call us immediately, as these issues present safety risks.

If you’re well versed in basic A/C maintenance, it’s also wise to take the time to clean the coils in the condenser (these are the small metal tubes running around the condenser, just beneath the metal guards). However, many homeowners inadvertently damage the coils with improper cleaning methods. If you don’t know how to clean the coils, and they look like they are covered with dirt or other debris, then we recommend calling your local Gilmore Heating & Air for assistance.

Make sure the registers and ductwork are clear.

Walk around your home and check all of the registers. Make sure that they aren’t covered by carpets, furniture, or other obstructions. Then, open up or remove each register and check to see if anything has fallen into the ductwork beneath it. For homes with pets or children, it’s very common for all sorts of interesting items to end up lodged in HVAC ductwork. Also, take a flashlight and carefully check the surface of the ductwork for any signs of mold. Mold is an extremely serious issue that can cause respiratory distress and other health problems. If you find signs of mold, call us immediately.

Run your air conditioner to make sure it works.

Now that you’ve checked over everything, it’s time to fire up your air conditioner. Chances are that it’s been five to six months since you last ran it. That’s enough time for water leaks to cause corrosion, pests to build nests in long-unused ductwork, or any number of other problems that can lead to one big problem: an A/C that doesn’t work, despite all of your hard work.

That’s why we advise taking a few minutes and turning your A/C on to make sure that it’s functioning properly, long before you actually need it (yes, even if it’s cold outside). Every year, when the first hot day hits, we receive an avalanche of phone calls from homeowners in a panic because they can’t get their A/C to run, and the temperature on their thermostat is on the rise…

So, don’t wait. Test it out now so you have time for any necessary repairs before you actually need your air conditioner to be in good working order.

Diagnosing Residential Air Conditioner Problems



Your residential air conditioning system needs periodic attention. Even so, problems can happen. Before calling for help, it’s possible to save time and money by doing some AC troubleshooting of your own.

AC Doesn’t Run

  • If your system doesn’t turn on at all, make sure it’s getting power. Check the fuse or circuit breaker. If your system has a secondary breaker near the outside unit, verify that it’s on.

Air Conditioner Turns On and Off Too Often or Not Often Enough

  • Your system cycles based on a sensor you know as the thermostat. Verify that it is set in the ‘cooling’ position. If it is located in a small, isolated room, other rooms may not cool properly. Consider moving it to a larger, more centrally located room.
  • If your system starts and stops frequently, it may be too big, or a register could be blowing on a thermostat.
  • If your system seldom cycles off, you could have low refrigerant levels or faulty relay switches.
  • Dirty filters and intakes can prevent your system from pulling in enough air to properly cool your home. Check your air filters and exchange them regularly to keep your home comfortable. Alternatively, consider upgrading to a media filter, which only requires semiannual attention.

Water Accumulating Under the AC

  • Pooling water in your AC unit’s drip pan could mean a broken condensation pump or a blocked drain line (if it’s the latter, you can try clearing the line with bleach). Either way, that water means it’s time to schedule service. You should consider installing a safety shutoff switch that will turn the unit off if drain lines back up.

AC Runs, But Doesn’t Blow Cool Air

  • If your system blows warm air, check that the outside unit is running, and that its airflow isn’t blocked by leaves or debris.
  • If the fan on the outside unit isn’t turning, turn the thermostat fan switch to the ‘off’ position. If the inside fan continues running, turn off your system breaker and schedule service. Your problem could be insufficient refrigerant. Your air conditioner is a closed system. If it’s low on refrigerant, you have a leak, which commonly occurs at valves or in the coil. Finding a leak is work for a professional.
  • If your blower motor is running but not cooling, your system is probably frozen, and needs professional attention.

How to Replace Your Home Air Conditioner



There comes a time when every air conditioner needs replacement. But how can you be sure that time has come for your system? It’s a matter of considering all the factors.

Air conditioner age is an important consideration, but not the only one.

Age alone is not reason enough to replace your air conditioner. According to Energy.gov, your central air conditioner’s lifespan is about 15 to 20 years. If your AC has been reliable and isn’t giving you trouble, it may be worthwhile to hold off on replacing it.

On the other hand, while a system can be kept operating for many decades, frequent repairs mean your comfort comes at an ever-increasing cost. In addition, most warranties expire about 10 years after the date of purchase, leaving you without coverage, just as these older systems are at a higher risk of breaking down.

How efficient is your air conditioner?

Older air conditioners use more energy to produce the same level of comfort as newer ones. Check your utility bills. If your air conditioner is 10 years old, replacing it may reduce your energy costs by 20% to 40%. If your system is older, then you may see even greater savings.

Comfort is another consideration. If you have rooms that are too hot or too cold, or if your home is too dry in the winter and too humid in the summer, it could be due to improper installation, poorly designed ducts, insufficient insulation, or a combination of all three.

If you buy a new air conditioner, what will be the return on your investment?

As your air conditioner ages, it will experience breakdowns and other issues which reduce its efficiency. These problems might be repairable, but balance the cost of these repairs with the investment of replacing your system.

Return on investment is worth considering. If you plan on being in your home less than two years, you may not get your investment back on a new system. Then again, when time comes to sell, an aging air conditioner can impact your asking price or even delay a sale.

Don’t wait for your air conditioner to fail to make a decision.

When’s the best time to replace your air conditioner? Before it breaks down, of course. A rushed decision is seldom a good one, as you don’t have the time to carefully compare prices and various features when you’re worried about the comfort of your loved ones.

And breakdowns increase as systems work their hardest during the summer. If you know your AC is aging, planning ahead for residential air conditioning replacement in Sacramento this spring allows you time to make a better choice. Start comparison shopping while the weather is still mild, and then call the experts at Gilmore when you’re ready to replace your air conditioner.

System age, price, repairs, comfort, safety, warranty, time left in your home, and return on investment—these are all important factors to consider when replacing your air conditioning system.