Common Furnace Repairs

October 17th, 2014

Furnaces are the most common kind of forced air system available, occupying the majority of homes in the U.S. With so many people using furnaces in their homes, a pattern starts to emerge regarding the maintenance issues that a lot of them face.

Below you’ll find some of the most common furnace repairs, and what you should do about them.

Dirty Air Filters

A dirty air filter is an extremely common and easy to replace issue with furnaces. It is recommended that you change your air filter at least once a month, but some people either don’t know or don’t think it’s that big of a deal. While not a big problem itself, a bad air filter can cause a whole host of problems in other areas of the furnace, some of which can be life threatening. Possibly the most dangerous side effect of a dirty air filter is a cracked heat exchanger, which can vent poisonous combustion gases into your home. So, if you haven’t changed your air filter in a while or don’t know how, call an HVAC professional right away.

Pilot Light/Burner Issues

The pilot light is a continuously burning flame at the bottom of your furnace. This flame lights the burners, which keeps your furnace lit and consuming fuel. If your pilot light goes out, your furnace won’t have any way to turn on. Similarly, if your burner is dirty or broken your furnace will not light either. A burner can suffer a partial decrease in efficiency, leading to your furnace struggling to produce enough heat. A pilot light, by contrast, often simply blows out.

Gas Imbalance

An imbalance in the gas flow to your furnace can cause cold spots or sudden stops in your heating cycle. This is usually caused by the valve not being set properly, or occasionally a blockage in the gas line. You will definitely need a professional to fix this for you. Tampering with the gas line without expert knowledge is dangerous and not recommended.

If your furnace seems to be having problems, call Cal-West Air Conditioning. We conduct heating repairs all over San Diego.


Why It’s Important to Schedule Heating Maintenance

October 3rd, 2014

Our temperatures may be perfect right now, but cool weather is right around the corner. There’s nothing worse than having your heater fail you on that first chilly day, and one of the best ways to avoid this scenario is to schedule heating maintenance. Hiring a professional to perform maintenance offers you a number of benefits, and this time of year offers a perfect window of opportunity to schedule a maintenance appointment. If it’s been more than 12 months since your last maintenance appointment, call Cal-West Air Conditioning today.

Reasons to Schedule Maintenance

Here are a few reasons why it’s important to schedule heating maintenance:

  • Increase energy efficiency – a system that is worn and dirty can’t run at the efficiency level it was made to; as such, it will use more energy to achieve your set temperature. During maintenance, your system and its components are cleaned, adjusted and lubricated, which helps the system run optimally.
  • Prevent repairs – the technician performing the maintenance will thoroughly inspect your system; this allows the technician to detect any existing or developing problems with your system. Being able to get ahead of repairs before they can blossom into large and potentially costly ones is good for your system and your wallet.
  • Better comfort – a system that is struggling to work due to wear-and-tear will have a lot of trouble achieving the set temperature in your home. A system that has been properly maintained won’t. This can help improve your comfort.
  • Extend the life of your system – a system that works under stress for long periods of time ages prematurely. When your system is in good working order, as it can be after a maintenance appointment, your system doesn’t age prematurely and can last longer.
  • Safety – for those with heating systems that work via combustion, safety checks are part of the maintenance appointment. The technician will check for cracks in the equipment, and test for things like carbon monoxide.

Heating maintenance involves a lot more than most people realize, and it’s all for the benefit of you and your system. If you need to schedule fall heating maintenance in San Diego, call Cal-West Air Conditioning today!

When Is a Good Time to Schedule Maintenance?

September 26th, 2014

Our technicians are asked a lot, “when is a good time to schedule maintenance?” The answer to this question depends in large part on the last time you had a maintenance visit for your air conditioner. Industry recommendations are that maintenance should be scheduled bi-annually, in the spring and fall. But if you haven’t had your system maintained in twelve months or more, any time is a good time to schedule air conditioning maintenance. One of the most important aspects of scheduling maintenance is making sure you hire trained professionals to perform it, like the ones at Cal-West Air Conditioning.

Why Schedule Maintenance?

Maintenance has benefits that are important to you and your air conditioning system:

  • Helps prevent repair – during a maintenance appointment, your system is thoroughly inspected. This allows the technician to detect any existing or developing problems, and take care of them immediately. If these problems aren’t detected, they can become bigger and more costly over time.
  • Increases energy efficiency – during normal use, your system becomes dirty, and parts will wear. These kinds of things can be a drag on your system, and cause it to use more energy while it operates. Maintenance helps to increase your energy efficiency because parts are cleaned, lubricated and adjusted as needed, returning them to their optimal state. This helps your air conditioner work at its best efficiency level.
  • Extends life of the equipment – allowing your air conditioner to operate year after year with no maintenance can age the system prematurely. By keeping your system in good working order with regularly scheduled maintenance, you can extend the life of your equipment.
  • Increase comfort levels – a system that is struggling due to wear and tear is not one that can easily achieve your set temperature. As such, your indoor comfort may be compromised. Maintenance addresses problems caused by wear and tear, allowing your air conditioner to operate optimally.

Fall offers a great time of year to schedule maintenance for your air conditioning in San Diego. Call Cal-West Air Conditioning today and schedule an appointment with one of our experts!

What You Should Know about Refrigerant Types

September 19th, 2014

Refrigerant is the chemical that your air conditioning uses to facilitate heat transfer. It is a chemical that changes easily from a liquid to a gas and back to a liquid, which is why it works so well for conditioning the air. The first use of refrigerant was by a man named Willis Carrier, who had been asked to create a system that would help preserve the books in the New York Library during the summers as the humidity was destroying them. From there the idea of “conditioned air” took off, and soon Freon was created by the DuPont corporation, which became the standard refrigeration chemical used in the cooling industry.

Unfortunately, Freon, also known as R-22, is a greenhouse and also contributes to ozone depletion, so in 1987, the Montreal Protocol began the movement toward eliminating the use of R-22. It has been a gradual depletion: the first steps of the phase out began with reducing the amount of air conditioning systems that need to operate with R-22; in 2010, the last air conditioners needing to operate with R-22 were manufactured. Currently, if you own an air conditioner with R-22, you can have it recharged, but you can no longer purchase an AC that uses R-22 as they are no longer made. Manufacturers of R-22 can continue to produce R-22 for recharging purposes only; by 2020, R-22 will be phased out completely. So what refrigerants are replacing R-22?

The main one is R-410A, which goes by several names: Forane 410A, Puron, EcoFluor R410, Genetron R410-A and AZ-20. R-410A doesn’t contribute to ozone depletion like R-22 does and allows for higher system efficiencies than R-22.

The important thing to understand about refrigerant is that R-22 is being phased out. This means that if you have an air conditioner that operates using R-22, the recharge cost could be very expensive. Secondly, with the full phase out planned for 2020, it may be prudent to consider the installation of a new air conditioner.

If you have questions about the refrigerant used in your air conditioning, call Cal-West Air Conditioning today and speak to one of our trained air conditioning specialists in San Diego.

What Are My Choices for Air Conditioning in San Diego?

September 12th, 2014

At some point during your home ownership, it is very likely that you will need to upgrade or replace your home’s air conditioner. The good news is that there are several choices available to you. Your air conditioning is a necessity, so it’s important to know what types of whole-home ACs are available. For over 30 years, Cal-West Air Conditioning has helped multiple customers in San Diego, CA with the installation, repair, replacement and maintenance of all types of air conditioners, and we are here to help you, too.

Choices for Air Conditioning

Here are the air conditioning products Cal-West Air Conditioning carries:

Central Air

A split-system AC has two units: an indoor unit and an outdoor unit. The indoor unit, also known as the evaporator unit, contains the evaporator coils and the indoor blower. The outdoor unit contains the compressor, the condenser and the condenser fan. A split-system AC needs ductwork to deliver the cool air.

Ductless Split-System

A ductless split-system has an outdoor unit very similar to that of a traditional split-system AC, but instead of having a single, large indoor unit, a ductless system uses individual blowers to deliver the cool air. The blowers are connected to the outdoor unit via a conduit through an exterior wall. Inside this conduit are the refrigerant line, power cord and condensate pipe. A single outdoor unit can support up to 4 indoor blowers.

Packaged Unit

A packaged unit holds all the air conditioner’s components – the evaporator, condenser, compressor, etc., – in a single metal cabinet. This type of unit can be placed on the ground or on a rooftop. Packaged units are typically used for large homes and some commercial spaces.

Each of the above air conditioners are energy efficient and will affectively cool your home, but to determine which air conditioner is the best match for you, it’s best to work with trained professionals. If it’s time for new AC system in your home, call and schedule air conditioning service in San Diego with the people you can trust: Cal-West Air Conditioning.

How Does an Air Cleaner Help Air Conditioning?

September 5th, 2014

Air cleaners are made to improve your indoor air quality, but did you know that they can also help your air conditioner? There are a few types of air cleaners, as we’ll outline below, but their benefits don’t just extend to you and your family – they also extend to your air conditioning. Of course, without proper installation, you won’t see any benefit at all, so if you are looking to add an air purifier to your system, make sure to call the experts at Cal-West Air Conditioning.

Types of Air Cleaners

There are 3 main types of air cleaners you can add to your existing AC system:

  • Mechanical air filters
  • Electronic precipitators
  • Ion generators

Mechanical Air Filters

Mechanical air filters are square-framed filters that typically fit into a slot in your indoor unit (although not all do). Particles are filtered by the material, or media, that is inside the frame. The amount and type of particles that are trapped by the media depend on the material of the media, and how tightly the material is woven. Mechanical filters need to be changed approximately every 3 months in order to be effective.

Electronic Precipitators & Ion Generators

Both electronic precipitators and ion generators use electricity to capture and remove particles, but each does it a little differently. Electronic precipitators draw particles in with a fan; once inside, the particles enter an ionization section where they become charged. These newly-charged particles are then collected on oppositely-charged metal plates.

Ion generators also charge particles, but do it by dispersing negative ions into the air. These ions adhere to the particles in your air space and are attracted to the surfaces in your home (your surfaces are oppositely-charged). The ions and particles collect on your household’s surfaces and are removed when cleaned.

How Do Air Cleaners Help Your AC?

There are 2 key ways air cleaners help your air conditioner:

  • Better energy efficiency – dust and dirt build-up can restrict air flow in your system, which causes stress. Any time your system is stressed, it uses more power to achieve cooling. Air cleaners help reduce the amount of dust and dirt build-up, allowing for good air flow.
  • Less wear and tear – a system that operates under stress for long periods of time can prematurely age. Air cleaners reduce stress by capturing particles before they can impede the operation of your system.

If you think you and your air conditioning can benefit from the installation of an air purifier, call Cal-West Air Conditioning today and schedule your air conditioning service in San Diego with one of our experts.

The Very First Labor Day Celebration

August 29th, 2014

Labor Day as a federal holiday, held on the first Monday of September, has been with us now for 120 years. President Grover Cleveland signed the law that made Labor Day a national holiday in 1894. Ever since then, the three-day weekend has provided people in the U.S. with the opportunity for vacations, time with their families, shopping trips, and a general celebration of the conclusion of summer and the beginning of fall.

However, there were twelve years of Labor Day observations in the U.S. before it became an official holiday. The first Labor Day celebration took place in 1882 in New York City on September 5. According to the accounts from the time, it had a rough start and almost didn’t happen.

The main event planned for that first Labor Day was a parade along Broadway that was to start at City Hall. However, the parade ran into a bit of a snag early on. The marchers started to line up for the procession around 9 a.m., with a police escort to make sure the event went peacefully. However, the problem of the day wasn’t rowdy members of the parade—it was that nobody had remembered to bring a band!

With people ready to march, but no music to march to, it started to look like no parade would happen at all, and the first Labor Day would have ended up a failure. But just in time, Matthew Maguire of the Central Labor Union—one of the two men who first proposed the celebration—ran across the City Hall lawn to the Grand Marshal of the parade, William McCabe, to inform him that 200 men from the Jeweler’s Union of Newark were crossing the ferry to Manhattan… and they had a band!

At 10 a.m., only an hour late, the band from Newark walked down Broadway playing a number from a popular Gilbert and Sullivan opera. They passed McCabe and the other 700 marchers, who then fell in line behind them. Soon, the spectators joined in, and an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people marched through Lower Manhattan.

According to the New York Times, “The windows and roofs and even the lamp posts and awning frames were occupied by persons anxious to get a good view of the first parade in New York of workingmen of all trades united in one organization.”

The parade concluded two hours later when the marchers reached Reservoir Park. But the party was only getting started. Until 9 p.m., some 25,000 people celebrated with picnics and speeches and beer kegs. It was an enormous success, and all thanks to the speedy arrival of jewelers carrying band instruments.

If those musicians from Newark hadn’t shown up, perhaps we wouldn’t have the holiday opportunity that we now have every year. However you celebrate your Labor Day, our family at Cal–West Air Conditioning wishes your family a happy end of summer.

Your Air Conditioner Can Help with Your Air Quality

August 22nd, 2014

Your air conditioner can serve as the foundation for improving your indoor air quality because it is easy to upgrade with air-cleaning components. Your AC already removes humidity from the air as part of the cooling process, but there are several other things you can do with your air conditioning to help improve the quality of air in your home. We understand how important it is to have clean indoor air, which is why Cal-West Air Conditioning offers comprehensive indoor air quality services.

Types of Air Cleaners

There are a few types of air cleaners from which to choose, but they fall into one of three categories:

  • Mechanical air filters
  • Electronic air cleaners
  • UV germicidal lights

Mechanical Air Filters

Mechanical air filters are the most common types of air filters. Set in a square frame, these filters typically fit into the space where your standard air filter resides (but not always). The job of your AC’s indoor air filter is not to improve indoor air quality; rather, it helps keep dust, dirt and debris from entering your system. Mechanical filters are made to improve the air in your living space, and as such, are manufactured with better materials and tighter weaves, and they have higher MERV ratings. HEPA filters are also mechanical filters, but HEPA filters are made in a specific way so that their effectiveness rate – which is 99.97% – is very high. Some HEPA filters can restrict air flow in your system, so it’s advisable to speak with an expert before installing a HEPA filter to your air conditioner.

Electronic Air Cleaners

There are two types of electronic air cleaners:

  • Ion generators
  • Electronic precipitators

Ion generators disburse ions into your air space that charge the particles in your air. These newly-charged particles are attracted to the surfaces in your home, such as walls, counters and tables. This attraction pulls the particles from the air, and they are removed whenever the surfaces are cleaned.

Electronic precipitators also charge particles, but do so via an ionization section that the precipitator creates. Particles pass through this ionization section, become charged, and are then attracted to oppositely-charged metal plates that are part of the precipitator. These plates capture the particles, and need to be cleaned approximately every 3 months in order to fully remove the particles.

UV Germicidal Lights

UV lights do not capture particles, nor do they filter particles; instead, UV germicidal lights purify the air around them by destroying biological contaminants. UV germicidal lights employ the use of UV-C rays. These types of rays destroy the DNA of cells, as well as the life-sustaining proteins every cell needs to survive and replicate. As such, UV lights not only destroy biological contaminants: they also destroy the ability of the cells to reproduce.

How does your air conditioner help with air quality? Each of the above products is for whole-home use, and can be easily installed as part of your air conditioning system. This allows for better indoor air quality without the hassle of room-by-room appliances that need constant monitoring and manual operation. Want to know more? Call Cal-West Air Conditioning today and schedule air conditioning service in San Diego with one of our air quality specialists.

Should I Consider a Ductless AC?

August 15th, 2014

When you picture an air conditioning system, you may immediately think of a two-part system that distributes cool air through a series of ducts. Central AC is the most common form of air conditioning used among homeowners, but another type of system that is growing in popularity is the ductless mini split.

How Does It Work?

Much like central air conditioning, a ductless AC has both an outdoor and indoor unit. However, unlike conventional AC, the outdoor unit of a ductless mini split does not connect to the ducts. Rather, the outside condenser unit connects to one or several indoor air handlers. The indoor air handler contains all of the components of the inside unit of a standard AC. A fan sucks in warm air, which is cooled over the evaporator coil. The fan then blows the cool air into your home.

Who Needs Ductless Air Conditioning?

People choose ductless air conditioning for many reasons. Some homes are not built with any ductwork, and installation may be time consuming. In other cases, homeowners with ductwork choose to add a room to the home and want to cool the room without extending the ducts.

Many homeowners may choose window or room air conditioners which can cool a small area. Unfortunately, the cooling capacity is often too small for most rooms. Furthermore, these units are noisy and inefficient.

What are the Benefits?

Ductless mini split air conditioners, on the other hand, offer many benefits for homeowners. First, they’re far more energy efficient than window air conditioners, and they have a higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) than many central AC systems. Additionally, ductless mini splits can heat a home as well. Another great feature of ductless systems is zone control. Usually, multiple air handlers are mounted throughout the home to provide even cooling. Each air handler has its own thermostat so that you can choose to vary the temperature in different areas.

Ductless air conditioning is an efficient source of cooling and heating, but it may not be right for everyone. The best person to talk to about your options for air conditioning in La Mesa is a professional AC technician. Call Cal-West Air Conditioning for questions, installation, maintenance, or repairs today!


Reasons Not To Do Your Own AC Repairs

August 8th, 2014

Calling for air conditioning service is an occasional necessity for most homeowners. Air conditioning systems should receive professional maintenance a least once a year, and your unit will eventually need replacement. Additionally, many air conditioners need repair from time to time, but some homeowners may try to take on the job themselves, skipping the professional service call just this once to try to save a little bit of cash.

Unfortunately, failed “do-it-yourself” fixes are part of the reason many air conditioners need costly repairs later on or premature replacement. If you attempt to repair your air conditioner on your own, you may end up damaging the system beyond repair. Here at Cal-West Air Conditioning, we want your air conditioner to run smoothly for years to come, so we’ve come up with a couple of reasons you should leave air conditioning repair up to the professionals.

The Problem May Not Be What You Think

Many online sources may try to help you fix air conditioning problems yourself by providing helpful tips to diagnose and repair problems. Unfortunately, many problems have multiple possible causes, and the repair you make may not solve the problem. For example, if ice forms along the evaporator coil, you may find information on how to scrape it off. However, this can seriously damage the coil, and it does not address the root of the problem: low airflow. The problem is likely to reoccur until you address the source.

You May Cause Permanent Damage to Your System

Another reason you should leave AC repair up to the professionals is that many home repairs can cause more damage to the air conditioner if done improperly. If you don’t have the right tools to straighten out condenser fins, seal refrigerant leaks, or tighten components, you may cause irreparable damage.

When you run into problems with your air conditioning system in El Cajon, the professionals at Cal-West Air Conditioning can help. We have many years of expertise, so we can fix your AC and let you know of any unseen damages in other areas of your unit. For repairs, maintenance, and more, give us a call today.