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.

What Is a Packaged Air Conditioner?

August 1st, 2014

Whether you need a practical cooling solution for your home or commercial property, a packaged air conditioner may be the right choice for you. Packaged air conditioning units are installed outside of a building or on the rooftop without the need for an indoor unit. This type of AC can benefit many homes or businesses due to ease of maintenance, convenient installation location options, and the ability to cool large spaces.

How Does It Work?

A conventional split-system air conditioner is divided into two parts: the indoor evaporator unit and the outdoor condenser unit. The expansion valve and evaporator are located indoors, while the compressor and condenser coil are outside in the condenser unit. Refrigerant cycles through all of these parts, removing heat from the home and releasing it outdoors. The indoor unit connects to the ductwork, which supplies the cool air.

In a packaged air conditioner, all of these parts are contained in a single cabinet. The unit is located right outside of the building or, more commonly, on the rooftop, and connects directly to the return and supply ducts. These come and many different sizes and are often modular, meaning they can be resized to adjust to a building’s changing needs.

Is a Packaged Air Conditioner Right for Me?

Packaged air conditioners benefit homeowners with unique home layouts, since installing a packaged unit does not require the use of a furnace and placement options are flexible. The outdoor-only installation is also convenient because a technician can easily access all parts of the system for faster maintenance or repairs.

Many businesses rely on packaged air conditioners since they can cool large spaces efficiently. With split systems, a maintenance or repair call may be a disturbance for a commercial property since the technician must look inside and out to determine the source of the problem. Since packaged units are often located on the roof, the system is out of the way, and a maintenance or repair call will not interfere with customers, clients, employees, or tenants.

An air conditioning expert can help you decide whether a packaged air conditioner is right for your needs. For air conditioning installation in San Diego, call the experienced technicians at Cal-West Air Conditioning today!

How Do Dirty Coils Affect My Air Conditioner?

July 25th, 2014

One of the easiest ways to maintain the performance and efficiency of your air conditioning system is to keep the coils clean. Dirty condenser or evaporator coils can reduce the cooling capacity of your system, decrease efficiency, and cause serious damage to other components of your AC. If it’s been a while since a technician has inspected and cleaned your system, you should call for air conditioning service in San Diego today to prevent the need for future repairs.

The evaporator coil is located in the inside portion of your air conditioner. As the blower fan blows the warm air from inside of your home over the coil, refrigerant changes from a liquid to a gas and absorbs the heat from the air. Outside, the condenser coil allows this heat to release into the air. At the condenser coil, refrigerant condenses from a gas to a liquid and gives off heat as the fan blows the outdoor air over the condenser coil.

Dirty coils block the transfer of heat, so your home only receives limited cooling, but many other problems may occur as well. When one component of your AC is not functioning properly, your air conditioner has to run longer in order to meet your temperature needs. This causes wear and tear to your air conditioner and may cause the compressor to overheat and break down.

If you notice dirty condenser or evaporator coils, you should call for air conditioning service right away. You can help prevent dirty coils, however, by keeping debris away from your outside unit and cleaning out air filters about once every month. A dirty air filter can block airflow and may cause particles to build up on the coils, or it may cause the evaporator coil to freeze.

The best way to prevent dirty coils from affecting your system is by scheduling regular maintenance with a professional. With maintenance, a technician inspects your system and cleans dirty components such as the coils. Air conditioners that receive regular maintenance are less prone to sudden breakdowns and may have a longer lifespan than those that are not maintained.

Don’t let something so preventable damage your AC system. Call Cal-West Air Conditioning for air conditioning service in San Diego.

Fan Motor Problems with Your Air Conditioner

July 18th, 2014

One of the parts of your air conditioner that’s probably never crossed your mind is the fan motor. The fan is the largest component of your outdoor unit. After refrigerant absorbs the heat inside your home, it is released at the condenser unit as a fan helps to move that heat outside. This fan is operated by a motor that may occasionally fail and need repair or replacement.

A fan must maintain the proper speed in order to keep your system in working order. If any component of your AC system is not working correctly, it could cause other parts, such as the compressor, to fail eventually. Fan motor issues may also prevent your system from cooling your home properly.

Common indicators that your fan motor is the source of your air conditioning issues include loud grinding noises from the unit, reduced cooling, a slow-moving fan, or a fan that won’t move at all. These problems may be caused by other components of your system as well, so it’s important to let a professional technician determine the problem.

So what causes fan motor problems? A slow or stopped fan could be a sign that your fan motor is worn out and needs replacement. Strange noises coming from your fan, such as a grinding sound, may indicate that a foreign object is lodged in your air conditioner. It may also mean that your fan motor needs to be oiled, as it requires a certain amount of lubrication in order to turn properly.

One way to prevent fan motor problems is with regular maintenance by an AC technician. Maintenance technicians can check for debris that may interfere with your motor, and will also add lubrication when necessary. If excessive damage to your fan motor or other parts of your system are noticeable, your technician will let you know whether you should schedule repairs so you don’t run into problems later on.

A fan motor problem may be electrical and should always be handled by a professional. When you need professional air conditioning repairs in San Diego, call Cal-West Air Conditioning today!

Tips to Reduce Your Air Conditioning Bills

July 8th, 2014

Although living near the ocean means we have cooler summers in San Diego than the inland cities of Southern California, we still have many scorching hot days. Air conditioners are near-constant companions during the summer months, and that means you can expect to see elevated utility bills from needing to supply electricity to keep your home’s AC running.

You don’t need to pay astronomical air conditioning bills, however. Using a few basic steps and a bit of extra care will go a long way toward getting those cooling costs under control. Here are some tips from our team at Cal-West Air Conditioning in San Diego, CA for making the summer months relaxing and comfortable—without leading to utility bills that make you agitated and uncomfortable! Contact us any time of the day or night when you need help with your home’s cooling that will save you money.

3 Handy Tips for Lowering Air Conditioning Costs

  1. Change the air filter once a month: Clogged air filters are the primary reasons that many homeowners pay more than they should for cooling during the summer. The air filter is designed to protect the interior cabinet of the AC from dust and debris contamination, particularly the evaporator coil. But after a month of summer work, the filter will have enough contaminants trapped in its fibers to begin to lower airflow into the air conditioner, and the system will expend more power to reach its normal level of cooling. You should change the filter once a month during the summer (and during any other time of the year when the AC runs regularly) to keep the “lungs” of the system clear.
  2. Maintain moderate thermostat settings: Pushing your air conditioner’s thermostat setting down to 50°F—often the lowest possible setting—is not “moderate.” In fact, it’s quite wasteful and will not benefit your comfort at all. What you need to know here is that the thermostat is a switch, not a throttle, so when you put it at its lowest setting, it will not cool down your home faster, but instead keep the compressor running longer until it reaches the lower setting. And 50°F is not a comfortable setting! If you keep the thermostat at a steady 72°F, which if comfortable for most people, you can save around 30% on your cooling as opposed to pushing it down as low as you can. You will also reduce wear and tear and lessen future repair needs.
  3. Schedule regular maintenance: An air conditioning system must have annual maintenance from a technician who will inspect and tune-up the AC so it works its best. This will avoid breakdowns and malfunctions, but it will also keep the air conditioner working at its highest possible efficiency and without wasting money due to dirt and wear. An air conditioner that has annual maintenance will keep 95% of its efficiency throughout its lifetime, while an air conditioner that doesn’t will drop to 75% of its efficiency after only four years… which means a great deal of wasted money.

Cal-West Air Conditioning has an excellent regular maintenance program. Sign up to receive our Precision Tune-Up service each year for your air conditioner (and your heater as well). Put our more than 30 years of experience to work saving you money. Call us if you are in need of air conditioning service in San Diego.

Leading the Way with Independence Days!

July 3rd, 2014

The term “Fourth of July” is the popular name for the U.S. federal holiday officially known as Independence Day. It isn’t surprising that we would come up with a different name from the official one, since “Independence Day” is one of the most common holiday names across the globe. Most of the nations in existence today won their independence from another power, whether through wars, treaties, or long transitions.

What might surprise many people is how old U.S. Independence Day actually is compared to the similar holidays of other nations. Although the U.S. is still considered a young nation, it was one of the first to make a full break for its colonial master with a new constitution. Most countries that celebrate a national Independence Day are commemorating events that occurred in the second half of the 20th century, when many older empires at last relinquished control over their colonies.

How substantial is the difference in time for the U.S.A. and the rest of the world? U.S. Independence Day celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776, making our country unusual in that almost no existing nations celebrate an independence event from the eighteenth century.

In terms of age, there is only a tiny handful current countries that celebrate an independence day that occurred earlier than the United States. Switzerland celebrates its independence from the Holy Roman Empire of the Germans in 1291 with “Swiss National Day,” held every August 1—although this only gained status as a national holiday in 1994. Sweden Celebrates “National Day of Sweden” to commemorate events in 1523 and the election of King Gustav I during the War of Liberation against Christian II of Denmark and Norway. Romania comes almost a hundred years after U.S. Independence, with its 1877 freedom from Turkish rule.

The most recent Independence Days to come into existence are for Montenegro, which gained independence from Serbia in 2006 and celebrates the day on May 21, and South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011 and celebrates the day only a day after the U.S., on July 5.

Does anyone else celebrate a literal “Fourth of July,” an Independence Day that also falls on the fourth day of the seventh month? Yes: Abkhazia, a small Central Asian country that declared its independence from the Republic of Georgia in 1999 (although not all countries recognize it). Coming a day (like South Sudan) on July 5 is the independence of the small Atlantic island nation of Cape Verde, which became free from Portugal through signed agreement in 1975.

Everyone at Cal-West Air Conditioning hopes you and your family enjoy a vibrant Independence Day/Fourth of July this year!

What Happens With a Faulty AC Compressor

June 27th, 2014

The heart of an air conditioning system is the compressor. The compressor operates on a similar principle as a piston motor, except instead of compressing fuel, it compresses refrigerant. When the compressor squeezes down the cool liquid refrigerant inside it, the refrigerant changes into a hot, high-pressure gas around 150°F. This energy applied to the refrigerant is what causes the heat exchange cycle to start: the high-pressure gas moves to the first lower-pressure area, the condenser coil, where it releases its heat, and then moves to the indoor coil to absorb heat, and at last returns to the compressor to start the cycle over again.

Without the compressor, there is no power for the heat exchange cycle, and there’s no movement of refrigerant… in other words, there’s no air conditioning, period.

Faulty compressors are among the most serious problems an AC can have, and when you experience a drop in cooling or hear loud, harsh sounds from the outdoor cabinet (where the compressor is located), you need to call for skilled repairs right away. You can reach Cal-West Air Conditioning 24 hours a day for the necessary compressor rescue service for your air conditioning in San Diego, CA.

Compressor Troubles

A common issue you might encounter with a compressor is when it becomes “tight” or “seized” due to mechanical movement issues. Internal damage or wear can cause the compressor to meet resistance as its piston and cylinder moves. This can also occur because of low oil (make sure you have regular maintenance on your AC to keep the system properly lubricated). If you hear grinding sounds from the outdoor cabinet, stop running the air conditioner immediately and call for repairs; you do not want to continue to operate the compressor if it is tight. It will drain energy and also risks breaking down. Repair technicians can fix the compressor so it runs smoothly once more.

Hard-starting is another issue that can occur with a compressor, and this usually originates in the motor that runs the compressor or the capacitors the send voltage to the motors. Hard-starting sounds like a compressor stuttering as it comes on, and often the compressor will shut down shortly after. Technicians will replace or repair broken motors and capacitors, or they can install a “hard-start kit” to overcome the issue.

The worst problem that can afflict a compressor is when it burns out, fusing the wiring in its casing. This can occur because of excess stress, age, or a loss of refrigerant that makes it overheat. A burnt out compressor can rarely be repairs and must be replaced; often, the whole air conditioner must be replaced as well.

Make sure that you move quickly at any indication your air conditioner’s compressor is malfunctioning. In the case of an older AC, compressor troubles are usually a sign that you should install a new system.

Cal-West Air Conditioning has a 100% satisfaction guarantee on our work, so when you need repairs for your air conditioning in San Diego, CA, make us your first call.

How Thermostat Placement Affects Air Conditioning

June 19th, 2014

Your thermostat is the control center for your air conditioner. It controls when the system turns on and off, and what temperature you maintain your home. A thermostat can be a delicate instrument, and it can be adversely affected by indoor environmental elements. While thermostat repair is relatively minor, a thermostat that is poorly placed can cause constant problems and lead to further need for air conditioning repairs.

Here are a few tips from our Cal-West Air Conditioning experts on areas that are considered poor placement for your thermostat:

  • Too close to a heating or cooling source – your thermostat reads the air around it in order to maintain the set temperature. If that air is much warmer or cooler than the rest of your home, the reading from your thermostat will be correct for where it is placed, but incorrect for the rest of your home. As such, placing a thermostat next to a heating or cooling source will most likely provide incorrect information to your thermostat.
  • Too drafty – locations near doors, windows or with air space behind it can bring drafts into the area, causing your thermostat to register inaccurate temperatures. This can cause the air conditioner to over-cycle and uneven cooling in your home.
  • Placement on an exterior wall – exterior walls will gain heat during the day, and if the wall isn’t well-insulated, it can gain a lot of it. This can affect the thermostat’s reading of the indoor temperature, making it higher than the actual temperature, which can lead to frequent cycling of the AC and reduced indoor comfort.
  • Placement in an enclosed or low-occupancy area – the people in your home generate heat, as do lights and appliances. This is why it is important to place your thermostat on a centrally located, interior wall. If your thermostat resides in a room or space that sees little occupancy or is enclosed, the temperature reading won’t be accurate for the rest of the home.
  • Too much sunlight – direct sunlight on your thermostat will act as a heat source on it, making it feel that the temperature is higher than it is.

Having Problem with Your Thermostat? Call an HVAC Expert

At Cal-West Air Conditioning, we work with all the latest thermostat equipment. We understand how important it is to install the correct thermostat in the correct place to ensure your home has the cooling it needs to be comfortable. If you are considering a thermostat upgrade or think your thermostat needs better placement in your home, call Cal-West Air Conditioning for your San Diego air conditioning repair service.