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.

Should You Install Zone Control with Your New AC?

June 16th, 2014

If you are planning installation of a new central air conditioning system, you have an opportunity to add on some fantastic upgrades that will increase performance and energy-efficiency. One of the best additions to your AC system is to put in zone control, which allows you to cool different parts of your house independently from each other.

Putting in zone control as part of new air conditioning installation in San Diego, CA is a job you can entrust to Cal-West Air Conditioning. We are now in our 36th year of operation (incorporated in 1989) and bring a vast amount of experience to every job we perform. Make us your first call for all your AC needs throughout the greater San Diego Area.

What Is Zone Control?

Zone control is a method of dividing your home up into different regions (the “zones” of the name) for the purposes of air conditioning. You can choose which zones receive cooling and which ones do not. Each zone has individual local controls, or you can manipulate all the zones through a central control panel.

How Does This System Work?

Dampers installed inside the ductwork allow you to control which rooms receive cooled air from the central system. Each zone has its own damper, and the damper connects to a local thermostat that sets it. All the thermostats wire into a single control panel, usually located near the center of the home.

What Are The Benefits Of Zone Control?

There are many advantages to installing a zone control system as part of new air conditioner installation. Chief among them is energy savings: with an old central system, each time the air conditioner came on, every room would receive cool air, whether it needed it or not. Zone control gives you the power to shut off cooling into rooms that don’t need it (i.e. an unused guest room) or will not benefit from it (i.e. a baby’s room), and this will result in savings on your energy bills.

Another benefit is that zone control permits people in your home to control the temperature in their region to suit their own needs for cooling without affecting the rest of the house. If you often hear people at home complaining simultaneously time that it is “too hot” or “too cold,” zone control will eliminate this problem and give everyone the ability to set their own temperatures.

New AC System Installation

You can have your home’s ventilation system retro-fit at any point for a zone control system. But it is best if you have it taken care of during your new air conditioning installation in San Diego. With the assistance of Butter Plumbing, you’ll have an excellent installation of a new AC combined with the convenience and energy-saving power of zone control.

Common Concerns Around Air Conditioning Efficiency

June 16th, 2014

We may not experience extreme heat and humidity as much as other parts of the country, but our relatively steady temperatures mean that our air conditioning in San Diego runs for more months at a time than those that run just for the summer season. With that in mind, helping your air conditioning in San Diego be as energy-efficient as possible is a priority, especially when it comes to saving money on your monthly utility bills. Are you concerned about your air conditioner’s efficiency? Here are some reasons how and why your air conditioner can decrease in energy efficiency levels.

Faulty Ductwork

It’s estimated that faulty ductwork can account for up to 30% of air loss in air conditioning systems. Ductwork can develop holes, cracked seals, and have joints become disconnected over time. If they aren’t repaired immediately, they will leak air until they are. You can stay on top of your ductwork with bi-annual maintenance visits, where the ductwork will be visually inspected, and with professional cleanings every 3-5 years.

Not Using a Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats are great tools to have when looking to save on your energy bill, particularly if there are periods during the day when your property is unoccupied. Being able to program when your air conditioner cycles up and down, and at what temperature, gives you control over how much energy your AC uses, lowering your monthly utility bills. If you haven’t been using a programmable thermostat, you may want to consider installing one.

Not Doing Regular Maintenance

One of the best ways to keep your air conditioner running optimally is to make sure it gets bi-annual maintenance in the spring and fall. During regular maintenance, your entire system is thoroughly inspected and cleaned, and adjustments are made as needed. This means that if wires have begun to fray, a fan belt is beginning to wear, or there is a small refrigerant leak, it will be found before there’s a chance for it to develop into a bigger problem. Smaller components, like ball bearings, are lubricated during routine maintenance, and any screws that are loose will be tightened. Doing regular maintenance means your air conditioner will continue to run well and efficiently.

AC Not Working Efficiently? It May Be Time to Call a Professional

Energy efficiency is the key to saving money when running your air conditioner. If, for any reason, your air conditioner is struggling to run, it will use more energy. Once you start using more energy, your utility bill goes up.

For over 30 years, Cal-West has been providing air conditioning in San Diego for many customers. Call us today to see how we can help make your air conditioner more energy efficient this summer!


Installation Options for New Air Conditioners

June 16th, 2014

Today’s choices in air conditioning are not only more energy efficient and Earth-friendly, they come in several options for multiple types of properties. Cal-West Air Conditioning has stayed on top of new technologies and innovations in the cooling industry for the last 30 years to ensure that our customers know and understand the benefits of the products on the market today. To help you understand some of the options available for your air conditioning installation in San Marcos, we’ve put together a small list of the common air conditioning types we carry at Cal-West Air Conditioning.

Traditional Split-System Central Air

Split-system central air conditioners are the most common type of air conditioners for residential properties. There are two units to a split-system air conditioner: the outdoor unit, which houses the compressor, condenser and condenser fan, and the indoor unit, which houses the evaporator and indoor blower. Ductwork is needed in order for this system to work.

Today’s split-system AC’s are very energy efficient, with estimates of being 60% more efficient than air conditioners from just 10 years ago. They also use non-Freon refrigerant to help reduce greenhouse gases.

Ductless Air Conditioners

Ductless air conditioners, also known as ductless mini-split air conditioners, have been around for a number of years in commercial properties, but have recently found a strong market in residential properties.

The name “ductless” gives the first clue as to what makes these air conditioners a great option: they don’t need ductwork to deliver air conditioning. The way a ductless system works is that individual indoor blowers are attached to an outdoor unit through a conduit that is placed in an exterior wall. The outdoor unit of a ductless system is very similar to that of a traditional split system in that it houses the compressor and condenser. The difference is the indoor portion: rather than having a single indoor unit with a large blower, a ductless system utilizes individual blowers that are placed in each room you wish to have air conditioned. These blowers have small evaporator coils inside them, along with a fan and filter. Refrigeration lines run through the conduit, delivering refrigerant directly to the indoor blower from the outside unit. A single outdoor unit can handle up to 4 indoor blowers.

The individual blowers of a ductless system allow for zone control cooling, a great way to be energy-efficient, and a level of flexibility that you may not have with a ducted system.

Packaged Air Conditioners

Packaged air conditioners are typically used for commercial spaces. The term “packaged” means the entire system is housed in a single metal cabinet; as you can imagine, these types of air conditioners can be quite large, so they work best on the ground or a flat roof. Like other new air conditioners, today’s packaged models are still much more energy efficient than previous ones and use environmentally-friendly refrigerant.

There are some great options for air conditioning installation in San Marcos. To find out what air conditioner is the best for your property, call Cal-West Air Conditioning today and schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.

What Is Rapid Cycling and Why Does It Damage My Air Conditioner?

June 9th, 2014

Rapid cycling, also called “short cycling,” is a malfunction that occurs in air conditioners that affects the compressor. You can tell when an AC is short cycling when the compressor turns on for only brief periods of time before it shuts off again, and then once again restarting a short time later. The compressor will continue this start-stop-start process without maintaining a full cooling cycle.

Rapid cycling can start for a variety of reasons, but whatever the cause, it needs to be investigated and stopped as soon as possible: it will raise your utility bills, reduce your comfort, and ultimately damage your air conditioning system, shortening its lifespan and making early replacement a possibility.

It takes the work of professionals in air conditioning repair in San Diego, CA to diagnose rapid cycling; anything connected to the compressor is a delicate issue that must be approached with the appropriate training. Call Cal-West Air Conditioning for fast repairs that will end the short cycling trouble.

Rapidly Cycling and Damage to Your AC

There are a number of culprits for rapid cycling to start. One of the more common is when the evaporator coil ices over due to a reduction in air flow through the air filter. A dirty air filter will lower the heat over the cold refrigerant in the coil and ice will form; the ice will block heat absorption, the AC will start to shut down the compressor early.

A related but even more serious problem is leaking refrigerant, which makes it harder for the system to absorb heat, and this will also trigger an early shut off of the cooling cycle. A rarer cause is a malfunction in the thermostat control board.

The worst case scenario for rapid cycling is an AC that is too large for the space it is supposed to cool. This results from poor installation, and usually the only solution is to install a new AC. (Only hire professionals for installation jobs.)

Rapid cycling is injurious for an air conditioning system because it raises the level of strain placed on the components, particularly the compressor, which is the heart of the system. An AC uses the most energy during compressor start-up, so it will rapidly siphon power and raise your cooling bills if it occurs frequently. But this energy drain also makes the system wear down faster. You risk burnt-out motors and even a burnt-out compressor. When the compressor fails, that’s usually the end of the air conditioner: it’s more cost-effective to replace the whole system at that point.

When you hear the customary hum of the compressor in your AC come on and off too frequently, or you notice an odd spike on your cooling bills, call for air conditioning repair service in San Diego, CA right away. Our expert team at Cal-West Air Conditioning is on-call 24 hours a day for your needs!

Is a Heat Pump a Good Alterative to Air Conditioning Installation in El Cajon, CA?

May 23rd, 2014

Heat pumps are home comfort solutions that take the job of air conditioners—moving heat from inside a space to the outside—and expand it so they can both move heat into and out of a house. Although this sounds like a superb advantage, people are often hesitant about installing a heat pump as a replacement for an air conditioning system. Is a heat pump a reasonable substitute for an AC, or are there too many drawbacks to make it worthwhile?

There isn’t any simple way to answer that question unless we know the specific details about your house, current HVAC system(s), and budget plans, although we can offer some broad guidelines to assist you. Our skilled HVAC technicians at Cal-West Air Conditioning are available to help you with air conditioning installation in El Cajon, CA so that you end up with the right system, whether it’s a standalone AC or a heat pump.

What a Heat Pump Can Do For You

An important aspect of heat pump operation that you should know upfront is that performing both cooling and heating does not mean a heat pump will have less cooling power than an AC. A heat pump performs as well at lowering indoor temperatures as an air conditioner of comparable size. If you are primarily concerned with the air conditioning power of a heat pump, you don’t need to worry: a heat pump can usually do the job.

The issue becomes a bit different for heating. Because a heat pump must remove heat from outdoors in heating mode, it can experience difficulties when the temperature drops past its economic balance point, after which the heat pump will perform inefficiently. However, the economic balance point is usually sub-freezing, and therefore of little concern for living in Southern California. A heat pump is usually enough heating for you to make it through a winter without trouble.

Furthermore, for milder cold climates, a heat pump usually costs less to operate than a furnace or boiler. Heat pumps operate through the process of heat exchange, where heat isn’t created but moved. This requires less power than that of a furnace or boiler; sometimes 30% less over a season. If heating a home isn’t your first priority for the year, a heat pump makes an attractive option.

Making the Best Choice: Heat Pump or Air Conditioner

A heat pump may sound like it should be the automatic first choice, but some homes will receive better comfort and savings by installing a new air conditioner and keeping the same heater. The best route is to bring in expert installers early in the process and let them survey your home’s needs for heating and cooling. With professional advice, you should find the best choice for air conditioning installation in El Cajon.

Cal-West Air Conditioning offers full service for ACs and heaters, from installation to maintenance to repairs. Talk to our skilled staff today to find the home comfort system that will keep you cool (or warm) throughout the year.