Common Causes of Heating Problems

November 7th, 2014

No one enjoys firing up their heating system for the first time of the season only to find their heater isn’t working. This doesn’t mean you should diagnose your heating system yourself; leave that to the experts. Rather, there are some common causes of heating repairs to be aware of should a problem develop with your system. If you are experiencing a heating problem in San Diego, call for a trained and certified technician from Cal-West Air Conditioning and schedule an appointment for repair.

Common Causes for Problems with Your Heating

Your System Has a Dirty Air Filter

It may seem like a dirty air filter shouldn’t cause that much trouble, but it does. The job of the air filter is to stop dust, dirt and debris from entering your system. When the filter becomes too clogged, it can’t trap these items, allowing them to build into a layer in your ductwork and on your components. A clogged air filter can also restrict air flow, which puts stress on your system.

You Didn’t Schedule Maintenance

It is strongly recommended that you schedule annual maintenance for your heating system. Why? An annual maintenance visit is the equivalent of a full tune-up for your system, and includes safety and performance testing. The technician will also do a thorough inspection of your system which helps the technician detect any existing or developing problems. Maintenance allows your system to run optimally, which means better energy efficiency and comfort for you and your home.

Your Thermostat Is Faulty

Thermostats are the instruments that cue your heating system to stop and start, and if yours is malfunctioning or failing, it can affect your home’s heating. Dirt and dust on the inside of a thermostat can affect how the instrumentation works, so it’s important to make sure the inside is clean. Wires inside a thermostat can corrode, fray or disconnect, which affects the operation of the thermostat. In some cases, a thermostat may need replacing.

Heating problems are a nuisance, but they don’t have to be a nightmare when you have the right assistance. If you are experiencing issues with your heating system, call Cal-West Air Conditioning for heating repair service in San Diego today.

What Is the Heat Exchanger In Your Furnace?

October 24th, 2014

Your furnace generates a great deal of heat for your home through the workings of several important components. One of these components is the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger allows the heated air from the furnace to enter your home, while exhausting the dangerous fumes that are created during the combustion process. Without the heat exchanger, toxic gases like carbon monoxide would enter directly into your living spaces. We’ll explain below how the heat exchanger in your furnace works. Remember that for all your heating needs in San Diego, Cal-West Air Conditioning has the trained technicians ready to help you 24/7, so call us for all your heating repair needs.

How the Heat Exchanger Works

The heat exchanger is a component made of medium-sized metal tubes that are open at both ends. When ignition occurs, the heat exchanger is heated from the inside via one of the openings; the other opening vents the toxic products (gases, soot) from the combustion process out the flue. Once the heat exchanger reaches the temperature necessary to heat your home, the furnace’s blower blows air between and over the heat exchanger to warm your home.

Cracked Heat Exchanger

Heat exchangers are constantly expanding and contracting due to the varying temperatures to which they are exposed. While they are made of very durable steel, it is not uncommon, particularly with aging systems, to have a heat exchanger crack. Cracked heat exchangers can be very dangerous, as the toxic fumes from inside a chamber can co-mingle with the air that is blown into your home, potentially exposing you and your family to gases like carbon monoxide. The best way to make sure that your heat exchanger is in good condition is to schedule annual maintenance. During a routine maintenance visit, your entire burner assembly is inspected, including the heat exchanger; if any issues are present, you’ll be notified so that you can schedule repair.

The heat exchanger in your system is one of the key components that helps keep you warm during the winter months. Don’t take the risk of running your heating system with a heat exchanger that may be faulty due to a lack of maintenance. Call Cal-West Air Conditioning today and make an appointment for heating service in San Diego with one of our specialists.

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.


How Do Dirty Components Affect My Heating System?

October 10th, 2014

It’s normal for your system to accumulate dirt and dust during operation. But if these particles are allowed to build-up, they can form a layer on your heating system’s components that may reduce performance quality and lead to heating repairs. Scheduling annual maintenance can help to greatly reduce the effects of dirt and dust on your components, but if you are in need of repair, make an appointment with a trained and certified Cal-West Air Conditioning technician today.

Effects of Dirty Components

Dirty components can have several negative effects on your system. First and foremost, dirty components affect the overall operation of your heating system. This is because a layer of dirt and dust can clog components, increase friction, and affect how sensors work. Here are some examples of how dirt and dust can affect specific components:

  • Heat exchanger – if a heat exchanger is covered in a layer of dirt and/or dust, the transfer of heat can be compromised. This can result in a decrease of warm air, and longer and more stressful operation of your system as your furnace struggles to reach the set temperature.
  • Clogged/dirty air filters – your heating system was made to operate with a specific, steady flow of air. A dirty air filter can seriously restrict the flow of air in your system, putting stress on the entire system. A heating system that operates for a long period of time under stressful conditions can prematurely age and experience more frequent breakdowns.
  • Ball bearings and other moving parts – there are a number of small components that are in constant motion during operation. These parts need to stay lubricated so that they can move freely. Dust and dirt in these components can reduce or even eliminate the effect of lubrication and cause friction to develop.

Maintenance Can Help Prevent These Problems

During a routine maintenance appointment, your system and its components are cleaned, lubricated and adjusted as needed. This keeps them clean and in good working order.

No matter what the issue may be, repairs should never wait. If you are experiencing problems with your heating system, call Cal-West Air Conditioning today and schedule heating repairs in San Diego with one of our experts.

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 Is the Heating Coil and Why Is It Important?

September 24th, 2014

In an electric heating system, the heating coil (or heating element) is the part that makes electric heating possible. Without this part, the entire system can’t function. Let’s examine what a heating coil actually is, and what purpose it serves in your electric heater.

What is it?

The heating coil is a long, thick wire comprised of metal alloy which forms the core of the electric furnace. When an electric current is run through this wire, it meets resistance which causes it to give off heat. The more resistance present, the more heat the electricity will generate. This is why heating coils are composed of special metal alloys instead of more plain materials, the need for greater resistance to create more heat.

Air is passed over the wire, absorbing the heat on its way to be circulated through the house. You can see this same principle in many cases where an outlet or light switch is absorbing too much electricity, causing the faceplate to become hot. In cases like those, such a thing can be a major fire hazard. Here, though, that tremendous heat output is used to the benefit of the house. Depending on the size of your electric furnace, there may be a second heating coil installed in it.

Why is it Important?

As mentioned above, this part is what makes electric heating possible. Without the heating coil, the electric furnace would be completely unable to generate heat. If you have an electric furnace and turn on your heat, but no warm air is coming out of the vents, it’s possible that you have a burned out or broken heating coil. This often happens as a result of simple wear and tear on the coil after a while of using it. This is actually quite similar to the way a light bulb burns out, as their coils operate the same way but are designed to give off more light than heat.

If you think you may have a problem with your heating coil, call Cal-West Air Conditioning. Our HVAC experts offer heating services to the entire San Diego area.

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.