Why You Need a Furnace Tune-Up

It’s that time of the year! The weather is starting to cool down a bit in La Verne with lows in the 50s and 60s, which means more and more residents are starting to turn on the heat. This is the best time to get your yearly furnace tune-up. Homeowners should have a certified HVAC technician inspect and perform routine maintenance on their forced air furnace once a year. This helps keep your furnace working smoothly and efficiently so that it can keep you warm when you need it most.

Why You Need a Furnace Tune-Up

An annual HVAC tune-up is recommended for all homeowners, and many people schedule their annual tune-up in the fall after their cooling system has been working hard all summer and before they start turning on the heat for the winter. One question we get asked often by our customers is – “Is an annual tune-up really necessary?”

The answer is YES!

It’s like changing the oil in your car and performing scheduled tune-ups to keep it running smoothly and prevent breakdowns.  Annual tune-up of your HVAC system is the same. Here are just a few reasons why you need a furnace tune-up before winter is here:

  • A tune-up increases the health and safety of those living in your home. By inspecting your furnace and running diagnostics, HVAC technicians can help keep you safe by ensuring that your system is properly running at the time.
  • Tune-ups can decrease your chance of a breakdown. Parts tend to wear down and break when the system is working its hardest. Proper maintenance can prevent unnecessary wear and tear, and your HVAC tech can identify any repairs that need to be completed.
  • Annual maintenance can also increase the longevity of your system. Maintenance helps you ensure that your system is running at optimal performance. The longer your system runs optimally, the longer it will last. This saves you money on energy costs and repairs.

Winter Furnace Inspection Checklist

There are many elements that will need to be checked on your furnace before winter. Your furnace needs sufficient air across the heat exchanger, which is where the flame is. It is important to check your air filters regularly and replace or clean them when they get dirty. A dirty air filter can reduce airflow and cause a lack of heating capability in your home. This can also cause your furnace to overheat and malfunction.

Another important task on your furnace inspection checklist is to look at your fan motor. A motor has bearings that need to be oiled to allow free turning of the fan blower wheel, which supplies the correct amount of air to your home. These bearings can become worn and eventually can cause breakdowns during the time you need your heat the most. An HVAC technician can inspect these bearings during your annual tune-up.

In addition, there are other parts that need to be checked, such as your hot surface ignitor, which lights your furnace and your flame sensor, which assures proper and safe operation. If you opt to get a furnace tune-up from an experienced HVAC technician, these parts will also be inspected at this time.

A properly maintained furnace will last longer and give you peace of mind that your family will enjoy a safe and warm environment. If you’re ready to schedule your annual tune-up, give us a call today at 909-392-2202. McLay is ready to make sure you and your family stay warm this winter.


Relative Costs of Home Heating with Gas vs. Electricity

Other than using wood, geothermal, district, or no heating — chances are you’re going to use either gas or electricity. Each method has their own unit costs and equipment costs, as well as general efficiency.

In order to give an idea of the operating costs of these methods per year, we’ll assume an average suburban home, in a continental climate, with normal levels and ratings for insulation. This will help us to narrow down the range of answers and hopefully give you a better idea of what to expect for each method. We will also be calculating costs using mid-range efficiencies for the heating equipment with an energy need of 60,000,000 BTU per year of heating energy for the home.

Heating Costs of Gas & Electricity

Gas – $1.10/100,000 BTU

This equates to $735 per year for a furnace with a 90% efficiency rating. Most gas furnaces will achieve higher ratings than this but at a minimum they’ll be operating at 90% for a modern unit.

Electricity – $2.93/100,000 BTU

Electricity is going to give us a pretty blurry yearly heating cost of $703 – $1,875 per year. The reason for this is that the two main methods of electric heating – resistance heating and heat pumps – have huge differences in efficiencies. Electric resistance heating, the same technology in your blow dryer, has a relatively paltry efficiency rating of 100%. That might sound good but given the high unit cost of electricity and how it stacks up to the 150-300% efficiency ratings of heat pumps, it’s really not. Heat pumps are much more efficient and wallet-friendly because they don’t actually generate heat but rather move it from one place to another.

Hopefully this will give you a better idea of what to expect to pay per year for the three main heating methods. For more informative posts, follow the McClay A/C, Heating & Plumbing blog.

Types of Commercial Heating Systems

465316451If you own a commercial building, one of the biggest expenses you have to consider is the cost of installing and operating a heating system. Selecting the right product for your needs requires you to research the various types of commercial heating systems available.

Experts in the industry advise consumers to factor in the cost of maintenance when deciding which type of system to purchase. These costs vary widely depending on which system you choose. You can reduce operating costs by selecting an Energy Star system and you may be eligible to recover some of your cost in rebates. A high efficiency unit has a high AFUE, or annual fuel utilization efficiency, rating.

A heat pump is highly efficient because it does not require oil or gas. Instead, it operates much like a refrigerator. It uses refrigerant to extract heat from the air and distributes it throughout the building.

An oil or gas water HVAC system utilizes a boiler to heat up the water. The warm air is distributed to several radiators located throughout the building. This type of system is not very efficient because there is a delay in the heating process because the cool air has to clear through the system after you turn the unit on and before it can distribute warm air to the building.

A gas or oil steam heater is similar to a water heater in efficiency. The fuel boils water and condenses into steam, which circulates through the pipes. With this type of heating system, you will also experience a significant delay between the time when the boiler starts and the heated air begins circulating through the building.

A system that utilizes geothermal or solar power is environmentally friendly and more cost effective to operate over time. The downside is the high cost of installation, which makes it cost prohibitive for many small companies.

Before you buy any commercial heating system, be sure to research your options and consider equipment, installation, maintenance and operation costs so you can make an informed decision about your purchase.

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Water Heater: Should You Replace Or Repair?

Should I Replace or Repair my Water Heater?

If you are unsure whether your broken down water heater requires repairing or replacing, then the tips in this article will shed some light on the subject.plumber fixing water heater

There are two main types of water heaters — gas heaters and electric heaters. Electric heaters are the most common as they can be used anywhere. Most people who choose to go for gas heaters already own houses that operate on gas to power most appliances. There are building codes that govern the use of gas heaters, depending on the type of home you own and where you live.

How long your water heater serves you will mostly depend on the level of maintenance, quality of installation, the model you are using and local weather. Water heaters have a life expectancy of 8 to 10 years. If your unit is 10 years or older, and is causing you problems, then it might be time to replace it.

The most common problem associated with water heaters is the production of water that is not as warm as expected. This is usually caused by a faulty thermostat that requires resetting or replacing. With electric water heaters, all you need to do when the water isn’t as hot as you want is; insulate water pipes, adjust thermostat settings, replace the thermostat and heating element, remove sediments from the water tank by flushing the heater, and ensure the heater is turned on.

With gas water heaters having the same problem in California, we typically suggest replacement.

Older water heater models will have a low Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating, which means that they will consume more energy than newer models. If you are concerned about high utility bills, then maybe it is time you replaced your old water heater to one with higher AFUE rating.

Give us a call today to schedule your water heater checkup or replacement (909) 326-6106.

2 FAQs For Home Heating, Ventilation And Water Heaters

1. Why does my heater keep shutting off?
Appliances in basementModern heaters keep cycling on and off automatically when they sense that the inside air is too cold for your comfort, or conversely, the atmosphere is comfortable enough without any need of the unit running on. However, one or other kind of malfunction in the unit may make it follow this routine randomly. So yes, if you find that your heating unit is shutting on or off on a quite random basis, that may very well indicate a problem. However, before you contact a HVAC service to fix the issue, there are a few things you can do yourself to diagnose and possibly solve the issue.

This problem is often caused by dirty air filters. The dirt in the filter blocks the warm air to release in the atmosphere and instead, makes it return to the system and this makes the unit wrongly interpret the situation as being warm enough. When this happens, the unit may shut off on its own. So, being in the habit of regularly changing your air filters is one of the surest ways to prevent this problem.

A faulty reading by the thermostat may also be a cause of short cycling. If the thermostat is not set to accurate settings or if it is placed too close to a heat source such as another heat register, sunlight, etc., the unit may get a false impression and shut off. Other common causes to short cycling include corroded flame sensor, foreign objects lodged in air vents or chimney, etc. If you find that you cannot diagnose or fix the issue by yourself, you may need to contact a HVAC service.

2. How are heaters rated?
Most heaters and air conditioning systems these days will come with AFUE or annual fuel utilization efficiency ratings. Higher AFUE ratings mean higher efficiency. In contrast to thermal efficiency which is useful to know the peak instantaneous efficiency of a unit, AFUE gives you the seasonal efficiency measures. It is calculated as a percentage which is the ratio of total energy output annually to total energy input at the same time.
For any of your HVAC needs, please call our services.

When It’s Cold Outside, Will My Outdoor Tankless Hot Water Heater Still Work?

Automatic water heaterA tankless water heater has some restrictions, but still functions well in the winter months. If you ask are tankless hot water heaters effective in the winter? The answer is, “Yes”. Tankless water heaters use a condenser that pre-heats the water, so it doesn’t take as long for the water to reach the pre-set temperatures for hot water flow. At a rate of approximately 1.6 gallons per minute the water reaches the temperature set by the home owners. Initially it may flow with less pressure, so that the water heater has time to heat the water, but it is as hot as desired when it gets to its destination.

Contrary to common belief, the hot water temperatures produced by the tankless water heater are not restricted by the temperatures outside. Are tankless hot water heaters effective in winter despite the temperature of the water prior to entering the hot water’s heating system. Again the answer is, “Yes”. Still, the tankless hot water heater can freeze if certain precautions are not taken when the temperatures drop below a certain level.

Most indoor and outdoor tankless water heaters have built-in freeze protection against temporary winter temperatures ranging from -5 degrees Fahrenheit to -22 degrees Fahrenheit. This protection cannot withstand long term below freezing temperatures. To prevent your tankless water heater from freezing in the winter there are several steps you should take.

To begin winterizing your tankless water heater, first turn the unit off and unplug its power source. Second, turn off the water supply and drain the water from the water heater. Reduce the water pressure and disconnect the water pipes from the water heater. Place a cover over the vent termination for intake and exhaust to keep debris out.

Next, when installing a concentric or dual vent system face vent pipes away from the wind to prevent freezing. Install drain pipes in areas not subject to freezing such as inside a wall. Allow ample combustion air for gas powered appliances to prevent negative draft from freezing the water in a tankless unit or use a backdraft reducer which closes the backdraft flapper. Finally, you can run a small stream of hot water continuously to prevent freezing.

These steps can keep your hot water heater working throughout the winter withstanding freezing temperatures outside. You may not need to do anything if the temperatures lower for a short time. If it expected that the weather will stay cold for a long period of time this winter prepare by calling a professional to winterize your tankless hot water heater.

Does My House Need Surge Protection For The HVAC System?

HandymanA power surge is a huge risk to all types of items commonly found in a household, like cables, Ethernet wires, regular wires, electronic devices or home equipment. These can be extremely deadly for HVAC equipment as well, which is why they are referred to as ‘silent killers’. Surges are capable of wiping out the entire equipment, leaving one baffled! Therefore if you have valued equipment in your house that needs to be protected, such as an HVAC system, then you should consider investing in a surge protector. This investment will prove to be a wise move on your part.

When you have an efficient surge protector installed in your home, you will not have to worry about lightning or power surges causing downtime or wreaking havoc on the equipment. HVAC surge protectors are capable of securing HVAC units. These are all the more important in older homes having HVAC units because modern homes using up-to-date HVAC systems are well protected against power surges.

Since these surges are such a big threat to the wellbeing and efficiency of HVAC systems therefore it goes without saying that having a surge protector around surely provides peace of mind! This is because the device would monitor the current entering the HVAC unit. In case the amount of current flowing into the unit suddenly spikes up then the surge protector would adjust it by sending the extra electricity back into the ground, thereby preventing the device from getting damaged due to excess electricity.

HVAC surge protectors do not just prolong the lifespan of the HVAC devices but they also improve the functionality of these devices. In fact, such surge protectors act like an insurance policy for your HVAC unit, but unlike regular policies, you do not need to pay the premium on a monthly basis since it is a one-time charge. HVAC systems play an extremely important role in households because they keep the home environment comfortable and cool in the sweltering summer heat. Therefore, it is only right that you should get an insurance plan for such an important device in your household!

For installing an HVAC surge protector please get in touch with us today.

Knowledge On When To Replace Your Water Heater

Water heater maintenanceA water heating system may serve you for a substantial period of time. However, it reaches a point in time when the heating system requires to be replaced. There things to look out for in order to know when to replace your water heater.

Whenever the tank begins to leak, for heating systems that contain storage tanks, then it is high time you bought another heater. This is because the tank will only begin to leak if the material making it up becomes very weak. Therefore repairing it will only last for a short while. Instead of using up a lot of money on repairs, it would be wise to purchase a new system altogether. This will save you unnecessary stress and money.

When you taste water that has been heated and it leaves a metallic taste in your mouth, then the system’s life is coming to an end soon. This should work as a warning sign for you to start preparing yourself for further action to acquire new systems. The metallic taste is from the metal used to make the tank or the pipes that either drain water from the tank or they bring in water to the tank.

The presence of residue in the water after it has been heated is another sign of imminent failure. The residue may be made up of different substances that make up the different parts of the system. If you experience residue in the water, then you better prepare yourself for new system installation.

When the laws of a state change regarding to energy efficiency of different appliances and your heating system does not comply, then it will need to be replaced. Contravention of such laws may lead to high penalties that may even be more expensive than a new heating system. If you are not sure on the compliance, it is advisable to seek advice from the experts beforehand.

Another indication of the need for replacement of the heater is when it can no longer serve the needs of your home. If you have to heat the water severally for all the needs to be met, you may consider purchasing a larger system. The level of disparity between your met and unmet needs will help you in size determination of the new system.

To find out more about when to replace your water heater, you may need to talk to experienced people who have dealt with this for long. Therefore you may call us to get further advice or to inquire about anything concerning replacement of water systems.

Controlling Home Comfort Costs

Think GreenIt seems as soon as the summer begins to fade, and the consumer breathes a sigh of relief, the winter comes along and causes new strains on the family energy budget. There appears to be no respite in site as energy demands and costs continue to increase. It would be worth the time to ask that if energy prices continue to escalate, what would be most effective in controlling home comfort costs? Fortunately, there are dozens of avenues a homeowner may pursue in their search for relief from the energy squeeze.

Sometimes it is necessary to invest money in order to save money. However, this makes sense because the investment is usually a one time expenditure, and the savings roll in every month. A homeowner can, for instance, add reflective roofs, attic fans, or weather stripping. Weather stripping is a process of sealing windows and doors from the elements. This simple step, if done right, will go a long way toward reducing energy bills. Consumers also need to know there are some home projects that create an energy savings, but also yield tax cuts or reduced rate loans for the project materials.

A small investment with a potentially large payoff is a programmable thermostat. Anyone whose thermostat is either warming or cooling the house while they are not home, is throwing sizable chunks of money out their newly weatherstripped window.

A house can be a home, or it can be like an inferno in the summer. The air conditioning would love some help, and a white cement, or just a white roof will ease its burden. In fact, by painting a white roof with an insulating paint, the white roof can reflect away as much as 80 % of incident heat. Speaking of roofs, solar panels always bear a second look. Not only will the use of solar panels slash electrical bills for a family, studies have shown that they add about $20,000 onto the value of a $500,000 house.

Whether you live in the Sahara or Alaska, there are rosy possibilities in the bleakest of energy bills. Feel free to call us for additional energy savings solutions. We’d love to hear from you.

Carrier’s The Winner Of The Consumers Digest Best Buy Award

Carrier Infinity ProductsConsumers Digest recently awarded four models in Carrier’s current HVAC line with the Consumers Digest® Best Buy award. They are proud to boast of having achieved this very prestigious accomplishment considering that this award is only given to the top three percent of competing models. Three Carrier HVAC products: the Infinity 19, the Infinity 16 and the Infinity with Greenspeed were found to have exhibited exceptional performance in the heat pump categories. The fourth award was given to Carrier Performance Boost 80 gas furnace.

Why did these units warrant this show of appreciation?

The Infinity 19 is a mid-range series that surpasses its competitors in its reliability and its super quiet operation. This Energy Star heat pump provides efficient cooling and heating due to the advanced technology of Infinity’ two-stage compressor. When used in conjunction with the Infinity control, the unit offers exceptional heating and cooling efficiency with the benefit of energy savings, convenience, operation noise levels at a low 65 decibels.

The Infinity 16 is Energy Star rated and comes with a variable-speed blower motor producing efficient hybrid-heat. Again this unit is quiet when compared with other heat pumps, operating with noise levels as low as 67 decibels.

The Infinity with Greenspeed has a variable speed compressor, which takes efficiency to new heights. It offers unlimited adjustments between 0 and 100% for heating and cooling comfort. These tighter temperature control options allow for greater efficiency due to the extended operation of steadier controls. This unit is the quietest of the three creating only 58 decibels of sound.

The Carrier Performance Boost 80 gas furnace was acknowledged because of its performance and its exceptional warranty. This unit is equipped with a multi-speed blower and ComfortFan technology for improved air flow control. It has a 10 year part limited warranty and a 20 year heat exchanger limited warranty.

Carrier has produced several outstanding HVAC units for 2014. They will continue to place quality, durability, function, comfort and value remain among the top concerns for Carrier’s HVAC research and development departments. Consequently, the consumer will continue to reap the benefits of the great products Carrier develops. If you, on the other hand are working with HVAC units that aren’t as well conceived and executed, make sure you call us for help.