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FREE Furnace Repair Giveaway

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We are searching for a family in need and we could use your help!

2016 has been a great year for Fox Family Heating and Air. We have had the pleasure of serving families across the Sacramento Valley and Placer County. Much of the work that has come our way has come through client referrals which we are eternally grateful for. Because our family business has been so blessed, we wanted to find a way to give back. 

This winter we are giving away a free furnace repair to a deserving family within our service area. This is where we ask for your help. We are calling for nominations for a deserving family who may not be able to afford to have their furnace repaired this winter. We are counting on social media channels to help us reach as many people as possible in the next 15 days.

If you know someone who needs their furnace repaired, but the financial burden of the holidays is putting a strain on their pocketbook, send us an email telling us why they are the person you are nominating. 

We will be choosing a winner on December 15. This contest includes parts and labor and no cost to the homeowner chosen. Please note, we are typically able to repair a furnace on the spot. However, in some cases where the furnace may be older or the part is not in stock, we may need to special order the part. However we will do our very best to complete the repair before the end of December. 

Please, like, share and comment so we can get this call for nominations out to as many people as possible.

Email submissions to: GREG@FOXFAMILYHVAC.NET

Do I need a new air conditioning system?

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Repair your old AC or replace with a new air conditioning system

Imagine your Air Conditioner Breaks Down in The Heat of Summer

You are hosting a  party this weekend. All of the sudden you feel the house is getting warmer than you are used to.  The thermostats says it’s calling for cool air, but all you feel is warm air coming out of the vents in the ceiling. You call your local AC repair company and they tell you over the phone you have a bad compressor and it needs to be changed.  Or you get the AC repair company to come out to your house.  He doesn’t even bother opening up the panels to the AC to find out what could be the problem. He tells you your AC is old and should be replaced. Wow! That’s some sort wizardry right there!? How can he tell this without even opening the panel to see what’s going on with the AC?

Believe it or not, it happens all the time. 

What can you expect from a reputable air conditioner repair company?

A reputable HVAC technician is going to come out to your house to properly diagnose your Heating and air system.  He or she will have a meter in their bag to see if proper voltage is getting to the system. They will then test the leads of the capacitor to see if the microfarad rating meet factory standards.  They should place an amp clamp around the wire to the compressor and/or condenser fan motor to see if those motors are trying to draw amperage to start up.  This is the real way to get down to it and see exactly what is going on with your system.  

repair or replace my ac

Did you know a compressor or condenser fan motor on the outdoor AC won’t even turn on if the capacitor is bad?

Does that mean your $2000 compressor is bad?  No. Actually a $210 dollar part can immediately replace your old capacitor and get you back up and running in no time.  A quick check for proper refrigerant levels, amp draws and voltage to the motors and you are back in business my friend! Having a professional HVAC technician make this repair should only cost you parts and labor, but will definitely give you peace of mind that it is being done correctly. 

Remember the tech who told you about your bad compressor over the phone.  That’s a $2000 replacement.  That company is clearly not in to earning your trust, just your business.  Too many companies out there have so much overhead and high paid managers, they HAVE to sell replacement equipment. They HAVE to get to you buy a new system. A trusted, ethical company is going to come out to your house, spend some time properly diagnosing your system and give you options. But only let them give you option if they have spent time properly diagnosing your system.

Should I repair the air conditioning system, or replace it?  

That is the question you’ll be faced with when a major part breaks down someday.  But let’s make sure it really is a major part.  Maybe even get a second opinion from another company.

Air conditioning systems are designed to last 12-15 years without maintenance and 18 to 22 years with proper maintenance.  If you find your 18 year old system needs repairs on it, and you’re asking yourself what to do, here is a good way to measure that decision. Do you want to put your money in the past and repair this AC and just put a band aid on it?  Or do you want to put your money in the future towards a modern high-efficiency air conditioning system.  If your repairs are above 500-700 dollars, that can be a tough decision.  

At Fox Family Heating and Air, we will never tell you what you should do because it’s your money and your budget, and you know where you are with your finances more than I do.  We are an HVAC repair company first.  We want to get you back up and running as soon as possible and we will always be that kind of company.

cost to repair a broken Air Conditioner

However, if you want a real look at the “True Cost” of today’s air conditioner repair, think about this scenario:

  • HVAC service call – $75
  • HVAC repair – $595
  • Future AC repairs – (on avg. $150 per year on older systems)
  • Local HVAC rebates on new high efficiency system – $500-850 dollars
  • Federal tax credit on new high efficiency HVAC system – $300 (2016)
  • Cost of inflation per year on a new system – $150 per year
  • Energy savings per year operating new high efficiency system – $100 (at least)

Now let’s say you are just wanting to hang on to this older system for three more years..

$75 service call +

$595 repair + ($150×3 years)

future repairs +

$500 rebate +

$300 tax credit + ($150×3 years) for inflation +

($1003 years) in energy savings = $2670

Today’s $670 repair is actually going to cost you $2670 in “True Cost” because you’re investing your money in the past and not the future.  Plus your repair is only going to come with a one year warranty on it.  Our repairs do come with a one year warranty but I’m not sure what other heating and air companies offer.

A new heating and air system is going to come with 10 year parts warranties and, if you chose to replace with us, 10 years labor warranty with a maintenance schedule.  Most companies offer 10 years part warranty and 2 years labor on a new air conditioning system.  Now we all know labor is the most expensive part of any repair so your back to paying those guys and arm and a leg for labor on a part that is under ten years old!

Once again, we are a repair company first.  We want to be ethical and tell you what’s really going on with your system and let you decide what you want to do about it.  A lot of times Fox Family Heating and Air will replace the part on your system to get you back up and running today for $670.  Then we’ll let you think about it for a month or two until you decide you want a new system.  We will take that $670 repair and apply it towards the cost of your new system!  This way you’re not out that extra money.  This is just another way we are trying to earn your trust and develop a long term relationship with you and your family.

We hope this helps you with your decision on whether you should replace your system or not.  Text or call us anytime at 916-877-1577 to have a company that will leave the decision in your hands.  Not try to force you into a new system because it’s in their best interest for you to replace it.  

 

Capacitors and Your HVAC System

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As we approach the long hot summer, I wanted to start a series of Blogs on common parts of your HVAC system that break down. Also, I wanted to share some other common parts that when installed, or added on to your system will help you keep your family safer, keep your house safer, keep your system running longer, make it run more efficiently, and make the indoor air quality better so everyone can breathe easier in your home.

If your air conditioner or heater is making a buzzing or humming noise, it’s a sign that your capacitor levels are so low, they can’t provide the necessary electricity to make the HVAC system work properly.

So many times every year, I am called out to a house where the client has said the system is making a buzzing or humming noise. This makes me immediately think a motor is stuck or the capacitor for that motor has gone bad. A capacitor is a storage bucket of electrons that helps regulate the electricity going to the motor it supports; a compressor, a condenser fan motor, a furnace or air handler’s blower motor, and sometimes and inducer motor. When the capacitor gets low on charge, three things can happen. The motor can run at higher amps, causing the motor to prematurely burn out. The motor can begin to run backwards, which would cause a myriad of things to go wrong on your AC or heating system. Lastly, the motor can just stop running altogether.

Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning can help keep an eye on your capacitor levels by checking them out during our bi-annual Precision Tune-ups.

People ask me all the time, “How long is a capacitor supposed to last? A capacitor usually lasts five to ten years. It’s funny though, if you saw some of the 20 and 25 year old capacitors that I find in the old GE systems, you’d find them still working. There is a specific sized capacitor for your system. It comes from the factory at that specific charge of electrons in it. The label on the capacitor will specify when that capacitor is considered below factory specs. Sometimes it’s 5%, 6% or 10%. Well, this capacitor is constantly giving itself up for the motor it supports. As your capacitor loses power little by little every year, it will finally reach its factory low point. At that point, it’s time to change your capacitor.

Changing the capacitor when it is needed will help extend the life of your heating and air conditioning system. Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning can help keep an eye on your capacitor levels by checking them out during our bi-annual Precision Tune-ups. Regular maintenance on your air conditioning system will not only reduce emergency service calls at the most crucial times of the year, but will give you peace of mind knowing your system has been checked by a professional twice a year.

Please call Greg Fox at Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning to schedule your Precision Tune-up and see how your capacitors are performing at 916-877-1577.

One more thing, don’t forget to change your filter every two months!

Compressor Start Kit

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A component that will extend the life of your HVAC system
In the second part of the summer series of common parts of an air conditioning system, I bring up a part that may not already be installed in your unit or something that came with your outdoor unit when it was installed. A compressor start kit or hard start kit is a component that you can add on to your system that will help extend the life of your compressor, the heart of your air conditioner that pumps the refrigerant.

A compressor start kit significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to get your compressor up to full run speed. For about 7 or 8 seconds while the compressor starts up, the motor windings undergo a tremendous amount of damaging heat and energy, about 10 times more actually. The start assist can reduce the amount of time it takes to start up by nearly half.

Imagine your car broken down in the middle of the intersection. You could probably push that car out of the intersection by yourself, right? Well if I came up and helped you push that car out of the intersection, three things would be better for you. You’d be less tired once we got out of the intersection. You would get there faster, and you could probably actually do it again. Now, those of you who have ever pushed that kind of dead weight more than twenty feet know what I’m talking about.

This is how we know we can extend the life of your compressor. This is an add-on to the system. A lot of manufacturers don’t put one on your system because it is not in their best interest to do so. Why? Because they extend the life of your $2000 compressor! Once installed, a start kit is designed to last 5 to 10 years, but can last the lifetime of the system.

How Often Should I Change my Filter?

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Today I am going to answer a question that comes up frequently on service calls I make. Usually upon entering a house the first thing I ask is, “Okay, could you please show me where the furnace is…the air conditioner…the thermostat…and the air filter…” Believe it or not, some people do not know where their air filter is. Sometimes this is because they just bought the house or just don’t know the filter is supposed to be changed. The single most important thing a homeowner can do to protect their heating and air conditioning system is to change or clean their filters when they are not perfectly white, or new anymore.

The most important thing you can do to protect your investment is change your pleated filter every time it’s not perfectly white or anymore…This usually is less than the recommendation of 90 days that it says on your filter, but rather about every month or two.

Air filters are usually located at the furnace in the garage or closet. If you don’t see your furnace in the garage or closet, chances are it’s located in the attic or under the house. In that case, the filter grille may be in the ceiling or low on the wall in the hallway. Either way, if you haven’t located your filter and are not aware of the components that make up your HVAC system, call Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning to come out to help you become familiar with it. Your system is a major investment in your house or rental property and if left unmaintained, you may have some high repair bills in the near future.

So, a minute ago, you heard me say change or clean your filter every time it’s not perfectly white anymore. “But I have a 90 day filter!” you say. A lot of advice is out there on when is the right time to change the filter. Here in California and Sacramento Valley, the vast majority of homes have their filters located in the ceiling. As a homeowner, just looking up into the grille area where the filter is every week allows you the perfect chance to see what condition your filter is in. If it’s not as white as was when you first bought it, it’s time to change it. During the higher use seasons like winter and summer, this could be as often as once a month. Some houses can go three months without getting their filter even slightly dirty. It’s just the nature of your house. Taller ceilings, cleaner houses, less dust being kicked up, hardwood floors vs. carpeted houses all influence the life of your filter.

I know it’s because I am an HVAC technician, but as I walk past my filter in the hallway, I’m always checking to see how clean it is.

You don’t want to be breathing that brown stuff on your filter right? Change that filter!

A clean filter is going to lead to better air to breathe for you and your family. You don’t want to be breathing that brown stuff that is stuck on your filter do you? Wash your permanent or lifetime washable filter or replace your fiberglass or paper filter often. Get the cheap filters too! I’m not interested in paying some big company ten or twenty bucks for one filter. We are just trying to stop the bigger particles of dust and debris from getting to our blower motor and evaporator coil so they don’t get clogged up and cause higher repair bills. I go to the local big box store and buy a couple of three packs of filters for about $7.00 each. That’s $14.00 for all the filters I’m going to need for the year. If you have the filters on-hand and in the house or garage, you’re much more likely to change them out more frequently.

I recommend changing your filter every time it gets to the point where it’s not the same white color as when you bought it. This means during the busier seasons like winter and summer it’s going to be every month or two, and you may go four months without it getting dirty at all during the nicer seasons like spring and fall. So change your filters, save yourself some money by buying the cheaper filters and have extras on hand for entire year. This will save you repair costs down the road by not allowing the dust and dirt to get on your blower assembly and evaporator coil which can shut your system down.

Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning services the majority of the Sacramento Valley including Heating and Air Conditioning, HVAC or AC Service for Sacramento, Elk Grove, Roseville, Citrus Heights, Davis, Folsom, Rancho Cordova, Rocklin, Antelope, Arden Arcade, Auburn, Cameron Park, Carmichael, Diamond Springs, El Dorado Hills, Elverta, Fair Oaks, Florin, Foothill Farms, Foresthill, Georgetown, Gold River, Granite Bay, La Riviera, North Highlands, Orangevale, Parkway, South Sacramento, Pollock Pines, Rancho Murieta, Rio Linda, Rosemont, Shingle Springs, Vineyard, Wilton, Penryn, Loomis, Newcastle, Auburn Lake Trails, Garden Valley, Coloma, Plymouth, Amador City, Sutter Creek, Ione, West Sacramento. Call or text 916-877-1577 or visit our website at foxfamilyhvac.com for more information.

What is the appropriate temperature to set my thermostat?

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Some people run colder than others. Some run hotter than others. All in the same household!

What is the appropriate temperature to set my thermostat? I get asked this question a lot by customers. The quick answer is whatever you want to have it at. In the winter, when you have your furnace running, most people keep it between 66 and 74 degrees in their house. Most houses built these days are designed to hold a temperature of around 68 degrees pretty effectively with the amount of insulation that has been put in the walls and attic, etc. But, I know of some customers who actually have it set to 78 degrees! It’s fine if you want to have it that high. Some people are on blood thinning medication and they get colder easier than other people. Some people just plain old run cold, but some people run hot, too. All in the same household!

In the summer, most people are comfortable at 76 to 80 degrees in the house. I know some people who are just fine letting it get up to 90 in their house before the AC comes on. I also know of people who just have their air conditioning working at 75 to 72 degrees. Along with other mechanics, I happen to work out in the heat all day. I like a cool house to come home to when I get off work, so I am one of those who likes it at 75 right when I get home.

All of this is fine, and you can set your thermostat at whatever set point you want. But what about the times when you’re not at home? Some households have people who are not home during the day or night. This is the time when you want to use the programmable features on your thermostat to set a program that makes your home smart and energy efficient. There’s no need for me to have my system on during the hot days right? Well, actually I just won’t let it get above a certain point in my house. Because if I let it get too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter it takes much more energy to get it back to a comfortable level. It may take hours for it to get back to a decent level of comfort.

If you have any questions or need someone to come out and set up your programmable thermostat, give us a call at Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning. Part of our regular maintenance program is to make sure you are comfortable with your thermostat and that it is set to your family’s preferences and as efficient as possible.
Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning services the majority of the Sacramento Valley including Heating and Air Conditioning, HVAC or AC Service for Sacramento, Elk Grove, Roseville, Citrus Heights, Davis, Folsom, Rancho Cordova, Rocklin, Antelope, Arden Arcade, Auburn, Cameron Park, Carmichael, Diamond Springs, El Dorado Hills, Elverta, Fair Oaks, Florin, Foothill Farms, Foresthill, Georgetown, Gold River, Granite Bay, La Riviera, North Highlands, Orangevale, Parkway, South Sacramento, Pollock Pines, Rancho Murieta, Rio Linda, Rosemont, Shingle Springs, Vineyard, Wilton, Penryn, Loomis, Newcastle, Auburn Lake Trails, Garden Valley, Coloma, Plymouth, Amador City, Sutter Creek, Ione, West Sacramento. Call or Text 916-877-1577 or visit our website at foxfamilyhvac.com for more information.

Turning on the Furnace for the First Time Each Year

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Even as an HVAC Tech, I get nervous turning my furnace on for the first time each Fall or Winter. I don’t know why either. I guess it has to do with that smell that emits from the ducts that first time you turn it on every year. Or just the fact that a lot of us are dealing with a gas fired furnace that actually blows flames into a fire box for us to get warm. These are common issues discussed every year when the first cold snap hits. Generally in our area we only get really cold in December and January anyways, but it’s not uncommon for November and February and even March to have cold rainy days that require us to have some form of heat going in our house.

Although you may be nervous to turn your system on, Do It! Do it when it’s nice out still, like in October or November. You know why? Because if you wait to turn your furnace or heat pump on until that cold snap hits, and your system doesn’t work, you may find yourself at the end of a long line of other callers to the local heating and air conditioning company’s waiting list. Companies that have a maintenance program like Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning reward their monthly members by putting them at the front of the line for diagnostic and troubleshooting calls.

The single most important thing a homeowner or renter can do to make sure their system runs trouble-free is to change their filter every month or two.

The single most important thing a homeowner or renter can do to make sure their system runs trouble-free is to change their filter every month or two. A lot of people think they need to change their filter every three months or even six months! Not changing these filters on a more regular basis will lead to problems for the longevity of your system. Why? Because if a system can’t breathe in, it can’t breathe out correctly. Almost like trying to breathe through a wet towel. It’s torturous on your fire-box or heat exchanger. The system is designed for a certain amount of air to run through the blower motor and then on past the hot fire box or heat exchanger and then in to the ducts and out the registers to your rooms. If the air slows down because a dirty air filter is preventing all of the air to go through the filters efficiently, than the heat exchanger is going to overheat and start causing intermittent problems like shutting down.

Okay so now that our filter or filters are clean and we are going to turn on our system now; what should I expect? The clicking of the thermostat letting you know the thermostat has sent a signal to the furnace. The whining of the inducer motor coming on for the first time this year. The familiar thunderous sounds of the gas flames shooting into the heat exchanger, and about a minute later, the warm air coming out of your vents. You know that smell you get when you turn your furnace on for the first time every year? It’s actually a fine layer of dust that has most likely worked its way through your filter and blower and settled on your heat exchanger. It’s totally normal! No worries. If it bothers you too much, maybe open the door or some windows and vent it that way. Rest assured, it’s not carbon monoxide because that gas is odorless and can really only be detected by a carbon monoxide detector.

Remember to get your furnace maintained every year by a state certified contractor like Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning and it should give you many good years of service.

By the way, this is a great time to change those batteries in your existing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. If you can’t reach your detectors or monitors, feel free to call Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning to do it for you. Also your local fire department is always trying to remind folks to change the batteries in their detectors and monitors. I’m sure they would be happy to help a citizen of their community out as well, and probably free of charge. Oh yeah, and it would be super convenient if you had the new batteries ready to go for us to put in.

If you don’t already have someone coming out to your house to clean and check all of your HVAC system and its components, Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning offers a super easy way to have it done automatically. You won’t even have to remember to call us. We take care of it all. Just like your car runs better when it’s been cleaned and maintained at the local lube spot, your furnace will too. Every Fall or Winter is a good time to get the required maintenance done on your heating system. Don’t have a desire to be on an automatic program? Call for a furnace tune-up. A typical cleaning lasts 45 minutes to an hour and a half. It’s usually about a 30 point checklist, but I’ll go into that on another post.

A couple other safety suggestions for furnace operation:

  • Some people like to rest brooms, leaf blowers, and weed eaters against their furnace in the garage. Some of this stuff is considered combustible and should be removed from the area considering there’s an open flam just inches away.
  • Make sure no boxes are slid up against your furnace, the furnace is constructed with vents for fresh air to get into the flame for a proper burn. Clogging up the area in front of the furnace can cause issues with combustion.

This wraps up our discussion on the intimidating task of firing up your furnace for the first time each year. Just remember, your furnace has all kinds of safety features built in which will shut it down in case of flame roll-out, too much heat, or some other safety issue. Remember to get your furnace maintained every year by a state certified contractor like Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning and it should give you many good years of service.

Contact me if you have any questions or want to schedule a quick maintenance review of your system.

Greg Fox