11 Ways to Avoid Hot and Cold Spots in Your Home

Turning on the Furnace for the First Time Each Year

Delivering the right amount of air to each room at the same time is key to being comfortable.  And not just in one or two rooms.  A properly set up HVAC system will comfort your whole home or business simultaneously.

Of course, the goal is to have the same even temperatures throughout each room so when you walk through your house, you don’t feel warmer in one room than another.  Today at Fox Family Heating and Air, we’re taking a look at 11 ways to avoid hot and cold spots in your Sacramento Valley home or business.

1. Is your system sized correctly?

First and foremost, is your system sized correctly?  This means the original installer of the system did a proper load calculation of your home.  If they didn’t, then it’s not pushing enough air to your rooms regardless of whether the rest of our checklist is perfect.

2. Return air and supply air unity

Having the right amount of return air to supply air unity means you’ll be delivering the same amount of air out of your system as you are bringing to the system.  You have a return air grille or stand where your filter goes.  That’s where the system draws its air in.  On the other side of that air handler, the system supplies your conditioned air.  Systems are designed to supply about 400 to 500 cfms of air per ton.  But if your system is breathing in enough air from the return, how is it going to supply enough air to keep your home evenly comforted?

3. Adding returns will mix hot and cold air

This brings me to the option of adding more returns to strategic rooms around your house.  That return air grille in the main hallway doesn’t have to be the only return in the home or office.  For example, master bedrooms in newer homes have a return air grille installed in them.  This mixes the air in the room so warm air in the summer gets removed from the room, while colder supply air is being delivered into the room.  You’ll really notice a difference by adding a return to these pesky rooms that are warmer or cooler than others, depending on the season.

4. Closing air registers will force hot and cold air elsewhere

Not one of my favorites, but some folks will start closing down their adjustable supply registers in various room that get too much air.  They’re hoping to force the air somewhere else in the house that isn’t getting enough air.  The only thing I don’t like about this is that those registers that you start shutting down can do a couple things.  One is really annoying and the other can actually shorten the lifespan of the system.  Closing down “strategic” registers in the home or office can make those registers start whizzing.  This makes it louder in that room because we are creating a restriction that speeds up the airflow as it leaves the supply register.

The other reason has to do with the static pressure of the system.  Much like blood flow in the body, we wouldn’t want to pinch a blood vessel in hopes to deliver more blood elsewhere right, this could cause big problems with the body.  The same goes for aerodynamics in your ductwork.

5. Change those filters to eliminate hot and cold spots

Changing your filters quarterly will not only help keep your system clean, but it will allow airflow into the system.  If the filter gets too dirty, you’re creating a restriction if the system can’t breathe in properly, it won’t be able to breathe out the appropriate amount of air.  It’s like breathing in through a straw and exhaling out of your open mouth.  Eventually you’re going to hyperventilate.  So, let’s keep those passages open so the HVAC system can eliminate hot and cold spots in your home or office.

6. Keep Heat at Bay with Window Coverings

The sun’s radiant energy can warm up a room quickly.  A room with sun-drenched walls or windows allow this heat into those rooms and will warm up more quickly.  Installing window coverings will keep this radiant heat at bay.  These come in the form of screens or tinting that can be attached to the outside of windows, or curtains and blinds affixed to the inside of the windows.  Either way you choose, you’re going to enjoy having a more comfortable room if you can reduce the chance of that heat coming in this way.

7. Electronics in Rooms will Increase Warmth

It’s so popular now to have gaming systems or high-tech computer systems in a room or office.  The heat these devices put out is enough to warm up a room, making it less comfortable than other rooms in your house.  Adding more supply air by using a larger duct will help to deliver more air to that room.  Just like I mentioned above, a better solution may be adding a return to this room as it will remove the warm air while cold air is being supplied to the room.  This will make your room more comfortable, faster.

8. Ceiling Fans will Mix Hot and Cold Air

Another way to mix the air in your room is to turn on that ceiling fan.  When it’s hot outside, have the fan blowing straight down towards the floor.  The warmer it is, the higher the fan speed should be.  Conversely, in the wintertime, turn the fan so it blows upwards.  Both ways will mix the air more effectively and make those rooms more evenly comforted.

9. Keep Hot and Cold Air Moving by Preventing Airflow Restrictions

Remove hot and cold air spots by taking a look at your ductwork.  It might be under the house or in the attic.  If you can see your ductwork, you will be able to determine if it’s delivering the air efficiently.  If the ductwork is sagging or kinked, it won’t deliver the air properly.  Each duct has a finite amount of air it can deliver appropriately.  Making sure it is installed correctly is a great way to keep your house evenly conditioned.

10. Prevent Hot and Cold Spots by Checking Insulation Levels

You can also control hot and cold spots by paying attention to insulation.  Attic insulations levels can greatly impact how quickly that hot or cold air infiltrates through the ceiling into your room.  Sometimes various service professionals will need to work up there.  In the process, they may matte down some of your insulation, making it less effective.  If there is not enough insulation over one room or the other, this will create hot or cold spots.  These reduce your comfort level in those rooms.  By blowing in some more insulation, you can make your whole house more comfortable to be in.

11. Properly Sized Ductwork Improves HVAC Efficiency

The size of your HVAC system as well as the right size duct system to deliver that air evenly are both crucial to your comfort.  This isn’t the easiest thing to figure for most DIY’ers.  An hvac professional can help you determine what size duct is needed for each room.  A system of supply and return ducts running every which way can be confusing.  Making the right decisions with your ductwork will make your HVAC system more efficient and comfortable for your home.  This will eliminate hot and cold spots in your home

Summary

Let Fox Family come out and take a look at what can be done to make your home more comfortable if you’re experiencing hot or cold spots.  Making your system as efficient and effective as possible will certainly add to your quality of life.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and we’ll see you on the next blog post!

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Is an AC tune-up worth it?

Is an AC tune-up worth it?

People who have just bought their first home or have recently installed a new AC may not be certain whether it is necessary to have the air conditioning system tuned-up annually. This article discusses some of the key benefits that Sacramento homeowners will enjoy when they hire a Sacramento heating and air conditioning company like Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning to tune-up the AC.

Improved Energy Efficiency

Dirt, dust and other forms of debris gradually accumulate on the different components of the AC, such as the evaporator coils. Those accumulations affect the efficiency of the system in different ways. For example, the dust can prevent the exchange of heat from the evaporator coils. This impediment causes the system to use more energy as it struggles to maintain the desired temperature in your home. Regular tune-ups avert such causes of inefficiency.

Warranty Protection

Manufacturers of air conditioning systems offer buyers warranties that have conditions. One of the common conditions is that the air conditioner must be maintained regularly (at least annually) by certified professionals. Any warranty claim made without proof that the AC was tuned-up at the required intervals can result in a rejection of that claim. Air conditioning repair technicians in Sacramento can perform the required maintenance so the AC manufacturer honors any warranty claim.

System Longevity

It is also worthwhile to have your air conditioner tuned-up because that maintenance helps to enable the system to last for as long as the manufacturer intended it to. For example, Fox Family Heating, Air Conditioning and Solar technicians check the lubrication of the moving parts of the HVAC equipment. Proper lubrication protects the components from premature wear due to excessive friction. Tune-ups are therefore a good investment since they save you from having to buy a new AC sooner than expected.

Eco-Friendliness

Air conditioning tune-ups have the added benefit of making your HVAC systems environmentally friendly. How does this happen? Tune-ups help to detect problems, such as refrigerant leaks before they worsen and discharge greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Secondly, barriers to efficiency are removed so that the system uses the least amount of energy needed to keep the home within the desired temperature range. You will be contributing towards protecting the environment when you have your AC tuned-up.

Reduced Repair Costs

Sacramento air conditioning repair professionals perform tune-ups as a way of averting frequent system failures. The tune-ups forestall bigger problems by catching them early. For instance, the technician may check how much energy the motor is consuming as it works. This tune-up activity helps to fix any defects before those defects cause a malfunction that may be costly to repair.

Improved Air Quality

The air that you and your family members breathe while inside your home depends on how well the air conditioner is doing its work. For example, a defective filter can allow contaminants to keep recirculating within the home. Similarly, a clogged condensate line can result in higher humidity levels in the home. This can allow mold and other biological matter to thrive and compromise the health of the home’s occupants. Fox Family Heating, Air Conditioning and Solar can provide AC system tune-ups to improve quality of living.

It Gives Peace of Mind

Having an air conditioning system tune-up performed helps to remove any nagging fears or concerns which you may have about your AC. That professional tune-up gives your AC a clean bill of health after any anomalies found are fixed. Rest assured that the AC will not suddenly fail, unless an unforeseen calamity, such as a flood, damages the equipment.

The cost of having the annual air conditioner tune-up done pales in comparison to the higher costs and inconveniences that you may expose yourself to when you neglect to have the tune-ups done. Hire an experienced heating and air conditioning repair or maintenance company in Sacramento. Contact Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning to take care of keeping your home’s AC at its best throughout the year. Our maintenance club is an affordable solution many clients find to be a great value, while enjoying comfort and peace of mind. 

Air Conditioning Tune-Up Season in Sacramento

Fox Family Heating and Air Begins Air Conditioning Tune-up Season in Sacramento

Well the weather has spoken. It is February 12th as I write this and we are in a stretch of 72-degree days. The weather in Sacramento is usually pretty predictable, but this year in February no one needs assistance with their heating systems. It’s actually a great time to start thinking about your Air Conditioner and get the old AC Tune-up again this year.

Fox Family Heating, Air Conditioning and Solar offers AC Tune-ups unlike the others in town. We have a piece of paper that lists everything we will be checking on this visit.

We start out at the thermostat and make sure it displays properly, is mounted correctly and that you understand how to use your thermostat and are comfortable using it. We’ll check the batteries while we are there too. Some thermostats don’t have batteries and are connected through the “C” terminal. Now we’ll turn your AC on and listen. Listening to the AC system run to an HVAC technician is like music to their ears.

Next, we move on to the filter and make sure it’s clean. If you have a washable type, we’ll wash it for you and let it dry as we continue on with the AC Tune-up.

On we go to the air handler or furnace wherever it is in your house. It’s usually either in the garage, a closet or in the attic. Some houses have packaged units that are on the rooftop of the home, or sometimes on the ground. Either way, I’m sure you’ve seen that thing so let’s go find it. While we are here in the attic we’ll check the surroundings and ensure all the ductwork looks connected, is strapped properly, is sealed at the plenums and delivering air to each room as designed.

We also check insulation levels out in the attic because it’s your air conditioner’s best friend when it comes to saving energy. We are looking for R-38 levels of insulation since that is the code standard set by cities and counties in the area. If you are not even close to those levels, we’ll notify you when we come back down.

Here is a list of components we check on the air handler during the AC Tune-up. We clean and check all of these items (except the blower assembly and the evaporator coil, additional charges apply on these two items just because a good amount of labor is involved in cleaning them) so your system can run as efficiently as possible. Clean = Good!

  • Door safety switch
  • Temperature difference between return and supply air
  • Blower capacitor rating
  • Blower wheel is balanced
  • Overall blower assembly cleanliness
  • Lubricating the bearings on some blower motors that still have oil ports
  • Condensate drain lines direct water away from the HVAC unit to protect the house
  • Condensate drain slope is proper
  • Is a condensate safety switch present
  • Secondary drain pan condition (Rusted?)
  • Condensate pump if applicable
  • Evaporator coil condition
  • UV air purification system bulb
  • Refrigerant leaks at evaporator coil
  • TXV is mounted properly

Then we head to the outdoor unit where we wash the unit from any debris that might have plugged the condenser coils over the winter. At the condenser we check and clean all of the following components:

  • Outdoor temperature
  • Your refrigerant type
  • High voltage service disconnect for proper electrical code safety
  • Tighten the lugs in the electrical disconnect
  • Ensure proper wire size to the AC
  • Max fuse rating of the outdoor condenser
  • Min circuit ampacity
  • Fuses in the service disconnect mounted properly
  • Refrigerant leaks visible around the AC
  • Proper amount of suction line insulation on refrigerant lines
  • Condenser fan FLA
  • High voltage readings at the contactor
  • Low voltage readings at the contactor
  • Compressor start assist present?
  • Electrical connections tightened
  • Compressor run amps
  • Condenser coil condition
  • Compressor capacitor condition
  • Lubricate the fan motor if applicable
  • Is the outdoor unit level?
  • Wash / wiped down the outdoor unit
  • Leaves out of the bottom of the unit

We really enjoy the opportunity to come out and take care of your HVAC system! It has always been a passion for Greg Fox to keep his clients’ system clean and operational for the upcoming season. We actually have a club membership where we come out and give you:

  • 2 pre-paid tune-ups a year
  • No dispatch fee EVER!
  • 15% off all parts and labor
  • Front of the line priority service

It’s kind of a no-brainer to let us come out and maintain your system for just $10.95 a month. We offer it at such a low price just because we want to develop relationships with our clients so when it does come time to change your system out, you’ll choose us to do the work. Talk to your technician and see how he can help you.

How does a Fox Family HVAC tune-up compare?

Do I really need an air conditioner tune-up and what do I get for my money?

Even though it has been pretty mild and even rainy these last few days, I can’t help but think about all of my future customers who will be calling me frantically asking how soon we can get out to their house to fix their AC system. 

Our customers in Rancho Cordova and the surrounding Sacramento area who have already had their AC maintenance from Fox Family Heating, Air Conditioning and Solar have peace of mind going into the Summer months.  AC maintenance customers receive an incredible 60 point AC tune up every Spring on their system.  That means we check and clean a lot more parts than the other companies.  I have heard of 12 point inspections, 20 point inspections, and even 30 point inspections.  I have never heard of a company that does a 60 point tune-up on your system.  What’s better, our company can show what it was we checked.  Sometimes companies say they are checking this and cleaning that, but leave you thinking, “What did they DO?”  To the left is a picture of our AC Maintenance form we use in every home.  It’s probably a little small to read, but you can see how many items we are checking on the visit.

air conditioner tune up checklist

We also rate your components on a Good, Medium, Bad or Green, Yellow, Red system.  If the items on your form are red or yellow, we’d like to talk to you about how we can make your system perform better for you and your family. Another great thing about our AC maintenance is no matter which Fox Family technician performs the tune-up for your system, everything gets checked in the same order.  At some other companies, there is not a structured way of doing the tune-up.  The boss just says, “go out and make sure it’s up and running.”  This is why $39 AC Tune-ups are not a good value for you.  The technician performing that tune-up is going to move quickly through your system to get to the next job.  Don’t you want someone to take their time on your home AC system and deliberately check each and every component, so you’ll know exactly what is and what is not working well on your AC system?   Every AC maintenance should take about 45 minutes to an hour and a half.  You’ll know we have a structured way of going through your system to make sure it ready for the upcoming summer months! 

We start off at your thermostat, checking to make sure they are mounted securely to the wall and that your batteries are in good condition.  We also want to make sure you are comfortable with how to use the thermostat.  Is it programmed to your specific needs?  Next, we check the air filters for size, fit and cleanliness.  As we move on through your AC maintenance, we are checking for items regarding your home comfort level, such as your insulation levels in the attic.  The current standard for insulation in California is R-38.  Most older homes we go into have less than half of that.  This may be one reason why your utility bills are too high in the summer and winter months.  If you could build a bigger barrier between your hot attic in the summertime and your nice cool living room down below, your energy bill would plummet.  Some people tell me they cannot get the house to go down below 80 degrees in the summertime.  Then I look up in their attic and see an insulation value equal to pretty much zero!  No wonder your bills are high and the AC still won’t cool you down.  Radiant heat is bullying its way into your house without your permission.  Put a stop to it!  Let Fox Family Heating and Air blow an adequate level of insulation into your attic and put some money back into your pocket. 

After checking your ductwork and insulation levels, we move on to the air handler and evaporator portion which pushes the air through your duct system and cools the air at the same time.  You may already know that your AC system has an outdoor unit because you hear it cranking up a few thousand times every summer.  But did you know the other half of your AC system is at the air handler?  You see, you have a hot coil on the outside, getting rid of the heat in your home, and a cold coil in the attic or garage, wherever your particular air handler happens to be.  The air handler has a blower wheel and a motor to push the room temperature air across the cold coils to give you air conditioning in your home! 

We assess and evaluate the following at the air conditioner:

  • Manufacture date
  • Door safety switch
  • Temperature difference of the air coming in and going out of your system
  • Blower capacitor rating and actual value
  • Balanced blower wheel for efficiency
  • Blower assembly cleanliness for longevity of life and efficiency
  • Primary drain lines get purged with nitrogen for proper operation
  • Condensate safety switch to ensure that your sheetrock below the AC in the attic never becomes damaged in the case of a leaking evaporator coil.
  • Condensate lines to make sure they are properly sloped and drain to the outside with only the help of gravity
  • Condensate lines to make sure there are no leaking joints or connections
  • The condition of your necessary secondary drain pan.  Some homes don’t even have one of these.  I feel bad for them if the primary pan ever failed.  Water, water and more water on their nice sheet rock in the living room, nooooo!
  • The condition of your evaporator coil to make sure it is converting your air to be as cool as possible by the time it reaches your room
  • Refrigerant leaks around all the joints around the system
  • The expansion valve sensing bulb for proper mounting per manufacturer specified installation practices.  This will improve the efficiency of your system once mounted properly.
  • We determine if there is already a UV air purification system in your duct system already.  If not, we will always recommend that to you, because we know everyone will breathe easier in the home with a working UV air purification system.

Once we are through checking the air handler and all of its’ parts, we go to the air conditioner outside.  We determine the condition of every item on that unit, so you’ll know what kind of shape it is in.  We assess and evaluate the following at your Air Conditioner:

  • Manufacture date
  • The current outdoor temperature
  • The type of refrigerant is used in your system.
  • Type of wiring used to supply the high voltage to your system.
  • The service disconnect to make sure it is safe and meets city code specifications
  • We tighten the lugs on the high voltage terminals at the disconnect and contactor within the AC unit.
  • We check the maximum fuse rated for your specific unit and determine whether the right fuses are still in the service disconnect from when it was installed, or has someone put different ones in there.
  • Inspect for signs of leaking refrigerant around the AC
  • Ensure the copper suction line going into the outdoor AC unit has sufficient insulation on it to keep in line with specified rules from the city code inspector.  This affects the efficiency of the system if not properly insulated.
  • Measure the amps draws on your condenser fan motor while it’s running to determine if it’s running okay, or do we see this motor going out soon. 
  • Measure the voltages coming into the contactor as well as going out.
  • Record the amp draws of the compressor to determine if it’s running okay.
  • Measure the microfarad levels of the compressor capacitor and the condenser fan capacitor.
  • Check for the presence of a 5-2-1 compressor start assist on the AC unit.  If not present, we’ll suggest one to you because we know that it will likely extend the life of your compressor.  The manufacturers don’t usually put one on the system because it is a conflict of interest for them.  They know that your system will last longer with one on your system.  That’s why they don’t add one in the first place.
  • Tighten all electrical connections within the AC unit to prevent any high voltage arcing from terminal to terminal. 
  • Lubricate all moving parts that aren’t sealed for longer life.
  • Wash and wipe down your unit to make sure it is clean and serviceable.  There’s nothing like an AC that you rub up against and then get dirty from all the oxidation rubs off on you.
  • If you have an excessive build-up of leaves and stick in the bottom of your unit, we’ll get those out as well for you.
  • We also verify that the unit can breathe properly by making sure the bushes and shrubs are cut back from the unit at least one foot.

It takes a lot of discipline to perform these AC maintenance procedures so precisely on hundreds of units every Spring in the Rancho Cordova and Sacramento area.  At Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning, we feel we are bringing you a great value for your money.  We perform a 60 point tune-up on your system.  This will help you feel more comfortable going into the summer months knowing we have thoroughly gone through your system from head to toe measuring, identifying, determining, and calculating your AC system’s performance. 

We know it’s a lot of information!  But a 30 point inspection for the same price just isn’t going to identify the real details of your system. 

Let us tell you what is going on with your system.  Good and bad!  If we suggest a part to you and you feel like this is not the right time for you and your family, no problem!  We would never want to make you feel uncomfortable.  As long as you are informed, we feel like we’ve done our job.  If you decide to move forward with any suggested repairs, we have the necessary parts on our trucks and can get you up and running to your manufacturer’s specs in a jiffy.  The AC maintenance is critical to the longevity of our system.  We hope you aren’t a victim of an inconvenient breakdown this summer.  Give us a call, and let us come out to show you in person what a real AC maintenance is supposed to look like.

Greg Fox is the owner of Fox Family Heating, Air Conditioning and Solar, Inc.  He has been in the HVAC industry since 2010, and the customer service industry for over twenty years.