How Long Should My AC Last?

how long should my AC last?

Getting the Most Out of Your AC System in the Sacramento Valley

You may be wondering, “How long should my AC last?”  To answer that question, have you ever heard of “programmed obsolescence” or “designed obsolescence?”  If you haven’t, it really plays a big factor in the way this question is answered.

How Long Should my AC Last?

This is one of my favorite questions to answer. And it usually gets all the HVAC technicians and owners out there all stirred up.  The reason is that companies that are highly motivated by sales are going to tell you that your central air conditioner will not last as long as I’m going to tell you it will.

Air Conditioners Then and Now

I will tell you, they don’t make ‘em like they used to!  The original home air conditioning systems were built with quality parts and were extremely durable for up to 30 years.  But the industry quickly realized, just like car companies did back in the 1920s, that sales were stagnating.  It was like they were building them too well for those companies to sustain growth, and more importantly to them, become rich. Companies began making their products just a little bit less durable and instilling in the buyer the desire to own something “a little newer, a little better, a little more efficient,” and just a little sooner than necessary.

So, how long should your air conditioner last?  As with anything, the answer to that question depends heavily on how well your system has been maintained.  Rental properties are notorious for having tenants that just plain old refuse to change their air filters. So, of course, that system is a crapshoot.  Who knows, right?  It might last 10 years, it might last 20 years.

Periodic Repair and Maintenance

But if you have the system cleaned and maintained every now and then, there is no reason your system can’t last you 20 years.  True, parts will fail now and then, and everyone expects they’ll have to make certain repairs to their aging system, but if the parts are available, there’s no reason to have someone convince you to buy a new air conditioning system.

That’s just another example of planned obsolescence!  Someone putting in your head that you need a new system at 12 years is almost like being a bully.  They know more than you do about that air conditioning system, and it would be pretty easy for any “technician” in a white button-up shirt with an American flag on it to deceive you about your air conditioner.  The big companies around town are banking on it.

I live in a 21-year-old neighborhood built by, let’s call them a fictitious name like BK Homes.  The HVAC contractor who won the job to install all those units did so because it was the lowest bidder who could install them the fastest.  Those contractors aren’t putting in top-of-the-line systems either.  They call them contractor-grade HVAC systems.

It’s Your Decision

My system is 21 years old this year, and I’m going to try and make it last one more year.  A lot of us say that!  But when that system was 11 years old my compressor failed.  Well, for most people, that’s about a $2,000-$3,000 job to make that repair and refill the refrigerant.  So yes, major failures like this do happen.  Is it planned obsolescence?  Maybe. But it’s also a machine, and machines break sometimes.  I happened to know a guy (me) who could get a good deal on a compressor.  So I fixed it.  And the system has run great ever since.

The point I’m trying to get across is, it’s your decision how long you want to keep your system around.  If the parts are available, your system can be repaired.  Old systems blow cold air out of your registers at the same temperature as the newer systems, but here’s where those words “planned obsolescence” come back around when the pushy sales guys start telling you you need a new air conditioner.  They’re just trying to persuade you that you need something a little newer, a little better, a little more “efficient,” and just a little sooner than necessary.

Why I would be interested in changing my air conditioner

I changed my compressor when it was 11 years old.  That was almost 10 years ago!  That air conditioner is a lot noisier now than it ever has been.  I’m kind of over it… every time it comes on and I’m out on my patio, it comes on loud and turns off loud.

If I had to complete additional major repairs like the compressor was, I would have gotten to the point that I was tired of putting money into the old system and would instead want to invest my money in a new system.

If I was leaking refrigerant every year and we could find the leak, I would want to change my system.  Not only because of the high cost of the refrigerant, but it’s just very bad for the ozone layer to be exposed to all that chlorine, and future generations will suffer because of it.

If the system was installed wrong in the first place, it’s tough to fix that without taking everything out and putting it back together in the proper way.  This could be another reason to start all over with a new system.  As an installer myself, I know how people can suffer from a system that never worked right or was too small in the first place.  The most important day of a system’s life is the day it was installed.

Reasons companies that are motivated purely by sales will advise you to get a new system

Extremely salesy companies will tell you (and you see it written in blogs all over the internet too), that if your system is over 12 years old, you need a new system.  They’ll tell you it’s not worth repairing, or the parts aren’t available, literally lying straight to your face.

They say if you’ve had the system for over a decade, it’s time to replace your system. This also doesn’t compute for me.  Why?

Some of my customers have told me another company told them R-22 freon wasn’t available anymore.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes, it’s on its way out, and super salesy technicians will say big words like “Montreal Protocol” which states we have to phase out of producing R-22 by 2020, but there are also alternative refrigerants we can use for a long time, at half the price!

R407c can be used to replace the R-22 in your system.  Your experienced technician will remove the existing R-22, and without getting all technical, replace it with the new R407c refrigerant.  There are plenty of other alternative and safe refrigerants to use out there.  Just don’t let them add the alternative stuff on top of your existing R-22.  That would not be acceptable as the refrigerant needs to be either-or.

Even after they stop making R-22 freon, there will still be recycled R-22 available for years.  It might be more expensive then than it is now, but it’s still an option that you get to decide on, and not a misleading technician.

So How Long Should My AC Last?  The Bottom Line

You should know the real truth about how long your central air conditioning system should last.  You can get about 20 good years out of your system as long as it was installed correctly.  And that assumes your installer followed several detailed instructions from the manufacturer.

Anyone can put a few boxes together up in your attic for a really cheap price and call it good.  And you’ll believe them too.  It’s sad because these types of companies continue to give HVAC a bad name, while companies like Fox Family are trying to lift the HVAC industry by following instructions closely so your system will last a good 20 years.  Of course, that’s with proper maintenance.

Thank you so much for stopping by, and we’ll see you at my next blog.

Preparing Your Furnace for Fall

preparing your furnace for fall

Preparing Your Furnace for Fall

The onset of fall or winter triggers an avalanche of calls to Fox Family Heating & Air to address furnace issues. While furnace problems are at times inevitable, many of those issues can be prevented. Read on and discover some of the ways through which furnace maintenance can avert many of the potential problems during the heating season (fall and winter).

Replacing Dirty Filters

Dirty furnace filters can cause airflow issues around the home. This will become apparent once the entire home or parts of it aren’t getting enough heat even if the furnace is working. You can prevent such furnace problems by checking and replacing the filter once you find that it clogged. The filter can be located in the air inlet or within the furnace itself. Refer to the user manual and perform this crucial preventive maintenance activity. HVAC filter replacement is a routine task conducted by Sacramento heating and air conditioning companies during scheduled HVAC maintenance visits.

Fixing Unusual Pilot Light Functioning

The pilot light or furnace ignition can flicker or change color to yellow. This may be an indication that exhaust gases, such as carbon monoxide, have accumulated within your furnace. Could there be a blockage in the exhaust vent? Check whether the fan is working as it should. Ask for professional help in case you cannot immediately identify why the pilot light is flickering or appears yellow.

Stop Frequent Cycling

You can also prevent the furnace from cycling on and off at short intervals by prepping your furnace for fall. Confirm that the settings of the thermostat are correct. Incorrect settings (settings close to the ambient temperature, for example) may cause this frequent cycling. Airflow problems or clogged filters could also trigger frequent cycling. Call an expert from Fox Family Heating & Air if the frequent cycling doesn’t end once you implement the DIY fixes suggested.

Prevent Blower Belt Malfunctions

The blower belt can become frayed or it could slip. This can trigger an unusual sound in the furnace. Heated air may also fail to move around the home since the blower won’t be able to do its work of passing air over the heat exchanger. Get the blower belt checked as summer is coming to an end so that the furnace will be ready for the demands of fall and winter. Contact a Sacramento heating and air conditioning repair company for help if the blower develops a defect suddenly after the onset of fall.

Ensure Sufficient Clearance

Another way to prepare your furnace for fall is to inspect the area around it and remove any objects preventing airflow around the unit. This step is important in case you store belongings within the same location as the furnace during the months when the furnace isn’t needed. Remove everything that is within the clearance radius recommended by the manufacturer of that unit. This simple undertaking will avert those problems which originate from a congested space around the furnace.

Troubleshoot Electrical Component Issues

The limit switch can fail. Worn wiring can also cause the furnace breaker to trip. It is advisable to ask a professional to inspect the furnace before fall so that any defective electrical components can be repaired before they affect the performance of the furnace during the colder months of the year.

As you can see, you can perform some of the activities needed to make the furnace ready for fall. However, it is best to ask an expert from Fox Family Heating and Air to service the furnace so that it performs reliably and efficiently throughout fall and winter.

Why Your Sacramento HVAC System May Be Having Airflow Problems

AC Repair

Have you noticed that some sections of a room in your home are cold while others are warm? Your HVAC system may be having airflow issues. Read on and learn some of the common reasons why such airflow problems develop. Use this information to adjust the factors which you can handle and call a Sacramento HVAC professional for help on those issues which are beyond your capacity to address.

Obstructed Outdoor Unit

Heating and air conditioning professionals usually select the most appropriate locations in which to install the indoor and outdoor units of air conditioners. However, some Sacramento homeowners may unknowingly impede the performance of the AC by placing obstructions close to the outdoor units.

For example, a homeowner may place a disused appliance close to the outdoor unit. This can prevent that unit from performing its role of cooling the air which is coming from inside the home. Airflow problems will then result.

This problem is easy to solve. Simply check the outdoor unit and remove anything which is within the recommended clearance in the vicinity of that unit.

Blocked Registers and Vents

Many airflow problems result from a blockage in a register or a vent. For example, you may place a piece of furniture in front of an AC register. That furniture will impede the flow of air within the air conditioner components in that room of your home.

Fix such problems by checking the rooms where airflow problems exist. Remove everything that may be in the way of a vent or a register.

Clogged Air Filters

Another common cause of airflow issues is a clogged filter. Air will be unable to flow freely through the filter and into the room if that filter is dirty. Regular replacement of filters (in accordance with the recommended change intervals provided by the manufacturer) can ensure that a clogged filter will not affect the flow of air within the HVAC system.

Leaky or Blocked Air Ducts

The ductwork may also have a defect which is compromising the airflow within your air conditioning system. For instance, dirt may have bypassed a clogged filter and accumulated within the ducts. Such dirt can constrict the ducts and affect the flow of air. Damaged ducts can also leak conditioned air and limit the flow of air to the places where it is needed.

It is advisable for you to ask an experienced Sacramento air conditioning technician to inspect the ductwork and conduct the necessary repairs or cleaning to fix the airflow problem.

Defective Fan Blower

Blower fans push air through the ducts and channel it to the different rooms in your home. Those fans can become sluggish once the motor powering them grows old or weakens. Such a defect can only be remedied by a technical person who will decide whether the fan simply needs to be cleaned or the motor needs to be changed.

Improperly Sized HVAC Units

Some airflow issues in homes can be traced to an improperly sized air conditioning unit. An oversized AC will cycle on and off too frequently. Those short run times deny the system an opportunity to extract all the moisture from the air circulating inside the home. Consequently, the air will feel clammy and you will no longer be comfortable in the home.

Contact an HVAC expert in Sacramento and let that person advise you on the appropriateness of the AC for the size of your home. This analysis is particularly important in case the system is older and may have been installed at a time when the preference for bigger units was prevalent.

Low Refrigerant Charge

A refrigerant leak can also cause airflow problems. The loss of refrigerant causes the HVAC system to be unable to work properly. Don’t try to fix refrigerant leaks on your own. Ask a professional to use the appropriate tools to identify the leaks and fix them before recharging the system with the right refrigerant.

Many of the airflow problems in the discussion above can be detected and corrected early before they cause bigger repair challenges if you have a habit of inviting a Sacramento heating and air conditioning professional to inspect and service your HVAC system. Address all issues quickly so that your comfort isn’t compromised.

Contact Fox Family Heating and Air if you feel like you are experiencing air flow issues in your home. If you HVAC system is showing signs that it is not performing properly, now is the best time to have it checked out to avoid an unnecessary breakdown as Sacramento summer heat approaches.

310.4 Electrical Connections and AC Disconnects

Installing According to Code is the Sign of a Real Professional

So many times when you’re out in the field you’ll encounter a technician, a supervisor or inspector who will cite building codes as their authority for proper installation of an HVAC system.  Installing a subpanel, wiring up a disconnect, or running PVC pipe in the attic correctly is just one of the many responsibilities of an HVAC technician.

Whether you pull permits or not on your job, a company’s worth is based on the quality of its workmanship.  And if that work fails in a few years, it most likely wasn’t installed according to code.

So often you will notice the code referring us back to the manufacturer and how they want it installed.  Referring to the installation guide and following along with the steps in the book will take any and all guesswork out of what you’re supposed to do next.  This is the sign of a real professional in their trade.
I’m not here to claim I know, or could even possibly interpret all the codes correctly, but what I would like to do is open up some conversation about the building codes and your opinion about what we are talking about this particular day.

Electrical Connections at the Condenser

Today I want to talk about installing a service disconnect at the condenser.  I will look at one of the first points made in the California Mechanical Code and it stands out from the International Mechanical Code which just advises following the NEC when it comes to this.  But as an installer, I’ve wondered whether or not to put a disconnect here.  Let’s take a look at what 310.4 says about Electrical Connections.

First, “equipment regulated by this code requiring electrical connections of more than 50 volts shall have a positive means of disconnect adjacent to and in sight from the equipment served.”  This just means a furnace would need a 120-volt pigtail as its positive means of disconnecting voltage from the furnace.  When you unplug the furnace, no voltage can reach the furnace.  A 30-amp or 60-amp service disconnect is installed on the 240-volt circuit to the AC outside as its positive means of disconnect.

Here’s a question for you.  Let’s say we’re installing the AC unit.  Usually, the disconnect is right next to the condenser so the service tech can access the unit safely.  Must we always have a disconnect next to the AC to remove power from the unit?  The answer is no.  If the main electrical panel is within sight of the condenser, that can serve as the means of positive disconnect for the unit.  The double pole breaker inside the main electrical panel is that means of disconnect.  This has come up a few times for us when teaching new technicians.

Dedicated Outlets

Next, “a 120 Volt receptacle should be located within 25 feet of the equipment for service and maintenance purposes.  The receptacle need not be located on the same level as the equipment.” 

So, because we service our equipment with pumps and motors that require electricity, an outlet needs to be within reach of a 25 ft. extension cord.
As specified later in the codebook, in the case of a package unit installed on a roof, a dedicated outlet at the unit must be installed in certain jurisdictions.  Here in Yolo County, right next to Sacramento County, we must install 120 weatherproof outlets at the package unit on the roof we’re servicing in order to meet that city’s more stringent adaption of the code.  This allows us to use our vacuum pumps and recovery machines up on the roof.

Exposed Thermostat Wiring

The third part of this code requires that “low voltage wiring of 50 volts or less… shall be installed in a manner to prevent physical damage.”   This is kind of a pet peeve of mine.  It bothers me to see thermostat wire running to the AC with its brown sheathing exposed to the sun’s UV rays.  Even the slightest bump of a dried out thermostat wire against the AC is enough to strip the wire and expose it to an electrical short.  One-half-inch conduit should be run with the thermostat wire to protect it from damage.  It really doesn’t take any extra time to install this flexible non-metal conduit right into the condenser.  Some techs just don’t think about it, because they weren’t taught that way.  It’s all good.  Once again, just starting a conversation about this.

Your Turn

What are your thoughts about this section of the code that talks about electrical connections?  Do you always put a disconnect next to the AC even though it’s in sight of the main electrical panel?  Please leave your thoughts below.

Thanks for weighing in, and stay tuned for next week’s blog topic!

Don’t miss our YouTube video on this topic:

What Kind of Warranty Should I get with my HVAC Repair?

What seemed like a simple AC repair call turned complicated…

Has it ever happened to you? You paid an HVAC repairman to replace a capacitor for your blower motor. Then he told you the problem was fixed. You only paid $125 bucks for it! Now, two years later the capacitor has already failed, and your furnace is not blowing warm air again. No air is coming out! You call the repairman only to find out he won’t answer his phone or reply with any sense of urgency to your call for service.

HVAC Warranty

In the field of HVAC, the brand of parts used for the repair means so much these days. GE used to make a capacitor in the 70’s that still meets manufacturer specs to this day. Goodman has been a system that had been known to have capacitors that fail early. I mean, I’m okay with parts lasting ten to fifteen years, but come on, these capacitors that are failing within the first five years are just a lousy brand of parts and equipment to get. Trying to find the contractor to uphold some warranty on these replacement parts would help your pocketbook, right?

Company Warranties

Some companies will offer no warranty or one or two-year warranties on the parts they replace. That’s great, but even the worst capacitors are not failing within the first two years. The companies that are making these inferior parts are savings pennies. Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning technicians use a trusted brand of capacitors from MARS. There are some other capacitor brands we will use, but if at all possible we are using the MARS brand of capacitors. Why? Because we offer a lifetime warranty on all of our replacement parts. For as long as you own the house, our part might fail on you, because things do happen, but we are going to replace it because we think we are giving you the best part on the market. I think if we are going to sell you a part, we should back it up.

This is the same for all parts we replace your system except for a few. Refrigerant, compressors, heat exchangers, and evaporator and condenser coils are not covered by the lifetime warranty. These are significant components of your system.

Fox Family Heating and Air Warranties 

The next time your system fails and you pay an HVAC company to come out and fix your system, ask them if they will stand behind their product like Fox Family Heating and Air does. Why they are skimping on the money to buy cheap capacitors for your house is hard to understand for me. It’s no way to earn an excellent reputation in Sacramento. When someone tells me they are going to repair my HVAC system, the part they use is just automatically going to be a durable, time-tested part that is going to last 5 to ten years at least! Fox Family is interested in creating long-lasting relationships with our clients. That is why we are offering a lifetime warranty on our parts. We think these are the best parts on the market, so we stand behind the products we install in your system because it means a lot to us when you call us for your HVAC needs.

How Much Does New Air Conditioning Cost in 2020?

new air conditioning cost in 2020

This spring, a lot of people began wondering, “how much does a new central air conditioning system cost?”

Every January, a nice letter crosses my desk from the manufacturers of all the HVAC systems we use.  They let me know the cost of their equipment will be rising again in 2020.  The cost of new air conditioning systems has been increasing by a few hundred dollars every year.  This is a reliable fact, and there is no chance of those prices going down for obvious reasons.  Let’s review some of the factors affecting new air conditioning costs in 2020.

When it comes to replacing your air conditioning system, people seem to be driven by one of three things:  low prices, good value, or top-of-the-line gear.  When it comes to the overall price range for a new air conditioning system, you should factor in a few things.

AC Upgrades

It’s a lot like buying a new car.  Some people will get the most basic thing that will get them to work, or they’ll seek out the nicer but middle-of-the-road car they’re proud to own, and it’s very reliable.  Others will look for the latest and newest smart car on the market.  In much the same way, the price for a new central air conditioning system in 2020 will run anywhere from $7,000 to $25,000 depending on which contractor you use.  When you bought your new car, you probably got some upgrades.  The seat warmers and self-park feature were a must!  You can get a similar variety of upgrades when choosing your new air conditioning system too, and it doesn’t have to be anything overly lavish, either.

Efficiency Ratings

In 2020, your first consideration when purchasing a new HVAC system should be the efficiency rating.   Finding a company that will give you three or four options, not just one, for your new air conditioner, is important.  You’re limiting yourself if you don’t.

In 2020 you should see options from 14 SEER up to 25 SEER. This SEER rating is like miles per gallon in your car.  That’s a great way to think about it.  The higher the SEER rating, the better and more efficient the equipment will be.  If you chose the 14 SEER or the 25 SEER, you can expect either system to last about 15-25 years.  “Anything after 20 years,” I tell people, “and you’re on borrowed time.”  And that’s fine too because 20 years from now, you’ll probably want that next generation of central air conditioning systems for your home.

A 14 SEER system will cost you anywhere between $7,000 and $16,000 in California, depending on where you live and which contractor you choose.  But a lot of that has to do with the type of installation you want for your new central air conditioning system.  Some people are DIY’ers who thrive on the challenge of replacing their home appliances themselves.  Changing an HVAC system is hard work, but it can be done.

Upgrades

The most popular upgrades after choosing your efficiency are:

  • Dividing your home into two or more “zones”
  • Smart thermostats
  • Wireless thermostats
  • Contactor containment (SureSwitch contactors)
  • Compressor start assist kits
  • Condensate flood switches
  • Air quality products
  • Virtual assistants / smart speakers (Amazon’s Alexa)
  • Insulation blown into attics
  • Whole house fans
  • Surge protectors for furnaces or air conditioners
  • Thicker air filters
  • Ductless mini-splits
  • Compressor sound blankets
  • New higher insulated ductwork

If you ask most people why they get upgrades on their newly purchased vehicle, they’ll say it’s about getting what they want the first time, so they don’t have any regrets down the road.  There’s a lot to be said for that when the time comes to buy a new central air conditioning system.

I suggest finding a contractor that not only offers you the new air conditioning system but many of these upgrades as well.  It’s not uncommon for a company to throw in the upgrades in the price.

An upgrade like a compressor start kit will add years of life to your system without you even knowing it.  This device cuts down the start-up time of a compressor, which increases the lifespan of your AC system by years! Wouldn’t you rather just have that on your system from the start rather than having a technician sell you that part later on down the road?  Of course, some upgrades are too costly to be “thrown in for free,” but little things like that add a lot of value to the cost of a new air conditioning system.

DIY HVAC Installation

Some people thrive on the chance to replace their own appliances.  There’s nothing wrong with that!  Installing HVAC is not rocket science, but there are some licenses and certifications required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to safely handle the refrigerant that goes into a new HVAC system.  Some people will buy their system online for as low as $2,000 – $12,000.  You can now buy systems and have them delivered to your door.  The purchaser installs the system according to the installation manual, and when it comes to the refrigerant lines, they’ll have a technician come in to do the rest.  One word of warning:  manufacturers do not like to warranty their products when an unlicensed technician installs them.

Air Conditioning Cost for 2020: Price-Only Shoppers – The Most Basic Systems

Some people who can’t or don’t want to install their own system will reach out to a contractor, or some guy on Johns List where they’ll pay someone to install the system.  I know of HVAC contractors and other handymen in California who can get a basic 14 SEER system into your house for as low as $7,000, maybe even less.  Have you ever heard that another company with more employees and a bigger shop will sell a similar system for $16,000?  In 2020 that can happen.

Value-Driven Customers Usually Pick in the Middle

When you have three or four options, the middle options will be where most buyers make their purchase.  They’re looking for something good for their home, but maybe not the absolute best on the market technology-wise.  These “middle options” were the top options years ago.  The technology has been perfected and mainstreamed into quality homes everywhere.  You will find these air conditioning systems in the price range of $10,000 to $20,000, depending on which contractor you choose.

Best of the Best Air Conditioners

Elite customers are looking for the latest in technology and will tolerate the bumps in the road that can come with such technology.  They prefer systems that are whisper quiet and run at ultra-low amps, making their electric bills much lower!  The technology in 2020 that continues to make a splash is the inverter technology of compressors offered in new air conditioners.  Someday these will be mainstream.  But for now, they come at the premium price of $15,000 to $25,000, depending on the contractor.

Depending on Your HVAC Contractor

Will they be there when it counts, down the road?  That’s a big question when it comes to the warranties on your new air conditioning system.  Those warranties won’t matter if they aren’t around to make it right for you.  These companies charge too little to keep a legitimate company going for long.

It’s a game we as contractors always have to play to earn your business. If we price too high, you won’t take us seriously; if we price too low, it only entices the price shoppers.  When you hear me say a 16 SEER system could be between $10,000 and $20,000, it’s best to find a contractor whose price lands in the middle of those two.  Your best value will fall in this range.  That’s why it’s important to get different quotes when you get your new air conditioning system.  You’ll learn that the price for the same 16 SEER system will be somewhere between that ten and 20-thousand-dollar mark.

Good luck with your upcoming purchase decision.  There are some great products you can add to your system to enhance its value for many years.  When it comes to new air conditioning cost in 2020, choose your contractor wisely. Choose someone who is going to be there down the road; someone who has good reviews online.  It really is all about customer service.  HVAC companies should be trying to take care of you not only for the day of the install but after the install.  Maintenance and preventive cleanings are essential.

Thanks so much, and we’ll see you on the next blog!

Don’t miss our videos on these related topics: 

5 Factors Affecting the Cost of Buying and Installing a Sacramento HVAC Unit

professionalism in the workplace

Many people who face replacing an HVAC unit in Sacramento want to know just how much that project will cost them before they commit to that system’s replacement. Often times air conditioner replacement is not planned, it’s more of a sudden purchase in the heat of summer. So, even if you don’t plan on replacing anytime soon, this blog is still a great read. This article discusses some of the factors of the cost of buying and installing a Sacramento HVAC unit.

The Size of Your Home

An AC unit should be selected based on its suitability. Bigger homes will require bigger AC units because those bigger homes will have more air that needs to be conditioned. The bigger air conditioning units usually cost more to buy and install. You should, therefore, expect to spend more on purchasing an AC unit if you have moved to a bigger home. If your home’s Air conditioner is more than a decade old, the current AC may be undersized for your home. Often times with replacement you need to have your contractor look at the overall design of the ductwork (as detailed below) and the size and location of the unit for maximum efficiency.

The HVAC Equipment Brand Preferred

The purchase price of your new air conditioning unit will also be affected by the brand you opt for. Think about this price in relation to what would happen if you were to buy a car. A Porsche is likely to be more expensive than a Toyota even though they’re both cars.

Some brands of air conditioning units are reputed to be more reliable than others are. Such dependable brands may be more expensive than the little-known brands. It may be wiser for you to talk to a (Sacramento) heating and air technician for advice about the best brands to consider so that you widen your options and find something within your budget.

Your Home’s Complexity

The complexity of your home will also impact the cost of installing that new air conditioning system. For example, a home in which spray-on insulation was used makes it tougher on the installers since they will have to cut through the insulations. Similarly, historical homes take more time since the home is fragile.

The Sacramento HVAC installer will visit your home and survey it before estimating how much the installation project is likely to cost.

The Extra Features Selected

The specific features that you want your new HVAC system to have can affect the total cost of the system. For instance, individuals who wish to have multiple zones will have to pay for more hardware (zone dampers and thermostats, for example) than another homeowner who doesn’t want to have air conditioning zones in the home.

However, you should not shy away from getting some of the extra features. If those features will increase the comfort level and result in lower long-term maintenance costs it is worth it. The higher upfront cost will be justified by the lower ongoing costs that you incur if you have the latest additional features on the market.

The Condition of the Ductwork

It would be wasteful to acquire an efficient AC unit and then link it to defective ductwork. In fact, many jurisdictions have mandatory inspections in case a new AC unit is being installed.

Any leaks and worn ductwork components will increase the installation cost. Since those issues will have to be attended to before the new air conditioning unit is commissioned for use in your home.

An air conditioning unit should be selected based on the location and home where that unit will be installed. Never undertake such a task on your own. Hire an air conditioning replacement professional like Fox Family Heating and Air and let us recommend the best unit for your needs.

The Importance of a Condensate Safety Switch

condensate safety switch

Water Damage Protection for Your Sacramento Home’s Ceiling

Too many times, we’ve gone out on a service call and found that the ceiling is flooding with water. Sheetrock is bulging from the ceilings, ductwork is saturated, or insulation is wet and pressed up against the sheetrock.  Left over time, it can start to create mold.  Water Damage Abatement teams are brought in to dry up the house in an effort to keep everyone healthy.  Floor coverings need to be replaced, and more.  All this can be prevented with the help of our little friend, the condensate safety switch.

Your air conditioner has a hot coil outside and a cold coil inside. The cold coil inside has a fan blowing room temperature air across those cold coils.  That causes condensation, which on normal occasions flows down the main condensate drain with the help of gravity, and out the side of the house where you normally see the pipe dripping with water in the summertime.  That’s normal!

If that primary drainpipe were to ever clog, or a family of mud wasps built a nest in that drain pipe.  Nothing even needs to happen for it to clog, the bacteria and gunk that builds up in ¾ inch PVC pipe is so disgusting, it will clog itself.

Checking the Pipe

What you don’t want to see is the secondary or emergency drain dripping with water.  Where is that one located?  Normally it terminates above a window around your house.  Check for it around your eaves and you’ll see it.  If you see water coming out of that pipe, call your favorite AC company and they’ll likely come out with compressed nitrogen and clean that line out for you.  It takes quite a bit of pressure to really clean that thing out, so let’s leave it to the pros.  People can really hurt themselves trying to mess with compressed gasses.

Back to the drain pan.  A condensate safety switch is mounted on the side of your condensate drain pan or directly to your secondary drain port on the evaporator coil.  There’s a float inside the switch that will rise if the water level of the pan fills up with a certain amount of water.  So, when that normally-open switch closes, the contacts energize at a low voltage and send a signal to the control board to shut down operations.

A Condensate Float Switch Provides 24-Hour Protection

The reason you should have one of these for your home is that it provides a 24-hour watchdog to make sure your overflow or emergency pan doesn’t fill up with water.  I know it’s supposed to be there for overflow, but you really don’t want this thing filling up with water.  Imagine that coil draining water down; trickle, trickle, trickle.

Do we want that happening outside the house draining to the grass, or do we want that drip, drip, dripping down on our sheetrock on the ceiling above our heads?  This happens way too often in Sacramento.  And don’t think you’re off the hook because your system is in the closet or garage.  If those system’s pan fills with water, then it will overflow and come down onto the control board down below as well as the blower motor.  That’s an easy 1000 dollars in repairs; and a furnace that might never quite work the same.

Peace of Mind

Other people have found this inexpensive item to be a real lifesaver.  I’ve been selling these safety switches since I first started HVAC in 2010.  People seem to like the peace of mind they get knowing there is something watching their condensate drainage in the attic, so it doesn’t come through the ceiling.  If mounted properly and inspected every year for proper operation, it will last for many years.  Hopefully, you never need to use it, right?

Some people don’t think these will fit their HVAC system.  I’m here to tell you, there is a condensate safety switch for every single evaporator coil out there.  Whether your system is in the attic, closet, or garage, the potential for the primary drainage to clog and back up is almost 100%.  It’s going to happen.  It’s really just a matter of when.

Protect Your Home with a Condensate Safety Switch

Folks who practice routine maintenance on their system have no idea what I’m talking about because they’ve never had a clog.  The valve is really just another smart thing you can add on to your HVAC system that didn’t already come with it.  Your HVAC technician will choose the right switch for your system, install it, and wire it to the furnace control board.  If you are not a licensed technician, you could really injure yourself or your property unknowingly by installing this safety switch improperly.

Don’t let this happen to you.  It’s expensive to repair your ceiling, let alone to match the texture on the ceiling at that particular spot.  It’s a real art form to be able to do that.  The switch installation is a small price to pay for sheetrock protection.

Check out my video on this topic below.  It goes over the basics of the safety switch and shows me installing one at a house.

I hope this answers your questions as to what a condensate safety switch is and how it can work for you and your home.  Fox Family offers a lifetime warranty on this inexpensive product.  If you’d like us to come out and take care of that for you, email us or give us a call at 916-877-1577.

Thanks so much and see you on next week’s topic!

Don’t miss our video on this topic:

Average Cost of Furnace Repair

Average Cost of Furnace Repair

Average Cost of Furnace Repair in Sacramento

Nothing could be as bad as your furnace breaking in the evening just as temperatures are dropping rapidly in winter. The first thing that is likely to occupy your mind is the cost of fixing that furnace or heat source since a replacement is often very expensive. Sacramento furnace repair experts explain that the repair cost will depend on the type and model of furnace you have as discussed below.

Repairing an Electric Furnace

Electric furnaces move air over coils in order to heat that air. The heated air is then distributed to the different rooms in your home by a network of ducts. Electric furnace units tend to be small, so the cost of repairing them also tends to be lower than the cost of repairing the other types of furnaces. Sacramento furnace repair experts estimate that it requires a maximum of $300 for repairs but the cost varies depending on the particular make/model of the electric furnace.

Propane Gas Furnaces

Propane gas furnaces run on liquefied propane. The gas burns in order to push heated air around your home. A pilot light sets off the operation of the furnace by igniting the burners located inside a combustion chamber. Heat travels from the combustion chamber to the heat exchanger from where it continues to the rest of the home. Propane furnaces are more expensive to repair and the cost will range from $300 to about $1,200 depending on the specific component affected. The heat exchanger is the most expensive component to repair (about $1,200 to replace it).

Natural Gas Furnaces

Fox Family Heating and Air technicians explain that natural gas furnaces only differ from propane gas furnaces due to the fuel used. The rest of the components and mode of operation are identical. Consequently, the repair cost for natural gas furnaces is similar to the cost you are likely to incur if you had a broken propane gas furnace.

Boilers

Some homes are heated by hot water. This water starts out in the boiler where it is heated before a network of pipes moves it around the home. Radiators amply the effect of the hot water so that each room feels cozy and warm.

Hot water systems rarely develop major problems suddenly. Instead, minor issues build up until the system malfunctions. For example, mineral deposits can slowly accumulate inside the water tank until they finally cause it to spring a major leak. Honest furnace repair experts will tell you that the repairs will cost from $180 to nearly $600 depending on the exact defect found.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps work by transferring heat from outside to the interior of your home during winter. The pump then reverses and channels indoor heat outside during the hot months of the year. The heat pump is usually linked to your air conditioning system. Some heat pumps rely on geothermal energy while others rely on heated water to operate. Repairing a heat pump costs more than repairing an electric furnace. For example, the thermostat alone will cost you about $300 to replace while a damaged defrost control board will cost you double what the thermostat costs.

How to Limit Furnace Defects

As you can see from the estimates above, you will spend a lot of money on furnace repairs if you don’t take steps to preserve the condition of your furnace. Greg Fox recommends two key measures to avert most furnace issues.

  • Annual Inspections. Ask technicians from Fox Family Heating and Air to inspect and service your furnace once each year. So, that any developing problem is detected and fixed early before it causes more costly damage to your unit. For example, a faulty seal can be replaced before it causes the blower motor to fail.
  • Furnace Filter Replacement. The Sacramento furnace repair professional should also change the furnace filter during the annual service visit. You can also learn how to perform this simple maintenance task to save time and money.

Talk to Fox Family Heating and Air, a professional Sacramento HVAC company, before you have any repairs done. You will be given advice regarding the suitability of repair or replacement of the furnace unit based on several factors.

 

Fox Family is at Sacramento Home and Garden Show

An Obvious Choice for Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning

Hey everyone!  I wanted to reach out to you from the Sacramento Home and Garden Show this weekend, March 1-3, 2019.  We’ve talked about getting a booth in the past and finally decided to go ahead and participate this year.  As we look for more people to provide with our heating and air conditioning services, this show seems like a great opportunity and an obvious choice.  And just like every year, a lot of people are expected here all weekend.

Where We Belong

Fox Family continues to grow.  Our philosophy — treating people the way they want to be treated, rather than like just a number like some big HVAC companies do — is really paying off.  This year at the Home and Garden Show at Cal Expo we see ourselves settling in amongst the major home services companies that have been around for decades.

This is exactly where we belong!  Among some of the most well-known companies in the area are Armstrong Plumbing, Byers Leaf Guard, Yancey, Cal Spas, Cal-Vintage Roofing, Renewal by Anderson (Windows), and a half dozen HVAC companies, including ourselves.  There are some other superb companies represented as well. I think I like being among the elite.

The Ebb and Flow

It’s fun and easy to walk around the Cal Expo pavilion building.  There’s plenty of room in the aisles to peruse each and every vendor.  It’s a relaxed and bustling marketplace, with hundreds of products to shop and giveaways for your canvas bag.

Friday was Senior Day, with half-off tickets for those who could come on a day when most people are at work.  Saturday and Sunday were the big days.  Folks filed in when the doors opened and headed straight to the booths.  And it really didn’t slow down all day, straight through until the doors closed at the end of the day.

Building Our Brand

The goal for exhibiting at a home show is to gain a following and name recognition in the community, a solid marketing plan for us.  Fox Family will continue to return to this show and present ourselves as the company we are.   When people think of heating or air conditioning, we know they will remember Fox Family. Gaining exposure to people who are looking for the best of the best in home improvement is always a positive!

Wrapping Up

Next week, we’ll return to providing more great HVAC blog posts, but I wanted to tell you all how this new endeavor went!  Perhaps we’ll see you here next year.

You can check out the Sacramento Home and Garden Show at CalExpo at http://www.sachomeandgardenshow.com/.