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During the warmer months, temperatures and humidity in your attic can reach very high levels. If the attic is poorly ventilated, that heat and humidity will begin to damage your building materials. You could experience roofing material deterioration, peeling exterior wall paint, wood rot, compromised insulation effectiveness, damaged wiring or rusty nails. The warm damp conditions can also attract termites, carpenter ants and rodents. Excessive attic heat can also transfer back into your home, requiring your air conditioner to work overtime to keep the indoor cool. As your system works harder to keep your house cool, it uses more energy -- which raises your electric bills. Furthermore, the excess strain on your air conditioner can cause premature wear to its parts. A good layer of attic insulation will minimize the attic-to-house heat transfer, but during hot days it is often not enough. An attic fan mechanically removes hot air and humidity from your attic. As the hot air is expelled, fresh outdoor air is sucked in through your attic vents. This circulation helps keep your attic dry, with the same temperature as the outdoors. Attic fans are inexpensive, one-time purchases that last for years and require virtually no maintenance. They can be installed in mere hours. Today’s fans are designed for quiet, energy-efficient operation. Models are available with automatic controls, where the fan turns itself on when the attic reaches a certain temperature. For more information about the importance of attic ventilation and attic fans, contact Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical. We’ve been serving the San Jose area since 1962. Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about ventilation and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Valley Heating, Cooling & Electrical services the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas in California. Visit our website to see our special offers and get started today!Read More
During the summer, air conditioners often run day and night in order to keep the house cool. As your air conditioner cools, it removes moisture from the air. This dehumidifying action produces large amounts of condensation, which has the potential to cause water damage. Luckily, there are ways to prevent this potential damage. After the compressor pulls heat and moisture out of the air, the moisture is carried away from the unit through a condensate drain line. The drain line deposits the excess water into your plumbing waste lines. However, should the drain line form a leak, the water can overflow and damage building materials such as woodwork and drywall. Water problems often occur due to clogged drain lines. Algae or debris can block the lines, which will fill with water and overflow. Your drain line does have an emergency overflow drain -- excess water is caught in a drain pan and directed into an overflow drain line. These overflow lines are often inadequate and can’t fully prevent damage. If you have a clog, an HVAC contractor can blow forced air through the main drain line and clear its obstructions. If your air conditioner is working much harder than it should, it can produce extra condensation that the drain line cannot handle. Be sure to change your filters monthly, as dirty filters can tax your unit and cause it to work harder. Clear obstructions such as leaves and grass from around your exterior unit. Also have an HVAC contractor check for low refrigerant levels, dirty coils, or burned contacts. There are other steps you can take to avoid future water problems. A technician can install a safety float on your drain pan. The floats automatically shuts off your air conditioner when the drain pan water level rises, preventing an overflow. An annual HVAC maintenance plan is a great preventative measure. To prevent algae buildup inside your drain lines, ask for an algaecide treatment. For more information about preventing condensate water damage during the summer months, contact Valley Heating, Cooling & Electrical. Give us a call, or check out our website. Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air conditioners and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Valley Heating, Cooling & Electrical services the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas in California. Visit our website to see our special offers and get started today!Read More
Two-stage cooling is a wonderful HVAC innovation designed to increase energy efficiency and improve the comfort level of your home. Two-stage cooling is ideal for our South Bay climate, where the weather is frequently mild with some hot days during the summer months. An air conditioner or heat pump that uses a two-stage compressor is able to run at two levels. Its low level setting is adequate for most days, and the high level of operation provides the extra cooling needed for hot days. The system oscillates between the high and low settings automatically, so you won’t need to worry about keeping up with your thermostat settings as the outdoor temperature fluctuates. A two-stage compressor’s low level of operation runs slower but in longer cooling cycles. This produces many benefits:
- The low level of operation translates to more even temperatures in your home versus the constant on-and-off operation of standard air conditioners.
- It helps save energy and keeps your electric bill low.
- When the system is running at a lower intensity, it is quieter than standard units.
- Since it is running more frequently, it has the ability to remove even more humidity from the air.
If you’ve noticed dust in your home, you may have considered getting your ducts cleaned. But it may be more effective to tackle the dust before it even enters your HVAC system. If you would like to improve your indoor air quality, consider whole-house HEPA filtration. This type of filtration, known as high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, can capture tiny particles and remove them from the air. A HEPA filtration system is a separately installed unit that works in conjunction with your HVAC system. It connects to the return air duct where air is pulled into your system. As air is pulled into your furnace blower, it creates a slight suction that pulls dust, pet hair and other particulates into the vent. Some of this is captured by the filter in your HVAC unit. However, a sizable amount of dust and other particulates escapes the filter and continues into your ductwork, where it is circulated around your house via the supply vents. By filtering the air entering your HVAC system, you can not only reduce the amount of dust in your home, but can also prevent dust buildup on system components such as the furnace heat exchanger, air conditioner coil, and ductwork. This may prevent future system malfunctions. Many types of HEPA filtration systems are available. Most models are quiet and efficient and require no maintenance other than filter replacement. A whole-house HEPA filtration system can capture tiny particles and bioaerosols a fraction of a micron in size. Particulates captured by the filtration system include dust, pollen, smoke, insulation and asbestos particles, and dirt. Bioaerosols collected include mildew, fungi, dust mites, mold spores, and pet dander. When researching filtration systems, check to see what size particulates can be captured by each model. If you have questions about HEPA filtration, contact the experts at Valley Heating, Cooling &Electrical. Visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call. We've been in business for 50 years and are proud to be part of the San Jose community. Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HEPA filtration and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Valley Heating, Cooling & Electrical services the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas in California. Visit our website to see our special offers and get started today!Read More
The two most important factors affecting air conditioner efficiency are airflow and refrigerant charge. To ensure that you are getting the maximum possible efficiency from your air conditioning system, have a qualified HVAC technician check both. When your system is operating at peak performance, you’ll enjoy lower electric bills and a more comfortable environment. Your system needs adequate airflow to work properly. When airflow diminishes, the system must work harder to keep up with the cooling demands. This uses excessive energy and can put a strain on the air conditioner’s mechanical components. To increase airflow, be sure the air intake registers are not obstructed in any way. The filter should be changed regularly. An HVAC contractor can help increase airflow by increasing fan speed or cleaning the evaporator coil. If your ducts are undersized, they may need to be replaced with larger ducts that allow more air to circulate. Alternatively, if your ducts are leaking air, they will need to be sealed. If air escapes via cracks or gaps in your ductwork, less air will be delivered to the rooms of your home. Your air conditioner will then have to run more frequently to cool your rooms. An HVAC contractor can perform tests to measure and locate duct leaks. Your air conditioner requires a specific amount of refrigerant to perform properly. If it has too little or too much refrigerant, it cannot perform efficiently. If it is determined that you have low refrigerant levels, it is likely you have a refrigerant leak. Repairing the leak and restoring the refrigerant charge is crucial for air conditioner efficiency. However, the toxic chemicals in air conditioner refrigerant are very dangerous, and only a qualified technician should attempt repairs. Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air conditioner efficiency and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Valley Heating, Cooling & Electrical services the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas in California. Visit our website to see our special offers and get started today!Read More
Most major manufacturers include a standard HVAC warranty for major purchases, such as a new air conditioner, heat pump or furnace. You’ll find extended warranties to choose from, as well. It’s always wise to factor warranty coverage when weighing your options for the purchase and installation of HVAC equipment. This is a major home investment, and you want to leverage every benefit that you can for you and your loved ones. Warranty Benefits The primary benefit of an HVAC warranty is your peace of mind. You’ll know that your investment is protected if something goes wrong with the HVAC system. The second best benefit is that if something actually does break down or needs replacing, you are covered financially. A warranty removes the “What if?” worry from the equation. In addition, make sure that your warranty is transferable, particularly if you are planning to put your home on the market in the future. It makes a very nice selling perk. Warranty Coverage Warranty packages include basic plans that have become standard with an HVAC purchase. In addition to the basic coverage, there are extended warranties that may double the years of coverage. There are even Complete Care warranties that cover the cost of repairs. Plans like these should be considered carefully, too. Maintaining Your Warranty It’s wise to store all product, purchase, and warranty information from the manufacturer and dealer in a safe and convenient place. To maintain your warranty, you may need to schedule regular service, much like automobile companies typically require oil changes every 3,000 miles. HVAC equipment is quite complex, and needs proper care. Work with your HVAC pro to ensure your warranty and new equipment are registered and activated in timely manner. An HVAC-system purchase deserves extensive consideration. Ultimately, no matter how efficient, or long-lasting HVAC equipment performs, its only as good as its warranty. Contact Valley Heating, Cooling & Electrical today. We know warranty benefits inside and out. We provide service and installation for homeowners in South Bay, peninsula and the Santa Cruz areas. Visit our website for more details, or call us at 408-294-6290. Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC warranties and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Valley Heating, Cooling & Electrical services the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas in California. Visit our website to see our special offers and get started today!Read More
Power outages can be a short-term nuisance or a long-term emergency. Either way, buying a standby generator before it happens is a good investment. Here are three steps to follow for buying the right generator. Step 1: Determine your need for a generator. If you never, or rarely, lose power you may not need one. If power outages are a common threat to your area you should consider buying one. Step 2: Decide which type will fill your needs the best.
- Portable: Available at home improvement warehouse stores, they can usually be purchased for less than $500. Most models run on gasoline and provide enough power to keep essential items (refrigerator, heat and air conditioning) running on a short-term basis.
- Stationary: Larger and more expensive, stationary generators are wired directly to your home, connected to an independent fuel source and will power your entire house for long periods of time.
- Duration of use: Do you expect to need standby power for a few hours, a few days or longer? An electrical storm could leave you without power for an hour or two while a larger event (hurricane, earthquake, etc.) could leave you powerless for days or even weeks.
- Fuel availability: Portable models require gasoline and can run for a few hours on a full tank, but during a power outage gas station pumps may not function. Stationary models are connected to an external fuel source such as natural gas or propane and are usually unaffected by power outages.
- Convenience: If power goes out during an electrical storm, a portable generator will have to be taken outside, fueled, connected and started -- possibly during the storm. Stationary models are always connected and ready to go. Some models even start themselves automatically within 30 seconds of a power outage.
Two things you can count on here in the Silicon Valley: Energy costs are high now and they’ll get higher in the future. The federal minimum for central air conditioner efficiency is a SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) of 13. High-efficiency air conditioning units are generally considered to be those with SEER ratings of 15 or greater. Most low-priced A/C units sold today only meet the minimum standard -- nothing more. Price is an important factor in any big-ticket purchase, but there are good reasons to consider higher efficiency, too, when you're in the market for an air conditioner.
- Savings: For every number you advance up the SEER ladder, you gain anywhere from 5 to 9 percent in efficiency over the next lower number. To be sure, upfront purchase prices increase, too. However, over the long expected life span of today’s name-brand high-efficiency air conditioning units, the savings from lower energy consumption will pay back that front-end cost differential and then some.
- Two-stage compressor: Unlike the single-stage compressors in units that only meet minimum efficiency standards, two-stage compressors adjust for lower cooling load conditions during moderate weather. This saves energy and reduces wear and tear on the system, increasing component life.
- ECM condensing fans: Evaporator and condenser units with ECM (electronically commutated motor) fans adjust automatically to system demands and draw more precise air volume over the coils. Reduced energy consumption and more consistent cooling levels result.
- Thermal expansion valve. Also known as a TXV, this valve automatically compensates for changes in refrigerant demand to the compressor, increasing flow as the cooling load rises then cutting back as temperatures decline. This eliminates conditions of refrigerant starvation and overload -- both causes of shortened compressor life.
- Quieter operation: With sound-dampening features like vibration isolated compressors and enhanced cabinet insulation, high efficiency air conditioning units produce lower decibel ratings than units meeting minimum efficiency standards.
Allergy-proofing your home is a great idea even if you aren’t one of the 40 million sufferers in America. This doesn’t require you to learn any special skills or purchase expensive equipment. These five tips can help you defend your home against allergens in one day.
- Start your allergy-proofing in the damp and dark areas of your home. This is where mold and mildew start. These lead to mold spores, one of the worst allergens. Bleach any areas that show mold growth. Check the area for the source of the moisture. Fill in any cracks and, if the humidity in your home is above 50 percent, purchase a dehumidifier.
- Wash your bedding materials. Bedding is the primary living area for dust mites. Dust mite waste is the No. 1 cause of allergies in humans. Kill the mites and you eliminate the waste. Wash your bedding materials in water at least 130 degrees, or the mites won’t die. Wash your bedding at least once a week.
- Household pets are another major contributor to allergies. While getting rid of the pet is the best method for allergy-proofing your home, it really isn’t practical. Instead, reduce the amount of airborne dander. Giving your pet a bath and grooming it weekly will eliminate dander from the home. Make sure to do this outside.
- An allergy-proofed home depends on a clean air filter in the heating and cooling unit. This is the distribution point for all of the air in your home. A dirty filter will allow allergens to spread through the house. Air filters should be changed once every three months; more often during periods of high use.
- Keep your windows closed. It doesn’t matter how clean your air filter is if the allergens bypass it by coming in through the window.
California is known for its weather. Residents make their homes on mountains, near oceans and in valleys. This can keep a heating and cooling system working overtime, especially if the home has worn and torn attic insulation. The attic happens to be quite important because as hot air rises, it seeps through the upper part of a home if there is not enough insulation to prevent its escape. This means cranking up the heat to stay warm. In hotter months, inadequate insulation allows heat to enter a home, forcing a cooling system to work more. Insulating various areas throughout a home is essential in keeping the temperature steady. Upgrading attic insulation yields these three benefits:
- Money in the bank: If your attic is insufficiently insulated, you are simply throwing away money. Inadequate insulation drives up monthly utility bills because an HVAC system must work longer and harder.
- Comfort: Maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature within a home keeps all of its residents happy.
- Environment: Proper insulation lessens the load on a heating and cooling system. That energy efficiency translates to fewer harmful emissions being released into the environment, thus reducing your carbon footprint.
- Rolls or blankets of fiberglass can be placed between studs in walls or between boards in the attic. It's easy to install and best used in places that are easy to access and have a regular shape.
- Rigid foam also fits well over wall studs and is often installed during construction.
- Loose-fill fiberglass is a flexible option. A professional blows the material into gaps. This is a popular choice because it reaches irregularly shaped areas difficult to insulate with blanket or rigid foam insulation.
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