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Why Heater Maintenance is Important (Even if You Don’t Use Heat That Often)

With the moderate temperatures and beautiful weather in Southern California, you may not find yourself turning on your heater very often. However, even if you do not use your heat often, it is still important to get annual maintenance on your heating system. Damage and wear can occur while your heater is dormant for most of the year, leading to system failure or other malfunctions when you finally start it up again in winter. A fall tune-up can help you prolong the life of your heater and keep it working efficiently when you do want to use it.

Why Heater Maintenance is Important

Even if you are not running your heater constantly, it is nice to have a working heating system when you need it. Some HVAC experts have reported that up to 75 percent of the service calls they get for broken heaters in the winter are related to lack of maintenance. If you don’t get your furnace serviced annually, you may find yourself left out in the cold this winter.

Not only does a non-maintained heating system run less efficiently, which costs you money, but it can also be hazardous to your health. An HVAC technician can identify carbon monoxide leaks during an inspection, which can be quickly fixed to prevent health issues. The gas is colorless and odorless, making it difficult to detect without a furnace inspection.

Winter HVAC Maintenance Checklist

In addition to getting a regularly scheduled heater tune-up from a certified HVAC technician in the fall, there are also some steps that you can take to keep your HVAC system maintained between service visits:

  • Replace your air filters regularly. Though it depends on the type and brand of filter, typically, homeowners should replace disposable air filters or clean washable filters at least once a month. The best way to ensure that your airflow remains unrestricted is to visually check the filters and filtering equipment monthly and clean or replace when filters look dirty.
  • Keep outdoor units clear of debris. To keep your system working efficiently, you should keep any mounted outdoor units clear of clutter, weeds, and debris that may reduce the airflow to the unit. Similarly, keep any plants or shrubs at least one foot away from the unit and use caution when trimming weeds around the unit to prevent any damage.
  • Keep pets away from outdoor unit. It is also important to keep your pets away from the outdoor unit as pet urine can cause damage to the system that may be quite costly to repair.

Though some maintenance needs to be performed by a qualified technician, you can use these simple maintenance tips year-round to prevent damage to your unit and keep your system running optimally.

J & M Air Conditioning and Heating wants you to get the most out of your heating and cooling system. That is why we recommend annual heater maintenance, even if you do not use the heat that often. If you need preventative maintenance or a furnace tune-up before winter, contact us today.

How Low Can a Heat Pump Go?

Heat pumps are gaining in popularity as a viable alternative to conventional HVAC systems. They allow home heating and cooling with far less energy use than older types of environmental systems.

Heat Pump Basics

Heat pumps use electricity to move heat from one area to another – from outside to inside during cold times and inside to outside during hot periods. They are able to heat and cool homes with little energy expenditure, because they do not create heat or cold, only move it.

There is a downside to heat pumps. They are not effective enough to use in climates where the temperature drops to, and stays, well below zero. There simply is not enough heat for them to work with outside to increase temperatures inside to comfortable levels.

Types of Pumps and Temperature Effectiveness

Some types of heat pumps are better able to handle cold temperatures than others are. Heat pumps come in three main types:

  • Air-source heat pumps are the most common type in use today. These pumps draw heat from the air surrounding them. When optimized for cold temperatures, they maintain their full heating effect down to 41° degrees Fahrenheit and can still produce heat at 60 percent effectiveness at 17° degrees.
  • Water-source heat pumps draw heat from water and can work at lower temperatures than air-source pumps. They are able to keep functioning at lower temperatures because the pipes used to extract heat are laid at the bottom of a body of water where it is somewhat insulated.
  • Geothermal-heat pumps are set into the ground at a depth that maintains a relatively steady temperature all year. This allows them to function in all but the absolute coldest conditions, but also makes them more expensive to install than other types of pumps.

While these are the three main types of heat-pump systems, there are other, newer models:

  • Absorption heat pumps. These pumps use heat as an energy source rather than electricity. This heat can be derived in many ways – solar-heated water, burning propane or natural gas, or geothermal-heated water. Depending upon the pump’s specific heat source, they can continue working in a range of cold temperatures.
  • Hybrid heat-pump systems. Hybrid systems combine two types of heat pumps into one HVAC system. Most often, these systems combine air-source heat pumps and geothermal-heat pumps. A hybrid system will use the more energy-efficient air source pump until the temperature drops to a point where it loses effectiveness, and then the geothermal pump will begin providing heat. These systems can work in any temperature at which a geothermal pump would function, but they are cheaper to operate. The initial cost of installing a hybrid heat pump system, though, is very high.

Heat-pump technology is making these systems cheaper, more effective, and better able to withstand extremely cold temperatures. More people are acknowledging the benefits heat pumps have over traditional HVAC systems and are switching to these newer, more energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. For more information on heat pumps, call the HVAC experts at J&M Air Conditioning and Heating.