What to Look for in a Heating Services Company

January 23rd, 2015

Even here in sunny Orange County, we require the services of a heating professional from time to time. Whether you need to see a technician for annual heating system maintenance, a sudden repair need, or a replacement unit, the continued performance of your heating system is vital for those days when the chill of winter catches you off guard. Feel confident that you’ve found a quality contractor for heating services in Orange County by looking for the following features.

Positive Reviews

These days, you don’t have to look far to find reviews of nearly any company with which you plan to conduct business. Popular social review sites throughout the web contain search engines that make it easy to discover the qualities of a contractor that past or returning customers found most helpful or most unappealing. Some heating contractors also link to or post reviews directly onto their own websites.

Variety of Services

You should also search for a heating contractor who provides a variety of services from which to choose. If you’re in the market for a new heating system, for example, you would probably prefer a technician presented you with several options instead of continuously pushing a single type, model, or brand of system. You’ll want to choose a technician with experience working with your particular type of heating system for repairs as well. And you may even decide to look for a contractor that offers additional upgrades like zone control systems and thermostat upgrades. Look through your contractor’s website to see what services they offer and to make sure they’re someone you can return to again and again.

An Annual Maintenance Program

One of the most important services to schedule year after year, regardless of the outside temperature, is heating maintenance. Your heating system goes unused much of the year, which means parts can become dirty or can fall into poor condition without giving you much warning. If you schedule maintenance before each heating and cooling season, the parts of your HVAC system are cleaned and adjusted so that everything can keep running as new. And when your contractor offers a maintenance program, you’ll often get special offers and discounts on top of your twice yearly visits.

The professionals at Command A/C offer a full maintenance program which includes a 20% discount on services as well as other valuable perks. Call us today for any air conditioning or heating services in Orange County.

Common Problems with Electronic Ignition

January 14th, 2015

Advances in the heating industry have benefited just about every aspect of heating, including the ignition process. The former standard of ignition was the standing pilot light; standing pilot lights require a constant flow of natural gas, which can be quite wasteful. The advent of electronic ignition eliminated the standing pilot, so while there are many furnaces with standing pilots, furnaces are no longer manufactured with them. Electronic ignition is easier and less wasteful, but these components can develop problems just as any other can. Ignition problems should always be handled by trained and certified experts, so if you are experiencing ignition problems, call Command A/C today and have your furnace repaired by professional in Orange County.

Two Types of Electronic Ignition

There are two types of electronic ignition: intermittent pilot and hot surface ignition. With an intermittent pilot ignition, a small, dedicated pilot gas line opens when your thermostat calls for heat. An electronic device creates a spark that lights the gas, ignition the pilot light. One of the more common problems with an intermittent pilot is electronic problems: if the device can’t create a spark, the gas can’t be lit. A secondary problem occurs when there is dirt or dust in the nozzle. A dirty nozzle can inhibit the flow of gas, which can result in a shutdown of the ignition process.

Hot surface igniters work a little differently. Hot surface igniters are probes that heat to a very hot temperature using electricity. When the surface of the igniter reaches the right temperature, the main gas valve opens and ignites the burner. One of the most common problems that develops with a hot surface igniter is cracking. Because the probe is constantly expanding and contracting due to the temperatures to which it’s exposed, the casing is prone to cracking. A second common problem has to do with positioning. If the igniter isn’t close enough to the gas, it won’t be able to light it.

Think you may have a problem with your furnace’s electronic ignition? Schedule an appointment for our professional furnace repair service in Orange County today!

3 Common Air Handler Problems

January 5th, 2015

It’s safe to say that most homeowners don’t really think about the inner workings of their heating systems. This is unfortunate, as the more knowledge a homeowner has about his or her heating system, the better he or she will be able to take care of that system. In an effort to help you increase your heating system’s lifespan, we’re going to discuss 3 common air handler problems that homeowners run into. The more you know about these issues, the better prepared you’ll be to identify potential problems before they occur.

Broken Fan Belt

The fan belt is what makes it possible for the motor to turn the fan in the air handler. It is a long loop, often made of rubber, which connects the motor to the fan itself. When the motor turns on, it rotates the fan belt which rotates the fan. Over time, the fan belt will stretch and begin to develop cracks. When this happens, it creates a kind of squealing sound that can be heard from outside the furnace. If not replaced, the fan belt will eventually snap and render the air handler useless. If you hear a squealing noise coming from your furnace, get it checked by a professional right away.

Burned Out Motor

The motor inside the air handler is equipped with several parts called “bearings.” These bearings are designed to reduce the friction that the motor encounters while it’s running, allowing it to work more efficiently and live longer. The bearings accomplish this by using oil to lubricate the parts of the motor. Eventually, however, the bearings can run out of lubrication. This steadily increases the amount of friction the motor encounters. The resistance keeps climbing until the motor burns itself out. If you hear a grinding noise coming from your furnace, it’s probably the motor bearings failing. Call a professional immediately.

Clogged Air Filter

The air filter is a part designed to keep dust and debris from entering the furnace and causing damage. If it goes more than 3 months without being replaced, however, it can become so clogged with debris that it stifles the air flow into the furnace. This can cause the furnace to overheat and create a fire risk, among other issues. Be sure to clean or replace your air filter at least once every 3 months.

If you’d like to know more, call Command A/C. We provide heating services throughout Cypress.

When New Year’s Day Was Not on January 1st

January 1st, 2015

Some holidays fall on shifting calendar days for every year, such as Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) and Easter (the first Sunday after the first full moon to occur on or after March 21). Other holidays, such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween, are fixed. No holiday has a more solid calendar date attached to it than New Year’s Day. It has to fall on January 1st because it celebrates the first day of a new year. That only makes sense…

…except that, like most things that at first appear obvious, there is a bit more to the story. The beginning of the year was not always on the first of January. As with an enormous numbers of traditions in the Western World, the establishment of January 1st as the inaugural day of a new year goes back to the ancient Romans.

The modern solar calendar is derived from the Roman model, but the earliest Roman calendars did not have 365 days in a year spread over 12 months. Instead, there were 304 days spread over 10 months. The Romans believed this calendar originated with the mythical founder of the city, Romulus. If Romulus were a real person, we can credit him with a poor understanding of the seasons, as this abbreviated calendar soon got out of sync with Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Numa, one of the Kings of Rome (probably also fictional) receives credit for creating a longer year with two added months, Ianuarius and Februarius, bringing the number of days in the year to 355. The new month of Ianuarius, named after Ianus (Janus in contemporary spelling), the god of beginnings, would eventually be known in English as January. But when this new calendar was instituted, January was not the first month. March, named after the god of war, remained the first month, and March 1st was New Year’s Day.

This extended calendar still did not keep in synch with the seasons. In 45 BCE, Julius Caesar instituted reforms to align the calendar correctly according to calculations of astronomers, with an additional 10 days distributed across the year. January also became set as the first month, and offerings to the god Janus on this day started the tradition we now know as New Year’s. The date still fluctuated during the ensuing centuries, with a number of Western European holy days treated as the beginning of the year instead. It wasn’t until the next calendar reform in 1582, the Gregorian Calendar, that the date of the New Year was fixed at January 1st.

However you choose to celebrate the beginning of the current calendar, everyone here at Command A/C hopes you have a wonderful 2015!

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

December 25th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from Command A/C!

Gas vs. Electric: Which Type of Furnace Is Best?

December 19th, 2014

Choosing a heating system can be a challenge, mostly because there are so many choices available for homeowners these days. Even if you know that you want a specific type of heating system, like a heat pump or a boiler, you have choices within the choices. When it comes to installing a furnace, you have two options: an electric furnace or gas furnace. Choosing which one is best for your home depends on a few things, including your needs and your preference. The best way to make an informed decision is to understand how each system works and by working with a trained expert through every step of the process. The technicians at Command A/C have the experience and expertise to ensure that you choose the heating system that is best for you, and they can install, maintain and repair it as needed.

Electric Furnaces

Electric furnaces blow warm air into your home as gas furnaces do, but do not use combustion to generate heat; instead, they use a component called a heating element. The heating element is comprised of a number of tightly-wound metal coils that become red-hot when electrified. When they reach the right temperature, a large fan known as a blower pushes the hot air generated by the coils into your ductwork. The coils heat in a sequence so they don’t overload your electrical system. Once your home reaches the desired temperature, the heating cycle turns off. Benefits of an electric furnace include:

  • Good energy efficiency – electric furnaces can have an AFUE rating as high as 100% because they don’t lose any heat to exhaust fumes, the way a combustion furnace can.
  • No need for a gas line – not all homes and neighborhoods have easy access to natural gas, and some homeowners don’t want fossil fuels for their heating. Electricity is available to just about everybody and can alleviate the necessity of managing fuel deliveries.

Gas Furnaces

Gas furnaces generate heat via combustion. Using a component called a heat exchanger, the toxic byproducts are vented from your home while the warm air generated on the outside of the heat exchanger is blown into your home by the blower. Some of the benefits of a gas furnace are:

  • Hot, quick heat – gas gets very hot very quickly, so your home heats up fast.
  • Clean burning – gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel available, and it is also a very efficient-burning fuel.

Each system can deliver warm air to your home, but your needs and the set-up of your home dictate a lot of your decision in choosing between one system and another. If you need help with your furnace installation in Cypress, call Command A/C today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation experts.

How Does Faulty Ductwork Affect Heating?

December 12th, 2014

At first glance, the ductwork for your heating system may seem like an incredibly simple construction. Truth be told, it kind of is. Ducts are usually simple rectangular tunnels of sheet metal, with the sole purpose of directing air throughout the house. Being simple doesn’t mean that they are trivial, however. The quality of your ductwork has an immense effect on the quality of your home heating. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

Leaks

Your ductwork is likely to develop a leak here or there sooner or later. Ducts, especially rectangular sheet metal ones, expand and contract with the heat of the air moving through them. This flexing and fluctuating will eventually cause small cracks to form in parts of your ducts. One or two small ones aren’t too big of a problem. However, faulty ductwork has the potential to form many more leaks than usual.

The US Department of Energy estimates that forced air heating systems lose between 20 and 30% of their heat on average to leaks in the duct work. That’s almost a third of your system’s heat that is being lost during operation, for which you are still paying. This is where faulty ductwork can have a major effect on your home heating. Even though the USDE makes no distinction between the quality of the ductwork in those statistics, it’s a fair assessment that faulty ductwork is far more prone to more and larger leaks.

Mold

Mold requires darkness and moisture to thrive and spread. If mold were to ever take root in your ducts, it could release spores into the circulation system. These spores can provoke allergy attacks, make you sick, and generally lower your indoor air quality. Normally, ducts are specifically designed to keep moisture out. Faulty ducts, however, are often not sealed properly. This can allow moisture into the ducts, causing mold growth along with a host of other issues. This doesn’t affect the quality of your heating right away, but it will cause the degradation of your ducts.

If you haven’t had your ducts inspected in a while, call Command A/C. Our heating service professionals cover the entire Cypress area.

Do I Have to Change My Furnace Filter?

December 5th, 2014

Yes and no. Yes, the furnace filter should be changed once every 1-3 months. No, you don’t have to do it yourself. A professional should always be happy to replace it for you. In order to understand why the filter needs to be replaced, you need to have an understanding of what it actually does. Let’s examine the role of the furnace filter, and what can happen if it isn’t changed frequently enough.

What Does the Filter do?

The furnace filter, often simply called an “air filter” is a woven fiber mesh over a metal frame. This frame is installed in the air return of your furnace, in order to protect it from the dust and debris that is circulated through your home’s ducts. Every time your furnace is turned on, the filter accumulates more and more debris until it eventually becomes clogged.

What Happens when the Filter is clogged?

A furnace filter is designed so that it can catch airborne contaminants without restricting air flow. A clogged filter does the exact opposite, restricting air flow to the point of causing damage to the system. A furnace needs a steady flow of air, not only to keep warming and circulating it, but to help maintain the temperature inside the furnace itself. With that air flow restricted by the clogged filter, the internal temperature of the furnace will increase. Problems associated with this increase in temperature include:

  • Short-Cycling. This is when the furnace control circuit detects an internal temperature above the safety limit. It then shuts down the furnace to prevent a fire. After the furnace has cooled off, it restarts and the cycle repeats all over again. This rapid on/off behavior throughout the day is characteristic of short-cycling.
  • Cracked heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is responsible for venting toxic gases to the exhaust flue, while heating the indoor air that passes over it. The increased heat can cause the heat exchanger to flex and warp much more rapidly. Eventually it can create cracks in the heat exchanger. This can be a fire hazard, as well as allow combustion gases to escape into the house.

If it’s been a while since you’ve had your filter changed, call Command A/C. We provide heating services throughout Cypress.

Common Ductless Heating Repairs

November 28th, 2014

Ductless systems avoid a lot of the problems that plague more traditional heating systems. Unfortunately, they aren’t perfect. Ductless heaters still have a number of common problems of which every homeowner should be aware. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ductless heating problems that require repairs.

Refrigerant Leaks

When a ductless heating system is installed, it is “charged” with a set amount of refrigerant. This refrigerant is what allows the ductless system to heat your home, by being evaporated to draw in heat and then condensed to expel it in another place. If a leak develops in the refrigerant line, the initial charge will drain over time until there isn’t enough to transport heat. At this point, your ductless system will be pretty much unable to do its job. If you notice liquid of any kind dripping or pooling on or under your ductless system, it’s a good idea to call a professional to take a look at it.

Broken Fan Belt

The fan belt is a rubber loop that transfers motion from the motor to the fan. Over time, wear and tear from everyday use can cause this belt to stretch and develop cracks. This deprives the belt of the elasticity it needs to operate properly. If left untreated, the fan will eventually break. With no connection between the fan and the motor, there is no way to circulate air through the room. If your ductless heater turns on but doesn’t seem to be blowing air, you may have a broken fan belt. Pay attention to the noises your unit makes, as well. A loud squealing sound on startup is an indication of a failing fan belt.

Motor Breakdown

The motor is what makes the whole ductless heating system run, and is obviously a vital part. Upon occasion, the bearings inside the motor can wear down and create friction. This creates a lot of extra heat when the motor is running, and can eventually cause it to overheat. If you hear a grinding noise coming from your ductless unit, turn it off and call a professional.

If you’re experiencing problems with your ductless heating system, call Command A/C. We offer professional heating services throughout Cypress area.

Will Thanksgiving Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

November 26th, 2014

We’ve all heard it before: you feel so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal because of the main event: the turkey. For years, people have credited extraordinary levels of tryptophan in turkey as the reason we all feel the need to nap after the annual feast. But contrary to this popular mythology, tryptophan is probably not he largest responsible party for your post-meal exhaustion.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means it’s something that our bodies need but do not produce naturally. Your body uses tryptophan to help make vitamin B3 and serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that sends chemicals to the brain to aid in sleep. But in order to get this essential amino acid, we have to eat foods that contain it.

Turkey has somewhat high levels of tryptophan, but so do many other foods, including eggs, peanuts, chocolate, nuts, bananas, and most other meats and dairy products. In fact, ounce-for-ounce cheddar cheese contains a greater amount of tryptophan than turkey. In order for tryptophan to make you feel sleepy, you would have to consume it in excessive amounts, and serotonin is usually only produced by tryptophan on an empty stomach.

The truth is, overeating is largely responsible for the “food coma” many people describe post-Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of energy for your body to process a large meal, and the average Thanksgiving plate contains about twice as many calories as is recommended for daily consumption. If anything, high levels of fat in the turkey cause sleepiness, as they require a lot of energy for your body to digest. Lots of carbohydrates, alcohol, and probably a bit of stress may also be some of the reasons it feels so satisfying to lay down on the couch after the meal and finally get a little bit of shut-eye.

If you feel the need to indulge in a heaping dose of tryptophan this year, go ahead! Turkey also contains healthy proteins and may even provide a boost for your immune system. Here at Command A/C, we hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and contentment this year. Happy feasting!