How to Choose the Right AC Repair Company

In the sweltering summer heat, you can’t wait to get home and into a cool environment. But when you turn on your air conditioning unit, it doesn’t respond like it normally does. The house is still hot and humid. What do you do now? You may feel this is a rather small repair job that you can have a company take care of easily. However, quite often people end up spending more money than they anticipated because they chose the wrong AC repair company. Even if the repairs seem simple enough and won’t cost a lot of money, it is important that you choose the right provider from the word go. This guide will show you how to choose the right AC repair company the first time so you can save money and hassle.

How to Choose the Right AC Repair Company

Why you should use a checklist when hiring an AC repair service

If you hire an AC repair company whose employees don’t have the appropriate certifications, you may end up with an improperly installed system that could break down again in a few months. You may end up paying more than you should, too, if you go with a non-licensed contractor. In most states, contractors who work on residential properties are required to pay a licensing fee, which covers the cost of administering the exam and the administration of the licensing program. If a contractor doesn’t have to pay a licensing fee, then they likely don’t have the same level of experience and expertise as those who do have to pay. Also, be sure the company has workers’ compensation insurance coverage, as the law requires in most states.

Don’t be fooled by ads and marketing

You may think you are getting a great deal when a company advertises $19.95 for service calls. Are they really going to come out for such a low price? It’s best to avoid services that advertise for extremely low prices. First of all, it’s probably not a legitimate AC repair company. If it is, the services performed will likely be substandard and not meet code requirements.

Another thing to watch out for is marketing which is designed to scare you into doing something right now. An example of this type of marketing is the claim that your air conditioner is on its way out. This is simply not true. If your air conditioner is 10 years old and you replace it every 15 years, then it is likely not even close to dying. It’s best to ignore marketing gimmicks.

HVAC equipment certification is key

All technicians who work on your AC unit must be certified, but not all certifications are the same. For example, if the AC repair technician is certified for refrigeration work, but not for air conditioning work, you may end up with a system that doesn’t work properly. There are several certification organizations, including the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE); the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET); the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA); and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). You can ask for certification cards from your technicians, but keep in mind these cards can be forged. You can also check these organizations’ websites to see if the company has applied for certification.

Get more than one estimate

A good rule of thumb is to get three estimates if you need to replace your AC unit. If the bids are close, you can then go with the AC repair company that offers a shorter installation time. If there is a wide difference in price between the companies, you can ask why there is such a difference. You can also check online review sites and see what other customers have to say about the companies you are considering.

Ask to see the company’s license

You should always ask to see the AC repair company’s license and call your local municipality to confirm the company’s license is valid. If the company doesn’t have a license, then you should consider finding another service provider. While you can find out information about a business’s license online, it isn’t always accurate, so you shouldn’t take it as gospel.

Ask for references and check them

You can ask for references from the company, but be sure to follow up on them. If all of the references are from other businesses, you may want to ask why they don’t have any residential customers. You can also ask for a list of recent customers who had the same type of work done that you need. You can then call these customers to see if they are happy with the work and if they would use the company again.

Check the warranty and make sure it’s in writing

When you are shopping for a new system, you will probably see companies with a variety of long-term warranties. You may be tempted to go with the company that offers the longest warranty, but you need to make sure it is in writing. If the warranty is just verbal, then you may be out of luck if the company goes out of business or the owner retires and no one else can honor the warranty. If the warranty is in writing, then you can take the company to court if they don’t honor it.

Be wary of up-front payments

Some companies will ask you to pay a large amount of money upfront for a new system or to cover the cost of parts for a repair job. If the work is legitimate and you feel the company is trustworthy, you can request a down payment. However, if you are asked to pay for work before the work is complete, you should be very wary. That money may be gone for good.

Conclusion

If you wait until the last minute to find an AC repair company, you may not be able to find one that can come out quickly and do the work during the heat of the summer. It is best to start looking as early as February, so you have time to find the right company and have them do the work. It is best to hire a company that has been in business for at least five years, has a good BBB rating, and is a member of a reputable trade association. Look for a company that offers a wide range of services, including repair, replacement, and AC maintenance. We hope this AC repair checklist will help you choose the right company.

Palo Alto Plumbing Can Help

If you are looking for AC repair companies near me, you should contact Palo Alto Plumbing today. Do not wait for a scorcher to find out your system is not blowing cold enough air or is leaking money out the window. Call today!

The Importance of Air Conditioning Service

We often take the air conditioning systems in our homes for granted. We turn it on and off as we please and don’t think much about it otherwise. But here is the truth. You can’t wait too long to have your AC serviced because you run the risk of having a complete breakdown. Plus, without regular servicing, your unit will produce more cold air than it should. This will use more energy per hour and won’t last nearly as long. Scheduling regular air conditioning unit servicing is necessary for safety reasons as well as cost savings. This article covers the importance of air conditioning service, unit issues, and signs it is time for an inspection.

Why is Air Conditioning Service Important?

Air conditioners should be serviced regularly to work correctly and use the right amount of energy. If your air conditioning system is not serviced regularly, you run the risk of a complete breakdown at worst. You also risk having a problem with your system that could cost a lot more than regular service. Regular inspections also keep your AC operating at peak efficiency.

Allowing an expert to inspect your unit prevents any minor problems from becoming major ones. Plus, regular servicing will help you save energy costs because the unit won’t use as much energy per hour. This should help it last much longer than if it’s not regularly maintained.

Common Air Conditioning Problems

Here are some common issues that you could experience with an AC unit if it is not serviced regularly:

-Irregular indoor air temperature

-Noisy operation

-Loss of refrigerant, which reduces cooling efficiency

-Blow-fuse or breaker trips due to overload on the electrical system

-Excessive energy consumption causing high electric bills

-The air coming out of vents feels damp or hot

-It takes a lot of time for the AC to adjust to changes in room temperature

What to Do

If you notice any of these above issues, it’s time to call a professional. The hot summer months can be brutal for many of us in California, but they don’t have to be. More often than not, when the temperature reaches a certain point, it’s not uncommon for your AC to stop working. This can lead to more severe problems, such as mold growth and water leaks.

Don’t let this happen to you! You should know that this is not normal, and there could be something wrong with your AC.

By waiting till the temperature gets higher, the chances of needing urgent repairs or replacements increase exponentially.  It’s important to understand that waiting until the hottest days of summer is not the best idea. Remember that it’s never too early to prepare, so get your AC checked now before you feel the heat!

What Does a General Inspection Entail?

Although you know your air conditioner is working, have a general AC unit inspection every few years. Why? Equipment failure can happen suddenly and at any time, and when it does, it’s typically expensive to fix. Many different things can go awry with your air conditioner. You should never take a chance on ignoring this essential maintenance check-up.

In a general AC unit inspection, an HVAC technician will visually inspect the outside of the appliance. They’ll ensure the refrigerant levels are correct and look for signs of leaks or any other malfunctions. They’ll also look for any damage to the outside of the unit and make sure all connections are secure.

The technician will check the air conditioner’s fan belt for wear and tear or anything that would cause it to break. They will also inspect the compressor for leaks, which can be dangerous because they put out a lot of heat.

The technician will check your air conditioner to see if it runs properly. They will do this by listening to the sound of the fan, which should be around 60 decibels. They will observe if there are any moving parts.

The tester will also look at the outside of the AC unit for any leaks or damage. They will also ensure there is proper insulation around all electrical components and securely attach the thermostat wire.

When your technician is finished with the outside of your air conditioner, they will do an internal inspection. They will check how well it’s running and look for any problems inside the appliance itself.

Call for an Inspection with Palo Alto Plumbing

Call today for an appointment with Palo Alto Plumbing, Heating and Air. One of our experts will come out to perform a general AC unit inspection on your appliance. We will do all of the things noted above.

We will also check for any signs of mold or bacteria that could be growing inside the appliance. If we find any evidence of mold or bacteria, we can provide you with solutions.

One thing that could come up during a general AC unit inspection is that your air conditioner needs further servicing. We will go over the causes and your options in detail.

Why Wait?

Palo Alto Plumbing is very proud to have been the Bay Area’s top plumbing, heating, and air conditioning contractors for over 16 years. No task is too small or too large for our expert — and EPA Universal Certified — technicians. We enter every job with the mindset of meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations.

When was the last time you had your AC unit serviced? The hot summer months will be here before you know it, and winter is a great time to ensure you’re ready. Call us today, and we will get you going.

Winter Preparation: Tips on Optimizing Your Heating System

The colder the weather gets, the greater your indoor heating requirements become. An inefficient heating system can put a significant dent in your monthly utility budget. In this blog, heating and air conditioning repair service contractor Palo Alto shares tips on optimizing your heating system for winter.

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Palo Alto Plumbing

Keep Up With Scheduled Maintenance

One of the worst things that could happen in the winter is a heating system breakdown. We may not have below freezing temperatures in Palo Alto, but it can get very uncomfortable without heat. Depending on your heating system, it can take several days to complete repairs, especially if parts need to be ordered.

Take the preventive route by keeping up with scheduled heating maintenance. This enables your HVAC technician to spot minor problems and fix them before they develop into bigger ones. In addition to maintenance, have your air ducts professionally cleaned every three to five years.

Change the Air Filters

Air filters help maintain indoor air quality by trapping dust, pollen and other indoor air pollutants. They require replacement every few months, or as often as once a month if you happen to be located in a dusty area. Make it a point to inspect the air filters every month so if you’re not sure how often you should replace them. A dirty, clogged air filter can block airflow in the vents, which could place additional strain on your heating and cooling units that could result in high energy bills.

Don’t Shut Down Your Heating System

Instead of turning your heating system off when you leave the house, go ahead and leave it on, as this consumes less energy. The upcycling and downcycling stages use up more energy, which is why you should leave it on until it’s time to switch over to your air conditioner.

If you have a set daily routine, program your thermostat so the temperature drops by about 10 degrees or so when you leave the house, then goes back up again a few minutes before you return home. You can do the same at night, as lower temperatures are found to promote better sleep quality. You’ll probably sleep better overall anyway knowing you can save on your utility bills just by changing your daily heating habits!

Call Palo Alto for Your Heating and Air Conditioning Needs

Palo Alto is your leading provider of heating repair, maintenance and installation services. Give us a call at (650) 856-3400 or fill out our contact form. We serve customers in Palo Alto and nearby areas.

Top 4 Things to Know When Buying an Air Conditioner

Buying any appliance, especially an air conditioning unit, isn’t as simple as purchasing a pair of shoes or a dress. You don’t really get to know the unit until you’ve installed it, used it, and experienced its effects for a while.

What You Should Know Before You Replace Your A/C

Are you considering whether or not your air conditioner could stand to be replaced/? Maybe your A/c has quit working as efficiently, or you’re after a more energy efficient unit and and you think now might be a great time to get a replacement.  Or, maybe you’ve never thought twice about your A/C and have no idea what you should do.

Whatever your reason for considering upgrading your air conditioner, you’ll want to be prepared with the correct information before making a decision. Check out this handy post to ensure that you are making the right choice when it comes to A/C replacement.

Advice Before Replacing Your Air Conditioner

Advice Replace Air Conditioner

Still Have Questions? Call Us Today!

If you’re still unsure whether a new air conditioner is right for you, we can help. At Palo Alto Plumbing, Heating and Air, our goal is to save homeowners money with better energy efficiency, exclusive savings on services, as well as financing and rebates. We don’t want finances to stand in between you and your comfort at home! Call us today to get in touch with an A/C expert to learn more about the variety of options you have when it comes to upgrading your home’s cooling system: 650-856-3400.

How Important Is It To Get The Right Size Of Heating And Cooling Equipment?

When it comes to purchasing heating and cooling equipment for your home, you need to realize that size really does matter. Installing equipment with a capacity that matches the home’s size will decrease energy usage while improving comfort for you and your family.

Home builders these days are constructing more energy efficient homes. The installation of double-pane windows, weather-stripping, insulation and caulking reduce heat gain during the summer and heat loss during the winter. This allows homeowners to purchase and install smaller systems than they needed in the past without sacrificing comfort.

Anyone who thinks bigger is better when purchasing a heating and cooling system should think again. Purchasing something that is too big for the space is the most common HVAC sizing mistake consumers make. An oversize HVAC system will produce large temperature swings making it difficult to maintain comfort. It will not run long enough to remove all the moisture from the air, which makes it feel clammy. In addition to being uncomfortable, high humidity can promote mold growth, which is a health hazard.

Residential Load Calculation is the Manual J method of HVAC sizing created and recommended by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, or ACCA. Residential Duct Design is the Manual D method of HVAC sizing used when the system includes ducts.

Both manuals take into account a variety of factors that affect a home’s requirement for heating and cooling. These factors include the number of occupants, climate, house size, house shape, roof surface color, which way the house is oriented, air infiltration rates, the types of home appliances and lights giving off heat and ceiling, window and floor area.

An experienced estimator will calculate room volumes, estimate air leakage and check the R-value of the insulation. The process should include inspecting the condition of seals and insulation as well as duct distribution in a forced air system. The contractor should provide a written estimate for sizing the system, a contract and a written warranty on labor and equipment.

Purchasing the right size HVAC system is the best way to ensure your home is energy efficient and comfortable year round.

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Fans Or A/C – Which Is Better?

Fans may not be the most advanced piece of technology but they continue to be in use in our modern world. In fact, it is probably due to their simplicity that they still enjoy such immense popularity. They consist of a plastic or metal blade, a motor, a protective casing, and a few button controls. As long as electricity is applied to the motor, the attached blade will spin rapidly. This movement causes the air around the device flow quickly from the back to the front, thus increasing circulation. The blast of wind does not lower room temperature but it does promote evaporative cooling as sweat dries from skin.

Air conditioners, on the other hand, are more complicated machines that seem to keep on rising in sophistication. They are composed of a compressor, a condenser, condensing coils, evaporative coils, refrigerant, a thermostat, a control panel, air filters, tubing, and many other parts. Sometimes they come as a singular unit and at other times they are separated into interior and exterior units. They use heat transfer primarily through the refrigerant’s movement across the system to lower the temperature in a room or even an entire building. The air truly feels cold wherever you go in the confined space.

Although A/Cs offer superior comfort, their energy consumption leaves much to be desired. Assuming moderate use in a residential setting, people are likely to spend thousands of dollars per year in utility bills just to keep them running. This can be quite a burden for many who have other priorities to attend to. Fans, despite their limited cooling capabilities, consume a comparatively miniscule amount of energy. In fact, their contribution to the annual utility bills may not even reach a hundred dollars with extensive usage patterns.

In regions where heat never reaches an oppressive level, fans may well be enough to get people through the summer. However, there is a point at which no amount of air circulation will do. Having an air conditioner is still the best bet in most cases. Homeowners can have fans or A/C or both to get the comfort and the savings at the same time. The cooling effect of fans makes it possible to set the A/C temperature higher so that they consume less energy.

Call us for all of your heating and air conditioning needs.

Should I Replace Or Repair My Equipment?

It can be difficult to decide whether it is best for you to repair or replace your equipment. There are many factors you have to consider before you make your decision. Below is a guide that will help you decide whether it is best to repair or replace your equipment:

The Age

The age of your equipment is one of the things you will need to think about when you are asking yourself, “Should I replace or repair my equipment? If your unit was built prior to 1992, replacement is most likely the better option. While replacing the unit is more expensive than having it repaired, you can actually save money by getting it replaced.

Newer air conditioners and furnaces are more energy-efficient than the ones in the past. In fact, you may be able to save 20 percent on your electric bill if you get a new unit.

The Cost

The cost is something else you will need to consider when you are deciding whether it is best to repair or replace the unit. Experts recommend that you have your equipment replaced if it is older than three-fourths of its life expectancy, and the cost of repairing it is more than one-third of the cost of replacing it.

For example, the average air conditioner lasts 10 to 15 years. If your air conditioner is over 10 years old, and it will cost $1,000 to repair, you may want to have it replaced. Replacing your unit can not only help you save money, but it can also help keep you more comfortable in your home.

Deciding whether you should have your equipment repaired or replaced can be a difficult decision because each option has its pros and cons. The cost and the age of your equipment are two of the main factors you should consider when you are deciding whether to have your equipment repaired or replaced. It is also a good idea to have a qualified technician take a look at your equipment. Every situation is different, so it makes sense to call a professional. Call us for your home HVAC needs.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and How Can You Prevent It?

What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning? Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that, when ingested in certain quantities, can result in illness and/or death. It’s extremely toxic and doubly dangerous because of its near-invisible nature, and is made from car and diesel engine exhaust, cooking fumes, charcoal, wood, and other combustible materials. When burned in enclosed spaces, the CO2 can build to toxic and even fatal levels. There are an average of 400 deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning each year.

Some symptoms of CO2 poisoning are headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, disorientation, and in high concentrations of the gas, unconsciousness. Many people can be suffering from the effects of the gas without knowing it until it’s too late. While anyone can be at risk for CO2 poisoning, those with upper respiratory problems, asthma, and heart disease are particularly susceptible. Infants and young children as well as seniors over 65 are much more vulnerable.
How can You Prevent It?
You can guard against toxic CO2 contamination with methods such as:1. Venting – make sure your ventilation system is clean and free of obstruction, so that gas doesn’t build in the home while you are cooking. Be sure to check your fireplace, ducts, chimneys, and pipes.
2. Have your heating/AC and water system inspected and checked annually.

3. Install a carbon monoxide detection alarm system in your home

4. Don’t burn coal, wood , or gas in any enclosed spaces without proper ventilation.

5. Do not use your oven or gas range/stovetop for indoor heating. This can also result in the very quick buildup of carbon monoxide gases, particularly in a camper or RV.

5. Never run the engine on any vehicle in an enclosed space, such as a garage with the door shut. Always open the door and allow air to circulate within the space and diffuse the CO2 effects. 6. Have a mechanic check your car exhaust system regularly. One tiny leak in your cooling or exhaust systems could result in toxic gas buildup in the cab of the vehicle. For more information about prevention and carbon monoxide safety, call us for all your HVAC and household needs. We’ll be happy to help you in any way we can.

Complying With Efficiency Standards Requires A Substantial Investment

Each year the U.S Department of Energy, also called the DOE, works with professionals in the HVAC industry to reduce the amount of energy and fuel wasted during the operation of HVAC equipment. This endeavor is one that benefits the environment, and homeowners benefit with deep savings on energy costs. The DOE has created HVAC Efficiency Standards to ensure that manufacturers of HVAC equipment comply by creating more energy efficient equipment.

An AFUE rating is the rating that determines how efficient a furnace is. Condensing furnaces are the only furnaces with an AFUE rating of 90. These furnaces are considered to be extremely efficient because this rating means a furnace only wastes 10 percent of the fuel required to operate it. The DOE has segmented northern states and has created a rule that enforces homeowners in states like New York to heat their homes with furnaces that have an AFUE rating of 90. This rule overrides the current minimum AFUE rating of 78 for combustion furnaces and was supposed to be enforced in the year 2013.

Though most homeowners jump on the opportunity to save money and to preserve the environment and natural resources, complying with this new HVAC Efficiency rating is a financial burden for homeowners. Many homes currently have combustion furnaces and the switch to a condensing furnace with an AFUE rating of 90 means making major modifications. A condensing furnace requires a different type of vent system, and many homes lack the appropriate architectural design and space to accommodate this new system. Making the necessary modifications means homeowners have to invest far more than just purchasing new equipment.

For some homeowners this money is just not in the budget, which will make it hard for them to comply with new efficiency standards. Due to the financial burden that many homeowners are unprepared to take on, experts in the HVAC industry have the new efficiency standard currently held up in court until a feasible plan can be established. Since the enforcement of this new rating is inevitable, many homeowners have decided to have their homes compliant before the rating is enforced. To discover the latest news on the raising of efficiency standards or to learn more about efficiency compliant furnaces contact a local HVAC contractor today.