Stay Warm and Cozy: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect AC Cover for Winter

As the winter chill sets in, it’s time to ensure that your home remains a warm and comfortable haven. One often overlooked aspect of winter preparation is protecting your air conditioning unit from the harsh weather conditions. Below, learn the importance of using an AC cover for winter and receive valuable insights on choosing the perfect one for your needs.

The Need for Winter AC Protection

Many homeowners might question the necessity of covering their air conditioning units during winter. However, exposing your AC to the elements can lead to a variety of issues. Cold temperatures, snow, and ice can cause damage to sensitive components, decrease efficiency, and potentially result in costly repairs. Investing in a high-quality AC cover for winter is a proactive measure that can save you both time and money in the long run.

Understanding the Benefits

  1. Preventing Ice and Frost Buildup: Winter storms can bring freezing rain and snow, leading to ice buildup on your AC unit. An appropriately fitted cover acts as a protective shield, preventing ice from accumulating and causing damage.
  2. Preserving Efficiency: Cold temperatures can negatively impact the efficiency of your AC unit. A cover acts as insulation, helping to maintain a consistent internal temperature and ensuring that your system operates optimally when warmer weather returns.
  3. Extending Lifespan: Just like any other piece of equipment, your air conditioner has a lifespan. By shielding it from winter elements, you can extend its longevity and delay the need for costly replacements.

Choosing the Right AC Cover for Winter

  1. Material Matters: Opt for covers made from durable and weather-resistant materials. Waterproof and UV-resistant fabrics like polyester or vinyl are excellent choices as they provide maximum protection against the elements.
  2. Size and Fit: Ensure that the cover fits your AC unit snugly. A loose cover may not provide adequate protection, while a tight one might cause unnecessary stress on the unit. Measure your AC unit carefully and choose a cover that matches its dimensions.
  3. Ventilation Features: Look for covers with ventilation flaps or mesh panels. Proper ventilation prevents condensation buildup, which can lead to mold and mildew growth. It also allows for air circulation, helping to keep your unit dry and well-ventilated.

Installation Tips

Installing an AC cover for winter might seem like a straightforward task, but there are essential steps to follow to ensure its effectiveness.

  1. Clean the Unit: Before you install your AC cover for winter, make sure it’s clean and free of debris. Leaves, twigs, and other debris can trap moisture and lead to corrosion.
  2. Secure Fit: Double-check that the cover fits securely and that all fasteners are properly tightened. This prevents wind from getting underneath and causing the cover to flap or lift.
  3. Elevate the Unit: If possible, elevate your AC unit slightly before covering it. This prevents contact with accumulated snow and ice, reducing the risk of damage.

Maintenance Tips

Investing in a high-quality AC cover for winter is a step in the right direction, but proper maintenance is equally crucial to ensure its longevity and effectiveness.

  1. Regular Inspections: Periodically check your cover for any signs of wear and tear. Replace it if you notice holes, frayed edges, or other damage.
  2. Remove After Winter: Once winter is over, promptly remove the cover to allow your AC unit to breathe. Leaving the cover on during warmer months can trap moisture and encourage mold growth.
  3. Store Properly: When not in use, store your AC cover in a cool, dry place. Proper storage prevents the growth of mold and ensures that the cover remains in good condition for the next winter season.


Protecting your air conditioning unit with a reliable AC cover for winter is a small investment that pays off in a big way. It safeguards your AC from winter’s harsh conditions, ensuring it remains in top-notch condition when you need it most. By choosing the right cover, installing it correctly, and performing regular maintenance, you’re not only preserving the efficiency and lifespan of your AC unit but also saving yourself from potential headaches and expenses.

Get WinterReady with Palo Alto Plumbing

As you gear up for the winter season, don’t forget to safeguard your HVAC system with a premium AC cover for winter. At Palo Alto Plumbing, we offer a range of high-quality covers designed to protect your investment. Contact us today to explore our selection and ensure your AC stays in optimal condition throughout the winter months. Stay warm, stay cozy—choose Palo Alto Plumbing for all your winter HVAC needs!

Water Heater Sediment Buildup: What You Need to Know

Cleaning water heater sediment can save you money on monthly energy bills by reducing the amount of heat lost to the atmosphere. Sediment buildup in water heaters is an issue that occurs when the minerals that are naturally present in your water source accumulate in your water heater. If left unattended, not only can this cause overheating and reduce the lifespan of your water heater, but the impurities can also leach into your water supply. If you happen to use this water for cooking, you may even accidentally ingest the impurities. So how can one tell if their water heater is suffering from sediment buildup?

In this article, plumbing heating and air expert Palo Alto reveals the signs that indicate your water heater is suffering from sediment buildup and what you can do about it.

Low Water Pressure: Is It a Symptom of a Bigger Problem?

Having low water pressure is understandably frustrating, especially when it happens at the worst time possible. While this may be a sign of a bigger plumbing problem, don’t jump to conclusions until you’ve done the following: Read more

How to Find an Energy Auditor, and Why You Need One

An energy-efficient home provides many benefits, from energy savings to improved heating and air conditioning system performance. The first step to improving home energy efficiency is having an energy audit conducted by a certified auditor. In this blog, Palo Alto guides you in your search for an energy auditor. Read more

Answering FAQs About Furnace Repairs

The furnace is one of the most hardworking of all your home’s appliances. It has the unenviable task of keeping your entire home warm and comfortable during the coolest months. Without proper maintenance, however, its efficiency is bound to decline, which could lead to its premature failure.

Don’t fret, though; an ailing furnace doesn’t merit an automatic replacement. In many instances a timely heating repair can successfully save your unit and restore optimal performance. But who should do it? And is it worth the cost? Today, let’s answer some of your biggest questions about furnace repairs:

Can a DIYer Fix a Broken Furnace?

You can try, but you shouldn’t. No matter how much faith you have in your abilities, tinkering with your broken heating equipment is more trouble than it’s worth, and you’ll be needlessly putting yourself at risk of electrocution. Besides, you need a complete arsenal of specialized tools to safely disassemble your furnace.

Also, you can’t become as proficient as a professional technician merely by watching YouTube videos. A furnace is a complex machine that can be difficult to understand, and botching the job will only make matters worse.

Do All Furnace Problems Require Professional Attention?

Not all malfunctioning furnaces are actually broken; some are just acting up because the thermostat setting is incorrect, there’s no power supply or the filter is dirty. Performing basic troubleshooting can make your unit blow warm air again in no time. As long as you know which lines you shouldn’t cross, troubleshooting can be done without harm to yourself or the unit.

Does Preventive Maintenance Eliminate Furnace Issues?

Furnace problems can happen no matter what you do, but regular inspections and tune-ups will help reduce the likelihood of failure. If your unit breaks down despite adopting preventive maintenance measures, calling in a professional for an emergency repair should fix the problem right away.

Don’t Procrastinate a Necessary Heating Repair in Palo Alto

When it comes to heating repair projects, Palo Alto Plumbing, Heating and Air is the name you can trust. Our wealth of experience separates us from the rest, earning the respect and confidence of our neighbors in the region. Call us at (650) 856-3400 or fill out this form to get excellent assistance for all of your furnace needs.

The Basics of Warm Air Heating System and Furnaces

A warm air heating system is a popular heating and air conditioning option for most homes. They heat the air by using oil, electricity, or natural gas in a furnace. The air is then distributed throughout the home out of ductwork that spreads out across the floor and ceilings and is then blown out in vents, registers, and wall or ceiling supplies to control the temperature of a particular area. The cycle is pretty straightforward but there are a few nuances which could help you understand issues that can arise from this particular system.

Forced Air Systems and “Gravity” Hot Air Systems

In many older furnace models, gravity has always played an important role in heat distribution. The concept is fairly simple: heated air rises while cool air sinks. The idea behind “gravity” systems is that the natural rise and fall of air pretty much makes up the mechanism of its heat distribution.

In more modern furnaces, however, you can expect the warm air supply to be powered by a pump that “forces” air through the ductwork and distributes heat evenly throughout the household.

Furnaces and Boilers

One common misconception in heating and air conditioning is the idea that furnaces and boilers are interchangeable, however, they are not. Repair technicians will prepare differently to address issues in a boiler compared to a furnace and it will help immensely to know which is which. If you are unsure, your service professional can help you identify it correctly.

Warm Air Heating Furnaces

Heating and air conditioning systems that make use of warm air heating furnaces follow a fairly straightforward cycle that starts with your thermostat. An adjustment to the thermostat will communicate to the furnace how much warm air is needed. At this point, the heat exchanger warms up the air, which in turn is distributed by a blower throughout your home’s ductwork, until the adjustment from the thermostat is satisfied.

Best Practices to Take Care of your Warm Air Heating Systems

It is important to take care of your warm air heating system to ensure its longevity. Some best practices include:

Schedule an annual tune-up:

Just like your car, your warm air heating system needs an annual tune-up to keep it running properly. This tune-up should be performed by a qualified technician and includes a thorough inspection of the system, as well as any necessary repairs or replacements.

Change the filter regularly

Your system’s filter should be changed every few months to ensure optimal performance. A dirty filter can lead to decreased efficiency and increased wear and tear on your system.

Keep the area around the unit clear:

It is important to keep the area around your warm air heating system clear of debris and obstructions. This will ensure proper airflow and help prevent the system from overworking itself.

Check for leaks

Periodically check your system for leaks, both in the ductwork and around the unit itself. Leaks can decrease efficiency and cause your system to work harder than necessary, leading to increased wear and tear.

Keep an eye on the thermostat

Make sure the thermostat is set to the correct temperature so that your system doesn’t have to work harder than necessary. An energy-efficient setting is typically around 68 degrees Fahrenheit during daytime hours and 55 degrees at night.

By following these best practices, you can help extend the life of your warm air heating system and keep it running efficiently for years to come.

Tips for Hiring Warm Air Heating System Service Teams

You must know how to hire the best and most efficient warm air heating system service teams. The tips below will help you choose the right one:

  1. Make sure that the team has a valid license. This will ensure that they are qualified to work on your system.
  2. Choose a team that has insurance. This will protect you in case of any damages that may occur during the servicing.
  3. Ask for referrals from friends or family. This way, you can be sure that you are hiring a reputable team.
  4. Do your research online. Read reviews about different service teams before making your decision.
  5. Get quotes from multiple teams before deciding on which one to hire. This will help you compare prices and find the most affordable option.

By following these tips, you can be sure that you are hiring the best possible team to service your warm air heating systems.

Signs that Your Furnaces Needs a Repair or Checkup

Your furnace is an essential part of your home, and it’s important to keep it in good working condition. Here are a few signs that your furnace may need a repair or checkup:

  1. Your furnace is making strange noises. If your furnace is making loud banging, creaking, or humming noises, it may be time for a tune-up.
  2. Your furnace isn’t heating evenly. If you notice that some rooms in your home are warmer than others, it could be a sign that your furnace needs to be serviced.
  3. Your energy bills have gone up. If you’ve noticed a spike in your energy bills, it could be due to an issue with your furnace.
  4. You’ve noticed dust or pollen around your furnace. If you notice an accumulation of dust or pollen around your furnace, it could be a sign that the filter needs to be replaced.
  5. Your furnace is more than 15 years old. If your furnace is more than 15 years old, it may be time for a replacement. However, this is not always the case, so it’s important to have your furnace checked by a professional to determine if it needs to be replaced or not.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to call a professional furnace repair company to have your furnace serviced. Ignoring these signs could lead to more serious problems down the road.

Effective Ways to Take Care of Your Furnaces

Your furnace is one of the most important pieces of equipment in your home, and it’s important to keep it running smoothly. Here are a few tips to help you take care of your furnace:

  1. Regularly check the air filter and replace it when necessary. A dirty air filter can restrict airflow and cause your furnace to work harder than necessary.
  2. Keep the area around your furnace clean and free of debris. This will help ensure that there is adequate airflow around the unit.
  3. Inspect the flue pipe regularly to make sure it is clear of obstructions. A blocked flue pipe can cause deadly carbon monoxide to build up inside your home.
  4. Schedule annual maintenance for your furnace. This will help keep it running efficiently and prevent small problems from becoming big ones.

Taking care of your furnace is important for keeping your home comfortable and safe. By following these tips, you can be sure that your furnace will continue to work properly for years to come.

Give Your Warm Air Heating Systems and Furnaces the Best Service

For more than 15 years, Palo Alto Plumbing has provided topnotch air conditioning service in the Bay Area and nearby counties. Call us today at (650) 405-3052 and give your furnace the best that it deserves.

Carbon Monoxide: What You Don’t Know is Putting Your Family at Risk

“It started as a nagging headache,” Diane said. “And then it became worse before turning into a horror show.”

It was around 9 pm on a cold December night and both of them were sitting in front of their fireplace, decompressing from the hard day’s work. The baby June was in her crib. Suddenly, Liam, Diane’s husband, became sick – headache, vomiting, the works. That made Diane concerned for her husband’s health but she chalked it up to the bug that was going around the neighborhood. “Must be the flu.”

Two hours later, Diane felt her heart thudding in her chest, wanting to come out. She became nauseous and lightheaded, and her whole body went cold. She panicked and rushed to “Google” the symptoms – finding it just might be Carbon Monoxide poisoning. She called 911 after finding out that they were indeed being poisoned by the stealthiest killer: Carbon Monoxide.

Her family was saved thanks to Diane’s quick reaction and pure timing but, everyone is not so lucky.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

CO is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas. That means between 1999 to 2010 most of the 5,149 Americans that ended up in graves because of non-fire-related Carbon Monoxide poisoning had no idea what hit them. No bad odor, no horrible taste, nothing – except for the untimely death.

Although, like all accidents you can minimize the chances of dying from CO, most people avoid taking the right precautionary measures until it happens to them. When, unfortunately, it is already too late. And the damage is done.

CO is produced any time you burn fossil fuels like in cars, trucks, fireplaces, and good old furnaces. Everyone is at risk regardless of gender or age, but children and elderly and those with preexisting diseases of heart or lungs are at higher risk of developing complications such as permanent brain damage, life-threatening heart complications, and death.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Affect Our Health?

Once inhaled, it goes into the blood stream and displaces oxygen from hemoglobin, that results in a deficiency of oxygen which leads to hypoxia and eventually death.
The symptoms of CO are non-specific and often don’t tell anything by themselves. Most common symptoms include altered mental status, headache, nausea, weakness and chest pain.

Fortunately, science has made it really easy to prevent against CO exposure. Take steps to prevent accidental exposure to Carbon Monoxide. Because it is real. And it kills.

How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Here are just a few ways that you can avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

1. Install and maintain a CO detector: This is the single most important thing you can do to protect your family against the possibility of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Make sure to buy a battery operated detector with a loud enough alarm to wake you up. But that’s not all, replace the battery every year and change the detector once every 5 years.

2. Don’t use portable gas camp stoves indoors. Small appliances like these also contribute to the buildup of Carbon Monoxide and when indoors, the harmful gasses can’t escape and your family can’t escape from them. Get rid of them folks.

3. Get your gas appliances checked by an expert. Make sure that they are working correctly and all the stuff that is supposed to be inside is staying inside and not spilling out to kill you when you’re asleep.

4. Never ignore any unusual odor coming from your refrigerator. CO itself has no odor, but in this case, other gasses mixed with CO have a particular odor that might give it away.

5. Clean your chimney. Debris can clog up your chimney real bad. So, now all the gasses would accumulate inside your living room instead of escaping through the chimney. Get your chimney cleaned before it cleans you.

6. Be smart. Don’t burn charcoal indoors, use generators inside of your home or basement, or patch a vent pipe with chewing gum. We’ve seen it all and it’s always dangerous.

One last thing, if you ever suspect that you or a family member has been exposed to Carbon Monoxide, immediately evacuate the house and call 911. Learn more about how to maintain healthy air quality in your home and to have your HVAC system checked for safety, and contact us to schedule an inspection with us today!

A Quick Guide to Purchasing Water Heaters

Selecting a Water Heater

Over the last several years new advances in water heating technology have given the consumer many more choices than even just a short time ago. New heaters are more efficient, keep water at temperature longer, are quieter, and can save you lots of money over the life of the heater.

There are a few things you will want to keep in mind when choosing a water heater.

  • The size of your home
  • Budget
  • Hot water needs
  • Geographic location

Home size and budget are going to be your two major concerns followed by your hot water needs and geographic location.

Types of Water Heater

The most basic type of heater that everyone is familiar with is the tank-style of water heater. These are among the least-efficient options in heating water, however they are the least-expensive and they have gotten more efficient than they have been in the past. They will provide a lot of hot water over a long period of time.

One option for people in the sunnier parts of the US is solar. Solar is exactly as it sounds and will use the sun’s energy to heat water. Their downsides are weather, cost, and need for a supplemental water heater. The initial cost of these can be high and you will also need another water heater to help out when the sun isn’t out.

Inline water heaters are a new style of heater that has become popular over the last few years. They are among the most efficient systems however their initial cost can be a little high. Inline heaters only heat the water as it is passing through the unit itself. This saves a lot on heating costs however you may need to have more than one, which will raise the initial costs.

You can think of heat pump water heaters as something like a reverse air conditioner for your water. Very much like your ac run in reverse, these systems heat by moving heat energy from one area to the desired area. They are very efficient however to operate best they will need to be placed in an area that has fairly steady temperatures and won’t get too cold.

Follow the Palo Alto Plumbing Heating & Air blog for all the latest plumbing and HVAC information.

Humidifiers Can Help Relieve Your Allergy Symptoms

If you suffer from allergies, you know their symptoms can make life miserable. Obviously you’d be interested in anything that can bring you relief, and that’s why you may want to seriously consider buying at humidifier for your home.

What Is a Humidifier and How Does it Work?

Humidifiers are electrically-powered machines that use various methods to turn liquid water into vapor. The vapor is spread across adjacent rooms, moisturizing the air and raising relative indoor humidity in the process. Humidifiers are commonly employed during the winter time in cold climates, where excessive dryness of the air is a constant problem, and all year round in arid or desert climates where the air is chronically lacking in moisture.

Point-of-use humidifiers are portable devices that can be moved from room to room and are generally appropriate for any house or apartment. But another type of unit, known as a whole-house humidifier, disperses much larger quantities of moisturized air from a centralized location. Whole-house humidifiers are used in both commercial and residential settings.

How Do Humidifiers Help Reduce Allergy Symptoms?

Allergy attacks can dry out the throat or nasal linings even as they clog sinuses. Excessively dry air will only exacerbate the trouble, making this type of allergic reaction more severe than it otherwise might be.

Boosting indoor humidity can help eliminate most of this unpleasant dryness, and humidifiers are extremely efficient at doing this. Good-quality units usually include a control device called a hygrometer, and if you set it to produce relative indoor humidity of somewhere between 40 and 49 percent it should bring you almost instant relief. Colds and the flu often manifest in the same way as allergies, so humidifiers can also make you feel better when you’re sick.

Some allergies cause rashes or itchiness, which is also related to excessive dryness (of the skin in this case). People who suffer from eczema also experience much more intense and frequent outbreaks of this disorder when the air is dry. But higher humidity levels works as a remedy to skin allergies and eczema; comfortably humid air can moisturize the skin even more effectively than many over-the-counter topical creams designed to treat dry skin conditions.

One word of caution: if you let your indoor humidity get too high (50 percent or more), it can encourage the breeding of dust mites and the growth of mold, both of which are frequently responsible for allergic reactions. When using a humidifier for allergy relief you have to be careful not to overdo it.

Common Types of Humidifier

Evaporative humidifiers rely on the forces of nature (evaporation, in other words) to moisturize a home’s air gradually, while vaporizing humidifiers use an extra energy input to convert water directly to steam. Point-of-use and whole-house units both require the regular replenishment of water supplies in order to keep functioning, as do impeller and ultrasonic humidifiers, a couple of other options you may want to investigate.

Fighting Allergies with Palo Alto Plumbing, Heating and Air

If you or a family member suffers from allergies, adding a humidifier to your home’s climate management system may be the perfect solution.

In Palo Alto and surrounding cities, we encourage you to visit Palo Alto Plumbing, Heating and Air if you’re in the market for a humidifier. We offer a complete line of outstanding humidifiers from Bryant, the preeminent name in the HVAC/air quality management industry. Contact us today and we’ll help you choose the best style, size and model of humidifier for your home—or for your place of business, if that is where you need it.

Follow our blog to learn more about exciting developments in heating, cooling, plumbing and air quality management.

All about Water Heater Anode Rods

Theoretically a water heater should rust out from the inside in a matter of months. But this doesn’t happen thanks to water heater anodes, the “secret ingredient” that keeps water heaters up and running and virtually rust-free throughout their existence.

Water Heater Anodes 101

Water heater anodes, which are more commonly known as sacrificial anodes, are long rods of magnesium or aluminum wrapped around a steel wire core. When placed inside a water tank they will gradually corrode and would eventually rust down to nothing if not replaced within two or three years. Because the sacrificial anode rusts away the steel interior of the tank remains untouched, and it will stay that way as long as new sacrificial anodes are added as needed.

It is a basic principle of science— when two metals are in contact inside a watery solution they will not rust at the same time. Instead, whichever one is more reactive (prone to rusting) will corrode away completely before the second metal is touched. As it happens magnesium and aluminum are both far more reactive than steel, and that is the secret to the sacrificial anode’s success.

Water Heater Anode Options

Sacrificial anodes come in one of two models. Hex-head anodes screw in at the tank and extend down into the water, while combo anodes are an integrated component of the hot-water delivery assembly, extending into the tank through the hot water outlet. Water heaters are generally sold with either a hex-head anode exclusively or with one anode of each type, which explains why some new heaters are sold with six-year warranties and others with 12-year guarantees (two sacrificial anodes are twice as effective as one).

For those who prefer an option that will keep on working continuously and without degredation, a powered anode can be used in lieu of the sacrificial type. This version of the protective anode is powered by electricity and stops interior tank corrosion by releasing a small but continuous flow of electric current into the water. This interrupts the electrochemical reaction that normally causes metallic corrosion.

Because it never rusts at all a powered anode can last indefinitely. Of course it is a far more expensive than the traditional option, generally running in the $250 range (a conventional sacrificial anode will cost from $40 to $75).

Magnesium sacrificial anodes are more common now than the aluminum versions. As it rusts aluminum leaves behind significant waste product that can clog water pipes and fill tank bottoms with nasty gunky sediment, which can threates a water heater’s long-term survival. Aluminum anodes also swell a bit as they rust and at times can be incredibly difficult to remove.

Meanwhile powered anodes have great utility when water is highly soft. Soft water is more corrosive than hard and will tend to wear out sacrificial anodes so frequently they’re no longer a cost-effective choice. Powered anodes will also kill bacteria that can infect water heater tanks and create terrible odors that follow the water wherever it flows.

Making a Change

Homeowners and landlords should remove sacrificial anodes from water heater tanks at least once per year to check for excessive wear and tear (this is an easy task, all that’s required is an adjustable wrench). If several inches of the steel wire core is visible too much corrosion has taken place and it’s time to get a new anode.

Water heater anodes are not automatically interchangeable, so anyone who needs to buy a new one should check with the dealer or the manufacturer first to find out which anodes are compatible with their heater.

Follow this blog for more interesting information about heating, cooling and plumbing repair and maintenance.