Monday, February 3, 2014

Why Spring is the Best Time for AC Maintenance

Just like your car needs its oil changed and maintenance done every few months to a year, your AC unit needs to be attended to annually to ensure optimal performance and safety. The question is, when should this be done? The best time is in the spring, before the blistering Arizona heat makes its way throughout the Valley. By performing maintenance in the spring, while your AC unit is not running, you end up saving money, time, and comfort. Most HVAC companies run busy once summer is in full swing and therefore it will be harder for them to find the time to check on your AC unit. This way, you will be ahead of the game and your AC unit will be in perfect shape, ready to take on the hot summer months.

If you wait until later to perform maintenance on your unit, you could be putting yourself at risk of a broken down unit in the height of summer, making your home uncomfortably hot. Also, checking up on your unit early ensures your AC unit will have all possible damage fixed, saving you money in the long run; you won’t have to pay for the expensive repairs and replacements that come with a broken unit. Understandably, 90% of HVAC equipment failures result from neglect, maintaining your unit now puts you ahead of the game and out of harms way. The best way to prevent these issues is, of course, to call a trained A/C specialist (such as Arctic Fox) to inspect and assess your unit. Here’s a list of routine maintenance checks we will provide when inspecting your unit:

  • Check electrical systems and test run the unit
  • Inspect the motors and bearings for problems
  • Lubricate bearings as needed
  • Check Freon and coolant
  • Clean/replace air filters
  • Check thermostat operation
  • Check condensation line(s) and clean them if necessary
  • Check and test for duct work leaks
  • Check belts and tighten loose parts

And please don’t forget to do your part by cleaning and changing the air filters every month or so, especially during pollen season! Together, we can keep your AC unit running strong and keep your family nice and cool this summer, and for many more to come!

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Ultimate Guide to Winterizing your Air Conditioning Unit

This winter has been particularly harsh for everyone in all parts of the country due to the ‘polar vortex.’ This raises some concern for homeowners when they have to make a decision about winterizing their homes. One of the most controversial appliances to winterize is your AC unit. Most HVAC companies do say that winterizing your AC unit is really not necessary as they are designed to handle any weather, including harsh winters. However, we believe protecting your AC unit for winter can bring many benefits to you and your unit if it is done properly.

If you decide that you’d like to winterize your unit this winter, here are the best ways to effectively protect it:

Cut off all power to your unit

Turning the power off to your AC unit provides many benefits to you such as saving you money and energy. Keep in mind if you are covering your unit that the power must be turned off before you cover it, if you don’t, you could cause serious damage to the unit, or cause the unit to overheat and cause a fire.

Clear all debris from your unit

Clear out all of the debris that may have fallen into and around the unit in the past few months. Debris can seriously damage the fan or other components in the unit if you don’t clean it up.

Place a piece of plywood on top of your unit

This is an easy and cheap way to protect your unit from falling debris, icicles and snow. Measure out the dimensions of your unit (the standard is 24”x24,” but measure anyway to be safe) and use the appropriate size of plywood; to keep the plywood in place, anchor it down using bricks or heavy rocks.

Cover your unit

This is an extremely controversial decision that only you can decide whether or not it is the correct path for you and your home. The only point companies seem to agree on regarding covering the unit is to never, ever use any materials that restrict ventilation to cover your unit. If done properly, with the proper cover, this method of winterizing your air conditioner can result in cleaner coils, less water damage to the coils, less debris damage, and lower maintenance costs. However, if done improperly, such as with unbreathable materials, moisture and condensation will be trapped and build up causing rusting and corrosion of your unit. Also, this could attract rodents or other small pests to the comfort of a covered environment.

Whether you decide to cover your unit or not, the decision is up to you. Still, winterizing your air conditioning unit in some way is strongly recommended as it definitely can extend the life of your unit and save you money in the process. You can always come to Arctic Fox Heating and Air if you have any questions about preparing your air conditioner for winter. We can also tune up your heating system to provide your home with efficient warmth throughout the winter months. We serve homeowners throughout the Phoenix area.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Common Water Heater Problems and How to Fix Them

You depend on your water heater for so many things in your home, like taking showers, cleaning dishes and doing the laundry, which is why it’s so important that your water heater is always in great working order.

However, water heaters, like any other appliance, can break or need fixing from time to time. Here are some of the most common problems our customers tend to have with their hot water units. Some of these issues can be resolved by the homeowner, while others should be tended to by a professional.

No Hot Water

One of the worst things that can happen in our homes, especially during the winter, is not having any hot water. If you find that your water just won’t get hot, there could be a defect in the heating element of your unit. This can be fixed by replacing the heating source by following the manufacturer’s guidelines, or call a professional to come out and see what can be done to fix the issue. 

If your water is slightly warm or doesn’t stay hot for long, check the thermostat to see if the setting is too low. Hot water heaters are typically set at 140 degrees, but most people are happy with their water around 120 degrees. If your thermostat is set lower than 120 degrees, this could be why you don’t have hot water.

Tip: Don’t make a habit of changing the temperature of the thermostat too often. You might forget the temperature you last set it to and accidentally burn yourself while doing dishes or showering.

Pilot Light Issues

If your hot water heater stops working, sometimes it can be because the pilot light has gone out. The pilot light is easy to re-light on your own, and often times this is the solution to get your hot water heater working again. However, if you re-light your pilot light and still can’t get hot water, the job may call for a professional. More complex reasons for your pilot light going can be a draft in your home or dirt that could be clogging the gas line.

Noisy Unit

If you hear hammering and banging noises coming from your hot water heater unexpectedly, don’t panic. A noisy water heater can be the result of the metal equipment expanding and contracting as the water heats and cools inside your water heater. Flushing the heater once a month can prevent this from happening.

Leaking Tank

The last thing you want to discover as a homeowner is a leaking water tank. If your hot water tank is leaking, call a professional right away for an inspection. If you have an older tank, the leak can be caused by corrosion, which causes your unit to deteriorate over time. Unfortunately, if your tank is leaking, the solution often is to get a new hot water heater. If a professional inspection leads you to buying a new unit, make sure it is energy efficient.

Tip: While a small leak may not seem like a big deal, don’t put off a professional check. Even the smallest leak can send your water bills rising, and that’s money just disappearing from your wallet.

A standard inspection of your water heater on a regular basis by a professional is the best way to keep it running smoothly. If you have questions or think your water heater needs inspecting or fixing, give us a call. You don’t want to get caught without hot water this winter!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Save Money on Your Heating Bills This Winter

It’s getting colder outside, even here in the land of perpetual sunshine and heat. With winter rapidly approaching, you’re going to start heating your home, which will make you cozy, but will send your electric bills rising.

Instead of ditching the heat altogether to save money this winter, we’ve compiled a few tips that will allow you to keep warm in your home without breaking the bank. 

Re-Insulate Your Home

Insulation is like a giant winter coat for your home in the winter. It blocks a large amount of cold air from entering your home, which in turn, saves you money. Insulation, however, becomes less effective over the years and does need to be replaced. Re-insulating the attic is a home improvement project that many homeowners don’t consider, so unless your home is brand new, it’s possible the time to re-insulate is now.
Although re-insulating your attic or home is a project that costs money initially, it’ll save you a bunch over the years.

Don't let your heating system break your bank this winter!
Seal Cracks in Your Home

You may not know it, but you could be losing hundreds of dollars a year in heating costs thanks to small cracks and openings all over your house. Check your windows and doorways for moving air and seal them with weather stripping materials.

Have a professional come to your home and check your duct work and plumbing as well. Leaky ducts can account for 10-30 percent of heating and cooling costs. How can you tell if your ducts are leaking? Look back at one of our previous blog posts, 'Signs That Your Air Ducts Are Leaking', and if you think you have leaky ducts, give us a call at (623)533-5718.

Another way to make sure warm air isn’t escaping from your home is to close your fireplace’s damper when not in use and make sure it’s tightly sealed. If you can feel a draft with the damper closed, call a professional to tighten and seal it correctly.

Adjust the Thermostat

Save up to 10% on your heating bills in the winter by turning your heat down when you leave the house, even if it’s just for a couple hours. If you can turn it completely off, that’s even better. Don’t leave your heat on just to ensure you come home to a warm house; turn the heat on once you get home and the chill will leave the air quickly. Depending on how many blankets you like to sleep with, you could cut your heating expenses even further by turning the thermostat down or off at night.

Reset Hot Water Settings 

There’s a secret many homeowners don’t realize: hot water heaters are often factory set for 140 degrees, which is hot enough to burn your skin. The Department of Energy has determined that most people prefer their hot water at about 120 degrees. Resetting your hot water heater to a slightly lower temperature can save you up to 10% on heating costs, which is a lot considering your hot water heater accounts for about 15% of your heating bill. The best part is, you won’t even be able to tell a difference! 

Dress Warm

Our last tip costs you literally no money at all, aside from a potential shopping trip. Dress warmly in your home in the winter to cut down on heating costs. Since everyone’s body is different, some get colder more quickly than others. Keeping your thermostat at a steady temperature is more energy efficient than turning it up and down all day long. If some of your family members get cold, get them warm, fuzzy socks and indoor sweaters to lounge around in. We lose most of our body heat from our feet and our heads, so keeping these parts of our bodies warm is incredibly important.

We don’t believe that you have to sacrifice comfort for savings, especially in your own home. Keep these energy saving tips in mind this winter and you’ll be amazed at how much money you’ll save… perhaps for more holiday presents?!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Halloween Activities for the Family

It’s that time of year again, where the tricks and treats are doled out among friends and kids dress up as whatever their heart desires. Yes, Halloween is here! We thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite things to do with our families during this spooky season of fun. If you don’t have Halloween traditions already, this is a great place to start!

Decorating the House

There’s truly no better way to get into the Halloween spirit than by decking out the house with the entire family. If you haven’t decorated your home yet, pull the boxes out of the closet, brush off the dust, and get everyone involved. Spend the day dressing the yard and your entire home; even take the opportunity to look up some DIY crafts and have your crafty family members whip up some new decorations! 

If you want to make things fun, assign each person a designated room in your house to decorate. They have the whole day to decorate the room the way they want it! The end result will be a fantastically decorated house with a little bit of everyone’s personality rolled in to it. 

Pumpkin Carving Contest

A pumpkin carving contest is one of the most traditional ways to celebrate Halloween, and for good reason. Go shopping for pumpkins (let everyone pick out their favorite one) and set aside a night of carving fun! After you scoop the pumpkin ‘guts’ out, wash the seeds and bake them for a tasty treat while everyone is creating their own masterpiece.

While all pumpkin carving with kids should be done with adult supervision, there are now a number of kid-friendly pumpkin carving kits you can buy practically anywhere. These popular kits provide safe and easy ways for kids to design and carve their own pumpkin.

Eating a Healthy Dinner before Trick or Treating 

Once the big day arrives, all the kids can think about is candy, candy, and more candy. Before they head out trick or treating for sugary sweets, plan a delicious and healthy meal for the whole family. Let them get partially dressed up before dinner so the excitement starts to set in. While you’re eating, map out where you plan to go for the night. Not only will this pump everyone up, but it’ll also avoid disagreements on where to go once you leave home!

Tip: Save the spaghetti for another night, serve something that won’t stain if costumes are already on!

Share Scary Stories

This is an activity we would save for the older kids, once the little ones have left to show off their costumes to the neighborhood. In between answering the door for trick-or-treaters, pass the time by coming up with your very own scary story to tell. The only rule is that it can’t be one you’ve heard before! These stories should be made up on the spot, making them fun for everyone to tell and listen to at the same time. 

We hope you have some fun with these ideas, and even put your own twist on things! To all of our customers, have a safe and happy Halloween from everyone here at Arctic Fox!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Leading Causes of House Fires

The leading cause of house fires in the United States is something cooking related. The second leading cause is usually due to air conditioning or heating unit malfunction. During winter months, heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires. About two-thirds of home heating fire deaths are caused by portable or fixed heaters.   

Since most Arizona dwellers won't use their heating systems for most of the year, you may not expect anything to be wrong with your units if they haven't been on. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Unused heating units can rust and clog up essential areas of ventilation, which can cause a malfunction, potentially leading to a fire within your home's walls.

It's imperative that you always remember to get your AC and heating units cleaned and maintained on a regular basis to ensure the safety of your family and your home. As your local HVAC professional, it's our job to make sure your units are running the way they're supposed to. Give us a call and we'll inspect your air conditioning and heating systems head to toe to make sure they're in perfect working order!