Keep critters out of your attic

It is unnerving to hear sounds from the attic. If you hear gnawing, scurrying, scratching sounds generally in the early morning or late in the evening, chances are that there are critters in your attic or wall.

Animals (rats, bats, mice, etc.) can do a lot of damage by chewing up the plumbing and wirings. They can make a small issue (like a displaced shingle) into a much bigger issue like a leaking roof. Insulation can be moved around or torn up. These varmints also carry diseases, ticks, and fleas. The droppings in the attic and elsewhere aren’t healthy for human beings to breathe.

The best way to prevent damage from these animals is by making sure that they don’t enter the house in the first place.

Animals can enter the house through the smallest of holes near the vents or chimney pipes. If there are weak spots in the siding or on the roof, animals can claw their way into the house through these areas in search of heat and food.

Surest sign of a critter is the telltale sign of animal poop in the attic, cupboards, garage, or under the kitchen sink.

Here are some tips to make sure that your house remains free of critters.

Close or cover with a wire mesh all holes on the exterior of the house

Do a thorough inspection of the exterior of the house and pay close attention to where the roof meets the siding and near the vents. Close or cover all holes that can give animals an entry to your attic or your house.

Don’t leave the chimney open. Put a chimney cap on top of the exterior of the chimney. This allows the smoke to escape while keeping the critters out.

Fix/reseal your shingles

Storms, strong winds, and people walking on the roof can loosen the shingles. These weak spots can then be used by the animals to gain entry into your attic.

Inspect your roof regularly. If you find a shingle that is unsealed, loose, or missing, fix it right away.

Keep limbs of trees at least 6’ from your roof

The easiest access for animals to roof is by using the limbs of the surrounding trees. The critters can easily get on to the roof by jumping off of these low hanging branches over the roof. Squirrels especially can jump 6 feet or so to get on to your roof.

The best way to remove this access is to trim the branches that hang over the roof. These will deny the animals an easy access to the roof and eventually to the attic.

Remove trash from around your house

Animals like racoons, skunks, and rats are always on the lookout for food. And trash bins have them! These animals can ‘smell’ out food in any trash. Keep your trash bins shut tight and away from the house.

Clear out all fruits that fall from your fruit trees. These attract critters to hang around near your house and gives them an opportunity to exploit any weak structural area or hole on the exterior of the house.

Keep your gutters clean

When your gutters are filled with yard debris, it is an invitation to animals, like birds, to create their nests there. And these bird nests can attract other animals. If you have any structural weakness, it is an easy next step to exploit that to enter your attic.

If you suspect an animal in your attic, we would recommend that you call your local pest control company

How do I cool my second floor?

Keeping your second floor can be a real challenge in the dead of summer.

Since hot air rises, the upstairs can get up to 10 degrees hotter than the downstairs. During these times, it can be a challenge to keep the upstairs cool.

Another factor is the roof. In the summer, the roof gets the full brunt of the sun and it absorbs a lot of heat. This heats up the air in the attic which in turn heats up the upstairs.

Here are a few ways that you can manage to keep the second floor in your house comfortable.

Redirect cool air from the AC to upstairs

You can redirect more air from the AC upstairs by partially closing the vents downstairs. This will enable the cooler air to be blown upstairs. Be careful that you don’t close all the registers. This could affect the performance of the system. Talk to your HVAC specialist about balancing the system.

Install different zones in your house

With different zones in your house, you can control the temperature of each zone independent of the others. For example, you can set the thermostat to 68 downstairs and 72 upstairs.

Use window coverings to block the sun

If any of the windows get direct sun, especially in the afternoon, you should install drapes or shades. This can significantly reduce the temperature in a room.

Reduce your use of appliances upstairs

This is difficult if your kitchen is upstairs. Burners add a lot of heat to the surrounding area. On hot days, you could plan to eat out or make salads that don’t require the use of burners.

Install fans in the attic

Attic air can get to 130 degrees on a hot day! This would replace the hot air in the attic with cool air. (Rewrite this.)

Install ceiling fans

Ceiling fans are an easy and inexpensive way to keep the air moving and cooling a room.

Insulate your attic

When the midday sun hits the roof on a hot day, the attic heats up and this transfers the heat to the room right under it. By adding insulation in your attic you minimize the heat that is transferred to the living space.

You can install a vapor barrier on the bottom of the roof rafters. This slow the radiant heat from the roof into the attic which will keep your attic cool. Consequently your house will stay cooler.

Turn off any gadgets that generate heat.

Computers and other such electronic gadgets produce a lot of heat. Using these upstairs can also add to the temperature. Keep the electronic items turned off during the day or minimize their use upstairs.

Turn off lights. You’d be surprised how much heat they can create!

When the summer gets here, remember to drink cool drinks and keep hydrated!

Why does my air conditioner need maintenance?

Bay area peninsula can get really hot in the summer and fall. As the world gets warmer, the temperatures are getting higher earlier in the year.

The last thing you want is to have your AC not work on a hot day.

Regular maintenance work is key to keeping your investment (air conditioner) working at its peak. Here are a few reasons why doing maintenance on your AC is important.

Regular check-ups prevent breakdowns

Check-ups ensure that your AC is working well. During a check up, your technician would look inside the AC at the various coils, filters, etc. These parts could be broken, clogged, dirty or have simply stopped working. The technician would replace broken parts, clean dirty ones, and would ensure that AC now works like a well-oiled machine.

Yearly check-ups will prevent your AC from breaking down in the middle of summer when scheduling a technician can be hard.

Don’t take a chance with the AC breakdown

Air conditioner technicians are busy in the summer. The number of calls spikes during the summer for repairs and replacements of ACs. If your AC breaks down in the middle of summer, you may not be able to get a technician immediately. And a hot day without an AC can be miserable.

An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Get your AC serviced before summer so you have a well-functioning AC all summer long.

Lower your energy bill with check-ups

Any machine will work to its optimum when it has been serviced. Same is true of ACs.

Regular maintenance of your AC will keep all its parts working well. When the AC has been serviced, it uses less energy to run and you will see the result in lowered energy bills.

Increase the life of your AC

Just like an annual doctor visit can uncover potential problems before they become life-threatening, an AC check-up can identify small issues which can be fixed before they take down the whole AC.

Getting regular servicing on your AC helps increase its lifespan. Air conditioners are a big investment. Take care of the investment with regular check-ups. Here are a few articles that might help you with your air conditioner:

Things to leave to your HVAC professional
Why is my AC making noises
Why does AC installation cost so much?
Keep your AC running smoothly
Why is my air conditioner leaking condensation? Is it malfunctioning?

Get your AC serviced before the summer hits. Call us today at (650) 575-3915 to schedule an appointment.

Keep your AC running smoothly

Redwood City California, furnace repair, heating system repair, furnace installation, furnace repair, heating system maintenance, furnace maintenance, heating contractor

With the hot weather and stay-in-place orders in San Mateo County, many households are installing A/C systems.

On hot days when your new AC runs constantly, there’s a chance its effectiveness could lower. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure your newly installed air conditioner works smoothly throughout the summer.

Replace your AC filter frequently

The job of an AC filter is to filter the debris and dust from the house and blow clean air into the house. When the AC filter gets dirty, it gets harder for the AC to blow air through it. This makes the air conditioner work harder and use more energy.

When the A/C filter stays dirty for a long time, the effectiveness of the AC is reduced and it will no longer cool the house as effectively. Change your filter once a month especially if you use the AC a lot.

Run fewer appliances

When the temperature rises outside, your AC has to work harder to keep your home comfortable.

Burners, ovens, dishwashers and dryers produce heat and increase the temperature inside the house. Try to avoid using these appliances on really hot days when you will likely run the AC for a long time.

Hot days might be a great time to spare your air conditioner by taking your cooking outside and barbecue!

Keep other heat-producing equipment such as computers and lamps away from the A/C thermostat. This may influence the A/C thermostat reading and cause the A/C to work harder than necessary.

Use fans to cool your home

A/C is not the only way to cool your home. Install floor and ceiling fans to circulate air. This cools the air and reduces the need to run your A/C. Run A/C less reduces your energy costs and extends the life of your new A/C.

Keep your vents clean

Vents are places where over time dust can collect and obstruct airflow. Every summer check your air conditioning vents to make sure that the air blows through these vents unobstructed.

Furniture and window treatments can also obstruct airflow from your air conditioner. Make sure that 6″ of space next to the vent is clear.

Update your air conditioner

Every appliance starts to degrade in its efficacy at some point or stops working altogether. Having an air conditioner working smoothly is important to keep your home comfortable. And when you feel it is time or when your HVAC contractor recommends it, replace your old air conditioner for a new energy-efficient one.

RC Mechanical Can Help

RC Mechanical, Redwood City’s best HVAC contractor, has installed and replaced many air conditioniong systems for Redwood City homeowners. Whether you need help selecting the right air conditioner, installing a furnace, or conducting a home energy audit, you can count on RC Mechanical for superior and cost-effective service. RC Mechanical is a local veteran-owned business and has provided expert furnace and air conditioning repair and installation to the Bay Area with integrity for over 20 years. Homeowners in Redwood City and throughout the Bay Area count on us for all their heating and air conditioning needs.

Call us today at (650) 575-3915 and we will respond within 24 hours.

Prepare your home for the fire season

Every year the fire season seems to start earlier and earlier. Fall is the fire season when hot weather, dry plant materials and gusty winds come together to create an atmosphere that is ripe for fire. During such burnings, the air fills with smoke and the sky takes on an apocalyptic hue. The smoke is filled with particulate matter that can get lodged deep in the lungs exacerbating asthma.

Your home is your refuge. We need to make sure that this smoke never gets into the house. Summer is the best time to prepare for the fire season. Take the following steps to keep smoky air out of your house:

Seal openings with caulk

Sealing openings is the simplest way to keep smoke out of your house. You can use weather stripping, sealant caulk or door sweeps. Weather stripping is a thick tape that seals the gaps around openings of the doors and windows. Sealant caulk fills the gaps created at the time of installation of the doors and windows. These fill the small gaps around the installed area.

Door sweeps seal out the drafts from outside the house. These are installed under the doors.

Get an air purifier

The job of an air purifier is to cleanse the air that is inside your home getting rid of germs, dander, smoke, dust, etc.

Air purifiers use electrostatic filters to attract germs so they can neutralize them. It is important to buy an air filter that doesn’t produce ozone as a by-product. They use filters to trap dander, smoke and dust.

Use HEPA filter

HEPA is an acronym for High Efficiency Particulate Air. This type of filter removes allergens, like dander, dust, mold, etc. using multi-layered netting that is made of very fine fiberglass threads. These can capture 99.97% of all air matter that are 0.3 microns and up. These filters require regular replacement. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Use an IQ Air filter

IQ Filter is a brand of filter that is one of the best air filters and hence deserves special attention. These filters can remove particles that are as fine as 0.003 microns with 99.5% efficiency. These air filters give the cleanest air possible. We installed it in one of our client’s homes. This client mentioned to us that one of their guests exclaimed that they could “taste the clean air” in the house after being in the house for a few minutes.

Upgrade your HVAC system

If your HVAC is an old system and it requires maintenance or repair often, then it is time to replace your complete HVAC system. Having an efficient system will not only improve your indoor air quality, you may also be sealing leaks in the duct system that push dirty air into the house.

Want to improve your indoor air quality during fire season? Give us a call at (650) 575-3915. At RC Mechanical, we specialize in improving your indoor air quality.. We’ll walk you through your various options.

Keep cool without an AC

Keep it cool when the weather gets hot

Bay area’s warm weather begins when the rest of the country moves into Fall. Most of our homes in the peninsula aren’t equipped with AC, making it hard to keep cool.

Here are a few ways to keep you cool when it gets hot.

Close your window shades.

If the sun’s rays reach your home’s floor or walls, you can bet that you’ll feel warmer and warmer. Keep your shades drawn, because the less sunlight that gets in, the cooler you can keep your house.

Install a fan.

A fan is very effective in cooling the room. You can choose to install one in every room. If that is too expensive, get a pedestal fan that you can take around with you, keeping you cool wherever you go.

Have a cool room.

When it gets to hot, having a room that is cooler than the others may be clutch, allowing you to beat the heat for some time. Basements and rooms facing east or north generally stay cooler than the rest of the home, and can be easily converted into a cool room.

Open your windows in the evenings.

Cooler evenings come with cooler breezes. Opening your windows then to let the cooler air come in can cool the house immediately and keep your house cooler to prepare for the next day.

Stay hydrated.

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Hot weather can dehydrate you, causing you to feel the effects of the heat much more intensely. Plus, drinking cold water will cool your insides.

Don’t drink alcohol or coffee.

Keep away from alcohol and caffeine to avoid getting too hot. These are diuretics that drain water from your body. This is the opposite effect of drinking water, so be aware of their effects if you still choose to drink them.

Wear loose, light-colored cotton.

Wearing loose clothing that is made of cotton is one of the best clothes you can wear if you wish to stay cool. Wearing light colored clothing will reflect light, causing the summer heat not to stick to your body.

Take cold showers.

Showering in cooler water can help you beat the heat. This can lower your core body temperature and make you feel much cooler for some time after you step out of the shower.

Minimize the usage of kitchen stoves.

Don’t use the stove inside the house. It will generate more heat and make the house even warmer. Instead, make salads and refrigerate them. These will be refreshingly cool as dinner. Or cook outside on your grill. Better yet, get a takeout!

Turn off your lights

Turn off the lights, especially incandescent lights. These lights can generate a surprising amount of heat and warm up the room. If you need light, fluorescent bulbs will work better and give off much less heat.

It’s sprinkler time!

Children don’t realize when they start warming up. Let them play in the sprinklers. A wet towel around the neck can also do the trick on really hot days. Remember to keep them away from electronics. These produce a lot of heat.

Bring out the baby pool

Don’t forget your 4-legged friends when the weather heats up. Put a bowl of fresh clean water in the shade outside. There are vests available for dogs that keep them cool. With a baby pool, you can keep your kids and your animals cool.

AC troubleshooting

Redwood City California, air conditioning contractor, air conditioning repair, air conditioning installation, A/C contractor, A/C repair, A/C installation, get air conditioning, a/c troubleshoot

Air conditioner is a great invention that makes summer’s hot days bearable.

It can be miserable when, on a hot day, the AC stops working. As your AC stops working, it gives signs that it needs to be maintained or is on the verge of breaking down.

Here are a few signs that your air conditioning unit may not be working to its fullest and needs to be checked.

Limited air is flowing through the vents

If air from the vents feels stifled or blocked entirely, this is a clear sign that your filters need checking.

If the filters are clogged or blocked, the system has to work hard to pump air through them, putting strain on the HVAC system. Such a strain can eventually lead to the unit being in need of replacing.

Replace the air filter to improve the airflow in the system.

Frost on the AC

Ice buildup on your air conditioner is a sign that air isn’t flowing easily through the vents.

If you find some ice on your AC unit, especially around the copper tubing, know that it can be a sign that the system is deteriorating, and that its days of being useful are numbered.

Ice buildup on your air conditioner could be due to 2 reasons:

  • Low air flow
  • Low refrigerant (or coolant)

A dirty filter reduces the air flow over the evaporator coil and makes it icy. This can be easily fixed by replacing the dirty filter.

If your system is low in coolant, then it can be easily fixed by filling up the coolant.

Noisy air conditioner

Air conditioners make noise as part of running normally. If your AC makes more noise than usual, especially while starting up, then it is a sign that there may problems with your unit.

Such an issue is best left to a professional. Call your HVAC technician.

A/C unit not cooling or cooling inefficiently

This is usually what makes someone frantic on a hot day. If the system runs all day long and has made no significant change to the temperature, you have a problem. Also, if air that’s not cool enough is being emitted by your AC, then the unit may be overworked. Easing up on its usage or upgrading to a more powerful system are viable solutions if the AC is new.

Take a temperature reading at the closest register. You want to get 55 degrees. Anything above 65 degrees means you are low on coolant.

Doesn’t turn on

This may seem obvious, but check to see if the unit is plugged in. You may try unplugging and replugging it.

The air conditioner may not turn on because of a blown fuse. Replace the fuse to see if it will turn on.

Another reason for the AC to not turn on could be that the thermostat hasn’t tripped the AC to start. Lower the thermostat 10 degrees to make sure that it will turn on. If the AC doesn’t start running within 3 minutes or so, then it is time to call your air conditioning technician.

If none of the above troubleshooting steps made your AC work to your satisfaction, call Sal at RC Mechanical at (650) 575-3915.

Is my AC bringing smoky air from outside into my house?

Smoke from Fire season

Fire is a part of the season in California. Fall is the fire season when hot weather, dry plant materials and gusty winds come together to create an atmosphere that is ripe for fire. During such burnings, the air fills with smoke and the sky takes on an apocalyptic hue. The smoke is filled with particulate matter that can get lodged deep in the lungs exacerbating asthma.

Our home is our refuge. We need to make sure that this smoke never gets into the house. Take the following steps to keep smoky air out of your house:

Seal openings with caulk

Sealing openings is the simplest way to keep smoke out of your house. You can use weather stripping, sealant caulk or door sweeps. Weather stripping is a thick tape that seals the gaps around openings of the doors and windows. Sealant caulk fills the gaps created at the time of installation of the doors and windows. These fill the small gaps around the installed area.

Door sweeps seal out the drafts from outside the house. These are installed under the doors.

Get an air purifier

The job of an air purifier is to cleanse the air that is inside your home getting rid of germs, dander, smoke, dust, etc.

Air purifiers use electrostatic filters to attract germs so they can neutralize them. It is important to buy an air filter that doesn’t product ozone as a by-product. They use filters to trap dander, smoke and dust.

Use HEPA filter

HEPA is an acronym for High Efficiency Particulate Air. This type of a filter removes allergens, like dander, dust, mold, etc. using multi-layered netting that is made of very fine fiberglass threads. These can capture 99.97% of all air matter that are 0.3 microns and up. These filters require regular replacement. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Use an IQ Air filter

IQ Filter is a brand of filter that is one of the best air filters and hence deserves special attention. These filters can remove particles that are as fine as 0.003 microns with 99.5% efficiency. These air filters give the cleanest air possible. When we installed it in one of our client’s home, our client exclaimed that they can now “taste the clean air”!!

Upgrade your HVAC system

If your HVAC is an old system and it requires maintenance or repair often, then it is time to replace your complete HVAC. Having an efficient system will not only improve your indoor air quality, you may also be sealing leaks in the duct system that push dirty air into the house.

Want to improve your indoor air quality? Give us a call at (650) 575-3915 and we’ll walk you through your various options.

Why is my AC making noises!

Summer is around the corner. This means hot days are approaching and your AC will be needed to keep you comfortable in your home.

In addition to routine maintenance, check for any unusual or unexpected noises coming from your AC unit. These noises signal trouble with your unit and may require immediate attention. Here’s a guide to these noises and actions you can take:

Squealing From Blower Motor

Your AC unit’s motor may have a bad belt or bearing. You can replace the belt yourself if you choose since it is an inexpensive and easy task. This should be done as soon as possible since a bad belt can lead to a broken belt which will prevent the blower from turning. Also, if your motor unit has oil ports, you may want to change or fill the ports with motor oil to help soften motor noises. Always research appropriate oil before using as each motor will have its own specification.

Loud Rattling or Banging

These sounds typically originate from either loose fasteners on the metal cage or a component of the blower assembly or motor which has come loose. Loose fasteners require tightening screws or bolts that secure the cage. A more complicated problem will be if the problem is with a component on the blower assembly. If not addressed, this rattling will get louder and may result in the disconnection of the blower itself. As this is a more complicated issue, you may want to do more research before attempting to address the issue yourself. Or you may want to call a certified HVAC technician to fix the issue.

Clicking

Normally, your unit will click as it is being turned on and off but if the clicking is abnormally loud and coming from inside the cabinet, your capacitor may be on the way out and should be replaced. As a short term battery supply for the compressor and blower motor, the capacitor is a critical part of your AC unit and can wear down over time. An ineffective capacitor can put stress on the compressor which can in turn affect the overall health of your entire HVAC system. If you think your capacitor is making the clicking sound, turn off your AC unit immediately and contact a certified HVAC technician to replace the part.

Humming

If your AC unit does not turn on and your clicking sound has turned into a hum, this can be a very serious problem indicating the compressor is being used as a power source and can quickly lead to costly repairs. For this reason, we suggest that you turn off your AC unit to prevent further damage. These parts also have a tendency to fail during the warmest part of summer when your AC unit is working harder than normal. To avoid a breakdown, make sure to have a certified HVAC technician address this problem as soon as it is detected.

Loud Whistles or Screaming Noises

These types of noises are critical and can be very dangerous as they may indicate a refrigerant leak or internal pressure buildup. This needs immediate attention by a certified HVAC technician. If there is a 24-hour hotline for your specific technician, it is best to use that route as they may be able to diagnose the issue over the phone and provide next steps.

Metal on Metal

If this noise is coming from the fan, your blades may be the culprit. It is possible a foreign object like loose wiring or stones may be in contact with the blade. If not addressed, the blades may be damaged as well as the motor. This can even lead to a refrigerant leak. If you hear this type of sound, turn off your unit immediately and investigate what may be obstructing the blade(s). If the culprit can be removed manually, then cleaning and clearing the debris will fix the issue. A routine visual inspection of the fan and blades should be performed frequently while your unit is being used.

In summary, proactive and routine maintenance can help to prevent your AC unit from breaking down unexpectedly.

If your AC is making any of these strange sounds and you live between Burlingame and Sunnyvale, give Sal a call at (650) 575-3915.

Allergies & Asthma

Allergy & asthma

While there may be many ways to treat asthma or allergies, one of the smartest actions you can take as a consumer is to alleviate the various conditions that can trigger the symptoms. Did you know that your HVAC system is part of this ecosystem? By increasing the effectiveness of your HVAC system, you can optimize its efficiency to help reduce allergens that trigger asthma and allergies.

Replace your air filters

One of the promises of an effective HVAC system is to provide clean indoor air. This is done by trapping airborne allergens in your HVAC system’s air filters. Even trapped, these allergens can still lead to allergic reactions or asthma attacks. To address these trapped allergens as well as mildew and mold, it is suggested that you schedule a yearly maintenance for you HVAC system.

Your annual maintenance should start with your air filter since it plays a central role in trapping allergens. Air filter efficiency is measured by the particles it can trap and thus prevent from circulating through your house. The more effective your air filter is, the more particles it reduces in your homes air flow. But that comes at a cost – not just financially. The more effective your filter is, the more stress it places on your HVAC system. It is suggested that you work with your HVAC technician to select the right filter for your system.

Install air purifier

Air purifiers can also help in trapping allergens. They work with your air filter to aid in purifying the air stream to your home by trapping allergens not caught by the air filter alone. You may want to consider a whole-home air purifier that is compatible with your air filter and HVAC system.

Use humidifiers

Using filter and purification technology goes a long way in helping to provide clean air throughout your home. But it is not the only way to address asthma and allergy symptoms. Humidity can also affect asthma and allergy sufferers. Once again, your HVAC system can address this trigger by providing a whole-home dehumidifiers. Dehumidifying technology can address the humidity levels to help create a safe and healthy environment.

Clean the air with UV lamps

UV lamps when used with your HVAC system can sterilize and clean the air before it reaches your living space. They do this by zapping mold, bacteria, and other allergens. UV lamps also prevent fungus from growing in damp areas, such as the AC coil. This technology may be expensive but for households experiencing poor indoor air quality, it may be a viable solution.

Our main goal at RC Mechanical is to help keep your home comfortable throughout the year and free of allergens for you. Call us at (650) 575-3915 and let us help you with your home comfort issues.