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!

7 ways to get the most from your air conditioner

Regardless of whether your air conditioner is newly installed or in need of some maintenance after years of service, it’s best to use it to its maximum efficiency. Here are some easy, simple tips for how to save both energy and money when using your A/C:

1. Keep your home sealed and secure

Cracks or openings in your door and window frames can both let in hot air from outside and allow cool air to escape your home. Similarly, gaps in your air ducts will allow the crisp indoor air to seep into the attic and then to the outside. Check to make sure all unwanted openings are sealed and be sure to repair those that aren’t.

2. Use a ceiling fan to its utmost efficiency

Compared to even the best air conditioner, a ceiling fan will always use a much smaller amount of electricity. Not only that, but they can cool a room down a couple of degrees, enabling you to let your A/C run a little higher. To get the most from your ceiling fan, make sure its blades travel counterclockwise.

3. Reprogram your thermostat

Usually, new air conditioners will come with programmable thermostats, which are highly useful and powerful. However, as the weather changes, adjust your thermostat’s temperature to suit its environment.

4. Use hot appliances during the coolest times of the day

Appliances like your oven or dryer create heat when used, so try to use them in the early morning or late evening when the outside is at its coolest. If possible, line dry your clothes to help your air conditioner and the environment!

5. Open windows when it’s cool and close them when it’s hot

To save energy (and therefore money!), give your A/C a rest in the early morning and late evening by opening up your windows and letting in the fresh air. Plus, the morning and evening breezes can dispel indoor allergens and stuffy air. However, be sure to close up those windows and curtains during the day to insulate your home from the scorching heat.

6. Be sure your air conditioner fits the size of your space

Money is often wasted when your air conditioner is too big for the room or house it occupies. Inversely, an air conditioner that is far too small will be inefficient due to strain. Keep this in mind when getting an A/C installed in your home.

7. Clean or change your A/C’s filter every month

This is the most important (and simple) air conditioner maintenance there is! However, it’s very easy to forget. Set reminders to change your A/C’s filter at least once a month, possibly more often if you have pets.

RC Mechanical is Redwood City’s best HVAC contractor. We use state-of the-art software to make sure you are getting the right air conditioning system for your home — and our a/c repair & installation experts will ensure your air conditioning system is installed correctly. Call us today at 650-575-3915.

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.

Tips for coping with a heat wave

You’ve probably heard that July 2019 was the warmest month ever recorded on the planet. What if you don’t have air conditioning in your home?

There are some tried-and-true techniques that you may already know about — taking a cold shower, going to an air-conditioned movie theatre, and installing ceiling fans. But there are some additional strategies you may never have thought of.

Turn off incandescent lights

Incandescent bulbs put out quite a bit of heat — in fact, more of the energy used by an incandescent bulb is converted to heat than is converted to light! This is smart even if you do have air conditioning, as it will reduce the work your air conditioner has to do.

Eat easy-to-digest foods

High-protein meals make your body work harder to digest them, thus increasing the heat created by your metabolism. Have a nice cool salad or soup such as gazpacho.

Freeze your sheets

It’s always harder to fall asleep when you’re too warm. An hour or two before bedtime, put your sheets in the freezer. They’ll get nice and chilly and make you feel much cooler when you climb into bed.

Stay hydrated

When the temperature gets hot, your body loses water. It is important to replenish it with plenty of fluids. Our bodies are about 60% water. We can live without food for 3-4 weeks, but we can go without water only for 3 days or so. Drinking cold liquids also helps cool the body.

Reduce alcohol and caffeine

While it may not do much in the way of giving you immediate relief from the heat, reducing your alcohol and caffeine consumption can be important for your health and well-being during a heat wave. Since alcohol and caffeine are both diuretics, consuming them can lead to dehydration, which can be dangerous when temperatures are high. Drink lots of cold/iced water instead.

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.

Why is my air conditioner leaking condensation? Is it malfunctioning?

Air conditioners generate moisture as part of their operation. Normally this condensation is directed out of your home via a pipe. If your air conditioner is leaking moisture into your home, this is a sign of a problem. There are several reasons an air conditioner might be leaking condensation.

Air conditioner is rusted through

The drain pan in the air conditioner might be rusted through or otherwise damaged. If this is the case, you will need to replace the drain pan.

Drain line is clogged

There could be clog in the condensation drain line. Water can back up into your home if the pipe is clogged with dirt, dust, or sludge. You can try using a wet/dry vacuum on the drain line, or call an HVAC professional to clear the line with specialized equipment.

The air filter is dirty

The air filter could be dirty. When the air filter is dirty, the evaporator coil doesn’t get the air flow it needs, which can cause it to freeze. Then when the evaporator coil melts, it might generate more moisture all at once than your air conditioner deal with. If this is the case, replace the air filter. In general, the air filter on your air conditioning should be replaced every few months.

You have a broken pipe

The condensation pump could be broken. The pump is what directs the water out of the air conditioner into the drain line. You will need to have the pump repaired or replaced.

For these issues and any other problems with your air conditioning, call us.

RC Mechanical is Redwood City’s best HVAC contractor. We use state-of the-art software to make sure you are getting the right air conditioning system for your home — and our a/c repair & installation experts will ensure your air conditioning system is installed correctly. Call us today at 650-575-3915.

What is the 20° rule and why is it important for my A/C?

As summer gets into full swing and temperatures across the country rise, many people with air conditioning systems in their homes consistently set their thermostat to about 70° Fahrenheit. While this allows for a comfortable space in which to take refuge from the heat, when the outside temperature is upwards of 90°, cooling the house to 70° can be quite a challenge for the AC.

Air conditioning working overtime

Most HVAC systems have two jobs: to cool and to maintain humidity levels. The standard humidity that most HVAC systems aim for is around 45-55%. However, when the temperature outside is high and the system is working hard to cool, it has less ability to regulate humidity. The result is that the system works overtime trying to maintain conditions inside the home, using a much larger amount of energy than normal and placing strain on the system that contributes to premature wear.

Setting your thermostat

In order to avoid this, it can be a good idea follow the 20° rule. The 20° rule is a rule of thumb that states that an AC system should not be set any lower than 20° lower than the outside temperature. For example, if it is
95° outside, then the thermostat should be set 75° or higher, but no lower than that. Therefore, the maximum amount of work the AC has to do is cooling 20°. By following the 20° rule, you keep your HVAC system in prime condition by not forcing it to work harder than it comfortably can. Of course, every HVAC system is different, so the 20° rule may vary based on your location, the model of AC you have, and the size of your home.

Problems with the 20° rule

The obvious problem with the 20° rule is that if it is exceedingly hot outside, it might not be cool enough inside. For example, if it’s 100° outside, then the inside temperature would be 80°, which is a higher temperature than most people would prefer. The solution to this issue while still keeping your HVAC system healthy is to take other measures to cool down your house, for example:

• Install a ceiling fan or multiple ceiling fans
• Hang drapes or blinds to reduce the heat that comes through windows
• Install heat insulation

Applying the 20° rule in your home

By following the 20° rule, you can greatly reduce the amount of energy you use and the amount of maintenance needed on your HVAC system, therefore lowering the overall cost of your air conditioning.

Since every situation is different, the 20° rule may vary based on your location, the model of AC you have, and the size of your home. Call RC Mechanical, Redwood City’s best HVAC contractor, and our a/c installation/repair technicians will use our state-of the-art software to make sure you are getting the right-sized air conditioning system for your home. Call us today at 650-575-3915!

Improve Indoor Air Quality To Reduce Coronavirus Risk

Now that we’re spending more time indoors due to shelter-in-place, it is important that the air you and your family breathe is healthy and clean.

While there are several ways to limit your exposure to the coronavirus (hand washing, etc.), let’s focus here on how your home heating and cooling systems can play a role in a cleaner and healthier environment.

Upgrade Your Air Filters

According to the Center for Disease Control, the virus is mainly spread by large droplets in the air from coughing or sneezing. Your HVAC system’s air filters are the “face masks” of your home. They catch airborne particles but do not kill them. To reduce the risk of airborne exposure, consider upgrading your the air filters in your air conditioner and furnace. Higher density filters will trap airborne particles before they reach the air you breathe. Ask your HVAC contractor for the best air filter for your needs.

Change Your Filter More Often

A better air filter collects more particles. Especially when more of us are staying indoors, our filters will need to be replaced more often. If someone in your family is ill, consider changing your filters more frequently to minimize recirculating airborne particles.

Control Your Home’s Humidity

Keep your home’s humidity between 40-60% because viruses are least viable in this range. Several factors can improve your home’s humidity: installing insulation, installing a humidifier, and plugging leaking windows and doors. A skilled HVAC technician will conduct a thorough inspection and can recommend the best options to control humidity in your home so it remains within the recommended range.

Schedule an HVAC Assessment

A skilled HVAC technician will inspect your furnace and A/C systems for leaks and damage, checking your ductwork for proper alignment and ensuring it is fully sealed. Leaking ductwork forces your air conditioner and furnace to overwork, leading to higher energy bills. A well-maintained HVAC ductwork system traps indoor allergens in the air filters. They play a critical role in trapping allergens by trapping particles and preventing them from circulating through your home.

RC Mechanical Can Help

HVAC contractors are essential service providers. RC Mechanical can help you manage these indoor air quality risks and make recommendations to increase air quality.

RC Mechanical, Redwood City’s best HVAC contractor, is a trusted local company that will quickly diagnose and resolve your air conditiong, heating, and indoor air quality issues. Whether you need help selecting and installing the right air conditioner, replacing a furnace, or conducting a home energy audit, you can count on RC Mechanical for superior and cost-effective HVAC 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.

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.