Breathe Cleaner Fresher Air This Spring

allergy free air Covid-19

Spring brings longer days and warmer weather. But spring can also bring miserable sniffling and sneezing for the 50 million Americans who suffer seasonal allergies. Eight out of 10 people in the United States are exposed to dust mites. What to do? Improve the air quality in your home to reduce allergy triggers.

What are the main sources of indoor allergens? Some of the biggest factors that affect home air quality are:

  • Pets
  • Wall-to-wall carpet
  • Damp areas
  • Soft furniture
  • Bedding

To make sure you and your family breathe easier this Spring, check out these four ways to improve indoor air quality:

Replace your air filters

The air filters in your AC and heating system are your first level of defense against bad air quality. The increased level of pollen in spring can overwork your air filters so be sure to clean or replace them more often. If your filters need to be replaced, check our tips on how to choose the right filter for your home.

Schedule an HVAC tune-up

Spring cleaning should also include an inspection of your furnace and air conditioner. A skilled HVAC technician will inspect your equipment for leaks and damage. A well-maintained HVAC ductwork system traps indoor allergens in the furnace and A/C air filters. They reduce allergens in your indoor air by trapping particles and preventing them from circulating through your home. RC Mechanical’s HVAC technicians will also check to ensure you have a properly sized heating and air conditioning system for your home and will make recommendations to increase air quality and save you money. We take pride in going above and beyond to make sure you don’t spend money on what you don’t need.

Add an air purifier

What’s the difference between an air filter and an air purifier? An air filter simply catches the particles. Air purifiers actively clean the air through ionization. Air purifiers are better at removing pollutants such as bacteria, pollen, pet dander, dust mites, spores, and viruses than the standard air filter. One happy client raved that she was able to “taste the clean air”! Ask us about installing a whole-house air purifier. Our expert technicians are the best in the business and will recommend the best air purifier that is compatible with your air filter and A/C or furnace so all work together to give you fresher, cleaner air.

Clear and clean the registers

When was the last time you cleaned your furnace or air conditioner’s registers and grates? If these have dust accumulation, dust circulates into the room and can worsen allergies and asthma. Don’t forget to check that nothing is blocking the registers, such as furniture, drapes, or toys. Keeping the register areas clear enables your home’s air to be better distributed in the room. To clean your registers, simply wash them in your sink with warm water and mild soap. Leave them outside to air dry or pat dry with a lint-free cloth.

Ready for a cleaner fresher Spring?

RC Mechanical, Redwood City’s best HVAC contractor, is a trusted local company that will quickly diagnose and resolve your heating, cooling, and indoor air quality issues. Whether you need help selecting a new 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.

Keeping Warm at Night

The San Francisco Bay Area enjoys mild winters. However, in the first weeks of this month, temperatures plummeted to the 30s for cities along the Bay like Redwood City, San Carlos, and Burlingame.

Are you and your kids not sleeping well because everyone is cold? Here’s what to do to make sure your house is comfortable:

Check for leaky ducts

When rooms don’t stay warm, there may be leaks in your furnace ducts. This causes your furnace to work harder and take longer to get to the desired temperature.
If some rooms stay warm but other rooms feel cold, then you may have a furnace air flow problem. We can correct this by adjusting the furnace air that blows into each room. We do this through automatic zoning so you are warm and cozy wherever you are in your home.

Change your furnace filter

Dust and dirt prevent free air flow through the heating system. This could make the furnace’s heat exchange overheat and turn itself off.

Check the time on your thermostat

Did you adjust the thermostat for daylight savings time? Set your furnace thermostat to “On” instead of “Auto.”

Do you have the right size furnace for your home?

Our experts can determine the right size of furnace is most appropriate for the size of your home and the Bay Area climate. An overpowered furnace drives up heating bills, while an underpowered furnace struggles to keep you warm on cold days. We can help you evaluate whether it is time to replace your existing furnace and install a new heating system.

Get an inspection for your heating system

Your HVAC system is like your car and needs regular checkups and maintenance. Maintenance can lengthen the life of your furnace.

RC Mechanical, Redwood City’s best HVAC contractor, is a trusted local company that will quickly diagnose and resolve your furnace issues, and recommend repair or replacement. 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.

What you can’t see can hurt you

As part of cooling the house, an air conditioner creates condensation. This condensation turns to water which is collected in the primary drain pan. This pan is inside the unit and is not visible from the outside.

The water in this pan is drained through pipes into the house’s plumbing system.

If there is a clog in the primary drain pipe, water starts collecting in the primary drain pan. When this pan overflows, there is a secondary drain pan that sits outside the unit to collect this overflow.

This auxilliary drainage pipe routes this water outside the house.

Here are some signs that your primary drain is clogged.

– Secondary pan is not dry

You should never have any water in the secondary pan. It should be dry. If it isn’t dry, you can rest assured that the primary pipe is clogged. If the AC is in the attic, the water in the secondary pan can damage the surrounding structure.

– Smell from the attic

The water in the secondary pan can also become a watering hole for small critters. Apart from being unhygienic, this can also lead to stench in the house.

Stagnant water in the secondary pan can also become a breeding ground for mosquitoes leading to unhealthy living.

– Drain pipe to the outside drips water

When you see the pipe to the outside dripping water, you should call your HVAC technician to fix your AC.

If you see any of these signs and you live in the San Francisco’s peninsula area, give us a call at (650) 575-3915.

How to tell if you have leaky ductwork

Ducts are a vital part of your HVAC system. They distribute the air from your furnace or AC to different parts of your house.

However, when air is lost through gaps in the ductwork, your HVAC has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature in the house. Even if you have a super energy-efficient AC or heating unit, leaky ductwork will mean you won’t see the savings in your utility bills.

Here are a few signs to watch out for:

Rooms are hard to heat or cool

When there are leaks in your ducts, the heated or cooled air is lost through the gaps in the ducts. This causes the HVAC to work harder, and take longer, to get your room to the desired temperature.

It is unusually dusty in the house

When there is a hole in the ductwork, the air from the the surrounding area (attic, garage, or the outside) can get sucked into the ducts. Then this air gets pushed into the house. You don’t want this because air from garages and attics is generally much less clean than the air in the house.

If you notice that you are vacuuming more often and the house still stays dusty, then you may want to check for leaky ductwork.

Your utility bills are higher than they should be

When you have leaky ductwork, conditioned air that was meant for the house escapes, so your HVAC has to work harder to keep the home at a comfortable temperature. Overworking your HVAC wastes both energy and money.

You notice a weird smell

A leaky duct will draw air from the surrounding areas. If this air is from a place like an attic or garage, then the contaminated air gets pushed into your house. For example, if you have a leaky duct in your garage, you might notice the smell of auto exhaust. If you notice strange smells, have your ductwork checked.

Animal sounds from the ductwork

When there is a leak in the duct, small animals that could gather near the leak for some comfortable air. Over time, as the holes in the duct get bigger, animals can get into the ductwork. You might hear animals scampering in the ducts, or their droppings in the ductwork could create a weird smell in the house.

If you suspect a ductwork problem, we advise you to contact an HVAC professional. We at RC Mechanical can do a home analysis to find issues with your HVAC system. Call us today at (650) 575-3915 with any questions.

4 ways to improve your home air quality

Good air quality inside your home is important to your family’s well being and comfort. Bad air quality can adversely affect you and your family’s health. The effects can range from sneezing to chronic asthma or worse, especially if a family member has compromised health.

These are the four devices that have the biggest impact on your indoor air quality, and you should make sure that they are working at their optimal capacity.

Air filters

Air filters are your first level of defense against bad air quality. A high pollen season (spring) or outdoor air pollution (fire season) can put a lot of stress on these devices.

It may be necessary to change these often, as extended use can put a lot of wear and tear to these instruments. If you are looking to buy a new air filter, be sure to visit https://rcmechanicalinc.com/choosing-the-right-filter/ for advice on how to choose the right air filter for your needs.

Air purifier

If a regular filter isn’t enough for you, then you should look into an air purifier. Air purifiers differ from air filters in that they actively cleanse the air through ionization, whereas an air filter simply catches dust and other contaminants that go through it. This makes air purifiers better at removing pollutants such as bacteria, pollen, pet dander, dust mites, spores, and viruses than the standard air filter.

IQAir purifier is the industry gold-standard for air purifiers. The IQ hyper-HEPA filter produces hospital grade air. Both are gold-standards in the air purifier industry and produce hospital-grade air. When one was installed in a client’s home, they said that they could “taste the clean air”!

Humidifier

During California summers, the air can get very dry. Chronic dry skin, chapped lips, and getting static shocks often can be a sign of low humidity, meaning that the water vapor in the air is at lower than normal levels. Breathing dry air over a long period of time can lead to respiratory issues.

Your health is not the only thing that can suffer from not installing a humidifier. When a home is excessively dry, paintings, wallpaper, and furniture can all suffer permanent damage.

Installing a whole-home humidifier can prevent all of these issues. In combination with your HVAC, your home will maintain an optimal level of humidity throughout the seasons.

Carbon monoxide detector

One of the most dangerous pollutants is carbon monoxide (CO). It is a colorless, odorless, invisible, and tasteless gas, but if CO leaks into your home, you may suffer from symptoms ranging from headaches and dizziness to a loss of consciousness.

It is vital for every house to have a working CO detector. These devices are available in hardware stores and are easy to install. For them to maintain their effectiveness, remember to change the battery every year.

We at RC Mechanical, take pride in diagnosing and improving our clients’ indoor air quality. If you have any questions or concerns, or are looking for more information, contact us today at (650) 575-3915.

Energy saving tips for winter

When the temperature goes down, the cost of keeping your home comfortable goes up. Here are some ways you can lower the cost of keeping your home cozy and keep your bills low.

Maintain your furnace

Keeping your furnace in good condition is important for allowing the system to run efficiently and on less energy. Maintaining your furnace also prolongs its life.

A dirty filter can impede air movement and make the system have to work harder. This in turn increases the energy usage.

A filter keeps the air in your home clean. Change the filter at least every 6 months.

Don’t wait until the beginning of the cold season to call you HVAC technician. Remember that everyone else will want to fix their furnace at that same time!

Install a programmable thermostat

The easiest way to keep your home at a comfortable temperature is by installing a programmable thermostat. You can program the thermostat to maintain certain temperatures throughout the day. Why run the furnace at night when everyone is under their covers? Instead, the furnace can keep the house at, say, 70 degrees during the day and turn off at night. Then, it can turn back on automatically when the people in the house get up.

It is easier to program a learning thermostat like Nest. Based on the way you adjust the thermostat during the day, it learns what temperatures you like at what times of day and programs itself to meet your needs.

Weatherstripping

Most heat loss in your house happens around windows and doors. There could be small places through which the warm air can escape the house. These can be plugged with weatherstripping.

Warm air can rise through the chimney of your fireplace and allow cold air to replace it. Use weatherstripping to prevent this.

Curtains and blinds provide insulation. They reduce the heat loss through the windows.

Add insulation to walls

Heat can be lost through walls. Since they make up most of the house’s structure, heat loss through them can be significant.

Adding insulation to your walls can reduce that heat loss. You can also add insulation to the attic.

Prevent heat loss from the water heater

Water in the water heater can lose its heat through the walls. And since water heaters are usually installed in an unheated garage, heat loss can be significant.

Cover the water heater with insulation to prevent heat loss.

The average temperature setting for water heaters is 145 degrees. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees could save you money.

Check ducts for leaks

According the US Department of Energy, 20-40% of air going through the insulation system in most houses leaks through the ductwork.

If your utility bills are higher than average, then get your duct work examined by a professional HVAC technician. You may have a leaky duct.

Simple ways to prevent home fire

Burner flame

Here are a few simple ways to prevent a fire from starting in your home.

Kitchen

Leaving pots and pans unattended is one of the main causes of kitchen fires. If you have to step away from the kitchen, use a timer to remind you that there’s something on the burner. Better yet, try to avoid circumstances where you would have to leave the kitchen when a burner is on. Cooking something at a certain time is not worth burning the house down!

Clean your oven and stove regularly. Food scraps can easily catch fire.

Keep a fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it.

Furnace & Other heating sources

If you use space heaters in your home, make sure that there is at least three feet of clearance around each one. Keep them away from furniture, bedsheets, draperies, rugs, etc.

Get your furnace and the heating system checked and serviced by an HVAC professional before the start of the winter season. With our Annual Maintenance Plan, you can keep your furnace humming happily throughout the winter months.

Chimneys

Dirty chimneys pose a fire hazard. If necessary, get your chimney cleaned and repaired by a professional before the start of the winter months.

Do not burn anything other than seasoned wood in your fireplace. Better yet, replace your old-fashioned fireplace with a gas-powered one. These are less polluting and can be used even on spare-the-air days, as well as being much less likely to start a house fire.

Get your house’s gas pipes checked for leaks. If you smell gas, leave the house immediately and call PG&E.

Smoking

Aside from being bad for your health, smoking can also cause house fires. Burning cigarette butts can easily come in contact with flammable materials, such as couches and curtains.

Do not throw away still burning butts into dry leaves outside. This is a bad habit that can easily start a fire.

Candles

Candles give the home a cozy feel and a nice scent, but they are a fire hazard. Keep lit candles at least five feet away from anything flammable.

Wirings and outlets

If there are any frayed electrical cords in your house, replace them immediately. They are a serious fire hazard.

Electrical cords should not be covered by rugs or anything else to that effect. You then wouldn’t know if the cord underneath had frayed.

Surges in your electricity supply can also cause fires. It is easy to assume that all power strips contain surge protectors, but not all of them do. Use surge protectors to protect your valuable electronic devices, such as computers and televisions, and to prevent potentially fire-causing sparks.

Choosing the right filter

Keep your home comfortable

Air filters are an important, but often overlooked, part of the HVAC system. The primary purpose of a furnace or a/c filter is to trap and remove dust, dirt, hair, fur, fibers, bacteria, pollen, mold, etc. from the air in your house, and to protect the HVAC system. Without a filter, these impurities will compromise the efficiency and longevity of your heating and air conditioning equipment.

Furnace and A/C filters vary considerably in quality. The MERV rating is used to measure the ability of the filter to remove pollutants from the air. The higher the MERV rating, the better job the filter does in cleaning the air. Furnace and air conditioning filters are available at various price levels. It is usually true that the higher the cost of a filter, the better for your indoor air quality and your HVAC system.

Let’s now look at the different levels of filters in terms of price and their effectiveness.

$1.50 filter (MERV 1-4)

This essentially protects your small child or animal from being sucked into the furnace! Jokes aside, there isn’t much else that this furnace and air conditioning filter does.

These are usually flat filters with less surface area with which to clean the air. They also need to be changed more frequently than higher-quality filters.

$3 filter (MERV 5-8)

HVAC filters at this level provide basic filtration for your heating or air conditioning system. They can trap dander, pet hair, and mold to help keep the air free of these highly allergenic particles.

$15 – $20 filter (MERV 9-12)

At this MERV rating, filters are able to trap dust particles and are perfect for homes where there are people with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions.

Such filters are generally pleated. Pleats give more surface area for the air to move through and get cleaned.

These are the best filters for your money. They keep the air clean, protect the HVAC system, and don’t need system modifications for their installation.

$45 filter

At this price range, you can get electrostatic filters. These furnace and air conditioner filters use static electricity to clean the air.

An electrostatic filter is made of multiple layers of mesh or vented metal. These are washable filters. In essence, you don’t have to replace them at all. Simply wash them clean and reuse. The downside to such a filter is that it restricts the flow of air.

These aren’t the best filters for homes because they can damage your equipment. The price of this filter is high because you don’t have to replace filters.

Such a filter is best for a home where the only concern is to protect the HVAC equipment and nothing else.

IQ Air filter (MERV 16)

This is the Rolls Royce of filters!

These are outstanding filters. If you want the air inside your home to be as clean as possible, this is the filter you want for your furnace and air conditioner.

Before we install the filter, we use a particle scanner to measure the quality of the air. After installation, we test the air again. The change is generally dramatic!

When we installed the IQ filter in the home of one of our Redwood City clients, they said that they could actually “taste the clean air”!

For these filters to be efficient, the furnace or air conditioning fan has to run continuously. The IQ filter will last 3 years or 18 months with a fan running continuously.

They cost between $350 and $400 for a set of 4 filters and cost between $2600-$3200 to install. We said it was the Rolls Royce of filters, didn’t we?

Have questions about filters, furnaces, ducts or air conditioners? Call Redwood City’s best HVAC contractor. RC Mechanical is an owner-operated Redwood City business and has provided expert furnace and air conditioning repair and installation to the Bay Area with integrity for over 20 years. Call us today at (650) 575-3915. Homeowners in Redwood City and throughout the Bay Area count on us for all their heating and air conditioning needs.

Should I repair or replace my HVAC system?

Repair or replace my HVAC?

An HVAC system includes a furnace and/or air conditioner and the duct system to carry the air around the house.

In general, the lifespan of an HVAC system is between 15 and 20 years.

The lifespan of a furnace or air conditioer depends on how often the HVAC system was used, the quality of the mechanical components (furnace and AC), the quality of the furnace or a/c/ installation and the maintenance of the whole system over the years.

Here are a few considerations before you decide to replace your furnace or air conditioner.

Age of the system

HVAC systems last for up to 15 years. If the heating or cooling system stops working or the repair is going to cost a lot of money, then it is time to replace the furnace or air conditioning unit.

Safety

Old furnaces can get cracks in their heat exchangers. This enables carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that is colorless and odorless, to leak into the house. It is important to have a carbon monoxide detector to tell if your furnace has a leak.

Older HVAC systems could have compromised electrical issues. If fuses short or connections get weak, at the minimum your heating or cooling system will come to a halt. It can also cause fire.

Such safety issues are best mitigated by replacing the whole furnace or air conditioner.

Breakdown

An HVAC system that is over 12 years old will need to be replaced if there is a major breakdown. The cost of repairing a furnace or air conditioner can approach the cost of replacing it.

If the HVAC system is a fairly new one, but one of the major components needs to be repaired, then you will have to determine if the cost of fixing it approaches replacing the whole system. If yes, then you are better off getting a whole new HVAC system.

Degrading comfort level

There are 2 primary reasons for why your HVAC system is not keeping your home comfortable for you.

The first reason is that you have a wrong size of HVAC system installed in your home.

If the HVAC system is big for the home, the system is able to get your house to a comfortable temperature fast. This makes for a heating or cooling system that is turning on and off frequently leading to a stress on the system. If an AC doesn’t run for a certain length of time, it doesn’t dehumidify properly which is one of its core purposes. This also wastes energy and money.

If there is a leak in the ductwork of the furnace or air conditioner, you might sense a smell that is either putrid or not familiar. Leaky furnace or air conditioning ducts might also cause a decreased level of comfort in your home.

Increase in utility bills

An air conditioning or heating system that is steadily increasing your utility bills is indicating to you that it needs to be replaced.

An increase in bills means that the HVAC system is working harder and or longer to keep you comfortable in your home.

At RC Mechanical, Redwood City’s best HVAC contractor, our expertise is in designing an HVAC system for you that is best for your home and that lasts for over a decade. Call us if you are having issues with your furnace or air conditioner and believe that it may need to be repaired or serviced. RC Mechanical is a local owner-operated Redwood City business and has provided expert furnace and air conditioning repair and installation to the Bay Area with integrity for over 20 years. Call us today at (650) 575-3915. Homeowners in Redwood City and throughout the Bay Area count on RC Mechanical for all their heating and air conditioning needs.

Why is my furnace leaking water?

Leaky furnace or heater

Your furnace heats your house using either gas or electricity. It doesn’t use water at all. So, if your furnace starts leaking water, the natural questions are, “Where is the water coming from?” and “Why is my furnace leaking water?”.

There are a few reasons why your furnace could be leaking water.

Leaky condensation

Condensation is a problem generally with energy-efficient furnaces. Older furnaces do not produce condensation. Thus the older furnaces don’t have the leaky water problem.

Energy-efficient furnaces have 2 heat exchangers. These heat exchangers keep the warm gases inside the furnace for a while. This in turn makes the furnace gases cool and condense. There are flue pipes in the furnace whose job is to route this water away from the furnace.

When a furnace’s flue pipe is a wrong size, is improperly installed, or is clogged, water can pool around the furnace. If there is a break in the furnace flue pipe, the water escapes.

Clogged drain

Your furnace shares the internal drain system with the air conditioner. If there is a clog somewhere in the furnace flue pipe, the water could be getting redirected into the furnace. This could make the furnace leak water.

Leaky humidifier or air conditioner

The job of the humidifier is to keep the humidity inside the house at a comfortable level. If the humidifier has a leak or is clogged, the water could drain into the furnace and spring a leak. This could lead you to believe that the furnace is leaking when in fact, it is the humidifier.

The only way to fix this problem is to call a reliable Bay Area HVAC contractor. If you’re located in Redwood City or nearby, call Sal at RC Mechanical at (650) 575-3915.

A malfunctioning furnace heat exchanger is another reason that your furnace could be leaking water. This is a complicated heating system issue and you should call your local Redwood City HVAC technician to deal with the problem.

RC Mechanical, Redwood City’s best HVAC contractor, is a trusted local company that will quickly diagnose and resolve your furnace and air conditioning issues. RC Mechanical is a local owner-operated Redwood City 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.