Energy saving tips for winter

When the temperature goes down, the cost of operating your heating system goes up. Here are some ways you can lower the cost of keeping your home cozy.

Keep your furnace well-maintained

Regular maintenance to keep your furnace in good condition is important for both your furnace’s performance AND its energy efficiency. An additional benefit of good furnace maintenance is that it prolongs your heating system’s life.

The filter in your furnace is there to keep the air in your home clean. You should change the furnace filter at least every 6 months. This not only keeps the air in your home cleaner, but lowers your energy bill. This is because a dirty filter impedes air movement, causing the furnace to have to work harder and use more energy.

Don’t wait until the beginning of the cold season to call your furnace technician. Remember that everyone else will be wanting to get maintenance for their heating system 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 with your furnace. You can program the thermostat to change temperatures throughout the course of 24 hours. Why run the furnace at night when everyone is under their covers, or during the workday when the house is empty? Instead, the furnace can be programmed to heat the house only when needed. Most thermostats also let you program different patterns for weekends versus weekdays.

Many people like to use 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 turn on your furnace accordingly.


Most of the heat loss in your house happens around windows and doors. There could be small gaps through which warm air can escape the house. These gaps can be closed with proper weatherstripping. Another way to address heat loss through your windows and doors is by installing insulating curtains and blinds.

If you have a fireplace, it can be another source of heat loss in your home. Warm air can rise through the chimney and draw in cold air from outside to replace it. Using weatherstripping around windows and doors helps to prevent this. In addition, you can install glass doors on the front of your fireplace to help keep your heated interior air from going up the chimney.

Add insulation to your walls and attic

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

Installing insulation in your walls and attics can make a big difference. As an additional bonus, it will help keep your home cooler in the summer as well, reducing the energy consumption of your air conditioner.

Prevent heat loss from the water heater

Water in the water heater can lose its heat through its walls. And since water heaters are usually installed in an unheated garage, heat loss can be significant, especially during winter. This causes your water heater to use more energy to keep the water at the desired temperature. To help mitigate this, wrap the water heater in insulation.

You may also want to consider lowering the programmed temperature on your water heater. The average temperature setting for water heaters is 145 degrees. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees could save you money, and you may find that 120 degrees is warm enough to meet your needs.

Check ducts for leaks

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

If your utility bills are higher than average, then get your ductwork examined by a professional HVAC technician to see if you have leaky ductwork.

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.

All about heat pumps

A conventional heating unit generates heat using gas and moves it into the house through the duct system to heat your home.

Heat pumps, on the other hand, simply move heat from one area into another. This makes them very efficient to heat and cool your home.

During the winter, heat pumps move the air from the outside, compresses it to increase the temperature of the air and then pushes this hot air into your home.

And in the summer, they move the heat from your home to the outside.

Because a heat pump simply moves the heat around, the same unit can be used to heat and cool a place.

You could either buy a low-end equipment that will cost to more to operate in the short run or go with a high-efficiency unit that has a low cost to operate.

If you do not have solar, then you will be using electricity to heat the home. This will certainly add to your existing electric bills. If you have solar panels, you can offset the cost of electricity to heat your home.

Heat pumps take 220v to the outdoor unit. Depending on your indoor unit (fan coil), they might need 200v also. This might necessitate you to upgrade your electrical panel.

When installing any kind of equipment, remember to pay attention to the duct work. If the duct work has leaks, then all the money you have spent on the heat pump is wasted and it will be heating the attic or some other place other than your home.

Heat pumps help with CO emissions and are clean especially when connected with solar panels.

If you don’t have a duct system installed in your home, you can get a mini-split heat pump. This is particularly useful when you want to control the temperature of each room separately.

Give us a call to find out if heat pump is the right solution for you.

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

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.

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 choose an HVAC contractor

HVAC Contractor

When a heater or an air conditioner stops working or seems to have a problem, people tend to think that they need to replace it. Actually HVAC is a system as opposed to a single unit. If any part of the HVAC system isn’t working properly, you will not reap the benefits of the system. So you need to hire someone who can evaluate the whole system and make a recommendation.

There are many handymen who call themselves an HVAC contractor without the necessary credentials. All you need is a van/truck with a big signage on it and people will believe that you are an HVAC contractor. Hiring such a person in the short run could seem like a money-saving idea, but in the long run it could end up costing you more and create unnecessary and avoidable headaches.

Learn how to spot a good HVAC contractor who can help you keep your home comfortable for a long time to come.

Don’t consider someone who will quote you over the phone

When someone gives you a quote over the phone after listening to the issues you are having with your heating or air conditioner, it should be a warning sign for you. This person is probably not a licensed contractor.

An HVAC contractor will insist on coming to your house to check the ducts, registers, insulation, etc. They would do a thorough evaluation of the state of your HVAC system to give you an estimate. It is called a SYSTEM for a reason: it is not just a furnace or an air conditioner. If the supporting structures for these units don’t function well, you can have the best appliance and yet not be comfortable in your home.

When a contractor comes to your house to give you an estimate, be wary of someone who gives you an estimate by just looking at the appliances. Get 3rd party verification from Dept. of Energy (proper sizing of heating and AC) The genuine contractor will want to check the crawl space, attic, ducts, and survey the house before giving you an estimate. If they don’t do this, their estimate and their work could cost you more in the long run.

Select a contractor who is licensed by the Contractors State License Board

In the state of California, anyone who works on HVAC system is required by law to be licensed. The license allows you to manipulate gas lines and electrical & plumbing as it relates to HVAC. A person without sufficient knowledge could endanger much more than just the HVAC system. You may check for someone’s licence at

Being licensed means that you have met a set of minimum requirements for the job, and now are authorized by the state to conduct business in that state.

Most importantly, if a contractor does a shoddy job, you can complain to the State License Board. If you hire a handyman to manipulate your HVAC system and if it ends up costing you more than necessary, you have only yourself to blame.

Get written estimate & warranties

As the saying goes, “The biggest fallacy about communication is that it has taken place.” A verbal quote is liable to be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Your contractor should send you a written estimate of what the job entails and an estimate of what it would cost to do the work. Everything that will be done should be written down, including anything that will need to be bought.

This is important for 2 reasons. First, you can see if there’s something missing in your understanding of the work. Second, the estimate becomes a legal, binding contract that you can fall back on, if you need to take the contractor to court.

If they warranty parts or work, then you should get it in writing. Find out how long it will take them to come back and fix the issue.

Check the HVAC contractor online

Not only should you check the contractor’s license on the California State License Board, you should also research the contractor online.

Check out the contractor’s website. A website is a place where the contractor gets to present his skills and expertise. You will also learn about the person, how they work, and any testimonials from other clients. The website should certainly have his license on his website.

On websites like Yelp and Google, you should be able to see the kind of work this contractor has done for other people. You will also get a feel for the nature of the contractor – on time, tidy, honest, pays attention to detail, doesn’t talk much, etc.

Increasingly NextDoor is becoming a place where neighbors trust other neighbors’ experiences. These are great referrals because they have presumably used the contractor’s services. Unlike Yelp where you can get spurious reviews, NextDoor reviews are genuine and trustworthy.

Don’t pick a person because they quoted the lowest price

Is it tempting to pick the contract with the lowest bid? Yes!! Should you pick the contractor based on price? No!!!

Even though your urge may be to save a few dollars and pick the contractor with the lowest bid, you will be served much better going with a contractor who has the experience, track record of fantastic installations, and happy clients. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples; the higher price may be getting you better quality of work along with a better service.

Picking a contractor based on price alone could cost you a lot more in the long run.

Get a comfortable home and save yourself money by going with a licensed and trustworthy HVAC company.

Call Sal at 650-575-3915 for quality heating and cooling service. If something happens with a new installation, we will come out right away to fix it.

Get your HVAC system ready for winter

As the season turns, chilly mornings and mild days might have you reaching for the thermostat to take the edge off. You count on your HVAC system to heat and cool your home on demand, but if you find that some rooms aren’t comfortable, you might consider taking a closer look at your furnace and air conditioning systems to make sure they are running efficiently. You could do a few things listed in our previous blog post to eliminate simple issues.

Heating and cooling your home is responsible for much of your energy bill, and energy use contributes to your carbon footprint. RC Mechanical owner Sal Contreras can recommend cost effective, energy efficient HVAC upgrades that will make your home more comfortable while reducing your carbon footprint.

How’s the Temperature?

Your HVAC system needs to be able to keep up with the demands of making your home comfortable year round. If the dining room is warm but the temperature in the bedroom causes you to grab a sweater, your system might not be the right size for your home. RC Mechanical HVAC professionals can perform a home energy audit to see whether your HVAC system might be insufficient for the space.

If some rooms are cold while some are hot, you might have leaks in the HVAC system ductwork. More complicated to trace depending on the size of your home and the design of installation, RC Mechanical specializes in ductwork repair and replacement and can recommend the best solution for your situation.

Choosing A Heating Replacement

If your HVAC professional recommends upgrading your furnace, consider switching to something more energy efficient. Choose a furnace with high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). Appliances with the ENERGY STAR label meet strict requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Many furnaces run on fossil fuels such as natural gas. Going electric, especially if you have solar power, is a great option and moves you towards a zero carbon footprint.

Check Your Thermostats

Make sure the temperature settings aren’t overheating your home when you’re away. Try adjusting your thermostat just 2 degrees from what makes you comfortable. Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is to upgrade to a smart thermostat. Both programmable and WiFi controlled thermostats allow you to control the temperature of your home remotely, and a smart thermostat has the added benefit of analyzing your energy consumption and offers tips to help you be energy savvy.

The Difference of a Ductless System

A compact ductless split heating and cooling system uses one or more independently mounted units that distribute hot or cold air in “zones,” targeting specific rooms rather than the whole house. Ductless systems are more energy efficient, saving money and helping reduce your total carbon output.

Learn more by contacting RC Mechanical, Redwood City’s best HVAC contractor. Call us today and we will diagnose your home’s indoor air quality and provide intelligent guidance to make your home comfortable and eco-friendly. (650) 575-3915.

Things to leave to your HVAC professional


DIY projects are popular after being cooped up in the house for so long. For the DIY person in you, it would be tempting to evaluate, install, or fix a malfunctioning furnace or air conditioner.

Unfortunately HVAC isn’t one of the house parts that you should fiddle with without detailed knowledge or HVAC training.

While you can certainly find sections of the HVAC system that you can evaluate for effectiveness, it is best to leave the installation and repair of air conditioners and heating systems to your local Redwood City HVAC professional. And here are a few reasons for that:

DIY on your AC or furnace could end up costing you more

HVAC systems may seem straightforward, but they are in fact, technically complex.

HVAC licensed contractors undergo training to evaluate, install, analyze, troubleshoot, and repair air conditioners, heaters, and air filtration systems in your house.

While it may be appealing to repair or install these systems yourself to save a few dollars, in the long run, it could end up costing you more.

In the worst-case scenario, you are endangering yourself with possible electrocution as well.

You may not have all the tools

Having the right tools is important for completing any project successfully. Heating & air conditioners are no different. HVAC appliances require the use of specific tools to repair an air conditioner or heating system. These tools are expensive and very specific to these jobs. These aren’t your regular screwdrivers.

If you have never taken apart an HVAC system, we’d highly recommend that you hire a professional qualified HVAC contractor for this work.

HVAC repairs aren’t for claustrophobes or arachnophobes!

AC and furnaces may be installed in very tight spaces which are accessible only by crawling inside. These spaces under the attic or under the house can be very small and constricting.

If your unit is installed in a similar tight space and you have a fear of closed spaces, call your HVAC technician to help you with it.

Attics and crawl spaces are also spaces that are enjoyed by rodents. If you have a fear of these animals, you may not want to tackle A/C or furnace repair yourself.

Since these areas aren’t frequently visited, they generally have a lot of spider webs. If you don’t like spiders and don’t like getting caught in webs, leave any furnace/AC repairs to the professional HVAC technician.

Warranty nullifies when you repair your HVAC yourself

If you tinker with your HVAC system, you could nullify the warranty that it came with. You don’t have to spoil the installation to void the warranty. The fact that you, a lay person, tinkered with the HVAC system could be enough to invalidate the warranty of the product or the installation.

This should be enough to convince you to leave HVAC work to a professional!

HVAC work may require permits

Since HVAC installation and repair work are highly technical, they may require a permit. Permit work requires that you hire a licensed contractor who has worker’s compensation and liability insurance. In case there’s an accident, the worker’s compensation would kick in, protecting you from a possible lawsuit.

HVAC work can also have EPA regulations governing them. These have to be adhered to for the whole process to be legal. If you are a weekend DIYer, you better know what you are doing.

If you aren’t aware of all the new regulations on HVAC, it is best that you call your local HVAC technician.

If you wish to give a cursory evaluation to your HVAC system before calling your HVAC technician, here are few articles that can help you with doing basic troubleshooting of your furnace or air conditioner:

Learn to read the signs that your HVAC is broken.
This article will help you troubleshoot your AC issues.
Is your furnace leaking water? Troubleshoot with this article.
If you suspect a leaky duct, read this article to see if you can diagnose the problem.
Why is my AC leaking condensation?
Does your furnace blow harder in some rooms? Read this blog post to diagnose this pesky issue.
Is your AC making noises? Use this article to diagnose the problem.

If you need to talk to Sal, our expert HVAC technician, to come out and evaluate your HVAC system, call Redwood City’s best HVAC contractor, RC Mechanical, at (650) 575-3915.

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.

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.