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.

AC/Furnace blows harder in some rooms

Redwood City HVAC repair maintenance

The air is supposed to flow through the ducts in a balanced way. This means that the pressure with which the air is forced into room should be the same.

If you have some rooms experiencing forceful air pressures and others not as much, you have what we in the industry call “An airflow problem”.

You will experience one of the following situations if you have an airflow problem:

  1. You hear whistling sounds
  2. Find that some areas of a room are drafty
  3. Have no air coming out of some registers or the airflow is weak
  4. You find the doors sometimes slamming by themselves
  5. There are spaces/rooms in your home that is hot or cold

Most airflow problems start as a simple issue and if left unattended, can morph into a problem that may make it necessary to replace the whole unit. ???

Airflow issue in its beginning stages is fairly easy and inexpensive to fix. So heed your airflows!

Here are some reasons for airflow issues and how to fix them:

  1. Damper is in closed position. Damper is used to balance the flow of air in the system. Damper controls the flow of air inside the duct work. If you aren’t getting air into the room, the damper could be closed, or there’s a crushed pipe or the pipe is too small for the size of the room. Call your HVAC to take care of this.
  2. Obstructed vents or registers. This happens when there are physical objects in front of the vent or register and obstructing the air from flowing into the room. The solution is simple: Clear all items from near the vent or the register. This would enable to air to move freely.
  3. Dirty filters. A standard filter is there to protect the equipment and not you. If you move into the higher-end filters, they will help you with the air quality inside the house. The filter’s job is to rid the air of dust and allergens and allow the air to be cleaned before it is blown into the house. This not only allows you to breathe clean air, it also keeps dust and debris from your heating/AC which helps your equipment to keep going for a long time. When this filter gets dirty or clogged, it not only takes more energy to push air through it, it also impedes the airflow. This also makes the system work harder which lowers its lifespan. A simple way to fix this issue is to replace your filter as recommended by the furnace manufacturer. During fire or allergy season, change it more frequently since the filters will be filtering a lot of gunk from the air.
  4. Leaky ducts. Ducts are the way the warm or cool air is distributed throughout the house. If there is a leak in the duct, then some air is escaping out of the duct leading to reduced pressure. This is not ideal because now the dust and other grime from the attic can enter the duct and be blown into the living area. You need a professional to run an inspection of your duct system.
  5. Fan not working. The HVAC system has fans that blow the air through the ducts and into your home. If those fans aren’t working, you can notice airflow problems. This could be a matter of simply cleaning the fans.

Unless it is the case of an obstructed vent or register, we highly recommend that you call your HVAC professional to diagnose and recommend solutions. Airflow issues tackled at the start of an issue are less expensive to fix than when they have grown into bigger problems.

We’d be happy to help you with any airflow issues. Call us at (650) 575-3915.

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.

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 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!

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.


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.

Protect your HVAC with our plan

HVAC systems are just like other equipment or appliance. They need regular maintenance.

You wouldn’t drive your car without a regular maintenance. The same holds true for HVAC systems.

Regular maintenance is needed to keep the system performing at its peak. With preventative maintenance, you can catch small issues and fix them before they become a bigger issues.

Keeping your HVAC running at its peak performance is also energy efficient. Well maintained HVAC systems keep energy bills down.

With pre-season HVAC checkups, you can ensure that your system won’t break down when you need them the most; in the middle of hot summer days or cold winters. That is why fall and spring are the best time to get your HVAC checked before they are unleashed into the season’s wrath.

With our yearly maintenance plan of $75/year, we will manage the maintenance of your HVAC system and prevent small issues from becoming system-changing problems.

Benefits of our maintenance plan include:

1. Regular filter changes on your HVAC
2. Replace batteries of CO detector and smoke detectors
3. 10% off the regular price for all service calls
4. 10% off all thermostats, CO detectors and fire alarms
5. 3% off on new installations
6. 5 year warranty on Nest. If you buy these yourself, you will get at most a 3-year warranty.
7. Includes all HVAC equipment in your house
8. Check the system for performance (heater and air conditioning)
9. Go to the front of the line for service calls

With our maintenance plan, you get the following:

– Annual Heating system tune up
– Annual Cooling system tune up
– Annual cleaning of condenser coil
– Annual gas leak testing
– Annual replacement of batteries of CO & smoke detectors
– Annual replacement of thermostat battery
– Annual testing of the motor to see how it is performing
– Annual testing of the capacitor
– Annual check of the gas valve pressure
– Annual check of pressure in the duct
– Annual replacement of filters

Call us today at (650) 575-3915 to join or find out more about how we can help you.

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.

Signs your HVAC is broken

Homeowners in Redwood City, like those everywhere, expect to feel comfortable and secure in our homes. Our homes keep us safe from the outside elements and dangers, like pollutants, inclement weather, etc. However, a faulty HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system is the biggest cause of poor indoor air quality. If furnaces and air conditioners are not installed and maintained properly, they can not only decrease the comfort levels of our homes, but they can also be harmful to our health. HVAC issues can be surprisingly tricky to detect unless you know what to look for.

Here are a few warning signs:

Dusty house

Ever notice that the dust level in your house has increased over time? If there is always a film of dust on the furniture or shelves and you seem to be always cleaning, then your HVAC system might be blowing dust into your house. You should check your furnace and a/c filters and make sure that they are replaced frequently.

Lingering Smell

If the smell of the chicken dinner 3 nights ago is still lingering in your house, then maybe there is a problem with air movement. Lingering smell is a sign to call to your HVAC technician.

Sense of non-well-being

Just because you can’t smell anything off, doesn’t mean that there is no problem with the air quality. In fact, many noxious gases don’t have any smell or color.

Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that can be a by-product of the HVAC system. When that gas leaks into the house, it can pose a danger to children and adults, especially seniors.

Having a carbon monoxide detector is an important measure in ensuring the well-being of your family and home.

Frequent sickness

Do you feel that members of your family living in the house suffer from flu-like symptoms and have a general sense of not being well? If more than one family members suffers an inordinate amount from that, then it is a good time to call your HVAC technician to make sure that the air is clean.

Asthma & allergies

Do you or the people in your house suffer from sneezing and coughing in the house? A certain amount of sneezing and coughing especially during the allergy season can be normal. If you feel that the inside of your house isn’t giving you a respite from sneezing and other allergy symptoms, then the air may have allergens that haven’t been cleaned out by the furnace and a/c filters.

High humidity

If you have high humidity in the house, it could be an indicator of poor air quality. Homes with high humidity eventually get a buildup of mold and/or mildew.

High humidity can be caused by improper circulation of air which is one of the main functions of an HVAC system. One of the primary jobs of the HVAC system is to circulate air through the system. A malfunctioning HVAC increases the humidity in the air and creates a conducive environment for mold and mildew.

Bad sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for your health. If you feel you are not sleeping well and can’t understand why, then you may need to get your HVAC inspected. It is very possible that your good night’s sleep is being hampered by foul air (or however a bad HVAC affects sleeping). What you can’t see might still hurt you!

If you feel that you’d like us to evaluate your HVAC to see if it is functioning properly, give us a call at 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.

5 furnace checks to do before the winter

HVAC fixes for simple issues

When the furnace doesn’t turn on on that first cool fall day, you may worry what it might cost, and how long you will have to live without a furnace.

There are a few things you can do to take care of small HVAC heating system issues. This blog post will show you how to diagnose and fix the most common simple issues with your furnace.

1. Check your thermostat

Some programmable thermostats can be complicated to program. Here are the most common things to check in a thermostat:

    • First make sure that your thermostat is turned on for furnace. Thermostat should be set to “Heat”. Without this setting, the furnace won’t start.
    • The temperature setting on the furnace’s thermostat should be higher than the temperature inside the house. E.g., if your room temperature is 65 degrees and your thermostat is set to 60 degrees, the furnace won’t kick in. The furnace setting should be at least 5 degrees over the room temperature for the furnace to start
    • Check the time on the thermostat. If it isn’t displaying the correct time, fix it.
    • Make sure that the furnace’s thermostat wires are not cut, frayed, loose, or otherwise compromised all the way to the furnace.
    • Set or turn the furnace fan to “On” or “Auto”.

While you are checking the furnace, don’t forget to replace the battery. Without this, your thermostat settings will be lost if the power goes out even for a second.

2. Switches

Make sure the furnace’s power switch is turned on. Without this, your furnace can’t get the electricity and won’t start.

3. Breakers

First, turn off the furnace switch in the electrical panel. Now check the fuse in the power switch. If the fuse is blown, replace it.

If you don’t know how to replace it, it is time to call your furnace repair technician for inspection and repair.

4. Pilot light/electronic ignition

If you have a gas furnace, then check its pilot light. If it is not on, then depending on how handy you are, you may either call your furnace technician to light it or light it yourself.

If you have an igniter instead of a pilot light, make sure that you hear a clicking sound when the furnace is supposed to turn on. If not, you have a problem with the igniter. Call RC Mechanical, Redwood City’s best HVAC contractor, to quickly diagnose and resolve your furnace, thermostat, and air conditioning issues.

5. Change furnace filters

A clogged furnace filter can turn the furnace off. Dust and dirt don’t allow the air to move freely. This could make the furnace’s heat exchanger overheat and shut off.

Still stumped?

At the end of checking all these checks, if your furnace still doesn’t turn on, then call your local Redwood City HVAC technician for an inspection and possible repair.

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.