Which Size Heat Pump Is Right For My Helotes Home?

December 22nd, 2013

“Which size heat pump is right for my Helotes home?” If you’re considering a Helotes TX heat pump installation, that’s one of the first questions you need to grapple with. Texas winters are comparatively mild temperature-wise, which makes heat pumps an attractive alternative to traditional gas furnaces and boilers. Proper sizing is very important if you want the heat pump to function as it should. The right size depends on the needs of your home, of course, which means you want to talk to an expert when determining specifics.

You need to size your heat pump right because the wrong sized pump will cost you a great deal in wasted energy. If the pump is too small, it’s going to struggle to adequately heat your home, increasing wear-and-tear and adding to your monthly bill. If the pump is too large, something similar will happen: it will heat your house too quickly, cycling on and off multiple times throughout the day. Heat pumps use a big chunk of energy turning on, which means you want it to run for at least 15-20 minutes anytime it activates to get the most efficiency out of it. If it cycles on and off, it costs you money in higher bills, as well as increasing strain on the heat pump tremendously.

Determining the right size heat pump starts with the square footage of your home. Other home factors get involved as well, such as how much sunlight enters your home from large windows, and how much insulation you have in your attic. (An insulated home tends to retain heat much better and requires less energy from the heat pump as a result). You also have to factor in varying weather conditions, which can be tricky. Helotes averages about 60 degrees in the winter months, with lows dropping into the 40s at night. But we have exceptionally cold days which can get worse than that, and an expert needs to factor them in.

That’s a roundabout way of saying you should consult an expert to determine which size heat pump is right for your Helotes home. The professionals at General Air Conditioning handle Helotes TX heat pump installation, and can provide sound advice on your best options. Pick up the phone and give us a call today!

How Do Heat Pumps Heat My Home?

December 15th, 2013

If you just went through a prolonged Texas summer, which can stretch far into the fall, then you know the benefit of an effective heat pump working for you. It provides the same level of cool, refreshing air as a quality standalone air conditioner. It’s just what you need to beat the heat.

But now the short winter season is almost here, and you’ll switch your heat pump over to “heating” mode. That seems a bit strange. After all the work the heat pump did providing you with a cooled home, now it will do the exact opposite. How is a heat pump capable of heating a home in addition to cooling it?

We’ll explain the basic operation of the heat pump in heating mode. If your heat pump can’t provide you with heat, however, you may need it repaired. Contact General Air Conditioning: we can assist you with your heat pump in Terrell Hills, TX so it does both the jobs for which it was designed.

A heat pump in heating mode

A heat pump isn’t much different than a standard air conditioner in operation: it moves heat from one location and puts it in another. When in cooling mode, it removes the heat from the indoors and puts it outdoors. But a heap pump contains a reversing valve, a mechanism that can change the direction of the flow of refrigerant through the unit. When the refrigerant’s direction changes, the heat pump switches the direction of the heat exchange as well: now it removes heat from the outdoors and moves it indoors.

Yes, there is enough heat outside, even in cold weather, for a heat pump to extract a sufficient amount to warm up your home. In Texas, heat pumps rarely need to struggle because of our mild winters. People in colder states often have to pair their heat pump with a back-up system for extremely cold weather.

Keep your heat pump working for you

If you don’t keep up regular maintenance on your heat pump, you can lose its great advantages. Make sure you sign up for a regular preventive maintenance program to have a professional give your system a thorough check-up and tune-up each year.

If you purchase the 4-star maintenance agreement from General Air Conditioning, you will receive two maintenance check-ups each year (one for your heater and the other for your air conditioner), and the second visit will be prepaid. We also offer other benefits with the agreement. Contact us today to start taking excellent care of your heat pump in Terrell Hills, TX.

Common Furnace Safety Malfunctions

December 6th, 2013

Gas-powered furnaces have a bit of an unfortunate and unfair reputation as dangerous heating systems. Furnaces did once present numerous hazards, but that was decades ago. Current furnaces come equipped with numerous safety precautions to make them as benign as possible. As long as you maintain your furnace with yearly professional check-ups and prompt repairs, it should pose little danger to you or your family. However, malfunctions can still occur, and you should be aware of what can go wrong.

General Air Conditioning has put together a list of the more common malfunctions that can occur with a furnace that might make it unsafe. Whether it’s an emergency or not, General Air Conditioning can handle all your needs for heating repair in San Antonio, TX.

  • Thermocouple failure: The thermocouple is a device used to detect if the pilot light of a gas furnace is burning. A simple device made of two different pieces of metal joined at one end that increase in voltage as the heat around them rises. Should the pilot light go out, the voltage in the thermocouple will cease, which in turn will shut off the gas valve. This prevents unburned gas from flooding the combustion chamber and creating an explosive hazard. If a thermocouple fails, an HVAC professional will need to replace it to make sure it’s the right type and that it goes in correctly.
  • Cracked heat exchanger: Heat exchangers are metal chambers where the temperature from the combustion gas transfers to the air that blows from the furnace. If corrosion weakens a heat exchanger, it could cause cracks to appear, which will allow exhaust gas to escape: toxic carbon monoxide. Heat exchanger cracks need repairs immediately before more carbon monoxide can get out of the furnace cabinet.
  • Loose front panel door: You should never operate a furnace without its front-panel door securely in place, as this can allow carbon monoxide leaks. This panel can become loose without you knowing it. Many modern furnaces have a special safety switch that will automatically prevent operation if the panel comes loose. If this switch also malfunctions, or if you have an older furnace without this safety precaution, have repairs done immediately.

It’s a smart idea to have carbon monoxide detectors in your house—the gas is colorless and odorless, so it is difficult for humans to detect—that will inform you if there is a leak coming from the furnace. When this happens, shut off the gas to the house and call in an HVAC technician to see what malfunction in the furnace has caused the problem.

Stay safe with help from professionals; don’t try to investigate or fix furnace safety problems on your own. Call General Air Conditioning when you need experienced technicians who will put your safety first. We take pride in our history of heating repair in San Antonio, TX.

Does the Size of My Heat Pump Matter?

November 23rd, 2013

Does the size of my heat pump matter?” the short answer is “yes.” The size of your heater or air conditioning unit is one of the most important things about it, and you need to consider it very carefully before you install a new unit. Here in Alamo Heights TX, a heat pump installation is a fairly normal procedure, but you should have a good idea of exactly what you need before installing one. That includes knowing what size pump you need.

Heating and cooling capacity is measured in British Thermal Units or BTUs. As a general rule, you need about 30 BTUs of power to heat one square foot of living space. That should make it fairly easy to perform a rough estimate of what size heating pump you need. A trained heating technician can make a more accurate inspection and factor in such elements as sunlight exposure and insulation in your attic to perform a more accurate measurement.

General Air Conditioning can take care of your Alamo Heights, TX heat pump installation.

The reasons why are very important. We like to call it the Goldilocks rule: your heater should be neither too large nor too small but just right. If your heat pump is too small, you can see the problem. It will struggle to heat the area adequately, increasing the strain and the energy consumed without offering you a comfortable home in the bargain. But if the heat pump is too large, it’s going to experience similar problems. It will cycle on and off too often, increasing strain on the unit and expending unnecessary amounts of energy. Neither is an acceptable option. Only a unit sized just right for your space will do the job as intended.

In Alamo Heights, TX, heat pump installation services like General Air Conditioning can provide sound advice on the kind of heat pump that’s right for your home. We know that the size of your heat pump matters and we’re dedicated to making sure you have the perfect fit. When the time comes to install it, we perform the operation with skill and care. Pick up the phone today and call us to schedule an appointment, or check out our other services offered!

Why You Should Replace Your Heater Even If It’s Still Working Well

November 18th, 2013

It seems like a waste of money to consider a heating replacement when your current heater appears to be doing an effective job of keeping you warm. In a climate like that of San Antonio, TX though, a replacing your heater won’t often seem like much of a priority because heaters only receive a short season of work.

However, there are some good reasons to consider getting a new heater, even if there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with your current one. We’ll go over a few of those reasons here. If you need technicians to come to your house and look over your current heater and then offer recommendations, turn to General Air Conditioning. Since 1997, we’ve served San Antonio with quality home comfort.

Reasons to consider having your working heater replaced

  • Take advantage of recent advances in heating: Although your current heater may work well, you might be missing out on a higher level of comfort and energy efficiency that a more advanced heater can provide. For example, the newer heat pumps are effective at both heating and air conditioning, solving two problems at once. Zone control systems give you greater control over different regions in your home. Ask an HVAC contractor what new systems can provide that your current one cannot.
  • Your heater is very old: No heating system will last forever, and if you have a heater in your home that has reached or exceeded its expected service life time, then you may want to send it out to pasture before it begins developing malfunctions or breaks down abruptly. If it reaches a ripe old age, then you’ve already gotten more than your money’s worth from it.
  • Your heating bills are higher than before: Your heater “working well” may partially be an illusion. The heating system might can deliver you the level of warmth you want, but at the cost of working harder. If your heating bills have risen sharply and remained at this new elevated level month after month, then your heater could be signaling that it needs replacement.
  • Switch to a different fuel source: If you are thinking of changing over from using oil, propane, or even natural gas in your home, then you will have to consider getting a new heating system to match with your new fuel source.

Don’t make a move yet without the help of professionals!

It is wise to consult with HVAC technicians regarding replacing your heater in San Antonio, TX. The professionals at General Air Conditioning can tell if you will benefit from a new heater, or if your older one will continue to hold up with regular preventive maintenance. You can trust us to give you an honest answer that will benefit you and your home.

Signs Your Furnace Needs to be Replaced

November 16th, 2013

Your furnace is a key part of your household, and if properly maintained can give you years of reliable service.  Sooner or later, however, every appliance needs to be replaced, and you will eventually face the prospect of removing your old furnace and putting in a new one.  In Helotes TX, heating replacement services can go over your options with you, taking into account our local Texas conditions as well as the particulars of your house. Before you can call a technician, however, you need to make the tough decision to retire your old furnace, and it helps to know when that might be.

Here are a few signs your furnace needs to be replaced.

  • Higher bills. Slowly creeping bills mean that the wear and tear on your system is increasing and that parts are wearing out. This includes not only repair bills – which might become too frequent for you to want to deal with – but also monthly energy bills, which go up as the system has to work harder and harder. If you find yourself facing large monthly bills, even though you’re not using the furnace any more than normal, you may be facing the prospect of a replacement.
  • Inadequate functioning. Going hand-in-hand with higher costs is the fact that your furnace just isn’t doing the job. It may be breaking down quite often, it may be struggling to move air sufficiently, or it may not be generating the level of warmth that you need. In some cases, the issue can be fixed by replacing a single part, but if it persists, the replacement may be in order.
  • The furnace is old. This isn’t a make-or-break proposition all on its own, and some furnaces can last for quite a while before needing replacing.  But if an older furnace starts to suffer from some of the symptoms listed above – particularly one that is ten years old or more – it may be a sign that your furnace needs to be replaced.

Helotes, TX heating replacement services are provided by the trained experts at General Air Conditioning. If you spot signs your furnace needs to be replaced, pick up the phone and call us for a consultation immediately.

Common Winter Heating Problems to Watch For

November 7th, 2013

When dealing with winter heating problems in San Antonio, you don’t need to worry about snow or extremely cold temperatures. But just because we enjoy a warm climate throughout much of the year and experience mild, short winters (dropping into the 40s at night is the average “worst” temperature we’ll probably experience), we still need to have reliable heaters in our home for comfort during those cooler stretches. And because we aren’t as used to dealing with trouble from heating as we are from air conditioning, it’s easy to let problems slip past us… until they turn into emergencies.

We’ve put together a short list of common problems you may encounter this winter with your heater. If you require heating repair in San Antonio, TX, contact General Air Conditioning and trust our 15 years of experience providing high quality home comfort.

Insufficient insulation

The insulation in the walls and ceilings of our home form a thermal barrier: it keeps heat outdoors during the summer, and traps heat indoors during the winter. If your home has poor insulation, heat will escape almost as fast as your heater can produce it, and you’ll discover cold rooms throughout your home. Your heater will start to overwork and soon require repairs. Make sure that you have good insulation in your walls and especially in the attic (the place where heat finds the easiest place to get out) before winter arrives.

Struggling heat pump

Heat pumps can provide both heating and cooling, but in extremely cold weather they can experience trouble with heating, since they must move ambient heat from outdoors. However, this problem usually only occurs at temperatures below freezing, and San Antonio rarely experiences this. So if you find your heat pump struggling to get you warm, it probably indicates a refrigerant leak, or troubles in the compressor that takes care of the heating process. Call in a professional to find out what is ailing your heat pump.

Poor air flow

Furnaces and heat pumps use forced air to send heat around your home. During the winter, you might start to experience a decrease in the air flow coming from the vents. The usual culprit for this is a clogged air filter. If you didn’t change the air filter after the summer cooling season, it will probably have too much dirt and dust trapped in it to allow for a steady air flow. Change the filter (and remember to change it every month for the rest of the season) and have a technician inspect your heater to see if it has sustained any damage from the excess debris.

When you need repairs, don’t leave the work to inexperienced technicians or amateurs. Hire professionals, like those at General Air Conditioning. We can take care of your San heating repairs so you’ll have a warm, pleasant winter ahead.

Why Get Heating Maintenance this Fall

November 3rd, 2013

Heating in San Antonio TX is a seasonal thing. We don’t use our heaters much in the summertime, when temperatures are warm, but winter nights can get pretty chilly. A good heater can make the difference between a warm, cozy night at home and an uncomfortable evening wrapped up in blankets. That’s why it pays to keep your heater properly serviced and maintained. A maintenance session entails a thorough cleaning, tightening any loose parts and generally sprucing up the unit so that it functions at maximum efficiency. That helps reduce the risk of a more serious breakdown later on.  The fall makes an excellent time to plan for maintenance. Why get heating maintenance in the fall? The answers are elementary.

We don’t see much call for heating here in the summer time, which means your heating system likely sits idle for months at a time. When you’re ready to use it again, it’s probably accrued a great deal of dust and dirt, which creates friction in the system and increases overall strain. Similarly, bolts and other small components may have come loose last winter, but haven’t been dealt with since the heater hasn’t been used. Unless you address those issues, you’ll increase the chances of a more serious repair in the near future.

The fall makes a good time to deal with that not only because it reduces the risk of a breakdown just when you need the heater the most, but it gives the technician time and flexibility to do what he needs to do. It also leaves the heater in tip-top shape before it’s needed on a daily basis, which lowers your monthly bills in addition to adding a little insurance against a larger repair bill.

Why get heating maintenance this fall? Basically because it’s close enough to winter to matter, but not so close as to inconvenience you when you need it. The good people at General Air Conditioning are standing by to help you out. We handle all matters related to heating service in San Antonio TX and can schedule a fall maintenance session to keep your furnace running the way it should. Pick up the phone and call us today.

Why Is There Ice In My AC System?

October 24th, 2013

It kind of makes sense: ice appearing in your air conditioning system. The system is supposed to make your home cold, after all. Why should we worry about a little ice or frost on the components? In point of fact, however, ice in the system is a sign of problems that require a professional technician to resolve. When it comes to AC repairs, San Antonio residents can’t take chances, and an icy system means you should contact a reliable service to deal with it before one of our patented Texas heat waves hits. “Why is there ice in my AC system?” you ask. The answers illuminate why it’s such a problem.

Air conditioning systems depend on refrigerant gas to cool the air. The refrigerant moves through a theoretically closed system in a specified amount; the key stage in the process occurs when it enters a series of evaporator coils. The act of transitioning from a liquid to a gaseous state within the coils cools the surrounding air, which is then blown into your home with a fan.

When fissures develop in the system, refrigerant leaks out, reducing its ability to cool the air. Something similar can happen when dust coats the evaporator coils, interfering with the exchange between the temperatures outside the coil and the cooling of the refrigerant inside the coil. Either way, the result is the same: ice develops on the coils. That’s a problem for two reasons. First, the ice interferes with the cooling process, forcing the air conditioner to work harder to do its job and raising your energy bills accordingly. Secondly, when the ice melts, it can cause other problems within the system, such as overflowing the condensate pan of even shorting out electrical components.

Cleaning the ice off won’t fix the problem. Instead, you need a technician to track down the source of the leak, seal it and recharge the refrigerant to its proper levels. (If dust and dirt are the cause, it will need to be cleaned off as part of a regular maintenance session.) If you need AC repair in San Antonio, you can find an expert to help at General Air Conditioning. We know why there’s ice in your AC system, and we can resolve the problem quickly and efficiently. Give us a call today!

Which Type of Ductwork Is Best?

October 19th, 2013

At General Air Conditioning, we offer a special service: custom duct design. Most people think of their ductwork as something static: one type fits all. However, this isn’t the case. Every home needs ducts tailored to fit its unique design, and there isn’t a pre-fabricated ductwork system an installer can simply drop into your home and hook up to an air conditioner or a heater. Ductwork consists of sealed passages where air from an HVAC system flows to vents without losing pressure. Once, all ductwork was made of sheets of galvanized steel, but now there are different options available. We’ll go over the major ones.

Please remember that making a choice about ductwork installation requires input from professionals. The Helotes, TX ductwork experts at General Air Conditioning can steer you to the best choice.

Sheet metal ducts: The old standard, and what most people think of when they hear the word “ducts.” (That, and movie action heroes crawling around inside them.) Most sheet metal ducts consist of 30 gauge galvanized steel. This type of ductwork is extremely durable, but it’s also the most difficult to install in a new building.

Flexible ducts: These sometimes work in tandem with sheet metal, branching off from the main duct like octopus arms to reach the vents. They are usually made from a folding plastic material with insulation surrounding it. The obvious advantage they have is adaptability to most spaces. Their drawback is that they are susceptible to leaks because of improper installation.

Duct board: This is the simplest type of duct. Essentially, duct board is fiberglass insulation with an outer protective foil or fabric layer. Although duct board isn’t strong and can damage easily, it does offer high insulation levels, weighs very little, and is inexpensive. Because duct board has exposed insulation on the inside, it can collect dust rapidly.

You will need ductwork installation experts to examine your home and determine which type (or types) of duct will fit best with the space in your house. The kind of HVAC system you have or plan to have installed will also affect the decision. At General Air Conditioning, our experience with custom duct design makes us an ideal choice to handle all your ductwork issues in Helotes, TX. Call us today for an appointment.