Buyer’s Guide for Furnaces: Repair or Replace Your Furnace?

Your home heating system is a major appliance. If you’ve been experiencing some malfunctions or you can barely remember when your furnace was bought, the question may be preying on your mind – should you repair it or replace it? We have written about buying a new furnace. As your heating repair El Cajon (and San Diego) experts, Action AC is here to offer some guidelines in this post. We do, however, strongly encourage you to make an appointment with our seasoned technicians who will come out and assess the condition of your heating system and give you personalized advice. Call us today!

Repair

Life expectancy is something to consider. Electric and gas furnaces live between 15 and 20 years. If your furnace is younger than 10 years and there’s a malfunction that doesn’t prevent you from getting some heat, repair is most likely viable and sensible.

One rule of thumb is to consider the cost of repairs in relation to the cost of the new system. If the repairs will cost no more than 30% of a new furnace, it makes sense to get the system repaired. However, this rule can be crossed with the age of the existing system, to get a better perspective on the matter. The older your system is, the less you should pay for the repairs so that it makes financial sense. To illustrate, it could be reasonable to spend $1,300 on the repair of a 5-year-old furnace, but financing such a repair could be money down the drain for a 10-year-old system. If we start with the premise that $1,300 is a reasonable repair for a 5-year-old furnace, every year added to that lowers the reasonable repair cost by $100. That’s just to give you a rough idea of what makes sense, but it’s best to have experienced technicians ascertain the condition of the unit.

It could turn out that your furnace’s performance could be significantly enhanced by other means. Maybe your ducts need sealing, or your home is poorly insulated, or you need a new thermostat, etc. This is something that a professional and experienced HVAC technician can best help with.

Replace

Again, age is a huge factor for replacement. If you have a furnace that was built before 1992, you should give serious thought to replacement even if the system doesn’t need repairs. The main reason for this is that systems that are older than 1992 likely have a 60% AFUE rating or less. In other words, you waste at least 40 cents of every dollar you give for fuel.

Replacing your system with an energy-efficient solution could make you eligible for tax credits and utility rebates. Find out more at www.dsireusa.org.

When mature age and necessary repairs combine, replacement is prudent. If the repairs exceed 50% of the price a new system, you should definitely replace the furnace. If vital parts of the furnace fail, you should most probably replace it (e.g. out-of-warranty failed compressor, cracked heat exchanger, etc.). If your system is more than 10 years old and you need frequent repairs, replacement is most probably in order.

Sometimes, it might seem that repair is the cheaper option, but you should include these considerations as well. Firstly, the cost of frequent repairs may quickly add up. If the system needs frequent repairs, it probably isn’t efficient and drains your home budget for energy that goes to waste.

It can happen that your system is experiencing malfunctions often because it wasn’t properly installed or the necessary capacity wasn’t accurately calculated. These two problems are also best addressed through a detailed system inspection.

Call Action AC for expert heating repair El Cajon (and surrounding area)

Action AC is here to serve you with over 4 decades of experience and excellence. When you are in doubt about repairing or replacing your furnace, make sure you reach out to us. HVAC systems are a major home appliance and you are best served when you have the right people to help you. Based in San Marcos, Action AC provides outstanding HVAC services for repair, replacement, installation and maintenance. We have been serving San Diego since 1975 with a stellar reputation. Call us today!

Buyer’s Guide for Furnaces: Most Energy-Efficient Heating Options

Energy-efficiency is an important factor today when it comes to buying major home appliances. Considering the fact that almost 50% of the home budget is expended on heating and cooling, the importance of energy-efficient heating becomes that more prominent. Energy-efficient appliances make a better use of the energy they consume, thus saving your money and saving the precious resources of our planet. In this post we will look into ways of making your home heating energy-efficient, but if you’d like personalized information and advice regarding your HVAC’s energy-efficiency, schedule your appointment with our team. Action AC is your trusted air conditioning & heating Valley Center expert. We are based in San Marcos, but we serve the entire greater area of San Diego.

How is energy efficiency measured when it comes to heating?

AFUE rating is used to measure furnace fuel efficiency. This is short for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Consumers can see AFUE ratings on the yellow labels posted on new furnaces (electric, gas, oil, etc). These are Energy Guide labels. AFUE rating expresses an estimate of annual running costs for a furnace under certain conditions. Although these ratings cannot be taken as promises (they are estimates only), you can use them to compare different models of heating systems you are thinking of buying. AFUE ratings go from 80% (the required minimum today) to 98.5%. You can visualize it this way – with a furnace of 80% AFUE rating, 80 cents of every dollar you give for fuel is converted into heat, and 20 cents wasted.

If you are thinking of buying a heat pump, you can compare models using HSPF rating (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor). Heat pumps don’t use fuel, so they can’t use AFUE rating. HSPF is the heating equivalent of SEER rating which is used for air conditioning units. HSPF scale goes from 7.7 to 13.

Size affects energy efficiency of a system

Some homeowners are tempted to buy oversized heating systems because they think size translates to efficiency. That is not the case. The reality is that a vast majority of systems are most efficient when they run for longer periods of time.

If you get a heating system that is too big for your heating load, your system will achieve the desired temperature quicker, but it will run in short cycles, which will ramp up your utility bills. Heating (and air conditioning) systems spend most energy when they start operating. If the system short-cycles, it never reaches its peak efficiency.

In other words, an energy-efficient system which is too big for your needs will defeat its own purpose. It won’t save you money, nor will it improve your comfort (the temperature will constantly oscillate and there will be hot and cold spots).

Heat pumps may be the best choice for San Diego climate

Heat pumps are an extremely popular choice in Southern California. They don’t require any fuel, which makes them quite eco-friendly (admittedly, they do use electricity to operate). Given that there’s no fuel and no combustion, they are clean and don’t give off any hazardous gases (like gas furnaces). Finally, heat pumps can act as air conditioners in the summer, and heaters in winter. Our previous blog deals with heat pumps in detail.

If you are looking to install a new, energy-efficient heating system in the greater area of San Diego (which is the area Action AC serves), give serious thought to heat pumps. Winters in our corner of the world are mild and ideal for heat pumps. In some other regions heat pumps would require heat strips or furnace back-up because they can’t operate when the outside temperature falls below 30 degrees. This doesn’t make them very popular in Colorado, let’s say. But in Southern California, heat pumps are an excellent energy-efficient choice.

When you want to choose the most energy-efficient heat pump, compare the HSPF and SEER ratings. HSPF rating refers to their heating capacity, and SEER to cooling. The higher, the better.

Ways to improve energy efficiency of existing system

There are things you can do around your home that can improve the energy efficiency of your heating.

Get all the answers from heating Valley Center experts

Action AC is at your service, whether you live in Valley Center or anywhere else in San Diego metro area. If you are thinking of replacing an old heating system, looking to install one or simply to improve your comfort, call us and schedule an appointment with our team. We would love to come out and give you a fully personalized service and answers to all your questions. Our awards, positive reviews and repeat customers are a testament to our commitment to you. We offer you comprehensive heating and HVAC services, from installation and replacement to maintenance and servicing. Call us today!

Buyers’ Guide for Furnaces: Electric Furnaces

Heating El Cajon

This is part of our series of articles aiming to offer you buyers’ guidelines for furnaces.

How does an electric furnace in an electric heating El Cajon system work?

An electric-resistance furnace works on the principle of many small house appliances, like hair dryers or toasters. The blower pulls the air from the room through a cold-air return grille into the air handler cabinet and then pushes it through the heating elements. The blower then distributes the warm air through the house via ducts. This is called a forced-air system. The components are:

  • Heating elements
  • Transformer
  • Sequencer
  • Breakers
  • Thermostat
  • Blower
  • Electric motor and belt
  • Air filter and the control box
  • Ducts
  • Switch

When do people choose an electric furnace for their heating El Cajon?

Electric furnaces tend to be considerably cheaper than gas furnaces. This is because the system is simpler. The heating elements in an electric furnace are electric coils, whereas in a gas furnace you need burners, ignition and heat exchanger.

Another factor that contributes to lower upfront costs of electric furnaces is simpler and cheaper installation. Electric furnaces don’t require a flue and gas lines, like in the case of gas furnaces. This lower disruption is beneficial for retrofit applications.

A significant upside about electric furnaces is that they don’t give off carbon monoxide, which is more eco-friendly. (However, if you use the electricity that was produced in a power plant, it’s highly likely that fossil fuel were used to produce it, which is not very environmentally friendly.) But the fact that there’s no carbon monoxide or byproducts of gas combustion means increased safety in that respect.

Electric furnaces often last longer than comparable gas furnaces, which could be attributed to the simplicity of their design. The lifespan of an electric furnace can run between 20 and 30 years.

How are they maintained?

As far as maintenance goes, there are things that you can do and things that only a qualified HVAC technician team can do.

What you can do is keep dust away from the system and manage indoor humidity levels. Changing the air filters regularly will ensure high quality of indoor air and peak performance of the furnace. Blower blades should also be regularly checked for dust and wiped over. Changing air filters and wiping down the fan blades should be done while the system is down. A dehumidifier will ensure that excess moisture doesn’t cause premature degradation of the furnace.

These maintenance measures cannot replace an annual check-up by a heating El Cajon expert.

Are electric furnaces efficient?

Yes, electric furnaces are 100% efficient. However, that doesn’t mean they are cost-effective. How?

Well, electric furnaces convert 100% of the electricity they consume into heat. But, if that electricity comes from a power plant which burns fossil fuels, only around 30% of that fuel was converted into electricity. So, even though they are highly efficient, the cost of operating all-electric furnaces is not economic in most cases.

Call heating El Cajon specialists for all your furnace needs, questions and concerns

Action AC, Heating & Solar is here for everything you need when it comes to heating. Whether you want to service or repair your system, upgrade it or replace it – call us. We have over 40 years of experience and numerous awards and recognitions, making us a proven choice for all El Cajon and San Diego residents. We’re just a call away!