AZ Air Conditioning and Heating Blog : Archive for December, 2014

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from AZ Air Conditioning and Heating!

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Common Causes of Ductless Heating Problems

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Modern ductless heating systems are designed in such a way that they rarely run into trouble. Part of the reason for this is the quite obvious fact that ductless units don’t need ducts. Standard forced-air heating and air conditioning systems can put a lot of pressure on the ductwork, causing it to develop leaks and cracks or even causing pieces to collapse. This leads to inefficient heating and cooling or uneven air distribution that will also wear down your HVAC unit and leave you calling for repairs.

Fortunately, ductless heating systems will never run into this type of trouble. However, there are a few repairs common to ductless heating systems that you should watch out for. If you notice any sign that something isn’t quite right—from a strange sound to a full-on breakdown—schedule your heating service in Los Angeles with AZ Air Conditioning and Heating.

  • Low Refrigerant: Many homeowners are surprised to learn that low refrigerant is actually a reason for their ductless heating trouble. Many people will ask, “But isn’t refrigerant used for cooling?” Indeed this chemical blend is used to evaporate and absorb heat from your home during the heating season and carry it outside. But this same blend is used to carry heat into your home in the winter. Low refrigerant can be detrimental to your compressor, so leaks must be repaired right away.
  • Faulty Fan Motor: There is a fan in both your compressor and each of your indoor air handlers that requires a motor to run. If the motor fails or if it is not receiving enough voltage, you’ll either feel reduced heating or, in some cases, no heat at all.
  • Broken Reversing Valve: The reversing valve is the piece that allows your unit to function as both a heating system and an air conditioning system. When this valve will not activate, none of the air handlers in your unit can function properly, delivering cool air to your home in the winter instead of warmth.

Ductless heating repair is generally far more difficult than it first appears, and it requires the expertise of a heating professional. Call AZ Air Conditioning and Heating to speak with experts about your particular needs for ductless heating repair.

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What to Do Before Calling for Heating Repair

Friday, December 12th, 2014

It’s a pretty easy thing to panic when your heating system starts acting strangely. You may be tempted to immediately call for an HVAC technician for something as simple as an odd noise coming from your heating unit. Honestly, that’s never a bad response if you’re not sure what’s going on with your heating system. Better safe than sorry, after all. Before you pick up that phone, though, here are a few things you should do first.

Check the Thermostat

The thermostat is the equivalent of the central nervous system for your heater. It is responsible for turning your heater on, determining how long it should stay on, etc. etc. This makes a malfunctioning thermostat one of the more damaging problems that a heater can face. If the thermostat isn’t working properly, chances are the rest of the system won’t work, either.

Check the display on your thermostat before you do anything else. Is the information on the screen correct? If the thermostat is set to “heat” or “fan” and the temperature is correct, your thermostat is probably fine. You’ll need a professional to confirm that, of course, but at least you’ve eliminated the possibility of a setting being wrong.

Check the Pilot Light

If you have a gas burning heater, especially an older one, you very likely have a standing pilot light as an ignition mechanism. The standing pilot light is an ever-burning flame located underneath your heating unit. It is usually open to the elements, and thus often blows out. If you know that you have a standing pilot light, check and see if it’s still light. If not, that’s likely the source of your problem. Without the pilot light, your furnace won’t be able to start.

If you try to restart the pilot light and it’s not staying lit, then you likely have a problem with your thermocouple. The thermocouple is the sensor that keeps the pilot light lit after initial ignition. Call a professional, just to be sure.

If you’re experiencing problems with your heating system, call AZ Air Conditioning and Heating to schedule professional heating service in the Los Angeles area.

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3 Common Gas Furnace Repairs

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Gas furnaces are among the most common home heating systems in the United States. They’re relatively cheap, easy to install, and fairly easy to repair. Just like any home heating system, however, they have the occasional breakdown. Here are the three most common gas furnace repairs that you’re likely to encounter.

Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit

The pilot light is a continuously burning flame located underneath your furnace. It is there to ignite the burners, which serve as the furnace’s heat source while it is running. As the pilot light is often unprotected, it can occasionally blow out if exposed to a draft or other strong air current. Relighting the pilot light is a fairly simple affair. The real problem occurs when your pilot light refuses to stay lit. This is usually the sign of a bad thermocouple.

The thermocouple is a sensor that is responsible for making sure that the pilot light keeps receiving gas to burn. A bad thermocouple has lost the ability to sense the heat from the pilot light, causing it to cut off the supply of gas and smother the flame.

Dirty Air Filter

Every furnace contains an air filter, designed to protect it against the dust and debris that is common in ductwork. As an air filter gets older, however, it becomes clogged with the same dust and debris that it was protecting the furnace from. A clogged air filter can restrict the flow of air to the furnace, causing heat to become trapped in the unit. This can lead to the furnace overheating, which will cause it to shut itself down rather than risk a fire.

Cracked Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger serves two roles in the furnace. First, it is responsible for heating the air as it flows through the furnace. Second, it serves as a channel through which toxic combustion gases travel to get to the exhaust flue and out of the house. Years of wear and tear can cause the heat exchanger to develop small cracks, allowing the combustion gases and air from the house to mix. This is a major threat to health and safety, which is why a cracked heat exchanger needs to be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

If you’re having problems with your furnace, call AZ Air Conditioning and Heating. We provide professional heating services throughout Los Angeles.

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