Maintenance - Blog Posts by Category

Home Additions: What You Should Know

Home Additions: What You Should KnowA home addition can add needed space and new life to your home. It can upgrade its overall aesthetic appearance and potentially elevate its value if you decide to sell in the future. However, a home addition is also a big step for most homeowners and not something to undertake on an impulse. Here are some of the issues you’ll need to consider in the decision-making process:

How Will You Handle HVAC?

Adding air conditioning and heating to a new addition requires planning. Depending on your budget and the size and location of the add-on, you may opt to extend central ductwork from the existing house into the new section. However, for a single room, a ductless mini-split heat pump provides highly efficient cooling and heat to an individual add-on without the substantial cost and complications of installing ductwork.

Do You Have Space?

Residential zoning laws differ according to location. As a general rule, however, in most municipalities home additions cannot extend any further out than within 20 feet of your front property line, within 7.5 feet of either side or within 15 feet of the rear property line. Height limits in residential areas may prohibit adding an additional level to the house.

Will The Addition Match Your House?

You don’t want your new segment to stand out conspicuously from the present house. It’s important to choose a design and materials that provide a seamless transition from existing structure into the new addition. Not every home layout can gracefully accommodate all types of additions.

Does Adding On Always Add Value?

Not all additions are created equal when it comes to boosting your home’s market value. For example, garage conversions tend to have only marginal effect on the resale price of a house. Adding another bedroom to the main structure, conversely, typically returns over 60 percent of its cost in added resale value while an extra bathroom or new sunroom returns around 50 percent.

For more about the issues of constructing a home addition, ask the pros at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Invest in Preventive Maintenance For Your House

Invest in Preventive Maintenance For Your HouseYour need to count on your HVAC in San Diego’s unpredictable weather. It can help to think of preventive maintenance like well baby checkups. Not only do pediatricians handle illness, but they look at children and anticipate problems. That combination of experience and knowledge is what makes our technicians topnotch to keep your home comfortable all year long.

Preventive maintenance involves different things depending on the specifics of the system involved, but here are a few of the things that you can count on.

  1. The HVAC system is examined carefully to find existing problems such as broken parts, worn belts or leaky pipes.
  2. Moving parts may be lubricated, mostly in motors.
  3. Drains are checked for blockages. Any clogged drains are cleared and cleaned.
  4. All electrical wires are inspected for loose connections and tightened when required.
  5. Air filters are replaced. Belts are checked and replaced as needed.
  6. HVAC and thermostat controls, air conditioning, furnace and heat pump are all tested for proper function.
  7. A detailed report is written for the homeowner updating on the current status of the HVAC system as well as any repairs that were done or are required in the future.

How does preventive maintenance benefit the homeowner? The biggest benefit is being able to proactively deal with small problems before they become complicated and expensive.

  • A leaky pipe isn’t only a problem because the dripping keeps you awake. The wasted water will inflate your water bill, potentially damage the foundation of the house or even cause problems with your air conditioner!
  • Dirty coils aren’t only a nuisance, either. When they’re dirty, the compressor runs overtime. This can cost you a small fortune in electricity!
  • Ultimately, ignoring the small damage from daily wear and tear will force you to replace your HVAC far sooner than you otherwise would need to.

Sometimes it’s frustrating when you have questions and don’t know who to ask. Our honest, respectful technicians have been serving the North San Diego area since 2002. Call Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning today and we’ll help find solutions to your problems!

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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How to Make a Whole-House Plan for Energy Savings

How to Make a Whole-House Plan for Energy SavingsTaking a whole-house approach to saving energy in your home requires much more than just investing in a high-efficiency heating and cooling system. While that’s important, it must go hand in hand with other steps in pursuit of consistent and significant energy savings.

Those steps include proper installation and maintenance of your heating and cooling equipment, weatherization in the form or effective air sealing, insulation and ventilation, and good energy-saving habits.

Let’s take apart an effective whole-house energy-saving strategy:

  • High-efficiency HVAC. Modern heating and cooling equipment is much more energy-efficient than even a decade ago, and federal standards require that HVAC equipment surpass minimal efficiency ratings. Discuss with your trusted HVAC contractor what cooling or heating system makes the most sense for your desired comfort and energy savings, household budget, and our Southern California climate.
  • Proper maintenance. You can have a state-of-the-art HVAC system but if it goes without routine, regular maintenance for any length of time, you won’t obtain the advertised energy savings. This means both homeowner maintenance (simple stuff like changing air filters and keeping registers clear) and yearly or twice-yearly professional maintenance.
  • Air sealing, insulation and ventilation. This is where the whole-house concept really kicks into gear. Ideally, you can start with an energy evaluation to ascertain where your home is losing energy, either via air leaks or inadequate insulation, and then based on that data proceed with whole-house weatherization. Even without an energy audit, you can take steps to seal visible air leaks with weatherstripping, caulk and/or spray foam, and upgrade insulation in vulnerable areas such as the attic. Likewise, proper attic ventilation is essential if you don’t want your attic negatively affecting comfort in the rest of your house.
  • Your own energy habits. You’d be surprised at the potential for increasing energy conservation in your home. One of the simplest ways is to get accustomed to higher (or lower) temperatures, depending on the season. Just a few degrees can make a big difference.

For help planning a whole-house energy-saving strategy for your San Diego area home, please contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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A Timeline of HVAC Replacement and Maintenance

A Timeline of HVAC Replacement and MaintenanceWhen you buy a new HVAC system, you want it to run as efficiently as possible for as long as possible. But the only way to do that is to keep it properly maintained throughout its lifetime. If you don’t take care of it, it will run down and begin using more energy. To prevent that and keep your system in top shape, here’s a basic HVAC maintenance timeline to follow over the system’s lifetime.

Every month                           

Check your air filter. If your air filter becomes clogged, it can not only reduce your indoor air quality, but also reduce airflow through your system, which wastes energy and ultimately damages the system. Check your filter every month to see if it should be replaced.

Every 3–6 months

Replace your filter. How often your filter needs replacing depends on the quality of the filter, your home’s lifestyle, and other factors. If the filter is white and translucent, it’s still usable. If it’s grey and opaque, it’s time to replace it.

Every year

Schedule maintenance. An essential part of your HVAC maintenance timeline, this should technically be two annual visits — one in the autumn for your furnace and one in the spring for your A/C. Your HVAC service technician will inspect the system to make sure it’s operating at peak efficiency. This includes calibrating the thermostat, tightening all electrical components, oiling the motor and other moving parts, and checking the condensate drain for blockages. For your A/C, they should also check the refrigerant level, and for your furnace, they should check the gas pressure and connections.

Every 15 years

Replace the unit. With regular maintenance, an A/C will last about 10–15 years, a furnace will last 15–20 years, and a heat pump will last around 16 years. Even if the system seems to be in good working order, when it gets to be around 15 years old, you should start shopping around for a new one.

For more help with your HVAC maintenance timeline, contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning today. We’ve been San Diego’s source for quality HVAC service since 2002.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Learn Important Terms for HVAC Cooling Season

Learn Important Terms for HVAC Cooling Season | SherlockIf you experience cooling system troubles this season, you’ll have an easier time describing the problem and understanding the diagnosis and remedy your technician recommends if you know some relevant HVAC terminology. We’ve put together a list of frequently-used cooling-specific HVAC terms that can help.

  • SEER — This is an acronym for the efficiency rating given to cooling equipment, and it stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. It gives you the ratio of the equipment’s cooling output divided by its energy usage over one season. Numerical SEER ratings increase as efficiency improves, so higher-rated equipment is more efficient.
  • Capacity — Also referred to as cooling capacity, this tells you how much heat the equipment moves in one hour’s time. The common capacity measurement is a “ton,” which is 12,000 Btu of heat.
  • Refrigerant — This is the chemical compound used as a heat transfer mechanism in a cooling system. It gets pumped through the refrigerant lines and coils in a closed, continuous loop and transforms from liquid to gas form to absorb and release heat.
  • Air handler — The indoor portion of a split-system A/C or heat pump, the air handler houses several key cooling components including the evaporator, air filter, blower and condensate drain system.
  • Evaporator — Also called the cooling coil, this is where heat absorption occurs. Refrigerant enters the coil as a chilled liquid, then converts into a gas as it pulls heat energy from the indoor air.
  • Blower — This fan pulls stale indoor air in from the return ductwork, draws it over the coil for cooling, then circulates freshly-cooled air out through your home via the supply ducts.
  • Compressor — Your outdoor unit houses this vital component that pressurizes and pumps refrigerant through the system’s loop of copper lines and coils.
  • Condenser — Also situated in the outdoor unit is the condenser coil that’s responsible for expelling captured heat into the outdoor air. Refrigerant enters the coil as a hot gas and releases the heat it contains as it transforms back into a liquid.

To learn more cooling season HVAC terms, contact the San Diego home comfort pros at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater
area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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Storm Season Preparation: Tips to Use

Storm Season Preparation: Tips to UseSan Diego is known for its relatively mild weather, but sometimes in the spring, heavy wind and rain and the occasional ocean storm can produce flooding and thunderstorms that put area homes at risk. Spring storm preparation can help ensure that your home is ready for whatever weather comes your way. While you may already be prepared with a stash of nonperishable food, first aid supplies and a safe place to meet, you probably have not given much thought to your HVAC system. Here are some tips for spring storm preparation specific to your home comfort systems.

Prepare to Secure Outdoor Equipment

Your outdoor units are the most vulnerable during a dangerous windstorm. Purchase tarps, plywood and hurricane-proof straps to cover those when you have a storm coming. Any outdoor equipment that can be moved indoors should be brought in. Make sure that you do not leave any loose items outdoor during a strong storm, as it can be picked up and blown into your home, causing serious damage and putting your home safety at risk.

Turn Off the HVAC System

Before the storm hits, cool your home as much as possible, even beyond your comfort point, then turn off your heating and cooling system. Any window units need to be unplugged and removed, with the openings sealed. If possible, shut off the breaker that goes to the unit, so any power surges do not cause serious damage.

Fill the Tub

Serious storms can lead to an interruption in clean water service. Plug your tub and fill it with clean water before the storm hits. This will ensure you have an adequate supply until your water service is functional again.

If you have further questions about spring storm preparation in San Diego, contact the team at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning. With the help of a qualified HVAC contractor, you can be certain that your home and your HVAC system are prepared for whatever weather the spring season will bring.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Make Attic Safety a Priority in Your Home

Make Attic Safety a Priority in Your HomeYour attic can be a hazardous place to work. Heat rises, so spending any amount of time in this unconditioned space poses a risk of overheating. Working in the attic presents a host of other dangers, too, such as tripping, falling, electrical shocks, impact head injuries and exposure to insulation fibers. You can increase attic safety by wearing a respirator mask, safety glasses and head protection, and taking the following precautions in advance.

Create a Walking Path

If you have equipment in the attic that needs periodic maintenance, move any obvious tripping hazards out of the way and create a walking path to make it safely accessible and reduce the risk of tripping and falls. You can use side-by-side 1x4s to make a two-board wide path. Make sure each end is secured and resting on a framing member so it can’t slip.

Reduce the Risk of Electrical Shocks

Have a look around the attic for any potential electrical hazards, such as open electrical boxes, wiring that’s been gnawed on by rodents, wiring that’s hidden under insulation, or damaged or frayed extension cords that need replacement. If you find any issues, have a licensed electrician make the needed repairs.

Add Ample Lighting

Unfinished attics often only have a couple of centrally-located basic light fixtures. You can add more by having an electrician install extra fixtures, or leaving a long extension cord and portable LED work light in the attic to use as needed.

Schedule Attic Work Early in the Day

If you need to do any type of work in the attic, plan it for early in the day. By 10 a.m., your attic temperature will likely be over 90 degrees. By 3 p.m., it can reach 140 degrees or more. If you’re scheduling maintenance for HVAC equipment that’s located in the attic, book the appointment for 9 a.m. or earlier so your technician has time to inspect, tune up and clean the equipment before the temperature rises too high for safety.

For more advice on attic safety, contact the San Diego home comfort pros at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “David Papazian/Shutterstock”

Don’t Forget About Your HVAC System in Your Spring Cleaning Chores

Don't Forget About Your HVAC System in Your Spring Cleaning ChoresNow that winter is over, it’s the ideal time to give the house a thorough cleaning before hot summer weather settles in. When you’re making a list of chores to tackle, be sure to add the following HVAC spring cleaning tasks to boost the system’s performance and energy efficiency, and preserve your indoor air quality.

Clean the Return Air Registers

With every HVAC system cycle, airborne dust and debris is drawn to the return registers. As they clog up, vital airflow that’s needed for the system to function properly can start to decline, so it’s important to keep them clean. Vacuum them first to get rid of any loose debris, then take the registers off and give them a thorough cleaning on both sides with clean soapy water. While they’re off, vacuum any dust bunnies inside the accessible return duct.

Scrub the Floor Registers

Your floor registers can become a repository for an unappealing collection of miscellaneous items over the winter months, like dust, human and pet hair, animal dander, stray pieces of pet food—virtually any small bits of debris that hit the floor can fall through. To scrub them clean, follow the same procedure you used for the return registers. Be sure to let all of the registers dry thoroughly before putting them back in place.

Clean Up Around the Outdoor Unit

Broken branches, twigs, dead leaves and other yard debris that collects around the outdoor unit over the winter can impede airflow through the condenser coil. To prevent this, tidy the area up before you start using the air conditioner this spring, and trim back any overgrown vegetation within a two-foot radius of the unit.

Schedule Professional HVAC Spring Cleaning

During a spring maintenance visit, an HVAC technician inspects and tunes up the equipment, and cleans dirt and debris from key components including the blower unit, evaporator coil and outdoor condenser coil. Your technician can also inspect the ducts to see if negative pressure duct cleaning is needed.

To schedule professional HVAC spring cleaning for your San Diego home, contact us today at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Remember to Change Your Air Filter with These Tips

Remember to Change Your Air Filter with These TipsIf you’re like a lot of homeowners, you have good intentions when it comes to taking care of your home’s heating and cooling system. Yet, you’re living a busy life, and it’s not easy to remember simple but essential maintenance tasks. One of the easiest to forget is checking the air filter in your furnace, A/C or heat pump system. Yet, allowing the filter to clogged with dust can reap negative consequences in wasted energy, eroded comfort, and reduced indoor air quality.

Why is the Air Filter Important?

The filter performs an essential job. It sifts out dust and other airborne debris that otherwise will coat HVAC components and make it difficult for the equipment to operate properly. Higher-efficiency filters also filter out airborne contaminants, protecting the health of home occupants with allergies and respiratory ailments. When the filter gets clogged with dust, however, your HVAC system must work harder to draw air into the equipment and circulate it throughout the home. This wastes energy, stresses parts and reduces home comfort as some parts of the house stay too hot or too cold.

Tips for Remembering to Check the Filter

Most furnace and A/C filters should be inspected monthly and changed when they look clogged. So how do you remember to check the filter every month?

  • If it’s time for an upgrade, install a new HVAC system that comes with a “check-filter” light.
  • Some programmable Wi-Fi thermostats will send a message to your smartphone or computer when it’s time to check or change the filter. You can also program monthly reminders into your phone or computer.
  • Incorporate a filter inspection into other monthly household tasks. For example, place a reminder in your checkbook to inspect the air filter at the start of each month when you’re paying bills.
  • Purchase several filters, and leave the unused ones in a conspicuous location as a reminder.

For more advice on choosing the best air filter for your forced-air HVAC system, please contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning, providing quality service in North San Diego and surrounding communities.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Have You Completed This Home Safety Checklist?

Have You Completed This Home Safety Checklist?No matter how good your insurance is, staying on top of home safety gives you peace of mind knowing you’ve done all you can to keep your family secure. The preventive measures included in this checklist reduce the risk of hazardous situations from developing indoors and out.

Indoor Safety

  • If you use power strips or surge protectors to supply power several devices, check it periodically to make sure it’s not overloaded. If it feels warm to the touch, it could be fire hazard.
  • Repair or replace anything with a frayed cord and verify that no cords run under rugs. Never use an appliance or device that emits a burning rubber smell when it’s running.
  • Use the correct voltage for extension cords, especially for small appliances like toasters and hair dryers. Even though they’re small, they use a lot of electricity. Match the voltage of the device to the extension cord.
  • Before the cooling season starts, have your HVAC system inspected by a licensed contractor. Although heat pumps and air conditioners don’t use a combustible fuel, their wiring and electrical components can cause fires when they’re neglected, exceptionally dirty, or the cords are frayed. Besides increasing home safety, a tuned-up HVAC system costs less to operate.
  • Check your carbon monoxide detector batteries monthly, especially if you use gas appliances or have an attached garage. CO detectors use more energy than smoke detectors, which should be checked annually.

Outdoor Security

  • Verify that you have working lights by each entry door. If you don’t want them on continually, consider installing a motion sensor switch in the fixture that will turn them on only when they detect movement.
  • Check your door locks. If you have a window or glass panel near an exterior door, put in a double-cylinder deadbolt that requires a key for both sides. Hang the interior key out of arm’s reach from the door.

By taking steps to maintain the security of your home indoors and out, you’ll have a stronger sense of home safety. To learn more, contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning, proudly serving North County homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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