Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating Blog:
Archive for November, 2013

How to Tell If You Have Dirty Ducts

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

The ductwork in your home does its important job out of your sight. It crawls, climbs, and snakes through walls and ceilings, passes through the attic and basement, and hides in the garage. It works without you needing to think about it much. However, because you can’t see it, it is often difficult to tell when the ductwork has started to collect a layer of dust and dirt along its inside. The ducts will eventually become dirty, and without regular professional duct cleaning, they will soon accumulate enough dust and debris, even microbacteria, to impair your HVAC system’s operation and lower the indoor air quality of your home.

Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating recommends you schedule annual duct cleaning.

Here are some ways to detect dirty ducts.

Signs of dirty ductwork

An increase in allergies/allergy-like symptoms: The EPA has determined that poor indoor air quality poses one of the major threats to people’s health in the U.S. Lowered air quality from contaminants blown about in your air can cause people with allergies to experience an increase in their symptoms. People without allergies can suffer from headaches, dried sinuses, common cold-like symptoms, and coughing. If your household starts to encounter these health issues consistently, then your indoor air quality may be suffering from contamination blowing through the ducts.

Your home is constantly dusty: If your vents continually waft dust into the air of your house, it will settle across your furnishings and gather in corners. If you find that no matter how much cleaning you do, the dust comes right back, you might need to have the ductwork cleansed.

Unusual smells from the vents: A layer of dirt along the ducts will give your air a dusty smell. Mold and bacteria will cause moldy or more unpleasant scents. If enough dust gets into the cabinet of your HVAC system, you may start to smell a burning odor.

Contact professional duct cleaners

You cannot effectively clean the ducts on your own: they are difficult to access, and standard cleaning tools like vacuums and sprays will not remove ground-in contamination. You need to bring in duct cleaning specialists, who use powered vacuums, rotary brushes, and sanitizers designed specifically for ductwork, to take care of this job. They can also install UV germicidal lights to take care of microbacterial growths.

Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating has over 25 years of history performing duct cleaning in San Antonio, TX. Schedule cleaning with us annually—and there’s no time like the present to get started.

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How Does Insulation Really Work?

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

No matter where you live in the U.S., you need to have effective insulation in your home. People often associate the word “insulation” with “keeping warm,” but insulation applies to both keeping warm and keeping cool. For living in San Antonio, TX, insulation does the crucial job of keeping the boiling summer heat from getting through your walls, which gives your air conditioner a far less grueling job to handle. And during our occasional Texas cold spells, the insulation will keep heat trapped inside your home and give your heating system a break as well.

If you want additional information about properly heating and cooling your home, contact the company that has served San Antonio with quality comfort for over a quarter of a century: Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating.

Insulation: Here’s How It Works

The reason insulation works for keeping you warm and cool is because it serves as a thermal barrier. All that insulation does, essentially, is resist the flow of heat. A warm jacket keeps heat from escaping your body to the colder air, making you warmer. A well-insulated home prevents outside heat from entering, making your environment cooler.

Heat flow uses three basic mechanisms: conduction (moving through material), convection (circulating through liquids and gasses), and radiation (heating anything solid in the path of heat traveling in a straight line). The materials in commercial and residential insulation work by slowing the conductive flow of heat. The layers of low-conductive material in insulation reduce how much heat gets through.

Insulation’s effectiveness is measured as “R-value”: the higher the R-value of the insulation, the better it slows heat conduction. An insulation calculator is used to determine how high an R-value you’ll need for your home’s insulation. However, proper placement of insulation material is as important as its R-value: poor installation will mean heat flow getting through the many gaps where insulation was put in improperly.

Having good insulation in your home means both improved comfort and energy savings. If you have a powerful air conditioner or heater in your home that seems to be working without problems, yet you find that you can never get the right level of comfort, you may need to investigate your home’s insulation.

Call up Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating to learn more about insulation in San Antonio and how it can work for you. We still do things the old-fashioned way: with a handshake.

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Can Flexible Ductwork Be Repaired?

Friday, November 15th, 2013

In the earliest days of central heating and air conditioning, ducts came in only one style: solid, inflexible sheet metal constructed into rectangular channels. Sheet metal ducts still perform a hefty amount of the work in many buildings, especially commercial structures. But for homes with smaller spaces, flexible ducts can do a much more efficient job.

Since flexible ducts aren’t constructed from durable sheet metal, they can suffer damage easier than standard metal ducts and develop leaks that will make them less effective. But does their less durable construction material mean that they have to be replaced if they sustain damage? Do you have an option to repair them instead?

The answer is, yes, flexible ductwork can benefit from repairs. Extreme damage may still require replacement, but since flexible ducts costs less than sheet metal ducts, this isn’t a drastic alternative. However, you should consult with duct repair specialists to see what your best option is. Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating can take care of many kinds of problems you may encounter with your ductwork.

We perform duct repair in Selma, TX as well as replacements: whatever your ductwork needs, we can provide it.

The common type of flexible ducts consists of folding plastic material with an insulation casing. Loss of insulation or holes through the plastic will cause a decrease in air pressure and harm your HVAC system’s ability to function, adding unnecessary stress to it.

You can’t repair duct holes using duct tape; despite the name, that’s not what duct tape is good for. What will work on gaps and tears in flexible ducts is mastic sealing, a resin-based material that stands up to temperature changes. This is a job for professionals to handle using a mastic caulking gun.

Professionals can also locate places where the flexible ducts have come loose from their connections and seal them back into place so the problem will not immediately re-occur.

One of the reasons you should not take on repairs to flexible ductwork yourself is that it is difficult to access many of the ducts in your home, and detecting where leaks have started to occur presents a problem if you lack HVAC experience. Tampering with ductwork can lead to more problems… you need the experts to take care of this job to keep the repairs from spiraling out of control.

In the long run, you’ll be thankful you called a company like Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating to handle your flexible duct repair needs in San Antonio, Selma, and beyond!

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Common Problems with Solar Air Conditioners

Friday, November 15th, 2013

When you think about it, solar air conditioning is a genius idea: You need air conditioning the most when the Texas sun is beating down on you—so why not harness that brutal sun energy and make it provide you with cooling power? Solar energy can give you superb air conditioning while saving you money, since the power of the sun is free: no energy to burn, and minimal electrical power to operate. You can see why more and more people have turned to solar AC to keep them cool.

But solar air conditioning can develop problems, the same as any system that uses advanced technology. Even with the best care, you will eventually need solar air conditioning repair in Canyon Lake, TX. When that time arrives, call up Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating. We install, maintain, and repair solar air conditioners, and we want to help you get the most from yours.

Here are some frequent problems we see with solar air conditioners:

  • Weather damage: Since the PV (photovoltaic) panels of the system must be outside and exposed to the sky, they can suffer damage from rain, hail, and high winds. Some of the panels may need replacement to restore the system to its proper power. Another major issue that weather can cause to the panel is oxidation that creates rust and corrosion. This can create electrical resistance in the panels and lead to overheated connections.
  • Poor placement and angling: This is something we see too often with amateur installations. Just putting the PV panels on the roof and facing them upwards doesn’t mean the system will extract the necessary power from the sun to work. If you don’t seem to get the heating efficiency you expect from your solar AC, poor installation might lie behind it.
  • Improper voltage leading to outages: You need to know the voltage consumption of your solar panels, and this is another reason that having professional installers do the work is so crucial. You don’t want your house to lose its electrical power because the panels draw too much power to perform their job.

Make sure that solar-powered air conditioning is right for your home before you settle on installation. Contact an experienced company like Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating to do the work so you can avoid repair needs in the future. But should you ever need air conditioning services in Canyon Lake, TX for your solar air conditioner, we are available 24 hours a day to help you.

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How to Buy a New Heating System

Friday, November 8th, 2013

A heating system is a major investment in your home, not only providing you with years of warm and comfortable conditions, but affecting the resale value of your home in the process. As such, when you prepare to buy a new heating system, you need to do your homework to determine if it’s the right system for you. A good heating company can help you out: particularly one with experience with installing heaters in Boerne TX or surrounding communities, who understand local conditions.

Beyond that, a few general heating tips are worth keeping in mind.

  • Look for a system that’s sized properly. Furnaces and heaters need to follow what we like to call the Goldilocks Rule for your home: neither too large nor too small but just right. If your heater is too small, it won’t warm your house appreciably. If it’s too large, it will cycle on and off rapidly, wasting energy and increasing strain in the process. A properly sized heater factors in not only the size of your home, but more esoteric elements such as the presence of insulation and the amount of sunlight your home is exposed to. A trained technician can make those calculations for you.
  • Buy an efficient system. Heater efficiency is measured in annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings. The higher the rating, the more efficient the heater. Heaters with the EnergyStar label rank among the most efficient on the market.
  • Look into alternate heating systems. Most people think of traditional centralize furnaces when they think of heating, and such furnaces work very well. But possible systems also include heat pumps, geothermal systems and radiant heating systems. A technician can explain the benefits and drawbacks of each, and make recommendations based on your particular circumstances.

For further tips on how to buy a new heating system, and for installation and repair services, contact the experts at Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating. We handle all kinds of heating installation in Boerne, TX, and have the experience to address your questions and concerns. Pick up the phone and give us a call today!

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Common Heating Repairs Caused by a Clogged Air Filter

Friday, November 1st, 2013

A common way to heat and cool a home is through a central air conditioner and furnace that share the same set of ducts. Both of these systems use air filters to capture dust, dirt, and other debris in the air to prevent them from entering the cabinet and damaging the components.

During the heating season, you should change out your air filter at least once a month so it doesn’t become excessively clogged. A filter with too much debris contamination can lead to serious trouble that requires professional repair. We’ll list a few of the more common repairs that HVAC technicians have to perform on furnaces because of air filters that have gotten too choked with dust and other contaminants.

If you need heating repair in Canyon Lake, TX, for any problems due to a clogged air filter, trust Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating. We also offer a Preventive Maintenance Agreement that will help you avoid needing these repairs in the future.

Cleaning the burners

A clogged air filter will do a poor job of preventing dust from getting inside the furnace cabinet. If dirt begins to spread across the burners of a gas-powered furnace, it will cut off the oxygen required for the pilot light and the gas jets to ignite. This means you won’t get any heating at all.

Fixing fan blades

Whether you have a furnace or a heat pump, you’ll need fans to distribute your warmed air. If debris enters the cabinet because of an air filter clog, the damage could bend the blades of the fans. Because the fans are precision instruments, even small kinks in their blades will lead to them striking the housing—a problem that must be addressed right away.

Replacing burnt-out motors

The multiple motors inside a furnace will have to work harder if they become coated with dust and grime. This will lead to them wearing out faster and possibly burning out, requiring that they get replaced.

The simplest step you can take to make sure that you won’t have these sorts of problems from a clogged air filter is to change the filter regularly. However, it’s never too late to sign up for preventive maintenance if you’ve let the air filter go for too long without getting swapped out. Contact Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating to sign up for our maintenance program. And if you have need for heating repair in Canyon Lake, TX, we can handle that as well.

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