Ah, California! The Golden State. A place of nearly endless summers and mild winters (usually). But this unique climate has its own set of quirks that can impact the heating and cooling systems in your home.

We’ve been offering furnace and air conditioning service in the Central Valley long enough to know the importance of accounting for California’s specific environmental factors. Understanding how these affect your HVAC equipment can help you anticipate and overcome potential problems. Let’s take a closer look.

Homes near water during California's humid heating season

What to Plan For When Heating California Homes

Look Out for Temperature Fluctuations

California’s winters might be mild, but sudden temperature drops can happen. Here’s how it affects your heating:

  • Unpredictability: You may find yourself switching from AC to heating within hours.
  • Equipment Stress: Sudden demands can put stress on your heating system.

What You Can Do: Regularly check your thermostat and have a professional look at the system before winter kicks in.

Anticipate Humidity Levels

California can get quite humid, especially in the winter. This can affect your heating equipment in several ways:

  • Reduced Efficiency: Humidity may cause your heating system to work harder.
  • Potential Damage: Increased humidity can lead to rust and other damages.
  • What You Can Do: Investing in a dehumidifier can help maintain optimal indoor humidity levels during the winter (although you may also want a whole-home humidifier to add moisture to your air during our dry summer months).

Consider the Coastal Influence

If you live near the coast, salty air can influence your heating in a few different ways as well:

  • Corrosion Issues: Salt in the air leads to an increased risk of corrosion in your HVAC system over time.
  • Increased Breakdowns: Corrosion on your blower fan or heating elements can force your furnace to work harder than necessary, driving up your utility bills and raising your risk of a costly emergency.

What You Can Do: Schedule regular maintenance for your furnace (including regular duct cleaning). This will help remove salt particles before they have a chance to corrode your system.

California homes during the hot and dry cooling season

What to Remember When Cooling California Homes

Get Ready for Hot Summer Days

The heat in California can be relentless. Here’s how it affects your cooling:

  • Increased Workload: Your AC works overtime during hot spells.
  • High Energy Bills: Running your cooling equipment constantly throughout the day leads to higher utility bills.

What You Can Do: Shade your outdoor unit and try to keep the thermostat at a consistent setting.

Keep an Eye On Air Quality

Air quality (especially in urban areas) can influence cooling and impact your home comfort as well. Here’s how:

  • Filtering Challenges: More pollutants in the air can clog filters faster than usual.
  • Health Concerns: Poor air quality might cause discomfort or make respiratory problems worse.

What You Can Do: Regularly change or upgrade filters and consider an air purifier.

Professional HVAC technician examining outdoor AC unit

Why Hiring Professional HVAC Technicians Matters

Trust us on this one—hiring professional HVAC technicians is crucial for you to enjoy comfort at home all year round. Here’s why working with our team at Cencal is a smart move:

  • Expertise & Skill: With decades of experience serving the Central Valley, we know the ins and outs of California’s climate and how it affects your system.
  • Routine Maintenance: Regular checks can catch problems early, saving you money in the long run. Our AC tune-ups start at just $89, and include a comprehensive multi-point inspection of your system to make sure there are no impending issues.
  • Safety Assurance: Our total satisfaction promise helps ensure your equipment is functioning safely and efficiently. We never consider our work finished until you’ve approved it.
  • Customized Solutions: Our professionals tailor heating and cooling solutions to your specific needs. We don’t just consider the climate—we also consider your home, lifestyle, and comfort preferences to provide solutions that work for you.

California’s weather can be as complex as it is beautiful, but that doesn’t mean your comfort should suffer. Now that you know how the climate impacts your heating and cooling systems, you can take actionable steps to stay cozy and cost-effective.

Contact Cencal Mechanical Heating & Air to make sure your HVAC system is prepared to deal with everything our state can throw at it. Here’s to enjoying your California home, come rain or shine!

Every year, thousands of wildfires burn across California, destroying millions of acres and creating thick smoke that drifts across the state. Peak forest fire season can start as early as June and last well into October, making the air potentially dangerous to breathe for nearly half the year—even when you’re at work or in your home.

By taking steps to improve your home’s indoor air quality, you can reduce the health risks associated with wildfire smoke, which include heart attacks, strokes, and asthma. Below, our team at Cencal Mechanical Heating & Air has compiled a list of recommendations for making the air you breathe in your home or business clearer during the smokiest portions of the year.

Sealing Your Building

Make sure your home is properly sealed to prevent outside air from entering. This includes:

  • Closing all windows and doors
  • Sealing gaps in window or door frames with weather stripping
  • Placing wet towels at the bottoms of doors to prevent air from coming in underneath
  • Monitoring Local Air Quality

You won’t want to keep wet towels under your doors all the time, but knowing when the air quality in your area is most impacted by wildfire smoke gives you an idea of when to take extra precautions. You can learn about your local air quality levels by:

  • Checking local air quality reports on
  • Monitoring local weather reports on TV or the radio
  • Using an app like IQAir or Breezometer

Improving Your HVAC Filters

Your furnace filter is designed to catch contaminants, but standard filters usually aren’t built to capture small particles—making them insufficient to protect you from wildfire smoke. You can upgrade your filter by purchasing a filter with a MERV rating of at least 13.

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is a measurement scale specifically created for air filters by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers. You can install MERV 13 filters in most HVAC systems without needing to upgrade your equipment.

Maintaining Your HVAC System

Since your air filters play a critical role in maintaining your indoor air quality, you’ll need to make sure your HVAC system runs properly throughout forest fire season. Here are some tips:

  • Change your furnace filters regularly. Most filters with a MERV rating of 13 or higher should be changed every 30 to 90 days, but it’s best to change them monthly during fire season to be safe.
  • Keep the area around your air conditioner’s outdoor unit free from dust and debris, which can quickly accumulate during wildfire season. Sweeping away dust and moving twigs, branches, or other objects at least two feet away helps prevent them from entering your ducts and ensures proper airflow.
  • Schedule professional HVAC maintenance to make sure your equipment remains efficient and prevent breakdowns. It’s best to schedule an AC tune-up in the spring before wildfire season starts, and get a furnace tune-up at the end of wildfire season to make sure no damage has been done to your heating equipment before winter starts.

Buying a UV Air Purifier

UV air purifiers won’t catch particulate matter, but they do disrupt the DNA of potentially harmful microorganisms that can live in the air you breathe. The UV-C light these devices emit is harmless to humans, but effectively kills bacteria, mold, and viruses as they pass through your home’s ductwork.

Using a high-quality air filter with a high MERV rating is the best way to trap particulate matter from wildfire smoke and prevent it from entering your home’s air—but adding a UV air purifier to your HVAC system gives you the highest possible air quality at home.

The Health Benefits of Improving Your Indoor Air Quality

Taking the steps above to protect yourself from the harmful effects of wildfire smoke can:

  • Reduce your risk of asthma and other respiratory problems
  • Reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and lung cancer
  • Improve your sleep quality
  • Enhance your overall quality of life by providing peace of mind

For specific suggestions on how to improve the air quality at your home or business during California’s forest fire season, contact Cencal Mechanical Heating & Air. Our experienced professionals will take your home’s features into consideration and provide an effective solution for helping you breathe easier.

Air conditioner problems can make your home uncomfortable during the warmer months of the year, and chances are you’ll want to fix them right away. You might even be tempted to take them into your own hands—but wait! Before you grab a toolkit from the garage and start tinkering with your AC, you should understand the risks that come with DIY jobs. Air conditioners are sensitive electrical systems, and hiring a professional to service yours is always a better idea—not to mention a safer one.

Cencal Mechanical Heating & Air has successfully performed air conditioner repairs across Modesto and the Central Valley, so we know all about the risks that come with this kind of work and we’re happy to explain them to you. Learn all about the pitfalls of DIY air conditioner repair below so you can avoid damaging your air conditioner and get help that will solve your problem instead of making it worse.

See also:

Risk #1: Electrocution

When you handle electrical components, you are potentially exposed to live wires and electrical current, which can be dangerous and even fatal if not handled properly. Without the proper training and knowledge, you may not be able to identify the electrical hazards involved in repairing your air conditioner and may end up putting yourself in harm’s way. To ensure your safety, it’s best to leave air conditioning repairs to the professionals who have the training and equipment to handle the job safely.

Risk #2: Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant is a crucial component of your air conditioner, and handling it improperly can cause it to leak, which can be both harmful to the environment and also reduce the efficiency of your air conditioning system. Furthermore, exposure to refrigerants can pose a risk to your health, as some types can cause respiratory problems if inhaled.

If you’re not trained in how to properly handle refrigerants, it’s best to leave the repair to a professional. Our team has the knowledge and equipment to safely handle refrigerants and make repairs without causing any leaks or health risks.

Risk #3: Fire Hazards

The electrical components in your air conditioner can do more than shock you—they can also start fires. For example, accidentally damaging electrical wiring while attempting a repair can create a short circuit, which in turn can create an electrical arc. An electrical arc produces sparks, which can ignite materials nearby.

Additionally, electrical energy stored in your air conditioner’s capacitors can be released accidentally if you handle them improperly. This can also start an electrical arc that leads to a fire in your home.

Risk #4: Damage to Components

Without proper training and experience, you may end up making repairs that do more harm than good. For example, if you attempt to repair a refrigerant leak by yourself, it can be quite easy to damage the evaporator coil—a crucial component for transfering heat from inside your home to the outside. If you do, your air conditioner won’t be able to cool your home at all.

Trying to repair your air conditioner’s fan is another example of a DIY fix that can cause extensive damage, since you may end up damaging the fan blades or breaking the sensitive motor that allows it to spin. If you do, you’ll probably need to replace the blower motor entirely—which is much more expensive.

Risk #5: Voiding the Warranty

It’s also vital to understand that your air conditioner’s warranty only applies to repairs undertaken by qualified professionals. This means that any damage you cause to your AC unit while attempting DIY repairs will not be covered by the manufacturer—and they won’t cover future damage, either!

If you’re experiencing a problem with your air conditioner, it’s always better to have our home comfort specialists diagnose and address the problem. This will keep your warranty valid in case you need to use it in the future.

Risk #6: Incorrect Repairs

On top of all that, there’s no guarantee that DIY repairs will actually fix what’s wrong with your AC unit. This is because air conditioners are complex systems that require specialized training and tools to diagnose and repair. If you don’t have the right knowledge or equipment, you may only be treating the symptoms of the problem and not the root cause.

For example, if your air conditioner is not blowing cold air, you might think the problem is with the fan. But, in reality, it could be due to a refrigerant leak or a faulty compressor. Trying to fix the fan on your own won’t resolve the underlying issue and you’ll end up wasting your time and potentially causing further damage to your AC unit. To ensure that the problem is properly fixed, give us a call and let our professionals handle it.

Why Investing in HVAC Experts Is Worth It

As you can see, the risks associated with DIY air conditioner repair far outweigh any potential benefits. Tampering with your air conditioner can end up costing you much more than simply hiring a qualified expert, and can be dangerous besides.

When you contact Cencal Mechanical Heating & Air for air conditioner repairs, you can trust us to get the job done right. We take pride in doing high-quality work our customers can count on, so if any of our HVAC repairs fail in the first year, we’ll do them over again—absolutely free of charge. Call now to speak with an expert, or book your AC repair online.

What Our Customers Are Saying About Us

  • “Cencal is awesome! Their office staff is always super friendly and upbeat, their technicians are always very professional and helpful! They do a great job on keeping my system running, and now I have ordered a new system through them that will be installed next week! Special kudos out to Kha who was here today and has been here before. He is always professional and on time and does a great job! He was super helpful in ordering my new system. I would love to have him come every time! I definitely recommend this business!”

    Tracy M.

Chat With Us!