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Should I Install Ductless Air Conditioning?

A Woman Adjusts the Temperature in Your Office

Ductless AC Systems Can Be Made to Respond to Remotes or Smart Phones.

Did you know that your heating and cooling systems, out of all your home devices, consume the most energy each day? You can change your roofing from asphalt shingles to metal panels; you can also switch to a more conservative water heater. But choosing an energy efficient solution for your HVAC system may provide even more savings for your home.

Many homeowners rely on a central air conditioning system to keep their home cool and cozy. These AC units feature a winding network of ducts, which consume a lot of space (and energy). But today, we’ll be discussing an alternative: ductless air conditioning. After reading here, you should have a good idea whether or not a ductless solution would be ideal for your home. Let’s jump in!

How Ductless Heating Works

The name says it all; “ductless” heating and cooling (also known as mini-split) systems utilize a series of blowers that condition your home without the use of ducts. Instead, they rely on a two part design with interior units and an exterior unit. Interior blowers are mounted high on walls, near the floor, or up in the ceiling. They intake warm air from the inside environment and blows it over frigid coolant. The resulting cold air is then emitted into the room where the unit is mounted. The warmed coolant is transported outside (via insulated tubing) to the outdoor unit, which chills the refrigerant and releases stored heat.

Keep in mind, this cycle occurs in every room where a interior unit is stored. It’s not unusual for a home to have up to five indoor units. There are three primary benefits to a ductless system:

  • Leaky, space-consuming ducts are not required.
  • Multiple interior units allows for custom temperature settings in each room.
  • Ductless units serve as both air conditioner and heaters.

Below, you’ll find some frequently asked questions about ductless systems.

Noise

Are Ductless Air Conditioners Noisy?

Ductless AC systems make about as much noise as a central air conditioner. With the interior units, you may hear the fan blowing cool air into the room, but it’s not very loud. The noisiest part of the entire system is the outdoor unit, which won’t distract you during the day.

Longevity

How Long Do Ductless Air Conditioners Last?

With proper maintenance (cleaning, part replacements, etc.) you can expect the average ductless AC system to last 20 years. That’s a whole five to seven years beyond most central air conditioning units! Keep this longer lifetime in mind when you consider pricing.

Pricing

How Much are Ductless Heating and Cooling Systems?

In general, ductless HVAC systems will cost 30% more than traditional heating and cooling systems. However, that percentage does not include the considerable expensive required to install ducts for central AC and heating. It also doesn’t factor in the expense of lost energy that results from leaky ducts, which we’ll discuss later.

The average maximum price (including parts and labor) for a ductless mini split system is $5000. For more detailed pricing information, see here or talk with one of our professionals at 831-244-6718.

Ductless vs Ducted

Changing the Temperature in Ductless AC

Customized Temperature Control (by Room) is an Attractive Feature of Ductless AC Systems.

Given the lower price, is central air better than ductless? While not for everyone, many homeowners actually prefer ductless over traditional alternatives. We’ve already mentioned a few reasons. Without the duct work consuming space in the ceiling and walls, there’s a lot more room in your home that can be allocated for other projects. There’s also the significant lifespan difference between ductless and central air. Even if ductless costs 30% more (on average), it also lasts five to seven years longer.

There’s also the fact that you can customize temperature between different rooms. Most traditional air systems don’t have that capability. Then there’s energy savings to consider…

Is Ductless Air Conditioning More Efficient?

One of the major downfalls of central, forced air conditioning systems is leakage. The duct work that connects the entire home to the AC unit may become damaged from years of use (or accident). When air leaks out, it forces your HVAC system to work overtime to compensate. According to the Department of Energy, “Duct losses can account for more than 30% of energy consumption for space conditioning, especially if the ducts are in an unconditioned space such as an attic.

Take away ducts, and you effectively take this energy loss out of the equation. Even if you have multiple units spread throughout the house, you don’t have to worry about air getting lost. After all, the air intake is only inches away from the blower. You’ll enjoy the improved energy efficiency.

Get Your Estimate on Ductless Installation!

If all these benefits sound attractive to you, consider a ductless HVAC installation! Our team at Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air would be happy to provide you with additional information on system comparisons and recommended brands. All you have to do is call our friendly staff at 831-244-6718.

What Is Ductless Heating and Cooling?

Ductless Heating and Cooling System Set Against a White Background.

Ductless Heating and Cooling Systems Consist of Two Units.

When it comes to ductless heating and cooling systems, most people have at least heard of the devices, if not encountered them. A popular home comfort solution for apartments, condos, hotels, restaurants, and structures without air ducts, ductless heating and cooling devices offer both convenience and cost-efficiency. If you need straightforward cooling or ductless heating solutions, you would do well to consider one of these systems. When compared to traditional HVAC units, ductless or “mini split” systems are vastly easier to install and do not waste nearly as much energy.

Whereas traditional forced air systems push air through ducts to serve an entire home or business, a mini split usually serves just a single room or open area. If you live in a smaller home, or a more temperate environment, mini splits can represent an ideal solution for your comfort needs. The dominance of central HVACs continues to overshadow what these devices can do, however. To learn more about service for ductless cooling or ductless heating in Soquel, Santa Cruz, and San Rafael, CA, call Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air today at 831-244-6718.

How Do Ductless Heating and Cooling Systems Work?

Ductless heating and cooling systems work like standard ACs. The only difference, however, is fairly important: instead of storage in a closet or attic, the ductless device is mounted in the room it actually serves. Just like standard ACs, ductless devices consist of two units, one indoors, and one outside. The indoor device pulls hot air from your home and passes it over evaporator coils that absorb this heat. The heat is then transported outside, where the outdoor unit dumps it. Since it exists within the space it services, mini splits do not need air ducts. They simply suck in hot hair, and blow out cold. As an added bonus, most mini splits also function as heat pumps, which means they can perform this same operation in reverse to heat your home.

What Is the Best Ductless Heating and Cooling System Application?

Depending on the construction of a home, ductless units can provide an ideal solution in many situations. These scenarios, in particular, benefit the most from ductless units.

  • New Additions That Lack Ductwork
  • Garage Apartments
  • Sunrooms
  • Larger Homes Where Only a Few Rooms See Use
  • Multiple Temperature Needs Under One Roof
  • Rooms That Are Difficult to Heat or Cool
  • Older Homes That Lack Ductwork

Ductless Heating vs Gas Furnace

Technician Looking Over a Ductless Heating and Cooling Device.

With Regular Service, a Mini Split System Could Last for 30 Years.

Clients frequently ask us, “are mini splits good for heating?” If employed in the right way, the answer is a clear ‘yes’. It’s difficult to compare ductless heaters to gas furnaces, however, since they have different purposes. A ductless heater is meant to service a single room or small living area. They also operate on electricity. Gas furnaces service entire homes, and operate on natural gas. If you have a small residence, or live in a temperate environment where it never gets very cold, gas furnaces don’t make a lot of sense. If you have a large home, or live somewhere that seasonally freezes, then you would likely need several ductless units to provide the total home comfort that a single furnace could provide.

Ductless Mini Split Systems FAQ

How Long Do Mini Splits Last?

A mini split will last, on average, between 15 and 30 years. This is a large spread, though similar to the lifespan of a shingle roof, and for the same reasons: it all depends on the quality of your system and your willingness to perform maintenance.

Do Ductless Mini Splits Heat?

Yes. Ductless mini splits are also heat pumps, and can efficiently heat a limited area such as a single large room or small home.

Is Ductless Heating Efficient?

A Man's Hand Holding a Remote to Control a Ductless Heating and Cooling Device.

Remotes Allow You to Control the Function of Your Mini Split.

Ductless heating is incredibly efficient. Instead of generating its own heat, which requires a lot of energy, ductless heaters make use of the heat already in the air. When compared to other types of heaters, ductless units use 30 to 50 percent less energy.

How Much Are Ductless Heating and Cooling Systems?

This question is impossible to answer without specifics about your living space or the brand of mini split you want. When determining an approximate price, our team considers four factors:

  • Your Desired SEER Rating, or the Energy Efficiency of Your System.
  • The Size, or Tonnage, of the System
  • The Number of Units You Need
  • The Brand You Choose

For an accurate estimate on ductless heating in Soquel, Santa Cruz, and San Rafael, CA, call 831-244-6718 today and supply the above information. At Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air, we are big proponents of mini split systems, and recommend them for any situation where they could serve well. If you have any questions or would like to schedule service, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Protecting Your Home From Expensive HVAC Energy Waste

The Extreme End of an Air Duct and a Vent

Have Your Air Ducts Repaired or Sealed to Eliminate Energy Waste.

Energy efficiency often boils down to one primary goal: saving money on your monthly bill. There are many important aspects to your home’s energy efficiency, such as:

  • Lighting
  • Your Hot Water Heater
  • Your Roofing System
  • Electronics
  • and Your HVAC System

It’s your HVAC system that often consumes the most energy throughout the day. While homeowners look to expensive new HVAC systems to start cutting costs, there are simpler ways to improve your home’s energy consumption. Here’s a quick guide on how you can get started!

Sizing Up the Costs

Out of all your home systems, your heating and cooling appliances consumer almost half of all the energy your family uses each day. That’s over a hundred dollars in energy costs every month, and even more for larger houses.

Sure, you can begin by installing a brand new, ENERGY STAR approved HVAC system. However, that will probably cost tens of thousands of dollars and take a long time to pay off. If your current system still functions correctly there are easier steps you can take.

How to Prevent Energy Waste at Home

Make Sure Your Roof is Properly Insulated

Thorough insulation can save you plenty of dollars every month. Improved attic insulation is one of the few house projects that actually has a return on investment that’s above 100%. You earn money back, on top of what you spent for the insulation! Of course, all those savings could be wasted if your roof is letting excess heat from the outside. While you might not need an emergency roof repair, putting off basic maintenance could cost you severely in the long run.

Have Your Ducts Examined

In forced air systems, ducts transport conditioned air throughout the house. If your home’s duct system is leaking air into the attic, your HVAC system is probably consuming egregious amounts of energy to compensate for the lost air. Try to have leaky ducts sealed as quickly as possible to limit energy waste, or better yet, replace them with a more efficient duct work installation.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

That tiny knob or switch has more power than your realize. With programmable thermostats, you can teach your HVAC system to turn off while you gone during the day. Some models will even let you manage your settings while you’re out of the house. By reducing the amount of time your heater and air conditioning run, you’ll greatly improve your home’s energy savings.

Schedule Your Air Duct Cleaning Today!

If you’d like to learn more ways about making your HVAC system more energy efficient, our team would be happy to help you! Call 831-244-6718 for an inspection, or schedule a valuable air duct cleaning in Soquel, Santa Cruz, and San Rafael, CA.

Twin Lakes Beach Cleanup – Serving the Local Community and the Environment

Orientation for Beach Cleanup

Fueled Only With a Single Cup of Coffee, Our Passionate Team Spent Hours Cleaning Twin Lakes Beach!

Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air believes in keeping our shores & oceans clean and protected. Recently Bellows partnered with Save Our Shores for a beach cleanup in Santa Cruz. We all gathered up on August 26th at Twin Lakes Beach near the harbor.

Around twenty of us showed up around 10 AM, drank a cup of coffee, and got our Save Our Shores orientation on how to go about cleaning the beach. We cleaned the beach for two hours walking one side of the beach to the other and back. The amount of garbage we found was insane; we found everything from cigarette butts to worn down shoes. The craziest items we found were window blinds and a Mercedes Benz car floor mat.

Twin Lakes Beach isn’t known for being a dirty beach. When you start looking for trash however, you end up seeing how dirty it is. The experience was eye opening for us and reiterated the importance of keeping our shores clean. We’ve all seen the large masses of plastic floating in the ocean. The trash that gets left on the beach affects everyone and can prevent visitors from having a pleasant experience, not to mention endanger local wildlife living in the ocean. 

At Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air, we believe in keeping our beaches and oceans clean for us and generations to come. Come join us on our next beach cleanup! If you’d like to learn more about our beach cleanup events or any of our heating, cooling, and plumbing services in Soquel, Santa Cruz, and San Rafael, CA, call our team at 831-244-6718! Be sure to check out some our other photos in the Gallery!

How Should I Care for My Water Heater?

Water Heater Maintenance

For Help with Water Heater Maintenance, Contact Our Team.

Hot water represents one of life’s necessities. Aside from its requirement for adequate cleaning and washing, it’s the use of hot water to bathe that most of us simply cannot live without. Regardless of how you rank the usefulness of its many employments, the sudden failure of a water heater presents a serious inconvenience.  Not only this, but a water heater represents a fairly substantial investment into your home and comfort. All of these reasons underscore the importance of water heater maintenance.

Elements of Water Heater Maintenance

To keep your water heater functional for as long as possible, you should learn to perform some basic maintenance. The accomplishment of these tasks will help you realize the full lifespan and total value of your device.

  • Check Your Anode Rod: The anode rod helps prevent the corrosion of your tank. If its interior wire is showing, you need a replacement.
  • Flush Your Tank: Over time, mineral deposits will collect at the bottom of your water tank. Flush it once a year to prolong the life of your heating element and tank.
  • Drain the Tank: If you plan to not use your water heater for an extended period, drain the tank to prevent flooding.
  • Check the Pipes: Though it won’t lengthen the life of your water heater, checking its connected pipes for leaks will save you a lot of trouble.
  • Check Your T & P Valve: This valve exists to reduce the temperature and pressure of your water heater. Check it once a year to ensure proper functionality.

If you are unsure of how to perform some of these practices, make sure to call for professional help. As a side note, you can also avoid common problems with sediment buildup through water softener installation.

Call Us Today for Service

At Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air, we provide a full range of maintenance and repair options for water heaters. We also offer installation services, since even water heaters that receive dutiful repairs and maintenance will eventually need replacement. For any needs with water heater maintenance in Soquel, Santa Cruz, and San Rafael, CA, or any plumbing issues, make sure to give us a call today at 831-244-6718.

7 Things To Consider When Shopping For An Air Conditioner

Choosing an air conditioner that’s right for your home can be a difficult task. Science can help you determine the best air conditioner for you. Air conditioners have come a long way since they were first invented back in 1902 by Willis Carrier. The first air conditioner wasn’t even invented for houses; the first one was created to control the humidity at the printing plant where Willis Carrier worked at.
Listed below are a few factors to consider before purchasing your air conditioner:

  • One thing to keep in mind is how big is the space that you plan on cooling? Are you going to cool just a single room or multiple rooms? Once this is determined you can figure out the tonnage needed to cool the space or spaces effectively.

    If You Need Air Conditioner Repair or Installation Service, Call Our HVAC Contractors Today!

  • The next one to answer is what type of air conditioner unit do you want? There are a handful of different types ranging from mini-split ductless air conditioners to heat pumps and packaged central air conditioners. Each unit is different from the other and what you choose will depend on your needs.
  • Is the AC you want too noisy? This one is a very important question to answer. Some cities have sound ordinances which means not all AC units are allowed to be installed depending on their sound level. Aside from that, you wouldn’t want to upset your neighbors because your AC keeps them up, or your own family for that matter! The average air conditioners sound level is 60 Db and anything above 60 Db’s can cause damage to eardrums if exposed to it for too long.
  • The majority of air conditioners all need proper ventilation to work successfully so this will need to be taken into consideration.
  • Energy efficiency is something to keep in mind when choosing which model of AC you decide to go with. Energy efficient air conditioners vary and will perform at different levels some better than others.
  • Where is the filter located? Each type of air conditioner has their filter located in different areas. Typically an AC filter is located along the venting ducts that the air flows through and mini-split ductless filters are in the head unit behind the vents. It’s also good to know what your filter is made of and how often they need to be changed. A dirty filter can reduce the energy efficiency of the air conditioning unit.
  • Temperature sensors help regulate the temperature more efficiently in your house and are more common than one would think. Newer air conditioners work with touchpad and smart thermostats to regulate the temperature in your home. Does the AC you choose come with a control panel or remote control? The control panel is the thermostat to control the unit itself, and a remote control does the same thing. A remote control is more convenient in a sense that you don’t have to get up every time you want to turn it on and off or adjust the temperature.

The most important aspect of this all is making sure the install is done correctly. If installed incorrectly none of the stuff we mentioned earlier will matter because it will not work from the beginning. Give Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air in Soquel, Santa Cruz, and San Rafael, CA a call at 831-244-6718 to get your new air conditioner installed properly.

Check out Jen’s Reviews for tips on choosing an air conditioner!

What Causes Sewer Blockages?

Clogged Sewer Line

Yard Flooding is a Pretty Direct Sign That Something is Going on With Your Sewer Line!

Have you ever seen someone’s yard transform into a pound because of a busted sewer line? Or worse, have you ever smelled it? It’s not pretty! Thankfully, there are ways to quickly address the problem or even prevent it altogether. If you think you may have a broken, busted, or clogged sewer line, read carefully!

How Can I Avoid Getting a Clogged Sewer Line?

If you’re worried that your sewer line may develop a clog in the future, there are a couple of ways you can avoid a yard flooding disaster. First, make sure to schedule an inspection for your sewer line every once in a while. Don’t panic! Nowadays, it’s very easy to examine your plumbing system without trenching through the yard, thanks to video inspection technology. Getting an inspection will help detect potential hazards early on.

There are several plumbing complications that can develop into a main sewer line clog. One of the most common is a buildup of mineral deposits. Silt and other matter can gradually accumulate in your pipes until a breach is created by the excess pressure. Even normal wear and tear can allow dirt and stones to slip into your sewer line and clog it. Finally, tree roots can curl up against the pipe and create a rupture, or even grow into the line itself. While it would be very difficult to avoid all damage to your sewer line, you can address each of these problems with careful water treatment, routine inspections, and tree root pruning.

Is There a Way to Fix the Damage?

Clogged Sewer Line

Even Tree Roots Can Create a Nasty Clog From Time to Time.

Many plumbers with sewer camera tech are also equipped to repair the damage without trenching. The important thing is that you act quickly before the clog can get any worse. You’ll also want to limit your water use while the main line is clogged, as you could suffer some nasty backflow otherwise. If a section of the pipe is beyond repair, a prompt sectional replacement will help you get your line back in working order (though this would require isolated trenching).

Plumbing Help for Your Main Sewer Line Clog

If you need help with a clogged sewer line, or if your home is experiencing any other sort of plumbing leaks, you are welcome to call our courteous professionals at Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air. We’ll happily answer your questions and schedule an inspection for your home! Call 831-244-6718.

The Difference Between a Furnace and a Water Heater

Furnaces and Boilers Can Be Installed Together To Save Time, Space, and Money

Do you take long showers or are you always cold at night? Do you live in an area with harsh winters? The questions to these answers can help you answer whether you should get a furnace or water heater in your home. But what is the difference between a furnace and water heater? Here is a brief breakdown of the two:

Furnace

A furnace is a forced air system that uses fuel like gas or electricity to heat coils in the unit. A fan in the device blows air across the warm coils where it is filtered throughout the house to heat your home. A furnace is an efficient and cost effective way to heat your home, but does dry out the air quicker, causing allergy symptoms like dry nasal passages to worsen.

Water Heater

A water heater connects your plumbing to your gas or electricity line. In a water heater, coils at the bottom of the tank are heated by your energy system, warming the water in the tank so it is ready for use. A water heater differs from a boiler in that a boiler has piping that runs underneath your floorboards to provide both hot water and hot air. Water heaters are more common in America since we have stagnant seasons and boilers are more common in countries with harsher winters.

If you are needing a furnace or water heater installed or repaired in Soquel, Santa Cruz, and San Rafael, CA, Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air provides services to both units. Call us today at 831-244-6718.

How much do main line sewer repairs cost?

Why is mainline sewer repair so expensive?

The average range of costs for mainline sewer repairs is $1,052 – $3,920.

Oftentimes, main line sewer repairs require experts to dig trenches and repair or replace pipes that are underground. This process is rather difficult and can take up the majority of the expenses incurred for mainline sewer repair.

  • Excavation – This process requires professionals to dig up the mainline pipes and repair or replace them. This process frequently requires heavy duty equipment like jackhammers and backhoes to dig through lawns and driveways. The cost for excavation varies widely on the length of the pipe that needs to be removed/replaced, and the type of landscape being excavated (concrete patio, lawn, etc.).
  • Camera Inspection – Typically, this is done in conjunction with other repair options to customize the replacement or repair to your specific needs. A camera inspection helps professionals know the scale of the project before beginning. The unfortunate part of a mainline camera inspection is the cost; the average cost is $250-500.
  • Post Repair Costs – Depending on the amount of damage that occurred when the pipe malfunctioned and from the excavation, post-repair cleanup costs may need to be taken into account as well.

Post-Main Line Repair Costs

Unfortunately, main line sewer repair does require some post-repair repairs. The area dug up during excavation will need to be fixed; this could mean a patio needs to be replaced, new lawn needs to laid, or sidewalks have to be remade. These costs can vary greatly, but should be considered part of the mainline repair costs.

Landscape repair costs are typically around $300+.

Driveway or walkway repair is a little more expensive, costing closer to $2,500+.

Fencing costs can vary, but are typically $2,000+ for professional installation.

Should there have been a broken main line that caused damage to the home before the professionals came in, you will also need to pay to restore that are of the home which can cost $500+ with a professional’s help.

Broken Versus Clogged Sewer Lines

Clogged main sewer lines may not cost as much as a broken main sewer line. With a clogged pipe there are options outside of excavation that will save time and costs. A clogged sewer line may cost approximately $300 instead of the thousands that a broken main sewer line may cost.

Call Fast

If you suspect you have a main sewer line break or clog, call quickly by dialing 831-244-6718! The longer you wait, the more damage it will cause and money it will cost you!

Fast & Reputable Furnace Repair Service by Bellows

When you need a furnace repair service, you will know. Even in the San Jose area where we don’t get far below the 40’s and 50’s, we all need a reliable furnace! Stay warm and comfortable in your own home when the temperatures start to drop. Call in the technicians at Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air for all of your home furnace repair needs. Our professional technicians are ready 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call about your home furnace repair needs. 

But how do you know you may need a professional furnace repair service?

If your home is cold even after setting the thermostat to heat your home or if you cannot feel hot air circulating through your home, it’s clearly time to call someone in to repair your furnace. Give the professional technicians at Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air a call today. If you are unsure whether or not your furnace requires a professional repair, take a look at these symptoms of home furnace problems:

Noisy Operation

Unusual sounds coming from your furnace could indicate a loose or broken belt or problems with the furnace ignition. These issues should be addressed immediately by a professional before they become bigger issues.

Increase Thermostat Setting

If you have to increase the temperature on your thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, you may have an issue with your thermostat or furnace. Regularly needing to manually increase the thermostat temperature could indicate leaks in your furnace or heating system.

Rapid Cycling

Wiring systems can cause problems for the main furnace system. If you hear your furnace frequently turning on and off, it is time to take a look at the thermostat, wiring, and ignition system.

Increasing Heating Bill

If your energy bill is increasing over the months that you use your furnace, call in a furnace repair service. This increase in your bill is a clear indicator that your furnace isn’t working properly and that a repair is needed.

Maintenance

To keep your furnace working well all season, routine furnace maintenance is a must. Professional technicians will check up on filters, duct systems, wiring systems, and more to keep your furnace running well. Regular maintenance will also reduce the possibility of furnace malfunction and carbon monoxide build up.

Keeping your furnace running well keeps your family safe and comfortable. Get the best heating and cooling experts in San Jose to help with your home heating needs. Let our certified technicians at Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air provide furnace repair services for your home! Call us today by dialing 831-244-6718