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A San Diego Homeowners Guide To Furnaces

What San Diego Homeowners Need to Know About Furnaces

Knowing your home furnace allows you to make informed decisions. This means it’s essential to learn at least the basics of caring for your heating system. Knowing about your furnace will help keep it running well and save you time and money. It can also help you know when it’s time to call a professional to service it.

“Heating your home uses more energy and costs more money than any other system in your home — typically making up about 29% of your utility bill.

Reference – Department of Energy

Furnace burning bright blue after furnace repair of flame sensor in La Mesa Ca

Types of Furnaces

Furnaces are the heat source for your home, but the heat distribution through your home can vary. Most homes in California have floor furnaces, forced air furnaces, or wall heaters.

Floor Furnaces

  • Floor Furnaces: A floor furnace or radiating furnace is often found in older homes. These heaters don’t need ductwork making this a cost-effective choice for some homeowners. Floor furnaces use radiant heat convection so there is no blower. For families with sensitivities to allergies, this can be a benefit. Air and dust will not be circulating in the home as much from the heating system. The drawbacks are they are not the most effective heating method for your home. Uneven heat is often an issue with these systems as well. Homeowners looking into this method of heating should weigh the pros and cons of a floor furnace. A good HVAC professional can help guide you to the correct choice for you. 

Pros of Floor Furnaces

  • No ductwork needed
  • Does not circulate allergens

Cons of Floor Furnaces

  • Less effective
  • Less efficient
  • Heat can be patchy or uneven
New cozy floor furnace ready for Installation

Central Air Furnaces

Forced Air Furnaces: This is the most common type of heat source in California. A furnace will kick on when the temperature drops below where the thermostat is set. Cold air in the home is pulled into the ventilation. Once there it passes through an air filter and removes allergens like dust or pollen. This helps maintain your home’s indoor air quality and helps to protect your system. The air then blows through the air handler and is warmed by the furnace’s heat exchanger by the combustion of gas. The blower motor then sends this warmed air through your home via your ducts and vents. Forced air is the quickest and often the most convenient type of heating. Installation is quick especially if you have ductwork already in place. These heat systems are very reliable.

Pros of Central Air Systems

  • Installation of these systems is often quick and convenient.
  • An efficient system that can save homeowners upwards of 30-50% on their energy bills.
  • These systems produce heat on demand. Within minutes the temperature in a home is often noticeable warmer. 

Cons of Central Air Systems

As great as central air is, it comes with some downsides as well. These include air quality because the air’s forced throughout our homes. This is especially relevant if you are not taking care of your system and maintaining it. A yearly central air maintenance inspection can help ease this. 

  • Noise is another concern for some homeowners. No matter how state of the art your heating system is, it will produce some noise. Complete noise elimination is close to impossible.
  • Central air is often somewhat uneven heat. This is due to having a central thermostat. Ductwork and a home’s design are other issues that can affect this. Ductwork is reliable, but there is potential for them to leak. If your system is not designed well, over time, you could start to lose some of the efficiency that you once enjoyed.
  • Leaky ductwork can also contribute to pollutants entering your home. Watch your electricity bill for spikes: It is a sign that your ductwork may need maintenance. In this case, look around your home to see if it seems like your system is working as expected. If it is not, you should call a professional heater repair technician to troubleshoot the issue.
  • Mold inside a forced-air unit can be a concern for any homeowner. Once a system is running, it can and cycle contaminants through your home. You must make sure that you keep the unit cleaned and inspected for the safety of your family. A musty smell may be a sign you have mold growing in your ventilation system.

“Moisture condensation is the largest cause of mold in HVAC ducts.”

Reference – Mold Advisor

HVAC installation of 3 york energy efficient central air conditioning units in Lakeside ca 92040

The Basics of A Home Heating System

Heating systems have three main components

  • The Heat source: The most common heat source is a furnace. Other types of heat sources include boilers or heat pumps. These use radiant heat from warm air or water to heat your home. Heat pumps are common in California and can be very energy efficient.
  • A distribution system: This is how the heat circulates throughout your home. It usually uses ductwork and vents throughout your home but depends on your type of system.
  • The control system: This is how you control the temperature of your home. Most often, a thermostat regulates the amount of heat sent through your home.

If you are experiencing heating issues, chances are one of these three is likely the issue.

San diego York furnace certified dealer installation and repair

Understanding Your Furnace


  • A thermostat is a device in control of your home’s temperature. A Thermostat is a temperature-activated switch. Its job is to tell the furnace when to start the heating cycle. It does this by turning on an ignition switch when activated at the correct temperature. There are different types of thermostats, and some of them use state-of-the-art innovative technology. These technologies can learn your lifestyle and help to save you money. These types of thermostats are names Smart thermostats.

Draft/Hood Fan

  • A fan pulls air into the burners and is mixed with natural gas or propane to create combustion. Then, heat’s directed from the burners into the heat exchanger. Once here harmful, exhaust gases, like carbon monoxide (CO), are vented to the outside of your home.


  • Furnace burners are tubes where gases get burned. A gas valve, igniter, and sensor work together to maintain the flames. Once a thermostat signals your heater to turn on, the gas valve opens. Once open, the gas and air mixture is ignited. A flame sensor acts as a safeguard to protect your home and equipment. It will shut off incoming gas if the flame has been extinguished. Some of the most common repairs are Dirty burners and flame sensors.

Heat Exchanger

  • Burners heat a series of metal tubes to warm the air that’s pulled into a furnace. A damaged heat exchanger can become a safety issue for your home and family. It can Leak gases like CO leak into your home. This is why having a carbon monoxide detector is an essential piece of equipment to have in your home. In California, most homes require a C02 sensor installation.


  • The fan directs air from the return ducts into the warm heat exchanger. The heated air is then pushed throughout the home’s ductwork and into the house.


  • A flue vent collects the combustion gases from the heating process. Once collected, it vents them outside of your home.

Furnace Life Expectancy

Most furnaces’ will Last about 15 years when properly maintained. Where you live and how often you use it will have a direct effect on this timeframe. During its lifetime, a furnace will go through over one million on and off cycles. Each time a furnace Ignites, its metal expands and contracts each time it warms and cools. By doing this many times, the metal becomes prone to cracking. Often it’s a cracked heat exchanger or welding seam. You can check the serial number to figure out the age of your furnace. Furnaces installed in Poway 20 years ago, for example, may be nearing the end of their life expectancy.

Being proactive with a furnace is essential. Waiting until your furnace cracks to replace it can cause carbon monoxide to leak into your home. This can make you and your family sick or even become deadly. CO is odorless gas earning it the nickname of “The Silent Killer.” If you smell gas, you need to immediately get out of your house and call the gas company. Once they find a leak on your furnace, they will shut it down. They will then need a licensed HVAC maintenance specialist for furnace repairs. If the unit is not fixable, a newer, more energy-efficient model can get installed.

What San Diego Needs to Know About Furnace Maintenance

Maintaining your appliances should be essential for any homeowner. Taking care of them will help them last for a very long time. In addition, it’s a great idea to have a professional come out and do an annual furnace inspection. An inspection will assure you’re ready for the cold winter season.

Furnace Part Need to be Inspected Each Year

  • Replace your filter. Inspection is something you can do on your own and will often need to be done more frequently.
  • Clean the blower. The blower moves the air through your ducts. Dust on the blower can and will reduce the pressure of your system. This can lead to an increase in the usage of energy.
  • Clean Your Burner. You will need a professional to do this. During the cleaning, repairs may be noticed, such as a common misalignment.
  • Clean the flame-sensing rod. A common issue because so many people fail to have this cleaned at regular intervals. The furnace will turn on but fails to stay on. It tries to start the furnace but then shuts off as a safety precaution. You can avoid common repairs like this with annual safety inspections.

Common Furnace Repairs

Is your furnace over 10-year-old? Did you get quoted a bill for repairs that exceed $500? If so, you should likely have your furnace replaced as it will often save you money in the long run. These are the most common furnace repairs
  • Inside Blower
  • Control Boards
  • Gas valve replacement
  • Blower Motor Problems
  • Dirty Flame Sensors
  • Thermocouple
Furnace repair Technician Troubleshooting Furnace in Santee, Ca

Furnace Safety In San Diego

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Required in California due to the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010.
CO detectors are important for your family’s safety if you have a gas furnace. If you do, you also have a carbon monoxide detector. You’ll want to place a detector on each floor of your home. Proper installation is about five feet from the ground. One should be installed near every sleeping area. CO can be toxic and even cause result in deaths to occur. CO is a poisonous gas produced from the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels. Some symptoms of CO poisoning include dizziness, headaches, disorientation, weakness, nausea, and vomiting. You can buy a detector online or at your local home improvement store.

Adjust for Altitude

Gas burners are set to run at sea level since so little of the United States is at higher altitudes. Here in California, there are areas where the oxygen is thinner. If you live at altitude you’ll need to have the gas pressure adjusted. This will allow your furnace to run optimally. If the gas pressure is not calibrated, then the CO levels can increase in your home. This is because we have less oxygen at altitudes. This means that less gas is needed for combustion. Having incorrect pressure could also decrease the life of your furnace.

Furnace Care

Knowing more about your furnace will help you make better decisions about its care. This will allow you to keep your family protected. You can always call Hamels Air Conditioning and heating to do an inspection. Hamel’s preventative maintenance service gives you peace of mind. It will also keep your system is working safely. If you have any other questions, please contact Hamels today.

San Diego’s Furnace Experts

We are a family-owned and operated HVAC company that serves San Diego, Ca. We pair strong family values and business ethics with uncompromising customer service. We deliver reliable installations, maintenance services,  HVAC repairs in San Diego County.  To do this we provide the same level of service we would expect in our own home for each and every customer. From Santee to La Jolla we have the reliable trained furnace repair technicians you need.

Finding a trusted San Diego Air Conditioning & Heating Contractor can be hard.  With five decades of experience that spans 4 generations, the Hamel family consistently delivers first-class HVAC services. From Central air conditioning to furnace repairs, we provide personalized service to every customer and on every call.

We proudly service home’s throughout the County Of San Diego, CA. Hamel’s is built on integrity and reliability seldom found in other HVAC Companies. Whether you need furnace repair in La Mesa or air conditioning installation in Lakeside, you can call on our HVAC technicians to keep your home comfortable year-round.

San Diego Furnace Service Area

Hamel’s Air Conditioning and Heating offers furnace service throughout The County of San Diego.  We are committed to keeping your home comfortable, healthy, and energy-efficient. Our Home Comfort consultants are here to help with all your furnace service needs and more.  Be sure to check out what our customers are saying and get in touch to see how we can best meet your furnace repair needs. Call Hamel’s Air Conditioning and Heating today for your San Diego County furnace service needs.

Ryan Hargrave
Ryan Hargrave
16:56 27 Mar 24
adriana durgan
adriana durgan
16:39 26 Mar 24
This is the absolute best, most ethical company I have ever worked for! They recruited me from another job that was wasting my potential and was a... dead end career. I have been welcomed into this family and properly trained to feel confident in my position. My ideas are considered . There is open communication between all, and respect for each other. This is a growing family owned and operated company, dedicated to skilled craftsmanship and quality, for long term customer satisfaction. Hamel's gives to the community, pays well, and provides insurance to new hires. The work atmosphere is not one of hurry to make that dollar, as is several of our competitors. Our prices are not the least expensive, but will not warrant necessary and immediate repair and dissatisfaction. This company stands firm in its mission statement and the work it provides. Choose Hamel's and choose a company that more
Donovan Matteson
Donovan Matteson
00:31 20 Mar 24
joel lyon
joel lyon
03:21 16 Mar 24
Had my scheduled spring tune up on Monday to turn the AC on and test it before summer hits. Unfortunately a problem was found, tech worked well and... found the isssue was a contactor. I was at work so he called me to explain and he said with our membership this service call would be covered for free and wouldn’t count as the spring tune up. He could fix it on the spot but I wasn’t ready to spend the $540 for a contactor. He agreed there was no rush since we have some time before hot weather.When I got home I looked at it and noticed he had unplugged one wire from the contactor and taped the butt connector up. Don’t understand why this would be needed if the AC disconnect switch was pulled and no power was going to the AC unit. Maybe this is common practice? Or was part of the diagnostic, just seems like a high estimate for an easily accessible $20 more
Robin Butler
Robin Butler
00:28 16 Mar 24
Josh was very helpful and professional. He was a very nice young man. In the future if I have any problems I will be requesting Josh.
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