A-Avis Home Services Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. Blog : Archive for December, 2014

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from Avis Plumbing Heating!

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Gas Furnace Guide: 3 Components You Should Know

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Understanding heating systems can sometimes seem impossible: all those moving parts, relays and switches make a complicated picture. But there are major parts that do most of the work, and understanding what some of these parts are can help make the picture clearer when it comes to your furnace.

The Burner

The burner is the part where you actually see the flames. A burner consists of anywhere from 2-10 open tubes that are called chambers; the number of chambers depends on how large a furnace you have. The burner is connected to a straight piece of piping called the manifold; the manifold delivers the gas to the burners, and the burners are lit by the pilot light. Burners need to be cleaned annually so that dust and dirt don’t interfere with the functioning of the component; should rust or other corrosion develop on a burner, it may need to be replaced. The burner’s job is to heat the heat exchanger, which provides the warm air that is blown into your home.

The Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger is the component that provides the heat for your home. The heat exchanger is made of tubing that is in a serpentine shape. Both ends are open so that the toxic combustion byproducts can flow through the tubing and out the furnace’s flue; the warmed air from the outside of the heat exchanger is blown into your home. One of the biggest problems that can develop with a heat exchanger is cracking; should your heat exchanger crack, it will need to be replaced.

The Blower

The warm air generated in your furnace won’t go anywhere without a big fan known as the blower. A special switch called a limit switch senses the temperature of the air from the heat exchanger and when the air is warm enough, the limit switch allows the fan to turn on.

While there are a number of components to your furnace, these three are the main components that bring heat into your home. If you have questions or concerns about your furnace, call the experts who can always help: Avis Plumbing, Heating and Air. We offer professional gas furnace services in Riverside.

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Common Problems with Electronic Ignition

Friday, December 12th, 2014

For decades, the standing pilot light has been the ignition source of choice for combustion-based heating systems. Though it has served well, the standing pilot light has developed a negative reputation for a number of shortcomings. These shortcomings have been mostly addressed by the advent of the electronic ignition system, which is now commonplace among more modern heating systems. Though electronic ignition solves a number of problems, it has introduced a number of its own. Let’s take a look at how electronic ignition works, and some common problems that it can run into.

What is Electronic Ignition

The standing pilot light’s biggest issues were that it was constantly wasting energy, while also going out on a fairly regular basis. Electronic ignition fixes this issue by only coming on when it is needed. There are two common types of electronic ignition: intermittent and hot surface.

Intermittent ignition, sometimes called intermittent pilot, works by generating an electrical spark to ignite the burners and start the system. Hot surface ignition works by using a heating element to light the burners.


Intermittent and hot surface ignition each have their own set of issues. We’ll address the hot surface ignition issues first. As mentioned above, hot surface ignition systems use heating elements to light the main burners on the heating system. These heating elements are actually very similar to the element in a light bulb, save that they are designed to give off more heat than light. Just like a light bulb, these heating elements will eventually fail from the stress of constantly heating and cooling. This vulnerability can be exacerbated by issues like voltage being too high (which will cause the element to burn out) or short-cycling, which increases stress on all parts of the system.

Intermittent pilots don’t rely on heating elements, but are still vulnerable to breakdowns. Most often, these systems are affected by lack of power to the heater or short-circuits in the control system. The electrode that provides the spark itself may also become damaged, though it is rare.

If your electronic ignition system is acting up, call Avis Plumbing, Heating and Air to schedule professional heating service in Riverside.

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Furnace Installation: Gas or Electric?

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Furnaces are one of the most widely varied home heating systems on the market. There is a huge difference in fuel types, ignition mechanisms, installation locations, and efficiency ratings that can be overwhelming to a homeowner looking for a furnace. One of the most common conundrums in furnace shopping is the choice between gas and electric. Let’s go through the pros and cons of each, and hopefully we can help you make the right decision.

Gas Furnaces

Gas furnaces are a bit more common than electric furnaces across the country. This isn’t necessarily because they are better, but it does indicate a few of their strengths. Gas furnaces are installed because of their versatility and commonality. In other words, natural gas is widely available and can heat well in any environment. Gas furnaces are an older technology. As such, their parts are cheaper and replacements are very easy to find.

There are a few downsides to gas furnaces. For one, they really aren’t all that energy efficient. Natural gas can put out a high amount of heat when burned, but a lot of it goes to waste. This is especially true in older furnaces.

Electric Furnaces

Electric furnaces are a newer furnace type, but are gaining in popularity. The primary reason to install an electric furnace is because they are more energy efficient. They can also be installed in areas where there are no natural gas lines, giving them a slight edge in more remote or underdeveloped areas. Electric furnaces run electricity through a heating coil, rather than relying on a flame from burning fuel. While electricity is more expensive than gas from a fuel perspective, almost none of the heat it generates goes to waste. This is what makes electric furnaces more energy efficient.

The major downside to electric furnaces is that they are more expensive to fix. The technology used in their construction is more complex, and therefore more difficult to repair. Because of their relative rarity, it may also be difficult to find companies that service them in your area.

If you’d like to know more about your gas or electric furnaces options, call Avis Plumbing, Heating, and Air. Our technicians provide heating services throughout Riverside.

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