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February 16, 2023

Bang, knock, clang, rattle, click, whistle, buzz, and hum. Has your heater been talking to you? If your furnace sounds like it is playing in a band on Friday night, something is not right. Our Marin, Sonoma, and Napa County nights still get pretty chilly during this time of the year, so now is not the time to ignore issues with your furnace or leave them unresolved. If your heating system is making noises, it is trying to tell you something, so you should listen. If you have to ask yourself, “What’s that noise coming from my heater?”, you likely have an issue.

What’s That Noise Coming From my Heater?

While your heating system may be working as intended, if it has started to make new sounds and loud noises, that is usually an indication that something is about to go wrong. Typically, when your furnace starts to make new sounds, it is a sign that something is not right. While some furnace noises may be normal, if they are new and persistent, they should not be ignored. Below we review some common sounds you may be hearing and what they could possibly mean.

- Banging or Knocking: When you hear a banging or knocking noise when your heater is running, it usually means that parts are going bad or you have dirty furnace burners. There are various parts and pieces of your furnace that can go bad and cause it to produce a knocking noise as it functions. Dirty furnace burners can cause your furnace not to ignite properly and can produce a buildup that will create the banging noise. This is basically a mini-explosion in the furnace, as the furnace is not able to function as it should.

- Rattling: If you hear a rattling while your heater is on, it could be a sign that your ductwork is loose. Rattling, vibrating, knocking/banging, or whistling sounds usually mean that your ductwork has something loose, a hole, and disconnected joints, amongst other things. The rattling could also be coming from loose panels that need to be tightened. Professional duct cleaning could help you identify any of these issues, before they cause noticeable issues for your HVAC system.

- Clicking: If you have to ask, “What’s that noise coming from my heater?” and it’s what seems like a constant clicking sound, the most common causes are an ignition system malfunction or internal part damage. A repeated clicking indicates a system malfunction, due to your furnace’s spark igniter trying to light the pilot light or burners.

- Whistling: Usually the main cause of a furnace that whistles while it works is a dirty air filter that is restricting airflow. Airflow problems within your heater cause a constant whistling noise. This can also be caused from a leak or gap somewhere in the system allowing air to escape or could indicate a problem with the unit’s blower or motor.

- Buzzing or Humming: While all heating systems generate some light noise, they should run quiet enough not to be disruptive the majority of the time. If you notice a loud buzzing or humming, it can indicate various mechanical or electrical problems, either when the furnace starts up or throughout its operation. If the sound is loudest during startup, the main culprit could be an issue with your blower fan motor. If it’s a blower fan issue, the noisiness may or may not improve after startup.

As we said, if your North Bay Area heater sounds like it is playing in a band, and likely not a good one, and you have ask, “What’s that noise coming from my heater?”, you probably have a problem and should call in a Marin, Sonoma, and Napa County heating professional.

Regardless of whether it is a repair or replacement, you can depend on Bragg for expert consultation that meets or exceeds your expectations. We will always give you an honest assessment of your heating situation so you can make an informed decision.

Bragg Cooling, Heating & Plumbing is a full service HVAC company that is licensed to solve all your furnace related problems, including repair, replacement, maintenance and safety inspection. We’ve been repairing and installing furnaces since 1968. Contact us today.


November 22, 2022

When it comes to the fall and winter time, there is nothing that quite sets the mood like cuddling up in front of a fireplace and listening to the crackling wood. In the North Bay Area, using a fireplace comes with several restrictions, that may be overwhelming enough; however, nothing seems to replace the ambiance these wood burning devices tend to set, so when you can use yours, you likely take every opportunity to do so. The question is; should you use your fireplace with your home’s heat source?

Should You Use Your Fireplace with Your Home’s Heat?

As if the guidelines involving wood burning devices that we have to follow in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa counties aren’t enough, you should also think about if burning your fireplace is saving you money or costing you. When considering if you should use your fireplace with your home’s heat, the answer is about as simple as the laws we have to follow to use them.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wood and gas fireplaces are the most inefficient heat sources for the home. The U.S. Department of Energy says that the primary reason for the energy loss is the fireplace’s damper; either it being left open or not properly sealed. They estimate that this circumstance alone can result in your energy usage increasing by up to 30%, or around $200 a year. It is estimated that between 80% to 90% of heat produced by a wood burning fireplace goes up in smoke, literally, and you and your home don’t feel the effects of it.

With all that being said, when it comes down to if you should use your fireplace in conjunction with your home’s heat, it depends on your home and your heat source and its effectiveness. Your ductwork, thermostat, and type of furnace can all play a major role. It is widely believed that a furnace is the better choice for heat, as it’s more efficient and can distribute the heat evenly throughout the home.

Reasons you Should Keep Your Furnace on While Enjoying a Fire

As we have reviewed above, your home’s heater is the best option when it comes to heating your home; however, if you are going to enjoy sitting in front of your home’s fireplace, you really shouldn’t turn off your home’s central HVAC. Why?

It will cause energy to be lost and wasted. If you shut off your HVAC unit to utilize your fireplace, your heater will eventually need to be turned back on. When you go to turn your heater back on, many of the rooms in your home have probably cooled down quite a bit, meaning your furnace will have to work harder and longer to warm them back up. That can use a lot of energy and put a strain on your HVAC system.

A fireplace cannot thoroughly heat your home. As we reviewed above, your fireplace should not be used a main source of heat for your home. Using a fireplace to heat a home is less efficient than using a furnace. Furnaces have less heat loss than fireplaces and can circulate air better. A fireplace heats the immediate area or a home but lacks ductwork to distribute the heat throughout the entire house.

You cannot leave a fire unattended. A fireplace can be a good source of heat for the short term, usually in a small space, but it’s not a good idea to shut off the heater and leave the fire burning overnight, unattended. Also, as we know per our California guidelines, the air that is produced from a fireplace can have some safety risks.

Should you use your fireplace with your home’s heat? Like we said, there is not an easy answer. To put this simply you should not use a fireplace to replace your home’s heating source; however, if using one, you should still keep your HVAC on.

If you have a problem with your home’s heat, Bragg Cooling, Heating & Plumbing can help. We are very good at troubleshooting furnaces and getting you back into heat in no time. We service and repair all makes and models. The right tools and expertise make all the difference. We are your North Bay Area heating experts.

Regardless of whether it is a repair or replacement, you can depend on Bragg for expert consultation that meets or exceeds your expectations. We will always give you an honest assessment of your heating situation so you can make an informed decision. Contact us today.


October 6, 2022

When it comes to your Marin, Sonoma, or Napa County furnace, when you need it and go to turn it on, you expect it to work. When you start to feel the warm air coming out of it, you are filled with relief that it has yet again survived another long season without being used. As the heat begins to warm up your home, you may start to notice a strange odor, and ask yourself, “What’s that smell coming from my heater”? While some smells coming from your furnace may be normal, there are some odors that may be cause for concern. We are going to review common aromas that your heater may produce and what they usually mean.

What’s That Smell Coming From my Heater?

If your furnace is producing an unpleasant odor it can not only be annoying, it can be discomforting and concerning for you and your North Bay Area home and family. While you can prepare your furnace for the fall and winter, there are still things that may cause it to produce more than just heat, and could be the reason you are sniffing around to find out what it is.

As we said, not all smells coming from your furnace are bad; however, there are some that should be cause for concern. We review some of the most common smells and their reasons below.

  • Smoky: If there is a smoky smell coming from your heater, if you have just turned on the furnace for the season; that is usually okay. The odor could just be caused by dust burning off as furnaces and ductwork commonly accumulate dust buildup when they have been dormant and unused for several months. This smell should dissipate as the dust and other particles are burned away; however, if you notice the smoky smell lingering or if the stench starts all of the sudden, there could be a larger issue. If this is the case, turn off your furnace and contact a local heating repair professional to come out and inspect your system.
  • Burning Plastic: If you are asking yourself, “What’s that smell coming from my heater?” and it is because it smells like burning plastic, that could actually be the cause. Before you turn on your furnace for the year and each time you go to use it, you should inspect around it to ensure there is nothing in it, touching it, or near to it. A burning plastic odor can be caused by a foreign object being in or near your HVAC system. If you notice this smell and can’t identify what is causing the odor, shut off your furnace and contact a local furnace repair expert as soon as possible to avoid breathing in the harmful fumes and a potential fire.
  • Musky: If your heater is producing a musty and stale odor, your air filter may be dirty and clogged. You should regularly check and change your home’s air filter to avoid this type of scenario. Air filters are one of the simplest elements of your Marin, Sonoma, and Napa County home’s heating and cooling system, but are also one of the most important. When you change your air filter frequently, it helps remove harmful particles from the air such as pollen, dust, dust mites, mold, bacteria, micro allergens and more. Removing these harmful pollutants has massive health benefits for you and your family. Plus, changing your air filter regularly helps keep your HVAC system running at its highest efficiency, which will help to lower your energy bills and extend the life of your system. With a dirty and clogged air filter, your furnace has to work much harder, and that can cause it to overheat, in turn, creating a stale smell.
  • Fishy: If there is a fishy smell coming from your furnace, it is sure to make you question what that smell is coming from your heater. The electrical components of your heating system are typically covered in chemicals and plastic. When these components heat up and/or start burning, they can produce a fishy burning odor. If you notice a burning electrical smell coming from your furnace, you should contact a HVAC professional. While furnaces are usually built to automatically power down when they start to overheat, if the safety feature is broken, this could cause issues, create the fishy smell, and put you and your family at risk of an electrical fire.


Things like professional duct cleaning, advanced air filtration systems, and an annual heating tune-up, should help you avoid less than desirable smells coming from your heater. If you have a strange odor coming from your furnace, you should always power it down and call in a professional to help.

At Bragg Plumbing & Heating we offer fast same-day HVAC service as we know you can’t be without your heat for long. Regardless of whether it is a repair or replacement, you can depend on Bragg for expert consultation that meets or exceeds your expectations. We will always give you an honest assessment of your heating situation so you can make an informed decision.

Bragg Cooling, Heating & Plumbing is a full service HVAC company that is licensed to solve all your furnace related problems, including repair, replacement, and maintenance and safety inspection. We’ve been repairing and installing furnaces since 1968. Contact us today.

September 20, 2022

As the weather starts to become cooler in the North Bay Area, many homeowners turn to space heaters, as an alternative to turning their furnace on just yet, and as a way to heat up their home or specific rooms that stay a bit colder. The autumn mornings and evening can create a chill throughout your home, but you may not fully need your heat for the season, so these types of heaters can be a great alternative. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that space heaters are responsible for 43% of house fires and 81% of home heating fire deaths. That leads us to the question, are you using your space heater safely?

What is a Space Heater?

Whether you are trying to warm up a space that doesn’t have a built in heat source, or just looking for some warm relief, a space heater may be the solution you turn to. These, usually small and portable heaters, provide a way to warm up an individual rooms without turning up the thermostat to the entire house. They can be used almost anywhere in the home that flammable materials are not present.  Space heaters differ from central heating systems, as space heaters are meant for smaller and typically enclosed spaces, while central HVAC systems are intended to heat your entire home.

There are several different types of electric space heaters:

  • Oil or water-filled radiator: Heated oil or water travels through the heater.
  • Fan-forced heater: A fan blows warm air over metal coils.
  • Ceramic heater: Air is warmed over a ceramic heating element.
  • Infrared heaters: Heat is created by infrared bulbs.


Regardless what type you use, it’s important that you are using your space heater safely. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in more than 300 deaths. In addition, an estimated 6,000 people receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting the hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations.

Are you Using Your Space Heater Safely?

As you can see, space heaters, while a great solution for providing heat to your Marin, Sonoma, or Napa county home and family, can also pose a safety risk. Are you using your space heater safely? Below we review some safety precautions you should take if using one of these heat producing devices.

Recommended space heater safety tips:

  • Purchase a heater with the seal of a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
  • Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from anything that is flammable, including people (especially children).
  • Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection.
  • Station the heater on a solid, flat surface that is out of the way of foot traffic and does not block an exit.
  • Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over.
  • Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord.
  • Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room or go to bed. They should never be left unattended.
  • Only use a space heater to provide supplemental heat and never use to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing, or thaw pipes.


Are you using your space heater safely? It doesn’t matter if you are trying to avoid turning on your entire heating system until later in the year, warming a room that is a bit chilly, or trying to heat up a garage, when using one of these heating devices, you need to be sure you are taking the proper safety precautions to protect yourself, your home, and your family.

At Bragg Plumbing & Heating, our specialty is providing comfort to your home. We are North Bay Area furnace and HVAC professionals. Ensuring your peace of mind is our priority. Whether you are planning on replacing an old furnace or you’re looking to have your system tuned up for the season, the Bragg expert installers and technicians will make sure you receive a top-notch service experience and total home comfort.

Contact us today.

August 18, 2022

No one wants to think about the end of summer, but it will be here before we know it and when the autumn breezes begin to set in in the North Bay Area, many homeowners turn to their furnace for warmth. After sitting dormant for months, your heater could be faced with some problems. What if you can’t get your furnace to start running? What if you hear loud or unusual noises coming from your system? What if it’s making a strange smell? While you may only use your furnace for a short time each year, you want it to work without issue when you do. We are going to walk you through some tips for how to prepare your furnace for the fall.

How to Prepare Your Furnace for the Fall

Fall doesn’t begin for another month, but now is a great time to start getting ready for it. While we may not get as cold in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa counties as other parts of the country, it can become rather chilly, especially at night, and you will want to make sure that your HVAC unit is ready for the heat to kick on when you need it to. Preparing your furnace for the fall isn’t much different than getting your HVAC ready for the other seasons; however, the changing seasons are always a good reminder for regular maintenance and upkeep.

Let’s review some things you should do to prepare your furnace for the fall and brisker days ahead.

  • Change Your Air Filter: Replacing your air filters regularly can have a large impact on the health and well-being of everyone in your home and is important and imperative to getting your HVAC system ready for the fall and all year round. Air filters do simply what the name implies, they filter your air. Air filters keep dust and pollen out and are also tasked with keeping larger particles and materials out of your HVAC system, in turn, saving your system from mutilation. Dirty, unchanged filters are a leading cause of issues with Marin, Sonoma, and Napa County HVAC systems. How often you should change your home’s air filter really varies by home. We recommend changing your air filters at least once a month, but there is no exact number of days in which you should change your filters, as each home is different and it depends on the strain you put on your filter, what particles are in the air, and also what type of filter you have.
  • Prepare Your Thermostat: Your thermostat is one of the key components to your home’s HVAC system and can make all the difference between your Novato, CA home maintaining its comfort level or not. There can be indications that your thermostat may need replaced, and checking for them before the cold weather sets in can help you avoid your HVAC system from malfunctioning, or not working at all. Regardless if you have a basic thermostat, programmable thermostat, or SMART thermostat, like all things, there could come a point where you need to make an upgrade. Autumn is a great time to replace the batteries in your thermostat, if yours is battery operated. Also, be sure to make sure you have yours set so that the heat will kick on if needed.
  • Annual Furnace Tune-up: If you really want to make sure your heat is ready for the fall and ensure it is in the best condition possible for the colder weather ahead, you should have it inspected by a HVAC professional. Furnace problems are often caused by lack of maintenance. While you may only use your furnace for a short time each year, regular system inspections and maintenance are crucial to ensuring your comfort come fall and winter. Annual inspections and tune ups help to prevent unexpected breakdowns, and also boosts your heater’s energy efficiency. Preventative HVAC maintenance can help you avoid future headaches and expenses.


As you begin to prepare your furnace for the fall, if you notice any issues or just want a professional to take a look at it, Bragg Plumbing & Heating can help. We offer annual maintenance agreements that include fall furnace tune ups. Contact us today to learn more about signing up for our maintenance program.

We Proudly Service all Makes & Models