Fall’s Here in Canby: Time for a Furnace Inspection

Fall's Here in Canby: Time for a Furnace InspectionThe chilly temperatures are rapidly approaching Canby. Before fall gets into full swing and winter bites down, be sure that your furnace is in tip-top operational shape by having it thoroughly inspected. Here are some of the steps that a professional takes when performing a furnace inspection.

Combustion Chamber
Air and fuel combine in the ignition process to create heat for your home. During this process natural byproducts such as soot and water vapor can begin to build up over time. During a furnace inspection your HVAC specialist will clean all of the build-up from the chamber and inspect it to insure that there is no corrosion or undo build-up in the chamber.

Exhaust Flute
The excess heat and harmful gasses that are released during the combustion process are vented through the exhaust flute. Starting where the piping exits the furnace and inspecting all the way to where it exists your home is vital. Any holes or cracks in the piping could lead to carbon monoxide leaks or other harmful circumstances. Also remember to inspect carbon monoxide detectors.

Oil and Air Filters
During your furnace inspection the air and oil filters should also be replaced. Clean oil allows for smoother operation of the system and insures that dirty oil deposits and debris do not clog up the burners and lead to system shutdowns or failures. The air quality in your home is more vital in the fall and winter months when more time is spent indoors. A clean air filter helps increase your homes indoor air quality.

Adjustments for Efficiency
The burners should be adjusted to insure that your system will run at optimal efficiency. This helps save money during operation as well as by abating costly system malfunctions. All burners should then emit about the same amount of flame and do so in an even pattern.

Contact Roth Heating and Cooling today to get your furnace inspection completed in time for the coming wintery months. You can only be glad you did! We are also here to help if you think it might be time to replace your furnace.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Allergies Getting Worse? It Could Be Dust Mites

Allergies Getting Worse? It Could Be Dust MitesIf you are suffering from allergy symptoms such as sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose and itchy or watery eyes, locating the source of your allergies and making efforts to reduce this source could bring you a great deal of relief. Dust mites are among the most common household allergens and can trigger severe allergic reactions in sensitive people.

Dust mites are actually members of the arachnid family which also includes spiders and ticks. These tiny eight legged creatures thrive in warm, moist environments and eat skin particles that accumulate in mattresses, pillows, couches, etc. Although they do not bite, specific proteins present in the bodies and fecal matter of these mites can trigger allergenic responses in many people. A number of simple steps to reduce the population of these uninvited house guests include:

  • Keeping your household humidity levels below 55 percent. Since mites cannot live in a dry environment, reducing humidity is one of the most effective ways of minimizing exposure to dust mites. Running a dehumidifier and using ventilation fans in your kitchen and bathrooms to vent humid air directly outdoors can help keep humidity in check.
  • Replacing wall to wall carpeting with smooth flooring in as much of your home as possible, especially bedrooms. This will allow for nearly complete removal of the dust particles which accumulate on the flooring within all homes, as smooth floors can be vacuumed with a HEPA type cleaner, leaving behind a much cleaner surface compared to carpeting which tends to hold dust particles deep within its fibers even after cleaning.
  • Using “mite proof” mattress and pillow covers and being sure to change your sheets and pillow cases frequently.
  • Replacing your HVAC filter regularly with a filter having a MERV value of at least 11.
  • Consider using UV light air filtration to reduce dust mite population.

If you would like more information on reducing dust mites in your Portland area home, the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling would love to help you; we have been serving the area since 1976!

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Prepare for Cold Weather With Fall Water Heater Maintenance

Prepare for Cold Weather With Fall Water Heater MaintenanceWater heaters are one of those things that you set and forget. They just sit off to the side and do their own thing, and when you turn on the water tap or the shower, you are rewarded with hot water. In most cases, and depending on what type of water you have, you can expect your hot water heater to last between 8 to 12 years.

But by doing a little water heater maintenance every fall, you’ll assure yourself trouble free operation for the entire service life of your water heater. Here are a few tips on what to do.

  • Set your thermostat to 120 degrees. Yes, you have set it before, but it never hurts to check it and make sure it hasn’t been bumped, or that someone hasn’t turned up the temperature inadvertently. One hundred-twenty degrees is optimal for hot water comfort and overall energy savings.
  • Test the pressure relief valve. This valve is located on the top or near the top on the side. Put a bucket under the discharge tube and flip the valve handle up and down a few times to make sure it sets back in place. This action will purge any sediment from the seals.
  • Drain 1/4 of the tank. Ideally, this should be done a couple of times per year to remove any built-up sediment inside the water tank. But if you only have time to only do it once, make it part of your fall maintenance schedule.
  • Insulate the tank. If you haven’t done it yet, get a tank jacket that will keep the water inside hotter longer and also to conserve energy. If you have one in place, make sure it is still wrapped tightly and that it effectively covers the entire tank.

Doing these easy water heater maintenance tasks every fall on your hot water heater, will keep it giving you the hot water you need every time you turn the hot water faucet on.

For more ideas about water heater maintenance, please contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We have been serving the Portland, Oregon, area since 1976.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Your Furnace Filter Should Boost Your IAQ

Your Furnace Filter Should Boost Your IAQImproving your home comfort and energy efficiency doesn’t always require a grand gesture or big investment. Simply maintaining and replacing your furnace filter can both prevent indoor air quality problems and save money. Although you can check the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) for efficiency rates, choosing a filter can be daunting. Here are the common varieties for your consideration.

Basic Filters

Panel filters, or disposable fiberglass ones, are installed in most heating and cooling systems. They are composed of an inch of thick-spun fiberglass, are generally disposable, and block larger particles, with lower MERV ratings and costs.

Pleated Filters

Pleated filters are the most popular and are made 4 to 5 inches of polyester, cotton, or green materials. They are pleated or folded filters with greater surface area and efficiency.

  • The disposable pleated filter provides greater filtering at a relatively inexpensive price but should be changed frequently to ensure adequate airflow.
  • The high-efficiency version adds a rigid metal grid to increase efficiency and MERV, albeit at a higher cost and requiring a special housing. They may be ideal for sensitive household members.

Electrostatic Filters

These are made of self-charging cotton or paper fibers that pull in dust and other particles, trapping them. They must be changed or cleaned regularly to ensure  efficiency.

  • The disposable version has a relatively higher MERV, is fairly inexpensive, and works well for homes with pets or children, but  can be more expensive for non-standard sizes and due to repeated replacements.
  • Permanent electrostatic filters are a bit more expensive but are more effective than basic, pleated ones and can be machine washed and reused for 6 to 8 years.

HEPA Filters

Check with an HVAC professional before choosing high efficiency particulate air filters, as they require a separate system to block sub-micron particles. They rely on a core filter folded over very fine separators through which air flows.

Remember that filter efficiency decreases as particles build up, so change or clean them regularly.  For more expert advice on your Portland area home’s furnace filter and general comfort needs, contact Roth Heating & Cooling today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Why It’s Time to Switch to a Programmable Thermostat if You Haven’t Already

Why It's Time to Switch to a Programmable Thermostat if You Haven't AlreadyYou may have noticed that the trend in electronics and other industries is a digital one. Even eye glass lenses are now made digitally. So it’s no surprise that thermostats have gone digital as well. If you haven’t made the switch to a programmable thermostat, you may not be aware of the benefits a digital thermostat can have.

Why You Should Switch to a Programmable Thermostat

Making the switch to a programmable thermostat can actually save you money. Digital thermostats are more accurate than their analog counterparts, and that makes it easier to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

An accurate thermostat also means your air conditioner will only run long enough to reach the temperature you set, which will save you quite a bit of money on your energy bill.

Another great reason to switch to a programmable thermostat is that they are not made with mercury. Analog thermostats contain mercury like a regular thermometer.

Analog thermostats are also notorious for having displays that are hard to read. They are usually a dial with a needle that points to a temperature. Digital thermostats have a digital display that tells you exactly what the temperature of your home is, making it easy to make adjustments if you want to do so.

Digital thermostats can be programmed to a lower temperature when you are home and a higher temperature when you are at work, which can also save you quite a bit of money. In the fall, you can easily set the thermostat to start heating your home to a more comfortable temperature before you get home.

Many of the newer thermostats can also be controlled via an app on your smartphone which gives you even more control over your energy consumption. If you’ll be staying late at the office, you can override your digital thermostat presets and to maintain the current temperature until you get home.

For more information about making the switch to a programmable thermostat, contact the experts at Roth Heating and Cooling. We’ve been serving the Portland area for over 30 years.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Sealing Air Leaks: Do It Now, Before the First Cold Front

Sealing Air Leaks: Do It Now, Before the First Cold FrontNo matter what HVAC system you install and how well you maintain it, you cannot achieve an efficient home if you have significant air leaks. Air leaks are responsible for heat loss during the winter and heat gain during the summer. Spend time finding and sealing air leaks in your home to keep comfort high and bills low.

How to Find Leaks

At first you may have a hard time finding leaks, but over time it will become easier. If you would like professional help, have an HVAC technician come in and perform a blower door test. The blower door test will reveal virtually all significant leaks so you can seal them.

To inspect for leaks by yourself, take a walk around your home looking for major holes or cracks. These are typically present where the foundation meets the rest of the wall, as well around any piping or electrical entrance into the home.

You can follow a similar procedure inside the home, but should then try feeling for leaks or watching for airflow as you move a tissue or incense stick around the exterior wall. Give extra attention to windows and doors, the most common sources of leaks. Also be aware that fireplaces and outlets commonly exhibit leaks as well.

Sealing Air Leaks

Most typical leaks can be filled with either weatherstripping or caulking. You can find both at most hardware stores for a fairly cheap price. Caulking is used on leaks that are in stationary locations, like a wall or ceiling. Weatherstripping on the other hand is perfect for leaks around door joints, where movement is still required.

If you do find a leak around a fireplace, furnace or other heat generating equipment, you may have to use a special sealant. Sheet metal, sheetrock and cement caulk are all fire resistant materials that are often used. If you are presented with a situation that you are unsure of, contact an HVAC professional for guidance.

For help sealing air leaks in your Portland, Oregon home, contact Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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The Kids Are Back in School, So It’s Primetime to Recoup Summertime Energy Expenses

The Kids Are Back in School, So It's Primetime to Recoup Summertime Energy ExpensesFrom video games and television to air conditioning and pool filtering, having the kids home during the summer is a big energy expense. If the high energy bills during these months has you concerned, you’ll be glad to know that fall is a great time to recoup summertime energy expenses. With the kids away at school, sports or other activities throughout most of the day, you’ll have the chance to cut back at home.

To help you maximize your energy savings, we’ve come up with a few tips that are easy to understand and follow. You can:

  • Adjust your thermostat – You want your kids to be cool and comfortable while at home, but when they’re away there’s little reason to keep your programmable thermostat at the perfect temperature for comfort. By raising the temperature a few degrees, your air conditioner won’t need to work has hard or use as much energy.
  • Unplug those electronics – Even when a device is off, it draws power from the grid when plugged into a socket. Idle, plugged-in devices can account for as much as 10 percent of energy usage in the average home.
  • Darken your rooms – Sunlight entering through your home’s windows can create a greenhouse effect. You can reduce your need for air conditioning by simply closing blinds, shades and drapes when you don’t need a room to be lit.
  • Use the library for homework – The house is filled with lots of entertaining distractions, so going to the library or other quiet place for homework is great for getting things done. You’re also using someone else’s lights and air conditioning, so it’s great for saving money as well.
  • Schedule your maintenance – The kids going back to school is a great time to schedule your annual HVAC maintenance. With no one around using the air conditioning or heat, your HVAC contractor can ensure everything is working properly.

If you’re looking for more information on how to recoup summertime energy expenses or other issues related to home comfort, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve provided excellent service to Portland and the surrounding areas since 1976.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Love A/C but Find the Outdoor Unit Unsightly? Do Something About It

Love A/C but Find the Outdoor Unit Unsightly? Do Something About ItIf you enjoy the cool refreshment of your Portland home’s central air conditioner, but find that outdoor unit unsightly, you have several strategies to effectively hide the unit without hampering its operation. Remember, though, to leave clear space on all sides for your HVAC technician to service the A/C equipment.

Great Grasses

If you find the outdoor unit unsightly, planting ornamental grasses around it can help. Avoid plants that grow much taller than five feet, as they can obstruct airflow, but some plants for the Portland area include:

  • Japanese Sweet Flag (acorus calumus)—five-foot leaves can mask a lot of central air conditioner cabinet
  • New Zealand Flax (phorium)—available in many varieties, such as Rainbow Queen and Apricot Queen
  • Carex (sedge)—a good variety in this grass is New England Hair, which grows tall and straight

Box It In

With three boxwood shrubs (one on each side away from your home), you can break up the profile of the cabinet. Where once you found the outdoor unit unsightly, the three bushes mean you may not find it at all.

Go Topless

Your A/C unit’s fitted cloth or vinyl cover can be unsightly, calling attention to the bulk of the compressor. It can also cut down air circulation.

Fence It In

Any fence you build around the compressor unit should be at least three feet from the cabinet for ample airflow and ease of servicing. A tip: make sure the gate into the fenced area is at least as wide as the unit, in case it needs replacing.

Discourage Unplanned Plants

Avoid lawn watering near the outdoor cabinet. Consider drip irrigation that directs water where you want plants, but keeps other areas—the A/C unit’s concrete pad—dry. This prevents attention-grabbing plants from sending out taproots and sending up unwanted sprouts.

Discourage Unwanted Visitors

By disguising or hiding your central air conditioner’s outdoor portion, you also discourage theft. A burglar cannot make off with the sheet metal, copper and motors if they are hidden.

For more help with your Portland home’s central air conditioner, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Maintain Proper Humidity in Your Portland Home for Year-Round Comfort

Maintain Proper Humidity in Your Portland Home for Year-Round ComfortCorrect home humidity levels are not simply a matter of comfort. Real health issues for your family, your home’s value, and HVAC equipment condition are all affected by home humidity.

Understanding Humidity

The amount of moisture—water vapor—in the air is humidity, but that may be less important for your family’s health than relative humidity. Relative humidity is a measure of the actual humidity versus the theoretical maximum water weight the air could contain. Strive to keep your home’s relative humidity in a comfortable range, generally 35 percent to 45 percent.

Health Concerns

If your home is too dry, family members may suffer nosebleeds, sinus trouble, headaches and itchy eyes. Too moist a home and you face unpleasant risks:

  • Increased insect activity, including dust mites, psocids (booklice), silverfish and grain beetles
  • Mold and mildew
  • Peeling wallpaper
  • Doors that cannot close
  • Condensation
  • Increased allergic reactions, difficulty breathing, and sickness

Equipment issues

Home appliances, HVAC components and any electrical devices can be harmed by high home humidity. The freezer in your refrigerator may not fully defrost and electrical contacts can corrode. Low home humidity increases static electricity, which can fry the circuitry of laptops.

Humidifiers

Humidifiers add water vapor to the air, using either portable models or whole house units that are integrated into your house HVAC system. Whole-house humidifiers have several advantages:

  • Your home is humidified whenever the HVAC system is on.
  • Every room of your home is humidified.
  • The humidified air has been cleaned by the HVAC filters.

Dehumidifiers

Too much home humidity is solved with a dehumidifier. Again, you can choose small portable models, or opt for professional installation of a whole-house dehumidifier by your HVAC contractor.

Help your mechanical dehumidifier with a few steps:

  • Always run exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchen.
  • Limit shower lengths to five minutes.
  • Keep only a reasonably small number of houseplants.
  • Open windows when you know you will be generating humidity (boiling water, steam-ironing, or showering).
  • Run the dishwasher only when full and when the central air conditioner is not on (generally overnight).

To effectively balance your Portland home’s humidity, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Compare a Maintenance Agreement With a Warranty

Compare a Maintenance Agreement With a WarrantyTaking steps to protect your heating and cooling equipment before problems occur is smart, but how do you decide between a home warranty and an HVAC maintenance agreement? By comparing the benefits of each type of coverage, you’ll see that a maintenance agreement comes out ahead, and here are the reasons why:

  • Discounted repairs and parts.HVAC service plans usually offer a healthy discount on labor and parts on any needed repairs. Home warranties typically have a limited list of repairs they’ll pay for, and often charge a deductible for each covered service.
  • Preventative care.Many maintenance agreements include semi-annual system tuneups and cleanings, which are essential to keep the equipment running at peak efficiency and extend its useful service life. Most home warranties don’t, which adds to your out-of-pocket costs. If you neglect proper maintenance, a warranty may not cover the repairs if an equipment breakdown or failure happens.
  • Lower energy costs.Those twice-yearly visits you receive as part of an HVAC service plan can keep your equipment running at 95 percent of its original efficiency, and this saves you money on operating costs. A home warranty won’t bring you any energy savings because it doesn’t cover maintaining, cleaning or tuning up the equipment.
  • Preferential scheduling.Maintenance plan customers are put at the front of the line when they call for service, and many HVAC contractors extend them a same-day guarantee. Home warranty companies usually don’t make this effort, and it may take days for a technician to arrive.
  • Familiarity and trust.If you sign a maintenance agreement with a familiar HVAC contractor, you’re already confident in their reliability and reputation for excellent service. Choosing a home warranty means you won’t decide who services and repairs your costly home comfort system. Most likely, the technician who rings the doorbell is from the HVAC contractor at the top of the warranty company’s rotating list of providers.

If you have questions about how our maintenance agreements compare to a home warranty, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve made the comfort of Portland area residents our top priority since 1976.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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