Good Quality Air Filter Could be the Key to Better Breathing

Good Quality Air Filter Could be the Key to Better BreathingHVAC equipment is a major investment in your family’s comfort. An air filter for your system is extremely inexpensive by comparison. The health of your family and your HVAC system, however, depend on that filter. A good quality air filter is key to better breathing for your family and better efficiency for your HVAC equipment.

MERV Ratings

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is a numerical scale that gives you a sense of how thoroughly an air filter mechanically blocks particulates in your Portland home. The higher the number, the more effective the filter. Clean rooms for high technology and pharmaceutical manufacturing, for example, use filters rated MERV 19 and 20. The cheapest disposable filter for home use may have a MERV rating between one and three.

Air Filter Choices

Air filters come in a wide range of materials at many price levels. The four most popular types:

  • Washable filters—Generally made from aluminum mesh and intended to be rinsed off monthly, these have low MERV ratings between one and four, and may actually encourage biological growths such as fungi, bacteria and spores.
  • Fiberglass air filters—These are the inexpensive, disposable filters you can find in big-box improvement stores, and also in discount stores and even the pharmacy. They do nothing to improve indoor air quality and are designed to prevent particulate damage to your HVAC system. They are rated MERV two to three, removing only about 10 percent of a home’s pollutants.
  • Pleated filters—At MERV ratings between eight and 13, these filter out up to 45 percent of your Portland home’s indoor particulate pollution. The pleats increase surface area, and higher quality fibers—cotton and polyester instead of fiberglass—provide superior mechanical filtration.
  • High-efficiency air filters—Coming in at MERV ratings between 14 and 16, these HVAC filters remove up to 85 percent of particulates, pollutants and allergens from your home’s air. They are generally very thick, and need professional installation in your HVAC ductwork, as they can affect airflow rate.

For more guidance on selecting the best air filter for your home’s HVAC system, 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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Four Key Concerns When Replacing the A/C

Four Key Concerns When Replacing the A/CAre you considering replacing the A/C? This is a big decision that requires some research. Before you head to the home improvement store and buy the first air conditioner you see, get a grasp on the following four concerns when replacing the A/C.

Knowing the Right Time

The simplest ways to tell when it’s time to replace the air conditioner are to assess the system’s age and performance:

  • Is the equipment 15 to 20 years old?
  • Is efficiency dropping?
  • Does your home feel uncomfortable when the temperature climbs outside?

If you answer yes to all of these questions, it’s time for a system replacement.

Whether to Replace One or Both Components

If you choose a split-system A/C, it’s best to replace the indoor evaporator coil and outdoor condensing unit at the same time. This ensures both components work together properly, saving you money in the long run by delivering peak efficiency and avoiding breakdowns common when two incompatible components are paired together.

Sizing

An undersized system can’t keep up when the temperature rises outside. On the other hand, an oversized system results in highly fluctuating indoor temperatures and poor humidity control.

To ensure you invest in a properly sized air conditioner, seek the expert sizing capabilities of a knowledgeable HVAC contractor. You know proper sizing is taking place when technicians refer to the calculations found in Manual J. These calculations go well beyond square footage and climate to include other important factors such as home orientation, window layout, number of stories, insulation, air infiltration rates, occupancy level and more.

What Type of System is Best

You have many options for air conditioning your home, including:

  • Split-system A/C to provide central cooling for your home.
  • Packaged A/C, mostly used in mobile homes and commercial properties.
  • Heat pump for year-round central heating and cooling.
  • Ductless mini-split to heat and cool one section of your home, such as an add-on with no ductwork.

With this extra information about replacing the A/C, you’re ready to start exploring your options with greater confidence. For more help, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling in Portland.

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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Three Types of Indoor Air Pollutants and the Remedies You Can Apply

Three Types of Indoor Air Pollutants and the Remedies You Can ApplyFew Portland homeowners realize their indoor air can be up to 10 times more polluted than the air outside. Three major types of indoor air pollutants are common, but fortunately remedies are readily obtainable from your HVAC contractor.

Three Indoor Air Pollutants

The micron—one-millionth of a meter—is central to measuring indoor air quality (IAQ). A human hair, for example, averages 50 to 100 microns in diameter, near the lower limit of naked-eye visibility. The three major types of  pollutants all vary considerably in size:

  1. Particles—dust, pollen, gritty matter and pet dander 100 microns or smaller in diameter
  2. Microorganisms and bioaerosols—dust mites, viruses, bacteria, mold spores, fungi and any other living organisms down to around 0.01 microns
  3. Chemical vapors and odors—volatile organic compounds (VOCs), odors, smoke and perfumes given off my cleaning products, manufacturing solvents in upholstery and carpeting, and cooking smells

No Single Silver HVAC Bullet

The challenge with indoor air pollutants lies in the varying particle diameters. No one type of filtration will remove every pollutant from your Portland home. Some mechanical filters grab and hold large particles but are unable to stop chemicals and gases. Filters to block gases cannot also contend with larger particles. Choices of mechanical filtration are as follows:

  • High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters—these block at least 99.77 percent of particles 0.3 microns and larger
  • Electrostatic filters—electrostatic charged pollutants cling to fabric layers
  • Pleated and deep-media filters—regular furnace filters increase in mechanical efficiency when pleated, and increase filtration efficiency yet again when they are four to eight inches thick

Electronic air cleaners ionize particles so they are attracted to layers of the filter and periodic cleaning is needed to remove the indoor air pollutants.

Many Filtration Choices

Because indoor air pollutants vary widely, solutions vary widely as well. Cleaners can be portable or whole-house units built into your Portland home’s HVAC system:

  • Gas-phase air filters—using activated charcoal or activated alumina and chemicals to neutralize unwanted chemicals and odors
  • Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI)—using high-energy light to prevent microorganisms from reproducing

For more information about improving indoor air quality, 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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What’s With the Heat Pump? When There’s Trouble, Try These Tips

What's With the Heat Pump? When There's Trouble, Try These TipsIn addition to home heating, heat pumps are designed to provide efficient home cooling, too. That’s one of the big perks of using a heat pump in your Portland home — cooling and heating in one system. However, if your heat pump is on the fritz, and the only perk you want is for it to work, use these troubleshooting tips to try and cool things off.

Troubleshooting Tips

The first step of heat pump troubleshooting is locating the issue — sometimes by process of elimination:

  • Controls — You’ve already checked the thermostat half a dozen times, but check it once more and make sure it is in COOL cycle, and the temperature setting is below room temperature reading.
  • Power — If the heat pump is not powering on, check the circuit panel for a tripped breaker. Also, check the limit switch located near the indoor air-handling unit. The limit switch looks like a regular light switch.
  • Poor airflow — Perhaps you feel a little cool airflow from the vents, but pressure is not normal. Check the air filter to see if it is dirty. If the filter is clogged, airflow is restricted. Check all the vents in the home to make sure they are fully open and not obstructed by curtains or furnishings.
  • No cold air — If there is ample airflow from the vents, but it is not cool, check the evaporator coil for ice accumulation. The coil is located at the indoor air handling unit. Airflow restrictions (e.g. dirty air filters) and electrical problems are typically at the root of the frozen coil problem.
  • Noises — If your hear grinding or scraping noises, turn off the system before it comes to a grinding halt. There is likely a compressor or blower motor problem. Call in the professionals. Ductwork may be the reason rooms are not receiving cool airflow. Rattling and clamoring are sure signs of loose and disconnected ducts. Metal tape (not cloth “duct” tape) and mastic sealant are the tools used for duct sealing.

For more details about these heat pump troubleshooting tips, please contact the professionals at 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 Important to Fix Plumbing Leaks Before They Turn Into Larger Problems

Why It’s Important to Fix Plumbing Leaks Before They Turn Into Larger ProblemsThat drippy faucet in the kitchen is more than just annoying; it can become costly. Faucets aren’t the only place leaks develop over time. They just happen to be the most noticeable. Leaks in underground plumbing or hidden in cabinets cause material damage in addition to wasting gallons of water each year. That’s why it’s important to fix plumbing leaks sooner rather than later.

Signs You Have a Leak

Here are some signs you have a leak.

  • You can hear the drips.
  • The joints of your pipes are damp or appear rusty.
  • There is a large puddle of water in your yard on a day it has neither rained nor have the sprinklers been on.
  • You begin to smell mildew, especially in your basement.

Another way to determine if you have a hidden leak is to turn off all the faucets in your home, check the water meter and write down the numbers. Don’t use any water for the next couple of hours and then check the numbers at the meter again. If the numbers have changed, you have a leak.

Long Term Effects of Leaks

In a time when much of the nation is experiencing drought conditions, wasting gallons of water is simply irresponsible. Additionally, the failure to fix plumbing leaks in a timely manner can become a costly venture for any homeowner. You can expect to pay more on your water bill, but perhaps an even bigger hit to your budget is the damage long term leaks can cause to your home. Water leaks can lead to:

  • Ruptured pipes in the winter.
  • Mold and mildew in the framework of your house.
  • Erosion around the foundation, leading to cracks and structural damage.

For help locating a leak and repairing it, call the professionals at Roth Heating and Cooling. We’ve been serving the plumbing needs of the Portland 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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Negative Effects Poor Indoor Air Quality Can Have on Your Oregon Home

Negative Effects Poor Indoor Air Quality Can Have on Your Oregon HomeWith so much focus on climate control and outdoor pollutants, sometimes it’s easy to forget about the quality of your indoor air. Truth be told, the negative effects of poor indoor air quality can be just as damaging to you as outdoor air.

Respiratory Problems

Individuals who struggle with allergies, asthma or both usually show the first symptoms of poor indoor air. They will have difficulty breathing or experience raw, scratchy eyes, nose or throat. With the absence of other common triggers, air quality is likely the culprit. Cleaner air often brings relief.

Prone to Illness

The same contaminants that trigger allergies and asthma also make individuals without those conditions more likely to experience illness. Sinus irritants like mold, dust and debris may develop into sinus infections or bronchitis. Hospitals use commercial size air cleaners to purify the air patients breathe.

Mechanical Issues

From a house maintenance perspective, the negative effects of poor indoor air quality involve the function of your heating and cooling system. Dust and debris builds up on the components of your system and bog down the mechanical workings. Over time, this shortens the life of your system because it forces your system to work harder to accomplish the same results. Cleaner air leads to cleaner systems and vice versa.

Energy Costs

Similarly, when the system is forced to work harder, it requires more energy to do so. That extra energy usage takes a direct hit on your wallet. In addition to having to replace your system more often, you’re paying more to run the system while you have it. Clean air costs less.

For information about how to improve the quality of your indoor air, contact the HVAC professionals at Roth Heating and Cooling. We’ve been serving the air needs of 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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A Refrigerant Charge Could Be the Cure for a Warm A/C

A Refrigerant Charge Could Be the Cure for a Warm A/CWhen your cooling system isn’t delivering the cold air it normally does, it could need a refrigerant charge. Not only won’t your equipment cool as well, it can cause premature compressor failure, which is the most expensive part in an air conditioner or heat pump.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, refrigerant that’s 20 percent below the level the manufacturer intended can reduce the cooling efficiency of a system by 29.4 percent. Low levels occur either from inadequate charging when the air conditioner was installed or from refrigerant leaks.

Normally, the refrigerant is checked when an HVAC contractor services your system. They use pressure gauges to determine what the pressure is in the refrigerant lines. If the refrigerant charge is too low, the technician will find the source of the leaks and repair them before adding more. These leaks are not only the cause of low system efficiency, they’re also an environmental hazard.

The best way to avoid a refrigerant leak and the consequent need to have it refilled is by keeping the coils clean. Dust can cause holes to develop in the refrigerant coils, and since the refrigerant is under pressure, it naturally escapes. If your system uses R-22 or Freon, having to refill it could be costly, since its supply is declining annually and prices are rising continuously.

The coils are found in the outdoor condenser and the inside air handler. Hosing off the outdoor coil several times a year will keep it clean. If you can access the evaporator coil, clean it occasionally and make it a point to keep the air filter clean. A dirty filter will deposit dust on the coil, reducing its efficiency.

Adding more refrigerant needs to be done by a licensed HVAC contractor who has the U.S. EPA certifications to handle it. They add more by turning the system on and adding it gradually.

If you think you may need a refrigerant charge based on your cooling system’s performance, contact the pros at Roth Heating & Cooling, providing HVAC services for Portland area homeowners 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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What if the A/C Can’t Keep Up With Canby’s Humidity?

What if the A/C Can't Keep Up With Canby's Humidity?Keeping up with summer heat is one thing, but keeping up with summer humidity is quite another. Read on to learn the relation between temperature and humidity outside and inside the home, and take the necessary steps to give your Canby home’s A/C and energy budget a break. Continue reading

Cooling With Geothermal Heat Pump Is Efficient: Use Your Tax Credits

Cooling With Geothermal Heat Pump Is Efficient: Use Your Tax CreditsInstalling a qualifying geothermal heat pump (GHP) before the end of 2016 entitles you to a 30 percent tax credit. The federal government is offering this credit since GHPs represent the most energy efficient way to cool homes and buildings. Although they cost more to install than other kinds of HVAC systems, the energy efficiency they offer pays for these systems. When combined with the generous tax credit that has no upward limit, the payback period is even shorter.  Continue reading

Before Upgrading Your A/C, Understand These 3 Important Efficiency Ratings

Before Upgrading Your A/C, Understand These 3 Important Efficiency RatingsWhen you’re selecting a new cooling system, look carefully at its A/C efficiency ratings. The U.S. Department of Energy requires ratings on these appliances to inform consumers about energy consumption. The ratings include: Continue reading