How to Solve Common A/C Condensate Drain Issues

How to Solve Common A/C Condensate Drain IssuesAs part of its function, your air conditioner provides a measure of dehumidification while also cooling your living spaces. The water from this dehumidification process is usually removed through the system’s condensate drain. When this drain develops problems, however, it can result in several different types of moisture-related issues.

Condensate Drain Problems

  • Clogs and blockages: The environment inside a condensate drain is consistently moist and moderate in temperature, which creates a perfect place for mold and algae to grow and create partial or total blockages of the drain.
  • Leaks and overflows: Blocked drains can cause water to overflow and drip into your walls, onto flooring and carpets, and into areas where it can cause unseen damage. The amount of water involved may not be substantial, but the damage can still be very real and very annoying.
  • Odors: Unpleasant odors can sometimes come from the condensate drain, especially if it dries out and loses the layer of water that blocks odors from deeper in the drain line.

Solutions to Condensate Drain Problems

  • Pressure cleaning: Pressure can be used to blast away clogs inside a condensate drain. A wet-dry vacuum hose can usually produce enough pressure to remove most blockages.
  • Physical cleaning: Physical force from a piece of wire or other object may be needed to literally break apart a drain line clog. Simply inserting the wire inside the drain and moving it around should be sufficient to break up common clogs.
  • Professional cleaning: If the clogs are sufficiently extensive, you may need help from your local plumbing professional to clear the drain line. Your plumber will have the right equipment for getting rid of stubborn blockages.
  • Algaecide: It may be necessary to apply an algaecide or other inhibitor to your drain line to reduce algae and mold growth. Ask your plumber if this would be a good idea in your situation.

Roth Heating and Cooling has served Portland, Hillsboro, Canby, and the neighboring Oregon communities for nearly 40 years. Contact us today for more information on what to do when you have condensate drain problems in your air conditioning system.

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

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

Understanding Ratings for Air Conditioners

Understanding Ratings for Air ConditionersYour central air conditioning system contains some of the most costly equipment you’ll buy for your home, and with a service life of 10 to 15 years or more, it’s a long-term investment. If you’re considering replacing your older equipment, it makes good sense to compare different models within your budget to help you make the wisest choice.

Why Comparing Air Conditioner Ratings Matters

It takes a lot of energy to run an air conditioner during a typical cooling season, so the equipment’s efficiency has a big impact on how much you spend to keep your home comfortable. This makes it vital to understand how equipment efficiency is measured. Every new A/C has an EnergyGuide label that’s in place to help consumers compare energy usage and features when they’re shopping for new equipment. One of the key pieces of information you’ll find on an air conditioner label is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER.

What is the SEER Rating and What Does it Tell You?

An air conditioner’s SEER rating is assigned by the U.S. Department of Energy. This numerical rating measures the efficiency of the equipment over a single cooling season, and a higher number indicates greater efficiency. Essentially, SEER tells you the equipment’s total cooling output in British thermal units (Btu) compared to its total energy consumption in watt-hours. Air conditioners on the market today are more efficient than ever before with ratings ranging between SEER 14 and 26.

The Other Air Conditioner Rating: EER

Another A/C rating that you’ll find mentioned in Energy Star specifications is the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). This rating is a snapshot of the efficiency of an air conditioner operating at peak conditions with an outdoor temperature of 95 degrees, an indoor temperature of 80 degrees, and 50 percent humidity. More efficient equipment will have a higher EER.

Both of these ratings are valuable when you’re comparing air conditioners, because they tell you how efficient the equipment is in different operating situations.

To learn more about air conditioner ratings when choosing new equipment for your Portland home, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

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

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay”

Address Plumbing Emergencies with These Tips

Address Plumbing Emergencies with These TipsWhen a burst plumbing pipe sends water spewing through your home, or a sink or toilet overflows, it’s easy to panic. To minimize mess and water damage during a plumbing emergency, it’s better to stay calm and use the following tips to help get the situation under control.

Turn Off the Main Water Valve

Knowing the location of your main water shut off valve is essential in a plumbing emergency, so it’s wise to look for it in advance. Then, if a pipe ruptures or a fixture overflows, you can go there quickly and avert a major flood by shutting the valve. Once it’s closed, check all your plumbing fixtures and accessible water pipes and shut the isolation valve at the source of the leak.

Shut Off Your Water Heater’s Gas Valve

If the gas stays flowing when the water is shut off, the pressure and temperature inside the water heater can increase to unsafe levels. You can prevent a possible explosion by finding and turning off the nearby gas valve, but don’t turn it back on until your plumbing emergency is resolved.

Address Leaking Pipes

If a pipe is cracked and leaking, place a container underneath it to catch the flow, then wrap duct tape around the damaged spot for a temporary fix. You can use plumber’s Teflon tape for a short-term fix on a threaded connection that’s leaking.

Deal With Clogs and Backups

It’s possible to unstop a clogged fixture if you use the right tool. A forced cup plunger works best for a kitchen sink or toilet, while a regular cup plunger is right for bathtubs, bathroom sinks and shower drains. If multiple plumbing fixtures are backing up at the same time, you probably have a main sewer line clog that plunging can’t solve.

Get Help From a Professional Plumber

If you need emergency service, call a licensed professional. Be sure to describe what’s going on and the steps you’ve already taken to deal with the situation.

When a plumbing emergency occurs in your Portland home and you need expert help, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

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

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay”

These Are the Types of Water Shutoff Valves

These Are the Types of Water Shutoff ValvesIf you’re like many homeowners, you’ve learned that the more you know how things in your home work, the better choices you can make when it comes time to make replacements or repairs. One component you’ll probably have to replace at some point is a water shutoff valve.

You’ll find one of these three types of valves on most incoming water lines in your home. They have a simple but important purpose — to shut off the water if you ever have an emergency or need to make repairs.

  1. Washer valves. Most of the water shutoff valves in your home will probably be of this type. They’re inexpensive but tend to wear out sooner than the other types of valves. The reason they’re prone to wear is that they stop water by screwing down a rubber washer when the handle is turned. Rubber, of course, will give out over time. The good news? When these valves give out, they’re simple and cost-effective to replace.
  2. Gate valves. The name of this valve describes the mechanism used to stop the flow of water. When the handle is turned on a gate valve, a metal piece (gate) is lowered into the grooved bottom of the valve. Gate valves should always be fully turned on or off. When left halfway, the bottom of the gate sits in the flow of water. This causes the metal to wear away, keeping the valve from sealing shut.
  3. Ball valves. This type of valve lives up to its name with a steel ball inside. A hole is drilled through the ball. When in the “on” position, the hole lines up with the openings of your water pipes. When in the “off” position, the ball rotates to stop water flow. Even though it’s the most durable type of valve, the ball valve isn’t the first choice of many plumbers because it’s expensive and doesn’t always fit in tight areas. This is because the handle is designed to only make a quarter turn.

For more advice on what water shutoff valve to use in your Portland home, contact Roth Heating & Cooling.

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

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “PublicDomainArchive/Pixabay”

Can Two-Stage Cooling Benefit Your Home?

Can Two-Stage Cooling Benefit Your Home?An innovative upgrade for central cooling systems that works well in our region is two-stage cooling. Such a system contains technology that tells the compressor how fast to run based on the amount of cooling needed. Most of the time it will run at its slower speed. A single-stage system only runs at high speed, which creates some issues with energy consumption, indoor comfort, and the long term performance of the equipment.

Energy Savings

The compressor for an air conditioner changes the pressure of the refrigerant that removes the heat from the air. It’s the hardest working, moving part inside cooling systems and it works more efficiently when it can run more slowly for a longer period.

The compressor consumes the most electricity when it first starts up, which is also when most of the wear occurs. A system that runs for longer periods in slower cycles doesn’t start and stop frequently, and consequently lasts longer and uses less electricity.

Increased Comfort

Since the air handler for a two-stage cooling system continues to move air until the compressor shuts off, rooms further from the air handler receive more cooled air, helping them reach and maintain cooler temperatures. Increased running time also improves the air quality, since more air goes through the air filter. Two-stage systems run more quietly inside and out, an important consideration if the air handler or condenser sits close to bedroom or living areas.

Two-stage systems remove excess humidity, an important benefit of air conditioning. Not only does excess humidity make you feel warmer, it can harm your home and your health. A system that runs slower for longer periods will have time to condense more water vapor without having to turn the temperature down as you would with a single-speed system. Lower humidity levels in the summer improve air quality by reducing the dust mite population and lowering mold growth.

Although a two-stage cooling system will cost more initially, it will pay for itself in energy savings and greater indoor comfort. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing HVAC services for Portland-area homeowners.

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

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Name of Artist/Shutterstock”

Your Attic: Is it an Energy and Money Waster?

Your Attic: Is it an Energy and Money Waster?Not all attic spaces are created equal. Some may be furnished and livable, while others may be little more than crawl spaces for ductwork to pass through. But regardless of how your attic is used, its position at the top of your house makes it an important part of your home’s thermal envelope — and means that, if it’s not handled correctly, it could be costing you energy and money.

During the hot months, attic spaces are warmed by the sunlight hitting the roof. If the attic has poor ventilation, it may warm up to a temperature significantly higher than the outdoor air, and that heat can then radiate downward into your home, causing your air conditioner to work harder to compensate. In the cooler months, though, warm air rising into attic spaces is lost to your living areas — and may escape from your home altogether, causing your furnace to work harder to make up for it. Both of these mean that you end up spending more money on your heating and cooling.

There are several ways to combat this energy loss. One is to seal any air leaks in your attic space, and insulate it thoroughly. Air leaks allow conditioned air to escape your home, while insufficient insulation allows heat energy to move into or out of your home without needing to be carried by air currents. In Portland, it’s recommended that you insulate attic spaces to between R38 and R60. Be sure to have your attic inspected — especially if it’s a crawl space attic or an attic in an older home, it may have developed new air leaks or other concerns as your house has aged and settled.

Another approach is to add ventilation to your attic space. Ventilation can exhaust hot, stale air and bring in fresh, cooler air, reducing the threat of radiant heat.

To learn more about how you can keep your attic space from costing you money, call Roth Heating & Cooling today!

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

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Unsplash/Pixabay”

Back-to-School HVAC Tips

Back-to-School HVAC TipsWith the turning of the year in Portland, it’s a good time to make sure that your home will be cozy through the Pacific Northwest’s rainy winter. Now is the time to check over your home HVAC system and make sure that everything is in tip-top shape for the winter months ahead. Here are some of the tasks that should be on your to-do list:

  • Schedule seasonal maintenance. Before you switch your furnace on for the first time, have an HVAC technician come out and have a look at it. Seasonal maintenance can ensure that your system works at its peak efficiency throughout the heating season, and it can also help to detect and head off any potential larger issues.
  • Clean the coils of your air conditioner or heat pump. The indoor an outdoor coils of your A/C or heat pump transfer heat energy from (or into) your home. If they’re dusty, they can’t do so as efficiently, which means that you’ll spend more money on the same amount of cooling or heating.
  • Seal air leaks in your ductwork. Air leaks and insufficient insulation in home air ducts accounts for a 30 percent energy loss in many homes: conditioned air simply never reaches the living areas it’s intended for. Save money and energy by sealing any leaks, and making sure ducts are adequately insulated.
  • Change the air filters for your HVAC system. Clean air filters allow air to flow freely through your system, while clogged filters slow airflow and put strain on your system’s fan motor. That strain can lead to total system failure.
  • Invest in a dehumidifier. High humidity can encourage the growth of mold, mildew, bacteria, and fungus, which can threaten your health and the health of your home. A dehumidifier will help you manage indoor moisture through the rainy months.

If you want to know how you can prepare your home HVAC system for the winter ahead, give us a call at Roth Heating & Cooling!

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

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

Here’s What the Information on the EnergyGuide Label Means

Here's What the Information on the EnergyGuide Label MeansWhen you’re shopping for HVAC systems, home appliances, and other consumer products, look for the EnergyGuide label. It’s the yellow label attached to most energy-consuming HVAC systems and appliances. The labels are loaded with valuable information about the energy consumption and efficiency of each product for you to compare.

Look for the Yellow Tag

One of the reasons EnergyGuide labels are so valuable is that they give you a clue as to how much a particular HVAC unit or appliance will cost through its service life. Instead of basing your important repair-or-replace decision based solely on the price tag cost, it’s wiser to compare the total costs for owning a product.

Additionally, higher-efficiency HVAC units and appliances generally provide better service, such as greater comfort, quieter operation, and fewer breakdowns. When you reap the rewards of energy savings month after month, you also help the environment!

Interpreting EnergyGuide Labels

The type of information contained on EnergyGuide labels is basically the same regardless of the product. Moreover, the information is current within one year since manufacturers are required to submit a report annually for all applicable products in production.

  • The type of product, features, capacity, and size, such as “Water Heater — Natural Gas, Capacity (first hour rating); 57 Gallons,” is located in the top left corner of the label.
  • Manufacturer, model, and make are in the top right corner.
  • If you’re shopping for a central air or heat pump system, the efficiency rating is expressed as SEER (cooling) and HSPF (heating) in the middle box. Higher SEER and HSPF ratings indicate higher energy efficiency.
  • A bar graphic is displayed beneath the rated product as it compares to the efficiency of similar products. This easily lets you see how efficient different models are for comparison.
  • The bottom third of the label contains information on the estimated annual energy usage of the product, and the estimated annual operating cost of the product.

Let the EnergyGuide label and our experts at Roth Heating & Cooling help you make the best decisions for your Portland-area home’s HVAC installation. Contact us today to learn more!

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

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Public Domain/Wikipedia”

You Should Look for an HVAC Pro With These Certifications

You Should Look for an HVAC Pro With These CertificationsScheduling professional preventive maintenance is essential for maximizing the performance and efficiency of your HVAC systems. Sooner or later, however, many homeowners experience a malfunction and need to call an HVAC technician. With so many to choose from, you may not know how to decide just who to call. Make your choice easy by working with technicians that carry these vital HVAC certifications.

Environmental Protection Agency 608 Certification

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) makes rules and regulations regarding refrigerants. This is understandable since refrigerants have historically been harmful to the environment. As a result, the EPA requires that technicians handling refrigerants carry EPA 608 Certification.

As a homeowner, EPA 608 Certification is important to you because refrigerant is the lifeblood of your air conditioner or heat pump. Refrigerant is the substance that absorbs heat from your home to cool it. If you use a heat pump for home heating, the refrigerant runs in reverse and releases heat inside your home.

NATE Certification

Many career-minded technicians seek certification by the NATE (North American Technician Excellence) organization. The NATE organization doesn’t train technicians. They only test and certify technicians. The reason NATE was founded more than 20 years ago was to spearhead HVAC expertise in the field, build a more educated workforce, and promote HVAC technologies through public awareness.

Another point why NATE certification is the gold standard among HVAC techs is that NATE requires re-certification every two years. This may involve re-testing or continued education hours. NATE certifies technicians in core HVAC knowledge and at least one HVAC specialty field.

HVAC Excellence Certification

The HVAC Excellence certification is another respected achievement among technicians, HVAC companies, and customers. The HVAC Excellence organization’s goal has been to promote technical education and set a high bar in the HVAC workforce, and they continually succeed.

If you want a knowledgeable and reliable technician working on your HVAC system, make sure they carry the right HVAC certifications. Since we opened our business in 1976, Roth Heating & Cooling technicians have been the best around!

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

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “ArtsyBee/pixabay”

Do You Know the Types of Plumbing Pipes?

Do You Know the Types of Plumbing Pipes?It’s so easy to ignore the plumbing in your home because the pipes are largely hidden from view, and most of the time it works exactly as it was intended. However, the type of pipes your home has may make an impact on how you maintain and use your home.

Supply Lines

  • Galvanized steel — You may find galvanized pipes in older homes. With an average lifetime of 50 years, it’s no longer used in new construction or as replacements.
  • Polybutylene pipes — These were used in new construction during the late 1970s and 1980s and eventually a lawsuit forced the manufacturer to recall it and halt its use. It had a high failure rate, causing serious flooding in attics, walls, and basements. If you suspect you have polybutylene pipes, it’s a good idea to be proactive and have a plumber inspect your home and recommend a retrofit.
  • Copper — Copper is still the pipe of choice for new home construction because it’s durable and dependable. It’s safe, resistant to corrosion, and flexible.
  • PEX — PEX piping has so many advantages when installing new plumbing. It’s as durable as copper, more flexible, and about a third the cost. There’s no need for special tools to connect the pipes together, since they snap together with the fittings to create water-tight joints.
  • PVC — Polyvinyl chloride pipes have been used for supply lines in the past, but some jurisdictions won’t allow them because of leaching problems with hot water lines.

Drain Lines

  • Cast iron — Many older homes use cast iron sewer lines that last for decades, but over time, tree roots can damage them, or they simply rust from the inside out. Plumbers can install plastic liners in aging iron pipes to solve drainage problems.
  • PVC — Today’s homes use PVC almost entirely for drain and sewer lines. It’s impervious to many chemicals, unaffected by soil moisture, and cannot rust.

Knowing the materials that comprise your plumbing system is an important aspect of homeownership. If you’d like to learn more, contact Roth Heating and Cooling, providing HVAC and plumbing services for Portland-area homeowners.

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

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “fran1/pixabay”