A Basic Guide to Home Sewer Clog Prevention

A Basic Guide to Home Sewer Clog PreventionSince whatever goes down your drain ends up in your sewer line, home sewer clog prevention begins at the sinks and tubs inside your house. Residential sewer systems are sized to handle the expected volume of waste water for the size of the home, plus a little safety margin built in. Over the years, however, the efficiency of flow through the pipes diminishes due to age and sludge accumulation.

It doesn’t take much to block a narrowed pipe and trigger a sewage backup. Keep things flowing freely by following a few home sewer clog prevention steps:

  • Don’t use your sink as a food receptacle. Unless you have a disposal installed, thoroughly scrape plates and dishes into the trash and use the sink solely for washing and rinsing dishes.
  • Keep grease out of the drain. Fats — both vegetable and animal — appear liquid as they disappear down your drain, but once they’re out of sight, they solidify and contribute to the sludge that gradually narrows pipes. Pour grease into a receptacle and dispose it in the household trash.
  • Coffee grounds are good for several things in your garden, but good for nothing in your drains. The dense mass of water-soaked grounds tends to collect at the lowest point in the drain system and gradually obstructs flow.
  • Screen out the hair. The most frequent object removed from the end of a plumber’s drain snake is a matted wad of hair coated with gooey soap scum. Installing fine-mesh, stainless steel drain screens in bathroom drains and cleaning them regularly helps keep this sewer-clogging combo out of your pipes.
  • Schedule an annual inspection. What’s going inside your pipes shouldn’t be a secret. Have a professional plumber perform a checkup of the system and look for any incipient issues before they become major malfunctions. A plumber can also check your main sewer line with a video camera to determine the status quo when it comes to potential blockages, tree root intrusion and collapsed pipes.

For more on home sewer clog prevention or to schedule professional plumbing service, 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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Top Reasons to Build a Custom Home of Your Own

Top Reasons to Build a Custom Home of Your OwnIf you’re in the market for a new home, chances are you’ve been looking at pre-built or semi-custom homes. But if you want something that you can truly make your own, a custom-built home offers exactly what you’re looking for.

Top Reasons to Build a Custom Home

When you build a custom home, you can take advantage of the flexibility and creativity it offers. Here are five great reasons why opting for a custom-built home is the best choice when it comes to home ownership:

  1. You can build a home completely to your specs and unique tastes. There’s no need to worry about how to work around someone else’s blueprints.
  2. Need a bigger garage, extra storage space or an extra room for exercise or entertainment? You can incorporate all of these extras plus much more into a custom-built home. You can also add extras that account for your present and future needs, such as aging in place options like entryways built with wheelchair accessibility in mind.
  3. You can easily incorporate energy-efficient extras into a new build at a lower cost than it would take to retrofit green options into an existing home. These options can help you save hundreds of dollars each year on your overall energy costs.
  4. Custom homes require less initial maintenance than existing homes since everything is practically brand-new, from the flooring and building materials to the appliances, HVAC and plumbing systems. It’s also much easier to keep track of their condition from the start, unlike with existing homes with used appliances and HVAC systems.
  5. Custom homes offer a tremendous level of customer satisfaction that’s unmatched by already-built or even semi-custom homes. When you build a custom home, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that there are no other homes just like it. A custom home is truly a one-of-a-kind deal.

The pros at Roth Heating & Cooling can help you with your custom home’s HVAC and electrical wiring needs. We proudly serve the Portland area and have done so 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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How to Handle a Plumbing Emergency in Your Aurora Home

How to Handle a Plumbing Emergency in Your Aurora HomeA plumbing emergency can ruin your day and more. A major leak or overflow in the toilet or clothes washer can end up costing you considerably, damaging floors, walls and home furnishings. Learn how to take charge in a plumbing emergency, limiting damage until the plumber arrives.

Burst Pipes

In our region, the cycle of freeze and thaw can result in burst pipes. Cut off the water at the main valve to stop it from flowing. If you’re going out of town, have someone check your home for leaks in your absence. Keep in mind that though freezing is the most common cause of burst pipes, they can burst for other reasons. Big leaks or burst pipes most likely will have to be fixed by a plumber. Open up outside spigots so that water still in the pipes will drain away.

Clogged Toilet

If your toilet isn’t flushing away waste as it should or has a tendency to fill too high or to overflow, you may have a clog in the pipes or in the sewer line. Remember, when the toilet starts to overflow, you can turn the valve at the base of the toilet to stop the water flow. Use a plunger with a flange, which creates a better vacuum seal to dislodge the clog. Plunge gently with the first plunge, and then more vigorously. The plunger should be covered with water. If this doesn’t work, use a drain snake. If neither effort works, call a plumber. The clog could be further down the line.

Clogged Drains

Generally, a drain clog is annoying, but not necessarily an emergency. It’s usually caused by hair, coagulated soap and other materials. Try to dislodge the clog with baking soda and vinegar or a drain snake. If it’s further down the line, you’ll need professional help.

Overflowing Washing Machine

Washing machine hoses wear out. Replace hoses that are cracked or bulging.

For more expert advice on how to handle a plumbing emergency, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We’ve provided air conditioning, heating, plumbing and electrical services in 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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How Do Evaporator & Condenser Coils Actually Function?

How Do Evaporator & Condenser Coils Actually Function?For a lot of folks, air conditioning is just as mysterious as it is essential. They appreciate the creation of cool air in the summer, but really have no idea how it works. Yet, understanding the technology is a good idea so when your air conditioner breaks down, you’ll have at least general idea of what’s happening. A review of how evaporator and condenser coils contribute to cooling your home should be a key part of any explanation of air conditioning.

How a Central A/C Works

Refrigerant (also called coolant) is essential to any air conditioning or refrigeration system. Made to transition easily from liquid to gas and back to liquid again, the refrigerant moves through the A/C system, removing heat from inside the house and releasing it outside into the air. The refrigerant does this inside evaporator and condenser coils.

Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil, in homes with furnaces, typically is located in a metal box fitted on top of the furnace. In homes without gas furnaces, usually in mild-winter climates, the evaporator coil is often located in a dedicated air-handling unit. As the refrigerant is pumped through the copper evaporator coil, it turns into a gaseous state as it absorbs heat and moisture from the inside air. When heat and water vapor is removed, the result is cool, drier air. The blower and ducts do the rest of the job of circulating conditioned air throughout the home.

Condensing Coil

After removing heat from the home, the A/C pumps the heated refrigerant outside to the condenser/compressor, a metal box usually positioned on a concrete pad next to the house. A compressor pressurizes the refrigerant, returning it to a liquid state, and in the condenser coil, the refrigerant releases heat into the air with the aid of an exhaust fan.

For the essential heat exchange to occur properly, the evaporator and condenser coils must be cleaned regularly, and airflow must be maintained to both outside and inside units. To schedule a spring maintenance tune-up for your Portland area home’s central air conditioner, please 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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Can Ceiling Fan Direction Affect Your Home’s Cooling Efficiency?

Can Ceiling Fan Direction Affect Your Home's Cooling Efficiency?Without looking up, which direction is your ceiling fan rotating? If you answered counter-clockwise (as you’re looking up at the fan), you’re correct — most of the time. However, ceiling fans usually are equipped with a switch on the fan housing that allows you to change ceiling fan direction from the default factory setting, counter-clockwise, to clockwise. The first setting helps you feel cooler in warmer seasons, and the second aids in recirculating warm air during the heating season. Either strategy, used in the correct season, will help save energy and money in your Portland area home.

Ceiling Fan Heating

In most rooms, warmer air collects near the ceiling. In the winter, this can be a problem since people don’t spend time in the tops of rooms. They need that warm air down where they’re standing or sitting. A ceiling fan set to clockwise blade rotation will blow air upward, displacing the warm air near the ceiling, and force it toward the walls and then down into the room. When your thermostat senses the warmer air, it won’t kick the furnace on quite so soon, and you’ll save money on utility bills.

Ceiling Fan Cooling

When set to rotate counter-clockwise, a ceiling fan will blow air downward, creating a wind-chill effect for anyone who feels that air movement. This will make the room feel cooler, and allow you to turn up the thermostat as many as four degrees without starting to feel uncomfortable. During mild days, ceiling fans may allow you to keep the A/C off entirely. This provides energy savings, since it costs substantially less to operate a fan than it does an A/C or heat pump.

It’s important to remember that ceiling fans don’t actually cool a room; it’s all about the cooling “effect.” If no one is in the room to feel the air current, it’s not doing any good. Turn off ceiling fans in empty rooms.

Remember, the right ceiling fan direction can save you money in all seasons. For more helpful ideas for saving money on energy in your Portland area home, please 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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Is Your A/C Acting Up? Here Are Some Basic Troubleshooting Tips

Is Your A/C Acting Up? Here Are Some Basic Troubleshooting TipsHas your home’s central air conditioning system been acting up? Perhaps it’s not cooling your home as quickly as it used to, or appears to be running constantly. Or maybe your monthly electric bills seem noticeably higher than last year’s, even though you haven’t otherwise changed your energy use at home. You can call a trusted A/C technician to look at your system, but before taking that step, try some A/C troubleshooting tips.

A/C Troubleshooting Tips

  • Check the air filter. A clogged filter can explain both decreased performance and increased energy use. When the filter is clean, it allows for smooth airflow through the A/C evaporator coil and the home’s ductwork system. When it’s dirty, your air conditioner has to work harder and longer to deliver the same amount of cool air. This wastes energy and stresses parts, leading to more repairs. Check the filter today, and then put your filter inspections on a monthly schedule. Change the filter when it looks clogged or dirty.
  • Clear debris away from the outside condenser/compressor. This unit also requires smooth airflow to allow for optimum heat exchange between the refrigerant in the coil and the outside air. Dirty coils, both inside and outside, also will impede heat exchange, though cleaning the coils is best left to a trained A/C technician.
  • Make sure the condensate drain isn’t clogged. The water – which is condensed out of the cooling air during the A/C process – can back up and damage walls, floors, fixtures and belongings. It also can promote mold and mildew growth.
  • Schedule annual preventative maintenance for your central A/C. This may not fit in with the other A/C troubleshooting tips, but it’s probably the most important. For your cooling system to run with its intended efficiency, and provide the comfort your family expects, it requires professional maintenance annually. During the tune-up, all of the other troubleshooting steps can be addressed as well.

For more A/C troubleshooting tips, or to schedule a spring preventative maintenance visit, please contact us today at Roth Heating & Cooling, providing quality HVAC and plumbing services to the greater Portland area.

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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Telling Signs Your Home’s Plumbing Is Ready for an Upgrade

Telling Signs Your Home’s Plumbing Is Ready for an UpgradeMost homeowners take for granted the plumbing that delivers water for a variety of household uses, then removes that water after it’s been used, along with human and food wastes. Over the years, as with anything else, your home’s plumbing will corrode and deteriorate. At some point, a home plumbing upgrade will be necessary. But how will you know? Following are some key signs that a home plumbing upgrade may be necessary in your Portland area home.

Telltale Signs Your Plumbing Is Shot

  • Stains on walls and other surfaces near plumbing pipes indicate current or past leaks. And even if the pipes aren’t leaking now, if they have in the past, that’s a sure sign that they may in the future.
  • If dimples, discoloration, stains or flaking are occurring on visible pipes, it’s probably occurring throughout your home’s network of plumbing. These all signal ongoing corrosion.
  • If your bathtub water is discolored – brown, rusty or yellow – this probably reflects corrosion and rusting in the pipes. Pay particular attention when you come home from a vacation; during that time, water sitting in corroded pipes will acquire that off coloration. If the pipes are fine, that’s not going to happen.
  • Beware of leaks. While this may seem obvious, many homeowners disregard minor leaks that are easily repaired. Yet, those small leaks may suggest a bigger problem in your home’s plumbing. As with the other red flags for your plumbing, minor leaks probably aren’t an isolated problem. Your home’s plumbing system likely was installed all at once, so if deterioration and corrosion is happening in one spot, it’s happening elsewhere.

Regular professional inspections and maintenance can help prevent plumbing problems in your home. For help avoiding a premature home plumbing upgrade, or to deal with any plumbing issues that may arise, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling, providing quality HVAC and plumbing services the Greater Portland area.

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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Important Fire Regulations for Commercial Buildings

Important Fire Regulations for Commercial BuildingsAs a building owner or property manager, understanding fire regulations for commercial buildings can help you comply with local ordinances that protect public safety. These regulations cover prevention, detection and safe evacuation from all commercial buildings.


Oregon requires that all upgrades or modifications to an electrical system be made by a licensed electrician. The building’s owner or agent must ensure that all the wiring inside the building is in good condition and that the tenants are using outlets safely by not overloading them or running excessively long extension cords.

Exits and Stairwells

Each exit requires a lighted sign that runs on both building power and backup batteries. All stairwells must have backup lighting in case of a power outage, as well as handrails that lead to a place where building occupants can exit safely onto a street.

Smoke Detectors 

Each building must have a working smoke detector in the hallways. A tag must hang from the smoke detector indicating the last date the batteries were replaced and when the detector was tested.

Sprinkler Systems

The fire regulations for commercial buildings also apply to sprinkler systems. Each sprinkler needs to carry a tag from the local fire department stating that it’s functional. Commercial codes require one sprinkler for every 150 square feet of space.

HVAC Systems

All HVAC systems, commercial and residential, need to be installed and maintained by a licensed contractor. These systems contain high voltage components and combustible fuels. Staying on top of your system’s maintenance after installation can help keep your building safer and energy bills lower. Although not mandated by building or fire regulations, installing the most efficient HVAC system in a commercial building can save a good deal of energy without sacrificing anyone’s comfort.

If you’d like more information about commercial building fire regulations in the Portland or Willamette Valley area, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve been providing outstanding services for residential and commercial building owners 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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Propane vs. Electricity: Comparing the Operating Costs

Propane vs. Electricity: Comparing the Operating Costs Choosing between propane and electricity to fuel your home heating system often comes down to the cost of both options. In our climate, using a propane furnace or a heat pump that utilizes electricity can be an efficient and dependable way to heat your home.

Energy Produced

A gallon of propane produces around 27 kilowatts (kWs) of electricity. According to Portland General Electric (PGE), each kW (not including taxes or fees) you use under 1,000 per month on a standard plan costs $06.5 and anything over 1,000 costs $07.22. The cost of 27 kWs is $1.75 if you keep usage under 1,000 kWs for the month and $1.94 if you exceed the 1,000 kW threshold.

Current Costs

Although propane costs vary by provider, the national average for a gallon of propane as of March 2014 was $3.08. The current cost of an equivalent amount of electricity from PGE (minus service charges, taxes and fees) is $1.75.


The heating efficiency of propane and electricity is measured differently. Propane furnaces carry AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) ratings that indicate how much fuel is used to heat your home and the proportion that’s wasted as combustion gases. The most efficient furnaces available have efficiency ratings close to 99 percent, which means the system only wastes 1 percent of the fuel it uses.

A heat pump’s efficiency is measured by how many units of heat it produces based on the amount of energy it uses. The current minimum HSPF (heating season performance factor) stands at 8.2. A typical heat pump offers 300 percent efficiency because it produces three units of heat per unit of energy it uses. A combustion system can never attain efficiency greater than 100 percent.

To learn more about heating with propane and electricity, contact the pros at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve been providing exceptional 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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How to Protect Your Salem Home from Power Surges

How to Protect Your Salem Home from Power Surges During intense bouts of stormy weather, you may notice the lights in your home flicker. Many people view this phenomenon as a normal aspect of storms. However, flickering lights are often the result of surges in your home’s power supply, which can be detrimental to your appliances.

Power Surges Defined

In most homes, electricity is delivered with an alternating current. Although referred to as 120V, the actual current can range from 0 to 169 during normal conditions. Fortunately, common electronics and appliances are designed to handle natural changes in energy supply. During power surges, voltage can significantly exceed 169, which can be damaging to appliances and electronics.

Power Surge Prevention

While there’s no way to stop power surges from occurring, there are two ways homeowners can protect themselves against damage from power surges:

  • Point-of-Use Devices: Commonly referred to as surge protectors, point-of-use devices prevent power surges from reaching electronics. Instead of allowing the surge to affect devices, the power from the surge is directed by point-of-use devices into the ground.
  • Service Entrance Surge Protector Devices: These devices are typically installed near your circuit breaker, electric panel or electric meter and are necessary to protect the portions of your electric system that are not plugged in to an outlet.

To receive additional information on how you can protect your home from power surges, contact the experts at Roth Heating & Cooling today. Our expert team has faithfully served 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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