Dealing With Low Water Pressure? Here’s What You Can Do

Dealing With Low Water Pressure? Here's What You Can DoLow water pressure is a low-grade annoyance every time you turn on a tap. Proper water pressure for a home should average around 60 p.s.i. depending on local norms and time of day. Anything below 40 p.s.i. generally falls into the category of low water pressure and needs to be diagnosed. Resolving most causes of low pressure usually requires the services of a qualified professional plumber. However, these two exceptions may be DIY-friendly:

  • Check your main water shutoff valve. If you know where it is and how to operate it, verify that the valve’s open all the way. If it was shut off in the past for some reason and not fully opened afterwards, water pressure in the house will be low. If the valve seems hard to turn, don’t try to force it open. Consult a plumber, instead.
  • Look for isolated causes. Is water pressure consistently low throughout the entire house — or only at certain fixtures? If it’s the latter, check for specific causes at the fixture such as mineral deposits clogging the orifices of a showerhead or the faucet aerator in a sink. These can usually be cleaned by soaking in vinegar or simply discarded and economically replaced.

If you’ve done your part but the pressure’s still low, it’s time to call in a professional. These are some of the usual suspects he’ll investigate:

  • Defective pressure reduction valve. Installed at the water meter to adjust municipal pressure down to residential specs, a faulty or maladjusted PRV may reduce household pressure excessively.
  • Undetected leaks in the main water supply line underground or beneath the foundation.
  • Accumulation of mineral deposits in supply lines. Usually calcium carbonate known as “scale,” over time these deposits gradually narrow the diameter of the pipe, obstructing flow and reducing pressure.
  • Corroded plumbing. Galvanized steel water pipes no longer used in home construction are vulnerable to internal corrosion. As the inside of the pipe deteriorates, water flow is diminished and pressure throughout the system declines.

Contact the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling to resolve low water pressure issues in your home.

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

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Tips to Keep Your Basement from Flooding

Tips to Keep Your Basement from FloodingBasement flooding has always been a problem in homes. It’s even more of an issue these days, however. More and more homeowners have converted basements from neglected, empty voids into living spaces, home offices and other uses. Frequently, basements are also utilized to store valuables, too. Consequently, any water inundation into the basement can be especially damaging and expensive. It also poses a health hazard — a chronically wet basement becomes ground zero for mold growth that can affect the entire house.

Basement flooding can originate from several sources. Here are some common causes and what to do about them.

  • Grade the landscape — The contour of the landscape surrounding the perimeter of the home’s foundation should slope away from the house. During rainy periods, this prevents water pooling and soaking in around the foundation, eventually entering the basement through minute cracks and crevices.
  • Clean the gutters — Overflowing gutters hammer the ground directly below with cascading water during heavy rain or rapid snow melt. This deluge can penetrate the foundation and infiltrate the basement. Check the gutters for obstructions and clean them when necessary. Also make sure gutter downspouts extend far enough away from the house so discharged water doesn’t soak into the foundation and basement.
  • Install a sump pump — A high natural water table under the house exerts pressure on the basement slab. Ground water may invade the basement through small cracks, particularly during rainy weather. A sump pump installed the basement floor automatically pumps infiltrating ground water through a discharge line into the backyard. A foundation drainage system in the ground around the perimeter of the foundation also channels ground water away from the house.
  • Install a sewage backflow valve — Sewage backup can result from an obstructed sewer line or if the municipal system is inundated with water during a flood. Toxic sewage reflux entering your home first emerges through drains in the lowest point in the house — the basement. A backflow protection valve installed by a qualified plumber prevents sewage reflux.

For professional advice to prevent basement flooding, 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).

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Air Conditioner Shopping? Consider These Tips

Air Conditioner Shopping? Consider These TipsIt doesn’t make sense to take shortcuts when shopping for a new air conditioner. This is a major system for your home, and an error in selecting an A/C could have long-term consequences in both comfort and energy costs. Consider the following information when choosing a new A/C:

Your options — Your choices will include one or more room air conditioners, a package system, or the most common option, a split-system A/C or heat pump (which has the advantage of providing both cooling and heating). To cool an entire a home, your best bet is a split-system A/C or heat pump. Choose an established brand with a reputation for quality and durability. Discuss your options with a trustworthy HVAC contractor, though online research is always a good idea, too.

Cooling efficiency — The amount of cooling produced (or more accurately, heat removed) for the energy that’s input into an A/C is measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). Higher SEER numbers denote higher efficiency, meaning lower energy bills. However, that higher efficiency comes with a higher price. Discuss with your HVAC contractor whether our relatively cool Northwestern summers justify paying for a higher-efficiency model.

Paying for maintenance — Annual maintenance is essential if you want your new air conditioner to provide efficient and effective cooling, avoid frequent repairs, and operate for its full expected service life. An effective maintenance contract is a good way to ensure that regular maintenance gets done.

Sizing — Your contractor should commit to taking the time and effort to determine the cooling load of your home, as a preliminary to recommending a certain capacity air conditioner. An A/C that’s too big or too small will end up wasting energy and breaking down more often, while not cooling as evenly as one that’s properly sized.

Advanced features — Your A/C or heat pump will cool more efficiently if it’s equipped with a variable-speed air handler, thermal expansion valve, and multi-stage compressor. Discuss your options with a qualified HVAC contractor.

For help choosing a new air conditioner, for your Portland area home, please 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).

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Simple Ways to Conserve Water this Spring

Simple Ways to Conserve Water this SpringYou’re on the right track when you’ve found a way to save both water and money in your everyday life. This is definitely something you can accomplish when you develop an effective plan to conserve water in your household. This endeavor can be helped along considerably by referring to the federal WaterSense program, whose whole purpose is encouraging the conservation of water in homes and businesses. Check out some WaterSense ideas for saving water at home:

  • Toilets — Toilets use the most water (and waste the most) in most homes. WaterSense-certified low-flow toilets do much better (by 20 percent on average) than the industry standard of 1.6 gallons per flush. Not only do low-flow toilets use less water these days, modern technology also has made them so they’re much more effective at expelling waste in one flush. You’re not saving water if you need to flush the toilet twice. Moreover, the new dual-flush toilets just use 0.8 gallons per flush for removing liquid waste, while consuming more for eliminating solid waste.
  • Showers — Another way to conserve water is by altering your shower habits and installing low-flow, WaterSense-approved showerheads. These shower heads output less than 2 gallons of water per minute, as compared to standard shower heads that deliver more than 2.5 gallons per minute. The good news is that the low-flow showerheads, in most cases, don’t change your shower experience. You’ll be hard-pressed to notice that less water is spraying out the shower head.
  • Bathroom faucets — Nowadays, household faucets cannot exceed a minimum standard of outputting 2.2 gallons per minute. This is a big change from 25 years ago, when faucets sprayed water at 3-7 gallons per minute. And like with shower heads, the user won’t notice that less water is coming out.
  • Just use less water — Don’t water your yard or garden any more than necessary, for example.

For more advice on how to conserve water in your Portland area home, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling. We have nearly 40 years of experience providing plumbing, HVAC, and electrical services to Portland and the surrounding communities.

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

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Keep HVAC System Components Safe from Thieves

Keep HVAC System Components Safe from ThievesOne of the more recent crime trends that has hit the U.S. involves the theft of copper and other valuable metals from various sources, including the outside unit of split-system air conditioners and heat pumps. Under cover of darkness, the thieves will strip all of the copper wiring and coils from the outside compressor/condenser unit, or in some cases, they might even drive up, cut the refrigerant lines and haul the whole unit away in the back of a truck.

When your outside unit gets stolen, you’re facing a major expense, and possibly even replacement of your whole HVAC system. If the surviving inside component of the A/C, the air handler, is an older model, you’ll probably have a hard time finding a compatible outside unit. At the very least, you’ll likely never match the efficiency of the original matching pair.

Protect your HVAC system by taking one or more of the following precautions:

  • Anchor your outside unit to a concrete pad that’s set deeply into the ground. Use thick bolts to secure the equipment to the concrete. While a determined thief can defeat this sort of security, it probably will require more time and noise than he’s willing to risk.
  • Install motion-sensitive lighting around the outside unit of your HVAC system. Setting up an alarm system is a wise choice as well; if anyone messes around with the outside unit or its refrigerant lines, the alarm will sound.
  • Buy a specially designed cage to cover the outside unit. It should have a lockable hatch to provide access for maintenance and service.
  • Plant landscaping near the equipment (the sort that doesn’t lose its leaves in the winter), or otherwise hide it from the street. Conversely, if you live on a busy street, leave the unit unobstructed. Not many thieves will attempt their crime near a heavily trafficked area.
  • Install the outside unit behind a locked fence. If you have a good watchdog, that can’t hurt either.

For more tips on protecting your Portland area home’s HVAC system from thieves, please 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).

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Here’s What You Should Stop Putting Down the Drain

Here’s What You Should Stop Putting Down the DrainLike many systems around your home you depend on for convenience and comfort, you may not think of the plumbing until something goes wrong, especially when a drain stops working. Preventing problems with drainage is by far the most convenient way to avoid the hassles and expenses associated with clogged drains.

Bathrooms

  • Kitty litter. Although there are flushable kitty litters available, be very careful about flushing them. They’re hard on septic systems and can clog sewer lines. Solid cat waste may carry the toxoplasmosis parasite and waste water treatment doesn’t destroy this parasite. If the water is used for any other reason, any pregnant woman and her unborn baby could be at risk.
  • Baby and facial wipes, cotton balls, tissues, and paper towels. These won’t degrade fast enough to clear your home’s plumbing and will cause drain clogs.
  • Medicines. While they’re not likely to clog the pipes, dumping medicine down the sink or toilet doesn’t make it go away. As it dissolves, it stays in the water and is harmful to the environment.
  • Drain openers. Instead of using harsh chemicals that can damage your pipes, use baking soda and vinegar, diluted hydrogen peroxide, and a plumbing snake.

Kitchen

Your garbage disposal may be a convenient way to get rid of food waste, but avoid the following to prevent problems that may require the services of a licensed plumber.

  • Coffee grounds and eggshells will stick to the walls of the pipes, eventually causing a blockage.
  • Potato peelings, pasta, beans, and rice. These foods contain high amounts of starch that can deposit inside the walls of the plumbing, eventually narrowing the pipes.
  • Stringy foods like celery, artichokes, fruit peels, and pits.
  • Grease is a certain way to plug up the pipes, even if you wash it down with hot water.

Paying attention to what you put down the drain not only keeps your pipes draining freely, but prevents largely avoidable plumbing problems. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted plumbing and 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).

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Tips for Remembering to Change Your Air Filter

Tips for Remembering to Change Your Air FilterWith warmer weather on the way, this is a good time to make sure your HVAC system is ready for the cooling season. One of the most important tasks to perform during this time is changing your air filter. This helps ensure that your system can run efficiently, and it also improves the air quality in your Portland home by removing filters covered in dust and debris. If you have trouble remembering to change your filter, keep the following tips in mind.

Label the Filters

Write the date that each filter should be changed on the cardboard edge with a permanent marker. When you’re not sure how long it’s been since you last changed filters, just look on these labels to see when you need to replace your current filter.

Set Reminders

Create a reminder on your phone, tablet or computer to let you know that it’s time to change your air filter. How often you need to change it depends on the types of filters you use. For example, high-efficiency filters usually don’t need to be changed as often, but this can make you more likely to forget to perform this task. Having a reminder on one of your electronic devices helps ensure that you won’t forget to change filters.

Store Filters in a Noticeable Spot

Having air filters stored in an out-of-the-way spot means you’re more likely to forget about them. Keeping them out in the open, such as on a shelf in your laundry room, can help you remember to change them on schedule. Consider putting a sticky note with the date they need to be changed on them in order to remind yourself.

Make It Part of Seasonal Cleaning

Plan on changing your air filter while doing other seasonal cleaning tasks, such as washing windows in spring or cleaning the gutters in fall. Grouping these tasks together can be a helpful reminder.

If you need HVAC maintenance this spring, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We offer dependable HVAC services for Portland 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).

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Here’s What to Know About Refrigerant

Here’s What to Know About RefrigerantRefrigerant is the lifeblood of your air conditioner. An A/C cools your home by moving indoor heat outdoors. Heat energy extracted from the air at the indoor evaporator coil is carried by the circulating flow of refrigerant to the outside unit, where it’s dispersed into outdoor air. Without refrigerant of the right type and precise amount, the cooling process can’t function. Here are some important things to know about this vital substance that keeps you comfortable all summer long.

  • Refrigerant morphs from a vapor into a liquid depending on pressurization. In its cold, vaporous state in the indoor coil, refrigerant has very high heat-absorbing properties. As it flows into the outdoor coil and decompresses, it converts into a liquid that rapidly releases heat energy.
  • Your air conditioner doesn’t consume refrigerant the way an older car uses motor oil and needs an extra quart added from time to time. If the refrigerant charge is low, there’s a leak somewhere. Pinpointing it can be a challenge but a qualified HVAC technician has leak detection equipment to get the job done and the expertise to repair the leak.
  • Low refrigerant levels mean more than simply poor cooling performance. Refrigerant also contains vital lubricants that protect the compressor, the most expensive component in your system. Low refrigerant can cause severe compressor damage, requiring replacement of the part or even the entire system.
  • Refrigerant is changing. The type used in air conditioners for years known as R-22 is being phased out by law. All new air conditioners utilize new R-410A refrigerant, and industry standards will continue to change. If you’re hanging on to an older air conditioner and it requires expensive repairs, consider the fact that the refrigerant it requires will soon no longer be available. Maybe now’s a good time to upgrade to a newer, more efficient A/C.

For more about refrigerant issues that affect your air conditioner, 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).

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Discolored Hot Water: Here’s What it Means

Discolored Hot Water: Here’s What it MeansTurning on a faucet in your home and seeing a flow of discolored hot water can be worrisome. There are several possible reasons why water discoloration occurs, and knowing how to identify the cause can help you decide whether you need to call a professional plumber.

  • Disturbances in the municipal supply — You can experience occasional water discoloration when fine sediment in the mains gets stirred up by hydrant use, routine maintenance, breaks or construction/repairs. Disturbed sediment normally settles within a few hours, and you’ll know this is the culprit if the flow from the faucet clears up on its own. To get rid of any remaining sediment, open all your faucets and let them run for several minutes.
  • Mineral sediment in the water heater — When water is heated, naturally-occurring minerals like calcium and magnesium form into scale particles that collect in your water heater tank over time. A severe sediment buildup not only discolors the hot water arriving at the faucets, it can block the gas burner or electric elements, reduce heating efficiency and eventually ruin the appliance. You can prevent these problems by draining and flushing the tank annually.
  • Decaying galvanized pipes — If you’re seeing orange or rust-colored water at both the hot and cold faucets and your home’s water pipes are galvanized steel, corrosion is the most likely cause. Galvanized pipes are protected on the outside by a zinc coating, so they deteriorate from the inside out. Before leaks start to occur, have your home’s water lines inspected by a licensed plumber to determine if they need replacement.
  • Water heater deterioration — If your cold water supply is clear, but the hot water flow has a brown or rusty tinge, the problem may originate in your water heater. If the appliance is more than 10 years old and you see evidence of rust on the exterior of the tank, there’s likely significant corrosion inside as well, and the unit should be replaced before it fails.

If you have a problem with discolored hot water in your Portland home and need expert advice, contact us at 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).

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Tips for Handling Pressuring HVAC Salespeople

Tips for Handling Pressuring HVAC SalespeopleIf your first encounter with an HVAC company is through an HVAC salesperson, you might feel overwhelmed, since these appliances are anything but simple. But if you sense that the salesperson is pressuring you into decisions you’re not ready to make or doesn’t seem to listen to your comments or questions, these tips might help you.

  • Get two opinions — Installing a new HVAC system or approving a major repair represents a large investment. Before proceeding with either, it’s a good idea to get a second option from another HVAC contractor. Let the salesperson know upfront that you plan to compare either before you sign a contract.
  • Insist on the facts — Although it means doing some research, educating yourself about HVAC systems and issues will payoff when dealing with a system replacement or a major repair. The U.S. Department of Energy has published many authoritative articles about these systems to help consumers better understand them. If you know something about them, you can better hold your own with a pushy HVAC salesperson.
  • Don’t sign anything until the contractor completes a load calculation for a new installation using Manual J software It’s a detailed analysis of your home’s physical characteristics and some lifestyle factors that contribute to your heating and cooling load. Skipping this step of a new installation could be the difference between a durable and dependable HVAC system, as well as lower energy costs.
    This exercise requires precise and detailed inputs, and not all HVAC sales people have the tools or expertise to conduct it.
  • Watch out for incentives — Legitimate offers in the HVAC field include factory-authorized incentives or financing, and rebates or credits from local energy or governmental agencies. Contractors who are factory-authorized dealers are less likely to offer non-product related incentives. Anything else may simply be a sales tactic.

The more you understand about the basics of HVAC systems, the better you’ll be at managing an HVAC salesperson who seems to be pushing you toward decisions you’re not ready to make. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, serving homeowners in the Greater Portland area.

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

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