Ways to Fix Uneven Cooling in Your Home

Ways to Fix Uneven Cooling in Your HomeThere are many factors that can contribute to uneven cooling in your home. The ductwork may need attention that requires sealing leaks or cleaning duct runs. Or, your A/C could just be getting old coupled with heat gain/loss due to your home’s orientation to the sun. Following are common reasons and solutions to help you fix cooling problems and help you save energy.

Duct Problems

The ducts are the lungs of your home — taking in warm air through return grilles and pushing cooled air out of supply vents. Here are some solutions to help your home’s lungs breathe easier.

  • Leaks: Loose duct joints, damage and holes allow cooled air to escape before reaching the living spaces. Duct air leaks should be wrapped with metal duct tape.
  • Insulation: Cool air quickly takes on heat through thin duct walls. Make sure the ducts located in the attic or basement are insulated.
  • Sizing: If your ducts weren’t sized correctly, you’ll need to install a zoning system or retrofit the ducts.
  • Dirty: Dirty vents and air ducts should be cleaned to allow free airflow and to improve indoor air quality.

A/C Issues

The central air system itself could be the problem for uneven cooling. If your A/C is more than 10 years old, consider upgrading. Room additions increase the cooling load of your home, and the extra load could be too much for your A/C. Installing a ductless mini split or upgrading to a larger A/C unit may be in order.

Sun-facing Rooms

Heat gain/loss occurs in every room, and in every room it’s different. Sun-facing rooms take on heat quicker than north-facing rooms. When coupled with other HVAC issues, such as leaky ducts, you are going to have substantial comfort problems.

Window treatments help curb heat gain/loss issues by slowing heat gain into sun-facing rooms. Installing awnings provide shade for sun-facing rooms and substantially reduce heat gain. A simpler method is to install window film and layered drapes, which also help with heat loss during the heating months.

For professional service to address uneven cooling 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). 

3 Ways to Love Your HVAC System

3 Ways to Love Your HVAC SystemThis Valentine’s Day show your home’s heating and cooling system some love and it will properly love you back. Here are three ways you can give Love your HVAC system:

Inspect forced-air system filters regularly and change them when they look dirty or clogged. An air filter that’s clogged with dust and debris will slow airflow through your forced-air system, and potentially lead to dirty system components, among other problems. Both consequences will force machinery to work harder than necessary, wasting energy and stressing parts.

Consider turning down the temperature a few degrees in the winter (and up in the summer). It doesn’t take long for most people to become acclimated to a “new normal.” This will produce the positive results of adding months or years to your HVAC system’s service life, reducing breakdowns over time, and saving on monthly operating costs.

Seal air leaks in your home’s outer envelope. When a significant amount of air is allowed to transfer between inside and outside, your HVAC system must work all the harder to make your home comfortable and draft-free. This stresses heating and cooling equipment, wastes energy, and erodes comfort in the home. Upgrading insulation (especially in the attic) has the same positive effect as plugging air leaks, except in this case, insulation reduces the transfer of heat energy (as opposed to air) between inside and outside.

Other ways to love your HVAC system include: Installing a programmable thermostat (which allows you to set energy-saving schedules for temperature changes, such as while you’re away working or asleep at night); scheduling annual professional maintenance for your cooling and heating systems (which helps ensure comfort, energy efficiency and safety); sealing or repairing leaky or defective ductwork in your home; installing ceiling fans to supplement home cooling in the summer and help redistribute warm air in the winter; and keeping vents and registers clear of furniture, rugs and other objects that block airflow.

For advice on other ways to love your HVAC system this winter and spring, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling, providing quality services to the Portland metropolitan area since 1976.

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

How Paint Color Choice Affects Energy Efficiency

How Paint Color Choice Affects Energy EfficiencyMaintaining a comfortable home year-round costs less when its energy efficiency is high. While insulation, Energy Star appliances, and an airtight structure all help, so does its exterior color.

Colors absorb or reflect heat. By some estimations, a dark exterior absorbs 90 percent of the heat from the sunshine that strikes it. Light colors reflect the heat, which keeps the building cooler.

Portland has more heating degree days on average than cooling, which means that your home needs more heating than cooling.

Unless you prefer cooler indoor temperatures year-round, your choices for exterior colors are broad in this climate. Neutral to darker hues will warm your home during the heating season, which lasts longer and requires more energy than summer cooling.

Why Colors Matter

Matching colors to the local climate does contribute to the home’s overall energy efficiency. If you live east of Portland in a lower elevation, more solar radiation will strike your home and roof, and summer temperatures are warmer. Lighter exterior colors and roofing materials will cut some of the heat gain that occurs in the summer.

Conversely, a home closer to the coast with a dark roof and exterior will absorb more heat, making the home easier to warm in the winter. The sun’s heat will warm the exterior that will penetrate through the walls and into the rooms.

Benefits of an Efficient Home

Optimizing your home for efficiency cuts energy costs and reduces the wear and tear on your heating and cooling system. Besides lower electric and gas bills, your system may require fewer repairs and could last longer. HVAC systems use the most energy and are the most expensive appliance in the typical home.

If painting your home isn’t in your plans, you can increase its energy efficiency by having your HVAC system serviced by a pro annually to maximize its performance. For more information, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, serving 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).  

4 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Heat Pump

Retrieving data. Wait a few seconds and try to cut or copy again.Heat pumps offer a more energy-efficient way to keep your Portland home warm when it’s cold out. If you have this type of heating system, it’s important to keep the following information in mind.

Heat Pumps Are Programmable

You can make your heat pump even more energy-efficient by using it with a programmable thermostat. This type of thermostat makes it easy for you to adjust the temperature inside your home on a regular basis. All you need to do is program the thermostat to increase or decrease by a few degrees at certain times in order to save energy. For example, you can have your programmable thermostat drop a few degrees at night while you’re asleep or during the day when you’re at work. Your heating system won’t run as often during these times, which reduces energy usage, utility bills and wear and tear on your heating system.

Heat Pumps Need Regular Maintenance

Heat pumps are much more efficient than gas furnaces, but they need routine maintenance in order to stay this way. Regular maintenance helps catch potential problems early and ensures that your heat pump is in good condition for the heating season.

Heat Pumps Have a Defrost Cycle

If you notice what looks like smoke coming from your outdoor heating unit, don’t panic. Heat pumps often produce steam when they go into defrost mode during winter. When the defrost cycle is on, the auxiliary heat inside your home might come on to ensure that your home stays warm.

Heat Pumps Cool Homes

Heat pumps aren’t just for heating homes. They also keep them cool during summer. Your heat pump provides your home with comfort all year long, whether it’s hot or cold out. Keep in mind that this means your heat pump will also need routine maintenance during the summer months. This helps it stay efficient when it’s cooling your home.

If your heat pump needs service or repairs this season, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We provide prompt, reliable HVAC services for customers in and around the 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).  

How to Prepare Your Plumbing for Frozen Temperatures

How to Prepare Your Plumbing for Frozen TemperaturesLast winter Portland saw record low temperatures. While the thermostat seldom dips below freezing here, whenever it’s predicted it’s a good idea to survey your home and property and prepare for the worst. Besides wrapping or covering vulnerable plants, you also want to protect your pipes from the predicted frozen temperature drop.

Protecting Your Pipes

When water in your pipes freezes, it will expand and can burst your pipes and cause flooding. Here’s how to protect pipes.

Outdoors

If you don’t regularly disconnect your outdoor hoses and wrap your faucets when freezing temperatures are predicted, you should. Drain faucets and wrap them with a commercially manufactured faucet cover, or use old towels. It’s best to turn the faucet off at the inside valve if you can, and leave the faucet open to drain. Leaving a trickle of water running slightly will also help.

Water sprinkler lines and swimming pool supply lines are also vulnerable and should be protected. Never use antifreeze, which is attractive to pets and some wild animals and can kill them.

Inside

If you have pipes running through the basement, attic or the crawl space, increase the insulation in those areas to prevent freezing. This will also help lower your utility bill.

Inspect your home for any areas where pipes located on an exterior wall might freeze, such as in a kitchen or bathroom. Even though you might think you’ll always keep the temperatures high enough to avoid freezing, you could have a furnace breakdown in the midst of a cold spell. If this happens when you’re away, you could return to a flooded home. Pipes in cabinets may be particularly at risk.

Wrap pipes in a pipe sleeve or use heat tape or a heated cable. The latter methods rely on electricity so won’t help if your power goes out. You can also wrap pipes in 1/4-inch-thick newspaper or insulation. Also, leave the cabinet door open during cold spells so the heat gets inside the cabinets.

To learn more about protecting pipes when a frozen temperature prediction is issued, contact Roth Heating and 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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Should You Invest in a Tankless Water Heater?

Should You Invest in a Tankless Water Heater?The most common reason most homeowners cite for choosing a tankless water heater is to save money on water heating costs and to save indoor space. As valid as these reasons are, there are other factors to consider before going ahead with a tankless upgrade.

How big is your family?

An average-sized tankless water heater won’t have trouble keeping up with a family of four, but if it’s larger, you may need to stagger bathing schedules or install a larger unit.

How’s the water pressure?

Homes with low water pressure might experience sudden drops in hot water volume, resulting in brief spurts of cold water while bathing. Before ruling out a tankless heater, ask a plumber to help you identify the cause of poor indoor water pressure and find solutions.

Is storage space at a premium?

  • Tankless water heaters use much less space than storage tank heaters. Depending on where you put it, you might be able to add storage or closet space.
  • Tankless systems are an alternative to a new storage tank heater that might require home modifications, especially if you need a large heater. New water heaters use more space because they require more tank insulation, need more venting, or are substantially taller.

How far away are the bathrooms from the water heater?

If the bathrooms are a distance from the water heater, you may want to install point-of-use heaters for the bathrooms. Not only will a separate tank deliver immediate hot water, it cuts water waste.

What kind of electrical service do you have or does gas run to your property?

A standard tankless system requires 200 amp service, but if you need a larger unit, you’ll need to upgrade the wiring to 300 amps, which will add to the installation costs. If you have natural gas running to your property, you can select this fuel for the water heater.

A tankless water heater uses less energy than a storage heater and may be the ideal choice for your home. For more expert advice, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, your plumbing experts for 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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Syncing You Home’s HVAC Systems Improves Efficiency

Syncing You Home's HVAC Systems Improves EfficiencyIf you’re concerned about the high cost of heating and cooling your home, you’re probably looking for effective ways to lower your yearly household energy consumption. Getting all of your home’s various systems into sync goes a long way toward improving efficiency and saving energy. Taking the following measures makes syncing HVAC systems easier and can bring you the greatest boost in overall efficiency:

Maintain HVAC Equipment

Keeping your HVAC equipment clean and tuned up, and catching/fixing developing issues early all play a part in maximizing its efficiency, so be sure to schedule twice-yearly preventive maintenance visits.

Stop Air Leaks

While you need controlled air exchange for good indoor air quality, sealing uncontrolled air leaks in your home’s exterior envelope is vital to limit energy losses. To curb such losses, seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors, along the foundation and around penetrations for pipes, vents and wiring using caulk, weatherstripping and expandable spray foam.

Attend to the Ductwork

Uninsulated, leaky ducts can cost you 20 percent or more in lost HVAC equipment output. To limit this loss of efficiency, correct any duct defects like damaged or disconnected sections, then seal the joints/seams with metal-backed tape and install an R-6 insulation wrap on all accessible ducting.

Air Seal and Insulate the Attic

Air leakage and insufficient attic insulation can let conditioned air escape and allow heat transfer between the attic and your living space. You can curtail this energy drain by sealing leaks around HVAC, electrical and plumbing lines, the chimney and access hatch, and the attic perimeter. Then, increase the amount of insulation between your attic floor joists so you have a total of R-38 to R-60.

Replace Drafty Windows

Updating your older windows can eliminate drafts and limit heat gains and losses through the glass. In our climate zone, the most efficient windows are Energy Star-certified and have a U-factor of 0.25 or less, a solar heat gain co-efficient (SHGC) between 0.35—0.60, and an air leakage (AL) rating below 30.

For more advice on syncing HVAC systems in 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). 

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How to Stay Warm in a Power Outage in Winter

How to Stay Warm in a Power Outage in Winter

How to Stay Warm in a Power Outage in WinterWhen the snow and freezing rain of a typical Portland winter storm blow in, a power outage is often close behind. Take some time to prepare, though, and you can stay comfortable no matter the weather.

Staying Cozy Without Heating

If you have a propane or kerosene heater designed for use indoors and a very well ventilated room, this is your best bet for staying warm. If you have any suspicions that the room might lack good airflow, however, don’t risk it or you’re liable to end up ill from carbon monoxide exposure.

A safer bet is to make sure everyone in your household is dressed in layers of warm clothing and equipped with a warm blanket, then bring everyone into a small room. Your body heat, taken together, will keep the room warm.

When you know a storm’s coming, raise your thermostat temperature around 10 degrees so your home will take longer to cool down if the power goes out. If you have a fireplace, bring in extra firewood. Before winter hits, make time to seal air leaks around doors and windows, put up insulating drapes, and make other improvements that will help your home hold in warmth.

When a Generator is Worth It

A generator is always a nice convenience, but when your household includes a young child, elderly person or anyone else vulnerable to hypothermia, a generator can be a literal lifesaver. Depending on its size, a gasoline- or diesel-powered portable generator can power one or more circuits in your home. A smaller model can at least power an electric space heater.

If you prefer to have your whole home powered, consider investing in a standby generator. This is wired into your home’s electrical system and starts up automatically when a power outage occurs, then turns off when the power comes back. It’s connected to the natural gas mains, so it won’t run out of fuel.

For more ideas on staying cozy and safe during a power outage, talk with us at Roth Heating & Cooling in the 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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Why You Shouldn’t Try DIY HVAC Repairs

Why You Shouldn't Try DIY HVAC RepairsWhen your furnace starts acting up on a chilly Portland winter evening, it can be tempting to try to solve the problem yourself rather than wait for a technician to arrive. DIY HVAC repairs might sound practical, but they can end up costing more money and time than calling a pro would have.

Your Health and Safety

The most important reason to let a professional handle your heating and cooling repairs is to protect yourself and your family. While you might not be too concerned about the minor cuts and burns you can get during your DIY HVAC repairs, keep in mind this isn’t the worse that can happen.

Making a mistake around the system’s electrical components can give you a shock that leaves you hospitalized or even dead. An incorrectly performed electrical repair job might look okay at first, but spark a fire in the middle of the night. Damage to a gas furnace can create a potentially deadly carbon monoxide leak.

Practicality and Cost-Effectiveness

Licensed HVAC professionals bring not only years of training and experience, but also an array of tools specifically designed for HVAC repair. All this lets them troubleshoot your system and get the necessary repair work done fast. Better yet, you can be sure the repair work will last. Try to DIY it and you’re likely to spend more of your own time and money for an iffy repair job.

Some components, such as your air conditioner evaporator coils, are quite delicate and it’s easy to cause damage if you’re unaware of how to handle them. A mistake could turn a quick repair into an expensive component replacement job.

Changing your air filters, cleaning your outdoor condenser unit, and even patching a damaged air duct are all simple jobs you can do yourself, but for anything more complex, put your family’s safety first and call a pro.

If you’d rather avoid disastrous DIY HVAC repairs, get in touch with us at Roth Heating & Cooling in the 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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Winter Furnace Efficiency: Achieving Comfort for Less

Winter Furnace Efficiency: Achieving Comfort for LessIn the chilly, rainy Portland winters, any steps you take toward improving furnace efficiency pays off in terms of comfort and savings. Better yet, most of the improvements you can make are easy and affordable.

Help Your Furnace Do its Job

One of the best things you can do to improve your furnace efficiency is to seal up any leaks in your duct system. In the average home, the ducts lose as much as 20 percent of the air they carry through leaks. Inspect your exposed ducts and make sure the sealing around the joints is free of damage. Replace any damaged sealing. Look for holes in flexduct and fiberglass ducts. These should be patched or the flexduct replaced.

If you’re not using a programmable thermostat, consider switching. These themostats let you set energy-efficient temperatures for certain times of the day so you won’t waste energy by forgetting to turn the heat down when you’re out or in bed.

If a hard-to-heat part of the house is making you turn up your thermostat more than you’d really like, consider having a zoned system installed. This will let you direct more heat to the parts of the house that need it.

Stay Current on Maintenance

Even one season of neglecting maintenance will affect your furnace efficiency. Change your air filter on time, which is usually once a month for low-efficiency fiberglass models. Once or twice a year, take the covers off your air registers and vents, and clean them to remove dust buildup. Then vacuum out the inside of the duct behind them using your vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment.

Every year, schedule a professional furnace inspection. Over the heating season, your furnace collects dust and can develop issues such as loose wires, a dirty burner, a wobbly blower fan, and other wear that brings down its efficiency. A heating and cooling technician can access areas of your heating system you can’t to clean and make repairs.

For help maximizing your furnace efficiency, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling anywhere around Portland.

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