Tankless Water Heaters in Your House: Pros and Cons

Tankless Water Heaters in Your House: Pros and ConsIf your older storage tank water heater is getting close to retirement age, you may be wondering if it’s worth going tankless. To help you decide, it’s good to learn the pros and cons of this type of water heater. The first pro of switching to a tankless water heater is the range of options it gives you. You can choose between gas-fired and electric models, and select a size ranging from a small unit to serve a single bathroom, or a large, whole-house model that’s capable of supplying three showers simultaneously.

Additional Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters

Making the switch to tankless water heating offers a number of other benefits:

  • Energy savings. Because there’s no tank of water that needs to be kept hot and ready for use, you can expect to see a drop in your household energy consumption and utility bills.
  • Long-term reliability. Storage tank water heaters typically wear out after 10 –13 years. As they age, the risk of a catastrophic tank failure and significant water damage increases. In contrast, tankless units have an expected service life of roughly 20 years, and there’s no tank that can suddenly fail.
  • Greater convenience. In the busy mornings and any other times when hot water is in greater demand, it’s easy to run out when you have a storage tank water heater. When you have on-demand units installed that match your peak household usage, you’ll assured of a continuous supply whenever hot water is needed.
  • Placement choices. Tankless units take up little room and are often wall mounted. The only restrictions on where you can place one are access to your gas line and the need for outdoor venting.

Potential Cons of Going Tankless

Tankless water heaters can cost two to three times as much as storage tank units, and the installation can cost more if your gas service needs upgrading. However, the reliability, convenience and energy savings you’ll gain can make the extra expense worthwhile.

For personalized advice about whether a tankless water heater is the ideal choice for your Portland-area 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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Benefits of Having a Maintenance Agreement

Benefits of Having a Maintenance AgreementYou rely on your HVAC system to keep your home comfortable, but it’s easy to take it for granted and forget to schedule routine maintenance visits. Signing up for a yearly maintenance plan with a well-established HVAC contractor is a hassle-free way to ensure that your equipment gets the professional care it needs. Having a maintenance agreement not only gives you reminders when routine service is needed, it can benefit your entire HVAC system in a number of other ways as well:

  • You may not realize that without regular maintenance, your HVAC equipment can lose up to five percent of its original energy efficiency each year. The semi-annual inspection, cleaning and tuneup that your system receives with a maintenance plan can halt, and sometimes reverse this slow loss of energy efficiency and help keep your yearly heating and cooling costs in check.
  • A thorough, twice-a-year inspection of the HVAC system also allows your technician to catch and make you aware of any emerging issues while they’re still minor. This gives you the chance to have these issues taken care before they develop into serious, costly problems that require extensive repairs.
  • Taking a proactive approach to HVAC maintenance and fixing problems early on also improves the reliability of your system’s components. This gives you peace of mind that your equipment is less likely to fail or break down in the middle of the heating or cooling season when it’s under the greatest amount of strain.
  • As with other types of mechanical equipment, your HVAC system components are more likely to last longer if they’re well maintained. When your equipment gets the timely care it needs through a maintenance plan and stays running in optimal condition, it can reach (or even exceed) its expected lifespan.
  • Having a maintenance agreement in place gives you documented proof that you’ve complied with your equipment manufacturer’s warranty requirements if a component fails and you have to file a claim.

To learn more about the benefits of having an HVAC maintenance agreement, contact the Portland home comfort pros 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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Ways to Decide if You Should Get a Plumbing Upgrade

Ways to Decide if You Should Get a Plumbing UpgradeYour plumbing is a vital household system that may not get a lot of attention until age-related problems begin to develop. If you don’t have the problems identified and addressed, you can end up dealing with costly water damage to your home. Learning how to recognize the warning signs of plumbing deterioration gives you an opportunity to get professional advice about whether a plumbing upgrade is needed before extensive damage occurs.

Ways to Tell You Have Problematic Plumbing

If you can relate to one or more of the following plumbing issues, it’s wise to have a licensed plumber inspect your system to help you decide if an upgrade is warranted.

  • Galvanized piping. If your home still has galvanized piping, you may not realize that it can be badly corroded on the inside even though it appears to be in good shape because the outside is treated against corrosion. If you start to experience issues with low pressure and frequent clogs, corroded plumbing pipes may be the cause.
  • Mixed materials. If a portion of your galvanized piping was replaced with copper and dielectric unions weren’t used between the two materials, your system can deteriorate faster than expected due to metal incompatibility.
  • Advancing age. The useful lifespan of residential plumbing system components is typically about 60 years. If your home is approaching that age, you have a chance to avoid extensive problems or damage by having the system assessed and replaced if it’s advisable.
  • Evidence of decay. You can tell a lot about the condition of your plumbing system by doing periodic checks on any pipes that you can easily access. Check the pipes coming off the water heater, running to the kitchen and bathroom sinks, or lines situated in unfinished spaces like the garage. Look for discoloration, dimpling or flaking metal, and fresh or dried water stains on adjacent surfaces. An increase in minor leaks and/or rusty-looking, discolored water coming from the faucets are other signs of deteriorated plumbing. Evidence of decay is not always easy to spot by the untrained eye.

For expert advice about whether a plumbing upgrade is necessary in your Portland-area home, contact us today 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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Upgrade Indoor Home Comfort With a Wi-Fi Thermostat

Upgrade Indoor Home Comfort With a Wi-Fi ThermostatWhen it comes to making your Portland home more comfortable throughout the year, making the switch to a Wi-Fi thermostat can help. This type of thermostat offers a number of benefits compared to standard thermostats. Knowing more about these thermostats can help you decide whether or not to invest in one for your home.

How They Work

Wi-Fi thermostats are designed to adjust the temperature in your home just as standard thermostats do. However, these thermostats can be programmed and adjusted from any device in your home or even on devices that you have with you while you’re away from home. This convenience offers several important advantages over standard thermostats and makes it easier for you to keep your home comfortable at any time.

Benefits of Wi-Fi Thermostats

Wi-Fi thermostats can be programmed to gather information on the current conditions inside your home and adjust the temperature accordingly. This means that you don’t have to worry about remembering to turn the thermostat up or down before leaving the house or before heading to bed. Your thermostat can handle that for you, which helps ensure that your home stays as cool or as warm as you need it to be.

These thermostats can also be programmed or adjusted from nearly any location, as long as you have Wi-Fi access. You can program your Wi-Fi thermostat or make changes to it from your mobile phone, laptop or tablet when you’re out and about. Even if you are traveling or away on vacation, you can still program your thermostat as needed to make sure your home doesn’t get too hot or cold.

Some Wi-Fi thermostats can also alert you when your HVAC system starts running less efficiently than normal. This helps ensure that you have your system inspected and repaired as needed.

If you need more information on getting a Wi-Fi thermostat for your home, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We offer reliable HVAC services 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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Condensation On My Air Conditioner Unit: Should I Be Worried?

Condensation On My Air Conditioner Unit: Should I Be Worried?When something is wrong with your air conditioner, it will let you know in a number of different ways. Maybe you have a gut feeling your energy bills are too high, and you certainly know when your home is uncomfortable. Another sign your air conditioner is failing is condensation collecting on and/or around it. Switch the thermostat and your panic buttons off, and keep reading before you make your next call.

What Harm is a Little Water?

Water condensation on your air conditioner’s evaporator coil is normal. However, as you’ve realized, water leaking from your air conditioner onto your floor is not acceptable. Depending on where your indoor A/C unit is located, condensate leaks may cause damage to your ceiling, walls, flooring and/or other building materials and property.

What to Do?

In order to know what to do about a leaky A/C, it’s helpful to know how condensation forms and the most common reasons why it’s leaking. Condensation forms as a result of water vapor in warm airflow being pulled across the cold evaporator coil. Under normal conditions, the condensate drips into a pan, flows down the drain and through a tube away from your home. End of story — unless your A/C unit is experiencing these problems:

  • A blockage in the drain tube is causing an overflow. Your HVAC technician uses either a powerful blower or heavy-duty vacuum to push or pull the blockage through. Then, the line is chemically treated.
  • The float switch has malfunctioned. Some air conditioners have a float switch that turns off the unit when water fills the drip pan too high. If your A/C is equipped with such a device, but it’s not working, it needs to be repaired or replaced.
  • The drip pan has rusted through or it has broken. Your technician can simply replace the drip pan.

Ask your HVAC technician or plumber if your A/C has a float switch. If not, you’d be wise to have one installed in the drain trap. For assistance repairing air conditioner condensation problems in your Portland home, please contact the professionals 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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Here Are 3 Reasons Why Your Furnace is Blowing Cold Air

Here Are 3 Reasons Why Your Furnace is Blowing Cold AirYour furnace helps ensure that your Portland home stays warm and toasty in winter, but what happens if it’s only blowing cold air? When you have a furnace cold air problem, it’s important to determine what might be causing it, so you can get heated air flowing again. These are a few possible causes of this heating system issue.

Thermostat Problems

A simple problem with your thermostat could be causing cold air to blow out of your vents when your furnace is on. Check the setting on your thermostat to see if it is set to the “auto” position instead of the “on” position. The “on” position causes the fan to run constantly, but this won’t produce heated air.

Pilot Light

Gas furnaces have a small flame that burns all the time and helps them ignite. If you have a gas furnace, check the pilot light to see if it is lit. When the pilot light goes out, your furnace isn’t able to blow heated air. Instead, you’ll just feel cold air coming out of your vents. If the pilot light went out, carefully relight it so you’ll be able to heat your home again.

Dirty Air Filter

The air filter in your furnace helps trap dust and other particles, which allows it to heat your home efficiently. When this filter becomes covered in debris, it makes it harder for air to flow through to your furnace. This can end up putting your furnace in danger of overheating, which can result in the burners automatically shutting off for safety reasons. Check your air filter, and replace it with a new one if it’s coated with dust and debris.

If none of these are causing your furnace cold air problem, it’s time to call in professional HVAC technicians to check it. These HVAC experts can determine the cause of this problem and take steps to fix it.

If you have a furnace cold air problem this winter or if your heating system needs other repairs, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We offer dependable heating and cooling services 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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Considering Improving Your Home’s IAQ by Using UV Lights? Here’s What to Know

Considering Improving Your Home's IAQ by Using UV Lights? Here's What to KnowYou may not spend a lot of time thinking about the quality of the air inside your home. However, clean air can help keep everyone in the home healthy. It has even greater benefits for allergy sufferers and for those with breathing difficulties. Improving your indoor air quality, or IAQ, is a fairly easy task that offers a great return on your investment.

What Affects IAQ?

The quality of your air can be affected by many factors. If you have smokers or pets in the home, if you have pollen-bearing plants in your yard or neighborhood, or if there’s a major roadway nearby, your air may not be as clean as you’d want it to be. Other factors affecting IAQ include having lots of dust in the air or high levels of humidity that might encourage mold growth.

What Improves IAQ?

The first, and simplest, fix for your IAQ is a good filter for your HVAC system. If you replace it regularly, a filter will catch many of the larger allergens and contaminants that get into your home.

Filters aren’t sufficient to catch the smallest particles, however. They also don’t do much about mold or mildew growth inside your ducts or around your A/C’s evaporator coil.

To take care of these contaminants, many homeowners opt to install UV, or ultraviolet, lights inside their ducts or near their evaporator coils. These lights work at a wavelength that attacks bacteria and mold spores. The lights disrupt the contaminants’ DNA, preventing them from reproducing and shortening their lives.

Since UV lights are installed within the HVAC system, they have no effect on the people or pets living in the home. These lights are remarkably effective. They have been shown to improve IAQ in less than an hour after being turned on, and they continue to clean the air as long as your HVAC system is on. Paired with a high-quality filter, UV lights can give you the indoor air quality your family needs to stay healthy.

For more information about using UV lights in your Portland area home, contact 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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Could It Be Time to Upgrade Your Electrical Wiring?

ICould It Be Time to Upgrade Your Electrical Wiring?t may be the last thing on your wish list for home improvements, but electrical wiring could be unsafe, inadequate, or both and needs replacing. Even though the expense may seem high, it’s well worth doing given what’s at risk.

The signs of bad wiring include:

  • Flickering lights or bulbs that dim when you turn on an appliance. This almost always indicates that the circuit breaker for that outlet is overloaded.
  • Sizzling sounds coming from an outlet or discolored outlets. Electricity should be silent. Discolored outlets could indicate overheating.
  • Circuit breakers that trip frequently. When too much power goes through a circuit breaker, a contact point builds too much heat and it shuts itself off.
  • Burning rubber smells or excessively hot cords. Anytime you smell a suspicious odor coming from an appliance or a cord feels hot, you should turn it off or pull it immediately. The problem may be the device you’re using. If you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to contact an electrician to identify the problem.
  • Aluminum wiring. Home builders used aluminum wiring to cut costs in homes built between the 1960s and 70s. While it may not be a problem, it can be. Work-arounds may be available to reduce the danger associated with this type of electrical wiring.
  • Lack of grounded outlets or no GFIs. Any outlet that isn’t grounded should be changed, and GFI circuits reduce the risk of an appliance or device being exposed to water.
  • Overloaded outlets. If you have to use surge protectors or power strips throughout your home, you probably need more receptacles, especially when you’re plugging higher wattage appliances into them. Vacuum cleaners, space heaters, hair dryers, and some televisions use more power than others, and need to be plugged directly into an outlet for safety.

Inadequate or unsafe electrical wiring accounts for the majority of preventable home fires. If you suspect yours is inadequate or you’ve experienced any problems with it, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We provide trusted HVAC and electrical 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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Is Your Home Prepared for Winter Power Outages?

Is Your Home Prepared for Winter Power Outages?Sooner or later, power outages are bound to happen to everyone. All you can do is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Additionally, help keep yourself and your loved ones safe and calm with these tips for preparing for a power outage in your home.

Emergency Kit

You may have many of the items for your emergency preparedness kit scattered around your home. Your kit should contain a lantern, flashlights, batteries, glow sticks, a battery-operated radio and a first-aid kit. Use a plastic bin to store the items in an easily accessible place.

Make a safety checklist and keep it in your emergency kit, too. Include the following steps on your list:

  • Account for everyone in your home.
  • Turn off the gas valve to your furnace if necessary.
  • Fill your bathtubs with water.
  • Call family and friends in other parts of your area to see if power is out there, too. However, conserve phone battery power.

Store Food, Water, and Ice

Stock up on essential canned foods. Don’t forget treats, such as granola bars, fruit filling and other fun foods in addition to canned meats, fruits, and vegetables. Use containers of various sizes to store ice in your freezer and water in your refrigerator.

Keep Warm

Staying warm is essential. Keep everyone in the same room or general area in your home. The combined body heat and breathing will help the room stay warmer. Bring out extra blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags. Make yourself as comfortable as possible.

Stand-by Generator

Shop your local home store for stand-by generators. If you already have one, make sure it’s in good working order.

Backup Place to Stay

Contact family and friends to see if their power is out. Try to find an alternate location to stay until your power comes back on.

Have Fun!

Make the most of your time “off the grid.” Play games, make shadow puppets, read stories, or look through photo albums using your glow sticks.

For more information about preparing for a power outage for your Portland area home, 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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