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.

Electrical

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.

Efficiency

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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Should You Update the Electrical Wiring in Your Home?

Should You Update the Electrical Wiring in Your Home?Because it’s hidden throughout your home’s structure, it’s easy to forget about checking your electrical wiring. But if you’re making any changes to your home, or if you’ve been experiencing electrical problems, it may be time to consider an update. This can enhance your safety, increase convenience and possibly bring more value to your home.

Safety Considerations

  • A circuit breaker that trips for no apparent reason should be investigated by a licensed electrician, since this can often signal a problem with the wiring in your home. Neglecting problems associated with your wiring may result in loss of life and property.
  • If your home was built in the 1960s or 70s, there’s a risk that you could have aluminum wiring. This type of wiring can oxidize over time, and when it does, the wire can generate heat and start a fire.
  • Using multiple power strips in your home because you don’t have enough outlets for all of your appliances and devices can pose a fire hazard, especially if the power strips don’t have surge protection.

Changing Appliances

Switching from a gas to an electric appliance usually requires upgrading the electrical wiring, especially when the appliance is a stove, dryer, water heater, or HVAC equipment. These appliances require their own circuit breaker and high voltage outlets, along with heavier gauge wiring. Adding ceiling fans to an unblocked or wired ceiling also requires an electrical upgrade.

Adding Convenience

Relying on extension cords to provide power can be a safety hazard. The National Electric Code requires there be an outlet every 12 feet in your home to eliminate the need for extension cords. The standard length of a cord (with a few exceptions) is 6 feet. An electrician can add more outlets in each room wherever they’re needed to bring your home up to standards.

The pros at Roth Heating & Cooling can assess your home’s electrical wiring and safety. We’ve been providing exceptional HVAC and electrical 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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Increase Efficiency & Safety by Cleaning Your Home’s Dryer Vents

Increase Efficiency & Safety by Cleaning Your Home's Dryer Vents Did you know that your home’s dryer vents can pose a threat to your safety? Even if you empty the lint trap after every load, you’re probably not cleaning up all the lint buildup, which can eventually prevent your dryer vent from exhausting properly. Due to the blockage, your dryer may overheat, threatening your Portland home and your personal safety.

Signs of Blocked Dryer Vents

  • Clothing doesn’t dry completely or takes much longer than normal to dry.
  • Clothes dry, but feel much hotter than usual to the touch.
  • Clothes smell musty coming out of the dryer.
  • The vent hood flap doesn’t pop open as it should when the dryer is in use.
  • The laundry area or laundry room is excessively hot when the dryer is in use or has just completed it’s cycle.
  • A lot of lint accumulates in and around the lint filter.
  • Your dryer sheets seem to smell stronger than usual after the drying cycle.

What Your HVAC Contractor Can Do

You probably already know that your contractor should inspect and clean your HVAC system every year. Your plumbing vent pipes also need annual maintenance. You should have your HVAC technician clean your dryer vents using specialized cleaning equipment. He can remove any debris (branches, leaves, bird nests, etc.) blocking your vent pipe, which typically sticks out of your roof.

Your HVAC contractor will then use a high-powered vacuum equipment, snakes and brushes to clean out the entire length of the vent. Your contractor may also need to replace non-metal transition ducts running between the dryer and main vent because they constitute a fire danger.

Semi-rigid metal ducts will make your venting system safer and help improve your dryer’s efficiency and performance. If it’s been more than a year since your last dryer vent cleaning, schedule an inspection right away.

When your home’s dryer vents need a thorough cleaning, contact the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling in the Aurora 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 Spring Maintenance Tips for Your Home

Important Spring Maintenance Tips for Your HomeSpring is the customary time for home cleaning. It’s also a great time to complete some maintenance tasks around your home to keep your HVAC system working efficiently. Read through the following spring maintenance tips to help your Portland home recover from the winter season.

HVAC Maintenance

On average, your HVAC system accounts for roughly half of your home’s energy bill. As such, keeping your A/C, heat pump or furnace in good condition is very important. Make sure to check your system’s air filter. A clogged filter can increase cooling and heating bills up to 15 percent. Also, inspect your central unit outdoors, and remove any obstructions to airflow, such as leaves, weeds and debris.

If you have a whole-home humidifier that needs to be shut down, or a dehumidifier that needs to be prepped for the cooling months, be sure to ask your HVAC technician to check these systems in addition to tuning up your A/C. Your air ducts should also be inspected. If applicable, make sure to put fresh batteries in your smoke and CO2 detectors.

Sealing and Insulation

Sealing materials can dry out, letting attic insulation blow around. So, make sure to inspect your attic for adequate insulation of at least 12 inches (for fiberglass or cellulose). Then, look for moldy or wet spots, and replace the insulation if you find any. Lastly, make sure your attic door is insulated and sealed with foam weatherstripping.

Plumbing and Appliances

If you’ve noticed higher than normal water bills, look for signs of plumbing leaks, sweaty pipes and clogged drains. Since most plumbing is located in walls or outside your living space, you may need to give your home a good inspection.

Next, check your water heater temperature. It should be set at 120 degrees to produce efficient hot water without wearing your storage tank. Ask your HVAC technician or plumbing professional to flush out your tank and inspect other components.

For more spring home maintenance tips, please contact the experts at Roth Heating & Cooling in the Aurora 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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Make Sure These Areas in Your Home Are Properly Insulated

Make Sure These Areas in Your Home Are Properly InsulatedYou might be surprised by the comfort difference between homes that are properly insulated and ones that lack the right type and amount of insulation. Insulated homes can stay warmer (or cooler) longer, will have less drafts and won’t cost as much to heat and cool.

The best course is to hire an experienced and knowledgeable professional to recommend an effective home insulation strategy. However, handy homeowners can also play a useful role when insulating homes.

Why Insulate?

Common building materials aren’t great at resisting thermal heat transfer. This is why a supplemental material that’s designed to resist heat transfer, or insulation, is necessary. With the right amount and type of insulation, your home will stay comfortable longer and your HVAC equipment won’t have to run 24/7.

So Where Do You Insulate?

Generally, a home should be insulated from the foundation all the way up to the attic and roof, as well as on all ductwork that runs through unconditioned areas.

  • Home insulation in the attic is especially important, since this is where the most heat gain and loss occurs. Optimum attic insulation will keep heat from escaping through the roof during the winter (and risking formation of ice dams) and limit heat transfer between the attic and living spaces below.
  • Wall insulation is also essential, since in the vast majority of homes, they make up most of the home’s surface area. The easiest way to insulate exterior walls is with blown-in insulation. You can check wall insulation by unscrewing an electrical socket panel and peeking at the insulation inside the wall.
  • Basement insulation can help make finished basements less damp and chilly.
  • Ducts that are insulated in unconditioned areas experience less heat loss through thin walls, so conditioned air can reach its destination with minimal heat loss or gain.

For more information on proper home insulation, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling in 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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Find a Pro to Fix Your Home Water Problems

Find a Pro to Fix Your Home Water ProblemsGood water quality is important for both your health and the reliability of your plumbing system, and regardless of whether you live in an area with municipal water or you obtain your water from a well, home water problems are quite common. With the help of a professional, you can easily correct most home water problems, including the following conditions:

Lead Contamination

Before the negative health effects of lead were discovered, many homes contained lead-based solder to join copper pipes together, creating a tight seal. If replacing your home’s plumbing is not a feasible option, lead contamination can be reduced or eliminated with reverse osmosis, carbon block filtration or ion-exchange water softening systems.

Bacterial Contamination

Disease-causing microbes, such as coliform bacteria, is most commonly found in well water, though it’s possible to find some in municipal water systems, especially shortly after natural disasters. In most cases, a combination of sediment filtering and disinfecting, typically with chlorination, will eliminate the problem.

Unappealing Taste or Smell

Small amounts of organic matter in your water supply, such as algae, can cause a strange taste or smell. Processing your water through a sediment filtering system to remove solid matter, as well as an activated charcoal filter to remove tastes and odors, can solve most problems, though in extreme cases, oxidizing filters may be necessary.

Sulfur Smell

If your water smells like rotten eggs, you likely have hydrogen sulfide in your water, which can lead to pipe corrosion. An advanced chlorination and filtering system with sediment, aeration and activated charcoal filters can reduce hydrogen sulfide content.

Hard Water

Hard water with excess calcium and magnesium can cause lime scale to build up in your plumbing system, restricting water flow and damaging plumbing fixtures. Ion-exchange water softeners are the most common solution for reducing calcium and magnesium levels.

For help with your home water problems, talk to our plumbing experts at Roth Heating & Cooling in Portland and the surrounding areas.

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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The Do’s and Don’ts of Garbage Disposal Maintenance

The Do's and Don'ts of Garbage Disposal Maintenance When it comes to sheer convenience, few appliances have as much of an impact on your household than your garbage disposal. Your disposal is handy for getting rid of food scraps and waste that might otherwise create a smelly mess in your kitchen.

Garbage disposal maintenance is absolutely essential if you want it to last for years to come. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind to keep your disposal in great shape and prevent maintenance emergencies.

Do’s

  • Operate your garbage disposal regularly. Disuse can lead to rust, corrosion and clogs.
  • Drop a few frozen vinegar cubes into your garbage disposal. This not only keeps the blades sharp, but it also helps clean and disinfect the disposal itself.
  • Flush your garbage disposal with cold water and keep running your disposal until all food scraps have been flushed out.

Don’ts

  • Don’t grind onion peels, corn husks and other stringy, fibrous foods in your disposal. These fibers can easily get tangled around the motor and burn it out.
  • Don’t feed bones, fruit pits and other extremely hard foods into your disposal.
  • Don’t stick your hand into your garbage disposal to retrieve dropped items without disconnecting the unit’s power beforehand. If possible, use needle-nose pliers or a bent coat hanger to retrieve items.

Don’t forget that your technician can also help out with garbage disposal maintenance, especially when it comes to tough jobs like motor repairs and blade replacements.

The experts at Roth Heating & Cooling can help maintain your garbage disposal. Contact us whenever your Portland home’s disposal needs a professional’s touch.

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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Got Shaking Water Pipes? Find a Pro to Fix the Problem

Got Shaking Water Pipes? Find a Pro to Fix the ProblemYou may not know that your water pipes are shaking until you hear a sudden bang or rattle coming from somewhere deep inside your walls. This may happen when you turn water on or off at a faucet, or when your washer stops the flow of water coming in.

The sound of shaking water pipes can be annoying. However, what’s worse is the potential damage these pipes can sustain. You need to fix them now to avoid leaking pipes in the future.

What Causes Pipes to Shake?

Flowing water contains energy, and when something disturbs the water’s flow, it releases contained energy into the structure around the water. This released energy can cause unsecured water pipes to move around quite a bit. Solenoid-triggered water valves, found on dishwashers and washing machines, can stop the flow of water suddenly, causing stored energy to shake your pipes. Water flowing above 80 psi can cause backflushing, which also results in moving pipes.

Shaking pipes strain pipe joints and seams, but the damage may not show itself for a long time. One day, your pipe joint might fail or a crack, leaving your with a major water leak on your hands.

What Can You Do About Shaking Pipes?

To subdue your rattling pipes, you need to bring in a licensed plumbing contractor. Your plumber will identify what’s causing your pipes to shake and offer solutions to fix the problem. This might be as simple as securing your pipes to studs and joists, or be as complicated as installing water hammer arresters and water pressure regulators.

A water hammer arrester is a sealed tube installed on top of water pipes near the valve. It contains a cushion of air that absorbs the energy within the water when the valve shuts. A water pressure regulator keeps the amount of water flowing into your home at a manageable pressure below 80 psi.

If you have a problem with shaking water pipes, contact Roth Heating & Cooling in the Portland area today.

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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