Do You Know What the “Feels Like” Temperature in Your Home is?

Do You Know What the "Feels Like" Temperature in Your Home is?If you have ever checked your thermostat and wondered why your home feels less comfortable than the setting would indicate, it doesn’t necessarily mean the thermostat is malfunctioning. Other things factor into the “feels like” temperature, and this can vary several degrees from the actual temperature. Here is more about situations that influence how your indoor climate feels.

A Cool Breeze

Just as you feel better on a hot day when there is a breeze, you will feel cooler indoors when air is circulating. Sweat evaporates and pulls heat away from your body in the process, and it does so more efficiently when there is air flowing. In summer, using fans helps keep you cooler than using the A/C alone.

In winter, ceiling fans blades can be reversed to push warm air downward from the ceiling. However, because of the wind chill effect, keep the fans on the lowest setting to minimize the breeze you feel.

Sticky in Summer and Dry in Winter

Humidity also plays a big role in the “feels like” temperature and again this is because of how the human body reacts to moisture in the air. High humidity impedes evaporation and so body heat remains trapped.

In winter, low humidity causes problems. Although it might not be as apparent, people sweat in winter, and dry air often makes the sweat evaporate quickly. One result is you will feel colder.

Reduce humidity issues by installing a whole-house humidifier and dehumidifier. Other ways to control humidity include repairing plumbing problems, reducing the number of houseplants, and using exhaust fans.

In winter, add humidity using your whole-house humidifier or portable humidifiers. Incidentally, doing this will also help reduce dry skin and static electricity.

If humidity continues to be a problem, make sure to have your A/C checked to see if it is the correct size for your home. Wrongly sized air conditioners can cause higher humidity in the home.

For more advice about improving the “feels like” temperature in your 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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Storm Season Preparation: Important Tips

Storm Season Preparation: Important TipsThe Portland area’s spring rain and snowmelt can lead to flooding, power outages, and other potential dangers. With a little spring storm preparation, though, you can keep your home and family safe until the weather clears.

Collect Emergency Supplies

Invest in a NOAA Weather Radio so you can receive current information on dangerous weather conditions even when other radio stations aren’t broadcasting. This is also helpful during winter wind and snow storms.

As part of your spring storm preparation, create an emergency kit. Include a battery-powered or hand crank radio, a first-aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, a multipurpose tool and blankets. Ideally, the kit should include enough nonperishable food and water for three days.

Prepare Your Home

Check around your home for damaged and weak tree branches that could come crashing down in the wind and rain. Cut them down or hire a pro to remove them.

Test your basement sump pump by pouring in a bucket of water. The pump should start up, drain the water and shut off. If it doesn’t, check for a stuck float. If you don’t have a sump pump, now is a good time to install one.

Inspect your foundation for cracks that could cause water leaks. Seal small cracks with a vinyl concrete patcher. Have cracks wider than 1/4 inch inspected and repaired by a professional.

Clean any winter debris out of your gutters and downspouts. Check your roof for damage that may have occurred during the winter. Replace damaged or missing shingles or tiles to prevent spring rain from leaking into your attic.

Review your home insurance policy to make sure it covers flooding and storm damage. Keep a copy of your policy where it’s protected from damage, such as a fire-rated safe.

During periods of heavy rain, turn off your furnace or air conditioner to protect it from electrical surges. You may also want to cover the A/C’s or heat pump’s outdoor condenser with a tarp secured with bungee cords.

For help with spring storm preparation, contact 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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Don’t Forget About Your HVAC System During Spring Cleaning

Don't Forget About Your HVAC System During Spring CleaningAs mild as Portland’s summers are, your air conditioner still has a lot of work to do to keep you cool. A thorough HVAC spring cleaning before the summer heat moves in will help your system cool reliably and efficiently.

Brush Off the Dust

Inspect your air filter and if you see a buildup of dust, put in a new filter. A dirty filter limits airflow, reducing your system’s energy efficiency. If you suffer from spring allergies, consider upgrading to a MERV 11 or 12 pleated filter, which will trap dust and pollen more effectively than thin fiberglass filters.

Remove your supply air registers and return air grilles by unscrewing them. Place them in a mild solution of dish soap to soak. Use your vacuum’s hose attachment to clean out dust and debris from the ducts behind the registers and vents. Wipe the registers and grilles down with a rag and replace them when dry.

Clean your outdoor unit by first using a stiff brush to remove dirt and debris such as leaves and grass clippings. Then get out your wet-vac and fit the brush attachment onto the hose. Use this to remove the remaining dirt from the fins.

Call in a Pro

Some of the most important parts of HVAC spring cleaning involve components only a professional can access. Every year, schedule a professional air conditioner inspection before the cooling season beings.

Your technician will clean the motor and blower fan, test the motor’s voltage and amp draw, clean the evaporator coil, inspect the coil for leaks, test the refrigerant charge, take care of any loose or corroded wires or electrical connections, clear the drain line, and perform many other tasks. All these steps keep your air conditioner running at top efficiency and help the components reach their maximum lifespan. A professional cleaning also prevents annoyances such as an overflowing drain pan and ice on your outdoor coil, which can develop into bigger problems.

For pro help with your HVAC spring cleaning, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling anywhere 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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Shh! Silence Those Noisy Air Vents

Shh! Silence Those Noisy Air VentsWhen you’re trying to sleep, the last thing you want is to be kept up by noisy air vents. While all HVAC systems make some noise, you should be hearing the sound of the fan or motor. If you’re hearing an aggravating whine instead, you may have an issue with your air vents.

Many noisy air vent problems can be solved by the homeowner. First, think about whether the noise you’re hearing is new. If it’s been ongoing since you got the HVAC system, you may have too small ducts. If that’s the case, you’ll need an HVAC professional to assess the situation and give you solutions.

On the other hand, if your noisy air ducts are a new development, you may have a simple problem you can solve. Even if it’s a continuing problem, it’s worth your time to try to troubleshoot the problem yourself before you call in the experts.

Noisy Air Duct Troubleshooting List:

  1. Check your filter in your return vent. If your filter is dirty, it can block air flow and create noise. If it’s not properly seated in the opening, it can leave gaps that air whistles through.
  2. Make sure all your supply vents are open. Closing off the supply vents that release air into your living spaces doesn’t really save energy. While it does put out less air into your home, disturbs the balance between air going into the system and air coming out. As a result, you have a less efficient system and sometimes a noisier one as well.
  3. Inspect your vents for little objects that may have fallen in and caused an obstruction. This is less likely if all your vents are overhead, but floor and baseboard vents are notorious for getting small objects trapped in them.
  4. Remove any furniture or other objects that might be blocking air flow to your vents.

If you’re still hearing noisy vents after trying these solutions, it’s time to call in a professional.

For more tips on how to deal with noisy air vents or other HVAC issues in the Portland area, 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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Should You Buy the System or Only the Unit?

Should You Buy the System or Only the Unit?Buying an HVAC system naturally comes with an expectation of lower operating costs and enhanced indoor comfort. You’re making a major investment and you have the right to receive the improvements in energy consumption and reliability promised by the manufacturer’s specs and efficiency ratings. However, there’s one scenario where buying an HVAC system may not deliver the expected upgrade.

A central air conditioner is divided into two discrete but interdependent units: the indoor half incorporates the air handler, blower and evaporator coil and the outdoor half that includes the compressor and condenser coil. To get the results you’re paying for, the entire system must be upgraded as a whole, not just one unit or the other. Here are some of the things that can go wrong when buying an HVAC system and only one unit is replaced.

  • Lost efficiency. Every A/C comes with a SEER efficiency rating prominently displayed on the yellow Department of Energy sticker. The SEER specification, however, assumes you are replacing the entire system, not just half. When only one unit is upgraded, the official energy efficiency estimates no longer apply. Not only will you not gain expected improvements, you may in fact get lower efficiency and higher operating costs than the old existing system.
  • Performance shortfalls. The cooling performance of an A/C depends on critical interaction between the evaporator coil and condenser coil. These two components are precisely engineered as a matched set. If only one coil is replaced, the resultant mismatch degrades cooling efficiency as well as humidity reduction, leading to a less comfortable indoor environment.
  • Increased wear and tear. New components that conflict with old components expedite system wear and lead to shortened expected service life. Mismatched coils, in particular, over-stress the compressor, the most costly part of the system.
  • Loss of warranty coverage. Upgrading only half the system usually voids the warranty on the new unit installed as well as any coverage remaining on the existing system.

Make sure you’re getting all the improvements you expect from buying an HVAC system. Contact the professionals 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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Don’t Let Attic Safety Fall by the Wayside

Don't Let Attic Safety Fall by the WaysideNow that spring is here, it’s time to do some of those maintenance and repair tasks you’ve been thinking about all winter. Chances are, one of those projects may involve a visit to the attic for you or someone you hire. If so, have you given any thought to attic safety?

Attic Hazards

The hazards of doing work in the attic are surprisingly numerous. It’s a place we’re usually not that familiar with, offering sometimes limited visibility. Also, attics tend to be hot, dusty and uncomfortable, with movement severely restricted, and if yours doesn’t have a floor, navigating on exposed joists can be tricky. Plus, unpleasant surprises may await you, be it an infestation of vermin, or an outbreak of mold. It pays to be mindful of these hazards, and to take steps to overcome them before you or a technician starts your project.

Here are some suggestions to improve attic safety.

  1. Limit trips to and from the attic. Whether you have pull-down stairs, a staircase or just a ladder, take extra care going up and down. Organize your project so you minimize trips.
  2. Don’t overheat. Temperatures can soar in the attic, even on a mild spring day, so drink plenty of water and if your project allows you to, run a portable fan to keep cool. Vacuum the attic first, if possible, so less dust will be swirling around.
  3. Wear protective clothing and gear. Cover arms and legs to prevent exposure to irritating insulation and hazards such as protruding nails. Wear goggles or safety glasses and a respirator with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.
  4. If you discover vermin, have the attic fumigated before work begins.
  5. Cover exposed joists with planks, but be mindful of how you place your feet on the planks so you don’t topple over and go through the ceiling.
  6. Even if there’s overhead lighting in the attic, take a work light so you can see in corners.

Find out more about attic safety from Roth Heating & Cooling. We provide quality service to customers in Portland and the surrounding 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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Helpful Tips for Allergy Season

Helpful Tips for Allergy SeasonSpringtime means it’s also allergy season. Since the Portland area gets hit pretty hard when it comes to grass and pollen allergies, taking steps to reduce allergens in your home is crucial. Use the following allergy tips to get started.

Use New Air Filters

The air filters in your home’s HVAC system are supposed to trap allergens and other debris, but they can’t do that effectively when they’re dirty. One of the first things to do this spring is take out your current air filters, and replace them with brand new ones. This helps ensure that your filters are able to catch allergens and prevent them from being blown around your home when your HVAC system is running. Keep in mind that switching to high-efficiency air filters means that you’ll have even fewer allergens in your home.

Clean Return Vents and Registers

Dust, allergens and other debris can end up covering your registers and return vents. When your HVAC system is on, these particles are blown around your home, which lowers the indoor air quality and triggers allergy symptoms. Wipe these down with damp rags to remove allergens and other debris that has built up.

Clean Indoor and Outdoor Units

Keep allergens and dust off of your indoor and outdoor HVAC units by doing a thorough cleaning this spring. When these units are dirty, the allergens and other debris on them are circulated throughout your home.

Schedule Routine HVAC Maintenance

One of the most effective allergy tips is having HVAC maintenance done. This helps ensure that your system is free of blockages, as well as allergens and other debris that can make it harder for it to run. Making sure that your HVAC system can run efficiently can go a long way toward reducing indoor allergens.

To schedule HVAC maintenance to improve your indoor air quality and reduce allergies this spring, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We offer HVAC maintenance and installation services for homeowners 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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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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