Tips for Troubleshooting Common Toilet Problems

Tips for Troubleshooting Common Toilet ProblemsWhen serious plumbing issues arise, such as raw sewage backups, uncontrolled water leaks or the loss of your home’s water supply, you need the help of an experienced pro. To avoid some expense and inconvenience, you can try troubleshooting toilet problems caused by common issues.

Troubleshooting Common Toilet Problems

  • Partial flushing – Irritating incomplete flushing may be caused by a flapper cap that doesn’t lift up enough. To correct this, unhook the chain and reattach it several links shorter. If there’s too little water in the tank and it doesn’t reach the fill marking, bending the float valve bulb upward slightly may help. If these fixes don’t work, the fill valve may need replacement.
  • Ghostly flushes – If the flapper valve is worn, water in the toilet tank will slowly drain away and cause phantom flushing. You’ll need to replace the valve, which isn’t difficult as long as the replacement you buy is a match.
  • Continuous running  – When the flapper valve doesn’t close completely, the toilet will run non-stop. To solve this, look for anything that’s keeping it open, such as a mineral buildup around the valve seat or a bowl cleaner dispenser that’s fallen down into the tank. Lengthening the chain can also help if it’s too short and holding the valve open.
  • Messy tank drips - High humidity or a bad seal can cause water drips on the outside of the tank. Other possibilities are cracks or loose pipe connections. To help determine the cause, put several drops of food coloring into the tank. If you don’t see colored water on your floor a while later, you’ll know it’s due to seasonal sweating.
  • Shower scalds -  The cold water draw of a flushing toilet can create a distinctly unpleasant shower experience, but you can minimize the temperature change so it’s less of a shock. Simply turn the water valve on each tank completely off and then back it up one-quarter to one-half turn to slow down the flush rate.

For expert help with troubleshooting toilet problems or any other plumbing issue in your Portland area home, contact the pros at Roth Heating & Cooling 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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Great Ways to Reduce Cooling Costs This Spring and Summer

Great Ways to Reduce Cooling Costs This Spring and SummerPortland’s springs and summers may not be brutally hot, but that doesn’t mean we’re willing to forgo air conditioning just to save money. By taking some simple steps to reduce cooling costs, you can enjoy your A/C and keep your electricity bills reasonable.

How to Reduce Cooling Costs

  • Use ceiling fans – A ceiling fan can make you feel 5 to 8 degrees cooler so you can raise the air conditioner’s thermostat temperature by an equal amount to use less energy. Every degree you set the thermostat above 78 degrees could save you up to 7 percent on cooling costs.
  • Don’t overcool your home – When you leave the house, set the thermostat to 85 degrees or higher. The A/C uses less energy to cool down a warm house than it does to maintain a low temperature for an eight-hour stretch. If you tend to forget to raise the thermostat, install a programmable thermostat.
  • Optimize your windows – Neutral-colored drapes with heat-reflective backings reduce cooling costs by lowering your home’s heat gain up to 33 percent. Using high-reflectivity blinds can cut heat gain even more. For year-round savings, consider replacing old windows with Energy Star-qualified models.
  • Weatherize the attic – Even on mild summer days, the attic temperature can rise past 100 degrees. Good attic air sealing and insulation keep that heat out of your rooms so it doesn’t make more work for your air conditioner. Air ducts running through the attic and other unconditioned spaces should have the joints sealed with mastic and be insulated to support your A/C’s efficiency.
  • Upgrade your equipment – If your home’s air conditioner is more than 10 years old or needs repairs more than once a year, it’s likely near the end of its life span. By upgrading to a higher-efficiency air conditioner now, you could cut your cooling expenses by 20 to 50 percent and save yourself from the headache of an unexpected breakdown.

For more information on how to reduce cooling costs in your Portland home, contact Roth Heating and Cooling.

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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3 Ventilation Options That Can Help Cool Your Home

3 Ventilation Options That Can Help Cool Your HomeA good home ventilation system can greatly reduce or even eliminate your reliance on an air conditioner for cooling in your Portland home. This can dramatically lower utility bills. Here are three home ventilation options to consider to help keep your home cool without spending too much.

Natural Ventilation

By opening windows in your home during the cooler morning and evening hours, you can let the wind naturally cool your home. Open windows on the shady side of your home to draw in cool air and open windows on the opposite side to create a cross-breeze. In homes with multiple stories, open windows on each floor, allowing hot air to rise and exit out of the upper windows while cooler air is naturally drawn in from the lower windows to replace it. Close the windows during the heat of the day to retain the cool air.

Ceiling and Portable Fans

In combination with natural ventilation or even with air conditioning, fans can help you feel cooler at the same temperature. Install ceiling fans in common areas such as the living room, and use portable fans for individual cooling. To improve natural ventilation, use box fans in windows on the opposite sides of your home, with one exhausting air and one drawing air in, which will create a stronger cross-breeze. Because fans make you feel cooler by drawing away perspiration, not by actually cooling the air, you should turn off fans when you leave the room to save energy.

Whole-House Fans

Whole-house fans are typically installed in the floor of the attic and through the ceiling below, allowing them to draw hot air out of the home and exhaust it through the attic vents. Cool air is then drawn in through open windows to replace the exhausted air. Whole-house fans move large volumes of air and can sometimes replace an air conditioner in cooler areas while using less than 25 percent of the energy.

For more information about home ventilation options, talk to our HVAC experts at Roth Heating and Cooling. We proudly serve the 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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Simple Air Conditioner Maintenance Tasks Any Homeowner Can Handle

Simple Air Conditioner Maintenance Tasks Any Homeowner Can HandleRegular maintenance can help keep the air conditioner in your Portland home running as efficiently as possible and prevent system problems in the future. The following air conditioner maintenance tasks can easily be completed yourself, saving the cost of a service visit.

Change the Air Filter

A dirty or clogged air filter can make the air conditioner work harder to keep you comfortable, reducing its efficiency by up to 15 percent and causing excess wear and tear on sensitive components. Check the air filter monthly and clean or replace it as necessary.

Clean the Condenser Coil

The performance of the condenser coil outside your home can be degraded by the accumulation of debris, including grass clippings, twigs, leaves and trash. Use a brush or your hands to dislodge any larger items and rinse the coil down with a garden hose to remove fine particles. Keep a two-foot section around the condenser clean of all debris, such as tall grass, overgrown plants, toys or lawn furniture.

Clean the Condensate Drain

Use a brush or a stiff wire to dislodge any debris from the condensate drain and drain channels. A clogged condensate drain can encourage the growth of mold, which could cause health problems, as well as possible water damage.

Have the HVAC System Serviced Annually

Have your HVAC contractor inspect the HVAC system and perform routine maintenance at least once a year to make sure the entire system is running safely and efficiently. An experienced professional will tackle much more extensive maintenance tasks, as well as in-depth inspections to ensure the equipment is performing properly and efficiently.

To schedule professional air conditioner maintenance, or for other home comfort concerns, contact the HVAC experts at Roth Heating and Cooling. We’ve been serving the Portland area 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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What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Home Energy Audits

What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Home Energy AuditsHomeowners who take advantage of home energy audits learn about the overall energy efficiency of their homes and where to make improvements that cut energy costs year-round. Audits are performed by licensed HVAC contractors or energy auditors who identify all the factors that contribute to an inefficient and potentially unhealthy home.

What’s Involved in an Energy Audit

The HVAC professionals may start the audit by reviewing your energy bills over the past year and asking questions about how you use energy.

The central component of the audit is a blower door test that involves a large fan. The tech places the blower door in an exterior door frame. Once your home is ready, the professional will turn on the fan and watch how fast the air pressure falls using gauges on the blower door. If it falls quickly, it tells the auditors that your home has few air leaks. If it loses pressure slowly, it indicates you have air coming indoors from gaps, hole, or cracks to compensate for the air pressure your home is losing.

The auditors will use infrared cameras to pinpoint where the leaks are based on the thermal differences between the incoming air and your home’s surfaces. The cameras also tell the team where insulation may be lacking in the walls, foundation and attic of your home.

Additional Services

Home energy audits often include a ductwork inspection to evaluate possible leakage. Even the tightest home can have high energy bills if the conditioned air blows through leaking ducts, since the conditioned air is lost to places where it’s not needed.

Depending on the extent of your home energy audit, the professionals may evaluate your home for safe wiring and pinpoint any water leaks or plumbing problems.

If you’d like to learn more about home energy audits and their benefits, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve provided top-notch 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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Tips for Selecting the Best Showerhead for Efficiency and Functionality

Tips for Selecting the Best Showerhead for Efficiency and FunctionalityJust because rain is plentiful around Portland doesn’t mean we don’t have to think about our water bills. Because showers are such big water users, selecting the best showerhead for your needs is one of the most effective ways you can lower your water usage.

Look for the WaterSense Label

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense program sets standards for efficient plumbing fixtures. While average showerheads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm), WaterSense-labelled showerheads use no more than 2 gpm. To earn the label, a showerhead must perform as well as or better than similar, less efficient models.

Just by using these showerheads, the average family could cut water use by 2,900 gallons a year and save enough electricity to power the house for nearly two weeks.

Check the Features

Look for a showerhead that provides a water pressure between 40 and 60 psi; less than this and you’re likely to see clogs and leaks. Don’t just look at the specifications on the product packaging, though. Many hardware stores offer testers that let you check the showerhead’s pressure before you buy.

The size of your showerhead also affects the water pressure it provides. If you love the feel of a hot shower beating down on your back, opt for a showerhead that’s eight inches in diameter or smaller. If you prefer a gentler shower, look for a large rain head. For variety, choose a showerhead system with a detachable hand shower and a selection of body sprays and jet modules.

Don’t overlook appearance, either. To maintain a coordinated look in your bathroom, choose a showerhead that goes well with the rest of your fixtures. Look for one made of the same metal, such as chrome, brushed nickel or bronze, and in the same color.

To perform well, your showerhead must be installed correctly. While faucets are easy to replace, showerheads are a little more complicated and their installation should be left to a professional.

For more information on selecting the best showerhead, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We proudly serve the home comfort needs of homeowners in and around the 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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5 Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality This Spring

5 Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality This SpringAlthough our green landscape means Portland enjoys better air quality than many cities, there are always things you can do to improve your indoor air quality. That’s especially true in spring when the pollen count rises. Here are some smart tips to put to use to keep your IAQ high all spring long.

Tips to Boost Indoor Air Quality

  • Vacuum smart – For your spring cleaning, choose a vacuum cleaner that contains a HEPA filter. Remove the dust kicked up by vacuuming by turning the thermostat to “fan on,” letting it run 15 minutes and then switching it back to “auto.”
  • Filter and clean your air – Use an HVAC system air filter with a MERV of 5 or higher, which is the minimum for improving indoor air quality. If you’re managing allergies or asthma, go for a MERV 10 or 11 pleated filter. Consider installing an air cleaner to control contaminants such as tiny dust and pollen particles, mold and bacteria, as well as the harmful fumes known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Maintain good airflow – To control odors and humidity, run exhaust fans for a few minutes after showering and cooking. If you had condensation on your windows this winter and still see it in spring, your home most likely needs more ventilation. A heating and cooling technician can assess your home and advise you on your best passive and mechanical ventilation options.
  • Get a handle on humidity – High humidity makes you less comfortable and helps mold and dust mites spread. In addition to ventilating, repair leaky plumbing fixtures and basement or roof leaks because these also add moisture to the air. If you notice mold on your ceilings, bubbling paint or other signs of high humidity, consider installing a dehumidifier.
  • Keep the HVAC system in shape – During normal use, the furnace and air conditioner pick up dust and debris that impair their efficiency and can eventually reduce air quality. Schedule your air conditioner’s annual inspection and cleaning early in spring so you have your pick of service providers and appointment times before the best ones are booked.

For more information on improving your indoor air quality, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We proudly handle the HVAC needs of Portland area homeowners.

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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Enjoy a Greener Home With These Spring Energy-Saving Tips

Enjoy a Greener Home With These Spring Energy-Saving TipsAs the weather warms up, tactics for keeping your home comfortable change drastically. With the new goal of keeping your home cooler, you can employ several spring energy-saving tips, many of which require little or no investment. Here’s how to enjoy a greener home without sacrificing comfort.

Use Windows to Your Advantage

During the day, keep the sun out with window coverings to shade and insulate the glass. At night, turn off the air conditioner and open the windows to let a cool breeze through. Trap this cool air inside by closing the windows and drawing the shades come morning.

Seal Air Leaks

The sun isn’t the only thing heating up your home. Keep hot air from leaking inside by sealing gaps and cracks in your home’s outer envelope. Windows and doors tend to leak, but you can tighten them up with weatherstripping and caulk.

Reduce Interior Heat Gain

Avoid using the oven on hot days. Wash dishes and laundry in the cooler morning or evening hours. Take short showers and run the bathroom exhaust fan to draw heat and humidity outside.

Run the Ceiling Fan

The wind chill effect created by air movement makes you feel about four degrees cooler. This means you can turn up the thermostat to 78 degrees but enjoy what feels like 74 degrees just by running a ceiling fan.

Remember to turn off the fan when you leave the room to save energy. Air movement cools people, but it doesn’t reduce the room’s temperature, meaning operating it in an empty room is pointless.

Maintain the Cooling Equipment

Trim foliage back at least 18 inches to prevent restricting airflow. Change the air filter regularly to keep air traveling through the ducts at the proper velocity.

For optimal performance, schedule annual preventive maintenance for the air conditioner every spring. You’ll save money on cooling bills in the coming months thanks to the performance-improving cleaning and inspection.

If you need help implementing these spring energy-saving tips, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve proudly serving Portland area residents 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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A Basic Guide to Home Sewer Clog Prevention

A Basic Guide to Home Sewer Clog PreventionSince whatever goes down your drain ends up in your sewer line, home sewer clog prevention begins at the sinks and tubs inside your house. Residential sewer systems are sized to handle the expected volume of waste water for the size of the home, plus a little safety margin built in. Over the years, however, the efficiency of flow through the pipes diminishes due to age and sludge accumulation.

It doesn’t take much to block a narrowed pipe and trigger a sewage backup. Keep things flowing freely by following a few home sewer clog prevention steps:

  • Don’t use your sink as a food receptacle. Unless you have a disposal installed, thoroughly scrape plates and dishes into the trash and use the sink solely for washing and rinsing dishes.
  • Keep grease out of the drain. Fats — both vegetable and animal — appear liquid as they disappear down your drain, but once they’re out of sight, they solidify and contribute to the sludge that gradually narrows pipes. Pour grease into a receptacle and dispose it in the household trash.
  • Coffee grounds are good for several things in your garden, but good for nothing in your drains. The dense mass of water-soaked grounds tends to collect at the lowest point in the drain system and gradually obstructs flow.
  • Screen out the hair. The most frequent object removed from the end of a plumber’s drain snake is a matted wad of hair coated with gooey soap scum. Installing fine-mesh, stainless steel drain screens in bathroom drains and cleaning them regularly helps keep this sewer-clogging combo out of your pipes.
  • Schedule an annual inspection. What’s going inside your pipes shouldn’t be a secret. Have a professional plumber perform a checkup of the system and look for any incipient issues before they become major malfunctions. A plumber can also check your main sewer line with a video camera to determine the status quo when it comes to potential blockages, tree root intrusion and collapsed pipes.

For more on home sewer clog prevention or to schedule professional plumbing service, contact Roth Heating & Cooling.

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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Top Reasons to Build a Custom Home of Your Own

Top Reasons to Build a Custom Home of Your OwnIf you’re in the market for a new home, chances are you’ve been looking at pre-built or semi-custom homes. But if you want something that you can truly make your own, a custom-built home offers exactly what you’re looking for.

Top Reasons to Build a Custom Home

When you build a custom home, you can take advantage of the flexibility and creativity it offers. Here are five great reasons why opting for a custom-built home is the best choice when it comes to home ownership:

  1. You can build a home completely to your specs and unique tastes. There’s no need to worry about how to work around someone else’s blueprints.
  2. Need a bigger garage, extra storage space or an extra room for exercise or entertainment? You can incorporate all of these extras plus much more into a custom-built home. You can also add extras that account for your present and future needs, such as aging in place options like entryways built with wheelchair accessibility in mind.
  3. You can easily incorporate energy-efficient extras into a new build at a lower cost than it would take to retrofit green options into an existing home. These options can help you save hundreds of dollars each year on your overall energy costs.
  4. Custom homes require less initial maintenance than existing homes since everything is practically brand-new, from the flooring and building materials to the appliances, HVAC and plumbing systems. It’s also much easier to keep track of their condition from the start, unlike with existing homes with used appliances and HVAC systems.
  5. Custom homes offer a tremendous level of customer satisfaction that’s unmatched by already-built or even semi-custom homes. When you build a custom home, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that there are no other homes just like it. A custom home is truly a one-of-a-kind deal.

The pros at Roth Heating & Cooling can help you with your custom home’s HVAC and electrical wiring needs. We proudly serve the Portland area and have done so 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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