Tips for Troubleshooting Common Dishwasher Problems

Tips for Troubleshooting Common Dishwasher ProblemsThe dishwasher is one home appliance that’s often taken for granted until problems creep up that affect its normal operation. If yours is malfunctioning, you may be able to get it working properly again by troubleshooting common dishwasher problems. If these tips don’t work, it’s time to call an appliance repair expert.

No Lights, Sounds or Water Flow

First, open and shut the door to make sure it’s securely latched. Then check for a tripped circuit breaker in your home’s main electrical panel. If these fixes don’t work, have a repair specialist check for a bad thermal fuse, a faulty door switch or a bad main control board.

The Motor Hums, but the Appliance Won’t Start

You’ll need professional help to identify the source of this problem and get it fixed. The issue may be a jammed pump or motor, a faulty motor start relay or broken drive belt.

Noisy Operation

Check whether the spray arm is hitting a dirty dish that’s sitting too high in the rack. If there’s no obvious obstruction, an appliance technician can check whether a foreign object is lodged in the pump or motor gears, the circulation pump motor bearings are going bad, or the wash or drain impeller is cracked or broken.

Dishes Aren’t Coming out Clean

Simply cleaning any buildup of food debris inside the spray arm and on the drain screen located on the tub bottom may fix this issue. If there’s no improvement, call a pro to look for other possible causes, like a faulty timer motor, a bad selector switch or burned out heating element.

The Dishwasher Doesn’t Drain

Try cleaning out the drain basket on the bottom of the tub. If this doesn’t help, look for clogs or kinks in the drain hose running from the dishwasher to the sink drain. If you have a garbage disposal, clean the dishwasher drain hose fitting too. If the dishwasher still doesn’t drain, it’s time to get a professional diagnosis.

For help troubleshooting common dishwasher problems in your Portland area home, contact the appliance repair experts at 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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Too Humid in Your Home? Here’s How to Reduce It

Too Humid in Your Home? Here's How to Reduce ItPortland summers mean higher outdoor humidity levels, and that means that conditions inside your home can be affected too. Not only is a humid house extremely uncomfortable, but it can also cause serious damage to your property, compromise your health and cost you more in cooling expenses. Fortunately, managing this issue is easier than you might think. By learning how to detect and reduce indoor humidity, you can save yourself a lot of grief and cash this season.

Signs You Need to Reduce Indoor Humidity

In some cases, excessive indoor humidity levels may be obvious. If you ever feel like you’re living inside of a sauna, you probably already know that you have a problem. Sometimes, though, the issue is less apparent. Be on the look out for:

  • Wood damage
  • Water stains on walls and ceilings
  • Mold and mildew
  • Condensation on windows
  • Allergy problems

How to Reduce Indoor Humidity

There are a number of ways to affordably lower humidity levels within your home. Following are a few suggestions:

  • Assess ventilation – Clothes dryers, kitchen hoods, and bathroom fans should be vented outside.
  • Adjust fan settings – Don’t leave your fan in the “on” position. By setting it to automatic, you’ll prevent re-humidifying your house as a result of air being blown over a wet coil when the condenser cycles off.
  • Seal leaks – Air and duct leaks are a major contributing factor to excess humidity within the home. Take the time to find and seal off these leaks.
  • Use vapor barriers – If the basement or other areas of your home have dirt floors, it’s a good idea to cover the earth with a plastic vapor barrier.
  • Use a dehumidifierDehumidifiers are a great way to reduce moisture levels in specific areas of the house.
  • Cook smarter – On humid days, it’s a good idea to avoid boiling water on your stove. Preparing meals with a slow cooker will result in much less evaporation and humidity.

For more useful tips on how to reduce indoor humidity, get in touch with the experts at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’re proud to serve 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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Going on Vacation? Consider These Ways to Save While You’re Away

Going on Vacation? Consider These Ways to Save While You're AwayGetting ready for your summer vacation? Don’t forget to take the time to prepare your home for energy conservation. Keeping your home as energy efficient as possible will help you come home to a comfortable house and a reasonable utility bill. Here’s a look at some of the easiest ways to save while you’re away.

Change Thermostat Settings

Think you should shut down your air conditioner while you’re on vacation? Think again. Doing so will mean that you don’t spend money on cooling your home during your getaway, but it also means your house will become a lot hotter than normal. This can wreak havoc on woodwork and cause your system to work extra hard to restore normal temperatures when you get home.

The smarter solution is to turn the programmable thermostat up by about four or five degrees. This causes the system to cycle on less frequently but won’t allow your home to heat up too much.

Utilize Window Treatments

You can reduce the energy your A/C needs to exude even further by using blinds, curtains and drapes to shade your home and act as a barrier against radiant heat from the sun.

Adjust Refrigerator Settings

For relatively short vacations, consider turning your refrigerator’s thermostat to a slightly warmer setting to save energy. If you’ll be gone for a prolonged period of time, though, it’s probably in your best interest to empty the unit and unplug it entirely. Be sure to leave the door open to prevent mold and mildew.

Unplug Devices

Electrical devices and appliances that are plugged in while not in use are true energy vampires. One of the simplest ways to save while you’re away is to go around and unplug TVs, computers, clocks, and other devices before your departure.

Set Timer Lights

Keep your home safe without wasting energy. Placing security lights on a timer ensures that you don’t build up a hefty bill during vacation.

Contact the experts at Roth Heating & Cooling to learn more effective ways to save while you’re away this summer. We serve 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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Learn What a Home Energy Rating Is and Why It’s Important

Learn What a Home Energy Rating Is and Why It's ImportantSavvy shoppers compare items, especially high-ticket items, to ensure they’re getting the best possible deal. Few investments are more important and as costly as home ownership, but it’s not always easy to determine the best value between homes. The home energy rating system (HERS) has changed the landscape for home buying, selling and upgrading in recent years, as more people are taking advantage of HERS scores.

Home Energy Ratings

The HERS Index is a home efficiency evaluation system that determines the energy efficiency of a home. In fact, HERS is the nationally recognized home evaluation system used by realtors and home sellers to highlight a home’s efficiency benefits, and it’s appreciated by home buyers as a method to determine estimated lifetime energy costs between homes in consideration.

Using HERS

Implemented by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a home’s HERS assessment and score is compared against homes constructed to the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code. The home being assessed goes toe to toe with a qualified reference home with similar design characteristics, such as square footage and the number of rooms and floors.

The reference home has a static HERS score of 100. A score above 100 means the assessed home is less efficient percentage per point to the reference home. For example, if an assessed home has a HERS score of 120, it’s 20 percent less energy efficient than the DOE’s reference home.

Following are important situations in which to use HERS scores:

  • Selling a home: A good HERS score can be a deal maker. Conduct a HERS assessment and make any suggested efficiency upgrades to leverage your selling position.
  • Buying a home: A HERS score can help you determine the best value of your new home investment. A low HERS score helps ensure a comfortable home with reasonable energy bills.
  • Upgrading home efficiency: A HERS assessment is similar to an energy audit in that it reveals energy waste in home systems, and offers methods for improvement.

For more information about a home energy rating, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve served 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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Setting Your Thermostat: Fan On or Auto?

Setting Your Thermostat: Fan On or Auto?Whether you have a standard digital or manual thermostat, or a more advanced programmable or WiFi thermostat, you may have wondered about the fan setting. The “cool” and “heat” settings are obvious, but deciding upon the best fan settings — “on” and “auto” — takes a little more thought. Read on to learn how setting your thermostat fan to “on” or “auto” affects comfort, efficiency and indoor air quality.

Fan “On” or “Auto”: What’s the Difference?

The thermostat settings “cool” and “heat” control the cooling and heating systems and home temperature. The fan settings “on” and “auto” control the operation of the blower after the cooling and heating systems turn off.

Setting the thermostat fan mode to “on” will make the blower run continuously after the cooling or heating system has turned off. “Auto” fan mode turns the blower on and off in time with the cooling and heating systems.

Better Comfort and Efficiency

Running the fan continuously in the “on” setting doesn’t affect comfort very much, unless you just like to hear the HVAC system running. Using ceiling fans in occupied rooms to promote airflow is more practical and uses less energy, so if you want to keep energy bills in check, setting the thermostat fan mode to “auto” is best.

Additionally, by running the blower continuously after the cooling cycle ends, water condensation on the evaporator coil evaporates and returns back to the living spaces to increase indoor humidity.

Better Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is an important element of home comfort and health. Many homeowners don’t realize that the indoor air quality of the average home is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Using the “on” setting for continuous airflow helps boost indoor air quality by running airflow through the furnace filter more times.

However, you may still face higher energy bills. The best solution for saving energy and maintaining healthful indoor air quality is a whole-house air purifier.

For more tips on setting your thermostat for the best results, contact Roth Heating & Cooling today. We’ve helped Portland area homeowners with HVAC solutions 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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Keep Your Cool This Summer by Avoiding These Home Cooling Myths

Keep Your Cool This Summer by Avoiding These Home Cooling MythsKeeping your home comfortable during the summer in Portland can be costly, especially if you follow some of the commonly believed myths about more efficient cooling. Here are five of the most common home cooling myths, as well as the facts dispelling each.

A Larger Air Conditioner Improves Cooling

If the system in your home was sized properly at installation, but it’s not cooling effectively, it’s likely in need of maintenance, which includes cleaning the evaporator or condenser coils, replacing the air filter and checking the coolant levels. Upgrading to a larger model will result in a system that cycles off when it reaches the set temperature, then back on when more cooling is called for. This constant cycling is inefficient, costing you more money, and leading to frequent maintenance and premature failure.

Turning the A/C Off When Leaving Wastes Money

Many people believe that it takes more energy to cool a warm home than it does to leave the A/C on while you’re away. The truth is that anytime the system is running, it’s using large amounts of energy — far more than cooling down your home when you arrive. To save money and remain comfortable, install a programmable thermostat and have it lower the temperature about an hour before you’re due home so that it’s cool when you arrive.

Lowering the Temperature Cools Your Home Faster

Turning the thermostat all the way down won’t cool your home any faster, as the air conditioner has a set amount of cool air it can generate at any time. Additionally, if you forget to reset the thermostat, you may end up wasting money.

Air Conditioners Only Cool the Air

In addition to cooling air, air conditioners also remove humidity, which makes you feel comfortable at a higher temperature.

Fans Help Cool a Room

Fans only help to circulate the air, making you feel cooler by evaporating sweat faster via the wind chill effect. Using fans in an empty room wastes energy.

For more information about these common home cooling myths, talk to the HVAC experts at 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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Keep the Area Around Your Outdoor A/C Component Well Maintained for Better Efficiency

Keep the Area Around Your Outdoor A/C Component Well Maintained for Better EfficiencyWhen Portland summers strike, we all rely on our central air conditioners to help keep us cool and comfortable. The outdoor A/C component, however, is bulky and can be an eyesore. As a result, homeowners try to conceal it with landscaping. This actually does a lot more than simply beautify your property; it can also improve the efficiency of your cooling system by as much as 10 percent, but only if it’s done with care. Here are some tips for maintaining the area around your outdoor A/C unit in such a way that you can save money and improve efficiency.

Choosing Vegetation

Strategically planting around outdoor A/C equipment will create a shady area that can help prevent the system from overworking. This can help increase its lifespan and reduce cooling bills.

When selecting vegetation, it’s a good idea to avoid plants that shed leaves seasonally. This will reduce the amount of effort required for maintaining the area around your outdoor A/C unit. Hedges are a great option, and some homeowners erect latticework and climbing plants.

Appropriate Clearance

Clearance is an important consideration, both when initially planting and while maintaining your vegetation. If plants are too close to the unit, they may restrict airflow around the coils. Vegetation should be at least two to three feet from the outdoor component on all sides. Plants should be regularly trimmed in order to give the unit ample room to operate efficiently. Overhanging trees should be trimmed to allow for 5 feet of clearance above the equipment.

Clearing Debris

Keeping your equipment free and clear of debris is an essential part of properly maintaining the area around your outdoor A/C unit. Over time, leaves, grass, sticks and other debris can accumulate around the unit and cause problems with performance efficiency. For best results, take the time to regularly sweep debris away and hose down the equipment.

The professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling are happy to provide you with more advice on maintaining the area around your outdoor A/C Unit. Contact us to learn more.

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 Common A/C Condensate Drain Problems Portland Homeowners Need to Be Aware Of

3 Common A/C Condensate Drain Problems Portland Homeowners Need to Be Aware OfA/C systems are complex machines that need regular care. When homeowner and professional maintenance are overlooked or discounted, energy bills creep up, comfort suffers and system components begin to malfunction or fail. The condensate drain system, with very few or no moving parts, is no exception. Read on to learn about A/C condensate drain problems you should be aware of.

How the A/C Condensate Drain System Works

The condensate drain system is simplistic in function yet essential for proper A/C function. Condensate formed on the evaporator coil drips into the condensate pan. The water flows down a drain tube to a floor drain or empties outside the home. All you need for a well-operating system are clean and damage-free parts and gravity.

When Things Go Wrong

To borrow from the age-old idiom, when your condensate drain leaks, it pours, so a condensate drain leak is the number one red flag that something has gone wrong in the system. The problem arises when the drain trap becomes clogged with debris, mold growth, algae and anything else that falls into the condensate pan.

A clogged drain is one thing, but water spillage inside your home is quite another. If backup overflow systems fail or are simply not installed on your A/C model, you’re going to have water damage in your home when the pan overflows. Many A/C systems have a backup pan with a float switch so if the primary pan spills over, water is caught in the backup, and the float switch shuts down the A/C. This safety measure prevents water damage, but you’ll still need to call your HVAC tech to turn on the A/C.

The third of A/C condensate drain problems is the mold, bacteria and fungal growth on A/C components. The evaporator coil, drip pan and drain line are like tropical resorts for mold, algae and other contaminants. Not only does the buildup of such biohazards block airflow, increase energy bills and degrade cooling, but the spores are also released to circulate through the home.

For more information about A/C condensate drain problems, contact Roth Heating & Cooling for HVAC solutions in Portland.

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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Air Conditioning Options for Your Attic Remodel

It’s nice to make use of available space in your home. After all, why should attic space go unused? Deciding on air conditioning an attic remodel takes some thought. Consider the following three methods that are often used to cool livable attic space.

Extend the Existing System

If you already have a central air conditioning system, installing additional ductwork and connecting it to the system may be a practical option. This design can work if the current air conditioner is large enough to cool the extra load. Keep in mind that upper floors and attics are substantially warmer than the ground floor. Your HVAC contractor should perform a load calculation of your home to determine feasibility.

Replace the Old Air Conditioner With a New, Larger System

New air conditioning systems are designed for better efficiency and comfort than those manufactured 10 or 20 years ago. If you have an older air conditioner that still uses ozone-depleting refrigerant, consider upgrading to a new system that’s sized to cool your home and the attic remodel.

Add an Independent System

Installing an independent air conditioner for the attic space is an attractive option. An independent system may be a new central air conditioner and air ducts, or you may decide to go ductless like many other homeowners.

Ductless air conditioners are low profile units that use point-of-use air handlers so there’s no need for ductwork. Refrigerant lines are piped inside the walls, which provide unobtrusive installation and function. Considering the unique heat gain elements of attic space, an independent system makes sense for greater comfort.

Home Efficiency Upgrades

Have an energy audit performed before any cooling or heating upgrade. An energy audit pinpoints where energy is being wasted. Air sealing and adding insulation lower the home’s load and may help you decide which cooling option is best.

For more information about air conditioning an attic remodel in your Portland home, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve provided HVAC services to 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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Here’s What You Need to Know About the EnergyGuide Label

Here's What You Need to Know About the EnergyGuide LabelIf you’re planning to replace your home’s HVAC equipment, you need an easy way to compare the efficiency and operating costs of all the different models in your price range. The bold yellow EnergyGuide label displayed on HVAC equipment can help.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires manufacturers of HVAC equipment and other select major appliances to include these labels to make it easier for consumers to compare equipment energy efficiency ratings and anticipated costs.

Here’s how to use EnergyGuide labels to your advantage:

  • Check the product details: The upper left portion of the label tells you the type of equipment and its key features. On the right, you’ll learn the manufacturer, model and equipment size. These details allow you to make side-by-side comparisons of different brands and models within your budget.
  • Investigate the efficiency rating: In the middle portion of the label, you’ll learn more about the energy efficiency of the equipment. If you’re comparing central air conditioners, you’ll see the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) listed here. If you’re shopping for a heat pump, you get both the SEER rating and heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). On a boiler or furnace, the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating is included.
  • Compare the unit’s efficiency: The scale found right underneath the rating tells you how a particular unit’s efficiency ranks against other models with similar features.
  • Estimate energy consumption and costs: Just a bit farther down on the label you’ll find the estimated annual electricity consumption listed in kilowatt hours. Multiplying this figure by the rate charged by your electrical supplier can give you a good idea of how much you’ll spend on energy annually.
  • Look for the Energy Star logo: If you want the most efficient option available, look for HVAC equipment that has the Energy Star logo on the bottom right. These units offer the greatest potential for energy savings, since they’re up to 15 percent more efficient than similar standard models.

For more tips on using the EnergyGuide label to make choosing your HVAC equipment easier, contact the Portland home comfort experts at 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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