Winter Furnace Efficiency: Achieving Comfort for Less

Winter Furnace Efficiency: Achieving Comfort for LessIn the chilly, rainy Portland winters, any steps you take toward improving furnace efficiency pays off in terms of comfort and savings. Better yet, most of the improvements you can make are easy and affordable.

Help Your Furnace Do its Job

One of the best things you can do to improve your furnace efficiency is to seal up any leaks in your duct system. In the average home, the ducts lose as much as 20 percent of the air they carry through leaks. Inspect your exposed ducts and make sure the sealing around the joints is free of damage. Replace any damaged sealing. Look for holes in flexduct and fiberglass ducts. These should be patched or the flexduct replaced.

If you’re not using a programmable thermostat, consider switching. These themostats let you set energy-efficient temperatures for certain times of the day so you won’t waste energy by forgetting to turn the heat down when you’re out or in bed.

If a hard-to-heat part of the house is making you turn up your thermostat more than you’d really like, consider having a zoned system installed. This will let you direct more heat to the parts of the house that need it.

Stay Current on Maintenance

Even one season of neglecting maintenance will affect your furnace efficiency. Change your air filter on time, which is usually once a month for low-efficiency fiberglass models. Once or twice a year, take the covers off your air registers and vents, and clean them to remove dust buildup. Then vacuum out the inside of the duct behind them using your vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment.

Every year, schedule a professional furnace inspection. Over the heating season, your furnace collects dust and can develop issues such as loose wires, a dirty burner, a wobbly blower fan, and other wear that brings down its efficiency. A heating and cooling technician can access areas of your heating system you can’t to clean and make repairs.

For help maximizing your furnace efficiency, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling anywhere around Portland.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

New Year, New HVAC Maintenance Tasks

New Year, New HVAC Maintenance TasksNow that the hectic holiday season is over, you have a chance to catch your breath and enjoy some downtime. This mid-winter lull is also a good opportunity to give your HVAC system some attention. Here’s a handy checklist of HVAC maintenance tasks that can keep your system operating reliably and efficiently throughout the remainder of the winter:

Replace Your Air Filter

Ideally, you should be checking the filter once a month over the winter and putting in a fresh one whenever you see signs of debris accumulation. This is a chore that’s easy to neglect when you’re busy getting prepared for the holidays, so if you missed your December check, make it a priority now. A clean filter is important because it keeps your heating system running efficiently and lowers the risk of airflow restrictions that can cause overheating and an unexpected system shut down.

Clean Up Around Your Outdoor Unit

If you have a heat pump, now’s a good time to get rid of collected debris around the outdoor unit that might negatively affect its performance and energy efficiency. Pick a mild day and head outdoors to clear away any dead vegetation, missed fallen leaves, twigs or broken branches. Then, rinse off the condenser coil with lukewarm water to remove any buildup of dust that can interfere with efficient heat transfer.

Give Your HVAC Registers Some TLC

Clean, open and unobstructed vents and cold air returns ensure even heating and consistent temperatures from room to room in your home, and they help maintain good system airflow so your heating equipment operates efficiently. Giving the vents the attention they deserve is easy: simply take your vacuum along and visit each room to clean and check each vent/return grille.

Replace Your Thermostat Batteries

Your thermostat runs on electricity, so it’s easy to forget about replacing its backup batteries. Putting fresh batteries in periodically is important, though, because it lets the thermostat retain your programming and temperature settings when there’s a power outage.

For more expert advice about HVAC maintenance for your Portland-area home, contact us today at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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Your New Year Should Include These HVAC Resolutions

Your New Year Should Include These HVAC ResolutionsThe holiday season isn’t complete without New Year’s resolutions. This year, include some HVAC resolutions that will improve your heating and cooling systems. With the right resolutions, faithfully followed, you’ll improve indoor comfort, boost HVAC system performance, and save money.

Have regular preventive maintenance performed

Resolve to call your HVAC professional for regular preventive maintenance on your heating and cooling systems. A maintenance visit allows an HVAC expert the chance to inspect your furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner from end to end. Minor repairs and adjustments that improve performance can be made during a maintenance inspection.

Check and change air filters monthly

Air filters remove particulates such as dust, hair, pollen, and fibers from your indoor air. In doing so, these particulates accumulate in the filter and clog it up. You should check your air filter at least once a month and change it when it gets dirty. Fresh filters are more effective at capturing and holding airborne particulates. They also contribute to the airflow your HVAC equipment needs to work properly.

Seal wasteful air leaks

Air leaks in your home’s structure and in the HVAC system ductwork can waste hundreds of dollars worth of conditioned air. If ductwork leaks are bad enough, heated or cooled air won’t even be able to reach your indoor living spaces. Seal air leaks in your home’s structure with caulking or other appropriate material. Make sure all ductwork sections fit together tightly and that each section is properly sealed with mastic, a specialized duct sealant, or with metal tape.

Switch to a programmable thermostat

Improve your control over your HVAC system by switching to a programmable thermostat. You’ll be able to save money by reducing HVAC operation when heating or cooling isn’t needed, such as when you’re away at work or school.

For more than forty years, Roth Heating and Cooling has been the top choice of HVAC customers in Portland, Canby, Hillsboro, and nearby Oregon cities. Contact us today for more information on the best HVAC resolutions for your home and for the heating and cooling services you need throughout the year.

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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The Importance of an Annual Electrical Safety Check

The Importance of an Annual Electrical Safety CheckAn electrical safety check might prevent serious damage to your home or any of its major appliances. The electrical system is easy to ignore since it’s out of sight and silent. But doing so could be risky because electricity is a powerful force. A periodic inspection will assure you that it’s working as it should and meets all safety codes.

Scheduling an Electrical Safety Check

Home safety professionals recommend that a licensed electrician look it over once a year to keep minor issues from becoming catastrophic problems. If your electrical system shows any of these signs of electrical problems, schedule an inspection promptly:

  • Frequent circuit breakers trips
  • Lights flicker, which could indicate a short in the wiring in the walls or the cord
  • Humming noises from the breaker box. This is never a good sign, and usually means that the breaker is bad and won’t trip even if it’s overloaded. Heat will build and it has the potential to start a fire.
  • The home is more than 25 years old. The wiring insulation may have disintegrated or the outlets have aged.
  • The wiring is aluminum. Over time, aluminum wiring oxidizes, which increases the resistance on the wiring, causing it to overheat.

What to Expect During an Electrical Safety Check

During an electrical safety check, the electrician will test the circuit breakers and visually inspect the switches and outlets. Outward signs of problems include switches that don’t work and discolored outlets.

Excessive use of power strips or multi-outlets usually indicates you need more outlets or receptacles. If your circuit breaker box is full, you may need a new, larger box to handle your present power demand and provide room for future expansion.

Other issues might include shorts when using certain switches, outlets or appliances. The electrician will pinpoint the problem, whether it’s in the wall, a fixture, or an appliance.

It makes sense to have an electrical safety check to avoid preventable damage to your home, appliances, or devices. If you’d like to learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing licensed HVAC and electrical services for Portland-area homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

Prevent Water Heater Damage This Winter

Prevent Water Heater Damage This WinterPortland winters can take a toll on your water heater, leaving you with cold showers and icy baths when temperatures plummet. The good news is that you can take steps now to lower the risk of water heater damage this winter. Keep the following prevention tips in mind to protect your water heater.

Flush Sediment From Your Water Heater

Sediment can build up inside your water heater as minerals accumulate in the bottom part of it. Over time, this sediment can make it more difficult for your water heater to work properly, since it needs more energy to heat your water. Have a technician inspect your water heater for sediment buildup and flush it as needed. This helps prevent you from running out of hot water this winter.

Insulate Your Water Heater

Just as you can insulate your pipes to stop them from freezing, you can also insulate your water heater to help save energy and protect it from damage. If you have an electric water heater, consider covering it with neoprene foam to insulate it this winter. For gas water heaters, you’ll most likely need to use fiberglass pipe insulation, along with aluminum foil tape to secure it. Insulation helps prevent water heater damage and also keeps the water in your heater warmer than usual. This reduces wear and tear on your water heater and lowers your energy usage.

Schedule an Inspection

Having your water heater checked for faulty parts helps lower your risk of losing hot water this winter. A technician can check your gas or electric water heater parts for any signs of damage and replace or repair them as needed.

Watch for Rusty Water

If the water coming out of your sinks and other fixtures has a rusty color, this can indicate a problem with your water heater. Have a technician check your water heater to determine if it needs to be fixed or replaced.

If your water heater needs maintenance or repairs this winter, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We offer dependable heating and cooling 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). 

 

Tis the Season to Replace Detectors Around Your House

Tis the Season to Replace Detectors Around Your HouseThe signs that winter is coming are everywhere — crisp, cold mornings and pumpkin spice lattes abound. This also means you’ll likely be spending more time indoors for the next few months, warming your home with your heating system. Rest assured that your house is not only a cozy place to retreat to, but also a safe one, by checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors today.

Checking Your Detectors

It’s advised that you check the batteries on your detectors monthly by simply pressing the “test” button on them. If you don’t hear a sound when you test them, it’s time to install new batteries.

Although your alarms may sound with that pesky, attention-getting chirp when it’s time to replace the batteries, there is no obvious indication when your detectors have reached the end of their lives. Detectors that have reached their expiration should be replaced immediately. The following tips will help you ensure your detectors are in proper working order in your home:

  • Remove detectors from your ceilings and walls and check the manufacture date on the back of them to find out how old they are.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors last on average between 5 to 7 years.
  • Smoke detectors last about 10 years.
  • Position carbon monoxide detectors on all of the levels in your home. They should be installed in hallways close to bedrooms, at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances and at least 15 inches from ceilings.
  • Smoke detectors should be on every level of your home, in each bedroom and outside of bedrooms (i.e. hallways). Larger homes may need more detectors than this.

When It’s Time to Replace Detectors

There are detectors that offer digital displays and some models even come with voice alerts. Smoke detectors can be interconnected — when one sounds, they all start to sound, quickly alerting you to a problem. Carbon monoxide detectors with a “fuel-cell electrochemical” sensor are the most accurate.

For more information on how to check or replace detectors, please feel free to contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling anytime. We’ve been proudly serving the Portland area since 1976.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

4 Common Winter Plumbing Concerns

4 Common Winter Plumbing ConcernsCold weather can be punishing to pipes and water heaters and taking steps to protect them will save you time, hassle and discomfort. As the temperature drops, be aware of these four winter plumbing concerns and how you can avoid the problems they cause.

Water Pipes

  1. They freeze inside your home. Exceptionally cold weather can make the water freeze inside the pipes in your walls or basement. Homes that lack insulation are most vulnerable, as are vacant homes whose heating systems have been turned off.

Many plumbers and insurance companies recommend leaving the heat set at 55 degrees F when leaving for a winter vacation. You can also leave the cabinet doors under sinks open to prevent the pipes from freezing. Letting the faucets drip will also reduce the risk of frozen pipes.

  1. They freeze outside your home. Even though they won’t cause the same amount of serious damage as a burst interior pipe will, they’re still serious winter plumbing concerns. Before subfreezing temperatures descend, remove the hose. Locate the shutoff valve to the outdoor spigot and turn it off. Turn on the spigot to drain any remaining water.

Water Heater Problems

  1. When the water heater has a buildup of dissolved solids on the bottom, it won’t heat as efficiently or quickly in the winter, especially if it uses gas. If you haven’t flushed a few quarts of water from the heater recently, you could be spending more than you should to heat it. Telltale signs include rumbling or gurgling sounds while it’s heating or it takes substantially longer to heat the water during periods of high demand.
  2. Water heater failure often occurs in the winter because it has to work harder to heat the colder incoming water. These appliances last between eight and 12 years. Heavy use and lack of maintenance will shorten it.

These winter plumbing concerns are largely avoidable through regular maintenance in the case of water heaters, and awareness of weather conditions for your pipes. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted services for Portland-area homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

How to Avoid Common Winter HVAC Concerns

How to Avoid Common Winter HVAC ConcernsIn the winter, you rely on your HVAC system to keep your home comfortably warm. However, your home comfort can be jeopardized by a variety of wintertime heating system problems. Here are some common winter HVAC concerns and what you should do to resolve them:

Inconsistent Heating

If some rooms are too warm while others feel too chilly when your heating system is running, check that the louvers are open on all your registers first. Then, examine the furnace filter because a clogged filter can reduce the amount of warm air that’s delivered to each room. Other possible causes that will require a professional diagnosis are leaky, damaged ducts or unbalanced airflow through the HVAC system.

Not Enough Heat

If the heating system doesn’t seem to stay running long enough to adequately heat your home, you have a situation known as “short cycling.” Your HVAC technician can do some detective work to find out why it’s happening, which could be a poorly-located or faulty thermostat, under- or over-sized equipment, or a corroded flame sensor.

Sudden Loss of Heat

If your furnace or heat pump suddenly stops cycling on, it may just need a simple fix like replacing dead thermostat batteries or a badly-clogged air filter, which can severely reduce airflow so the furnace overheats and triggers the high limit safety switch. Your heat pump can shut down similarly if the outdoor unit is covered with ice or snow and can’t defrost on its own. If none of these issues seem to be the cause, call your HVAC pro to check for more serious problems.

Combustion Fume or Gas Odors

Both of these issues pose serious safety hazards, so contact your home heating contractor immediately, and head over to a neighbor’s house until the problem is solved. Backdrafting combustion fumes from an obstructed vent system can pump deadly carbon monoxide gas through your home, while leaking gas lines can cause dizziness, vomiting and even asphyxiation, or an explosion or house fire.

If you need expert help solving winter HVAC concerns in your Portland home, contact us today at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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Why the Gift of Home Comfort is Ideal This Season

Why the Gift of Home Comfort is Ideal This Season Whether it’s for yours or another’s, why not give the gift of home comfort this holiday season? It’s easy to take for granted when the furnace is working and the energy bills are reasonable. If someone you know could use a hand to lower heating bills or creating a more efficient home, why not consider one of these suggestions.

A Maintenance Contract

Professional HVAC maintenance improves the performance of HVAC systems, lowers energy bills and reduces the risk of system breakdowns. Maintenance contracts offer convenience, discounts on repairs and labor, as well as preferred appointment scheduling.

Programmable Thermostat

If someone on your gift list has an aging or outdated thermostat, consider giving them a gift certificate from an HVAC contractor for a new thermostat. The contractor can help them select and install the best thermostat to use with their system. Programmable thermostats give them precise control over home temperatures and take the effort out of managing temperatures based on their daily schedules.

An Energy Audit

If you know someone who is struggling with high energy bills, consider hiring an HVAC contractor or licensed energy auditor to evaluate the home. They might find a high rate of air infiltration or inadequate insulation in parts of the home. If you’re handy, you could volunteer to seal the leaks and help them add more insulation, both of which are affordable ways to increase home comfort.

Temperature Gun

A digital temperature gun is a point-and-shoot device that measures surface temperatures instantly. Using one to find energy losses throughout the home will provide a good starting point to find leaks and inadequate insulation. They’re inexpensive and fun for the curious. Besides learning home temperatures, they reveal outdoor conditions, and temperatures inside kitchen appliances.

Helping others with gifts that enhance home comfort are rewarding for both the giver and receiver. If you’d like to learn more about these gifts and ideas, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing HVAC services for Portland-area homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

Holiday Fire Hazards: Are You at Risk? 

Holiday Fire Hazards: Are You at Risk? The holiday season is a time for colorful decorations and get-togethers with family and friends. Unfortunately, the holidays are also a risky period when an average of 47,000 house fires occur that cause 500 fatalities each year. For a safer home this season, use these tips to avoid holiday fire hazards.

Test Your Smoke Detectors

Have smoke detectors installed in strategic areas on each level of your home, such as in the kitchen and near sleeping areas. Press the test button on each device once a month to ensure that it’s fully functional, replace the batteries in early winter, and you can cut your risk of becoming a fire-related statistic in half.

Invest in Fire Extinguishers

Buy a fire extinguisher for each floor of your home, learn how to use it properly and place each one where it’s easily reached in the event of a fire. Choose A-B-C rated extinguishers that can put out fires caused by the three most common causes: combustibles like wood and paper, flammable liquids/gases and electrical sources. Opt for the largest-capacity extinguisher that you can easily lift and carry.

Take Precautions With Supplemental Heat Sources

If you plan to use a space heater for extra warmth this winter, make sure it’s one with an auto-shut off that kicks in if the unit tips over, and place it several feet away from combustible materials, like upholstered furniture, window coverings and the Christmas tree. If you use the fireplace, make sure the damper is open when you light it, and have a protective firescreen in place to prevent sparks from escaping.

Get Safety-Wise With Holiday Decorations

Switch to LED holiday lights that emit very little heat, replace any frayed/damaged extension cords and don’t overload your electrical outlets. Real trees can become a fire hazard as they dry out, so opt for an artificial, fire retardant-treated tree, and use a sturdy, stable tree stand. And, don’t forget to unplug all your holiday lights each night before you head to bed.

To learn more about preventing holiday fire hazards in your Portland-area home, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).