Is a Zoning System Right for Your Portland Area Home?

Is a Zoning System Right for Your Portland Area Home?With a standard HVAC system, you can only control the temperature of your Portland home as a whole unit. If you would like more flexibility in controlling your home’s temperature while saving energy, you may want to consider a zoning system.

How a Zoning System Operates

Zoning systems divide a home into two or more sections or “zones,” each of which can have its temperature controlled independently from the others. In a forced-air system, special electronically controlled dampers open or close to control the volume of conditioned air that enters a zone, according to the current temperature and the thermostat settings. In water-based systems, electronically-controlled valves adjust the flow of hot or cold water to your radiator, baseboard or radiant floor system.

The Advantages of a Zoning System

With multiple zones, you can customize the temperature in each zone to accommodate the preferences of multiple people or to compensate for areas that are warmer or cooler than the rest of your home. You can also save energy by reducing the heating or cooling in rarely-used rooms, or by adjusting the temperature based on current occupancy. For instance, during the daytime, the bedrooms could be cooled or heated less, while the occupied living areas remain at your preferred temperature. By automating the temperature changes with a programmable thermostat for each zone, you can reduce your energy usage by up to 30 percent.

Where Zoning Systems Work Best

Almost any house is a good candidate for a zoning system, but they work especially well in homes that feature the following:

  • Living spaces in areas that are difficult to condition, such as basements, attics, sun rooms, lofts or garage living spaces
  • Rooms used only periodically, such as offices or libraries
  • New additions
  • Multiple large windows or doors
  • Multiple stories
  • Hot or cold spots

Zoning systems can be installed in nearly any home, but it’s easier to install them when the house is built, when the existing HVAC system is replaced or during large renovation projects.

For more information about installing a zoning system, 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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Troubleshooting Toilet Issues That Can Be Traced Back to the Flapper

Troubleshooting Toilet Issues That Can Be Traced Back to the FlapperThe flapper is the essential part inside a toilet tank that controls water flow into the bowl. If it’s not working properly, the toilet runs constantly to replace escaping water. With some toilet flapper troubleshooting tips, you can solve this irritating problem and keep your household utility costs under control.

How to Troubleshoot the Flapper

  • Take off the tank cover and place it safely out of the way.
  • Then, check the chain that leads from the toilet handle to the flapper on top of the flush valve. If it’s too short and keeping the flapper open, or too long and catching underneath against the flush valve, a simple adjustment of the chain length can be quick fix for the problem.
  • If the chain appears fine, take a close look at the closed flapper. If it’s noticeably folded or concave, it’s due for replacement.
  • Now, flush the toilet and watch to see if the flapper lifts up then closes again completely. If it doesn’t sit quite right, try adjusting the mounting ring.
  • Check the flapper’s sealing edge next. To examine it, shut off the supply valve and flush the toilet to drain the tank. Gently lift the flapper and check for mineral deposits on the underside and valve seating. If there’s buildup, use a brush or scouring pad to scrub it off.
  • If the edge looks pitted or damaged, replace the flapper.

Flapper Replacement 101

You can buy a replacement flapper at most hardware stores, and changing it out is relatively easy. Just leave the tank empty, detach the chain on the lever arm and unbolt the old flapper. Be sure to take it with you so you can choose an exact match as a replacement. To install the new flapper, simply put the new part in place, bolt it onto the flush valve pipe and attach the chain. After turning the water supply valve back on, do a test flush and adjust the chain if necessary to ensure the flapper operates smoothly.

For expert help with toilet flapper troubleshooting and replacement in your Portland home, 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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How to Handle an Air Conditioner That’s Blowing Hot Air

How to Handle an Air Conditioner That’s Blowing Hot AirIf your air conditioner is blowing hot air, it doesn’t necessarily point to a major system malfunction. The problem could be linked to dirty components, a clogged air filter or improper thermostat settings. Read on to see if you can resolve the issue with these tips before calling your HVAC technician.

Check For Evaporator Ice

Ice buildup on the evaporator coil is a common problem, with many potential causes, that essentially stops the cooling process. The evaporator needs free airflow to extract heat from the home. Ice buildup blocks heat exchange. Perform the following steps if there is ice buildup on the evaporator:

  • Turn off the A/C.
  • If the air filter is dirty, change or clean it by manufacturer specifications.
  • Run the A/C in “fan” mode to expedite ice melt.
  • When the ice has melted, check the evaporator to make sure it’s clean. If it’s dirty, use a foaming coil cleaner to clean it.
  • Turn the A/C on as normal. If the ice returns, there is a different problem which requires the expertise of your HVAC tech.

Dirty Condenser

A dirty condenser coil can restrict home cooling as well. Use a garden hose to spray the sides of the outdoor cabinet of the A/C system to remove dirt and grime. You may also try a foaming coil cleaner for cleaning purposes, followed by spraying with the garden hose.

Pressing Compressor Issues

The compressor is located in the outdoor cabinet with the condenser. When you’re cleaning the condenser, this should also help clean the compressor. A dirty compressor can overheat and stop working. If the compressor is making unusual noises, such as humming or rattling, call your HVAC tech.

Thermostat Mode

Check the thermostat one more time. The thermostat should be set to the “auto” or “cool” mode. If you’ve recently installed a new thermostat, check the wiring schematic again to ensure correct and secure terminal connections.

If your A/C is blowing hot air into your Portland area home after trying these troubleshooting tips, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling today for more information or to schedule an A/C tune-up.

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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Heat Pump Maintenance, If Performed Routinely, Can Save Energy

Heat Pump Maintenance, If Performed Routinely, Can Save EnergyYour heat pump works hard all year, keeping you comfortable in Portland’s warm summers and chilly winters. It’s for exactly this reason regular heat pump maintenance is so important. Neglect it for too long and you could cut your heat pump’s efficiency by as much as 25 percent. Caring for your system year round, however, keeps it running at top efficiency and helps the components last longer, too.

DIY Jobs for Optimal Efficiency

A dirty air filter limits airflow into the system, placing strain on the fan motor. This reduces the motor’s efficiency and causes wear that can lead to the motor’s early failure. Every month, check the air filter and replace it if it’s covered in dust. Thin fiberglass filters usually have to be replaced once a month. For longer-lasting filters, better indoor air quality and greater protection for your system, invest in higher-efficiency pleated filters.

The outdoor condenser unit also needs good airflow to stay efficient. Lawn clippings, leaves and other debris on the exterior fins impair airflow, so periodically remove these with a stiff brush. Once a year, lift off the condenser unit’s top and vacuum up debris inside with a wet vac. Then gently hose down the exterior fins from the inside of the unit outward.

Professional Maintenance Is a Must

While annual maintenance is enough for a furnace or A/C, a heat pump should be professionally cleaned and inspected twice a year. Fall and spring, before the heating and cooling seasons, are ideal times to schedule heat pump maintenance.

Many of the jobs your technician will do improve the system’s energy efficiency, as well as protect the components and ensure safe operation. A few of these jobs are:

  • Cleaning the motor and testing its performance
  • Cleaning the evaporator coil if needed
  • Measuring for correct airflow
  • Inspecting for loose or corroded electrical connections
  • Measuring the refrigerant charge and pressure
  • Testing the thermostat and controls
  • Inspecting the ducts for blockages and damage

If you haven’t scheduled professional heat pump maintenance in a while, get in touch with us at Roth Heating & Cooling anywhere 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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Incorporate Water Conservation Into Your Home With These Tips

Incorporate Water Conservation Into Your Home With These TipsWater conservation is a growing trend that many homeowners are taking seriously. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers an easy way for you to take smart steps toward home water conservation with their WaterSense program. Items labeled through the program, including bathroom sinks, faucets, toilets and shower heads, are independently certified as providing 20 percent greater efficiency than comparable standard products.

In addition to upgrading to WaterSense certified products, take these steps to curb water consumption in different areas of your home.

In the Bathroom

Over 50 percent of household water consumption takes place in the bathroom.

  • Turn off the faucet during activities like brushing teeth or shaving.
  • Shower instead of bathing, and take shorter showers to save between two and five gallons per minute.

In the Kitchen

Roughly 10 percent of the average home’s water usage occurs in the kitchen.

  • Use the dishwasher rather than hand washing. Just make sure it’s fully loaded for each use.
  • Scrape but don’t rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher to save approximately 20 gallons of water per load.
  • Install a low-flow aerator on the faucet to save up to two gallons per minute of use.
  • Keep a pitcher of cold drinking water in the fridge instead of letting water run to cool down.
  • Create a compost pile instead of putting food waste down the garbage disposal.

Around the House

There are many easy ways to get into a daily habit of conserving water.

  • Check for and promptly fix plumbing fixture drips and leaky water pipes that can waste as much as 200 gallons of water a day.
  • Avoid washing small loads in the clothes washer since they require twice as much water as a full load per pound of laundry.
  • Insulate hot water pipes to prevent the needless waste that takes place while you’re waiting for hot water to arrive at the faucet.
  • Opt for water-saving models that use significantly less water per load when replacing a dishwasher or clothes washer.

For expert help implementing home water conservation methods, contact the Portland area pros 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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Why Indoor Air Pollution Is a Worthy Concern for the Average Homeowner

Why Indoor Air Pollution Is a Worthy Concern for the Average HomeownerOutdoors, you have to deal with car exhaust, pollen and dust, but inside your home is a haven, right? The truth is that many Americans assume their indoor air is cleaner than it is. In reality, indoor air is as polluted as outdoor air because it has none of the natural ventilation of breezes or cleaning from rain. And when Americans spend most of their time indoors, indoor air pollution can have a big effect on health.

What Contributes to Poor Indoor Air?

Many things impact your indoor air quality. A few common causes of indoor pollution include:

  • Chemical and aerosol cleaners, such as bleach and furniture polish respectively
  • Natural household dust and pet dander
  • Dirt and pollen tracked in from the outdoors
  • Cooking odors and combustion residue from candles and malfunctioning appliances, such as gas furnaces or stoves
  • Carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals from combustion appliances without proper ventilation
  • Mold, mildew and bacteria from poor humidity management

What Can You Do to Manage Indoor Air Pollution?

There are many ways to manage air pollution in your Portland home. Following are strategies you can employ:

  • Speak with your local HVAC professional about ventilation options for your home. Getting rid of the old air in your home and bringing in fresh air can do a lot to raise your air quality.
  • Change the air filter once a month. A clogged filter lowers circulation through your home. A clean air filter, however, catches and removes particulate pollution from your home.
  • Install an air cleaner. A consultation with a licensed contractor can help you decide what kind of air cleaner is best for your home. A UV light can sterilize your air, killing off mold and mildew spores. A HEPA filter can clean your home’s air, catching particles as small as viruses.
  • Manage indoor humidity. High humidity contributes to mold, mildew, fungus and bacteria, while low humidity raises dust levels.

To learn more about handling indoor air pollution in your Portland home, contact the home comfort pros 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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Duct Maintenance Ensures Conditioned Air Gets Where It Needs to Go

Duct Maintenance Ensures Conditioned Air Gets Where It Needs to GoIf you want to stay comfortable for less in Portland’s chilly winters and humid summers, furnace and A/C tune-ups aren’t the only system maintenance you’ll need. Duct maintenance is also essential because your system relies on the ducts to efficiently deliver heated or cooled air to your rooms.

How Duct Maintenance Benefits You

Leaks in the ducts mean less warm or cool air reaches your rooms, forcing you to adjust your thermostat and use more energy to compensate. Leaks typically occur around loose or unsealed duct joints, but they can also be caused by cracks, holes and other damage.

Sealing these leaks gets conditioned air to your rooms more efficiently, saving you energy, providing more even temperatures and reducing the risk of moisture problems in the attic and basement. Your technician can properly fit the duct connections, seal them with mastic, and repair or replace damaged ducts. Optimal sealing methods vary depending on the duct type and location, so hiring a knowledgeable professional for the job provides the best results. The right sealing techniques can cut your leakage from 30 percent down to 5 percent or even less.

Ducts in unconditioned spaces, such as the basement or attic, can lose or gain heat thanks to the surrounding air. A hot attic heats up cool air in the ducts so it’s no longer the right temperature when it gets to your rooms. Your technician can apply duct wrap or another insulation material in the thickness needed to maintain the temperature of the air in the ducts. Then you’ll no longer have to spend energy to make up for the loss.

Debris and blockages in the ducts also cause problems, including dust in the air, rooms that are hard to heat and cool, and pressure imbalances that can damage your system’s components. Your technician will use a duct inspection camera to check hard-to-reach parts of your ductwork and determine if cleaning is needed.

If you haven’t scheduled professional duct maintenance within the last few years, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling in the Portland area for an appointment.

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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Are You Using Your Programmable Thermostat Correctly? Guidelines to Follow

Are You Using Your Programmable Thermostat Correctly? Guidelines to FollowYour programmable thermostat is a proven energy saver, allowing you to cut back on heating and cooling costs when you’re away from home. But programmable thermostats don’t start saving you money until you start using them correctly. Here are the guidelines to follow to get the most out of yours.

  • Pick the thermostat that meets your scheduling needs. Some households have a regular weekday/weekend schedule, whereas others have different schedules every day of the week. Different models of thermostats allow for different levels of control.
  • Try to set temperatures back for large blocks of time. Eight hours or more a day is a good length for energy savings. This can cover a standard work day or a standard sleep schedule.
  • If your schedule changes for a day, don’t reprogram your thermostat. Use its override setting instead. It will automatically re-set at its next temperature set point and you won’t have to worry about remembering to re-program your usual schedule when the interruption is over.
  • Don’t crank the thermostat to warm or cool your home faster. A central air system can only deliver heating and cooling at a single rate unless you have a variable-speed fan or a two-stage furnace. Instead of bringing your home to a comfortable temperature faster, cranking the thermostat is more likely to make your air system overshoot the temperature you want.
  • Look for programmable thermostats that are wired directly into your home’s electrical system. If you do use a thermostat that’s battery powered, keep the batteries fresh and test them frequently.
  • If you use a zoned heating and cooling system in your home, use a separate thermostat to control each zone. Combining programmable thermostats with zoned air systems can maximize your energy savings.
  • Try to set your temperature back 5 to 15 degrees when you’re asleep or away from home.

If you’re curious about how a programmable thermostat can benefit your Portland home, contact 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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Common Issues Water Heaters Present to Portland Area Homeowners

Common Issues Water Heaters Present to Portland Area HomeownersYou may not even notice the hard-working water heater humming along in your basement or utility closet until troublesome issues arise. Identifying water heater problems quickly and calling in a plumbing professional to make needed repairs is the best way to avoid any headaches or inconvenience. Here’s how to diagnose the most common water heater issues.

No Hot Water

If you suddenly have no hot water, check whether the heater’s pilot light has gone out. If you’re comfortable doing so, you can attempt to re-light it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you have an electric model, the element may have failed. A pro can pinpoint the exact cause and get it fixed quickly.

Loud Popping Sounds

Unusual noises from inside a water heater tank are typically caused by scale and sediment buildup in the heat exchanger or on the electric elements. It’s wise to have the water heater drained to remove accumulated sediment as soon as possible. If it’s not addressed, scale buildup can eventually ruin the tank.

Drop in Water Temperature

A noticeable drop in water temperature can signal trouble with the thermostat, a deteriorated dip tube or sediment buildup. Increasing the heater’s thermostat setting may work as a short-term fix. For a long-term solution, have the unit examined by an experienced technician.

Water Leakage

If water is seeping out the tank, it’s vital to find the source. Check around the pressure relief valve, drain valve, electric elements and gas control valve. A leaky pipe on top of the tank or a corroded welded seam are other possible culprits. Once you have the source identified, a pro can repair the issue or advise whether replacing the heater is necessary to prevent a plumbing emergency.

Low Hot Water Pressure

Several water heater issues can cause low hot water pressure, including a malfunctioning shut off valve or sediment clogging the tank, water lines or dip tube. A licensed plumber can determine the cause and get the issue resolved.

For expert help solving water heater problems in your Portland home, contact the pros 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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How the Changes in Water Heater Efficiency Standards Affect You

How the Changes in Water Heater Efficiency Standards Affect YouWater heater efficiency standards have been upgraded in 2015. New specifications issued by the Department of Energy (DOE) increase the required efficiency of gas, oil and electric storage tank water heaters as well as tankless water heaters. Over the next 30 years, these changes are projected to produce an $8 billion in energy savings and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 150 metric tons.

Water heater efficiency standards are reflected by the energy factor (EF), a decimal number expressing the ratio between the volume of hot water produced and the units of energy required to heat it. The higher the numeral, the more efficient the unit. EF is prominently displayed on the yellow EnergyGuide sticker affixed to new water heaters.

As of April 16, 2015, these new EF minimums become official:

  • Gas-fired storage tank heaters smaller than 55-gallon capacity must have an EF of at least 0.675. For units greater than 55 gallons, the new standard is 0.80.
  • Electric storage tank heaters with 55-gallon capacity or less are required to have a minimum EF of 0.960, while units larger than 55 gallons must be at least 2.057.
  • Oil-fired storage tank models smaller than 50 gallons have a new minimum of 0.68.
  • For tankless water heaters, the new gas-fired minimum EF is 0.82 and the EF for electric models is now 0.93.

Consequences for the Consumer

  • The purchase price of new water heaters is expected to rise, at least initially.
  • New considerations may affect installation. Units with higher EFs are slightly larger than the older standard efficiency units, mainly due to the increased amount of tank insulation. While this is only a difference of a few inches in both height and diameter, a small water heater closet may require alterations to accommodate a new unit.
  • Options for homeowners who require tank capacities exceeding 55 gallons will now be limited to high-efficiency gas-fired condensing water heaters or heat pump water heaters.

If you have more questions about water heater efficiency standards, the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling have the answers.

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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