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How to Quiet Your A/C

How to Quiet Your A/CAs the cooling season gets into full swing, quieting the A/C isn’t impossible and might give you a good night’s sleep and a better relationship with the neighbors. Sometimes all it takes is a little soundproofing material, or it might involve a mechanical repair.

Air conditioners have three major parts that make noise. The first, and noisiest, is the compressor in the outdoor condenser. This part changes the pressure of the refrigerant and it makes a lot of noise each time it runs.

The other noise-prone parts are the fans in the condenser and the indoor air handler. Their motors power the fans and they, too, create noise, although not on the same scale as the compressors.

Using Soundproofing

It’s possible to build enclosures for outdoor condensers that will absorb the noise the compressor and fan motor make. It’s not a do-it-yourself project because condensers need ample airflow through them to cool the hot refrigerant coming from your home. An HVAC contractor can build such an enclosure for quieting an A/C.

Mechanical Issues

Odd sounds, like screeching, grinding and rattling indicate mechanical problems with air conditioners. When the noises come from the air handler, the problem is likely to be the blower motor or problems with the fan. The components may need oiling, the bearings might be worn, or the belt might need to be adjusted.

Outdoors, the root of the noise may be a failing compressor, a dry blower motor, or loose mounts inside the condenser.

Most of the time, routine professional maintenance prevents these noises since lubrication and adjustments are part of professional servicing.

System Replacements

If you need an HVAC replacement, look for a new system that uses quieter motors or has a compressor designed to minimize noise. A/C systems have decibel ratings and the lower the number, the quieter the system.

Before the long summer comes, taking steps for quieting the A/C will increase your comfort indoors and out. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing HVAC services for Lake Oswego -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).

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Why Now Is the Best Time to Replace Your Furnace

If your furnace is getting older and struggled to keep your home comfortably warm this past winter, now is a good time to consider upgrading. Why should a homeowner replace a furnace now instead of waiting until the fall? Because scheduling your furnace replacement this spring has a number of advantages, like the following:

Slow Time Savings

Every year, there’s a lull between heating and cooling seasons when HVAC contractors aren’t as busy. These companies want to keep their technicians working steadily through these slow periods, so they usually offer discounts on new equipment purchases and installations. Planning your furnace replacement now can now only save you money on the upfront cost, and it also comes with the bonus of flexible scheduling since your HVAC contractor isn’t fully booked up.

No Discomfort or Inconvenience

Now that the outdoor temperatures are warming up, there’s less risk of discomfort or inconvenience from a lack of home heating while you’re having a new furnace installed. If your cooling system is aging, it’s also a good time to talk about a package deal with your HVAC contractor to have a new air conditioner installed too. By having both systems updated now, you can reap the benefits of greater comfort and energy efficiency all year long.

Ample Time for Comparisons

If you have to replace failed heating equipment unexpectedly at the height of the season, you’ll have to a rush to choose your new furnace. Since there’s no need for heating right now, you have lots of time to compare features like variable-speed blowers, EMC motors, modulating gas valves, multi-stage burners or smart controls and make an informed choice.

Easier Financial Planning

Since you’re not in hurry, you’ll also have an opportunity to investigate different ways of financing your equipment purchase that won’t strain your budget. Spring is traditionally tax refund time too, so you might have extra cash on hand to put toward the cost of a new furnace.

To learn more reasons why spring is the ideal time to replace a furnace, contact the Wilsonville-area home comfort pros at Roth Heating & Cooling today.

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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Know These Things About Washable Air Filters

Know These Things About Washable Air FiltersWhile it’s almost always better to choose products that are reusable instead of disposable to keep the planet healthier, it’s not so with most washable air filters for your HVAC system. The air filter you use for your system affects its energy consumption, dependability and durability.

The differences between reusable and throwaway filters might be hidden to the eye, but over time, your HVAC system might show the signs, which include:

  • Higher repair costs. Reusable filters aren’t as dense as disposable filters, which let smaller particles enter your air handler. They may only catch animal fur and human hair, along with lint and larger dust particles.

    The remaining particulates, including dust mite waste, mold spores, animal dander and pollen will pass through. When these smaller particles get inside the air handler, they’ll land on the parts and act as insulation.

    Heat builds on the parts, which is one of the most common causes of reduced component life and system breakdowns.

  • Poor air quality. Since the smaller particulates will circulate through the air, your indoor air quality will suffer when exclusively using washable air filters in your home. Family members who suffer from allergies or asthma will experience more discomfort.
  • Mold growth. Reusable air filters have to be washed to remove the particles on them. If they’re replaced with any kind of moisture inside them, they can support mold growth. Some types of mold are harmless, but others may precipitate a health problem in sensitive individuals.

When you’re choosing an air filter, check your owner’s manual or contact us contractor for the best type to use. One the filter becomes too dense it will slow the airflow through the system too much, and one that’s too porous, like reusable filters, won’t trap small particles that eventually will harm the equipment.

The money and materials you save using washable air filters may not have a positive effect on the environment or your budget if they result in higher costs associated with repairs or your health. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted HVAC services for Sherwood 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).

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Benefits of Installing a Tankless Water Heater

Benefits of Installing a Tankless Water HeaterIf you’ve been thinking about switching to an on-demand or tankless water heater from a storage tank model, you might be put off by the heftier price tag and higher installation costs. To make an informed decision on which type is the right option, be sure to weigh the upfront costs against the following benefits you’ll gain from going tankless.

Prolonged Lifespan

On-demand units have the longest lifespan of all the different types of water heaters, providing an average of 20 years of reliable service. If you’re replacing a storage tank model with an expected lifespan of just 10–13 years, be sure to factor in these additional savings for a more accurate cost comparison.

Operating Cost Savings

Switching to a tankless water heater can reduce your household energy consumption and utility bills. Water is heated on demand, so the appliance doesn’t need to cycle continuously to maintain the temperature of 40 or 60 gallons of hot water. Over the years, this can add up to substantial savings that more than offset the higher initial cost.

Flexible Placement Choices

Tankless units are typically hung on a wall, and their compact size that’s comparable to a small suitcase provides a lot of flexibility in where they can be placed. The only constraints on the choice of location are the necessary connections to the gas and electrical lines.

Cleaner Hot Water

When you have a tank-type appliance, there are accumulations of sediment, scale and rust inside the tank, so the hot water that flows from your fixtures contains minute bits of all three. With an on-demand model, the water gets heated right in the piping, so it’s free from such particles.

Continuous Supply

Turning on a faucet or shower activates an on-demand heater, and it typically takes a few seconds for hot water to begin flowing. Once it does, there’s a limitless supply, so you won’t run out or have to wait for long periods while a tank full heats up.

To learn more benefits of installing a tankless hot water heater 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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Find Out How a Variable-Speed Furnace Works in Your Home

Find Out How a Variable-Speed Furnace Works in Your HomeA variable-speed furnace offers quiet, energy efficient comfort using advanced motor technology. Instead of only running on top speed, a furnace equipped with an electronically-commutated motor (ECM) will adjust its running speeds based on your home’s need for heat. They save energy because ECMs use much less electricity than the standard motor, and its slower running speed helps distribute the heat more evenly.

What a Variable-Speed Furnace Does

Conventional blower motors, known as permanent split capacitor motors (PSCs) use alternating current (AC) while an ECM uses direct current (DC). Since our power supply is AC, the variable-speed furnace motor has an inverter that changes the power flow to DC, which is a more efficient use of electricity.

These motors also include high tech components that work with the HVAC system to sense how much heated air your home needs, and adjust their running speeds accordingly. If it’s just a few degrees, the motor will run at a slower speed. The ECM is also capable of sensing the airflow through the blower, making adjustments for constricted airflow from dirt filters or blocked return registers.

Variable-Speed Advantages

  • Cleaner air. Since a variable-speed furnace runs more slowly, it removes more airborne particulates, which creates a healthier home. Anyone who suffers from allergies to pollen, dander or mold may breathe easier.
  • Less electrical consumption. Although combustion furnace efficiency isn’t measured by its electrical use alone, your monthly energy bills will drop. If the furnace is equipped with an air conditioning system, your summer cooling costs will also decline. These systems also remove more humidity in the cooling mode since the air handler runs longer.
  • Quiet operation. These systems start and stop their cycles slowly. Even at top speeds, these motors are quieter than PSC motors.
  • Durability. HVAC systems with variable-speed motors tend to last longer since they avoid the stress and wear that frequent starts cause.

To learn more about a variable-speed furnace, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted 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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Want to Do an Energy Evaluation on Your Home? Use this Checklist

Want to Do an Energy Evaluation on Your Home? Use this ChecklistEven though American homes are becoming increasingly energy efficient these days, there’s still lots of room for improvement in most households. Most homeowners are more than willing to invest in improving energy efficiency, both for altruistic and financial reasons. The main obstacle isn’t a lack of will but rather knowledge about what needs to be done. That’s where a home energy audit comes into play. A professional energy evaluation will reveal where energy is being lost in the home, and then tell you how to stop it.

What’s Involved in a Home Energy Evaluation?

  • The energy auditor(s) will inspect your home, checking out likely spots for energy waste, such as windows, doors, and the attic. He or she will inspect your heating and cooling system, including the ductwork. He or she will likely ask to look at previous years’ utility bills to better understand energy usage in your home and detect any patterns over time.
  • Diagnostic tests are undertaken to confirm where energy is being lost. The most common is the blower-door test. A powerful fan and housing is installed in a main exterior door frame, after all windows, doors, and vents have been closed. As the fan blows outward, it depressurizes the house. A gauge measures how quickly air rushes back into the home via air leaks. This measures your home’s airtightness.
  • During the blower-door test, the auditor, using thermographic scanning equipment, will detect where air is leaking, plus locate where insulation is insufficient.
  • A test similar to the blower door also may be done inside your ductwork, to determine how much air is leaking during the heating and cooling process.

After the evaluation, you’ll receive a detailed report listing areas of improvement. While some of the recommendations will be tasks that you can do yourself, other recommendations, such as replacing windows, repairing ducts or upgrading HVAC equipment, will require professional help.

To discuss scheduling a professional home energy evaluation for your Portland area home, please contact us 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 to Decide Between Air Filtration and Air Cleaning

How to Decide Between Air Filtration and Air CleaningIf you’re concerned about maintaining indoor air quality in your Portland area home, it’s important to understand the difference between air filtration and air cleaning. While all forced-air heating and cooling systems have some form of air filtration, not all households have dedicated air cleaning systems. If you have family members who are susceptible to allergies or respiratory ailments, you’ll want to consider an air cleaning system.

First it helps to understand how basic air filtration works in an HVAC system. In most households, this involves a cheap, flat-panel fiberglass (or other synthetic) filter that goes into a slot in your furnace compartment, usually where the ductwork attaches. Before air is drawn into the furnace or A/C for conditioning, the filter removes some proportion of the solid particulates in that air. However, the main purpose of a low- or standard-efficiency air filter is to protect HVAC components rather than clean indoor air.

This doesn’t mean that higher-efficiency air filtration can’t achieve cleaner and healthier air. High-efficiency HVAC filters can remove the vast majority of airborne particulates. This is accomplished with denser (or more) filtration media removing a wide range of contaminants, large and small. However, the denser filtration media also may restrict airflow. Adverse effects may include wasted energy, stressed system components, and uneven heating and cooling. A forced-air system can be modified to work with a high-efficiency filter, though this may be costly. Consider a whole-house air cleaning system instead.

A whole-house air cleaner is connected directly to your HVAC system, and like an air filter treats all of the air that circulates through that system. But rather than simply capturing airborne particulates with fiberglass or some other filtration medium, an air cleaner typically employs a combination of technologies to clean the air. These might include ultraviolet light, electrostatic attraction or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) filtration. A quality air cleaner can remove more than 99 percent of the particulates in your indoor air.

To talk to a trained technician about cleaning or filtering the air in your Portland area home, please contact us 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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Dealing with Common Furnace Problems in Your Home

Dealing with Common Furnace Problems in Your HomeDuring the winter, there’s always a chance your home’s heating system will act up or stop working entirely. Either way — the sudden loss of heat or a furnace that’s not heating adequately — this is something to avoid. Try learning some basic furnace troubleshooting steps. With that knowledge, you’ll have a better shot at figuring out what’s wrong and either fixing it yourself or knowing what to tell the HVAC service technician you call.

If Your Furnace is Struggling to Heat Your Home

This could the result of any of numerous issues. The air filter may need to be change; ductwork might be dirty or leaking air; the burners in your combustion heating system might be clogged; the blower motor might need to be cleaned and lubricated; or your heating system might be so old that it no longer can keep up with the challenge of heating your home. Each of these issues has a different solution, from the easy (changing the air filter) to the most difficult and expensive, replacing your heating system.

If the Heating isn’t Working at All

  • Check that your HVAC system is getting power. Do this at the circuit-breaker box or at the on-off switch if your heating system has one. Is the thermostat set to “heat” and that the setting is above the temperature in your home? If the thermostat is battery operated, check the batteries.
  • Ignition might be the problem, especially if you have an older furnace with a pilot light. Re-lighting the pilot might be all that’s necessary, though if the light keeps going out, or the electronic ignition (in a newer heating system) is malfunctioning, you’ll need a professional service call.
  • If you hear banging or rattling in the furnace compartment before the system goes dead, it might be loose or detached parts in the blower motor, or a slipped belt. While you might be able to put the belt back on, you’ll need professional help for a faulty motor.

For help fixing your Portland area heating system problems this winter, please contact us 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 to Decide if Your Ductwork Needs Replacement

How to Decide if Your Ductwork Needs ReplacementIf you have an older home that’s never had its ductwork replaced, or perhaps a relatively new home with badly designed or manufactured ducts, you may need to consider duct repairs or replacement. Faulty ducts can result in substantial energy loss, higher utility bills, uneven heating and cooling, and overworked HVAC equipment. Leaky ducts also can result in backdrafting, with dirty air infiltrating ducts and contaminating indoor air. So, how can you tell your ducts are malfunctioning?

Signs that ductwork needs to be repaired or replaced include:

  • Heating and cooling bills that are higher than your neighbors’ bills, even though their homes are the same size as yours.
  • A pattern of increased energy costs in recent years that doesn’t seem to have any other explanation.
  • Visual signs such as hanging ducts, or duct sections that obviously are not firmly connected.

Of course, the best way to tell whether duct repair or replacement is necessary is with a professional inspection. The HVAC professional will visually inspect the ducts, plus possibly conduct a blower test to determine the physical integrity of the ductwork. This also will reveal whether a professional duct cleaning is necessary.

The professional may recommend duct sealing and perhaps adding insulation to duct sections running through unconditioned areas such as the crawl space or basement. While a moderately handy homeowner can seal loose duct connections in accessible locations with mastic sealant and metal-backed tape, he or she probably can’t access all of the duct network. A truly comprehensive job will require professional service by experts in duct repair and replacement.

In rare cases, the ductwork may have deteriorated so badly, and is in such poor shape, that replacement is the recommended option. Whatever your course of action, it’s vitally important to have efficient, tight ductwork that delivers conditioned air throughout your home, with minimal waste, and then brings it back to your HVAC equipment to be reheated or re-cooled.

For help deciding whether to replace or repair faulty ducts, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling, providing quality HVAC service to Portland and the surrounding communities.

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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Be Proactive and Check Your Furnace Filter Quality

Be Proactive and Check Your Furnace Filter QualityYour furnace works hard to heat your home, but it won’t work as well if you are not using the right filter or if you don’t change the filter. Attention to furnace filter quality is one of the best steps toward keeping your furnace running smoothly this season. Here is what you should know about choosing a filter and how often to change it.

How to Choose a Filter

Don’t pick the first and cheapest filter you see. There is a significant difference between those thin, single panel mesh filters and higher quality options. Fiberglass furnace filters will keep some dust out of your furnace, which is important, but will still allow a lot in to pollute the air in your home.

Look instead for disposable pleated air filters. These have a higher MERV rating, which is the minimum efficiency reporting value and means they trap more particles. For home use, buy filters with a rating from 9 to 13. Some sellers might encourage you to choose higher-rated filters, but most residential HVAC systems won’t function well when those are used because high-MERV filters reduce airflow to the system.

High quality pleated filters will help protect your furnace from contaminants and will improve your indoor air quality by reducing allergens. You should not just put the new filter in and forget about it, however. For the best results, you should change them every month.

Changing Your Filter

Here are three reasons why you should change your furnace filter monthly:

  • Reduce allergies. Clogged air filters will not reduce allergens in your home’s air and can even make things worse.
  • Keep your heating bills lower. Dirty filters reduce airflow, which makes your furnace struggle harder to perform. This leads to greater energy consumption.
  • Protect your furnace. The reduced airflow, in addition to particles collecting on inner furnace components, can lead to a furnace breakdown. Changing the filter can prevent costly repairs or complete furnace malfunction.

For more information about furnace filters and your Portland area home, please contact us 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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