Author Archives: Jason Hansen

Warning Signs Your A/C System is Dying

Warning Signs Your A/C System is DyingVapor compression, electrical, water drainage, computer technology and air quality — your air conditioner utilizes and links together an array of mechanics and properties to cool your home. As an A/C system ages or if it isn’t well maintained, a lot can go wrong. Following are warning signs that indicate your A/C unit is experiencing problems or dying.

Strange Noises

With a compressor, blower motor and airflow, air conditioners make noise — some more than others. If you hear any of these unusual noises, your A/C system needs immediate attention:

  • Droning: Laborious droning and whirring noises from your outdoor unit indicate significant compressor problems.
  • Grinding: Grinding and screeching noises from the indoor air handler or outdoor unit are telltale signs of a failing blower motor.
  • Clicking: If your A/C system won’t turn on and makes a rapid clicking noise, you have electrical problems to contend with.
  • Duct noises: Rattling, clamoring, whooshing and even banging noises from the air vents are usually caused by problems with ductwork design. Take care of duct problems before they affect your A/C system.

Too Many Repairs

When you’re uncomfortable, there’s no such thing as a small A/C repair. However, if your A/C has needed frequent repairs in recent years, you may be better off upgrading to a new A/C unit with a warranty. Talk to your A/C technician about lifetime costs of different A/C models. The lifetime cost is your estimated investment for the A/C purchase, installation, energy usage and maintenance from day one to the end of its useful service life.

Poor Performance, High Energy Bills

With so many interlinking systems, one unresolved A/C problem often causes another… and another. For example, an old compressor may cause ice to accumulate on the evaporator. Leaky air ducts make your A/C work harder. In both instances, your home comfort suffers, energy bills increase and other A/C parts may begin to fail.

Sooner or later, you’ll need to replace your A/C system. Start planning your new system by working with reputable HVAC professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve helped Lake Oswego homeowners with HVAC decisions 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).

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Yard Work and How it Can Affect Your HVAC System

Yard Work and How it Can Affect Your HVAC SystemIf the condensing unit for your central cooling system sits on the ground, doing yard work near it could reduce its efficiency. The condenser contains the fins and condensing coil that dissipate the heat that the refrigerant pulls out of your home. Any dirt and damage to these coils slows its ability to cool the refrigerant, which drives up cooling costs.

  • Lawn mowing. Cutting the grass around the outdoor condenser without a bag to catch the clippings can deposit small bits of grass on the fins and coils. Unless they’re removed, they’ll slow the cooling process.
  • String trimming weeds. The best way to avoid flying leaves and clippings around the condenser is to hand-pull the weeds or spray the weeds with herbicides while they’re still small.
  • Leaf blowing. If the leaf blower is strong enough, it could send sticks and twigs flying into the condenser’s coils. It’s a good idea to point the blower away from the condenser, or rake the immediate area instead of blowing it. Some central air conditioners drain the condensation they create outdoors using a drainpipe. It’s not uncommon when doing yard work for landscaping debris to blow into the end of the pipe that can block the water flowing from it.
  • Irrigation. Watering the yard doesn’t directly harm the condenser, but any over spray can if it hits the condenser. Besides the mineral deposits that can form on the fins and coil, continued exposure to water or moisture might cause rust on the condenser.

Solutions

  • One of the best ways to prevent clippings from sticking to the condenser is to xeriscape around the condensing unit. This type of landscape uses drought-tolerant plants that don’t shed many leaves and use a rock or crushed gravel ground cover.
  • Throwing a tarp over the condenser when you’re working around it will prevent some of the debris from lodging inside the fins and coils or bending them.

These tips will help you prevent damage to your condenser when doing yard work. To learn more about increasing cooling efficiency, 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).

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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Security Lights at Home and Work

Security Lights at Home and Work With all the pricing, design and installation options available, it’s possible to easily protect your property from intruders and increase its usability after dark with security lights. From solar powered lighting to screw-in motion detecting adapters, it’s easier than ever to illuminate all corners of the outdoors.

  • A well-lighted yard reduces the chances of break-ins. Lighting not only shows you who and what’s outside, it also reveals activity around your home to the neighbors. Both two- and four-legged intruders do not like to be seen.
  • Insurance companies like security lighting. You may get a break on your insurance rates if you install overhead lighting in parking lots and around the perimeter of your building, especially if you combine them with a video monitoring system.

    Not only do the lights send burglars away, they can also keep your valuable wiring and HVAC equipment intact. One of the more recent targets for theft in commercial and residential areas is copper wiring and from HVAC systems. It takes thieves just a few minutes to remove the coils inside HVAC equipment to sell as scrap metal.

    Not only does this take your heating and cooling system out of commission, it’s likely to prompt an expensive system replacement. Because of HVAC industry regulations, the indoor components of HVACR systems have to match the outdoor parts. If your equipment is older, it’s not likely that compatible outdoor components are still available.

  • Besides increasing safety, security lights also enhance the livability of the outdoors. You can use them to highlight elements of your landscape, like a water fountain, light-tolerant garden, or patio.
  • Motion detectors send invasive animals out of your yard. Nocturnal animals don’t like to be startled by a flood of light when they prowl around your yard scrounging for food in your garbage cans or garden.

Without security lights, your yard or lot may be vulnerable to intrusion. With it, you’ll have more peace of mind and it can add enjoyment to the special features of your home and yard. To learn more, 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).

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Common Causes of a Noisy Air Conditioner

Common Causes of a Noisy Air ConditionerA noisy air conditioner is both irritating and worrisome. If your A/C is making loud banging, hissing or high-pitched squealing sounds, contact your HVAC pro as these noises can indicate a potentially serious problem that needs immediate attention. You can try fixing the following less serious sounds on your own.

Rattling or Murmuring Coming From the Fan

To solve these common sounds, open the air handler cabinet, vacuum out any loose debris from around the fan and clean the blades. If the fan blades seem loose, tighten the hub using an Allen wrench or screwdriver. Finally, examine the blades and if any appear bent, apply gentle pressure to straighten it.

Humming or Grinding From the Blower Motor

These sounds originating at the blower are often a sign that the motor needs lubrication. If your unit has oil ports, you can lubricate it by adding a couple of drops of SAE 10 oil to each one. You can also prevent a recurrence by making a habit of oiling the motor at the start of each cooling season.

Rattling Noises In the Air Handler or Condenser Cabinet

The mechanical components housed in the indoor air handler and outdoor condenser units vibrate slightly when they’re running. Over time, this can loosen cabinet panel or mounting screws that weren’t fully tightened and result in a rattling noise. To correct this, simply follow the sound to its source, and tighten up the loose screw(s) with a screwdriver.

Low-Key Buzzing from the Outdoor Condenser Coil

The outdoor unit can start to get noisy when debris accumulates on the coil, so hose it down carefully with your garden hose. If it’s still noisy, check to see if the aluminum fins look bent. If they do, straightening them may help lessen the noise, but don’t use a sharp implement. Instead, buy an inexpensive tool called a fin comb, then insert the comb’s teeth in between the fins and gently slide it to straighten the bent ones.

For an expert diagnosis of what’s causing a noisy air conditioner 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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Backup Generator: 10 Situations You’ll Need to Know About

Power outages in Portland are not unknown, despite our rather benign weather. The fact is, the power can and does go off here, for a variety of reasons. That’s when it’s good to know your Backup Generator: 10 Situations You'll Need to Know About power needs are covered with a backup generator. Generators are no longer rare in residential areas, as the weather gets wackier and homeowners are more and more reluctant to experience the inconvenience of not being able to cook, going without lights or worrying about food spoiling in the refrigerator.

Here are 10 reasons the power might go off in your Portland home.

  1. Lightning strike. Power thunderstorms are rare here, but can happen. When lightning hits transformers, it can knock out the power.
  2. Flooding. Flood waters from torrential rain and melting snow can damage electrical equipment at ground level or below, knocking out power till flooding resides and repair crews can fix it.
  3. Wind. High winds can blow down power lines, resulting in temporary loss of electricity.
  4. Falling trees. Trees may hit power lines after being toppled by high winds or improper cutting.
  5. Home construction. If you’re building a house or performing major renovations, the electricity may be off for extended periods.
  6. Animals. Believe it or not, but sometimes animals can cause blackouts, from birds shorting out power lines to underground burrowing animals chewing through buried cables.
  7. Power company outage. We don’t always know the reason, but sometimes the power just goes out while the utility company works on the lines. Outages can be short or long term, and might be caused by a short circuit or overloading of electricity mains.
  8. Power surge in the home. Sometimes the homeowner’s electrical system shorts out, particularly if it’s old or repairs have not been done correctly.
  9. Gas line problems. Gas lines may leak and have to be shut off till repairs are made.
  10. Earthquake. Portland is in an earthquake zone. This can be a major cause of long-term power outages.

For more on how a backup generator can benefit you and your family when the power’s down, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We serve the greater 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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay”

Storm Preparation for Spring: What You Need to Know

Storm Preparation for Spring: What You Need to KnowAlthough Portland is blessed with relatively mild weather, residents shouldn’t necessarily be complacent. In springtime, we can still get some winter blasts, as well as some strong rain that could lead to flooding.

Just to be on the safe side, why not review the following tips for storm prep this season? You’ll be ahead of the game, and ready for anything Mother Nature deals out.

Flooding

While Portland rarely sees thunderstorms and tornadoes, we can get heavy rains that could cause flooding. If you’re new to the area, or even if you’ve resided here longer and aren’t real sure about potential flooding in your neighborhood, it bears checking it out by researching government websites to discover flood-prone areas. In times of heavy rain, some residents should also be on the lookout for mudslides.

If a thunderstorm is approaching, avoid going out of doors as long as you can hear thunder. If you hear thunder, you’re within striking distance of lightning. Also, unplug your major electric appliances, including the air conditioner, to avoid damage in a power surge.

If you suspect your home is subject to flooding, have a plan for evacuation in times of heavy rainfall . Keep the car gassed, and some survival supplies on hand. Make sure you have flood insurance — your regular insurance will not cover flooding from natural causes — well in advance of any storm.

Also, if you live in a flood-prone area, make sure that your air conditioner compressor is located in an elevated area, as much as possible, to avoid damage from high waters.

Power outages

It’s always possible the power could go off from high winds, ice on power lines or lightning strikes, so be prepared. Have at least a three-day supply of food, water, pet food and essential medicines on hand. Keep blankets and warm clothing handy, as well as a good supply of batteries and a battery-powered lantern, flashlight and weather radio. A backup generator will allow you to have the minimum electrical conveniences needed to stay comfortable and safe.

To learn more about storm prep, contact us at Roth Heading and Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical. We’ve served Portland and the surrounding 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).

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