Category Archives: Air Conditioning

Condensation On My Air Conditioner Unit: Should I Be Worried?

Condensation On My Air Conditioner Unit: Should I Be Worried?When something is wrong with your air conditioner, it will let you know in a number of different ways. Maybe you have a gut feeling your energy bills are too high, and you certainly know when your home is uncomfortable. Another sign your air conditioner is failing is condensation collecting on and/or around it. Switch the thermostat and your panic buttons off, and keep reading before you make your next call.

What Harm is a Little Water?

Water condensation on your air conditioner’s evaporator coil is normal. However, as you’ve realized, water leaking from your air conditioner onto your floor is not acceptable. Depending on where your indoor A/C unit is located, condensate leaks may cause damage to your ceiling, walls, flooring and/or other building materials and property.

What to Do?

In order to know what to do about a leaky A/C, it’s helpful to know how condensation forms and the most common reasons why it’s leaking. Condensation forms as a result of water vapor in warm airflow being pulled across the cold evaporator coil. Under normal conditions, the condensate drips into a pan, flows down the drain and through a tube away from your home. End of story — unless your A/C unit is experiencing these problems:

  • A blockage in the drain tube is causing an overflow. Your HVAC technician uses either a powerful blower or heavy-duty vacuum to push or pull the blockage through. Then, the line is chemically treated.
  • The float switch has malfunctioned. Some air conditioners have a float switch that turns off the unit when water fills the drip pan too high. If your A/C is equipped with such a device, but it’s not working, it needs to be repaired or replaced.
  • The drip pan has rusted through or it has broken. Your technician can simply replace the drip pan.

Ask your HVAC technician or plumber if your A/C has a float switch. If not, you’d be wise to have one installed in the drain trap. For assistance repairing air conditioner condensation problems in your Portland home, please contact the professionals 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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Why Shouldn’t You Shut Rooms to Save Energy?

Why Shouldn't You Shut Rooms to Save Energy?When you’re looking for effective ways to reduce your household utility bills, don’t get taken in by the myth that shutting the air vents in unused rooms saves energy. The truth is, shutting a room won’t lower your energy consumption, and it can cause some serious issues in your home such as:

  • A decline in air output. When some vents are closed, airflow gets restricted in the ducts and pressure increases in the HVAC system. If you have a standard blower with one speed, the fan slows down as the pressure rises, so conditioned air output drops at the open registers.
  • Possible compressor failure. When system airflow slows down, ice will start to build up on the cooling coil of your A/C or heat pump. Coil icing can cause the compressor to overheat and eventually fail, which means you’ll have to replace your HVAC system’s most costly component.
  • More duct leakage. Higher system pressure and airflow restrictions can make any unsealed ductwork leaks worse and even create new ones. The loss of conditioned air makes it harder to maintain comfort and increases your energy costs
  • Lost energy savings. If you upgraded to a system with a variable-speed air handler, its electronically computated motor speeds up in response to a system pressure increase. Since it’s using more energy, you lose the savings you’d expect to gain with variable-speed equipment.
  • Heightened safety risks. The higher pressure that results from closing some air vents when you’re operating the furnace can cause damage to the heat exchanger, which increases your risk of exposure to lethal carbon monoxide.

Zoning: A Better Energy-Saving Alternative

Having your HVAC professional install a zoning system is a better way to control your energy use in different areas of your home. Independent heating and cooling zones are created with motorized dampers in the ductwork and dedicated programmable thermostats. The equipment is then connected to one central panel where you program in your desired comfort settings for the entire house.

Contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling to learn about better energy-saving alternatives to shutting a room in your Portland home.

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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How to Solve Common A/C Condensate Drain Issues

How to Solve Common A/C Condensate Drain IssuesAs part of its function, your air conditioner provides a measure of dehumidification while also cooling your living spaces. The water from this dehumidification process is usually removed through the system’s condensate drain. When this drain develops problems, however, it can result in several different types of moisture-related issues.

Condensate Drain Problems

  • Clogs and blockages: The environment inside a condensate drain is consistently moist and moderate in temperature, which creates a perfect place for mold and algae to grow and create partial or total blockages of the drain.
  • Leaks and overflows: Blocked drains can cause water to overflow and drip into your walls, onto flooring and carpets, and into areas where it can cause unseen damage. The amount of water involved may not be substantial, but the damage can still be very real and very annoying.
  • Odors: Unpleasant odors can sometimes come from the condensate drain, especially if it dries out and loses the layer of water that blocks odors from deeper in the drain line.

Solutions to Condensate Drain Problems

  • Pressure cleaning: Pressure can be used to blast away clogs inside a condensate drain. A wet-dry vacuum hose can usually produce enough pressure to remove most blockages.
  • Physical cleaning: Physical force from a piece of wire or other object may be needed to literally break apart a drain line clog. Simply inserting the wire inside the drain and moving it around should be sufficient to break up common clogs.
  • Professional cleaning: If the clogs are sufficiently extensive, you may need help from your local plumbing professional to clear the drain line. Your plumber will have the right equipment for getting rid of stubborn blockages.
  • Algaecide: It may be necessary to apply an algaecide or other inhibitor to your drain line to reduce algae and mold growth. Ask your plumber if this would be a good idea in your situation.

Roth Heating and Cooling has served Portland, Hillsboro, Canby, and the neighboring Oregon communities for nearly 40 years. Contact us today for more information on what to do when you have condensate drain problems in your air conditioning system.

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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Understanding Ratings for Air Conditioners

Understanding Ratings for Air ConditionersYour central air conditioning system contains some of the most costly equipment you’ll buy for your home, and with a service life of 10 to 15 years or more, it’s a long-term investment. If you’re considering replacing your older equipment, it makes good sense to compare different models within your budget to help you make the wisest choice.

Why Comparing Air Conditioner Ratings Matters

It takes a lot of energy to run an air conditioner during a typical cooling season, so the equipment’s efficiency has a big impact on how much you spend to keep your home comfortable. This makes it vital to understand how equipment efficiency is measured. Every new A/C has an EnergyGuide label that’s in place to help consumers compare energy usage and features when they’re shopping for new equipment. One of the key pieces of information you’ll find on an air conditioner label is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER.

What is the SEER Rating and What Does it Tell You?

An air conditioner’s SEER rating is assigned by the U.S. Department of Energy. This numerical rating measures the efficiency of the equipment over a single cooling season, and a higher number indicates greater efficiency. Essentially, SEER tells you the equipment’s total cooling output in British thermal units (Btu) compared to its total energy consumption in watt-hours. Air conditioners on the market today are more efficient than ever before with ratings ranging between SEER 14 and 26.

The Other Air Conditioner Rating: EER

Another A/C rating that you’ll find mentioned in Energy Star specifications is the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). This rating is a snapshot of the efficiency of an air conditioner operating at peak conditions with an outdoor temperature of 95 degrees, an indoor temperature of 80 degrees, and 50 percent humidity. More efficient equipment will have a higher EER.

Both of these ratings are valuable when you’re comparing air conditioners, because they tell you how efficient the equipment is in different operating situations.

To learn more about air conditioner ratings when choosing new equipment for your Portland 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).

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Can Two-Stage Cooling Benefit Your Home?

Can Two-Stage Cooling Benefit Your Home?An innovative upgrade for central cooling systems that works well in our region is two-stage cooling. Such a system contains technology that tells the compressor how fast to run based on the amount of cooling needed. Most of the time it will run at its slower speed. A single-stage system only runs at high speed, which creates some issues with energy consumption, indoor comfort, and the long term performance of the equipment.

Energy Savings

The compressor for an air conditioner changes the pressure of the refrigerant that removes the heat from the air. It’s the hardest working, moving part inside cooling systems and it works more efficiently when it can run more slowly for a longer period.

The compressor consumes the most electricity when it first starts up, which is also when most of the wear occurs. A system that runs for longer periods in slower cycles doesn’t start and stop frequently, and consequently lasts longer and uses less electricity.

Increased Comfort

Since the air handler for a two-stage cooling system continues to move air until the compressor shuts off, rooms further from the air handler receive more cooled air, helping them reach and maintain cooler temperatures. Increased running time also improves the air quality, since more air goes through the air filter. Two-stage systems run more quietly inside and out, an important consideration if the air handler or condenser sits close to bedroom or living areas.

Two-stage systems remove excess humidity, an important benefit of air conditioning. Not only does excess humidity make you feel warmer, it can harm your home and your health. A system that runs slower for longer periods will have time to condense more water vapor without having to turn the temperature down as you would with a single-speed system. Lower humidity levels in the summer improve air quality by reducing the dust mite population and lowering mold growth.

Although a two-stage cooling system will cost more initially, it will pay for itself in energy savings and greater indoor comfort. 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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Your Attic: Is it an Energy and Money Waster?

Your Attic: Is it an Energy and Money Waster?Not all attic spaces are created equal. Some may be furnished and livable, while others may be little more than crawl spaces for ductwork to pass through. But regardless of how your attic is used, its position at the top of your house makes it an important part of your home’s thermal envelope — and means that, if it’s not handled correctly, it could be costing you energy and money.

During the hot months, attic spaces are warmed by the sunlight hitting the roof. If the attic has poor ventilation, it may warm up to a temperature significantly higher than the outdoor air, and that heat can then radiate downward into your home, causing your air conditioner to work harder to compensate. In the cooler months, though, warm air rising into attic spaces is lost to your living areas — and may escape from your home altogether, causing your furnace to work harder to make up for it. Both of these mean that you end up spending more money on your heating and cooling.

There are several ways to combat this energy loss. One is to seal any air leaks in your attic space, and insulate it thoroughly. Air leaks allow conditioned air to escape your home, while insufficient insulation allows heat energy to move into or out of your home without needing to be carried by air currents. In Portland, it’s recommended that you insulate attic spaces to between R38 and R60. Be sure to have your attic inspected — especially if it’s a crawl space attic or an attic in an older home, it may have developed new air leaks or other concerns as your house has aged and settled.

Another approach is to add ventilation to your attic space. Ventilation can exhaust hot, stale air and bring in fresh, cooler air, reducing the threat of radiant heat.

To learn more about how you can keep your attic space from costing you money, call 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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How to Troubleshoot Your A/C

How to Troubleshoot Your A/CHomeowners who are conscientious about getting spring HVAC maintenance done every year probably have little to fear when it comes to breakdowns over the cooling season. That said, it’s not impossible for parts on even the best-maintained A/C to wear or even malfunction over the course of the summer, so you don’t want to ignore potential problems.

There are ways to troubleshoot noises and erratic performance issues so you’ll know whether to address the problem yourself or call a pro. Here’s some advice on how to do just that.

What’s That Noise?

Here’s hoping your A/C operates quietly so that you’re never alarmed by any sudden noises, because new noises may indicate a change in how your equipment performs. Here are some of the most typical noises:

  • Booming from the ducts — Most often, this is caused by ductwork expanding or contracting as the air rushes through. It’s usually not serious, but it can be annoying. However, the fix may require a different size or type of ducts, or perhaps installing insulation around them.
  • Rattling from the inside cabinet — Something’s loose, somewhere. It’ll probably take a technician to find what it is.
  • Banging from the inside cabinet — A part on the blower may have come loose.
  • Rattling from the outdoor compressor — Not a good sign. It could be the compressor is failing. Turn off the unit and call for help.

A/C Not Cooling

This is one of the most common complaints, and could involve a simple fix, such as changing the air filter or cleaning the evaporator coils, or calling the pro to recharge the refrigerant. But it could also be a failing compressor. If the outdoor compressor stops working, turn off the air conditioner and call for help.

Fan Not Working

Before calling for help, make sure the power to the A/C is on. Check the controls and the breaker. Make sure that the thermostat setting is lower than the outside air, or the A/C won’t turn on.

For more tips on air conditioner troubleshooting, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We serve Portland and the surrounding 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).

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How to Keep Your Air Conditioner From Freezing

How to Keep Your Air Conditioner From FreezingWe all count on our HVAC system to keep us cool during the heat of the summer. There’s nothing more disappointing than realizing that the A/C we count on has frozen up.

A frozen air conditioner is a symptom of a couple of different problems. The most common cause is an air flow block, often caused by a dirty filter.

When your air conditioner is working as it should, air flows over the evaporator coils and dries up whatever moisture has collected there from the difference in the coolant-chilled components and the warmer surrounding air. When something keeps the air from flowing fast enough, that condensation collects and freezes.

Luckily, there’s a simple way to figure out if your frozen air conditioner was caused by a dirty air filter. As a bonus, you’ll be fixing the problem at the same time. Just follow these simple steps:

  • Completely shut your A/C off. It will begin to defrost once it’s no longer pumping refrigerant through the lines.
  • Clean or replace your air filter.
  • Leave the A/C off but run the fan. Give it at least 60-90 minutes before you try the A/C again.

Once everything has defrosted, keep an eye on the system to make sure it doesn’t freeze up again. In many cases, changing the filter will solve the problem. Just remember to keep replacing or cleaning your filter every 30–90 days to keep your A/C from freezing up again.

If your frozen air conditioner wasn’t solved by changing the filter, you may have a bigger issue: a refrigerant leak. To locate a leak, you’ll have to call a service technician. Once the technician has located the leak, there are two possible outcomes:

  1. If your HVAC system is reasonably new and otherwise in good shape, the leak can be fixed and the refrigerant topped off.
  2. If your system is older and/or has other problems in addition to the leak, you may need to look into replacing it.

For more expert HVAC tips on preventing a frozen air conditioner and more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’re proud to serve 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).

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Air Conditioner Leaking? Advice to Stay Cool

Air Conditioner Leaking? Advice to Stay CoolWhen you have a water leak in your home, you may be expecting a problem with water pipes that can be handled by your local plumber. If, on the other hand, your air conditioner is leaking water, you may not be so certain which steps to take to resolve the issue, or even know how serious a leaking air conditioner can be.

In fact, water leaks caused by your air conditioner should be handled quickly to stay cool and dry and to prevent water damage to your home. Read on to learn if you can handle repairing a leaking air conditioner yourself or if you should call in an HVAC service provider.

Air Conditioners and Condensation

There are a few different reasons your air conditioner may be leaking water. Though, the water comes from only one source — condensation forming on the cold evaporator coil.

As warm return airflow is pulled across the evaporator coil, water vapor in the air stream condenses on the evaporator’s surface — much the same as water droplets forming on a cold glass of water on a warm summer day. The water condensation is completely normal in an air conditioning system, but water leaks are not.

Remedying Air Conditioner Leaks

Under normal air conditioner operation, the condensation that forms on the evaporator drips into a condensate pan. Gravity pulls the water into a drain tube and empties into your home’s plumbing or it’s conveyed outside your home. If your air conditioner is leaking, it’s likely due to one of the following issues:

  • The condensate pan overflows due to a blockage, such as debris and mold growth.
  • A faulty float switch fails to turn off the air conditioner.
  • The leak may be due to a rusted or cracked condensate pan.

You can clear a clogged drain line using a wet/dry vacuum to pull the blockage through the line. Broken float switches and pans should be inspected and replaced by an HVAC professional.

If you have a leaking air conditioner, stay calm, cool and dry by contacting Roth Heating & Cooling for the best HVAC services 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).

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Air Conditioner Shopping? Consider These Tips

Air Conditioner Shopping? Consider These TipsIt doesn’t make sense to take shortcuts when shopping for a new air conditioner. This is a major system for your home, and an error in selecting an A/C could have long-term consequences in both comfort and energy costs. Consider the following information when choosing a new A/C:

Your options — Your choices will include one or more room air conditioners, a package system, or the most common option, a split-system A/C or heat pump (which has the advantage of providing both cooling and heating). To cool an entire a home, your best bet is a split-system A/C or heat pump. Choose an established brand with a reputation for quality and durability. Discuss your options with a trustworthy HVAC contractor, though online research is always a good idea, too.

Cooling efficiency — The amount of cooling produced (or more accurately, heat removed) for the energy that’s input into an A/C is measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). Higher SEER numbers denote higher efficiency, meaning lower energy bills. However, that higher efficiency comes with a higher price. Discuss with your HVAC contractor whether our relatively cool Northwestern summers justify paying for a higher-efficiency model.

Paying for maintenance — Annual maintenance is essential if you want your new air conditioner to provide efficient and effective cooling, avoid frequent repairs, and operate for its full expected service life. An effective maintenance contract is a good way to ensure that regular maintenance gets done.

Sizing — Your contractor should commit to taking the time and effort to determine the cooling load of your home, as a preliminary to recommending a certain capacity air conditioner. An A/C that’s too big or too small will end up wasting energy and breaking down more often, while not cooling as evenly as one that’s properly sized.

Advanced features — Your A/C or heat pump will cool more efficiently if it’s equipped with a variable-speed air handler, thermal expansion valve, and multi-stage compressor. Discuss your options with a qualified HVAC contractor.

For help choosing a new air conditioner, for your Portland area home, please 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).

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