Category Archives: Ductwork

How Should You Use a Ductless, Mini-Split System?

How Should You Use a Ductless, Mini-Split System?Ductless mini-splits have been enjoying slow growth in popularity in this country, as more homeowners discover the benefits of using these systems to heat or cool. Here’s a brief explanation as to how they work, and what the best uses of mini-split systems might be.

How Mini-Splits Work

Ductless mini-splits are, as the name implies, a mode of heating and cooling that doesn’t use ducts. They are in fact a type of heat pump, with an outdoor condenser and an indoor air handler. The parts are connected by a conduit that contains the refrigerant and electrical line. Refrigerant is pumped into the home where it absorbs heat, and then is pumped out again and exhausted to cool the home. The process is reversed to heat the home.

Heat pumps are generally not recommended for extreme climates, particularly places where winter temperatures fall consistently below 32 degrees F. Often an auxiliary form of heating is needed during freezing weather — such as a gas furnace or heating strips, the latter of which can be expensive to run.

When to Use a Mini-Split System

Homeowners typically install mini-splits to heat or cool a part of the home that is too cold or too hot. Or, they might be used in an add-on, or when a garage, attic or basement space is finished out. Such spaces may represent challenges when it comes to running existing ductwork to them: it may be too expensive or too complicated.

Ductless mini-splits offer clean technology, without combustion, since they run on electricity. They are also considered efficient, quieter and less intrusive when they turn on than a central HVAC system.

They are also versatile as far as mounting options. The air handlers may be mounted on the ceiling, wall or floor, or be left freestanding. Since the air handlers are compact, they can be placed in a location where they are out of the way.

The main drawback of mini-splits is they are considered somewhat expensive, in terms of purchase and installation.

To learn more about mini-split systems, contact Roth Heating and Cooling of Portland.

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

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Signs of Ductwork That’s Getting Old

Signs of Ductwork That's Getting OldDuctwork plays an essential role in your home’s forced-air heating and cooling system, delivering conditioned air to rooms, and then routing spent air back to the HVAC equipment to be heated or cooled again. But what happens when ducts deteriorate over time? The fact is that old ductwork can severely hamper the work of your HVAC system and even lead to contaminated indoor air.

That being the case, it’s important for homeowners to recognize signs that their ductwork is old, and may need to be repaired or replaced.

Four Signs That You Have Old Ductwork

  • The first one is obvious; you know when the ducts were installed because you know when the house was built, and the same ductwork that delivered conditioned air on your home’s first day is still doing that job 25 years later (or however long).
  • You’ve looked at exposed duct sections and have noticed rust or corrosion. Or maybe old duct tape is falling away from connections, and the duct sections themselves are loose or hanging.
  • Your energy costs have been rising in recent years, and you haven’t been able to figure out why. Energy rates have been stable, and your household usage hasn’t changed. Leaky, loose ducts could be at fault.
  • The force of air emerging from vents is inconsistent from room to room. This could be because duct runs to some rooms are leaking or blocked.

Faulty ductwork will reduce energy efficiency in your home, as heated or cooled air leaks into unconditioned areas such as wall cavities, the garage, attic or crawl space. Your equipment has to work harder to make up for lost air. Backdrafting also can occur with leaky ducts; dirty or contaminated air — or even carbon monoxide from nearby exhaust vents — can get sucked into ducts via leaks, and then get distributed in your house.

The best way to ascertain whether your old ductwork should be repaired or replaced is to schedule a comprehensive inspection by a trained technician. Please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling to set up a duct inspection in your Portland area 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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Aiming and Redirecting Vents for Greater Comfort and Efficiency

Aiming and Redirecting Vents for Greater Comfort and Efficiency | RothIf you have a central air conditioner, then your home comfort relies on well-designed ducts — and well-managed air vents. While these unobtrusive fixtures may not seem like much, they actually play a big part in managing your indoor airflow. Here’s what you need to know about opening, closing, and redirecting vents in your Portland, Oregon, home:

  • Your A/C and furnace probably share the same vents. This can be tricky: remember, cool air sinks, while warm air rises. Vents near your baseboards will be more efficient at warming your home during the winter, while vents higher on the wall or ceiling will be more effective at cooling your home through the summer. You can use a ceiling fan to gently draw air upwards or push it downwards to manage your indoor temperature better.
  • You can close or block off vents to rooms you don’t want to cool or heat — but use this sparingly. Vents often come with their own shutters which can be closed, or you can purchase a set of magnetic covers to form a more airtight seal. This prevents conditioned air from entering rooms you don’t want cooled. But watch out: those unless you seal the return air vents, those rooms will still deliver warm air to your A/C, which can raise your cooling costs. And sealing off too many rooms changes the air pressure through your entire duct system, meaning more wear and tear on your fan motor and duct seams.
  • You’re not stuck with the vents you have. The small grates have some angled fluting which looks like it’s used to direct airflow, but the impact from those small angled pieces is actually minimal. Replacing the vent covers with decorative vent covers can be an inexpensive way to beautify your home environment.

If you have questions about the airflow in your home, about redirecting vents, or about managing your home comfort, don’t hesitate to call us up 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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Shh! Silence Those Noisy Air Vents

Shh! Silence Those Noisy Air VentsWhen you’re trying to sleep, the last thing you want is to be kept up by noisy air vents. While all HVAC systems make some noise, you should be hearing the sound of the fan or motor. If you’re hearing an aggravating whine instead, you may have an issue with your air vents.

Many noisy air vent problems can be solved by the homeowner. First, think about whether the noise you’re hearing is new. If it’s been ongoing since you got the HVAC system, you may have too small ducts. If that’s the case, you’ll need an HVAC professional to assess the situation and give you solutions.

On the other hand, if your noisy air ducts are a new development, you may have a simple problem you can solve. Even if it’s a continuing problem, it’s worth your time to try to troubleshoot the problem yourself before you call in the experts.

Noisy Air Duct Troubleshooting List:

  1. Check your filter in your return vent. If your filter is dirty, it can block air flow and create noise. If it’s not properly seated in the opening, it can leave gaps that air whistles through.
  2. Make sure all your supply vents are open. Closing off the supply vents that release air into your living spaces doesn’t really save energy. While it does put out less air into your home, disturbs the balance between air going into the system and air coming out. As a result, you have a less efficient system and sometimes a noisier one as well.
  3. Inspect your vents for little objects that may have fallen in and caused an obstruction. This is less likely if all your vents are overhead, but floor and baseboard vents are notorious for getting small objects trapped in them.
  4. Remove any furniture or other objects that might be blocking air flow to your vents.

If you’re still hearing noisy vents after trying these solutions, it’s time to call in a professional.

For more tips on how to deal with noisy air vents or other HVAC issues in the Portland area, contact 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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Best Practices of HVAC Ductwork Design

Best Practices of HVAC Ductwork DesignThe condition of the ducting that delivers your heated and cooled air has a direct impact on how well your HVAC system performs, as well as your energy consumption and comfort. Whether you’re planning to purchase new equipment, or you need to upgrade the existing duct system, make sure your HVAC contractor follows these ductwork design best practices.

Correct Placement

Whenever possible, ducting should be placed inside the home’s conditioned envelope in walls, ceilings or floors to avoid exposure to extreme temperatures that erode energy efficiency. If it’s necessary to install ducts outside the envelope in an unfinished basement, attic or garage, they should be wrapped in R-8 insulation to minimize energy losses.

Proper Sizing and Layout

To come up with an efficient ductwork design, an HVAC professional first determines the heating/cooling load by performing room-by-room calculations using Manual J from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). Then, the equipment is selected using Manual S, and the ducts sized and the layout designed using Manual D.

Good Materials

In the past, it was a common practice to use wall cavities and ceiling joist channels as makeshift ducts. Routing conditioned air through these areas is not only inefficient, it gives pollutants and contaminants an easy way to enter the home’s air supply. Today, ducts must be made of sheet metal, fiberglass or an approved flexible material.

Balanced Airflow

Neutral air pressure needs to be maintained within the home for the HVAC system to run properly and efficiently. To achieve this balanced airflow, the correct number of supply and return registers must be properly placed to deliver and return the same volume of air in each room.

Sealing, Testing, and Insulating

Duct leaks and a lack of insulation can cause air quality issues and waste up to a third of the HVAC equipment’s output. To avoid this, duct sections should be attached with screws, and joints and seams sealed with fiberglass mesh and mastic. The contractor should then test for duct tightness and wrap the runs in R-8 insulation.

If poor ductwork design is a concern in your Portland home, contact Roth Heating & Cooling for expert help.

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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Tight Ducts are Important for Keeping Heat Inside Your Home Where it Belongs

Tight Ducts are Important for Keeping Heat Inside Your Home Where it BelongsYou can have the highest-quality furnace or A/C in the world but if your home’s ductwork is defective, you’ll still waste money on energy and not be as comfortable as you’d like. Your indoor air quality might suffer as well. Find out why tight ducts are so essential to effective heating and cooling.

The Importance of Tight Ducts

Most American homes have forced-air heating and cooling systems. A main HVAC system (usually a furnace, A/C or heat pump) creates warm or cool air, and a powerful fan blows that conditioned air throughout your home. It reaches its destination via a network of ducts and registers. Supply ducts take the conditioned air to your rooms, while return ducts and registers draw the air back into the equipment to be heated or cooled all over again. Of course, you want to avoid faulty ductwork, where ducts aren’t well connected to each other, to registers, or to the furnace plenum. Negative consequences of ducts that aren’t tight include:

  • Wasted energy, as conditioned air leaks out into unconditioned areas such as crawl spaces, the attic or garage, and wall voids. When this happens, your HVAC equipment must work all the harder to move air to rooms that need heating or cooling.
  • Certain rooms that never seem to be cool or warm enough, because so much conditioned air is being lost before it ever gets there. This issue is exacerbated with rooms at the end of long duct runs that are leaking air.
  • Indoor air quality that degrades as dirty air from crawl spaces and other unconditioned areas gets sucked into leaky ducts, as a result of negative air pressure. That dirty air winds up circulating throughout your home with the conditioned air.

Achieving Tight Ductwork

While you can find and seal accessible and obviously leaking ducts yourself using mastic sealant and/or metal-backed tape, your best bet is to hire a professional to inspect your ductwork, seal leaks, and apply insulation where necessary

For a professional ductwork inspection 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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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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Should You Consider Using Ductless Mini Splits in Your Home?

Should You Consider Using Ductless Mini Splits in Your Home?A ductless mini split offers a solid option for heating and cooling areas in your home that would otherwise pose challenges. Ductless systems work just like central HVAC systems, except they don’t use ductwork for air delivery. They’re one of the most energy efficient and flexible alternatives with a proven record for performance and comfort.

Mini Split Components

The two primary parts of a ductless system are the indoor air handler and the outdoor condenser. A thin conduit that contains refrigerant, power and a drainpipe connect the two. Larger mini splits can support four separate air handlers, making it possible to condition multiple rooms or spaces.

The air handler can sit on the floor or hang from a wall or ceiling. The condenser is more compact than those associated with central systems. Installers drill a small hole in an exterior wall to run the conduit that connects the condenser to the air handler.

System Advantages

Since they don’t use ductwork, mini splits are ideal appliances for conditioning spaces where running ductwork would take too much space or be costly. They’re often used in retrofitted spaces or new additions. Each air handler has its own thermostat to ensure individual comfort. If you don’t plan to use a space continuously, you can save energy by turning the system off without affecting comfort levels in the rest of the home.

Ductless systems offer greater energy efficiency because they don’t have any thermal or air losses from ductwork that central systems do. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) mandates that a ductless mini split must meet the same minimum energy efficiency requirements as central forced-air HVAC systems do.

Heating with a Mini Split

In this climate, a ductless heat pump can provide year-round comfort. Look for a HSPF (heating season performance factor) rating that exceeds the current minimum rating of 8.2. One with a scroll compressor or that uses inverter technology will provide comfortable heat even during our coldest weather.

If you’d like more information about a ductless mini split, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing Portland-area homeowners with outstanding HVAC services 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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The Importance of Getting a Pro to Seal Your Ductwork

The Importance of Getting a Pro to Seal Your DuctworkThe typical furnace or A/C blower in a residence moves over 1,000 cubic feet of air every minute. Professional duct sealing is what ensures all of that air gets where it needs to go. Leaky ductwork is a problem in most residences; in fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that aging residential ductwork leaks an average of 20 percent of the conditioned air it conveys. In many homes, that figure is much higher.

Over the years, joints between spans of duct loosen and deteriorate and ductwork materials rust and corrode. Where proper duct sealing is neglected, two things happen—both of them bad:

  • Conditioned air gets out. Heated or cooled air escapes from supply ducts under positive pressure. When supply ducts leak, you’re paying high monthly bills to heat or cool your attic, crawl space or the inside of wall voids, instead of the rooms that are supposed to be kept comfortable.
  • Tainted air gets in. Return ducts operate under negative pressure. That means leaky returns actually suck air into the system. Unfortunately, that air is drawn from unconditioned places you’d probably rather not be breathing, like the attic or inside of walls. It may be contaminated with mold spores or bacteria, or could introduce excessive humidity into living spaces.

Test, Then Seal

Since most ductwork is routed through areas inaccessible to the average homeowner, visual inspection of ducts is problematic. A qualified HVAC contractor can pressure test the ducts and calculate the extent of total leakage relative the total airflow through the system. While the ducts are pressurized, the technician can also pinpoint leaks for sealing.

Professional duct sealing involves sealing all joints with mastic and foil tape, then permanently securing the connection with metal screws. Any segments of ductwork that are collapsed or corroded beyond repair will be cut out and replaced. Where a large number of pinholes makes individual repair impractical, aerosol sealant can be injected to coat the interior of the ductwork.

Ask the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling about pressure-testing and duct sealing to restore full efficiency and performance to your HVAC system.

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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