Category Archives: HVAC Equipment

3 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your HVAC System

3 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your HVAC SystemWhile Portland might not have the most challenging climate, you can still run up high heating and cooling bills if you don’t plan ahead. With a few simple steps, though, you can help your HVAC system perform more effectively and efficiently.

Invest in an Energy Audit

Your furnace and air conditioner will have a hard time keeping you comfortable if all the warmth or cooling they provide is quickly lost through your walls and ceilings. Areas with insufficient insulation and air leaks around the windows, doors, utility line penetrations, and other areas waste energy, forcing your system to work harder and use more energy to maintain the temperatures you want.

During an energy audit, your technician will bring in equipment to zero in on points of energy loss so you’ll know where to invest in improvements. For example, using an infrared camera, your technician may discover you’re losing energy through the roof. You’ll then know to air seal the attic and add more insulation.

Keep up on Maintenance

During just one season, your furnace or air condition sustain minor wear and tear issues that have a major effect on their efficiency. Loose wires and corroded contacts increase electrical resistance, dust on the indoor evaporator coil makes it harder for the coil to cool passing air, and incorrect motor voltage and amp draw can cause excessive energy use.

As part of an annual maintenance inspection, your technician will find and correct problems like these to keep your HVAC system at maximum efficiency and prevent sudden breakdowns.

Upgrade Your System

If your furnace or air conditioner is more than 10 years old, it’s nearing the end of its life expectancy. With each passing year, HVAC equipment drops in efficiency and newly manufactured models are more efficient that older models were even when they were new. Upgrading to new, Energy Star-qualified models could cut your heating and cooling bills by up to 20 percent, assuming the system is correctly sized and installed.

To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted 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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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).

HVAC Comfort Solutions to Be Thankful For

HVAC Comfort Solutions to Be Thankful ForIf you’re planning to replace your aging HVAC equipment soon, you should take the time and learn about the latest efficiency and home comfort solutions. When you’re aware of different options like the following, you can choose equipment with features that provide the greatest return on your investment.

Variable-Speed Air Handlers

These air handlers have electronically commutated blower fan motors that can adjust their speed to match the changing comfort needs in a home. They also operate on the lowest speed possible, and cycle for longer periods. As a result, a variable-speed blower uses less energy and provides better temperature and humidity control, and enhanced air filtration.

Zoning Systems

Zoning the HVAC system can boost efficiency and comfort, especially in a two-story or larger home. An experienced HVAC pro installs powered dampers in the ducts and a programmable thermostat to set up separate heating and cooling zones. One central panel is installed where you can control comfort and energy use in all the zones.

Fan-Only Switch

With this feature on the HVAC system, you can use just the blower for air circulation at those times of year when cooling and heating aren’t needed.

Whole-House Dehumidifiers

These units can keep excess moisture under control, so your home doesn’t feel as hot and sticky and you’re more comfortable. When humidity is dealt with, your A/C or heat pump doesn’t have work as hard, so it uses less energy. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy better air quality and fewer issues with allergens and mold.

Automatic Fan Delay

A blower fan with automatic delay stays running temporarily at the end of each HVAC equipment cycle. This ensures that all of your conditioned air gets pushed out of the ducts, instead of being wasted.

Variable-Speed Compressors

These compressors are built using inverter technology so they’re able to adjust their speed incrementally to utilize the system capacity needed at any given time. This reduces energy consumption and equipment wear, but you’ll experience no loss of comfort.

To learn more about these and other home comfort solutions, contact the Portland HVAC experts 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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How to Save Energy by Using All Parts of the HVAC System

How to Save Energy by Using All Parts of the HVAC SystemSaving energy in your home is good for the environment, and it’s also good for your comfort, HVAC efficiency, and energy budget when done correctly. That means saving energy by using all the parts of your HVAC system. Even better, you can use these free or low-cost tips to maximize energy savings!

Your HVAC System and Energy Savings

  • Thermostat: Fiddling with the thermostat to find the right temperature just gets frustrating after a while. That’s also not a very good plan for saving energy. You’re better off upgrading to a programmable thermostat so that you can program comfort temperatures and energy-saving set-back/up periods when you’re asleep or away.
  • Temperature settings: The key to saving energy with temperature settings is consistency. Choose a temperature that’s comfortable to you, such as 78 degrees for cool mode and 68 degrees for heat mode. Turn up/down the temperature 5–12 degrees at night and when no one is home. Additionally, use your ceiling fans to help stay cool and save even more energy.
  • Air filter: Check your air filter on a regular basis, and change it when it gets dirty. You’ll save energy, reduce wear on your HVAC system, and help improve your indoor air quality.
  • Ductwork: You won’t be very comfortable or save much energy if your ducts have problems. Check your ducts for damage, disconnected seams, tangled flex ducts, and holes. Mastic paste and metal tape are excellent for sealing leaky ducts. Crushed duct sections should be replaced.
  • Vents and grilles: Clean the vents and grilles each month or two. Remove a few of the vents and look inside the ducts. Are they dirty? Ask your HVAC contractor about the health and efficiency benefits of a professional duct cleaning.
  • Clean the coils: Your evaporator and condenser coils can’t exchange heat efficiently if they’re caked with dirt and grime. Use a can of coil cleaner to clean the coils and fins, and you’ll boost cooling and heating efficiency.

If you need assistance with any of these steps for maximizing HVAC energy savings in your Portland-area home, contact 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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Back-to-School HVAC Tips

Back-to-School HVAC TipsWith the turning of the year in Portland, it’s a good time to make sure that your home will be cozy through the Pacific Northwest’s rainy winter. Now is the time to check over your home HVAC system and make sure that everything is in tip-top shape for the winter months ahead. Here are some of the tasks that should be on your to-do list:

  • Schedule seasonal maintenance. Before you switch your furnace on for the first time, have an HVAC technician come out and have a look at it. Seasonal maintenance can ensure that your system works at its peak efficiency throughout the heating season, and it can also help to detect and head off any potential larger issues.
  • Clean the coils of your air conditioner or heat pump. The indoor an outdoor coils of your A/C or heat pump transfer heat energy from (or into) your home. If they’re dusty, they can’t do so as efficiently, which means that you’ll spend more money on the same amount of cooling or heating.
  • Seal air leaks in your ductwork. Air leaks and insufficient insulation in home air ducts accounts for a 30 percent energy loss in many homes: conditioned air simply never reaches the living areas it’s intended for. Save money and energy by sealing any leaks, and making sure ducts are adequately insulated.
  • Change the air filters for your HVAC system. Clean air filters allow air to flow freely through your system, while clogged filters slow airflow and put strain on your system’s fan motor. That strain can lead to total system failure.
  • Invest in a dehumidifier. High humidity can encourage the growth of mold, mildew, bacteria, and fungus, which can threaten your health and the health of your home. A dehumidifier will help you manage indoor moisture through the rainy months.

If you want to know how you can prepare your home HVAC system for the winter ahead, give us a call 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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Repair or Replace: Consider These Questions

Repair or Replace: Consider These QuestionsSometimes there isn’t a clear cut way to decide whether to repair or replace your current HVAC system. Its age, condition, repair costs, and the degree to which you’re satisfied with the comfort it provides are all part of the final decision.

How old is it?

Most HVAC systems last between 15–20 years. If you’ve kept yours in good condition through routine professional maintenance and filter changes, it may outperform a system that’s been neglected.

How many repairs has it needed?

At some point, keeping an older HVAC system running can start to cost you in parts and labor than it’s worth. It’s hard to estimate what an older system is worth, but when repair bills start to mount each season, it may be time to replace it.

Does it keep you comfortable?

If you have rooms that aren’t as comfortable as they once were, or the system doesn’t provide the comfort you want during extreme weather, you may need a new system.

What are the energy bills like?

Rising energy bills that aren’t weather or based on increasing energy costs often indicate a system that’s nearing the end of its useful life. As HVAC systems age, they tend to use more energy.

Do you have energy usage concerns?

Energy efficiency standards have increased over the last few decades. For some, the issue of repair or replace isn’t as much a consideration as unnecessary energy waste is. New equipment not only offers better efficiency and more options that reduce energy usage and increase overall home comfort.

Does it use R-22?

The cost of R-22 or Freon will continue to rise and by 2020, the only supplies available will be from reclaimed sources. The U.S. EPA-mandated dwindling supply of Freon and R-22 has already increased its price substantially, and it will continue to cost more to replace the refrigerant if your system uses this type.

The answers to the questions about whether to repair or replace may not always be straight-forward. If you’d like more information, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing top-notch 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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

HVAC 101: Know These Cooling Season Terms

HVAC 101: Know These Cooling Season Terms | RothWhen you are trying to communicate with a service professional, whether your auto mechanic or HVAC technician, it can be confusing if you get lost in trade jargon. If you’re in need of HVAC service, repair or possible installation of a new cooling system, keep these HVAC terms in mind to help you make decisions that best serve your needs.

Air Handler

The indoor part of a split-system air conditioner or heat pump is the air handler. The air handler pulls airflow through return ducts, cools the airflow and then pushes the cooled air back to your home via supply ducts.

Compressor

The compressor is the component that prepares refrigerant to release the heat that was collected from your home. Older compressors are generally piston types that tend to be noisier and less efficient than modern scroll compressors.

Energy Star

The federal Energy Star program was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). HVAC systems must meet stringent guidelines for energy efficiency and offer advanced features compared to conventional systems to brandish the Energy Star logo.

Evaporator and Condenser Coils

Your central air system contains two coils. The coil that absorbs heat energy from your home is the evaporator. The condenser coil releases the heat energy to the air outside your home.

HVAC

HVAC is an acronym for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. So, when you or your HVAC professional speak of your Portland home’s HVAC system, you may be discussing a central A/C system, a heat pump, a furnace, ductwork, a heat-recovery ventilator or add-on systems, such as a zoning system or a whole-home dehumidifier.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is an energy-efficiency rating for A/Cs and heat pumps. SEER numbers of cooling systems are determined by factoring cooling output to energy input during the course of the cooling months. The higher the SEER number, the greater cooling efficiency a system provides.

Don’t be confused by HVAC terms and jargon. Work with a Portland HVAC contractor that truly cares about customer service. Contact the experts at Roth Heating & Cooling today to learn more.

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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Storm Season Preparation: Important Tips

Storm Season Preparation: Important TipsThe Portland area’s spring rain and snowmelt can lead to flooding, power outages, and other potential dangers. With a little spring storm preparation, though, you can keep your home and family safe until the weather clears.

Collect Emergency Supplies

Invest in a NOAA Weather Radio so you can receive current information on dangerous weather conditions even when other radio stations aren’t broadcasting. This is also helpful during winter wind and snow storms.

As part of your spring storm preparation, create an emergency kit. Include a battery-powered or hand crank radio, a first-aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, a multipurpose tool and blankets. Ideally, the kit should include enough nonperishable food and water for three days.

Prepare Your Home

Check around your home for damaged and weak tree branches that could come crashing down in the wind and rain. Cut them down or hire a pro to remove them.

Test your basement sump pump by pouring in a bucket of water. The pump should start up, drain the water and shut off. If it doesn’t, check for a stuck float. If you don’t have a sump pump, now is a good time to install one.

Inspect your foundation for cracks that could cause water leaks. Seal small cracks with a vinyl concrete patcher. Have cracks wider than 1/4 inch inspected and repaired by a professional.

Clean any winter debris out of your gutters and downspouts. Check your roof for damage that may have occurred during the winter. Replace damaged or missing shingles or tiles to prevent spring rain from leaking into your attic.

Review your home insurance policy to make sure it covers flooding and storm damage. Keep a copy of your policy where it’s protected from damage, such as a fire-rated safe.

During periods of heavy rain, turn off your furnace or air conditioner to protect it from electrical surges. You may also want to cover the A/C’s or heat pump’s outdoor condenser with a tarp secured with bungee cords.

For help with spring storm preparation, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling 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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Don’t Forget About Your HVAC System During Spring Cleaning

Don't Forget About Your HVAC System During Spring CleaningAs mild as Portland’s summers are, your air conditioner still has a lot of work to do to keep you cool. A thorough HVAC spring cleaning before the summer heat moves in will help your system cool reliably and efficiently.

Brush Off the Dust

Inspect your air filter and if you see a buildup of dust, put in a new filter. A dirty filter limits airflow, reducing your system’s energy efficiency. If you suffer from spring allergies, consider upgrading to a MERV 11 or 12 pleated filter, which will trap dust and pollen more effectively than thin fiberglass filters.

Remove your supply air registers and return air grilles by unscrewing them. Place them in a mild solution of dish soap to soak. Use your vacuum’s hose attachment to clean out dust and debris from the ducts behind the registers and vents. Wipe the registers and grilles down with a rag and replace them when dry.

Clean your outdoor unit by first using a stiff brush to remove dirt and debris such as leaves and grass clippings. Then get out your wet-vac and fit the brush attachment onto the hose. Use this to remove the remaining dirt from the fins.

Call in a Pro

Some of the most important parts of HVAC spring cleaning involve components only a professional can access. Every year, schedule a professional air conditioner inspection before the cooling season beings.

Your technician will clean the motor and blower fan, test the motor’s voltage and amp draw, clean the evaporator coil, inspect the coil for leaks, test the refrigerant charge, take care of any loose or corroded wires or electrical connections, clear the drain line, and perform many other tasks. All these steps keep your air conditioner running at top efficiency and help the components reach their maximum lifespan. A professional cleaning also prevents annoyances such as an overflowing drain pan and ice on your outdoor coil, which can develop into bigger problems.

For pro help with your HVAC spring cleaning, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling anywhere 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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