Category Archives: HVAC Equipment

When to Call Your Technician: HVAC Problems

When to Call Your Technician: HVAC ProblemsYour home’s HVAC system contains complicated equipment, so it can be difficult to know for sure if a developing issue is worth a phone call to your HVAC pro. Here’s a look at some common HVAC problems that deserve the attention of an experienced technician.

Unfamiliar Sounds

Some noise is expected when your HVAC equipment is running, like a hum from the outdoor compressor, a whir from the blower fan, or a pop and whoosh as air moves through the ductwork. New or startling sounds like banging, rattling, hissing or high-pitched screeching can be warning signs of serious problems, so they should be investigated immediately.

Elevated Energy Bills

Your energy bills are bound to rise if your household usage increases, or there’s a rate increase by the utility company. If your bills are climbing for no obvious reason, however, there may be a problem with your HVAC system. Some common issues that a pro should check for are an age-related drop in efficiency, dirty cooling coils, ductwork deterioration, and a low refrigerant level.

Water Leaks

During the cooling process, it’s normal for A/Cs and heat pumps to condense water from the air, but it should be sent straight outdoors through the built-in condensate drain. If you discover a puddle under your air handler, a technician needs to inspect the drainage system for obstructions or inadequate slope on the line.

Excessive Humidity

If your home always seems too warm and sticky, and you’re seeing more mold growth in moisture-prone areas like the bathrooms, your HVAC technician needs to find out why. It may be due to short-cycling oversized equipment, or undersized equipment that can’t dehumidify the space effectively.

Unpleasant Smells

Normally, you shouldn’t notice any odor in the air coming from your HVAC registers. If you’re getting a “dirty sock,” acetone-like or acrid burnt smell, call your HVAC pro to identify and correct the underlying cause. Odors like these can be related to mold/mildew growth, a refrigerant leak, or hazardous overheating/arcing of an electrical component.

Contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling for expert help solving HVAC problems 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). 

Best Ways to Start Spring Storm Preparation for Your HVAC

Best Ways to Start Spring Storm Preparation for Your HVAC

Spring weather can go from balmy to blustery and worse quickly. Strong winds, heavy rain, or ice and snow can take a toll on your HVAC system, which might be completely avoidable with storm preparation in advance of bad weather.

  • Identify the circuit breaker for your HVAC system and label it. Should the power go out, turn the system off at the breaker to prevent electrical damage that may occur as line crews work to restore it.

    It’s not uncommon for the power to spike after an outage, and when the circuit breaker is off, those surges can’t hurt the electronic components inside the heating or cooling equipment. Wait until the power company has stabilized the power supply before turning the system back on.

  • If you’re routinely away, consider installing a whole-house surge protector to keep all of your home’s devices and appliances safe from the damage power spikes can do. Storms aren’t the only cause of power surges. They can happen during grid switching, from car accidents, or during peak usage periods.

    The cost of a whole-house surge protector for year-round storm preparation or normal electrical disruptions is small compared to replacing the appliances or devices damaged from power spikes.

  • Consider anchoring the outdoor condenser to prevent it from tipping during a heavy wind by using tie downs or bolting it to the concrete pad on which it sits. Although they’re heavy, condensers will topple during a strong wind or gust.
  • Set aside a tarp and twine or bungee cords to cover the outdoor condenser when high winds are forecast. The covering can protect the condenser from wind-blown debris that could irretrievably damage the fins or condensing coil inside it.

    If your system is older, a coil may not be available, and you’ll have to replace the entire system, which takes time and could cost you the deductible for your homeowner’s insurance.

Contact the experts at Roth Heating & Cooling for more information about tying down your HVAC system down and adding a surge protector for storm preparation. We provide 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).  

Tips and Tricks for Optimal Outdoor Power

Tips and Tricks for Optimal Outdoor PowerThere are lots of reasons why you may need a reliable power source outside your Portland home. Perhaps you want to install a hot tub, power a garden pond water feature, or add lighting in an outbuilding. Maybe you simply need a short-term power supply for an outdoor event, or you want a convenient spot to plug in your electric yard equipment. Whenever you’re dealing with electricity, safety is paramount, so be sure to follow these smart tips for specific types of temporary and permanent outdoor power:

Outdoor Outlets

Strategically-placed outdoor outlets can give you a convenient source of power for all sorts of purposes. To meet the national electrical code standards, ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets are required in any area exposed to moisture, including the exterior of your home. Outdoor GFCI outlets have a spring-loaded cover that keeps them weatherproof, and they automatically trip to prevent shocks and electrocution. If your existing outdoor outlets aren’t GFCI, or you need extra ones installed, it’s wise to consult a licensed electrician.

Extension Cords

When you need temporary power anywhere outdoors, an extension cord that’s plugged in to a GFCI outlet is an ideal solution. Extension cords aren’t all created equal, though, so make sure you choose one that’s:

  • Designed for outdoor use. Outdoor extension cords are ruggedly constructed with durable covers and extra insulation to resist moisture, temperature variations, and sun damage.
  • Rated correctly for your equipment. Only use a cord that can easily handle the amp rating of the device or equipment you’ll be operating, based on the wire gauge and length.

Permanent Power

In certain situations, you may want to install a permanent power source remotely, such as lights and outlets in a workshop, or a post lamp to illuminate your driveway. To ensure safety, the electrical wiring for this kind of outdoor power must be integrated into your home’s breaker panel, and run in a conduit that’s buried underground, so it’s a job for an experienced electrician.

For expert assistance with any outdoor power needs for your Portland-area home, contact us today at Roth Heating & Cooling.

What are the Most Common HVAC Problems in Spring?

What are the Most Common HVAC Problems in Spring?Now that winter is waning, It won’t be long before you’ll make the change from heating to cooling your home. Since this portion of your HVAC system has been shut off for several months, you might experience a few issues when you make that switch. Here are some common spring HVAC problems and why they occur, along with some advice on solving them quickly:

Too Little Conditioned Air Output

If you’ve put in a fresh air filter and your system comes on but there’s not enough airflow from the registers, it’s wise to have your HVAC pro investigate why. It may be that the evaporator or condenser coil needs cleaning to remove accumulated dust and debris that’s interfering with the heat transfer process, or a leak has developed somewhere in the refrigerant lines. If there’s airflow at the registers, but it doesn’t feel as cool as expected, the outdoor unit may not be cycling on due to a faulty contactor or other problem.

Inconsistent or Uneven Cooling

Does your air conditioner or heat pump start up and run but you find that some rooms stay too warm, while others cool down too much? Uneven cooling in different areas of a home can have several possible causes, including flaws in the ductwork design, unbalanced system airflow, a poorly-placed thermostat, or under- or over-sized equipment. An experienced HVAC technician can determine exactly what’s going on with your system, and then offer effective solutions to improve comfort throughout your home.

Non-Responsive Cooling System

If you’re met with a blank thermostat screen when you go to change from heating to cooling mode, simply replacing the batteries may solve the problem. If the thermostat is working, but you don’t hear or feel a response from your cooling equipment, head to your main electrical panel and reset the system’s breakers by switching them off and back on. If these two fixes don’t work, call your HVAC contractor to thoroughly inspect the system’s various controls and components to determine why.

For expert help solving spring HVAC problems in your Portland-area 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). 

3 Ways to Love Your HVAC System

3 Ways to Love Your HVAC SystemThis Valentine’s Day show your home’s heating and cooling system some love and it will properly love you back. Here are three ways you can give Love your HVAC system:

Inspect forced-air system filters regularly and change them when they look dirty or clogged. An air filter that’s clogged with dust and debris will slow airflow through your forced-air system, and potentially lead to dirty system components, among other problems. Both consequences will force machinery to work harder than necessary, wasting energy and stressing parts.

Consider turning down the temperature a few degrees in the winter (and up in the summer). It doesn’t take long for most people to become acclimated to a “new normal.” This will produce the positive results of adding months or years to your HVAC system’s service life, reducing breakdowns over time, and saving on monthly operating costs.

Seal air leaks in your home’s outer envelope. When a significant amount of air is allowed to transfer between inside and outside, your HVAC system must work all the harder to make your home comfortable and draft-free. This stresses heating and cooling equipment, wastes energy, and erodes comfort in the home. Upgrading insulation (especially in the attic) has the same positive effect as plugging air leaks, except in this case, insulation reduces the transfer of heat energy (as opposed to air) between inside and outside.

Other ways to love your HVAC system include: Installing a programmable thermostat (which allows you to set energy-saving schedules for temperature changes, such as while you’re away working or asleep at night); scheduling annual professional maintenance for your cooling and heating systems (which helps ensure comfort, energy efficiency and safety); sealing or repairing leaky or defective ductwork in your home; installing ceiling fans to supplement home cooling in the summer and help redistribute warm air in the winter; and keeping vents and registers clear of furniture, rugs and other objects that block airflow.

For advice on other ways to love your HVAC system this winter and spring, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling, providing quality services to the Portland metropolitan 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). 

Syncing You Home’s HVAC Systems Improves Efficiency

Syncing You Home's HVAC Systems Improves EfficiencyIf you’re concerned about the high cost of heating and cooling your home, you’re probably looking for effective ways to lower your yearly household energy consumption. Getting all of your home’s various systems into sync goes a long way toward improving efficiency and saving energy. Taking the following measures makes syncing HVAC systems easier and can bring you the greatest boost in overall efficiency:

Maintain HVAC Equipment

Keeping your HVAC equipment clean and tuned up, and catching/fixing developing issues early all play a part in maximizing its efficiency, so be sure to schedule twice-yearly preventive maintenance visits.

Stop Air Leaks

While you need controlled air exchange for good indoor air quality, sealing uncontrolled air leaks in your home’s exterior envelope is vital to limit energy losses. To curb such losses, seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors, along the foundation and around penetrations for pipes, vents and wiring using caulk, weatherstripping and expandable spray foam.

Attend to the Ductwork

Uninsulated, leaky ducts can cost you 20 percent or more in lost HVAC equipment output. To limit this loss of efficiency, correct any duct defects like damaged or disconnected sections, then seal the joints/seams with metal-backed tape and install an R-6 insulation wrap on all accessible ducting.

Air Seal and Insulate the Attic

Air leakage and insufficient attic insulation can let conditioned air escape and allow heat transfer between the attic and your living space. You can curtail this energy drain by sealing leaks around HVAC, electrical and plumbing lines, the chimney and access hatch, and the attic perimeter. Then, increase the amount of insulation between your attic floor joists so you have a total of R-38 to R-60.

Replace Drafty Windows

Updating your older windows can eliminate drafts and limit heat gains and losses through the glass. In our climate zone, the most efficient windows are Energy Star-certified and have a U-factor of 0.25 or less, a solar heat gain co-efficient (SHGC) between 0.35—0.60, and an air leakage (AL) rating below 30.

For more advice on syncing HVAC systems in 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). 

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

Why You Shouldn’t Try DIY HVAC Repairs

Why You Shouldn't Try DIY HVAC RepairsWhen your furnace starts acting up on a chilly Portland winter evening, it can be tempting to try to solve the problem yourself rather than wait for a technician to arrive. DIY HVAC repairs might sound practical, but they can end up costing more money and time than calling a pro would have.

Your Health and Safety

The most important reason to let a professional handle your heating and cooling repairs is to protect yourself and your family. While you might not be too concerned about the minor cuts and burns you can get during your DIY HVAC repairs, keep in mind this isn’t the worse that can happen.

Making a mistake around the system’s electrical components can give you a shock that leaves you hospitalized or even dead. An incorrectly performed electrical repair job might look okay at first, but spark a fire in the middle of the night. Damage to a gas furnace can create a potentially deadly carbon monoxide leak.

Practicality and Cost-Effectiveness

Licensed HVAC professionals bring not only years of training and experience, but also an array of tools specifically designed for HVAC repair. All this lets them troubleshoot your system and get the necessary repair work done fast. Better yet, you can be sure the repair work will last. Try to DIY it and you’re likely to spend more of your own time and money for an iffy repair job.

Some components, such as your air conditioner evaporator coils, are quite delicate and it’s easy to cause damage if you’re unaware of how to handle them. A mistake could turn a quick repair into an expensive component replacement job.

Changing your air filters, cleaning your outdoor condenser unit, and even patching a damaged air duct are all simple jobs you can do yourself, but for anything more complex, put your family’s safety first and call a pro.

If you’d rather avoid disastrous DIY HVAC repairs, get in touch with 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). 

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

Your New Year Should Include These HVAC Resolutions

Your New Year Should Include These HVAC ResolutionsThe holiday season isn’t complete without New Year’s resolutions. This year, include some HVAC resolutions that will improve your heating and cooling systems. With the right resolutions, faithfully followed, you’ll improve indoor comfort, boost HVAC system performance, and save money.

Have regular preventive maintenance performed

Resolve to call your HVAC professional for regular preventive maintenance on your heating and cooling systems. A maintenance visit allows an HVAC expert the chance to inspect your furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner from end to end. Minor repairs and adjustments that improve performance can be made during a maintenance inspection.

Check and change air filters monthly

Air filters remove particulates such as dust, hair, pollen, and fibers from your indoor air. In doing so, these particulates accumulate in the filter and clog it up. You should check your air filter at least once a month and change it when it gets dirty. Fresh filters are more effective at capturing and holding airborne particulates. They also contribute to the airflow your HVAC equipment needs to work properly.

Seal wasteful air leaks

Air leaks in your home’s structure and in the HVAC system ductwork can waste hundreds of dollars worth of conditioned air. If ductwork leaks are bad enough, heated or cooled air won’t even be able to reach your indoor living spaces. Seal air leaks in your home’s structure with caulking or other appropriate material. Make sure all ductwork sections fit together tightly and that each section is properly sealed with mastic, a specialized duct sealant, or with metal tape.

Switch to a programmable thermostat

Improve your control over your HVAC system by switching to a programmable thermostat. You’ll be able to save money by reducing HVAC operation when heating or cooling isn’t needed, such as when you’re away at work or school.

For more than forty years, Roth Heating and Cooling has been the top choice of HVAC customers in Portland, Canby, Hillsboro, and nearby Oregon cities. Contact us today for more information on the best HVAC resolutions for your home and for the heating and cooling services you need throughout the year.

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: “Gellinger/Pixabay” 

Maintain Your HVAC Safety When Decorating for Halloween

Maintain Your HVAC Safety When Decorating for HalloweenWhen the fall temperatures arrive in Oregon, they’re accompanied by the ghosts and goblins of Halloween. Halloween is the first of the year-end holidays that bring out an interest in decorating homes inside and out. While Halloween decorating can be fun, getting into the spirit of the season shouldn’t compromise HVAC safety.

Here are some tips for keeping your HVAC system and your home safe when decorating for Halloween:

Keep Vents Clear Indoors

The vents on the outdoor unit of your heating and cooling system need to be open so that air can move in or out as needed. If these vents are blocked by Halloween decorations, the system cannot get the airflow it needs, which reduces performance. Indoor decorations blocking vents and registers can prevent warm or cool air from leaving the ductwork.

Allow Air Flow Outside

Both your cooling system and your heating system need an unobstructed source of airflow. Vents provide part of it, but the outdoor unit also needs to have plenty of space around it to ensure that enough air is available. If you put too many decorations on or near the unit, they could impede airflow and cause issues with the HVAC system’s function. In the worst cases, blocked airflow can damage the unit.

Avoid Decorations Inside Your Unit

Spider webs–real ones–can cause problems with the internal components of the outdoor unit. In particular, they can interfere with electrical connections and cause circuit breakers to trip or, in the worse cases, cause components and circuit boards to burn out. Pieces from Halloween decorations that come loose and make their way inside the outdoor unit can have similar effects. Pieces of cotton from artificial webs, bits of cloth or paper from ghost decorations, or even whole decorations could cause problems with your HVAC system if they get inside the unit.

Roth Heating and Cooling has been serving the HVAC needs of customers in Portland, Hillsboro, Canby, and the surrounding Oregon communities for more than forty years. Contact us today for more information on HVAC safety when decorating your home for Halloween and other holidays.

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: “Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay”

When Home Additions Require Upgrading Your HVAC

When Home Additions Require Upgrading Your HVACThe construction of an addition on your home is not something to be taken lightly. There’s going to be a number of decisions you’ll need to make, ranging from the design specs all the way down to the color of the walls. You’ll also need to figure out whether upgrading your HVAC will be necessary for your heating and cooling needs. You actually have a few options, which we’ll discuss right now:

Upgrading Your HVAC

Even though the purchase of a brand new HVAC system will cost you a good deal of money up front, it may be your best option. If your current system has been in use for more than a decade or simply can’t handle the additional heating and cooling loads brought on by your home’s addition, a new one is an option you may have to take. If in doubt, contact a technician for advice.

Extending Your Current System

If your current system can accommodate the additional load and isn’t more than 10 years old, then you want to opt for an extension of that system to take care of the addition’s heating and cooling needs. With this choice, you’ll simply extend your existing ductwork. Just make sure that you have the ductwork evaluated to ensure that it is properly insulated and sealed. We would also recommend that you consider a zoning system so that the new space has its own thermostat.

Installing an Independent System

One last option to consider is the installation of either a traditional forced-air or ductless mini-split for your home’s new addition independent of your primary HVAC system. This choice is typically made when the addition isn’t close enough to the current duct system’s main trunk. If you’re not well-versed on which type of independent system would be best for your home, we advise that you contact a technician for assistance.

For more expert advice on upgrading your HVAC or any other home comfort-related issue, please don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve been serving the needs of 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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”