Category Archives: Safety

Tis the Season to Replace Detectors Around Your House

Tis the Season to Replace Detectors Around Your HouseThe signs that winter is coming are everywhere — crisp, cold mornings and pumpkin spice lattes abound. This also means you’ll likely be spending more time indoors for the next few months, warming your home with your heating system. Rest assured that your house is not only a cozy place to retreat to, but also a safe one, by checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors today.

Checking Your Detectors

It’s advised that you check the batteries on your detectors monthly by simply pressing the “test” button on them. If you don’t hear a sound when you test them, it’s time to install new batteries.

Although your alarms may sound with that pesky, attention-getting chirp when it’s time to replace the batteries, there is no obvious indication when your detectors have reached the end of their lives. Detectors that have reached their expiration should be replaced immediately. The following tips will help you ensure your detectors are in proper working order in your home:

  • Remove detectors from your ceilings and walls and check the manufacture date on the back of them to find out how old they are.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors last on average between 5 to 7 years.
  • Smoke detectors last about 10 years.
  • Position carbon monoxide detectors on all of the levels in your home. They should be installed in hallways close to bedrooms, at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances and at least 15 inches from ceilings.
  • Smoke detectors should be on every level of your home, in each bedroom and outside of bedrooms (i.e. hallways). Larger homes may need more detectors than this.

When It’s Time to Replace Detectors

There are detectors that offer digital displays and some models even come with voice alerts. Smoke detectors can be interconnected — when one sounds, they all start to sound, quickly alerting you to a problem. Carbon monoxide detectors with a “fuel-cell electrochemical” sensor are the most accurate.

For more information on how to check or replace detectors, please feel free to contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling anytime. We’ve been proudly serving the Portland 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). 

Holiday Fire Hazards: Are You at Risk? 

Holiday Fire Hazards: Are You at Risk? The holiday season is a time for colorful decorations and get-togethers with family and friends. Unfortunately, the holidays are also a risky period when an average of 47,000 house fires occur that cause 500 fatalities each year. For a safer home this season, use these tips to avoid holiday fire hazards.

Test Your Smoke Detectors

Have smoke detectors installed in strategic areas on each level of your home, such as in the kitchen and near sleeping areas. Press the test button on each device once a month to ensure that it’s fully functional, replace the batteries in early winter, and you can cut your risk of becoming a fire-related statistic in half.

Invest in Fire Extinguishers

Buy a fire extinguisher for each floor of your home, learn how to use it properly and place each one where it’s easily reached in the event of a fire. Choose A-B-C rated extinguishers that can put out fires caused by the three most common causes: combustibles like wood and paper, flammable liquids/gases and electrical sources. Opt for the largest-capacity extinguisher that you can easily lift and carry.

Take Precautions With Supplemental Heat Sources

If you plan to use a space heater for extra warmth this winter, make sure it’s one with an auto-shut off that kicks in if the unit tips over, and place it several feet away from combustible materials, like upholstered furniture, window coverings and the Christmas tree. If you use the fireplace, make sure the damper is open when you light it, and have a protective firescreen in place to prevent sparks from escaping.

Get Safety-Wise With Holiday Decorations

Switch to LED holiday lights that emit very little heat, replace any frayed/damaged extension cords and don’t overload your electrical outlets. Real trees can become a fire hazard as they dry out, so opt for an artificial, fire retardant-treated tree, and use a sturdy, stable tree stand. And, don’t forget to unplug all your holiday lights each night before you head to bed.

To learn more about preventing holiday fire hazards 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). 

Security Lights at Home and Work

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

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

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

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

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

Without security lights, your yard or lot may be vulnerable to intrusion. With it, you’ll have more peace of mind and it can add enjoyment to the special features of your home and yard. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing HVAC services for Portland-area homeowners.

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

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Backup Generator: 10 Situations You’ll Need to Know About

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could It Be Time to Upgrade Your Electrical Wiring?

ICould It Be Time to Upgrade Your Electrical Wiring?t may be the last thing on your wish list for home improvements, but electrical wiring could be unsafe, inadequate, or both and needs replacing. Even though the expense may seem high, it’s well worth doing given what’s at risk.

The signs of bad wiring include:

  • Flickering lights or bulbs that dim when you turn on an appliance. This almost always indicates that the circuit breaker for that outlet is overloaded.
  • Sizzling sounds coming from an outlet or discolored outlets. Electricity should be silent. Discolored outlets could indicate overheating.
  • Circuit breakers that trip frequently. When too much power goes through a circuit breaker, a contact point builds too much heat and it shuts itself off.
  • Burning rubber smells or excessively hot cords. Anytime you smell a suspicious odor coming from an appliance or a cord feels hot, you should turn it off or pull it immediately. The problem may be the device you’re using. If you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to contact an electrician to identify the problem.
  • Aluminum wiring. Home builders used aluminum wiring to cut costs in homes built between the 1960s and 70s. While it may not be a problem, it can be. Work-arounds may be available to reduce the danger associated with this type of electrical wiring.
  • Lack of grounded outlets or no GFIs. Any outlet that isn’t grounded should be changed, and GFI circuits reduce the risk of an appliance or device being exposed to water.
  • Overloaded outlets. If you have to use surge protectors or power strips throughout your home, you probably need more receptacles, especially when you’re plugging higher wattage appliances into them. Vacuum cleaners, space heaters, hair dryers, and some televisions use more power than others, and need to be plugged directly into an outlet for safety.

Inadequate or unsafe electrical wiring accounts for the majority of preventable home fires. If you suspect yours is inadequate or you’ve experienced any problems with it, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We provide trusted HVAC and electrical 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: “Taken/Pixabay”

Don’t Let Attic Safety Fall by the Wayside

Don't Let Attic Safety Fall by the WaysideNow that spring is here, it’s time to do some of those maintenance and repair tasks you’ve been thinking about all winter. Chances are, one of those projects may involve a visit to the attic for you or someone you hire. If so, have you given any thought to attic safety?

Attic Hazards

The hazards of doing work in the attic are surprisingly numerous. It’s a place we’re usually not that familiar with, offering sometimes limited visibility. Also, attics tend to be hot, dusty and uncomfortable, with movement severely restricted, and if yours doesn’t have a floor, navigating on exposed joists can be tricky. Plus, unpleasant surprises may await you, be it an infestation of vermin, or an outbreak of mold. It pays to be mindful of these hazards, and to take steps to overcome them before you or a technician starts your project.

Here are some suggestions to improve attic safety.

  1. Limit trips to and from the attic. Whether you have pull-down stairs, a staircase or just a ladder, take extra care going up and down. Organize your project so you minimize trips.
  2. Don’t overheat. Temperatures can soar in the attic, even on a mild spring day, so drink plenty of water and if your project allows you to, run a portable fan to keep cool. Vacuum the attic first, if possible, so less dust will be swirling around.
  3. Wear protective clothing and gear. Cover arms and legs to prevent exposure to irritating insulation and hazards such as protruding nails. Wear goggles or safety glasses and a respirator with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.
  4. If you discover vermin, have the attic fumigated before work begins.
  5. Cover exposed joists with planks, but be mindful of how you place your feet on the planks so you don’t topple over and go through the ceiling.
  6. Even if there’s overhead lighting in the attic, take a work light so you can see in corners.

Find out more about attic safety from Roth Heating & Cooling. We provide quality service to customers in 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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “David Papazian/Shutterstock”

Tips for Being Prepared if a Power Outage Occurs

Tips for Being Prepared if a Power Outage OccursThe chances that you’ll experience a power outage lasting longer than one hour increase every year. Our residences have become increasingly technology-dependent and our reliance on uninterrupted power is more critical than ever. When the electricity goes out for a lengthy period, some homes can become almost uninhabitable.

Here’s what to do to be prepared for power outages in your household:

  • Stock up on the basics. Keep a supply of flashlights with fresh batteries, candles, matches, and a battery-operated radio. Also make sure you have a first-aid kit. Keep a multi-day supply of canned food and bottled water on hand.
  • When the power goes out, shut down your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump to protect against damaging power surges common when the electricity is restored. Most gas-fired furnaces don’t work when power is out anyway.
  • During winter, stay warm by adding extra layers of clothing and moving everyone into one room, preferably with southern exposure that receives solar heat through windows. If you light a fire in the fireplace, make sure the flue is fully open beforehand and burn only firewood — not paper or other combustibles. If the house becomes too cold, relocate elsewhere.
  • If the power outage is caused by severe weather including heavy rain, be alert to possible basement flooding. Electric sump pumps that lack battery backup will not function.
  • If you utilize a portable generator it must be located outside, a safe distance from the home. Carbon monoxide fumes from generators are deadly. Consider installing a whole-house backup generator that monitors grid power continuously and automatically activates to restore electricity to household circuits.
  • Frozen pipes may occur in an unheated home. If temperatures drop below freezing, open indoor taps to allow a continuous trickle of water and prevent pipe ruptures.

For more tips on making it through a winter power outage, contact 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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Important Fire Regulations for Commercial Buildings

Important Fire Regulations for Commercial BuildingsAs a building owner or property manager, understanding fire regulations for commercial buildings can help you comply with local ordinances that protect public safety. These regulations cover prevention, detection and safe evacuation from all commercial buildings.

Electrical

Oregon requires that all upgrades or modifications to an electrical system be made by a licensed electrician. The building’s owner or agent must ensure that all the wiring inside the building is in good condition and that the tenants are using outlets safely by not overloading them or running excessively long extension cords.

Exits and Stairwells

Each exit requires a lighted sign that runs on both building power and backup batteries. All stairwells must have backup lighting in case of a power outage, as well as handrails that lead to a place where building occupants can exit safely onto a street.

Smoke Detectors 

Each building must have a working smoke detector in the hallways. A tag must hang from the smoke detector indicating the last date the batteries were replaced and when the detector was tested.

Sprinkler Systems

The fire regulations for commercial buildings also apply to sprinkler systems. Each sprinkler needs to carry a tag from the local fire department stating that it’s functional. Commercial codes require one sprinkler for every 150 square feet of space.

HVAC Systems

All HVAC systems, commercial and residential, need to be installed and maintained by a licensed contractor. These systems contain high voltage components and combustible fuels. Staying on top of your system’s maintenance after installation can help keep your building safer and energy bills lower. Although not mandated by building or fire regulations, installing the most efficient HVAC system in a commercial building can save a good deal of energy without sacrificing anyone’s comfort.

If you’d like more information about commercial building fire regulations in the Portland or Willamette Valley area, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve been providing outstanding services for residential and commercial building owners 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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Increase Efficiency & Safety by Cleaning Your Home’s Dryer Vents

Increase Efficiency & Safety by Cleaning Your Home's Dryer Vents Did you know that your home’s dryer vents can pose a threat to your safety? Even if you empty the lint trap after every load, you’re probably not cleaning up all the lint buildup, which can eventually prevent your dryer vent from exhausting properly. Due to the blockage, your dryer may overheat, threatening your Portland home and your personal safety.

Signs of Blocked Dryer Vents

  • Clothing doesn’t dry completely or takes much longer than normal to dry.
  • Clothes dry, but feel much hotter than usual to the touch.
  • Clothes smell musty coming out of the dryer.
  • The vent hood flap doesn’t pop open as it should when the dryer is in use.
  • The laundry area or laundry room is excessively hot when the dryer is in use or has just completed it’s cycle.
  • A lot of lint accumulates in and around the lint filter.
  • Your dryer sheets seem to smell stronger than usual after the drying cycle.

What Your HVAC Contractor Can Do

You probably already know that your contractor should inspect and clean your HVAC system every year. Your plumbing vent pipes also need annual maintenance. You should have your HVAC technician clean your dryer vents using specialized cleaning equipment. He can remove any debris (branches, leaves, bird nests, etc.) blocking your vent pipe, which typically sticks out of your roof.

Your HVAC contractor will then use a high-powered vacuum equipment, snakes and brushes to clean out the entire length of the vent. Your contractor may also need to replace non-metal transition ducts running between the dryer and main vent because they constitute a fire danger.

Semi-rigid metal ducts will make your venting system safer and help improve your dryer’s efficiency and performance. If it’s been more than a year since your last dryer vent cleaning, schedule an inspection right away.

When your home’s dryer vents need a thorough cleaning, contact the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling in the Aurora area.

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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Taking a Winter Break? Fine, but Secure Your Home

Taking a Winter Break? Fine, but Secure Your HomeAre you packing up to take a well deserved winter break vacation? In your excitement, don’t forget to prepare your house for your absence. While you may be tempted to turn off your furnace, it’s better to set it at 55-60 degrees. This will prevent water pipes from freezing in your absence, plus it will protect sensitive furniture and fixtures, and pets and plants if you have them. Continue reading