Category Archives: Service & Maintenance

Storm Preparation for Spring: What You Need to Know

Storm Preparation for Spring: What You Need to KnowAlthough Portland is blessed with relatively mild weather, residents shouldn’t necessarily be complacent. In springtime, we can still get some winter blasts, as well as some strong rain that could lead to flooding.

Just to be on the safe side, why not review the following tips for storm prep this season? You’ll be ahead of the game, and ready for anything Mother Nature deals out.

Flooding

While Portland rarely sees thunderstorms and tornadoes, we can get heavy rains that could cause flooding. If you’re new to the area, or even if you’ve resided here longer and aren’t real sure about potential flooding in your neighborhood, it bears checking it out by researching government websites to discover flood-prone areas. In times of heavy rain, some residents should also be on the lookout for mudslides.

If a thunderstorm is approaching, avoid going out of doors as long as you can hear thunder. If you hear thunder, you’re within striking distance of lightning. Also, unplug your major electric appliances, including the air conditioner, to avoid damage in a power surge.

If you suspect your home is subject to flooding, have a plan for evacuation in times of heavy rainfall . Keep the car gassed, and some survival supplies on hand. Make sure you have flood insurance — your regular insurance will not cover flooding from natural causes — well in advance of any storm.

Also, if you live in a flood-prone area, make sure that your air conditioner compressor is located in an elevated area, as much as possible, to avoid damage from high waters.

Power outages

It’s always possible the power could go off from high winds, ice on power lines or lightning strikes, so be prepared. Have at least a three-day supply of food, water, pet food and essential medicines on hand. Keep blankets and warm clothing handy, as well as a good supply of batteries and a battery-powered lantern, flashlight and weather radio. A backup generator will allow you to have the minimum electrical conveniences needed to stay comfortable and safe.

To learn more about storm prep, contact us at Roth Heading and Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical. We’ve served 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).

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DIY vs. Handyman vs. Qualified Electrician

DIY vs. Handyman vs. Qualified ElectricianWe’re always looking for ways to save money on home repairs, but when it involves your electrical system, you should never cut corners. So if you’re weighing the wisdom of doing it yourself vs. hiring a handyman vs. hiring a qualified electrician, it’s usually best to go for the latter.

Hiring a Professional Electrician

While you or an amateur handyman with a good understanding of electricity may certainly do minor tasks, including reconnecting loose wires on a thermostat or perhaps even installing an electrical switch, doorbell or ceiling fan, it’s best to leave installation of electrical systems to the pros.

Electrical work is regulated by electrical codes. A building permit is usually required from the local municipality. Trained, certified professionals who adhere to current codes should be hired to work with plans approved by a city building code officer. An electrical inspector generally must sign off on major electrical jobs.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment with a certified electrician, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical of Portland 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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You Should Look for an HVAC Pro With These Certifications

You Should Look for an HVAC Pro With These CertificationsScheduling professional preventive maintenance is essential for maximizing the performance and efficiency of your HVAC systems. Sooner or later, however, many homeowners experience a malfunction and need to call an HVAC technician. With so many to choose from, you may not know how to decide just who to call. Make your choice easy by working with technicians that carry these vital HVAC certifications.

Environmental Protection Agency 608 Certification

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) makes rules and regulations regarding refrigerants. This is understandable since refrigerants have historically been harmful to the environment. As a result, the EPA requires that technicians handling refrigerants carry EPA 608 Certification.

As a homeowner, EPA 608 Certification is important to you because refrigerant is the lifeblood of your air conditioner or heat pump. Refrigerant is the substance that absorbs heat from your home to cool it. If you use a heat pump for home heating, the refrigerant runs in reverse and releases heat inside your home.

NATE Certification

Many career-minded technicians seek certification by the NATE (North American Technician Excellence) organization. The NATE organization doesn’t train technicians. They only test and certify technicians. The reason NATE was founded more than 20 years ago was to spearhead HVAC expertise in the field, build a more educated workforce, and promote HVAC technologies through public awareness.

Another point why NATE certification is the gold standard among HVAC techs is that NATE requires re-certification every two years. This may involve re-testing or continued education hours. NATE certifies technicians in core HVAC knowledge and at least one HVAC specialty field.

HVAC Excellence Certification

The HVAC Excellence certification is another respected achievement among technicians, HVAC companies, and customers. The HVAC Excellence organization’s goal has been to promote technical education and set a high bar in the HVAC workforce, and they continually succeed.

If you want a knowledgeable and reliable technician working on your HVAC system, make sure they carry the right HVAC certifications. Since we opened our business in 1976, Roth Heating & Cooling technicians have been the best around!

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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A Timeline for HVAC Maintenance and Replacement

A Timeline for HVAC Maintenance and ReplacementEstablishing an HVAC maintenance timeline helps you keep your system running dependably and efficiently for the many years they’re designed to last. These systems use many mechanical and electrical parts that need cleaning and adjusting to perform at their best. Without attention from you and an HVAC pro, efficiency and durability decline.

How Long They Last

A well-maintained air conditioner or heat pump should last between 10–16 years, and a furnace between 15–20 years. Exceptions to these parameters do occur, primarily based on usage and maintenance.

Scheduling Maintenance Tasks

Check the air filter monthly when the system runs frequently. Neglecting filter changes is the most frequent cause of high energy costs and premature system failure. Dirt slows the air flowing through the air handler, and it takes the system longer to condition your home. The longer running cycle wears the parts and drives up energy costs.

Keep the outdoor condenser clean. A clean condenser loses the heat from the refrigerant faster and keeps cooling bills lower. Hose the coils off periodically and remove any vegetation that blocks the air flow through it.

Scheduling Professional Maintenance

An HVAC pro should clean, adjust, and inspect your cooling and heating system at least once a year, preferably in the spring or fall before its season starts. These systems create vibrations as they run, use oil, and collect dust, all of which interferes with their efficiency and performance.

The goal of professional maintenance is to bring the equipment back to its original settings as much as possible. The technician will check the refrigerant level, clean and lubricate motors, and verify that all the electrical and safety components work properly.

Improper refrigerant levels drive up cooling costs and contribute to compressor wear and early failure. Gas furnaces need professional servicing once a year for greatest efficiency and safe operation.

Sticking to the HVAC maintenance timeline helps you get the most from your system monthly and prolong its lifetime. To learn more, contact Roth Heating and 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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Understanding DIY or Professional HVAC Maintenance Tasks

Understanding DIY or Professional HVAC Maintenance TasksYour home’s HVAC system needs regular maintenance to operate well for its lifespan. Much of that needs to be performed by a qualified professional. Heating and cooling systems have sensitive components that need expert handling for both your safety and the safety of the machinery. Here are some guidelines regarding tasks you can take care of and what jobs are best left to your technician.

Changing the Filter

You should change filters whenever they are dirty because grimy filters lead to problems such as stressed fan motors, dirty evaporator coils, dirty air ducts, and dust in the air you breathe. This is an easy task requiring little time and effort and most homeowners prefer to handle it without help.

If dirty filters have caused problems for the system, that is another story. Make sure you call your HVAC technician if your coils have frozen, if you suspect your ductwork is dirty, or if the fan motor keeps shutting off.

Cleaning

Seasonal HVAC maintenance visits usually include some cleaning tasks specific to the machinery. Your contractor can take care of cleaning the coils and cleaning interior parts that have gathered dust.

Some cleaning projects are DIY and will make your system run better as well as make any maintenance task easier. This includes keeping the area around the furnace and other interior HVAC components neatly swept and free of clutter. Outdoors, keep trees and bushes trimmed back from the compressor and don’t let brush or grass clippings build up nearby. The technician will appreciate clear access to the units. It also reduces the amount of debris being trapped inside.

Repairs

It can be tempting to explore your HVAC equipment when something is malfunctioning. Clearing a clog in the drainage pan or tightening a bolt is fine, but avoid doing anything more than that. Call your technician to make repairs such as loose wiring, broken belts, or stalled fans. This is the safest and smartest way to handle these issues.

For more about HVAC maintenance and your Portland 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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Factors in Great HVAC Customer Service

Factors in Great HVAC Customer ServiceWhether you want to schedule routine HVAC maintenance or you need to repair or replace the equipment, choosing a reputable contractor who puts their customers’ comfort and well-being first can give you peace of mind that you’re in good hands. How can you identify great HVAC customer service? Look for the following qualities in each contractor you’re considering:

Reputation

Two factors that tell you whether a contractor provides excellent service are the length of time they’ve been in business and their reputation. Good contractors are well-established, and they can provide unbiased references from a number of satisfied customers. They’ll also have positive feedback online, and good reviews with the Better Business Bureau.

Qualifications

Conscientious HVAC professionals are up-to-date on required licenses, and they protect their employees and customers with workers’ compensation and liability insurance coverage. They also make sure their technicians have North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification, which demonstrates a high degree of skill in HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair.

Affiliations

The best contractors are affiliated with recognized HVAC industry associations, such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).

Equipment Sizing

Reputable contractors don’t use a vague rule of thumb when sizing new equipment or just match the capacity of your existing equipment. They make sure the equipment is accurately sized by performing a detailed load calculation using ACCA Manual J. Then, they select the right components using Manual S, and verify the ductwork size and layout using Manual D.

Efficiency Expertise

Contractors who care about customer satisfaction stay current on HVAC technology and know how to properly install high-efficiency equipment. They can explain the efficiency ratings of the equipment they recommend, and give you figures on your potential energy savings and estimated operating costs.

Pricing

A reputable contractor won’t give you a lowball estimate over the phone. Instead, they’ll pay a visit to inspect the HVAC system and discuss your needs or concerns and then give you a detailed written estimate that’s fairly priced.

If you’re searching for a Portland HVAC contractor who makes customer service a top priority, 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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You Need to Invest in Preventive HVAC Maintenance. Here’s Why

You Need to Invest in Preventive HVAC Maintenance. Here’s WhyPreventive HVAC maintenance is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a comfortable home, and doing so with the most efficiency and lowest costs. HVAC systems contain many mechanical, electrical and moving parts that need to work together precisely. With routine maintenance performed both by you and your trusted HVAC professional, your equipment will:

  • Use less energy.
  • Run more safely.
  • Have lower repair costs.
  • Last longer.

What’s Involved

  • Homeowner maintenance — The best thing you can do for your HVAC system is to check the air filter monthly when it’s running routinely and change it when it’s dirty. A dirty filter contributes to higher energy bills, increased chance of system breakdowns, and a shorter lifetime.

    Keeping the outdoor condenser clean and free from dust and debris also improves performance. If you use a heat pump for wintertime heating, it’s important to maintain the condenser throughout the year.

  • Professional maintenance — When HVAC professionals perform preventive HVAC maintenance, they clean, lubricate and adjust all the system’s components to bring the equipment back to its original condition as much as possible. They spot small problems that could develop into serious issues if left unattended, which saves money on repair costs and part replacements.

    Checking the refrigerant level is particularly important for a heat pump, since low refrigerant increases energy costs and taxes the vital parts of the system. If you have a gas furnace, they’ll also inspect the gas lines, venting, and the quality of the flame inside the burner. They’ll make adjustments to the gas to air ratio, which helps the furnace burn fuel efficiently and safely.

If your system has a warranty, the underwriter may require proof of professional maintenance to keep the coverage active, especially if the mechanical failure is largely preventable through regular cleaning, adjustments and filter changes.

When you want the most from your HVAC equipment, it’s essential to perform filter changes and regular cleaning. Preventive HVAC maintenance from a licensed contractor pays off lower operating costs and an increased lifespan. For more information, 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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Dealing with Common Furnace Problems in Your Home

Dealing with Common Furnace Problems in Your HomeDuring the winter, there’s always a chance your home’s heating system will act up or stop working entirely. Either way — the sudden loss of heat or a furnace that’s not heating adequately — this is something to avoid. Try learning some basic furnace troubleshooting steps. With that knowledge, you’ll have a better shot at figuring out what’s wrong and either fixing it yourself or knowing what to tell the HVAC service technician you call.

If Your Furnace is Struggling to Heat Your Home

This could the result of any of numerous issues. The air filter may need to be change; ductwork might be dirty or leaking air; the burners in your combustion heating system might be clogged; the blower motor might need to be cleaned and lubricated; or your heating system might be so old that it no longer can keep up with the challenge of heating your home. Each of these issues has a different solution, from the easy (changing the air filter) to the most difficult and expensive, replacing your heating system.

If the Heating isn’t Working at All

  • Check that your HVAC system is getting power. Do this at the circuit-breaker box or at the on-off switch if your heating system has one. Is the thermostat set to “heat” and that the setting is above the temperature in your home? If the thermostat is battery operated, check the batteries.
  • Ignition might be the problem, especially if you have an older furnace with a pilot light. Re-lighting the pilot might be all that’s necessary, though if the light keeps going out, or the electronic ignition (in a newer heating system) is malfunctioning, you’ll need a professional service call.
  • If you hear banging or rattling in the furnace compartment before the system goes dead, it might be loose or detached parts in the blower motor, or a slipped belt. While you might be able to put the belt back on, you’ll need professional help for a faulty motor.

For help fixing your Portland area heating system problems this winter, 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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Be Proactive and Check Your Furnace Filter Quality

Be Proactive and Check Your Furnace Filter QualityYour furnace works hard to heat your home, but it won’t work as well if you are not using the right filter or if you don’t change the filter. Attention to furnace filter quality is one of the best steps toward keeping your furnace running smoothly this season. Here is what you should know about choosing a filter and how often to change it.

How to Choose a Filter

Don’t pick the first and cheapest filter you see. There is a significant difference between those thin, single panel mesh filters and higher quality options. Fiberglass furnace filters will keep some dust out of your furnace, which is important, but will still allow a lot in to pollute the air in your home.

Look instead for disposable pleated air filters. These have a higher MERV rating, which is the minimum efficiency reporting value and means they trap more particles. For home use, buy filters with a rating from 9 to 13. Some sellers might encourage you to choose higher-rated filters, but most residential HVAC systems won’t function well when those are used because high-MERV filters reduce airflow to the system.

High quality pleated filters will help protect your furnace from contaminants and will improve your indoor air quality by reducing allergens. You should not just put the new filter in and forget about it, however. For the best results, you should change them every month.

Changing Your Filter

Here are three reasons why you should change your furnace filter monthly:

  • Reduce allergies. Clogged air filters will not reduce allergens in your home’s air and can even make things worse.
  • Keep your heating bills lower. Dirty filters reduce airflow, which makes your furnace struggle harder to perform. This leads to greater energy consumption.
  • Protect your furnace. The reduced airflow, in addition to particles collecting on inner furnace components, can lead to a furnace breakdown. Changing the filter can prevent costly repairs or complete furnace malfunction.

For more information about furnace filters and 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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These Factors Can Help You Decide Whether to Repair or Replace Your HVAC System

These Factors Can Help You Decide Whether to Repair or Replace Your HVAC SystemThe question of whether to repair or replace an ailing HVAC system is not always an easy one. To make matters worse, system malfunctions often occur during the height of the cooling or heating months when you’re using your A/C, heat pump, or furnace the most. Consider the following factors to make the best decision for your situation.

System Age

The age of the HVAC unit needing repair is a very important factor for determining whether to replace or repair. The useful life cycle of heat pumps and air conditioners is 10 to 15 years respectively. Boilers and furnaces may provide efficient heating for up to 20 years with regular maintenance. If your HVAC system is within one-third of these numbers, an HVAC replacement may be your best option.

Comfort, Energy Bills, and Home Efficiency

Poor comfort characterized by uneven temperatures is usually accompanied with higher energy bills. Check for drafts around windows and doors. Attic insulation should be above floor joists. Sealing drafts and boosting attic insulation can reduce the burden on your ailing HVAC system.

Home-efficiency upgrades definitely help reduce energy bills and enhance comfort. If repair costs are less than 25 percent of a replacement system and your HVAC unit is within a reasonable age, upgrading home efficiency and repairing your unit makes sense.

Interdependent Systems

Your HVAC system is actually a combination of mechanical, refrigeration, venting, plumbing, and electrical components that rely on each other for overall performance and efficiency. If your repair is a failed blower motor, for example, the cause could be airflow obstructions in the air ducts. An ailing compressor could be the result of dirt and mold insulating the evaporator.

The point is this: You may have more than one repair on your hands. Your HVAC contractor should thoroughly inspect your system for incidental repair causes and problems. Additionally, obtain a lifetime cost evaluation of your system, including repairs, and weigh it against the immediate energy savings you receive with an HVAC upgrade.

For help navigating the repair-or-replace dilemma, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve helped Portland residents with HVAC system solutions 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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