When You Should Schedule a Water Heater Tune-Up

When You Should Schedule a Water Heater Tune-UpThe centuries-old axiom, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” still rings true today when it comes to taking care of your home’s essential systems. Why wait for something to break down before you call a professional? It doesn’t make sense. What does make good sense is scheduling regular water heater tune ups in the spring or fall to keep your hot water flowing efficiently year-round.

Prevent Corrosion

Water heaters are susceptible to corrosion because they are manufactured of steel. To help prevent the storage tank from rusting, an aluminum or magnesium anode rod is installed. The aluminum and magnesium metals rust before the steel storage tank does.

Anode rods last about three to four years before they have corroded beyond the point of usefulness. So, it’s very important that your plumber replaces the anode rod every few years to prevent the storage tank from rusting and leaking water in your home.

Water Heating Efficiency

Water heaters warm up cold intake water with an electric heating element or a gas burner. Three common situations that occur with water heaters that reduce heating efficiency are:

  • The electric heating element or the combustion components age and falter.
  • The heating components become dirty and heat water less efficiently.
  • Sediment on the bottom of the storage tank inhibits efficient heating.

During annual preventive maintenance, your plumber drains the tank to remove deposits, cleans the combustion chamber, and inspects the heating element — saving you energy and helping your water heater last longer.

Schedule Pro Maintenance or DIY?

Modern home comfort systems, such as your water heater and HVAC systems, are sophisticated equipment that requires a knowledgeable pro to service. There are electrical parts to check, combustion parts to test and inspect, and much more.

As a homeowner, you can help maintain your storage tank between service visits by draining a gallon of water from the drain bib of the tank every few months. This helps keep sediment and deposits to a minimum.

To learn more about maintenance of your water heater, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical to schedule water heater service.

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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HVAC System Prep for Spring

HVAC System Prep for SpringPart of the transition from the heating months to the cooling months is getting your HVAC system ready. By staying on top of HVAC prep, service and maintenance, your home will be more comfortable, you’ll save energy and enjoy better indoor air quality. Following are spring cleaning tips for your HVAC system that you or your HVAC technician should perform.

Replace Air Filter

Your HVAC system’s air filter helps the moving parts operate smoothly by keeping them clean. Regular filter changes saves energy and prevents components, such as the blower motor, from failing before their time. When you are choosing a pack or box of filters, go with a high-efficiency air filter.

Clean the AC Coil

The evaporator coil is the device that pulls heat out of return airflow. If the coil is dirty, which it will be following the heating months, the coil won’t cool your home as efficiently as it could. This makes your AC or heat pump run longer and use more energy.

Prep the Outdoor Unit

Before you switch your thermostat to COOL, inspect the outdoor unit. Clear away any debris that has collected around the unit that could block airflow to the coil. Look in the top of the unit to make sure there aren’t any sticks or other objects inside that could damage or obstruct the blower.

Inspect Air Ducts

Leaky air ducts waste energy. Duct leaks may also pull in contaminants from your attic or basement, and introduce them into your living spaces. One of the common telltale signs of leaky air ducts is uneven airflow from various vents in your home. You can seal leaky duct joints with metal tape.

Professional Preventive Maintenance

Professional HVAC prep and service is important to help your HVAC system operate more efficiently and to avoid repairs and early failure. Moreover, there are many tasks only your HVAC technician should perform, such as checking refrigerant, to get your central air system ready for summer.

For professional service for HVAC prep or HVAC repair for your Portland area home, please contact the professionals at 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). 

Guide: Air Purification

Guide: Air PurificationIf you’re reading this in February, you might want to know that the root word for the month comes from a Latin word, Februum, that refers to a Roman ritual for purification. So we’re thinking February is a fine time to start considering purification — of the air, that is — in your home.

Chances are, you give little thought to how polluted your indoor air may be. But studies show that in today’s airtight homes, the indoor air is many times more polluted than that found outside. Among the chief pollutants are these:

  • mold spores
  • dust
  • pollen
  • pet dander
  • dust mites
  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

As you plan your spring cleaning tasks, you might also want to give some thought to air purification. Here are a few tips on dealing with common air pollutants.

Get a Handle on Air Purification

The best way to keep air pollutants out of your home is by making sure they doesn’t get inside in the first place. To keep out some of the above, do the following:

  • Fix leaks asap so damp spots don’t form and encourage mold.
  • Take shoes off at the door.
  • Brush off clothes before entering the home, or change them soon after to keep pollen out.
  • Ensure your home is airtight around doors and windows to keep out dust.
  • Bathe pets frequently. Brush them outdoors.
  • Avoid warm, damp conditions, which will promote dustmites in carpets, rugs and textiles.
  • Air out VOC-laden products before they enter the home. Store chemicals in the garage. Buy natural products whenever possible.

Consider an Air Cleaner

Air cleaners are available in portable or whole-home models that work through your HVAC system. The latter do a better job of cleaning the air. Some of the types of air purification you can try:

  • good quality air filters, rated MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) 8-10
  • washable electrostatic permanent filters
  • ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) lights in the HVAC (for mold, bacteria)
  • activated charcoal filters (to remove smoke and other gases)

Want to learn more about air purification technology? Contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We serve 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). 

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Ways to Fix Uneven Cooling in Your Home

Ways to Fix Uneven Cooling in Your HomeThere are many factors that can contribute to uneven cooling in your home. The ductwork may need attention that requires sealing leaks or cleaning duct runs. Or, your A/C could just be getting old coupled with heat gain/loss due to your home’s orientation to the sun. Following are common reasons and solutions to help you fix cooling problems and help you save energy.

Duct Problems

The ducts are the lungs of your home — taking in warm air through return grilles and pushing cooled air out of supply vents. Here are some solutions to help your home’s lungs breathe easier.

  • Leaks: Loose duct joints, damage and holes allow cooled air to escape before reaching the living spaces. Duct air leaks should be wrapped with metal duct tape.
  • Insulation: Cool air quickly takes on heat through thin duct walls. Make sure the ducts located in the attic or basement are insulated.
  • Sizing: If your ducts weren’t sized correctly, you’ll need to install a zoning system or retrofit the ducts.
  • Dirty: Dirty vents and air ducts should be cleaned to allow free airflow and to improve indoor air quality.

A/C Issues

The central air system itself could be the problem for uneven cooling. If your A/C is more than 10 years old, consider upgrading. Room additions increase the cooling load of your home, and the extra load could be too much for your A/C. Installing a ductless mini split or upgrading to a larger A/C unit may be in order.

Sun-facing Rooms

Heat gain/loss occurs in every room, and in every room it’s different. Sun-facing rooms take on heat quicker than north-facing rooms. When coupled with other HVAC issues, such as leaky ducts, you are going to have substantial comfort problems.

Window treatments help curb heat gain/loss issues by slowing heat gain into sun-facing rooms. Installing awnings provide shade for sun-facing rooms and substantially reduce heat gain. A simpler method is to install window film and layered drapes, which also help with heat loss during the heating months.

For professional service to address uneven cooling in your Portland home, 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). 

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). 

How Paint Color Choice Affects Energy Efficiency

How Paint Color Choice Affects Energy EfficiencyMaintaining a comfortable home year-round costs less when its energy efficiency is high. While insulation, Energy Star appliances, and an airtight structure all help, so does its exterior color.

Colors absorb or reflect heat. By some estimations, a dark exterior absorbs 90 percent of the heat from the sunshine that strikes it. Light colors reflect the heat, which keeps the building cooler.

Portland has more heating degree days on average than cooling, which means that your home needs more heating than cooling.

Unless you prefer cooler indoor temperatures year-round, your choices for exterior colors are broad in this climate. Neutral to darker hues will warm your home during the heating season, which lasts longer and requires more energy than summer cooling.

Why Colors Matter

Matching colors to the local climate does contribute to the home’s overall energy efficiency. If you live east of Portland in a lower elevation, more solar radiation will strike your home and roof, and summer temperatures are warmer. Lighter exterior colors and roofing materials will cut some of the heat gain that occurs in the summer.

Conversely, a home closer to the coast with a dark roof and exterior will absorb more heat, making the home easier to warm in the winter. The sun’s heat will warm the exterior that will penetrate through the walls and into the rooms.

Benefits of an Efficient Home

Optimizing your home for efficiency cuts energy costs and reduces the wear and tear on your heating and cooling system. Besides lower electric and gas bills, your system may require fewer repairs and could last longer. HVAC systems use the most energy and are the most expensive appliance in the typical home.

If painting your home isn’t in your plans, you can increase its energy efficiency by having your HVAC system serviced by a pro annually to maximize its performance. For more information, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, serving 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).  

4 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Heat Pump

Retrieving data. Wait a few seconds and try to cut or copy again.Heat pumps offer a more energy-efficient way to keep your Portland home warm when it’s cold out. If you have this type of heating system, it’s important to keep the following information in mind.

Heat Pumps Are Programmable

You can make your heat pump even more energy-efficient by using it with a programmable thermostat. This type of thermostat makes it easy for you to adjust the temperature inside your home on a regular basis. All you need to do is program the thermostat to increase or decrease by a few degrees at certain times in order to save energy. For example, you can have your programmable thermostat drop a few degrees at night while you’re asleep or during the day when you’re at work. Your heating system won’t run as often during these times, which reduces energy usage, utility bills and wear and tear on your heating system.

Heat Pumps Need Regular Maintenance

Heat pumps are much more efficient than gas furnaces, but they need routine maintenance in order to stay this way. Regular maintenance helps catch potential problems early and ensures that your heat pump is in good condition for the heating season.

Heat Pumps Have a Defrost Cycle

If you notice what looks like smoke coming from your outdoor heating unit, don’t panic. Heat pumps often produce steam when they go into defrost mode during winter. When the defrost cycle is on, the auxiliary heat inside your home might come on to ensure that your home stays warm.

Heat Pumps Cool Homes

Heat pumps aren’t just for heating homes. They also keep them cool during summer. Your heat pump provides your home with comfort all year long, whether it’s hot or cold out. Keep in mind that this means your heat pump will also need routine maintenance during the summer months. This helps it stay efficient when it’s cooling your home.

If your heat pump needs service or repairs this season, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We provide prompt, reliable HVAC services for customers in and around 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).  

How to Prepare Your Plumbing for Frozen Temperatures

How to Prepare Your Plumbing for Frozen TemperaturesLast winter Portland saw record low temperatures. While the thermostat seldom dips below freezing here, whenever it’s predicted it’s a good idea to survey your home and property and prepare for the worst. Besides wrapping or covering vulnerable plants, you also want to protect your pipes from the predicted frozen temperature drop.

Protecting Your Pipes

When water in your pipes freezes, it will expand and can burst your pipes and cause flooding. Here’s how to protect pipes.

Outdoors

If you don’t regularly disconnect your outdoor hoses and wrap your faucets when freezing temperatures are predicted, you should. Drain faucets and wrap them with a commercially manufactured faucet cover, or use old towels. It’s best to turn the faucet off at the inside valve if you can, and leave the faucet open to drain. Leaving a trickle of water running slightly will also help.

Water sprinkler lines and swimming pool supply lines are also vulnerable and should be protected. Never use antifreeze, which is attractive to pets and some wild animals and can kill them.

Inside

If you have pipes running through the basement, attic or the crawl space, increase the insulation in those areas to prevent freezing. This will also help lower your utility bill.

Inspect your home for any areas where pipes located on an exterior wall might freeze, such as in a kitchen or bathroom. Even though you might think you’ll always keep the temperatures high enough to avoid freezing, you could have a furnace breakdown in the midst of a cold spell. If this happens when you’re away, you could return to a flooded home. Pipes in cabinets may be particularly at risk.

Wrap pipes in a pipe sleeve or use heat tape or a heated cable. The latter methods rely on electricity so won’t help if your power goes out. You can also wrap pipes in 1/4-inch-thick newspaper or insulation. Also, leave the cabinet door open during cold spells so the heat gets inside the cabinets.

To learn more about protecting pipes when a frozen temperature prediction is issued, contact Roth Heating and 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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Should You Invest in a Tankless Water Heater?

Should You Invest in a Tankless Water Heater?The most common reason most homeowners cite for choosing a tankless water heater is to save money on water heating costs and to save indoor space. As valid as these reasons are, there are other factors to consider before going ahead with a tankless upgrade.

How big is your family?

An average-sized tankless water heater won’t have trouble keeping up with a family of four, but if it’s larger, you may need to stagger bathing schedules or install a larger unit.

How’s the water pressure?

Homes with low water pressure might experience sudden drops in hot water volume, resulting in brief spurts of cold water while bathing. Before ruling out a tankless heater, ask a plumber to help you identify the cause of poor indoor water pressure and find solutions.

Is storage space at a premium?

  • Tankless water heaters use much less space than storage tank heaters. Depending on where you put it, you might be able to add storage or closet space.
  • Tankless systems are an alternative to a new storage tank heater that might require home modifications, especially if you need a large heater. New water heaters use more space because they require more tank insulation, need more venting, or are substantially taller.

How far away are the bathrooms from the water heater?

If the bathrooms are a distance from the water heater, you may want to install point-of-use heaters for the bathrooms. Not only will a separate tank deliver immediate hot water, it cuts water waste.

What kind of electrical service do you have or does gas run to your property?

A standard tankless system requires 200 amp service, but if you need a larger unit, you’ll need to upgrade the wiring to 300 amps, which will add to the installation costs. If you have natural gas running to your property, you can select this fuel for the water heater.

A tankless water heater uses less energy than a storage heater and may be the ideal choice for your home. For more expert advice, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, your plumbing experts for 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). 

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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). 

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