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).

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Is Your Home Prepared for Winter Power Outages?

Is Your Home Prepared for Winter Power Outages?Sooner or later, power outages are bound to happen to everyone. All you can do is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Additionally, help keep yourself and your loved ones safe and calm with these tips for preparing for a power outage in your home.

Emergency Kit

You may have many of the items for your emergency preparedness kit scattered around your home. Your kit should contain a lantern, flashlights, batteries, glow sticks, a battery-operated radio and a first-aid kit. Use a plastic bin to store the items in an easily accessible place.

Make a safety checklist and keep it in your emergency kit, too. Include the following steps on your list:

  • Account for everyone in your home.
  • Turn off the gas valve to your furnace if necessary.
  • Fill your bathtubs with water.
  • Call family and friends in other parts of your area to see if power is out there, too. However, conserve phone battery power.

Store Food, Water, and Ice

Stock up on essential canned foods. Don’t forget treats, such as granola bars, fruit filling and other fun foods in addition to canned meats, fruits, and vegetables. Use containers of various sizes to store ice in your freezer and water in your refrigerator.

Keep Warm

Staying warm is essential. Keep everyone in the same room or general area in your home. The combined body heat and breathing will help the room stay warmer. Bring out extra blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags. Make yourself as comfortable as possible.

Stand-by Generator

Shop your local home store for stand-by generators. If you already have one, make sure it’s in good working order.

Backup Place to Stay

Contact family and friends to see if their power is out. Try to find an alternate location to stay until your power comes back on.

Have Fun!

Make the most of your time “off the grid.” Play games, make shadow puppets, read stories, or look through photo albums using your glow sticks.

For more information about preparing for a power outage for your Portland area home, contact us 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).

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During Cold Spells, Don’t Forget to Bundle Up Your Water Heater

During Cold Spells, Don't Forget to Bundle Up Your Water HeaterThe costs of water heating ranges from 14 to 20 percent of the average household’s energy budget. That’s plenty of incentive to keep your water heater in good working order — especially during cooler weather. Use these tips to keep a tight lid on your hot water bill this winter, help your system run better and to enjoy uninterrupted hot water service.

Signs of Wear

Take a look at the storage tank. Do you see any rust spots or water stains? These are signs of leaky gaskets. Ask your service provider to inspect the unit.

Another sign that your water heater needs professional maintenance is fluctuating hot water temperatures. Common causes for this are a failing heating element, sediment buildup inside the tank, a broken dip tube or faulty thermostat.

Temperature Check

If your water heater is heating up water greater than 120 degrees, you’re wasting energy. Use a thermometer to check hot water temperature at a faucet. Turn back the temperature dial a notch and wait a few hours before checking water temperature again.

Insulation

Inefficient water heaters lose more heat energy through the sides, top and bottom of the tank. This is called standby heat loss, and makes your system work harder — use more energy — to keep stored water at a consistent temperature. Insulation jackets and sleeves for the storage tank help reduce standby heat loss, reduce wear, and save you money.

You should also insulate the pipes at the storage tank, under sinks and at your clothes washer. Insulating pipe sleeves increase water temperature, reduce waiting time and save you money, too.

Drain the Tank

If you don’t flush out your storage tank once a year, you are flushing money down the drain. Mineral and sediment buildup inside the tank reduce heating efficiency and shorten the lifespan of your water heater. Your service provider should flush the tank during preventive service. However, you should drain a gallon of water at the temperature pressure and relief valve every couple of months.

For professional water heater assistance, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve served Portland-area residents 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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Are Home Space Heaters Dangerous?

Are Home Space Heaters Dangerous?Home space heaters can be a boost to your all-round comfort in winter. They can also help you save money, by providing spot warming so you can keep the furnace thermostat lower. But any auxiliary heater has its hazards. Learn how to use them — but with care.

The Hazards of Space Heaters

Space heaters are the cause of as many as 18,000 residential fires annually in the U.S. Most of the time those fires occur because a home’s residents are using them improperly.

Whether a space heater is powered by electricity or combustion, improper use can lead to injury or death. Electric heaters are often the source of fires because of frayed cords, or from overheating due to plugging into an extension cord. Setting a heater too close to combustible materials may also result in fires.

Improperly vented combustion-powered heating may be the source of toxic fumes; without venting, a heater powered by natural gas, propane or kerosene should never be used indoors.

Safety First

If you plan to use an auxiliary heater to either warm a room or provide spot heating, be sure you adhere to some basic precautions:

  1. Never buy a heater without a safety grill, all its knobs and controls, feet and sensors to shut off the appliance in case it tips over. Dispose of old heaters without these features. Dispose of old heaters with frayed cords.
  2. Never operate an electric-powered heater in a wet room, such as a bathroom.
  3. Set heaters on level surfaces. Do not set them on combustible surfaces.
  4. Never place anything on top of a space heater.
  5. Don’t use auxiliary heaters in a child’s room.
  6. Position room heaters away from foot traffic.
  7. Run the power cord over the carpet, not under it.
  8. Turn space heaters off when you go to bed. Unplug them when you leave the house.
  9. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test them monthly.
  10. Purchase “UL Listed” heaters. The Underwriters Laboratory mark guarantees they have been tested for safety.

For more on proper use of space heaters, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We provide quality service to our Portland customers.

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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What is That Furnace Odor?

What is That Furnace Odor?A reliably working furnace is a must if you expect to stay comfortable in Portland’s chilly, wet winters, so a funny furnace smell can be a little unsettling. While some of these odors can be safely ignored, others require immediate attention.

Dust and Must

When your furnace kicks on for the first time in fall, you might notice the smell of burning dust. During the off season, dust settles on your furnace’s heat exchanger. When the system heats up again, the dust burns off. The odor is nothing to worry about and should disappear within a few hours.

The smell of must or mildew is also relatively common when a furnace first starts up for the season. Sometimes this happens when a little mold collects in the air ducts, the air filter or the humidifier while the system isn’t in use. If the odor doesn’t go away within a day and you know your filter and humidifier are clean, then you might have a serious mold problem in your ducts or elsewhere. Contact a technician for a duct inspection.

Urgent Issues

The odor of sulfur or rotten eggs means natural gas is leaking from somewhere. Open a window, get out of the house, and immediately contact your gas company. The smell of formaldehyde suggests a cracked heat exchanger, which can lead to a carbon monoxide leak. Turn your furnace off and call a technician.

If you smell hot or burning plastic, wires or rubber, your furnace could be close to catching fire. Turn it off and contact a technician. This type of furnace smell is usually caused by an overheating component or damaged wiring. Address the problem early and you can prevent further damage to your furnace.

The smell of smoke coming from an oil furnace is sometimes due to a dirty oil filter, nozzle or flue connector, or a blocked chimney. If you also hear banging or rumbling sounds, though, shut off the furnace and call for service.

If a strange furnace smell is bothering you, contact us for guidance at Roth Heating & Cooling in the Portland area.

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

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These are the Keys to Preventing Freezing Pipe Bursts

These are the Keys to Preventing Freezing Pipe BurstsPipe bursts can really ruin your day. Protecting your pipes when the Portland weather freezes can prevent devastating damage to your home and belongings as well as save you a considerable amount of money in cleanup costs. Here’s how to keep your pipes cozy to prevent them from freezing in the winter.

Insulate Your Pipes

Preventing pipe bursts starts with adequate insulation. Use inexpensive, pre-fabricated foam pipe insulation sleeves to insulate both hot and cold water pipes that run exposed through the basement, crawlspace, or other cold area. This is a good time to add an insulating jacket to your water heater to save on your energy bill.

Attach a Heat Cable to Your Pipes

When pipe bursts seem imminent due to freezing weather in the forecast, a heat cable can save the day. This flexible electric heating cable wraps around a plastic or metal pipe in an unconditioned area to prevent it from freezing. A built-in thermostat heats up the cable when the temperature dips below 38 degrees and turns it off when it reaches 45 degrees.

Open the Cabinets and Turn the Water On

To reduce the chances of kitchen or bathroom pipes on an exterior wall freezing, open the doors to the cabinets that house the pipes. On the coldest of days, leave warm water running very slowly to help combat freezing.

Don’t Forget the Outdoor Spigot

Once the gardening season ends and you no longer need the outdoor spigot, locate the shutoff valve and turn it off. Open the smaller valve on the side to drain the remaining water from the pipe.

If Your Pipes Burst

If your pipes burst while there’s still ice in them, turn off the water to the pipe and call a plumber. Knowing ahead of time where the main shutoff valve is can save you a few minutes of panic and enable you to contain the damage quickly if a burst pipe thaws and sends water rushing into your home.

For more expert advice about preventing pipe bursts, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling, proudly serving our Portland-area neighbors.
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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Everything You Need to Know About Heat Exchangers

Everything You Need to Know About Heat ExchangersHeat exchangers are found in all types of equipment, from refrigerators and air conditioners, to smoke stacks to diesel engines. But when we talk about the heat exchanger in your furnace, we mean a specific type of technology. Following is a brief explanation of what the heat exchanger in your furnace does.

Your Furnace’s Heat Exchanger

All heat exchangers perform the same function — that of moving heat from one fluid (a liquid or a gas) to another, but depending on the technology, they work in different ways.

The furnace heat exchanger uses fuel — propane, natural gas or oil — to create heat. The blower motor or fan then projects air over the heat exchanger and into your home’s ductwork, which distributes it throughout the home. Pretty simple, right?

To explain a little more in depth, the burners ignite and produce combustion gases. The gases are sent into the exchanger, where heat from the gases is transferred onto the walls of the heat exchanger.

As the gases cool, the draft inducer blower directs them into venting pipes and they are exhausted from the home. This takes place at the same time the hot air from the combustion gases is picking up heat from the heat exchanger walls, prior to being distributed through the ductwork.

What Can Go Wrong With the Heat Exchanger

Over time, a heat exchanger can develop cracks from the repeated heating and cooling of the metal. When this occurs, carbon monoxide may start leaking out. That said, modern heat exchangers are built with many improved safety features over old models, so malfunctions that can endanger your household are rare.

Annual maintenance on a furnace should include inspection of the heat exchanger for cracks. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home to ensure that accumulations from any malfunctioning combustion appliances do not mount to dangerous levels.

If you would like to know more about heat exchangers in particular or any of your other HVAC system parts, we can answer your questions. Contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We have 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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Need a New Toilet? Use Our Tips to Help You Shop

Need a New Toilet? Use Our Tips to Help You ShopSo, it’s time to buy a new toilet for your home, huh? You shouldn’t take this endeavor lightly. It calls for research and the proper selection of a unit that is right for you and your home. To help you out, we’ve compiled some great tips that will narrow your selection:

Start with Consumer Reports

The first thing you should do is check out a variety of reviews and information. A great place to start is the Consumer Reports website, where you can find out what experts think of different models, their flush rates, etc.

Lower Your Water Usage

Certain toilets are better for keeping your water usage down. We’re talking, of course, about high-efficiency and low-flow types. They may be slightly higher in price, but the water and money savings are more than worth it.

Pick Up a Pressure-Assist Model

Pressure-assist toilets work by holding water in a special tank, which is then released with great velocity to get rid of waste instead of relying on gravity. These models are perfect for homeowners who want to save water. Just be aware that pressure-assist types are very loud.

Make Clean-Up a Breeze

Cleaning a toilet is not only disgusting at times, but it’s annoying due to the way they’re designed with a series of nooks and crannies. If you invest in a wall-hung model, you won’t have this problem. These models are much easier to clean, even if they do look a little strange since their design is out of the norm.

Try a Taller Model

Toilets in the handicapped stalls in public restrooms must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to provide proper comfort. What many people don’t realize is that they can also be great for elderly persons in your household, along with those who are a bit on the tall side.

For more expert advice on finding a new toilet for your home, or if you have any other questions related to home comfort, please don’t hesitate to contact the friendly professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve been 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).

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Want to Save Money and Sleep Better? Lower the Temp

Want to Save Money and Sleep Better? Lower the TempThere’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to refresh us and restore our energy levels so we can work and perform better the next day. If you’re not getting a full night’s sleep, it could be because of a number of factors, but one of the main reasons for sleeplessness is going to bed in a room that’s too warm.

Sleep experts maintain that 65 degrees is the optimum temperature for sleeping. It’s also a good temperature to set your thermostat for saving money on utilities. So here’s why and how you can accomplish both goals at once: sleep better and save energy by just lowering the thermostat.

Sleeping Better in a Colder Room

Our bodies are ruled by a biological process called circadian rhythms. This is how we respond to the 24-hour cycle of dark and light that determines our sleepiness or wakefulness. Sometimes, things interfere with these rhythms and ruin our sleep — caffeine and other stimulants, alcohol, watching TV or looking at electronic devices near bedtime, keeping lights on when we go to bed, and also, it seems, keeping the thermostat too high in winter.

Circadian rhythms naturally lower our body temperatures when darkness falls and it’s time for sleep. When the furnace is on too high, we may start sweating or feeling uncomfortable and wake up as our bodies try to adjust our temperature downwards. By turning the thermostat down to 65 — or, as experts say, adjusting the temperature a little higher or lower to meet your body’s individual needs — you can eliminate that interrupting episode and perhaps sleep the whole night through.

Programming Savings

Installing a programmable thermostat is a great way to save energy when you do this:

  • Set the temperature lower in winter when you’re sleeping or away; set it higher in summer for the same periods.

A programmable thermostat eliminates the need to always remember to adjust the thermostat prior to bedtime.

To learn more about how to save energy with a programmable thermostat, contact Roth Heating and Cooling of Portland. We’ve been emphasizing excellent customer service 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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