Tag Archives: air conditioner

Benefits of A/C Surge Protectors

Benefits of A/C Surge ProtectorsSurge protectors commonly protect valuable electronics like computers and home entertainment systems, but have you thought about your central A/C? Today’s air conditioners incorporate vulnerable microprocessors and circuit boards, all of which can be damaged by a transient voltage surge originating from external causes or from sources within your house. The most expensive single A/C component, the system compressor, also incorporates circuitry that could be damaged and necessitate costly replacement or perhaps even an entirely new system.

Power surges have many causes. Lightning striking as far as a half-mile away can send a surge through utility wires that damages household circuits. Common disruptions on the utility grid such as brownouts and blackouts typically include voltage irregularities that can also zap sensitive A/C components. Power surges in indoor wiring can occur due to indoor sources, as well, such as defective appliances or short circuits.

Here are two ways surge protectors installed by a qualified professional electrician can shield your A/C from expensive damage and/or early replacement due to voltage surges:

At The Main Electrical Panel

A central air conditioner is hard-wired directly into a dedicated circuit. Therefore, the primary level of surge protection must be installed at the main electrical panel. A whole-house surge protector will defend all household circuit from voltage irregularities that occur on the utility power line where it enters the house. As an alternative to whole-house protection, a surge protector can be installed at the main panel only on the dedicated circuit that serves the A/C unit.

At The A/C Unit

Surge protection installed at the main electrical panel may not protect against voltage spikes triggered by indoor sources. For maximum defense, a second dedicated surge protector can be installed at the power disconnect switch that controls power to the outdoor A/C condenser unit.

For more information about a surge protector to defend your air conditioner against damaging voltage spikes, contact the professionals 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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Warning Signs Your A/C System is Dying

Warning Signs Your A/C System is DyingVapor compression, electrical, water drainage, computer technology and air quality — your air conditioner utilizes and links together an array of mechanics and properties to cool your home. As an A/C system ages or if it isn’t well maintained, a lot can go wrong. Following are warning signs that indicate your A/C unit is experiencing problems or dying.

Strange Noises

With a compressor, blower motor and airflow, air conditioners make noise — some more than others. If you hear any of these unusual noises, your A/C system needs immediate attention:

  • Droning: Laborious droning and whirring noises from your outdoor unit indicate significant compressor problems.
  • Grinding: Grinding and screeching noises from the indoor air handler or outdoor unit are telltale signs of a failing blower motor.
  • Clicking: If your A/C system won’t turn on and makes a rapid clicking noise, you have electrical problems to contend with.
  • Duct noises: Rattling, clamoring, whooshing and even banging noises from the air vents are usually caused by problems with ductwork design. Take care of duct problems before they affect your A/C system.

Too Many Repairs

When you’re uncomfortable, there’s no such thing as a small A/C repair. However, if your A/C has needed frequent repairs in recent years, you may be better off upgrading to a new A/C unit with a warranty. Talk to your A/C technician about lifetime costs of different A/C models. The lifetime cost is your estimated investment for the A/C purchase, installation, energy usage and maintenance from day one to the end of its useful service life.

Poor Performance, High Energy Bills

With so many interlinking systems, one unresolved A/C problem often causes another… and another. For example, an old compressor may cause ice to accumulate on the evaporator. Leaky air ducts make your A/C work harder. In both instances, your home comfort suffers, energy bills increase and other A/C parts may begin to fail.

Sooner or later, you’ll need to replace your A/C system. Start planning your new system by working with reputable HVAC professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve helped Lake Oswego homeowners with HVAC decisions 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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How to Quiet Your A/C

How to Quiet Your A/CAs the cooling season gets into full swing, quieting the A/C isn’t impossible and might give you a good night’s sleep and a better relationship with the neighbors. Sometimes all it takes is a little soundproofing material, or it might involve a mechanical repair.

Air conditioners have three major parts that make noise. The first, and noisiest, is the compressor in the outdoor condenser. This part changes the pressure of the refrigerant and it makes a lot of noise each time it runs.

The other noise-prone parts are the fans in the condenser and the indoor air handler. Their motors power the fans and they, too, create noise, although not on the same scale as the compressors.

Using Soundproofing

It’s possible to build enclosures for outdoor condensers that will absorb the noise the compressor and fan motor make. It’s not a do-it-yourself project because condensers need ample airflow through them to cool the hot refrigerant coming from your home. An HVAC contractor can build such an enclosure for quieting an A/C.

Mechanical Issues

Odd sounds, like screeching, grinding and rattling indicate mechanical problems with air conditioners. When the noises come from the air handler, the problem is likely to be the blower motor or problems with the fan. The components may need oiling, the bearings might be worn, or the belt might need to be adjusted.

Outdoors, the root of the noise may be a failing compressor, a dry blower motor, or loose mounts inside the condenser.

Most of the time, routine professional maintenance prevents these noises since lubrication and adjustments are part of professional servicing.

System Replacements

If you need an HVAC replacement, look for a new system that uses quieter motors or has a compressor designed to minimize noise. A/C systems have decibel ratings and the lower the number, the quieter the system.

Before the long summer comes, taking steps for quieting the A/C will increase your comfort indoors and out. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing HVAC services for Lake Oswego -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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Common Causes of a Noisy Air Conditioner

Common Causes of a Noisy Air ConditionerA noisy air conditioner is both irritating and worrisome. If your A/C is making loud banging, hissing or high-pitched squealing sounds, contact your HVAC pro as these noises can indicate a potentially serious problem that needs immediate attention. You can try fixing the following less serious sounds on your own.

Rattling or Murmuring Coming From the Fan

To solve these common sounds, open the air handler cabinet, vacuum out any loose debris from around the fan and clean the blades. If the fan blades seem loose, tighten the hub using an Allen wrench or screwdriver. Finally, examine the blades and if any appear bent, apply gentle pressure to straighten it.

Humming or Grinding From the Blower Motor

These sounds originating at the blower are often a sign that the motor needs lubrication. If your unit has oil ports, you can lubricate it by adding a couple of drops of SAE 10 oil to each one. You can also prevent a recurrence by making a habit of oiling the motor at the start of each cooling season.

Rattling Noises In the Air Handler or Condenser Cabinet

The mechanical components housed in the indoor air handler and outdoor condenser units vibrate slightly when they’re running. Over time, this can loosen cabinet panel or mounting screws that weren’t fully tightened and result in a rattling noise. To correct this, simply follow the sound to its source, and tighten up the loose screw(s) with a screwdriver.

Low-Key Buzzing from the Outdoor Condenser Coil

The outdoor unit can start to get noisy when debris accumulates on the coil, so hose it down carefully with your garden hose. If it’s still noisy, check to see if the aluminum fins look bent. If they do, straightening them may help lessen the noise, but don’t use a sharp implement. Instead, buy an inexpensive tool called a fin comb, then insert the comb’s teeth in between the fins and gently slide it to straighten the bent ones.

For an expert diagnosis of what’s causing a noisy air conditioner in your Portland home, contact us today 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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Condensation On My Air Conditioner Unit: Should I Be Worried?

Condensation On My Air Conditioner Unit: Should I Be Worried?When something is wrong with your air conditioner, it will let you know in a number of different ways. Maybe you have a gut feeling your energy bills are too high, and you certainly know when your home is uncomfortable. Another sign your air conditioner is failing is condensation collecting on and/or around it. Switch the thermostat and your panic buttons off, and keep reading before you make your next call.

What Harm is a Little Water?

Water condensation on your air conditioner’s evaporator coil is normal. However, as you’ve realized, water leaking from your air conditioner onto your floor is not acceptable. Depending on where your indoor A/C unit is located, condensate leaks may cause damage to your ceiling, walls, flooring and/or other building materials and property.

What to Do?

In order to know what to do about a leaky A/C, it’s helpful to know how condensation forms and the most common reasons why it’s leaking. Condensation forms as a result of water vapor in warm airflow being pulled across the cold evaporator coil. Under normal conditions, the condensate drips into a pan, flows down the drain and through a tube away from your home. End of story — unless your A/C unit is experiencing these problems:

  • A blockage in the drain tube is causing an overflow. Your HVAC technician uses either a powerful blower or heavy-duty vacuum to push or pull the blockage through. Then, the line is chemically treated.
  • The float switch has malfunctioned. Some air conditioners have a float switch that turns off the unit when water fills the drip pan too high. If your A/C is equipped with such a device, but it’s not working, it needs to be repaired or replaced.
  • The drip pan has rusted through or it has broken. Your technician can simply replace the drip pan.

Ask your HVAC technician or plumber if your A/C has a float switch. If not, you’d be wise to have one installed in the drain trap. For assistance repairing air conditioner condensation problems in your Portland 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).

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How to Solve Common A/C Condensate Drain Issues

How to Solve Common A/C Condensate Drain IssuesAs part of its function, your air conditioner provides a measure of dehumidification while also cooling your living spaces. The water from this dehumidification process is usually removed through the system’s condensate drain. When this drain develops problems, however, it can result in several different types of moisture-related issues.

Condensate Drain Problems

  • Clogs and blockages: The environment inside a condensate drain is consistently moist and moderate in temperature, which creates a perfect place for mold and algae to grow and create partial or total blockages of the drain.
  • Leaks and overflows: Blocked drains can cause water to overflow and drip into your walls, onto flooring and carpets, and into areas where it can cause unseen damage. The amount of water involved may not be substantial, but the damage can still be very real and very annoying.
  • Odors: Unpleasant odors can sometimes come from the condensate drain, especially if it dries out and loses the layer of water that blocks odors from deeper in the drain line.

Solutions to Condensate Drain Problems

  • Pressure cleaning: Pressure can be used to blast away clogs inside a condensate drain. A wet-dry vacuum hose can usually produce enough pressure to remove most blockages.
  • Physical cleaning: Physical force from a piece of wire or other object may be needed to literally break apart a drain line clog. Simply inserting the wire inside the drain and moving it around should be sufficient to break up common clogs.
  • Professional cleaning: If the clogs are sufficiently extensive, you may need help from your local plumbing professional to clear the drain line. Your plumber will have the right equipment for getting rid of stubborn blockages.
  • Algaecide: It may be necessary to apply an algaecide or other inhibitor to your drain line to reduce algae and mold growth. Ask your plumber if this would be a good idea in your situation.

Roth Heating and Cooling has served Portland, Hillsboro, Canby, and the neighboring Oregon communities for nearly 40 years. Contact us today for more information on what to do when you have condensate drain problems in your air conditioning system.

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 Ratings for Air Conditioners

Understanding Ratings for Air ConditionersYour central air conditioning system contains some of the most costly equipment you’ll buy for your home, and with a service life of 10 to 15 years or more, it’s a long-term investment. If you’re considering replacing your older equipment, it makes good sense to compare different models within your budget to help you make the wisest choice.

Why Comparing Air Conditioner Ratings Matters

It takes a lot of energy to run an air conditioner during a typical cooling season, so the equipment’s efficiency has a big impact on how much you spend to keep your home comfortable. This makes it vital to understand how equipment efficiency is measured. Every new A/C has an EnergyGuide label that’s in place to help consumers compare energy usage and features when they’re shopping for new equipment. One of the key pieces of information you’ll find on an air conditioner label is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER.

What is the SEER Rating and What Does it Tell You?

An air conditioner’s SEER rating is assigned by the U.S. Department of Energy. This numerical rating measures the efficiency of the equipment over a single cooling season, and a higher number indicates greater efficiency. Essentially, SEER tells you the equipment’s total cooling output in British thermal units (Btu) compared to its total energy consumption in watt-hours. Air conditioners on the market today are more efficient than ever before with ratings ranging between SEER 14 and 26.

The Other Air Conditioner Rating: EER

Another A/C rating that you’ll find mentioned in Energy Star specifications is the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). This rating is a snapshot of the efficiency of an air conditioner operating at peak conditions with an outdoor temperature of 95 degrees, an indoor temperature of 80 degrees, and 50 percent humidity. More efficient equipment will have a higher EER.

Both of these ratings are valuable when you’re comparing air conditioners, because they tell you how efficient the equipment is in different operating situations.

To learn more about air conditioner ratings when choosing new equipment for 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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Can Two-Stage Cooling Benefit Your Home?

Can Two-Stage Cooling Benefit Your Home?An innovative upgrade for central cooling systems that works well in our region is two-stage cooling. Such a system contains technology that tells the compressor how fast to run based on the amount of cooling needed. Most of the time it will run at its slower speed. A single-stage system only runs at high speed, which creates some issues with energy consumption, indoor comfort, and the long term performance of the equipment.

Energy Savings

The compressor for an air conditioner changes the pressure of the refrigerant that removes the heat from the air. It’s the hardest working, moving part inside cooling systems and it works more efficiently when it can run more slowly for a longer period.

The compressor consumes the most electricity when it first starts up, which is also when most of the wear occurs. A system that runs for longer periods in slower cycles doesn’t start and stop frequently, and consequently lasts longer and uses less electricity.

Increased Comfort

Since the air handler for a two-stage cooling system continues to move air until the compressor shuts off, rooms further from the air handler receive more cooled air, helping them reach and maintain cooler temperatures. Increased running time also improves the air quality, since more air goes through the air filter. Two-stage systems run more quietly inside and out, an important consideration if the air handler or condenser sits close to bedroom or living areas.

Two-stage systems remove excess humidity, an important benefit of air conditioning. Not only does excess humidity make you feel warmer, it can harm your home and your health. A system that runs slower for longer periods will have time to condense more water vapor without having to turn the temperature down as you would with a single-speed system. Lower humidity levels in the summer improve air quality by reducing the dust mite population and lowering mold growth.

Although a two-stage cooling system will cost more initially, it will pay for itself in energy savings and greater indoor comfort. 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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Your Attic: Is it an Energy and Money Waster?

Your Attic: Is it an Energy and Money Waster?Not all attic spaces are created equal. Some may be furnished and livable, while others may be little more than crawl spaces for ductwork to pass through. But regardless of how your attic is used, its position at the top of your house makes it an important part of your home’s thermal envelope — and means that, if it’s not handled correctly, it could be costing you energy and money.

During the hot months, attic spaces are warmed by the sunlight hitting the roof. If the attic has poor ventilation, it may warm up to a temperature significantly higher than the outdoor air, and that heat can then radiate downward into your home, causing your air conditioner to work harder to compensate. In the cooler months, though, warm air rising into attic spaces is lost to your living areas — and may escape from your home altogether, causing your furnace to work harder to make up for it. Both of these mean that you end up spending more money on your heating and cooling.

There are several ways to combat this energy loss. One is to seal any air leaks in your attic space, and insulate it thoroughly. Air leaks allow conditioned air to escape your home, while insufficient insulation allows heat energy to move into or out of your home without needing to be carried by air currents. In Portland, it’s recommended that you insulate attic spaces to between R38 and R60. Be sure to have your attic inspected — especially if it’s a crawl space attic or an attic in an older home, it may have developed new air leaks or other concerns as your house has aged and settled.

Another approach is to add ventilation to your attic space. Ventilation can exhaust hot, stale air and bring in fresh, cooler air, reducing the threat of radiant heat.

To learn more about how you can keep your attic space from costing you money, call 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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Back-to-School HVAC Tips

Back-to-School HVAC TipsWith the turning of the year in Portland, it’s a good time to make sure that your home will be cozy through the Pacific Northwest’s rainy winter. Now is the time to check over your home HVAC system and make sure that everything is in tip-top shape for the winter months ahead. Here are some of the tasks that should be on your to-do list:

  • Schedule seasonal maintenance. Before you switch your furnace on for the first time, have an HVAC technician come out and have a look at it. Seasonal maintenance can ensure that your system works at its peak efficiency throughout the heating season, and it can also help to detect and head off any potential larger issues.
  • Clean the coils of your air conditioner or heat pump. The indoor an outdoor coils of your A/C or heat pump transfer heat energy from (or into) your home. If they’re dusty, they can’t do so as efficiently, which means that you’ll spend more money on the same amount of cooling or heating.
  • Seal air leaks in your ductwork. Air leaks and insufficient insulation in home air ducts accounts for a 30 percent energy loss in many homes: conditioned air simply never reaches the living areas it’s intended for. Save money and energy by sealing any leaks, and making sure ducts are adequately insulated.
  • Change the air filters for your HVAC system. Clean air filters allow air to flow freely through your system, while clogged filters slow airflow and put strain on your system’s fan motor. That strain can lead to total system failure.
  • Invest in a dehumidifier. High humidity can encourage the growth of mold, mildew, bacteria, and fungus, which can threaten your health and the health of your home. A dehumidifier will help you manage indoor moisture through the rainy months.

If you want to know how you can prepare your home HVAC system for the winter ahead, give us a call 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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