Tag Archives: air conditioning

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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Air Conditioner Leaking? Advice to Stay Cool

Air Conditioner Leaking? Advice to Stay CoolWhen you have a water leak in your home, you may be expecting a problem with water pipes that can be handled by your local plumber. If, on the other hand, your air conditioner is leaking water, you may not be so certain which steps to take to resolve the issue, or even know how serious a leaking air conditioner can be.

In fact, water leaks caused by your air conditioner should be handled quickly to stay cool and dry and to prevent water damage to your home. Read on to learn if you can handle repairing a leaking air conditioner yourself or if you should call in an HVAC service provider.

Air Conditioners and Condensation

There are a few different reasons your air conditioner may be leaking water. Though, the water comes from only one source — condensation forming on the cold evaporator coil.

As warm return airflow is pulled across the evaporator coil, water vapor in the air stream condenses on the evaporator’s surface — much the same as water droplets forming on a cold glass of water on a warm summer day. The water condensation is completely normal in an air conditioning system, but water leaks are not.

Remedying Air Conditioner Leaks

Under normal air conditioner operation, the condensation that forms on the evaporator drips into a condensate pan. Gravity pulls the water into a drain tube and empties into your home’s plumbing or it’s conveyed outside your home. If your air conditioner is leaking, it’s likely due to one of the following issues:

  • The condensate pan overflows due to a blockage, such as debris and mold growth.
  • A faulty float switch fails to turn off the air conditioner.
  • The leak may be due to a rusted or cracked condensate pan.

You can clear a clogged drain line using a wet/dry vacuum to pull the blockage through the line. Broken float switches and pans should be inspected and replaced by an HVAC professional.

If you have a leaking air conditioner, stay calm, cool and dry by contacting Roth Heating & Cooling for the best HVAC services 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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Discover Creative Ways to Hide Your Outdoor HVAC Unit

Discover Creative Ways to Hide Your Outdoor HVAC UnitLet’s face it, your outdoor HVAC unit is not the most attractive feature on your property. Also known as the condensing unit, the outdoor component of your HVAC system is installed where it is for optimal performance, not for how it meshes with your landscaping design. Fortunately there are ways to make the outdoor unit less obtrusive. Here’s how.

Plantings

The simplest way to hide the outdoor HVAC unit is to plant around it, but be careful what you plant. Choose ornamental grasses that don’t grow too tall and that are easily managed. Some smaller-sized shrubs are fine, but avoid bushes that might interfere when your HVAC tech works on the unit, like thorny rosebushes or prickly holly. Keep shrubs trimmed back so there’s a 2- to 3-foot clear space around the unit for good ventilation.

Do not plant trees or shrubs that are likely to drop seeds, fruit, or debris that might clog the venting around the unit’s metal cage. Plant debris can close the vents and restrict airflow around the unit. Good airflow ensures that the condenser can exhaust heat properly.

Structures

Erecting a fence around the condensing unit is an easy way to hide it. Leave at least 2 feet around the condenser and an entrance/exit to the unit for your technician. Whatever material you choose for the fence should permit airflow. Check with your local zoning authority to make sure you comply with all regulations for fencing.

Building a dedicated, well-ventilated structure around the unit is another option. A utility closet, constructed with materials that harmonize well with your landscaping, could be erected to house tools as well as the condensing unit. The roof of the structure should be at least 5 to 6 feet above the unit and well-ventilated.

A trellis is another easy solution for keeping the unit out of sight. Plant attractive vines such as clematis, passionflower, or trumpet vine to grow up the trellis.

For more on how to hide an outdoor HVAC unit, contact Roth Heating and Cooling of Portland. We’ve been providing quality customer service 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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HVAC Stands for More Than Just Heating and Cooling

HVAC Stands for More Than Just Heating and CoolingIn Portland’s mild climate, it’s easy to ignore your home comfort systems, but doing so can cost you. Learning exactly what HVAC stands for will help you start building the knowledge you need to improve your comfort and lower your bills.

Heating

Heating, the H in HVAC, usually comes from either a furnace or a heat pump. A furnace burns fuel, such as natural gas or propane, to create a flame. A fan in the furnace blows your home’s air over a heat exchanger, which moves heat from the flame into the air. The warm air continues into your ducts and out to your rooms.

A heat pump is, in essence, an air conditioner that can work in reverse. In heating mode, it uses the refrigerant it contains to absorb heat from the outdoor air and move it into your home. It’s the most efficient electric heating method available and ideal for our climate.

Ventilation

The V in HVAC stands for ventilation, an easily overlooked part of your home comfort system. Although it doesn’t directly affect something as noticeable as your room temperature, good ventilation has a number of benefits. Simple exhaust fans remove odors and excess humidity.

A balanced whole-house ventilation system goes a step further by removing stale indoor air, which contains contaminants, odors, and humidity, and replacing it with the same amount of fresh outdoor air. These systems are especially important in modern airtight homes, which receive less natural airflow than drafty older houses. With whole-house ventilation, you’ll enjoy healthier, fresher-smelling air throughout your home.

Air Conditioning

The AC in HVAC stands for air conditioning, which can be supplied by either an air conditioner, used when the home also has a furnace, or a heat pump. An air conditioner and a heat pump in cooling mode work the same way, using refrigerant to carry heat out of your home. These systems also reduce humidity as they cool.

Whether your home could use an improvement in airflow, or your heating or cooling system is due for an upgrade, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling in the Portland area.

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

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Air Conditioning Options for Your Attic Remodel

It’s nice to make use of available space in your home. After all, why should attic space go unused? Deciding on air conditioning an attic remodel takes some thought. Consider the following three methods that are often used to cool livable attic space.

Extend the Existing System

If you already have a central air conditioning system, installing additional ductwork and connecting it to the system may be a practical option. This design can work if the current air conditioner is large enough to cool the extra load. Keep in mind that upper floors and attics are substantially warmer than the ground floor. Your HVAC contractor should perform a load calculation of your home to determine feasibility.

Replace the Old Air Conditioner With a New, Larger System

New air conditioning systems are designed for better efficiency and comfort than those manufactured 10 or 20 years ago. If you have an older air conditioner that still uses ozone-depleting refrigerant, consider upgrading to a new system that’s sized to cool your home and the attic remodel.

Add an Independent System

Installing an independent air conditioner for the attic space is an attractive option. An independent system may be a new central air conditioner and air ducts, or you may decide to go ductless like many other homeowners.

Ductless air conditioners are low profile units that use point-of-use air handlers so there’s no need for ductwork. Refrigerant lines are piped inside the walls, which provide unobtrusive installation and function. Considering the unique heat gain elements of attic space, an independent system makes sense for greater comfort.

Home Efficiency Upgrades

Have an energy audit performed before any cooling or heating upgrade. An energy audit pinpoints where energy is being wasted. Air sealing and adding insulation lower the home’s load and may help you decide which cooling option is best.

For more information about air conditioning an attic remodel in your Portland home, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve provided HVAC services to Portland area homeowners 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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3 Ventilation Options That Can Help Cool Your Home

3 Ventilation Options That Can Help Cool Your HomeA good home ventilation system can greatly reduce or even eliminate your reliance on an air conditioner for cooling in your Portland home. This can dramatically lower utility bills. Here are three home ventilation options to consider to help keep your home cool without spending too much.

Natural Ventilation

By opening windows in your home during the cooler morning and evening hours, you can let the wind naturally cool your home. Open windows on the shady side of your home to draw in cool air and open windows on the opposite side to create a cross-breeze. In homes with multiple stories, open windows on each floor, allowing hot air to rise and exit out of the upper windows while cooler air is naturally drawn in from the lower windows to replace it. Close the windows during the heat of the day to retain the cool air.

Ceiling and Portable Fans

In combination with natural ventilation or even with air conditioning, fans can help you feel cooler at the same temperature. Install ceiling fans in common areas such as the living room, and use portable fans for individual cooling. To improve natural ventilation, use box fans in windows on the opposite sides of your home, with one exhausting air and one drawing air in, which will create a stronger cross-breeze. Because fans make you feel cooler by drawing away perspiration, not by actually cooling the air, you should turn off fans when you leave the room to save energy.

Whole-House Fans

Whole-house fans are typically installed in the floor of the attic and through the ceiling below, allowing them to draw hot air out of the home and exhaust it through the attic vents. Cool air is then drawn in through open windows to replace the exhausted air. Whole-house fans move large volumes of air and can sometimes replace an air conditioner in cooler areas while using less than 25 percent of the energy.

For more information about home ventilation options, talk to our HVAC experts at Roth Heating and Cooling. We proudly serve the Portland area.

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

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How Do Evaporator & Condenser Coils Actually Function?

How Do Evaporator & Condenser Coils Actually Function?For a lot of folks, air conditioning is just as mysterious as it is essential. They appreciate the creation of cool air in the summer, but really have no idea how it works. Yet, understanding the technology is a good idea so when your air conditioner breaks down, you’ll have at least general idea of what’s happening. A review of how evaporator and condenser coils contribute to cooling your home should be a key part of any explanation of air conditioning.

How a Central A/C Works

Refrigerant (also called coolant) is essential to any air conditioning or refrigeration system. Made to transition easily from liquid to gas and back to liquid again, the refrigerant moves through the A/C system, removing heat from inside the house and releasing it outside into the air. The refrigerant does this inside evaporator and condenser coils.

Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil, in homes with furnaces, typically is located in a metal box fitted on top of the furnace. In homes without gas furnaces, usually in mild-winter climates, the evaporator coil is often located in a dedicated air-handling unit. As the refrigerant is pumped through the copper evaporator coil, it turns into a gaseous state as it absorbs heat and moisture from the inside air. When heat and water vapor is removed, the result is cool, drier air. The blower and ducts do the rest of the job of circulating conditioned air throughout the home.

Condensing Coil

After removing heat from the home, the A/C pumps the heated refrigerant outside to the condenser/compressor, a metal box usually positioned on a concrete pad next to the house. A compressor pressurizes the refrigerant, returning it to a liquid state, and in the condenser coil, the refrigerant releases heat into the air with the aid of an exhaust fan.

For the essential heat exchange to occur properly, the evaporator and condenser coils must be cleaned regularly, and airflow must be maintained to both outside and inside units. To schedule a spring maintenance tune-up for your Portland area home’s central air conditioner, 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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Are These Cooling Myths Keeping You From Saving?

Are These Cooling Myths Keeping You From Saving?Myths about money are everywhere, and when they are tied to your Portland home’s energy use, you may have fallen for them. Everyone wants to keep cool but still save money and energy this summer. Take a moment to learn about, and avoid, these cooling myths. Continue reading