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Here’s Back-to-School Maintenance Tips for Your Home

Here's Back-to-School Maintenance Tips for Your HomeIt’s that time of year again — back-to-school! Which means every homeowner out there needs to conduct a little maintenance on his or her home if they hope to keep costs under control. Here are a few quick tips that we suggest:

Replace Your Air Filter

Typically, an air filter needs to be replaced every 1-3 months. If you’ve been neglecting it a little over the summer because you’ve been too busy soaking up the sun, now’s the time to get it switched out for a new one. This will ensure that your heating and air conditioning equipment continues to work at an optimal level.

Seal the Ducts

Cooler temperatures are just around the corner, soon you’ll need to switch from air conditioning to heating. Before that happens, it’s essential that your ducts be checked for leaks and tears. This will keep the air circulating throughout your home without wasting energy.

Pick Up Around the Outdoor Unit

Over the summer, leaves and dirt can collect around your system’s outdoor unit. This can create a clogging situation, which can be a detriment to your heating and cooling efforts. This is an easy fix. All you have to do is remove any debris around the unit. Using a water hose is even more effective.

Perform Annual Maintenance

Once a year, it’s important that you enlist the help of a professional to make sure that your heating system is running properly. An annual maintenance (Precision Tune-up) will not only keep your equipment efficient, but can also prolong its operational life.

Clean the Condensate Drain

Your HVAC unit’s condensate drain can quickly become clogged with mold, algae, and other foreign substances. This can be cleaned by a water and bleach mixture two or three times a year to prevent any bigger issues from developing.

For more expert advice on back-to-school maintenance tips or any other home comfort questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the friendly professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical. We’ve been serving the Sherwood 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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Should Air Filters be Changed More Frequently During Summer?

Should Air Filters be Changed More Frequently During Summer? | RothEven though Portland’s summers are relatively mild, your air filter has a lot to deal with during the cooling season. Taking care of your filter correctly protects your comfort and your health.

How Summer Affects Your Air Filter

While it’s a good idea to inspect your filter once a month, during milder weather, you may not always need to change it monthly. During the cooling season, when you’re using your A/C almost daily, lower-efficiency filters should be changed every month. There are a few reasons for this.

Higher cooling demand — As your air conditioner runs, it pulls room air through the filter and the filter picks up debris from the air. If you’re running your A/C for hours a day most days, it will fill up quickly.

More air contaminants — Naturally higher summertime humidity encourages the growth of mold and bacteria, which worsens your indoor air quality. Plants that bloom in summer add pollen to your air. All this means more contaminants to clog up your filter.

Higher humidity — Humid indoor air provides ideal growing conditions for the mold spores and bacteria on your filter. Leave the filter in too long and it could develop mold that releases more spores into your air.

Know When to Change Your Air Filter

In summer, 1-inch fiberglass filters should be changed every month. Higher-efficiency filters, which have larger particle-trapping surfaces, can last up to 3 months. They also improve your indoor air quality, unlike lower-efficiency filters. Your air quality affects exactly how long they last. If you smoke, have pets or live near a major road or other source of pollution, the filter will become dirty faster.

Check the manufacturer’s recommendations on when to change the filter. To be on the safe side, once a month, remove the filter and hold it up to a light source. If you can’t see light through the filter, it’s time to put in a clean one.

For more guidance on keeping your air quality high, contact us 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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Tips for Remembering to Change Your Air Filter

Tips for Remembering to Change Your Air FilterWith warmer weather on the way, this is a good time to make sure your HVAC system is ready for the cooling season. One of the most important tasks to perform during this time is changing your air filter. This helps ensure that your system can run efficiently, and it also improves the air quality in your Portland home by removing filters covered in dust and debris. If you have trouble remembering to change your filter, keep the following tips in mind.

Label the Filters

Write the date that each filter should be changed on the cardboard edge with a permanent marker. When you’re not sure how long it’s been since you last changed filters, just look on these labels to see when you need to replace your current filter.

Set Reminders

Create a reminder on your phone, tablet or computer to let you know that it’s time to change your air filter. How often you need to change it depends on the types of filters you use. For example, high-efficiency filters usually don’t need to be changed as often, but this can make you more likely to forget to perform this task. Having a reminder on one of your electronic devices helps ensure that you won’t forget to change filters.

Store Filters in a Noticeable Spot

Having air filters stored in an out-of-the-way spot means you’re more likely to forget about them. Keeping them out in the open, such as on a shelf in your laundry room, can help you remember to change them on schedule. Consider putting a sticky note with the date they need to be changed on them in order to remind yourself.

Make It Part of Seasonal Cleaning

Plan on changing your air filter while doing other seasonal cleaning tasks, such as washing windows in spring or cleaning the gutters in fall. Grouping these tasks together can be a helpful reminder.

If you need HVAC maintenance this spring, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We offer dependable HVAC services for Portland 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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How to Decide Between Air Filtration and Air Cleaning

How to Decide Between Air Filtration and Air CleaningIf you’re concerned about maintaining indoor air quality in your Portland area home, it’s important to understand the difference between air filtration and air cleaning. While all forced-air heating and cooling systems have some form of air filtration, not all households have dedicated air cleaning systems. If you have family members who are susceptible to allergies or respiratory ailments, you’ll want to consider an air cleaning system.

First it helps to understand how basic air filtration works in an HVAC system. In most households, this involves a cheap, flat-panel fiberglass (or other synthetic) filter that goes into a slot in your furnace compartment, usually where the ductwork attaches. Before air is drawn into the furnace or A/C for conditioning, the filter removes some proportion of the solid particulates in that air. However, the main purpose of a low- or standard-efficiency air filter is to protect HVAC components rather than clean indoor air.

This doesn’t mean that higher-efficiency air filtration can’t achieve cleaner and healthier air. High-efficiency HVAC filters can remove the vast majority of airborne particulates. This is accomplished with denser (or more) filtration media removing a wide range of contaminants, large and small. However, the denser filtration media also may restrict airflow. Adverse effects may include wasted energy, stressed system components, and uneven heating and cooling. A forced-air system can be modified to work with a high-efficiency filter, though this may be costly. Consider a whole-house air cleaning system instead.

A whole-house air cleaner is connected directly to your HVAC system, and like an air filter treats all of the air that circulates through that system. But rather than simply capturing airborne particulates with fiberglass or some other filtration medium, an air cleaner typically employs a combination of technologies to clean the air. These might include ultraviolet light, electrostatic attraction or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) filtration. A quality air cleaner can remove more than 99 percent of the particulates in your indoor air.

To talk to a trained technician about cleaning or filtering the air in 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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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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How Important is Air Filter Quality When it Comes to HVAC Performance?

How Important is Air Filter Quality When it Comes to HVAC Performance?Air filters are not all equal. Generally speaking, most low-end fiberglass filters barely do an adequate job of keeping the largest airborne particulates out of your HVAC system. The particles that do get through not only end up as dirt inside your system, causing it to work inefficiently, but also recirculating in the supply air and lowering indoor air quality. Here’s why a better quality air filter might be good for your home.

MERV Ratings

Better quality air filters for residential HVAC systems are usually pleated and made of dense material to do a better job of capturing particles. Filters rated by the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) system usually fall within the following categories:

  • MERV 1-4: Filters capture only the largest particles.
  • MERV 5-7: Filters do a somewhat better job of trapping smaller particles, and may be adequate for most households.
  • MERV 8-12: Filters do an excellent job of capturing most particles found in a typical household, and also do not significantly slow down airflow.
  • MERV 13 and above: These filters are usually found in residences where an occupant has a health issue requiring filtration of even the smallest particles. Higher efficiency filters may be found in research, hospital or manufacturing settings. HVAC systems that use this level of filtration must be modified to allow for reduced airflow.

The key in selecting the right filter for your home is to balance keeping the smaller particles out of your system’s machinery and out of your home’s air, while maintaining correct air flow. A filter that is too dense will cause a condition called pressure drop, and your equipment will work inefficiently. Pressure drop can also lead to system breakdown.

Electrostatic Filters

Besides the mechanical filtration types described above, you might also consider electrostatic filters, which catch particles with an electrical charge. These filters are washable and reusable, so they generally cost more than mid-level efficiency mechanical filters.

For more on the importance of air filter quality, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. Our customers recognize us as the top heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, drain and appliance service in Portland.

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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Insist Your HVAC Technician Check These Things During A/C Maintenance

Insist Your HVAC Technician Check These Things During A/C MaintenanceA/C maintenance plays an important role in keeping your home cool and comfortable throughout the summer. With this in mind, it pays for your HVAC technician to go over your system with a fine-tooth comb, as this can stop potential problems in their tracks.

However, it’s easy for your technician to miss a few critical things during the maintenance process. Here’s what you should insist your technician check during your next maintenance appointment.

Outdoor Condensing Unit

Make sure your HVAC technician takes a look at the outdoor condensing cabinet and all of the components within. This includes the condenser fan, compressor, condenser coil and refrigerant expansion valve. Also, any overgrowth surrounding the bottom of the condensing cabinet, such as tall weeds and grasses, should be removed.

Thermostat

Your HVAC technician should also check the thermostat to ensure it’s working properly. If you have a programmable thermostat, your technician may even be able to help you set it to cool your home efficiently at various times throughout the day.

Air Filter

A dirty air filter can easily drag down your A/C’s energy efficiency and cause other problems in the long run. Make sure your HVAC technician replaces the air filter as part of the A/C maintenance regimen. Most experts recommend the air filter be replaced at least every three months.

Access Panels

Last but not least, your HVAC technician should make sure that all access panels on the indoor evaporator cabinet are securely in place. In addition, all potential obstructions should be removed from around the outside of the unit.

For more information on A/C maintenance, contact the professionals at Roth Heating & 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 to Handle an Air Conditioner That’s Blowing Hot Air

How to Handle an Air Conditioner That’s Blowing Hot AirIf your air conditioner is blowing hot air, it doesn’t necessarily point to a major system malfunction. The problem could be linked to dirty components, a clogged air filter or improper thermostat settings. Read on to see if you can resolve the issue with these tips before calling your HVAC technician.

Check For Evaporator Ice

Ice buildup on the evaporator coil is a common problem, with many potential causes, that essentially stops the cooling process. The evaporator needs free airflow to extract heat from the home. Ice buildup blocks heat exchange. Perform the following steps if there is ice buildup on the evaporator:

  • Turn off the A/C.
  • If the air filter is dirty, change or clean it by manufacturer specifications.
  • Run the A/C in “fan” mode to expedite ice melt.
  • When the ice has melted, check the evaporator to make sure it’s clean. If it’s dirty, use a foaming coil cleaner to clean it.
  • Turn the A/C on as normal. If the ice returns, there is a different problem which requires the expertise of your HVAC tech.

Dirty Condenser

A dirty condenser coil can restrict home cooling as well. Use a garden hose to spray the sides of the outdoor cabinet of the A/C system to remove dirt and grime. You may also try a foaming coil cleaner for cleaning purposes, followed by spraying with the garden hose.

Pressing Compressor Issues

The compressor is located in the outdoor cabinet with the condenser. When you’re cleaning the condenser, this should also help clean the compressor. A dirty compressor can overheat and stop working. If the compressor is making unusual noises, such as humming or rattling, call your HVAC tech.

Thermostat Mode

Check the thermostat one more time. The thermostat should be set to the “auto” or “cool” mode. If you’ve recently installed a new thermostat, check the wiring schematic again to ensure correct and secure terminal connections.

If your A/C is blowing hot air into your Portland area home after trying these troubleshooting tips, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling today for more information or to schedule an A/C tune-up.

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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Why Indoor Air Pollution Is a Worthy Concern for the Average Homeowner

Why Indoor Air Pollution Is a Worthy Concern for the Average HomeownerOutdoors, you have to deal with car exhaust, pollen and dust, but inside your home is a haven, right? The truth is that many Americans assume their indoor air is cleaner than it is. In reality, indoor air is as polluted as outdoor air because it has none of the natural ventilation of breezes or cleaning from rain. And when Americans spend most of their time indoors, indoor air pollution can have a big effect on health.

What Contributes to Poor Indoor Air?

Many things impact your indoor air quality. A few common causes of indoor pollution include:

  • Chemical and aerosol cleaners, such as bleach and furniture polish respectively
  • Natural household dust and pet dander
  • Dirt and pollen tracked in from the outdoors
  • Cooking odors and combustion residue from candles and malfunctioning appliances, such as gas furnaces or stoves
  • Carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals from combustion appliances without proper ventilation
  • Mold, mildew and bacteria from poor humidity management

What Can You Do to Manage Indoor Air Pollution?

There are many ways to manage air pollution in your Portland home. Following are strategies you can employ:

  • Speak with your local HVAC professional about ventilation options for your home. Getting rid of the old air in your home and bringing in fresh air can do a lot to raise your air quality.
  • Change the air filter once a month. A clogged filter lowers circulation through your home. A clean air filter, however, catches and removes particulate pollution from your home.
  • Install an air cleaner. A consultation with a licensed contractor can help you decide what kind of air cleaner is best for your home. A UV light can sterilize your air, killing off mold and mildew spores. A HEPA filter can clean your home’s air, catching particles as small as viruses.
  • Manage indoor humidity. High humidity contributes to mold, mildew, fungus and bacteria, while low humidity raises dust levels.

To learn more about handling indoor air pollution in your Portland home, contact the home comfort pros 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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7 Important Components for Air Conditioner Function

7 Important Components for Air Conditioner FunctionThe purpose of an air conditioner is to remove heat from your home, leaving you cool and comfortable even on the hottest Portland summer afternoons. If you’ve always wondered how it works, consider how seven critical components come together to make an air conditioner function.

  • Blower: Air flowing from supply registers is the work of the blower. This component, which also works with your furnace, circulates cooled air into your home and pulls room-temperature air back for re-cooling.
  • Evaporator coil: This indoor component, located near the blower, is responsible for extracting heat and humidity from the air. This is possible thanks to the refrigerant running through the coil.
  • Compressor: Once it has absorbed heat, the refrigerant is in a gaseous state. It passes through the compressor, where the gas is pressurized and heated even more. This important step prepares the refrigerant to give up its heat.
  • Condensing coil: This is the outdoor equivalent to the evaporator coil. As refrigerant travels from the compressor to the condenser, it expels the heat collected from indoors to the outside. Once the refrigerant is cooled to a liquid, it circulates back inside to collect more heat in the evaporator coil.
  • Fan: The outdoor condensing unit becomes very hot with all that overheated refrigerant running through it. A fan and fins that act as heat syncs draw the heat away so the unit doesn’t overheat.
  • Air filter: While an air conditioner can function without the air filter, dust and dirt in the air would quickly collect on A/C components and possibly damage them without the filter in place. Install an efficient enough filter and you can even improve indoor air quality while the air conditioner operates.
  • Thermostat: This is the control center of the entire air conditioning process, reading the indoor temperature and telling the air conditioner when to turn on and off. You change temperature settings here based on your needs. The higher you set the thermostat, the lower your cooling bills will be.

For more information about air conditioning, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling, serving Portland 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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