Tag Archives: DIY

DIY vs. Handyman vs. Qualified Electrician

DIY vs. Handyman vs. Qualified ElectricianWe’re always looking for ways to save money on home repairs, but when it involves your electrical system, you should never cut corners. So if you’re weighing the wisdom of doing it yourself vs. hiring a handyman vs. hiring a qualified electrician, it’s usually best to go for the latter.

Hiring a Professional Electrician

While you or an amateur handyman with a good understanding of electricity may certainly do minor tasks, including reconnecting loose wires on a thermostat or perhaps even installing an electrical switch, doorbell or ceiling fan, it’s best to leave installation of electrical systems to the pros.

Electrical work is regulated by electrical codes. A building permit is usually required from the local municipality. Trained, certified professionals who adhere to current codes should be hired to work with plans approved by a city building code officer. An electrical inspector generally must sign off on major electrical jobs.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment with a certified electrician, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical of Portland 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 Conduct Your Own At-Home Energy Tests

How to Conduct Your Own At-Home Energy TestsIf you’re looking for ways to reduce your household utility bills, performing some basic energy tests can help you identify areas where energy is being wasted. Here’s a brief guide to help you find and address energy inefficiencies in some of the most common problem areas:

  • Air leaks. Leaks in your home’s conditioned envelope can account for 10-20 percent to your total energy consumption. The first step in reducing this waste is finding leak sources and sealing them with an appropriate caulk product, expandable spray foam insulation or weatherstripping. Indoors, look for leaks along the baseboards, where walls and ceilings meet, at switches/electrical outlets on exterior walls, and around any penetrations between the living area and attic. Outdoors, check around window and doors, where different building components meet, the sill plate, and at penetrations for pipes, vents, and wires.
  • Lighting your home accounts for roughly 10 percent of your energy usage. You can reduce this by replacing inefficient incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.
  • For optimal energy efficiency, the Department of Energy recommends that home attics in our regions are insulated to R-60 between the floor joists. To ensure that your attic is properly insulated, check whether there’s a vapor barrier against the floor and that it’s covered with enough insulation to hide the floor joists from view. Additionally, make sure the access hatch is weatherstripped and insulated on the attic side.
  • HVAC ductwork. Leaky, uninsulated ductwork can waste up to 1/3 of your HVAC system’s output. If your accessible ductwork isn’t sealed and insulated, you can improve its efficiency by applying metal-backed tape to all the joins and seams, then wrapping the ducts in R-6 insulation.

For an in-depth assessment of your home’s efficiency, you can have a professional energy audit performed. An energy auditor uses specialized testing tools like blower doors and thermographic scanners to pinpoint air leaks and poorly-insulated areas so you can make targeted improvements.

For more advice about conducting energy tests and other ways to improve efficiency 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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

How to Troubleshoot Your A/C

How to Troubleshoot Your A/CHomeowners who are conscientious about getting spring HVAC maintenance done every year probably have little to fear when it comes to breakdowns over the cooling season. That said, it’s not impossible for parts on even the best-maintained A/C to wear or even malfunction over the course of the summer, so you don’t want to ignore potential problems.

There are ways to troubleshoot noises and erratic performance issues so you’ll know whether to address the problem yourself or call a pro. Here’s some advice on how to do just that.

What’s That Noise?

Here’s hoping your A/C operates quietly so that you’re never alarmed by any sudden noises, because new noises may indicate a change in how your equipment performs. Here are some of the most typical noises:

  • Booming from the ducts — Most often, this is caused by ductwork expanding or contracting as the air rushes through. It’s usually not serious, but it can be annoying. However, the fix may require a different size or type of ducts, or perhaps installing insulation around them.
  • Rattling from the inside cabinet — Something’s loose, somewhere. It’ll probably take a technician to find what it is.
  • Banging from the inside cabinet — A part on the blower may have come loose.
  • Rattling from the outdoor compressor — Not a good sign. It could be the compressor is failing. Turn off the unit and call for help.

A/C Not Cooling

This is one of the most common complaints, and could involve a simple fix, such as changing the air filter or cleaning the evaporator coils, or calling the pro to recharge the refrigerant. But it could also be a failing compressor. If the outdoor compressor stops working, turn off the air conditioner and call for help.

Fan Not Working

Before calling for help, make sure the power to the A/C is on. Check the controls and the breaker. Make sure that the thermostat setting is lower than the outside air, or the A/C won’t turn on.

For more tips on air conditioner troubleshooting, 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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/pixabay”

Understanding DIY or Professional HVAC Maintenance Tasks

Understanding DIY or Professional HVAC Maintenance TasksYour home’s HVAC system needs regular maintenance to operate well for its lifespan. Much of that needs to be performed by a qualified professional. Heating and cooling systems have sensitive components that need expert handling for both your safety and the safety of the machinery. Here are some guidelines regarding tasks you can take care of and what jobs are best left to your technician.

Changing the Filter

You should change filters whenever they are dirty because grimy filters lead to problems such as stressed fan motors, dirty evaporator coils, dirty air ducts, and dust in the air you breathe. This is an easy task requiring little time and effort and most homeowners prefer to handle it without help.

If dirty filters have caused problems for the system, that is another story. Make sure you call your HVAC technician if your coils have frozen, if you suspect your ductwork is dirty, or if the fan motor keeps shutting off.

Cleaning

Seasonal HVAC maintenance visits usually include some cleaning tasks specific to the machinery. Your contractor can take care of cleaning the coils and cleaning interior parts that have gathered dust.

Some cleaning projects are DIY and will make your system run better as well as make any maintenance task easier. This includes keeping the area around the furnace and other interior HVAC components neatly swept and free of clutter. Outdoors, keep trees and bushes trimmed back from the compressor and don’t let brush or grass clippings build up nearby. The technician will appreciate clear access to the units. It also reduces the amount of debris being trapped inside.

Repairs

It can be tempting to explore your HVAC equipment when something is malfunctioning. Clearing a clog in the drainage pan or tightening a bolt is fine, but avoid doing anything more than that. Call your technician to make repairs such as loose wiring, broken belts, or stalled fans. This is the safest and smartest way to handle these issues.

For more about HVAC maintenance and your Portland home, please 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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