Tag Archives: furnaces

Winter Furnace Efficiency: Achieving Comfort for Less

Winter Furnace Efficiency: Achieving Comfort for LessIn the chilly, rainy Portland winters, any steps you take toward improving furnace efficiency pays off in terms of comfort and savings. Better yet, most of the improvements you can make are easy and affordable.

Help Your Furnace Do its Job

One of the best things you can do to improve your furnace efficiency is to seal up any leaks in your duct system. In the average home, the ducts lose as much as 20 percent of the air they carry through leaks. Inspect your exposed ducts and make sure the sealing around the joints is free of damage. Replace any damaged sealing. Look for holes in flexduct and fiberglass ducts. These should be patched or the flexduct replaced.

If you’re not using a programmable thermostat, consider switching. These themostats let you set energy-efficient temperatures for certain times of the day so you won’t waste energy by forgetting to turn the heat down when you’re out or in bed.

If a hard-to-heat part of the house is making you turn up your thermostat more than you’d really like, consider having a zoned system installed. This will let you direct more heat to the parts of the house that need it.

Stay Current on Maintenance

Even one season of neglecting maintenance will affect your furnace efficiency. Change your air filter on time, which is usually once a month for low-efficiency fiberglass models. Once or twice a year, take the covers off your air registers and vents, and clean them to remove dust buildup. Then vacuum out the inside of the duct behind them using your vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment.

Every year, schedule a professional furnace inspection. Over the heating season, your furnace collects dust and can develop issues such as loose wires, a dirty burner, a wobbly blower fan, and other wear that brings down its efficiency. A heating and cooling technician can access areas of your heating system you can’t to clean and make repairs.

For help maximizing your furnace efficiency, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling anywhere around Portland.

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

Why Now Is the Best Time to Replace Your Furnace

If your furnace is getting older and struggled to keep your home comfortably warm this past winter, now is a good time to consider upgrading. Why should a homeowner replace a furnace now instead of waiting until the fall? Because scheduling your furnace replacement this spring has a number of advantages, like the following:

Slow Time Savings

Every year, there’s a lull between heating and cooling seasons when HVAC contractors aren’t as busy. These companies want to keep their technicians working steadily through these slow periods, so they usually offer discounts on new equipment purchases and installations. Planning your furnace replacement now can now only save you money on the upfront cost, and it also comes with the bonus of flexible scheduling since your HVAC contractor isn’t fully booked up.

No Discomfort or Inconvenience

Now that the outdoor temperatures are warming up, there’s less risk of discomfort or inconvenience from a lack of home heating while you’re having a new furnace installed. If your cooling system is aging, it’s also a good time to talk about a package deal with your HVAC contractor to have a new air conditioner installed too. By having both systems updated now, you can reap the benefits of greater comfort and energy efficiency all year long.

Ample Time for Comparisons

If you have to replace failed heating equipment unexpectedly at the height of the season, you’ll have to a rush to choose your new furnace. Since there’s no need for heating right now, you have lots of time to compare features like variable-speed blowers, EMC motors, modulating gas valves, multi-stage burners or smart controls and make an informed choice.

Easier Financial Planning

Since you’re not in hurry, you’ll also have an opportunity to investigate different ways of financing your equipment purchase that won’t strain your budget. Spring is traditionally tax refund time too, so you might have extra cash on hand to put toward the cost of a new furnace.

To learn more reasons why spring is the ideal time to replace a furnace, contact the Wilsonville-area home comfort pros 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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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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Winter Safety Precautions for Your Canby Home

Winter Safety Precautions for Your Canby HomeNow that winter is approaching, it’s time to take smart steps to protect your family from hazards like carbon monoxide (CO) exposure, and prevent unnecessary damage to your home. Taking the following winter home safety precautions can keep you warm and secure throughout the heating season.

Schedule Heating System Service

To ensure that your heating system operates reliably and safely this winter, have it inspected, cleaned, and tuned up by an experienced HVAC technician. During routine maintenance, your technician performs vital safety-related tasks, like checking the condition of the heat exchanger, testing system safety controls, checking the electrical wiring and tightening the connections, and inspecting and cleaning the burner.

Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that’s a byproduct of incomplete combustion in fuel-burning equipment like your gas furnace. You can’t see, taste or smell the gas, so your only warning of its presence is the alarm on a functional CO detector. To make sure your detectors are working properly, put fresh batteries in each one and test them once a month. If any of your CO detectors fails to beep when tested, replace it immediately.

Clean Up Around the Furnace

If you have items stored near the furnace that are flammable or may block airflow, move them. Combustibles like paint thinner, charcoal lighter fluid, and any products in aerosol cans should be stored in a ventilated location that’s nowhere near the furnace.

Have the Furnace Flue Cleaned

Have a chimney sweep clean out the flue to remove built-up soot and debris that might cause a blockage, so harmful combustion fumes can vent properly.

Protect Your Vulnerable Water Pipes

Frozen, burst water lines can cause considerable mess and costly damage. To keep pipes from freezing, drain the water line to your outdoor faucet and shield it with an insulated cover. If you have water pipes installed in an unconditioned attic, garage or crawl space, wrap them in foam insulation sleeves or self-regulating heat tape.

To learn more winter home safety tips for your Portland-area home, or to schedule heating system maintenance, 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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Replacing Your Furnace Motor: Deciding Between ECM and PSC

Replacing Your Furnace Motor: Deciding Between ECM and PSCFurnace motor replacement presents an opportunity for improvement. Both your heating costs as well as the comfort level inside your home can benefit by upgrading from an outmoded PSC unit to an ECM furnace blower motor.

It’s a good bet that the motor inside your existing furnace blower is a PSC (permanent split capacitor) type. Though it was the standard for decades, PSC motors had two major drawbacks:

  • Excessive electrical consumption. Your furnace may be gas-fired, but an outmoded PSC blower motor may consume 500 watts of electricity or more while the system’s running. This represents a substantial contribution to your electric bill.
  • On/off operation. A PSC blower delivers 100% output when it turns on and zero percent output when the system cycles off. On/off operation means hot air surges into rooms under full output when the furnace cycles on and temperatures spike uncomfortably, often several degrees above the thermostat setting. When the system cycles off again, output drops to zero and rooms rapidly cool and become chilly again. These yo-yo temperature swings degrade indoor comfort and make living spaces usually too warm or too cold.

Here’s why furnace motor replacement with a new ECM unit is better:

  • Short for electronically commutated motor, ECM technology sips electricity instead of guzzling it. Upgrading to an ECM blower will cut furnace electrical consumption from 500 watts down to about 80 watts, substantially reducing the load on your monthly utility bill.
  • Indoor temperatures are more consistent. An ECM unit is programmed to run almost continuously across a variable range of speeds keyed to heating requirements. As the furnace cycles on, the blower gently circulates a low volume of air to avoid the “blast furnace” effect in rooms, gradually ramping up to higher output to meet the thermostat setting. ECM circulation then declines to lower volume sufficient to continuously maintain the temperature at a very consistent, accurate level. Temperature spikes and sags associated with on/off PSC motors are eliminated, indoor comfort is enhanced and electric costs drop.

For professional advice about upgrading to an ECM furnace motor replacement, contact 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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Where Should You Place Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Your Portland Area Home?

Where Should You Place Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Your Portland Area Home?The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that carbon monoxide poisoning is the number one cause of inadvertent poisoning in the United States. Since carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, detectors are necessary to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from happening in your home. However, it is important that you know where to place carbon monoxide detectors for them to be the most effective. Below are some tips for where and where not to place them. Continue reading

Furnace Troubleshooting — Why Calling In A Pro Is Usually The Best Option

Furnace Troubleshooting -- Why Calling In A Pro Is Usually The Best OptionRegular maintenance on your furnace is important for efficient performance and longevity. If your furnace isn’t working properly and you’re not sure what to do, try a few furnace troubleshooting techniques before you call a heating and cooling professional. Continue reading

Tired Of Frequent Furnace Repair Calls? It Could Be Time For An Upgrade

Furnace repairs rate up there with car repairs in terms of frustration and inconvenience. If you’ve had enough with a troublesome furnace, it could be time for a furnace upgrade. One of the first things that pops into a homeowner’s mind is the expense involved in upgrading, and that’s true, both for short-term expenses versus long-term energy savings. Continue reading

Red-Tagged Furnace Options — Repair Versus Replacement

If your furnace develops a crack in the heat exchanger, it means you have a “red-tagged” furnace on your hands. A heat exchanger crack is a serious problem. In fact, once a breach is discovered and reported by a technician, the utility company shuts down your furnace and affixes a red tag so you can no longer use it. Continue reading

Don’t Let A Noisy Furnace Go Neglected — Call Your HVAC Professional

A vehicle that rattles, pings, and makes unusual noises obviously needs service, or it won’t be on the road very much longer. A noisy furnace is doing the same. Your furnace is a complex machine that should be respected for operation and safety. When you hear squealing, scraping and other noises, it’s not a good sign. Call a heating and cooling pro right away. Continue reading