Tag Archives: heating and cooling

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). 

New Year, New HVAC Maintenance Tasks

New Year, New HVAC Maintenance TasksNow that the hectic holiday season is over, you have a chance to catch your breath and enjoy some downtime. This mid-winter lull is also a good opportunity to give your HVAC system some attention. Here’s a handy checklist of HVAC maintenance tasks that can keep your system operating reliably and efficiently throughout the remainder of the winter:

Replace Your Air Filter

Ideally, you should be checking the filter once a month over the winter and putting in a fresh one whenever you see signs of debris accumulation. This is a chore that’s easy to neglect when you’re busy getting prepared for the holidays, so if you missed your December check, make it a priority now. A clean filter is important because it keeps your heating system running efficiently and lowers the risk of airflow restrictions that can cause overheating and an unexpected system shut down.

Clean Up Around Your Outdoor Unit

If you have a heat pump, now’s a good time to get rid of collected debris around the outdoor unit that might negatively affect its performance and energy efficiency. Pick a mild day and head outdoors to clear away any dead vegetation, missed fallen leaves, twigs or broken branches. Then, rinse off the condenser coil with lukewarm water to remove any buildup of dust that can interfere with efficient heat transfer.

Give Your HVAC Registers Some TLC

Clean, open and unobstructed vents and cold air returns ensure even heating and consistent temperatures from room to room in your home, and they help maintain good system airflow so your heating equipment operates efficiently. Giving the vents the attention they deserve is easy: simply take your vacuum along and visit each room to clean and check each vent/return grille.

Replace Your Thermostat Batteries

Your thermostat runs on electricity, so it’s easy to forget about replacing its backup batteries. Putting fresh batteries in periodically is important, though, because it lets the thermostat retain your programming and temperature settings when there’s a power outage.

For more expert advice about HVAC maintenance for your Portland-area 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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Your New Year Should Include These HVAC Resolutions

Your New Year Should Include These HVAC ResolutionsThe holiday season isn’t complete without New Year’s resolutions. This year, include some HVAC resolutions that will improve your heating and cooling systems. With the right resolutions, faithfully followed, you’ll improve indoor comfort, boost HVAC system performance, and save money.

Have regular preventive maintenance performed

Resolve to call your HVAC professional for regular preventive maintenance on your heating and cooling systems. A maintenance visit allows an HVAC expert the chance to inspect your furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner from end to end. Minor repairs and adjustments that improve performance can be made during a maintenance inspection.

Check and change air filters monthly

Air filters remove particulates such as dust, hair, pollen, and fibers from your indoor air. In doing so, these particulates accumulate in the filter and clog it up. You should check your air filter at least once a month and change it when it gets dirty. Fresh filters are more effective at capturing and holding airborne particulates. They also contribute to the airflow your HVAC equipment needs to work properly.

Seal wasteful air leaks

Air leaks in your home’s structure and in the HVAC system ductwork can waste hundreds of dollars worth of conditioned air. If ductwork leaks are bad enough, heated or cooled air won’t even be able to reach your indoor living spaces. Seal air leaks in your home’s structure with caulking or other appropriate material. Make sure all ductwork sections fit together tightly and that each section is properly sealed with mastic, a specialized duct sealant, or with metal tape.

Switch to a programmable thermostat

Improve your control over your HVAC system by switching to a programmable thermostat. You’ll be able to save money by reducing HVAC operation when heating or cooling isn’t needed, such as when you’re away at work or school.

For more than forty years, Roth Heating and Cooling has been the top choice of HVAC customers in Portland, Canby, Hillsboro, and nearby Oregon cities. Contact us today for more information on the best HVAC resolutions for your home and for the heating and cooling services you need throughout the year.

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 Avoid Common Winter HVAC Concerns

How to Avoid Common Winter HVAC ConcernsIn the winter, you rely on your HVAC system to keep your home comfortably warm. However, your home comfort can be jeopardized by a variety of wintertime heating system problems. Here are some common winter HVAC concerns and what you should do to resolve them:

Inconsistent Heating

If some rooms are too warm while others feel too chilly when your heating system is running, check that the louvers are open on all your registers first. Then, examine the furnace filter because a clogged filter can reduce the amount of warm air that’s delivered to each room. Other possible causes that will require a professional diagnosis are leaky, damaged ducts or unbalanced airflow through the HVAC system.

Not Enough Heat

If the heating system doesn’t seem to stay running long enough to adequately heat your home, you have a situation known as “short cycling.” Your HVAC technician can do some detective work to find out why it’s happening, which could be a poorly-located or faulty thermostat, under- or over-sized equipment, or a corroded flame sensor.

Sudden Loss of Heat

If your furnace or heat pump suddenly stops cycling on, it may just need a simple fix like replacing dead thermostat batteries or a badly-clogged air filter, which can severely reduce airflow so the furnace overheats and triggers the high limit safety switch. Your heat pump can shut down similarly if the outdoor unit is covered with ice or snow and can’t defrost on its own. If none of these issues seem to be the cause, call your HVAC pro to check for more serious problems.

Combustion Fume or Gas Odors

Both of these issues pose serious safety hazards, so contact your home heating contractor immediately, and head over to a neighbor’s house until the problem is solved. Backdrafting combustion fumes from an obstructed vent system can pump deadly carbon monoxide gas through your home, while leaking gas lines can cause dizziness, vomiting and even asphyxiation, or an explosion or house fire.

If you need expert help solving winter HVAC concerns 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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Why the Gift of Home Comfort is Ideal This Season

Why the Gift of Home Comfort is Ideal This Season Whether it’s for yours or another’s, why not give the gift of home comfort this holiday season? It’s easy to take for granted when the furnace is working and the energy bills are reasonable. If someone you know could use a hand to lower heating bills or creating a more efficient home, why not consider one of these suggestions.

A Maintenance Contract

Professional HVAC maintenance improves the performance of HVAC systems, lowers energy bills and reduces the risk of system breakdowns. Maintenance contracts offer convenience, discounts on repairs and labor, as well as preferred appointment scheduling.

Programmable Thermostat

If someone on your gift list has an aging or outdated thermostat, consider giving them a gift certificate from an HVAC contractor for a new thermostat. The contractor can help them select and install the best thermostat to use with their system. Programmable thermostats give them precise control over home temperatures and take the effort out of managing temperatures based on their daily schedules.

An Energy Audit

If you know someone who is struggling with high energy bills, consider hiring an HVAC contractor or licensed energy auditor to evaluate the home. They might find a high rate of air infiltration or inadequate insulation in parts of the home. If you’re handy, you could volunteer to seal the leaks and help them add more insulation, both of which are affordable ways to increase home comfort.

Temperature Gun

A digital temperature gun is a point-and-shoot device that measures surface temperatures instantly. Using one to find energy losses throughout the home will provide a good starting point to find leaks and inadequate insulation. They’re inexpensive and fun for the curious. Besides learning home temperatures, they reveal outdoor conditions, and temperatures inside kitchen appliances.

Helping others with gifts that enhance home comfort are rewarding for both the giver and receiver. If you’d like to learn more about these gifts and ideas, 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). 

Do You Smell That? Common Heating System Odors

Do You Smell That? Common Heating System OdorsA home heating system in good condition will not only operate quietly and efficiently, it will also operate without producing any odors. If you detect unusual odors coming from your heating system, don’t panic. Here is a brief description of common heating system odors in approximate order from most to least serious:

Rotten egg odor

Natural gas used in heating systems is odorless, so gas companies add a chemical to cause the rotten egg smell. If the odor is faint, it may go away quickly. If the odor is strong, however, it may mean a gas leak. Open windows to provide ventilation, shut off your heating system if possible, and leave your house immediately. Call your gas company or fire department for help.

Smoke or burning smells

The odor of burning wires, plastic insulation, or other material inside the system could indicate overheating. The smell (and worse, the sight) of smoke could indicate severe overheating or even a fire. Shut the system off until the source of the odor is located by your HVAC professional.

Electrical “ozone” smell

This odor can indicate overheating as well as problems with motors, wiring, or electrical components. It can indicate the pending failure of a blower motor. Again, the system should be shut down and the problem fixed as soon as possible.

Burning dust smell

This odor is common when heating systems are first started after being idle over the summer. Dust that accumulates on system components could get hot when the system operates and cause this smell. It will usually stop within a few cycles of the heating system.

Dead animal or carrion smell

It is possible for small animals such as mice to get into the heating system or ductwork and die, producing a carrion odor. The smell should go away once the dead animal is found and removed.

Since 1976, Roth Heating and Cooling has served the HVAC needs of customers in Portland, Hillsboro, Canby, and the surrounding Oregon communities. Contact us today for more information on heating system odors, what they mean, and what you can do about them.

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

Thermostat Settings During Fall Vacations

Thermostat Settings During Fall VacationsFall weather in the Portland area can range from warm to cool, which makes thermostat settings challenging before going on a vacation. Most thermostats don’t automatically switch between cooling and heating, which means that you’ll have to select one or the other before you go and set the temperature accordingly.

Fortunately weather forecasts are more reliable than ever and you’ll be able to look up the weather trends for at least a month in advance. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center publishes weather outlooks from one day to a year ahead.

Before leaving, consult their maps or tables online to find their predictions for the weather and select the heating or cooling function. As a rule of thumb, set the temperature four degrees above or below the temperature you normally keep your home.

If you’re leaving pets at home, you may want to leave the temperature within a few degrees of the temperature you normally keep the home, since they adapt to the temperatures you normally keep.

Making It Simple

Upgrading your thermostat from a manual or programmable unit to a Wi-Fi device will not only simplify thermostat settings, it will give you minute-by-minute information on conditions in your home, like its temperature and humidity, and sometimes occupancy. With a smart Wi-Fi thermostat, you’ll be able to change the function between heating and cooling, along with the temperatures.

You can even reset the temperature to one that you’ll find most comfortable when you’re about to arrive home. However, if you use a heat pump and need heating, you’ll want to reset it 24 hours ahead of time so that the auxiliary heating coil doesn’t turn on. The coil uses much more energy to heat than the heat pump does. A smart thermostat equipped with intelligent recovery technology will prevent the heat pump from using the coil.

The temperature settings for your home while you’re away can affect your home’s interior and the comfort of any pets you leave behind. For more information, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted 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).

Benefits of Installing a Tankless Water Heater

Benefits of Installing a Tankless Water HeaterIf you’ve been thinking about switching to an on-demand or tankless water heater from a storage tank model, you might be put off by the heftier price tag and higher installation costs. To make an informed decision on which type is the right option, be sure to weigh the upfront costs against the following benefits you’ll gain from going tankless.

Prolonged Lifespan

On-demand units have the longest lifespan of all the different types of water heaters, providing an average of 20 years of reliable service. If you’re replacing a storage tank model with an expected lifespan of just 10–13 years, be sure to factor in these additional savings for a more accurate cost comparison.

Operating Cost Savings

Switching to a tankless water heater can reduce your household energy consumption and utility bills. Water is heated on demand, so the appliance doesn’t need to cycle continuously to maintain the temperature of 40 or 60 gallons of hot water. Over the years, this can add up to substantial savings that more than offset the higher initial cost.

Flexible Placement Choices

Tankless units are typically hung on a wall, and their compact size that’s comparable to a small suitcase provides a lot of flexibility in where they can be placed. The only constraints on the choice of location are the necessary connections to the gas and electrical lines.

Cleaner Hot Water

When you have a tank-type appliance, there are accumulations of sediment, scale and rust inside the tank, so the hot water that flows from your fixtures contains minute bits of all three. With an on-demand model, the water gets heated right in the piping, so it’s free from such particles.

Continuous Supply

Turning on a faucet or shower activates an on-demand heater, and it typically takes a few seconds for hot water to begin flowing. Once it does, there’s a limitless supply, so you won’t run out or have to wait for long periods while a tank full heats up.

To learn more benefits of installing a tankless hot water heater 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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Here Are 3 Reasons Why Your Furnace is Blowing Cold Air

Here Are 3 Reasons Why Your Furnace is Blowing Cold AirYour furnace helps ensure that your Portland home stays warm and toasty in winter, but what happens if it’s only blowing cold air? When you have a furnace cold air problem, it’s important to determine what might be causing it, so you can get heated air flowing again. These are a few possible causes of this heating system issue.

Thermostat Problems

A simple problem with your thermostat could be causing cold air to blow out of your vents when your furnace is on. Check the setting on your thermostat to see if it is set to the “auto” position instead of the “on” position. The “on” position causes the fan to run constantly, but this won’t produce heated air.

Pilot Light

Gas furnaces have a small flame that burns all the time and helps them ignite. If you have a gas furnace, check the pilot light to see if it is lit. When the pilot light goes out, your furnace isn’t able to blow heated air. Instead, you’ll just feel cold air coming out of your vents. If the pilot light went out, carefully relight it so you’ll be able to heat your home again.

Dirty Air Filter

The air filter in your furnace helps trap dust and other particles, which allows it to heat your home efficiently. When this filter becomes covered in debris, it makes it harder for air to flow through to your furnace. This can end up putting your furnace in danger of overheating, which can result in the burners automatically shutting off for safety reasons. Check your air filter, and replace it with a new one if it’s coated with dust and debris.

If none of these are causing your furnace cold air problem, it’s time to call in professional HVAC technicians to check it. These HVAC experts can determine the cause of this problem and take steps to fix it.

If you have a furnace cold air problem this winter or if your heating system needs other repairs, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We offer dependable heating and cooling 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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What is That Furnace Odor?

What is That Furnace Odor?A reliably working furnace is a must if you expect to stay comfortable in Portland’s chilly, wet winters, so a funny furnace smell can be a little unsettling. While some of these odors can be safely ignored, others require immediate attention.

Dust and Must

When your furnace kicks on for the first time in fall, you might notice the smell of burning dust. During the off season, dust settles on your furnace’s heat exchanger. When the system heats up again, the dust burns off. The odor is nothing to worry about and should disappear within a few hours.

The smell of must or mildew is also relatively common when a furnace first starts up for the season. Sometimes this happens when a little mold collects in the air ducts, the air filter or the humidifier while the system isn’t in use. If the odor doesn’t go away within a day and you know your filter and humidifier are clean, then you might have a serious mold problem in your ducts or elsewhere. Contact a technician for a duct inspection.

Urgent Issues

The odor of sulfur or rotten eggs means natural gas is leaking from somewhere. Open a window, get out of the house, and immediately contact your gas company. The smell of formaldehyde suggests a cracked heat exchanger, which can lead to a carbon monoxide leak. Turn your furnace off and call a technician.

If you smell hot or burning plastic, wires or rubber, your furnace could be close to catching fire. Turn it off and contact a technician. This type of furnace smell is usually caused by an overheating component or damaged wiring. Address the problem early and you can prevent further damage to your furnace.

The smell of smoke coming from an oil furnace is sometimes due to a dirty oil filter, nozzle or flue connector, or a blocked chimney. If you also hear banging or rumbling sounds, though, shut off the furnace and call for service.

If a strange furnace smell is bothering you, contact us for guidance 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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