Tag Archives: heating and cooling

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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Signs of Ductwork That’s Getting Old

Signs of Ductwork That's Getting OldDuctwork plays an essential role in your home’s forced-air heating and cooling system, delivering conditioned air to rooms, and then routing spent air back to the HVAC equipment to be heated or cooled again. But what happens when ducts deteriorate over time? The fact is that old ductwork can severely hamper the work of your HVAC system and even lead to contaminated indoor air.

That being the case, it’s important for homeowners to recognize signs that their ductwork is old, and may need to be repaired or replaced.

Four Signs That You Have Old Ductwork

  • The first one is obvious; you know when the ducts were installed because you know when the house was built, and the same ductwork that delivered conditioned air on your home’s first day is still doing that job 25 years later (or however long).
  • You’ve looked at exposed duct sections and have noticed rust or corrosion. Or maybe old duct tape is falling away from connections, and the duct sections themselves are loose or hanging.
  • Your energy costs have been rising in recent years, and you haven’t been able to figure out why. Energy rates have been stable, and your household usage hasn’t changed. Leaky, loose ducts could be at fault.
  • The force of air emerging from vents is inconsistent from room to room. This could be because duct runs to some rooms are leaking or blocked.

Faulty ductwork will reduce energy efficiency in your home, as heated or cooled air leaks into unconditioned areas such as wall cavities, the garage, attic or crawl space. Your equipment has to work harder to make up for lost air. Backdrafting also can occur with leaky ducts; dirty or contaminated air — or even carbon monoxide from nearby exhaust vents — can get sucked into ducts via leaks, and then get distributed in your house.

The best way to ascertain whether your old ductwork should be repaired or replaced is to schedule a comprehensive inspection by a trained technician. Please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling to set up a duct inspection in your Portland area home.
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: “Bernard Zajac/Shutterstock”

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”

Signs It’s Time for Thermostat Replacement

Signs It's Time for Thermostat ReplacementIf it’s time for thermostat replacement, will you recognize the warning signs? Thermostat malfunctions may be very conspicuous or they may be quite subtle, like simply poor efficiency and diminished indoor comfort. While a few DIY fixes may remedy simple problems, thermostat replacement is usually the more cost-effective way to deal with major malfunctions. In many cases, it’s also an opportunity to upgrade to a more advanced, digital thermostat, as well.

Here are some common issues that may warrant thermostat replacement:

  • Thermostat actuates at wrong temperature. If your thermostat activates the A/C or furnace at some temperature other than the one it’s set for, the thermostat sensor is out of calibration or defective. Some units have an adjustment that allows you to adjust thermostat calibration by plus or minus 5 degrees. However, if the difference between the thermostat setting and the temperature where it actuates is more than 5 degrees, replacing the thermostat is the only option.
  • Rapid on/off cycling. Temperature changes caused by a nearby exterior door opening and closing, or exposure to direct sunlight, may turn the HVAC system on and off too frequently. Relocating the thermostat may help. An over-sized furnace or A/C may cycle frequently, as well. If neither of these explanations applies, the issue is almost certainly thermostat-related and replacement is indicated.
  • Functions run nonstop. If the Heat or Cool functions stay on continuously without cycling off, first make sure the thermostat is set to Auto and the desired thermostat temperature setting is correct. If those check out, replacing the thermostat is probably the right call.
  • Thermostat is obsolete. An outmoded manual thermostat is a throwback to a bygone era of cheap energy and less convenience. The price of a new digital programmable thermostat will be compensated by lower monthly heating/cooling costs in the first year of operation. The user-friendly features offered by a digital model are also a vast improvement over the old-school manual model.

If your seeing signs that it’s time for thermostat replacement, contact the experts 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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How to Understand Energy Star Guidelines

Lowering Bills with Lower Water Heater Temperature

How to Understand Energy Star GuidelinesFinding ways to save energy is on the minds of many homeowners these days. One area of your home that you may need to take a second look for savings is your water heater. After all, energy consumed for water heating in the average home is second only to the HVAC system. Use these tips and information for how and why you should lower your water heater temperature.

Lower Energy Bills and More

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), water heating accounts for approximately 18 percent of the energy consumed in the average home. By turning back your water heater’s factory temperature of approximately 140 degrees, or higher, to 120 degrees, you may expect to save 10 to 12 percent of water heating costs.

Additionally, water temperatures in excess of 140 degrees can cause scalding in a matter of seconds — especially in the very young, elderly, and physically or mentally impaired populations.

A lower water heater temperature reduces or slows corrosion and wear on your water heater and pipes, too. The higher the temperature, the faster that mineral deposits accumulate, which reduces efficiency and additionally increases energy bills.

Lower Your Water Heater Temperature

It may take a few tries and a few hours to adjust your water heater temperature just right. Here’s how to do it:

  • Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of hot water at the tap most distant from the water heater.
  • For gas models, turn back the thermostat dial located on the gas valve to the “low” setting.
  • For electric models, remove the bottom and top panels that cover the thermostats (some models have only one thermostat located on the bottom). Turn back the thermostat dial a few notches.
  • Give your water heater four hours for the temperature to fall.
  • Using your thermometer, measure hot water temperature again at the most distant tap.
  • Repeat as necessary until the temperature is at 120 degrees.

If you haven’t scheduled water heater maintenance in more than one year, contact Roth Heating & Cooling for an appointment, and we’ll take care of adjusting your water heater temperature for you!
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: “TBIT/Pixabay”

Should You Consider Using Ductless Mini Splits in Your Home?

Should You Consider Using Ductless Mini Splits in Your Home?A ductless mini split offers a solid option for heating and cooling areas in your home that would otherwise pose challenges. Ductless systems work just like central HVAC systems, except they don’t use ductwork for air delivery. They’re one of the most energy efficient and flexible alternatives with a proven record for performance and comfort.

Mini Split Components

The two primary parts of a ductless system are the indoor air handler and the outdoor condenser. A thin conduit that contains refrigerant, power and a drainpipe connect the two. Larger mini splits can support four separate air handlers, making it possible to condition multiple rooms or spaces.

The air handler can sit on the floor or hang from a wall or ceiling. The condenser is more compact than those associated with central systems. Installers drill a small hole in an exterior wall to run the conduit that connects the condenser to the air handler.

System Advantages

Since they don’t use ductwork, mini splits are ideal appliances for conditioning spaces where running ductwork would take too much space or be costly. They’re often used in retrofitted spaces or new additions. Each air handler has its own thermostat to ensure individual comfort. If you don’t plan to use a space continuously, you can save energy by turning the system off without affecting comfort levels in the rest of the home.

Ductless systems offer greater energy efficiency because they don’t have any thermal or air losses from ductwork that central systems do. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) mandates that a ductless mini split must meet the same minimum energy efficiency requirements as central forced-air HVAC systems do.

Heating with a Mini Split

In this climate, a ductless heat pump can provide year-round comfort. Look for a HSPF (heating season performance factor) rating that exceeds the current minimum rating of 8.2. One with a scroll compressor or that uses inverter technology will provide comfortable heat even during our coldest weather.

If you’d like more information about a ductless mini split, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing Portland-area homeowners with outstanding HVAC services 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). 

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “art4all/Shutterstock”

Is Heat Gain A Problem In Your Attic? Radiant Barriers Can Help

Is Heat Gain A Problem In Your Attic? Radiant Barriers Can HelpFinding ways to save on energy costs is an important consideration for all Portland-area homeowners. In the summer, the costs of cooling your home inevitably go up, and one of the biggest culprits is heat gain. However, installing radiant barriers in your attic can reduce this heat gain and help you save money.
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Need A New A/C? Consider The Long-Term Savings Of A High-Efficiency Upgrade

Need A New A/C? Consider The Long-Term Savings Of A High-Efficiency UpgradeDo you know how much you’re spending to cool your home every summer? Have you considered that by investing in a high-efficiency upgrade, you could enjoy long-term savings that don’t exist with standard air-conditioning (A/C) units? The initial price tag of an Energy Star-qualified air conditioner may be higher than a standard model, but there are several ways in which your investment can pay for itself.
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Air Conditioner Replacement — Knowing When Repairs Won’t Cut It

Air Conditioner Replacement -- Knowing When Repairs Won't Cut ItYou could wait until your air conditioner completely croaks to replace it, but that could leave you without air conditioning on a hot afternoon in Portland. Rather, the best step to take is to learn what signs indicate your air conditioner is on its last leg. That way, you can stop pouring money into repairs and fit an air conditioner replacement conveniently into your schedule and budget. Continue reading