Tag Archives: Home Safety

Backup Generator: 10 Situations You’ll Need to Know About

Power outages in Portland are not unknown, despite our rather benign weather. The fact is, the power can and does go off here, for a variety of reasons. That’s when it’s good to know your Backup Generator: 10 Situations You'll Need to Know About power needs are covered with a backup generator. Generators are no longer rare in residential areas, as the weather gets wackier and homeowners are more and more reluctant to experience the inconvenience of not being able to cook, going without lights or worrying about food spoiling in the refrigerator.

Here are 10 reasons the power might go off in your Portland home.

  1. Lightning strike. Power thunderstorms are rare here, but can happen. When lightning hits transformers, it can knock out the power.
  2. Flooding. Flood waters from torrential rain and melting snow can damage electrical equipment at ground level or below, knocking out power till flooding resides and repair crews can fix it.
  3. Wind. High winds can blow down power lines, resulting in temporary loss of electricity.
  4. Falling trees. Trees may hit power lines after being toppled by high winds or improper cutting.
  5. Home construction. If you’re building a house or performing major renovations, the electricity may be off for extended periods.
  6. Animals. Believe it or not, but sometimes animals can cause blackouts, from birds shorting out power lines to underground burrowing animals chewing through buried cables.
  7. Power company outage. We don’t always know the reason, but sometimes the power just goes out while the utility company works on the lines. Outages can be short or long term, and might be caused by a short circuit or overloading of electricity mains.
  8. Power surge in the home. Sometimes the homeowner’s electrical system shorts out, particularly if it’s old or repairs have not been done correctly.
  9. Gas line problems. Gas lines may leak and have to be shut off till repairs are made.
  10. Earthquake. Portland is in an earthquake zone. This can be a major cause of long-term power outages.

For more on how a backup generator can benefit you and your family when the power’s down, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We serve the greater 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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Storm Preparation for Spring: What You Need to Know

Storm Preparation for Spring: What You Need to KnowAlthough Portland is blessed with relatively mild weather, residents shouldn’t necessarily be complacent. In springtime, we can still get some winter blasts, as well as some strong rain that could lead to flooding.

Just to be on the safe side, why not review the following tips for storm prep this season? You’ll be ahead of the game, and ready for anything Mother Nature deals out.

Flooding

While Portland rarely sees thunderstorms and tornadoes, we can get heavy rains that could cause flooding. If you’re new to the area, or even if you’ve resided here longer and aren’t real sure about potential flooding in your neighborhood, it bears checking it out by researching government websites to discover flood-prone areas. In times of heavy rain, some residents should also be on the lookout for mudslides.

If a thunderstorm is approaching, avoid going out of doors as long as you can hear thunder. If you hear thunder, you’re within striking distance of lightning. Also, unplug your major electric appliances, including the air conditioner, to avoid damage in a power surge.

If you suspect your home is subject to flooding, have a plan for evacuation in times of heavy rainfall . Keep the car gassed, and some survival supplies on hand. Make sure you have flood insurance — your regular insurance will not cover flooding from natural causes — well in advance of any storm.

Also, if you live in a flood-prone area, make sure that your air conditioner compressor is located in an elevated area, as much as possible, to avoid damage from high waters.

Power outages

It’s always possible the power could go off from high winds, ice on power lines or lightning strikes, so be prepared. Have at least a three-day supply of food, water, pet food and essential medicines on hand. Keep blankets and warm clothing handy, as well as a good supply of batteries and a battery-powered lantern, flashlight and weather radio. A backup generator will allow you to have the minimum electrical conveniences needed to stay comfortable and safe.

To learn more about storm prep, contact us at Roth Heading and Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical. We’ve 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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Could It Be Time to Upgrade Your Electrical Wiring?

ICould It Be Time to Upgrade Your Electrical Wiring?t may be the last thing on your wish list for home improvements, but electrical wiring could be unsafe, inadequate, or both and needs replacing. Even though the expense may seem high, it’s well worth doing given what’s at risk.

The signs of bad wiring include:

  • Flickering lights or bulbs that dim when you turn on an appliance. This almost always indicates that the circuit breaker for that outlet is overloaded.
  • Sizzling sounds coming from an outlet or discolored outlets. Electricity should be silent. Discolored outlets could indicate overheating.
  • Circuit breakers that trip frequently. When too much power goes through a circuit breaker, a contact point builds too much heat and it shuts itself off.
  • Burning rubber smells or excessively hot cords. Anytime you smell a suspicious odor coming from an appliance or a cord feels hot, you should turn it off or pull it immediately. The problem may be the device you’re using. If you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to contact an electrician to identify the problem.
  • Aluminum wiring. Home builders used aluminum wiring to cut costs in homes built between the 1960s and 70s. While it may not be a problem, it can be. Work-arounds may be available to reduce the danger associated with this type of electrical wiring.
  • Lack of grounded outlets or no GFIs. Any outlet that isn’t grounded should be changed, and GFI circuits reduce the risk of an appliance or device being exposed to water.
  • Overloaded outlets. If you have to use surge protectors or power strips throughout your home, you probably need more receptacles, especially when you’re plugging higher wattage appliances into them. Vacuum cleaners, space heaters, hair dryers, and some televisions use more power than others, and need to be plugged directly into an outlet for safety.

Inadequate or unsafe electrical wiring accounts for the majority of preventable home fires. If you suspect yours is inadequate or you’ve experienced any problems with it, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We provide trusted HVAC and electrical 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).

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Are Home Space Heaters Dangerous?

Are Home Space Heaters Dangerous?Home space heaters can be a boost to your all-round comfort in winter. They can also help you save money, by providing spot warming so you can keep the furnace thermostat lower. But any auxiliary heater has its hazards. Learn how to use them — but with care.

The Hazards of Space Heaters

Space heaters are the cause of as many as 18,000 residential fires annually in the U.S. Most of the time those fires occur because a home’s residents are using them improperly.

Whether a space heater is powered by electricity or combustion, improper use can lead to injury or death. Electric heaters are often the source of fires because of frayed cords, or from overheating due to plugging into an extension cord. Setting a heater too close to combustible materials may also result in fires.

Improperly vented combustion-powered heating may be the source of toxic fumes; without venting, a heater powered by natural gas, propane or kerosene should never be used indoors.

Safety First

If you plan to use an auxiliary heater to either warm a room or provide spot heating, be sure you adhere to some basic precautions:

  1. Never buy a heater without a safety grill, all its knobs and controls, feet and sensors to shut off the appliance in case it tips over. Dispose of old heaters without these features. Dispose of old heaters with frayed cords.
  2. Never operate an electric-powered heater in a wet room, such as a bathroom.
  3. Set heaters on level surfaces. Do not set them on combustible surfaces.
  4. Never place anything on top of a space heater.
  5. Don’t use auxiliary heaters in a child’s room.
  6. Position room heaters away from foot traffic.
  7. Run the power cord over the carpet, not under it.
  8. Turn space heaters off when you go to bed. Unplug them when you leave the house.
  9. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test them monthly.
  10. Purchase “UL Listed” heaters. The Underwriters Laboratory mark guarantees they have been tested for safety.

For more on proper use of space heaters, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We provide quality service to our Portland customers.

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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay”

How You Should Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

How You Should Check Your Carbon Monoxide DetectorsWhen you being running your heating system and close your home against the winter air, the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure increases. You can lessen the threat it poses to your family’s well-being by keeping your furnace professionally maintained. For complete protection though, you also need to know how to check and maintain the carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

Why Checking Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors Matters

Carbon monoxide gas is a byproduct of incomplete combustion of any fossil fuel, so it can be produced by your gas furnace, hot water heater or kitchen range. In small amounts, CO causes flu-like illness. Exposure to a high level of the gas can render a person unconscious and quickly cause death. Since CO has no color, taste or odor, you won’t know you’re at risk unless a carbon monoxide detector sounds a warning alarm.

Advice for Testing and Maintaining Your CO Detectors

Here’s some helpful advice on how to test and maintain well-functioning carbon monoxide detectors in your home:

  • Read the manual for each detection device you own and follow any brand-specific guidelines from the manufacturer for proper use and care.
  • In general, it’s wise to check the functionality of your detectors monthly by holding down the “test” button for a few seconds. If you don’t hear a beep, put in new batteries and test again. If the device makes no sound, it needs replacement.
  • Replace all device batteries twice a year. You might find it easier to remember if you do this when you’re changing the clocks for daylight saving time.
  • CO detectors lose the ability to sense the gas after five years of use, so replace all of your devices when they reach that age. So you don’t forget to do so, choose a model with a replacement alert feature.
  • If you want plug-in or wired detectors, buy detectors with battery backup so they’ll still function if a power outage

Contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling for more advice about keeping your Portland home protected by checking your carbon monoxide detectors and properly maintaining your heating equipment.
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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Don’t Let Attic Safety Fall by the Wayside

Don't Let Attic Safety Fall by the WaysideNow that spring is here, it’s time to do some of those maintenance and repair tasks you’ve been thinking about all winter. Chances are, one of those projects may involve a visit to the attic for you or someone you hire. If so, have you given any thought to attic safety?

Attic Hazards

The hazards of doing work in the attic are surprisingly numerous. It’s a place we’re usually not that familiar with, offering sometimes limited visibility. Also, attics tend to be hot, dusty and uncomfortable, with movement severely restricted, and if yours doesn’t have a floor, navigating on exposed joists can be tricky. Plus, unpleasant surprises may await you, be it an infestation of vermin, or an outbreak of mold. It pays to be mindful of these hazards, and to take steps to overcome them before you or a technician starts your project.

Here are some suggestions to improve attic safety.

  1. Limit trips to and from the attic. Whether you have pull-down stairs, a staircase or just a ladder, take extra care going up and down. Organize your project so you minimize trips.
  2. Don’t overheat. Temperatures can soar in the attic, even on a mild spring day, so drink plenty of water and if your project allows you to, run a portable fan to keep cool. Vacuum the attic first, if possible, so less dust will be swirling around.
  3. Wear protective clothing and gear. Cover arms and legs to prevent exposure to irritating insulation and hazards such as protruding nails. Wear goggles or safety glasses and a respirator with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.
  4. If you discover vermin, have the attic fumigated before work begins.
  5. Cover exposed joists with planks, but be mindful of how you place your feet on the planks so you don’t topple over and go through the ceiling.
  6. Even if there’s overhead lighting in the attic, take a work light so you can see in corners.

Find out more about attic safety from Roth Heating & Cooling. We provide quality service to customers in 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).

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How to Check and Test Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

How to Check and Test Your Carbon Monoxide DetectorAlong with your smoke detector, your carbon monoxide detector may be the most important safety device in your home. Now that it’s time for fall seasonal maintenance on your HVAC system, it’s also time to check your carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they will continue working throughout the year. Here’s why this is important.

The Risks of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas that is released as a byproduct of combustion. This means that anything that is flammable, such as natural gas in your furnace, will release carbon monoxide when it burns.

Most of the time, the CO gas is safely vented to the outdoors by your heating system, but problems with the ventilation equipment or issues such as cracked heat exchangers can allow carbon monoxide to escape into your home.

Carbon monoxide detectors are necessary because CO is invisible to human senses: it is odorless, colorless and tasteless. A person can be exposed to dangerous or even fatal amounts of carbon monoxide without even knowing the gas is present. For this reason, it is essential to have a functional carbon monoxide detector in your Oregon home.

Checking and Testing Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

  • Give your CO detector a visual inspection to make sure it is clean, not obviously damaged and has not come loose from its mounting.
  • Install fresh new batteries in the detector, even if the current batteries are still working. This will prevent a battery failure during the colder months when the CO detector may be needed the most.
  • Test the unit by pressing the “test” button on the outside of the case. This button is usually on the face of the detector. The device’s alarm should sound a few seconds after the button is pressed. Replace any detectors that fail this test.

Roth Heating & Cooling is a premier provider of HVAC sales, maintenance, and service in the Oregon communities of Portland, Canby, and Hillsboro. Contact us today for more information on checking and testing your carbon monoxide detector and keeping this important safety device working properly.

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 Install Outdoor Security Lighting

How to Install Outdoor Security LightingInstalling extra lighting is an effective way to increase the security around your home. Outdoor security lighting can also increase the value of your property, while keeping you and your family members safe. Read on to learn how to install outdoor security lighting around your home.

The first thing you have to do is determine where you need the lighting installed. Walk around your home at night and determine where the darkest areas are. Also, look for places where people can enter your home. This could be your patio doors, the window to your basement, or the window to your garage. You want to have sufficient lighting installed around these areas to make sure there’s no place for an intruder to find a safe entry point.

Next, you need to decide on what kind of lighting you need. Outdoor lighting can come with motion detectors, light sensors and other features, which make it more versatile. A motion detector will turn a light on if someone moves within a certain range, while a light sensor will turn the fixture on automatically when it’s dark outside. A timer can turn off your light after a certain interval.

Once you’ve made a decision on the location and type of lighting you need, it’s time for the installation. Installing outdoor lighting is not the same as installing indoor lighting. You need to use wires, switches and fixtures designed for outdoor use. If you need to install cable underground, you should use conduit to protect the cable. To keep your home safe, you should install grounding on each outdoor fixture. Get the help of an electrical professional to make sure your outdoor security lighting is installed properly.

After completing this installation, the final step is to adjust the settings on your fixture. The fixture will have instructions on how to adjust the direction and range of the motion sensor. You’ll also need to set any timers and whether you want the fixture to come on automatically at sundown.

Contact Roth Heating & Cooling in the Metro Portland area if you need help installing outdoor security lighting.

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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