Tag Archives: Home Safety

Best Ways to Start Spring Storm Preparation for Your HVAC

Best Ways to Start Spring Storm Preparation for Your HVAC

Spring weather can go from balmy to blustery and worse quickly. Strong winds, heavy rain, or ice and snow can take a toll on your HVAC system, which might be completely avoidable with storm preparation in advance of bad weather.

  • Identify the circuit breaker for your HVAC system and label it. Should the power go out, turn the system off at the breaker to prevent electrical damage that may occur as line crews work to restore it.

    It’s not uncommon for the power to spike after an outage, and when the circuit breaker is off, those surges can’t hurt the electronic components inside the heating or cooling equipment. Wait until the power company has stabilized the power supply before turning the system back on.

  • If you’re routinely away, consider installing a whole-house surge protector to keep all of your home’s devices and appliances safe from the damage power spikes can do. Storms aren’t the only cause of power surges. They can happen during grid switching, from car accidents, or during peak usage periods.

    The cost of a whole-house surge protector for year-round storm preparation or normal electrical disruptions is small compared to replacing the appliances or devices damaged from power spikes.

  • Consider anchoring the outdoor condenser to prevent it from tipping during a heavy wind by using tie downs or bolting it to the concrete pad on which it sits. Although they’re heavy, condensers will topple during a strong wind or gust.
  • Set aside a tarp and twine or bungee cords to cover the outdoor condenser when high winds are forecast. The covering can protect the condenser from wind-blown debris that could irretrievably damage the fins or condensing coil inside it.

    If your system is older, a coil may not be available, and you’ll have to replace the entire system, which takes time and could cost you the deductible for your homeowner’s insurance.

Contact the experts at Roth Heating & Cooling for more information about tying down your HVAC system down and adding a surge protector for storm preparation. We provide 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).  

Why You Shouldn’t Try DIY HVAC Repairs

Why You Shouldn't Try DIY HVAC RepairsWhen your furnace starts acting up on a chilly Portland winter evening, it can be tempting to try to solve the problem yourself rather than wait for a technician to arrive. DIY HVAC repairs might sound practical, but they can end up costing more money and time than calling a pro would have.

Your Health and Safety

The most important reason to let a professional handle your heating and cooling repairs is to protect yourself and your family. While you might not be too concerned about the minor cuts and burns you can get during your DIY HVAC repairs, keep in mind this isn’t the worse that can happen.

Making a mistake around the system’s electrical components can give you a shock that leaves you hospitalized or even dead. An incorrectly performed electrical repair job might look okay at first, but spark a fire in the middle of the night. Damage to a gas furnace can create a potentially deadly carbon monoxide leak.

Practicality and Cost-Effectiveness

Licensed HVAC professionals bring not only years of training and experience, but also an array of tools specifically designed for HVAC repair. All this lets them troubleshoot your system and get the necessary repair work done fast. Better yet, you can be sure the repair work will last. Try to DIY it and you’re likely to spend more of your own time and money for an iffy repair job.

Some components, such as your air conditioner evaporator coils, are quite delicate and it’s easy to cause damage if you’re unaware of how to handle them. A mistake could turn a quick repair into an expensive component replacement job.

Changing your air filters, cleaning your outdoor condenser unit, and even patching a damaged air duct are all simple jobs you can do yourself, but for anything more complex, put your family’s safety first and call a pro.

If you’d rather avoid disastrous DIY HVAC repairs, get in touch with us 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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The Importance of an Annual Electrical Safety Check

The Importance of an Annual Electrical Safety CheckAn electrical safety check might prevent serious damage to your home or any of its major appliances. The electrical system is easy to ignore since it’s out of sight and silent. But doing so could be risky because electricity is a powerful force. A periodic inspection will assure you that it’s working as it should and meets all safety codes.

Scheduling an Electrical Safety Check

Home safety professionals recommend that a licensed electrician look it over once a year to keep minor issues from becoming catastrophic problems. If your electrical system shows any of these signs of electrical problems, schedule an inspection promptly:

  • Frequent circuit breakers trips
  • Lights flicker, which could indicate a short in the wiring in the walls or the cord
  • Humming noises from the breaker box. This is never a good sign, and usually means that the breaker is bad and won’t trip even if it’s overloaded. Heat will build and it has the potential to start a fire.
  • The home is more than 25 years old. The wiring insulation may have disintegrated or the outlets have aged.
  • The wiring is aluminum. Over time, aluminum wiring oxidizes, which increases the resistance on the wiring, causing it to overheat.

What to Expect During an Electrical Safety Check

During an electrical safety check, the electrician will test the circuit breakers and visually inspect the switches and outlets. Outward signs of problems include switches that don’t work and discolored outlets.

Excessive use of power strips or multi-outlets usually indicates you need more outlets or receptacles. If your circuit breaker box is full, you may need a new, larger box to handle your present power demand and provide room for future expansion.

Other issues might include shorts when using certain switches, outlets or appliances. The electrician will pinpoint the problem, whether it’s in the wall, a fixture, or an appliance.

It makes sense to have an electrical safety check to avoid preventable damage to your home, appliances, or devices. If you’d like to learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing licensed 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). 

Tis the Season to Replace Detectors Around Your House

Tis the Season to Replace Detectors Around Your HouseThe signs that winter is coming are everywhere — crisp, cold mornings and pumpkin spice lattes abound. This also means you’ll likely be spending more time indoors for the next few months, warming your home with your heating system. Rest assured that your house is not only a cozy place to retreat to, but also a safe one, by checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors today.

Checking Your Detectors

It’s advised that you check the batteries on your detectors monthly by simply pressing the “test” button on them. If you don’t hear a sound when you test them, it’s time to install new batteries.

Although your alarms may sound with that pesky, attention-getting chirp when it’s time to replace the batteries, there is no obvious indication when your detectors have reached the end of their lives. Detectors that have reached their expiration should be replaced immediately. The following tips will help you ensure your detectors are in proper working order in your home:

  • Remove detectors from your ceilings and walls and check the manufacture date on the back of them to find out how old they are.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors last on average between 5 to 7 years.
  • Smoke detectors last about 10 years.
  • Position carbon monoxide detectors on all of the levels in your home. They should be installed in hallways close to bedrooms, at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances and at least 15 inches from ceilings.
  • Smoke detectors should be on every level of your home, in each bedroom and outside of bedrooms (i.e. hallways). Larger homes may need more detectors than this.

When It’s Time to Replace Detectors

There are detectors that offer digital displays and some models even come with voice alerts. Smoke detectors can be interconnected — when one sounds, they all start to sound, quickly alerting you to a problem. Carbon monoxide detectors with a “fuel-cell electrochemical” sensor are the most accurate.

For more information on how to check or replace detectors, please feel free to contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling anytime. We’ve been proudly serving the Portland 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). 

Holiday Fire Hazards: Are You at Risk? 

Holiday Fire Hazards: Are You at Risk? The holiday season is a time for colorful decorations and get-togethers with family and friends. Unfortunately, the holidays are also a risky period when an average of 47,000 house fires occur that cause 500 fatalities each year. For a safer home this season, use these tips to avoid holiday fire hazards.

Test Your Smoke Detectors

Have smoke detectors installed in strategic areas on each level of your home, such as in the kitchen and near sleeping areas. Press the test button on each device once a month to ensure that it’s fully functional, replace the batteries in early winter, and you can cut your risk of becoming a fire-related statistic in half.

Invest in Fire Extinguishers

Buy a fire extinguisher for each floor of your home, learn how to use it properly and place each one where it’s easily reached in the event of a fire. Choose A-B-C rated extinguishers that can put out fires caused by the three most common causes: combustibles like wood and paper, flammable liquids/gases and electrical sources. Opt for the largest-capacity extinguisher that you can easily lift and carry.

Take Precautions With Supplemental Heat Sources

If you plan to use a space heater for extra warmth this winter, make sure it’s one with an auto-shut off that kicks in if the unit tips over, and place it several feet away from combustible materials, like upholstered furniture, window coverings and the Christmas tree. If you use the fireplace, make sure the damper is open when you light it, and have a protective firescreen in place to prevent sparks from escaping.

Get Safety-Wise With Holiday Decorations

Switch to LED holiday lights that emit very little heat, replace any frayed/damaged extension cords and don’t overload your electrical outlets. Real trees can become a fire hazard as they dry out, so opt for an artificial, fire retardant-treated tree, and use a sturdy, stable tree stand. And, don’t forget to unplug all your holiday lights each night before you head to bed.

To learn more about preventing holiday fire hazards in your Portland-area 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). 

Maintain Your HVAC Safety When Decorating for Halloween

Maintain Your HVAC Safety When Decorating for HalloweenWhen the fall temperatures arrive in Oregon, they’re accompanied by the ghosts and goblins of Halloween. Halloween is the first of the year-end holidays that bring out an interest in decorating homes inside and out. While Halloween decorating can be fun, getting into the spirit of the season shouldn’t compromise HVAC safety.

Here are some tips for keeping your HVAC system and your home safe when decorating for Halloween:

Keep Vents Clear Indoors

The vents on the outdoor unit of your heating and cooling system need to be open so that air can move in or out as needed. If these vents are blocked by Halloween decorations, the system cannot get the airflow it needs, which reduces performance. Indoor decorations blocking vents and registers can prevent warm or cool air from leaving the ductwork.

Allow Air Flow Outside

Both your cooling system and your heating system need an unobstructed source of airflow. Vents provide part of it, but the outdoor unit also needs to have plenty of space around it to ensure that enough air is available. If you put too many decorations on or near the unit, they could impede airflow and cause issues with the HVAC system’s function. In the worst cases, blocked airflow can damage the unit.

Avoid Decorations Inside Your Unit

Spider webs–real ones–can cause problems with the internal components of the outdoor unit. In particular, they can interfere with electrical connections and cause circuit breakers to trip or, in the worse cases, cause components and circuit boards to burn out. Pieces from Halloween decorations that come loose and make their way inside the outdoor unit can have similar effects. Pieces of cotton from artificial webs, bits of cloth or paper from ghost decorations, or even whole decorations could cause problems with your HVAC system if they get inside the unit.

Roth Heating and Cooling has been serving the HVAC needs of customers in Portland, Hillsboro, Canby, and the surrounding Oregon communities for more than forty years. Contact us today for more information on HVAC safety when decorating your home for Halloween and other holidays.

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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Yard Work and How it Can Affect Your HVAC System

Yard Work and How it Can Affect Your HVAC SystemIf the condensing unit for your central cooling system sits on the ground, doing yard work near it could reduce its efficiency. The condenser contains the fins and condensing coil that dissipate the heat that the refrigerant pulls out of your home. Any dirt and damage to these coils slows its ability to cool the refrigerant, which drives up cooling costs.

  • Lawn mowing. Cutting the grass around the outdoor condenser without a bag to catch the clippings can deposit small bits of grass on the fins and coils. Unless they’re removed, they’ll slow the cooling process.
  • String trimming weeds. The best way to avoid flying leaves and clippings around the condenser is to hand-pull the weeds or spray the weeds with herbicides while they’re still small.
  • Leaf blowing. If the leaf blower is strong enough, it could send sticks and twigs flying into the condenser’s coils. It’s a good idea to point the blower away from the condenser, or rake the immediate area instead of blowing it. Some central air conditioners drain the condensation they create outdoors using a drainpipe. It’s not uncommon when doing yard work for landscaping debris to blow into the end of the pipe that can block the water flowing from it.
  • Irrigation. Watering the yard doesn’t directly harm the condenser, but any over spray can if it hits the condenser. Besides the mineral deposits that can form on the fins and coil, continued exposure to water or moisture might cause rust on the condenser.

Solutions

  • One of the best ways to prevent clippings from sticking to the condenser is to xeriscape around the condensing unit. This type of landscape uses drought-tolerant plants that don’t shed many leaves and use a rock or crushed gravel ground cover.
  • Throwing a tarp over the condenser when you’re working around it will prevent some of the debris from lodging inside the fins and coils or bending them.

These tips will help you prevent damage to your condenser when doing yard work. To learn more about increasing cooling efficiency, 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).

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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