Tag Archives: HVAC

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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Heating Efficiently: Energy Myths for Fall

Heating Efficiently: Energy Myths for FallWith temperatures getting cooler in the Portland area, you’ll soon be using your heating system to warm up your home. Before doing so, it’s important to understand some common energy myths about heating homes. Falling for these myths could end up costing you more money on your energy bills this fall and winter.

Myth: Turn Your Thermostat Up for Faster Heating

Raising the temperature on your thermostat might seem like a good way to get your home feeling warmer more quickly, but all it does is increase your heating bills. Your heater puts out the same amount of heat, no matter what the temperature is set at. When you turn up your thermostat, your heating system just runs for a longer period of time.

Myth: Leave Your Thermostat at the Same Setting to Save Energy

One of the biggest energy myths is that leaving your thermostat set at the same temperature throughout the heating season will lead to less energy use and lower bills. However, you’ll save energy and reduce your bills by lowering your thermostat setting at certain times, such as during the night and during the day when you’re not home.

Myth: Use Your Fireplace for Heat to Save Energy

Relying on your fireplace for heat might seem like an energy-efficient way to reduce heating bills. However, fireplaces don’t do a good job of heating large areas in a home, and you can lose more of your heated indoor air from your furnace as it goes up the chimney. This can result in higher energy bills during fall and winter.

Myth: Close Vents in Unused Areas to Save Energy

Closing off certain vents won’t reduce your energy bills. In fact, you can end up with higher ones and a heating system that has to work harder to heat up areas with open vents. This puts more wear and tear on your heating system, which can lead to repairs or a shorter life span.

If your heating system needs maintenance or repairs this season, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling for help. We offer dependable heating services for Portland 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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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).

Ways Rain Could Affect an HVAC System

Ways Rain Could Affect an HVAC SystemThe ways rain affects an HVAC system are mostly indirect. After all, the only outdoor portion of your heating/cooling system is the outside condenser coil and compressor unit of the air conditioner, typically situated just behind or to the side of the house. That component is designed and engineered resist normal rainfall. The remainder of the air conditioner and all of the furnace are indoors. Nevertheless, there are still some ways rain affects an HVAC system. It’s a good idea to be aware of them if water-related issues occur.

Flooded Condenser Unit

While the outside half of the central air conditioner is rain-resistant, it’s not designed to be submerged in water. Localized flooding due to unusually heavy rains can swamp residential areas with standing water. Generally speaking, if flood water exceeds a depth of 15 inches, it may damage internal electrical components including circuit boards and connectors inside the external condenser/compressor unit of the central A/C. Moving flood waters may also undermine the concrete pad on which the outdoor unit is mounted.

Wet Ductwork

Heavy rain can also inundate HVAC ductwork if it floods the crawl space under the house where system ductwork is often routed. Ductwork is typically not waterproof. Water entering the ducts may remain contained inside duct segments long after the flood itself has receded. This water will deteriorate ductwork as well as form an environment for toxic mold growth inside the ducts.

Roof leaks during rainfall can occur unnoticed in the attic for some time. Chronic leakage into the attic can seep into HVAC ductwork installed there. This ongoing moisture will rust and corrode ducts as well as trigger mold growth. Rain leakage into the attic also saturates attic insulation, severely reducing its insulating properties. Insulation compromised by moisture allows increased heat transfer into and out of the attic and causes your furnace and air conditioner to run longer cycles to compensate.

For more info about how rain affects an HVAC system, contact the professionals 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 Ceiling Fans Affect Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

How Ceiling Fans Affect Your Home's Energy EfficiencyIn Portland’s mild climate, your ceiling fan can do a lot to help you stay comfortable efficiently. To get the most out of your fan, keep these tips in mind:

A Little Help for Your Air Conditioner

On days that aren’t too hot, stick to using your ceiling fans for as long as you can before turning on your air conditioner. Once you do turn on the A/C, don’t turn off the ceiling fan. A ceiling fan can make you feel around 4 to 5 degrees cooler, allowing you to raise your air conditioner’s thermostat temperature by the same amount with no loss of comfort.

Every degree you raise your A/C temperature can cut your cooling bills by around 3 to 10 percent. Make sure the fan blades are set to spin counterclockwise as seen from below. Spinning in this direction, they blow a cooling breeze downward over your skin. If the blades aren’t set correctly, look for a small switch on the motor housing that lets you change their direction.

Comfort in Winter, Too

When the cool fall weather moves in, set your fan blades to spin clockwise and run the fan on the lowest speed. When spinning this way, the blades create an updraft that pulls cool air from the lower part of the room toward the ceiling. This air pushes the warm air near the ceiling out towards the walls and down to where you are. The warm air in your room will circulate around you rather than pooling near the ceiling.

Maximizing Your Fan’s Efficiency

Fans make you feel more comfortable, but they don’t change the air temperature so they don’t help when you’re not in the room. To save energy, turn off the fan when you leave the room.

To move air efficiently, your fan must be the right size for the room. For a room of less than 144 sq. ft., a 42-inch fan is enough. For a room of up to 225 sq. ft., choose a 50-inch fan.

To learn more, 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).

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Plumbing for Pet Owners: Do’s and Don’t’s

Plumbing for Pet Owners: Do's and Don't'sWhen you pet-proof your house, the plumbing is easy to overlook because most of it is hidden away where you’d think it would be safe. Pets and plumbing don’t always get along, though, so responsible pet owners plan ahead.

Do

Use drain strainers – These catch pet hair that ends up in the sink or shower before it enters the drain. Pet hair may be shorter than human hair, but it can still cause clogs. Even if you don’t bathe your dog or cat in a particular sink or shower, use a strainer there to catch hair that still finds its way in. Drain strainers also catch other clog-causing debris, so they’re a good idea all around.

Protect your pipes – As many surprised pet owners have discovered, some dogs, particularly as puppies, find plumbing pipes tempting to chew on. If you have exposed pipes under your sinks, keep the sink cabinets locked or protected with child safety latches. If that’s not possible and you’ve caught your dog gnawing on the pipes, apply a bitter-tasting chewing deterrent. Installing a cage around your pipes is another option if nothing else helps. Give your dog plenty of appropriate chew toys to keep his mouth busy.

Don’t

Flush kitty litter – This is a trap many pet owners fall into. Even the litters that claim to be flushable shouldn’t go down the toilet, and this is doubly true with clumping litters. Litter settles in the toilet’s P-trap where it swells up, traps debris, and will eventually cause a clog. It’s also not good for septic tanks. Even worse, cat feces can harbor the parasite toxoplasma gondii, which can survive wastewater treatment and end up in the water supply. Place used litter in a plastic bag and put it in the trash.

Let pets drink from the toilet – It’s usually not the germs in toilet water than can make your dog or cat sick, but the cleaning chemicals. For smaller pets, falling in is another risk. Keep your toilet lids closed and provide plenty of fresh water in bowls.

To learn more, 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).

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How Wi-Fi Detectors Can Catch Water Leaks and Freezes

How Wi-Fi Detectors Can Catch Water Leaks and FreezesWi-Fi detectors offer high-tech protection against a low-tech threat: water leaks and frozen pipes. A large portion of your household plumbing is typically routed through inconspicuous areas that don’t get much attention. If a leak occurs in a water supply line, major water damage can occur before the incident is noticed.

A cracked 1/2-inch supply line can release up to 50 gallons per minute, a flood which quickly migrates far and wide inside the house. Extreme damage to structure and valuable possessions continues until someone sees the problem and shuts off the main water shutoff valve. If you happen to be out of the house for the day — or worse, out of town for several days — when a pipe leaks or freezes and ruptures, the results could be catastrophic.

Water damage from plumbing leaks and frozen pipes is the second most common cause of homeowner’s insurance claims. Connected to your existing home router or wireless network, here’s how Wi-Fi detectors protect your house and possessions from severe water damage:

Leak Detection

Installed in areas where unseen water leaks are most likely to occur — basement, crawl space, laundry room, etc — a Wi-Fi detector senses the presence of leaked water. The wireless alert can trigger an audible alarm. The device can also send you a text or email wherever you may be to warn you of the hazard occurring at home. Some of the more sophisticated systems can even shut off the main household water valve if a leak is detected.

Freeze Protection

Ice forming inside a water supply line causes extreme pressure that can rupture the pipe. Exposed water lines in unheated zones of the house such as the crawl space are particularly vulnerable. A Wi-Fi freeze protection system features battery-powered wraparound sensors that can be installed on exposed supply lines in critical areas. When the pipe temperature drops below freezing, an alert is transmitted wirelessly and can sound an alarm as well as send you a text or email to inform you of the danger.

For more about protection against water damage provided by Wi-Fi detectors, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. Serving the West Linn area for over 40 years.

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).

Consider These Things Before Adding a Home Addition

Consider These Things Before Adding a Home AdditionA home addition can give you the extra living space your family needs, increase your comfort and add to the enjoyment of your home. Whether you’re thinking of adding a new kitchen or family room, another bathroom or more bedrooms, there are a number of key factors to consider before you break ground.

Value, Budget and Financing

Building an addition is a costly undertaking, so make sure that the space you’re adding will truly serve your needs and that it’s a wise investment for where your home is located. Then, ensure that the proposed project fits within your budget, and plan how you’ll obtain financing if necessary.

Layout and Design

Work with an architect or designer to come up with a layout that makes the most of the added space and incorporates all your desired features and amenities. While the interior details are critically important, it’s also essential that the finished addition matches the style and aesthetic of your home’s exterior.

Heating and Cooling

Talk to an experienced HVAC contractor to determine the best way to heat and cool the living space you plan to add. A knowledgeable HVAC pro can assess your existing system and advise you if your current equipment has enough capacity, if the ductwork can be extended, or whether you’ll need to upgrade the components or install ductless units to serve the addition.

Electrical and Plumbing

You should consult licensed professionals about how the addition can be integrated into your home’s plumbing and electrical systems. You need to know whether there’s enough capacity to add extra breakers in your electrical panel, or how extending the plumbing system to serve new fixtures will impact water heating and water pressure throughout your home.

Choosing Contractors

Who you hire directly affects the success of your addition project, whether everything goes smoothly and if you experience future problems. Make sure that each contractor you choose is well-established with a good reputation, fully licensed and properly insured.

If you’re planning a new home addition and need expert plumbing, electrical and HVAC services, contact the Portland-area comfort pros at Roth Heating & Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical.

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

DIY vs. Handyman vs. Qualified Electrician

DIY vs. Handyman vs. Qualified ElectricianWe’re always looking for ways to save money on home repairs, but when it involves your electrical system, you should never cut corners. So if you’re weighing the wisdom of doing it yourself vs. hiring a handyman vs. hiring a qualified electrician, it’s usually best to go for the latter.

Hiring a Professional Electrician

While you or an amateur handyman with a good understanding of electricity may certainly do minor tasks, including reconnecting loose wires on a thermostat or perhaps even installing an electrical switch, doorbell or ceiling fan, it’s best to leave installation of electrical systems to the pros.

Electrical work is regulated by electrical codes. A building permit is usually required from the local municipality. Trained, certified professionals who adhere to current codes should be hired to work with plans approved by a city building code officer. An electrical inspector generally must sign off on major electrical jobs.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment with a certified electrician, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical of Portland 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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