Tag Archives: maintenance

3 Common Heat Exchanger Problems

Close up tube or coil of heat exchangerWhen it comes to the safe operation of your furnace, there’s one component that plays a vital role: the heat exchanger. This coil of metal tubing is what keeps combustion fumes contained so they go out the exhaust vent pipe. If problems develop with this critically-important device, those noxious fumes that contain carbon monoxide and other harmful gases can escape and enter the warm air that’s being distributed through the ductwork in your home.

Here are three problems that commonly occur with heat exchangers and how to address them:

1. Rust and Corrosion

Heat exchangers can corrode and rust out due to excess condensation inside the furnace. Mostly, this is a problem with high-efficiency condensing furnaces. When the system is working properly, the condensate is expelled through a built-in drainage system. If the drain line gets partially blocked, the furnace still operates, but condensation can’t flow out freely and will gradually rust out the heat exchangers, allowing fumes to escape through holes in the metal. Condensation can also cause similar problems in a lower-efficiency furnace if the exhaust flue pipe is too small.

2. Age-Related Deterioration

Furnace heat exchangers are designed durably to withstand repeated cycles of heating up and cooling down over a long service life. With advancing age, the expansion and contraction that occurs will cause metal fatigue and small cracks will form in the material. When this happens, the furnace will need replacement.

3. Premature Metal Failure

Under certain conditions metal fatigue can happen prematurely, which means a costly early replacement of the furnace. The underlying cause may be insufficient system airflow or burner irregularities, but both result in overheating of the metal.

Preventing Problems With The Heat Exchanger

For safety and peace of mind, it’s wise to stay ahead of developing heat exchanger-related problems by having a trained HVAC technician inspect your furnace annually. An experienced technician will clean the components, check for adequate airflow, make any necessary burner adjustments and inspect the heat exchanger for wear and damage.

To have your furnace heat exchanger inspected, contact the Portland home comfort pros 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). 

Why You Need to Have Regular Furnace Maintenance

Why You Need to Have Regular Furnace MaintenanceThe benefits of furnace maintenance far outweigh its cost on many levels. Although it does cost money, the amount is small compared to the benefits a well-tuned system gives you.

Having your furnace serviced by a pro annually will:

Lower heating bills.

The efficiency you gain from a tuned-up furnace is well worth the small cost of having it professionally serviced each year. Dust and sooty deposits on the furnace’s parts lowers their efficiency.

The technician will look for abnormal amounts of soot inside the furnace and trace the possible causes. A dirty heat exchanger slows the heat transfer to the incoming air, which makes your furnace run longer.

Run safely.

All gas furnaces have safety features that prevent them from malfunctioning. The service technician will check their condition and ensure that they’re fully functional. They also use meters to measure the electrical flow, and verify that the gas lines are tight.

They’ll check carbon monoxide (CO) levels along with inspecting the condition of the chimney or flue. Any cracks or blockages can back up CO and other exhaust gases indoors.

Have fewer repair costs.

As the technician cleans and adjust your system, he or she will spot small problems that could escalate if left unattended. A motor that runs without enough lubrication will fail faster, and dust buildups burn out electrical components.

Last longer.

Without adequate maintenance, the wear and tear on all the parts increases and it takes years off the lifetime of your heating system. It’s particularly hard on the heat exchanger. As dust covers it, it will stay hot longer, which weakens the metal from which it is made.

Over time, cracks form that can leak CO into your home’s air. An HVAC or gas company technician has to disable a furnace with a cracked heat exchanger. You won’t be able to use it until it’s repaired or the system completely replaced.

Investing in furnace maintenance has tangible benefits for your comfort and safety. 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). 

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Plumbing Upgrades You Need This Season

Plumbing Upgrades You Need This SeasonNow that summer is waning and you’re spending more time indoors again, it’s a good opportunity to make some beneficial plumbing upgrades around your home. Here are five upgrade suggestions that can lower your water and energy bills, increase your comfort and help the environment too:

Invest in a New Water Heater

If your water heater is 10 or more years old, it can be up to 20 percent less efficient than the new appliances on the market. Today’s gas-fired storage tank water heaters are better insulated to reduce standby heat losses, and they offer features like electrical igniters and flu damper controls to curb your gas consumption.

Install Low-Flow Fixtures

Did you know that faucets and showers account for about one-quarter of the total household water usage in an average home? Installing low-flow fixtures can cut that consumption by 30 to 50 percent and bring you significant savings on your water and energy bills.

Upgrade to a High-Efficiency Toilet

Replacing the water-guzzling older toilets in your home with high-efficiency models is a great way to reduce your water bills and help the environment too. The latest models include dual-flush toilets that use jet-powered siphonic flushing action to empty the bowl completely while using as little as .9 gallons of water.

Have Pressure-Compensating Valves Installed

Do you notice a distinctly unpleasant pressure and temperature change when you have the shower running and someone flushes or turns on a faucet elsewhere in your home? If you have a pressure-compensating valve installed, you can set it and never experience more than a three-degree temperature change again.

Install a Water Filtration System

If the taste or quality of your home’s water supply is less than ideal, consider adding a point-of-use or whole-house filtration system. A licensed plumber can test your water and help you choose the right system, such as activated-charcoal to remove odors and improve taste, reverse-osmosis to filter out sediment, UV light to kill bacteria and viruses, or a multi-stage system with combined capabilities.

To learn more about plumbing upgrades for 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’s Back-to-School Maintenance Tips for Your Home

Here's Back-to-School Maintenance Tips for Your HomeIt’s that time of year again — back-to-school! Which means every homeowner out there needs to conduct a little maintenance on his or her home if they hope to keep costs under control. Here are a few quick tips that we suggest:

Replace Your Air Filter

Typically, an air filter needs to be replaced every 1-3 months. If you’ve been neglecting it a little over the summer because you’ve been too busy soaking up the sun, now’s the time to get it switched out for a new one. This will ensure that your heating and air conditioning equipment continues to work at an optimal level.

Seal the Ducts

Cooler temperatures are just around the corner, soon you’ll need to switch from air conditioning to heating. Before that happens, it’s essential that your ducts be checked for leaks and tears. This will keep the air circulating throughout your home without wasting energy.

Pick Up Around the Outdoor Unit

Over the summer, leaves and dirt can collect around your system’s outdoor unit. This can create a clogging situation, which can be a detriment to your heating and cooling efforts. This is an easy fix. All you have to do is remove any debris around the unit. Using a water hose is even more effective.

Perform Annual Maintenance

Once a year, it’s important that you enlist the help of a professional to make sure that your heating system is running properly. An annual maintenance (Precision Tune-up) will not only keep your equipment efficient, but can also prolong its operational life.

Clean the Condensate Drain

Your HVAC unit’s condensate drain can quickly become clogged with mold, algae, and other foreign substances. This can be cleaned by a water and bleach mixture two or three times a year to prevent any bigger issues from developing.

For more expert advice on back-to-school maintenance tips or any other home comfort questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the friendly professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical. We’ve been serving the Sherwood 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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Tips for Simple Summer HVAC Maintenance

Tips for Simple Summer HVAC MaintenanceIn Lake Oswego, we are blessed with one of the most moderate summer climates in the country. That said, we do have our scorchers when temperatures climb. Warmer weather, coupled with our omnipresent humidity, means it’s time to turn the air conditioner on. That’s why even in the warmer times, it’s a good idea to practice a bit of heating and cooling maintenance.

Here are some tasks that should be on your maintenance list every year:

  1. Schedule your air conditioner preventative maintenance inspection. Even if you don’t use the air conditioner that much, it’s always good to have it looked at once a year. Over time, Have your Heating and Cooling technician check refrigerant levels, inspect the condensate drain for leaks. Check the controls and thermostat, inspect the wiring and look at the coils. You’ll be ahead of the game if you fix small problems before they become big problems.
  2. Before you turn on your A/C, have a look around the outdoor condenser to ensure it’s free and clear of weeds, branches and anything else that might obstruct air flow. Trim grass and weeds, prune crowding shrubs to two feet away and remove any limbs that might fall on the unit. Indoors, check supply and return vents to ensure furniture, drapes and carpet are not blocking air flow.
  3. Change the air filter. Start the cooling season with a clean filter. A dirty filter will impede air flow, causing your A/C to slow down and work harder to cool your home. Not only does that cost you more, but you also will feel less comfortable. Keeping a clean air filter is important to maintaining good air quality.
  4. Monitor the humidity in your home. Buy an inexpensive hygrometer to check humidity levels. In summer, humidity should ideally be no more than 40 percent. We know that’s a challenge in our climate, but you can help your A/C do its job of dehumidifying by taking shorter showers, fixing leaks and installing exhaust ventilation in the bathroom.

To learn more about summer HVAC maintenance, contact Roth Heating and Cooling of Lake Oswego.

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 it Pays to Invest in Preventive Maintenance

Why it Pays to Invest in Preventive MaintenanceOf all the appliances in your home, your HVAC system is probably the most complicated and expensive. It also requires periodic preventive maintenance to run efficiently and dependably.

The benefits of professional attention far outweigh its cost, like:

  • Lower energy bills. Cooling and heating your home use about half your energy budget, and having your equipment professionally serviced helps lower energy use. When a system is cleaned, adjusted and lubricated, it doesn’t have to work as hard to keep your home comfortable. The goal of the HVAC tuneup is to bring the system back as closely as the technician can to its original factory settings.
  • Longer system lifetime. Everything mechanical wears with use, but keeping the parts clean goes a long way toward increasing their useful life. Over time, electrical parts corrode and when they do, the flow of electricity slows and heat builds. Dust on the components inside heating and cooling systems slows the heat exchange process. Your system has to run longer, which wears the parts prematurely.
  • Greater dependability. When a HVAC pro goes through your system during a preventive maintenance visit, he or she may find a part that’s not functioning as well as it should. Replacing a small part before it fails keeps your system running dependably especially during weather extremes.
  • Fewer repair costs. A failing part can have a damaging ripple effect throughout the system, and instead of needing to replace just one part, you may need to replace several others.
  • Maintain a valid warranty. Some manufacturers require periodic maintenance performed by an HVAC pro to keep the warranty active. Considering the cost of parts and labor, losing this protection could cost a good deal.

The best way to achieve the highest performance your system can provide is through routine preventive maintenance. 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).

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Everything You Need to Know About Heat Exchangers

Everything You Need to Know About Heat ExchangersHeat exchangers are found in all types of equipment, from refrigerators and air conditioners, to smoke stacks to diesel engines. But when we talk about the heat exchanger in your furnace, we mean a specific type of technology. Following is a brief explanation of what the heat exchanger in your furnace does.

Your Furnace’s Heat Exchanger

All heat exchangers perform the same function — that of moving heat from one fluid (a liquid or a gas) to another, but depending on the technology, they work in different ways.

The furnace heat exchanger uses fuel — propane, natural gas or oil — to create heat. The blower motor or fan then projects air over the heat exchanger and into your home’s ductwork, which distributes it throughout the home. Pretty simple, right?

To explain a little more in depth, the burners ignite and produce combustion gases. The gases are sent into the exchanger, where heat from the gases is transferred onto the walls of the heat exchanger.

As the gases cool, the draft inducer blower directs them into venting pipes and they are exhausted from the home. This takes place at the same time the hot air from the combustion gases is picking up heat from the heat exchanger walls, prior to being distributed through the ductwork.

What Can Go Wrong With the Heat Exchanger

Over time, a heat exchanger can develop cracks from the repeated heating and cooling of the metal. When this occurs, carbon monoxide may start leaking out. That said, modern heat exchangers are built with many improved safety features over old models, so malfunctions that can endanger your household are rare.

Annual maintenance on a furnace should include inspection of the heat exchanger for cracks. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home to ensure that accumulations from any malfunctioning combustion appliances do not mount to dangerous levels.

If you would like to know more about heat exchangers in particular or any of your other HVAC system parts, we can answer your questions. Contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We have 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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Back-to-School HVAC Tips

Back-to-School HVAC TipsWith the turning of the year in Portland, it’s a good time to make sure that your home will be cozy through the Pacific Northwest’s rainy winter. Now is the time to check over your home HVAC system and make sure that everything is in tip-top shape for the winter months ahead. Here are some of the tasks that should be on your to-do list:

  • Schedule seasonal maintenance. Before you switch your furnace on for the first time, have an HVAC technician come out and have a look at it. Seasonal maintenance can ensure that your system works at its peak efficiency throughout the heating season, and it can also help to detect and head off any potential larger issues.
  • Clean the coils of your air conditioner or heat pump. The indoor an outdoor coils of your A/C or heat pump transfer heat energy from (or into) your home. If they’re dusty, they can’t do so as efficiently, which means that you’ll spend more money on the same amount of cooling or heating.
  • Seal air leaks in your ductwork. Air leaks and insufficient insulation in home air ducts accounts for a 30 percent energy loss in many homes: conditioned air simply never reaches the living areas it’s intended for. Save money and energy by sealing any leaks, and making sure ducts are adequately insulated.
  • Change the air filters for your HVAC system. Clean air filters allow air to flow freely through your system, while clogged filters slow airflow and put strain on your system’s fan motor. That strain can lead to total system failure.
  • Invest in a dehumidifier. High humidity can encourage the growth of mold, mildew, bacteria, and fungus, which can threaten your health and the health of your home. A dehumidifier will help you manage indoor moisture through the rainy months.

If you want to know how you can prepare your home HVAC system for the winter ahead, give us a call 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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Don’t Forget About Your HVAC System During Spring Cleaning

Don't Forget About Your HVAC System During Spring CleaningAs mild as Portland’s summers are, your air conditioner still has a lot of work to do to keep you cool. A thorough HVAC spring cleaning before the summer heat moves in will help your system cool reliably and efficiently.

Brush Off the Dust

Inspect your air filter and if you see a buildup of dust, put in a new filter. A dirty filter limits airflow, reducing your system’s energy efficiency. If you suffer from spring allergies, consider upgrading to a MERV 11 or 12 pleated filter, which will trap dust and pollen more effectively than thin fiberglass filters.

Remove your supply air registers and return air grilles by unscrewing them. Place them in a mild solution of dish soap to soak. Use your vacuum’s hose attachment to clean out dust and debris from the ducts behind the registers and vents. Wipe the registers and grilles down with a rag and replace them when dry.

Clean your outdoor unit by first using a stiff brush to remove dirt and debris such as leaves and grass clippings. Then get out your wet-vac and fit the brush attachment onto the hose. Use this to remove the remaining dirt from the fins.

Call in a Pro

Some of the most important parts of HVAC spring cleaning involve components only a professional can access. Every year, schedule a professional air conditioner inspection before the cooling season beings.

Your technician will clean the motor and blower fan, test the motor’s voltage and amp draw, clean the evaporator coil, inspect the coil for leaks, test the refrigerant charge, take care of any loose or corroded wires or electrical connections, clear the drain line, and perform many other tasks. All these steps keep your air conditioner running at top efficiency and help the components reach their maximum lifespan. A professional cleaning also prevents annoyances such as an overflowing drain pan and ice on your outdoor coil, which can develop into bigger problems.

For pro help with your HVAC spring cleaning, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling anywhere 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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Spring Forward, But Don’t Forget Your HVAC System

Spring Forward, But Don’t Forget Your HVAC SystemThough it seems like only yesterday we were “falling back,” it’s already almost time to “spring forward” when Daylight Saving Time begins. In addition to moving the clock ahead one hour, it’s a useful reference point that reminds us to take care of important household chores — like testing and changing the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Others involve the HVAC system. Spring is a transitional season and now’s the time to prepare for the transition from heating to cooling. Here are some things to remember as we spring forward into summer.

Change The System Air Filter

It’s the single most important DIY task to ensure system performance and efficiency. If you don’t know how, ask your HVAC contractor to show you. Once you’ve got this simple procedure down, keep changing the filter monthly throughout the coming summer. You’ll feel a difference in indoor comfort and see a difference in lower operating costs.

Schedule Preventive HVAC Maintenance

It’s important to get an annual A/C system check-up by a qualified HVAC technician before summer sets in, preferably at seasonal startup of the system. This ensures optimum cooling all summer long and also allows the field tech to spot minor incipient problems now — before they turn into a major breakdown later. Also, the warranty terms of most manufacturers require a record of regular annual maintenance to keep the warranty valid.

Have The Ductwork Inspected

If it’s been a few seasons since anyone looked inside there, a duct inspection by an HVAC contractor may reveal leakage that’s all too common in residential ductwork. It’s also a major cause of energy inefficiency, high operating costs, and poor system performance. If signs of leaks are observed, the contractor can discuss sealing options.

Clear The Outdoor Unit

Remove any winter cover from the outdoor half of the central A/C. If weeds or other overgrowth are obstructing the air vents, cut them back to create two feet of clear space on all sides for maximum air circulation.

For professional HVAC service to spring forward into another summer, in Portland contact 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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