Are There Some Cases Where a Standard Water Heater Is Better than a Tankless Water Heater?

September 12th, 2014

You may have heard that tankless water heaters are an efficient alternative to traditional water heaters, but they may not actually be the best choice for everyone. While tankless water heaters are becoming more and more popular, traditional units, otherwise known as storage tank water heaters, are still the most widely used system in the U.S. And even though tankless water heaters save energy and emit fewer pollutants, many homeowners feel as though they benefit more from sticking with a traditional unit instead.

Both types of systems have their advantages. Tankless units are more efficient because they don’t use energy throughout the day. Storage tank water heaters keep water heated in a large tank so it is readily available for use. But this means energy is used throughout the day to heat water that is only used on occasion. A tankless water heater only activates when a hot water tap is turned on, reducing your gas or electricity usage. Also, tankless water heaters are known to last nearly twice as long as a standard water heater, so you’ll have an efficient system for years to come.

But for some homeowners, efficiency isn’t everything. For one, a tankless water heater is often more costly to install than a storage tank heater. And while an efficient tankless unit may eventually save enough energy to offset the price, it can take many years to do so. Besides, you may have to install multiple tankless units to keep up with high demands for hot water in your family.

A common complaint about tankless water heaters is that they may not be effective at heating multiple sources as once. If someone is doing laundry while someone else is showering, some units will struggle to keep up. In this case, you may need to install two or more units depending on the size of your family. And for some homeowners, this cost is not worth the savings over time.

Whether you want to stick with a storage tank water heater or switch to an efficient tankless water heater in Gig Harbor, talk to one of the experts at Sound Heating today!

Tankless vs. Storage Water Heater: Which Is Right for My Home?

September 5th, 2014

You use hot water for many of the things you need to do every day, such as showering and washing dishes. So when you need a new water heater, you want to make sure that your new system can accommodate your needs. While many homes have water heaters that use large tanks to keep a supply of hot water available, tankless water heaters are rising in popularity recently due to environmental concerns and the money-saving benefits. But is a tankless water heater right for you?

We’ll Compare Both Types of Water Heaters in This Short Guide

Storage Tank Water Heater

A storage tank water heater works under the principle that heat naturally rises. Water enters the tank through a dip tube that feeds all the way to the bottom of the tank. With gas-powered storage tank heaters, there is a gas burner at the bottom of the tank that heats water. In an electric water heater, an electric heating element accomplishes the same. Water then moves naturally from the bottom of your tank to the top as hot water rises over the denser cold water, and flows to your faucet through the pipe that sits at the top of the tank. This type of system may cost more to run as a lot of energy is lost keeping water hot at all times.

Tankless Water Heater

A tankless water heater, on the other hand, does not rely on a tank because water does not need to be heated at all times. Instead, the heating element is activated as soon as a hot water tap is turned on. Water is instantly heated before flowing to your faucet. This eliminates the standby energy loss associated with storage tank heaters. Additionally, many people appreciate the smaller size of the tankless water heater over the bulky storage tank.

So which wins for your home? This all depends on your individual needs. A tankless water heater may use less energy to heat water, but it may not be able to handle demands from multiple taps. You may need to install multiple tankless heaters to make up for this deficiency. However, the energy savings may offset this cost over time. If you want to know which type of unit is best for you, call the experts at Sound Heating and ask about installing tankless water heaters in Gig Harbor.

The Very First Labor Day Celebration

August 29th, 2014

Labor Day as a federal holiday, held on the first Monday of September, has been with us now for 120 years. President Grover Cleveland signed the law that made Labor Day a national holiday in 1894. Ever since then, the three-day weekend has provided people in the U.S. with the opportunity for vacations, time with their families, shopping trips, and a general celebration of the conclusion of summer and the beginning of fall.

However, there were twelve years of Labor Day observations in the U.S. before it became an official holiday. The first Labor Day celebration took place in 1882 in New York City on September 5. According to the accounts from the time, it had a rough start and almost didn’t happen.

The main event planned for that first Labor Day was a parade along Broadway that was to start at City Hall. However, the parade ran into a bit of a snag early on. The marchers started to line up for the procession around 9 a.m., with a police escort to make sure the event went peacefully. However, the problem of the day wasn’t rowdy members of the parade—it was that nobody had remembered to bring a band!

With people ready to march, but no music to march to, it started to look like no parade would happen at all, and the first Labor Day would have ended up a failure. But just in time, Matthew Maguire of the Central Labor Union—one of the two men who first proposed the celebration—ran across the City Hall lawn to the Grand Marshal of the parade, William McCabe, to inform him that 200 men from the Jeweler’s Union of Newark were crossing the ferry to Manhattan… and they had a band!

At 10 a.m., only an hour late, the band from Newark walked down Broadway playing a number from a popular Gilbert and Sullivan opera. They passed McCabe and the other 700 marchers, who then fell in line behind them. Soon, the spectators joined in, and an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people marched through Lower Manhattan.

According to the New York Times, “The windows and roofs and even the lamp posts and awning frames were occupied by persons anxious to get a good view of the first parade in New York of workingmen of all trades united in one organization.”

The parade concluded two hours later when the marchers reached Reservoir Park. But the party was only getting started. Until 9 p.m., some 25,000 people celebrated with picnics and speeches and beer kegs. It was an enormous success, and all thanks to the speedy arrival of jewelers carrying band instruments.

If those musicians from Newark hadn’t shown up, perhaps we wouldn’t have the holiday opportunity that we now have every year. However you celebrate your Labor Day, our family at Sound Heating wishes your family a happy end of summer.

How Tankless Water Heaters Work

August 22nd, 2014

We use hot water for a variety of tasks around the house, but we rarely think about where it comes from. If you’re a homeowner, you may be used to seeing storage tank water heaters, which use a large tank to heat water and store it so that it is available at any time. But tankless water heaters have grown in popularity over the years thanks to their ability to heat water quickly and efficiently. So how can a unit heat water instantly without the use of a tank?

A tankless water heater is a “green” alternative to storage tanks that can help you save money over the years and may last longer than conventional units. Curious about how they work? In order to understand tankless water heaters, let’s a take a look at how standard units heat and store hot water.

Storage tank water heaters store water in a large tank to use whenever it is needed. First, cold water enters through a tube that leads to the bottom of the tank. Then a heating mechanism—either a gas-powered burner or an electric-powered heating element—heats the water, which rises to the top of the tank since hot water naturally rises above the denser, colder water. A tube sits at the top of the tank to supply hot water to the home, and cold water continues to cycle in as a replacement.

The problem with storage tank water heaters is the standby energy loss associated with continuously heating standing water. With a tankless heater, water is heated instantly to eliminate this loss. Tankless water heaters simply work through the use of a heat exchange system. Electric coils or gas activate to generate heat as soon as a hot water tap is turned on in the house so that hot water can immediately reach the faucet. Tankless water heaters may not be able to handle multiple jobs at once, so some homes may have several tankless water heaters, each mounted near the tap that activates it.

Want to know if this system is right for your home? Call Sound Heating for more information about tankless water heaters in Gig Harbor!

Common Fan Problems

August 15th, 2014

There are two fans in your air conditioner, a condenser fan in the outdoor unit and a blower in the evaporator. Each plays an important role in the heat release/cooling process; each also provides air flow in your system. When there is a malfunction with your fans, the effects can be felt system-wide. Many times, the problems can look like something other than fan issues, which is why it’s important to call the professionals at Sound Heating to repair your AC.

What Do the Fans Do?

Each fan helps equally with air flow, but plays different roles in the heat release/cooling process:

  • Condenser fan – the condenser fan is part of the outdoor unit. The condenser fan sucks up the heat that gets released by the refrigerant in the condenser coils and blows it out into the air. This helps cool the refrigerant in the condenser coils while also dissipating the heat.
  • Indoor blower – the indoor blower blows warm air from indoors over the chilled evaporator coils, and then sends the chilled air into the supply ducts for delivery into your home.

What Types of Problems Occur with Fans?

There are a few common problems we see frequently with fans:

  • Motor issues – fan motors can falter due to electrical issues, or burnout, and sometimes require replacement.
  • Problems with fan blades – fan blades can become bent or loose. One of the main problems with loose or bent fan blades is that they can bang into other parts of your system as they rotate, causing damage. If you hear banging or clunking noises coming from your fan, call a technician for repair.
  • Wiring issues – the wires in and around fan motors can fray, corrode and/or disconnect. This can cause uneven voltage to reach the motor, or a total loss of electricity, resulting in breakdown. The wiring in your fan motors can be complex, so it is best to have a trained professional repair any electrical issues you may experience.

Repair Your Fans Correctly with an Expert

The fans in your system are important to its overall operation, so while no one likes to call for repairs, it’s the smart thing to do. If you are experiencing issues with your fans or anything else, call Sound Heating today and schedule AC repairs in Tacoma with one of our trained technicians.

The Science of Solar Panels

August 8th, 2014

Humans have used the power emanating from the Sun for power since before the beginnings of civilization. But it was only with the invention of solar cells capable of collecting the Sun’s radiant energy and turning it into electricity that humanity has been capable of using solar power to provide for the needs of entire buildings and complexes. Today, you can have your whole house wired to run exclusively from solar collectors on the roof… or you can have a smaller installation to handle a single task, like heating your home’s water.

Solar energy come with enormous benefits: the Sun’s energy is free, renewable, and clean. If you haven’t considered solar installation in Bellevue, WA before, now is a great time to look into the possibilities. Call Sound Heating and speak to our solar experts today to learn more about the types of installations we can perform that will place the power of the Sun into your home.

How Modern Solar Energy Panels Work

You already know how the Sun provides energy directly: the warmth from its rays heats up exposed surfaces and raises their temperatures. But how do solar panels and solar cells work to change the Sun’s energy into electrical power?

The basic principle of solar cells is photovoltaics, which is a method of electrical power generation that changes solar radiation into electrical current. The photovoltaic effect was first observed in 1839 by French physicist A. E. Becquerel: certain material, when exposed to light, creates voltage or electric current. The exposure to light excites the electrons to generate electromotive force, converting some of the light into electrical power.

The material inside modern solar panels that exhibits the photovoltaic effect are semiconductors, which are arranged into groups of photovoltaic modules that make up the PV panels. The semiconductors generate electric voltage without using any moving parts (this is one of the reasons that solar energy systems require very little maintenance or repairs). The electricity created is direct current (DC). A power converter, also known as an inverter, changes the direct current to alternating current (AC) for use in a home. Many solar power systems will also contain a battery to retain voltage for later use and during times when the PV cells lose efficiency.

Solar power continues to advance, and the current technology of PV panels allows for the effective and efficient generation of enough electrical power to run an entire home. Solar panels are not ideal for every house, but you may be surprised to discover how flexible they are. Although solar installation is more expensive than more traditional power systems, the savings are immense (remember, the energy of the Sun is free) and the longevity and low maintenance and repair costs will increase your savings. Best of all, you’ll contribute to a greener future for the planet.

Sound Heating is proud to help people in the Greater Puget Sound Area find solar solutions for their homes. Contact us to learn how we can help you harness the Sun’s power for your household.

Does Solar Power Makes Sense in a Place Like Washington State?

July 31st, 2014

A large number of myths surround the use of solar power, and unfortunately many of them scare off homeowners who might have otherwise benefited from installing a solar power system. One of the most pervasive myths about solar power is that it will not work effectively in locations that are often cloudy or overcast. This is a concern that crops up often in a state like Washington, which is known for its heavy rain and cloud cover.

However, solar power can and does work in Washington State, and in many places that see even less direct sun. If you have resisted even touching the idea of providing your home in Puyallup, WA with solar energy, we hope this post will change your mind. Solar power is clean, renewable, and best of all, free. Contact our solar experts at Sound Heating today, and we can show you how practical a solar installation for your home can be.

Yes! Solar Power Makes Sense in Cloudy Weather

Here are a few facts to consider: the country with the largest output of solar energy is Germany. This nation produces five times the amount of solar energy as the U.S. And yet, Germany receives less sunshine per year than any of the 48 contiguous states! (Only Alaska receives less sun.) Within the U.S., Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts produce as much solar power as sunny California and Arizona. This should put to rest your fears about solar power systems working in Washington State.

To get more specific, the modern technology of solar cells (photovoltaic cells) is advanced enough that ambient light is sufficient for them to convert photons into electricity. (This is known as the “photovoltaic effect”) The solar panels only need UV light—any UV light, not just direct sunlight—to function. Snow can even help solar panels, since the reflectivity of the white surface will send more photons into the PV cells, and cold weather helps increase electricity conductivity from the panels.

You also do not need to worry about rain damage to solar panels during a rainy Washington fall and winter. These panels are built sturdily to resist most extreme weather conditions. Solar panels in Vermont have done well against very harsh winters. The frequent rain in Washington also means you won’t have to wash off your solar panels yourself.

We think you should give solar power for your home serious consideration. Our team at Sound Heating has done many solar installations in the Puget Sound Area, and we’ve seen firsthand how well it can work. Let us help you with solar installations in Puyallup, WA that will lower your bills and help you contribute to a cleaner energy future for the Earth.

3 Common Myths about Solar Power

July 24th, 2014

Although humans have found ways to use the Sun’s power since the dawn of civilization, only in the last few decades has solar power become a burgeoning energy resource. With the installation of photovoltaic (PV) panels to capture the Sun’s power, you can run much of your home with an energy source that is free and reusable.

If this sounds too good to be true, that’s because a number of prevalent myths have made it seem that way. We want to dispel three of the bigger solar energy misconceptions that often prevent homeowners from exploring their options to go solar in Puyallup, WA.

At Sound Heating, we specialize in solar power solutions for homes. We have full solar installations of many sizes all across King, Pierce, and Thurston Counties. Let us help you find out the truth about what solar power can do for you.

Myth #1: Solar Power Won’t Work In Cloudy Climates

This is the biggest misunderstanding when it comes to solar power in the Pacific Northwest, where there are numerous overcast days. However, modern solar panels are efficient enough that they will gather energy from ambient light, and the difference in power output is minimal compared to direct sun. In fact, the leading country in the world today for solar power is Germany, which has climate equivalent to that of Washington State and gets even less sun exposure, yet produces 5 times the amount of solar energy as the U.S.

Myth #2: Solar Power Costs Are Too High To Ever Recoup

Solar panels provide essentially free energy from the sun, but people still hesitate about converting to solar power because they believe that the upfront costs are so high that they will never be able to recover the money through energy savings. But the truth is that solar installation will pay for itself in 7 to 14 years, and the panels will last far longer than that. Tax incentives can reduce the payback period to 2 to 4 years in some cases.

Myth #3: Solar Panels Require Too Much Maintenance

Actually, there are few power systems available that require less maintenance than solar power. The size of the panels and the roof space they take up give people the illusion that the panels must receive constant cleaning to work. However, you only need to hose off the panels once a year—and rain will do most of that work in a place like Washington. You’ll need professional assistance with repairs should one of the panels suffer damage, but otherwise your solar power system should require little attention to keep doing its best job.

There are many more misunderstandings about solar power we could deal with (they won’t cause your roof to collapse, they don’t require a tracking system for the sun, and they can look quite attractive), but the bottom line is that solar power is probably much more effective, and affordable, for your home than you ever imagined it was.

Call Sound Heating today and find out more about our extensive services for solar in Puyallup, WA. We will find the best way to get you started with solar power that will fit your budget.

3 Things to Consider Before Solar Installation

July 18th, 2014

The solar power industry in the U.S. grows every year, and advances in sustainable energy have dropped prices to the point that solar energy is now accessible to many homeowners. If you thought that a solar energy system for your home was out of reach, you might be surprised at the possibilities—and the advantages. Harnessing the power of the Sun is not only a good idea for the planet, since it is a clean and renewable source of energy, it is also a good idea for your budget, since the power of the Sun is free. Once you have the system installed, the no-cost energy will immediately start paying back your initial investment.

Sound Heating specializes in solar installation in Puyallup, WA, and we can assist you with finding solar solutions for your home that will match your budget. Contact us today to learn about the options available to you through the clean and sustainable power of the Sun.

Here Are 3 Things to Consider Before Solar Installation

  1. The systems you wish to run: How much of your home do you wish to convert over to solar power? If you are just getting started with solar energy, you may wish to test the waters with a simple system, such as a solar water heater. This requires only a few photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof and a smaller upfront installation cost. A solar-powered water heater will help you understand the benefits of solar power and how well it works for your home. Other ways you can start with solar power include solar air conditioning and solar pool heating. But you may wish to have full solar conversion. Consult with solar specialists about the possibilities and the costs involved.
  2. The available PV panel space: Photovoltaic panels are the vital element of a solar power system. These panels turn the radiant energy of the Sun into electrical energy through the photovoltaic effect. But how many panels will you need, and do you have sufficient roof space to hold them? After you have determined how much of your home you wish to convert to solar power, you can calculate (with the help of the installer) the number of panels necessary and how much roof space they will take up.
  3. Reduce your energy use: An important part of making the most of solar energy is to rely on it as little as possible. Before you have solar power installed, find the best ways to reduce the amount of power that you already use in your home. The smaller your energy load, the fewer solar panels you will need to power your home. Look into improving insulation and energy sealing on your home and investing in high-efficiency appliances to replace wasteful older systems. Make your home as ready as possible for the next stage.

We would love to help you discover the benefits of solar power, and we encourage all residents to investigate solar installation in Puyallup, WA. Talk to our solar experts today, and they will help get you started on the path toward a clean, sustainable energy solution for your home.

No Cool Air Coming from Your Air Conditioner

July 11th, 2014

On a hot day in Tacoma, you shouldn’t be stuck with an air conditioner that only blows warm air into your home. While there may be many reasons why your air conditioner fails to blow cool air, some of which are detailed below, a qualified technician can usually identify the issue and offer the repairs you need.

Thermostat Issues

The first place you should always look when your AC is not blowing cool air is the thermostat. Check to make sure the AC is turned on and try lowering the temperature a couple of degrees. There may be a calibration issue, or a sensor may not be able to accurately detect the temperature in your home.

Low Refrigerant

A constant level of refrigerant cycling throughout your system is necessary to keep your home cool. As the refrigerant changes from liquid to gas form, it absorbs the heat from your home, and as it condenses, it dissipates heat outdoors. The refrigerant itself is never supposed to leave your system; if you have low refrigerant levels, it is likely due to a leak somewhere in the refrigerant lines. Only AC technicians are qualified to handle and replace refrigerant, so you should always contact an air conditioning repair service if a leak causes your system to stop cooling.

Frozen or Dirty Coils

The indoor evaporator coil and the outdoor condenser coil are both vital to the refrigeration cycle. The condenser coil is where refrigerant changes from gas to liquid form, giving off heat to the outside air in the process. The evaporator coil is where refrigerant evaporates into a gas, absorbing the heat from the air inside your home. Over time, these coils may become dirty, which can interfere with the cooling capacity of your system. This is why it is necessary to schedule regular maintenance to check for issues such as a dirty coil. Blocked airflow can also cause the evaporator coil to freeze, which could prevent your system from blowing cool air.

Don’t suffer without a working AC any longer than you have to this summer. Call Sound Heating to set up AC service in Tacoma and get your air conditioning system back to normal.