Sound Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Edgewood’

Heating Question: Why Is My Air Handler Squealing?

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Unusual noises coming from your expensive Seattle heating system never a good thing; they make you worry that something is wrong.

It’s true that an unusual noise does often mean that something needs to be fixed; however, a noise emanating from your HVAC system does not necessarily mean a major repair. You should always have a technician check out if you suspect a problem with your system, but not all problems are going to be expensive to fix.

One common noise that homeowners notice and complain about is a squealing noise originating in the air handler. Usually, this noise is coming from the fan belt that connects the blower fan and the motor. Over time, the belt can stretch out and become worn or misaligned, which makes it slip and generate that aggravating squealing noise.

So, while the squealing can be annoying and unpleasant, a slipping belt is by no means major. A belt is an inexpensive part and a Seattle heating technician can install it in just a matter of minutes.

As long as the noise is a squealing and not a grinding, this simple fix wil often take care of the problem. If you hear a grinding noise, however, immediately shut the unit down and call a technician. This may mean that your motor bearings are worn out and need to be replaced ASAP before further damage is inflicted on the motor itself.

For heating repairs you need in the Seattle area, give Sound Heating a call today!


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What Happens if My Heat Pump Loses Power? A Question from Edgewood

Monday, November 7th, 2011

One of the advantages of having a heat pump in your Edgewood home is that they operate on electricity, so you don’t need to worry about having maintaining a supply of fuel to keep yours running. Where a furnace or boiler might call for you to purchase supplies of oil or natural gas, and a wood stove means keeping potentially messy firewood around, a heat pump runs cleanly on electricity.

Heat pumps are good at using electricity, too. They are often able to produce heat energy that can be as much as three times the electricity they draw to produce it. This means not just convenience, but also a big savings, just by virtue of using electrical power.

The risk there, of course, is that if and when the power goes out, so does the heat pump. That means when a big winter storm drops a tree on the local power line, things can get cold inside mighty quickly. For these situations, you should have a backup heating solution on hand to keep everyone comfortable in the short term. And, as a responsible homeowner, you likely already have this taken care of.

But what happens when the power comes back on? Can you just fire your heat pump right back up without missing a beat?

The short answer is “no.” You should not do that, for at least two reasons. First of all, after any power outage, you should always take care to turn on appliances gradually over a period of time rather than all at once in order to avoid a spike in demand at the power company, which can blow a grid. That’s just a general tip.

Specific to heat pumps, though, there is a unique concern. If the heat pump loses power for more than 30 minutes, the refrigerant can get too cold to flow properly, so turning it right back on can cause the whole thing to conk right out. Instead, do the following:

  1. Make sure the heat pump is off. You can do this during the power outage.
  2. Once power comes back on, turn the heat pump to the “Emergency Heat” setting. This will allow the compressor to warm up slowly and get the refrigerant warm enough to start flow freely again.
  3. Wait. The time you need to wait varies depending on the size and manufacturer of your heat pump, so refer to the manual. In general, you should wait at least 6 hours.

After this process, your heat pump should be ready to resume normal operation without issue.

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How Do I Know If Solar Panels Will Work On My Home? A Question From Maple Valley

Friday, September 30th, 2011

When undertaking any home improvement project, there will be challenges making sure the new features fit well with the existing construction. Solar panels are no exception. You may want to install solar panels on your Maple Valley home, but will the two work together?

There are ideal conditions under which solar panels can be used, and striving to create these conditions will often present some challenges. Fortunately, in most circumstances, there are some easy adjustments you can make to ensure your new solar panels work as well as or better than advertised.

The Big Three

There are three major factors which play in to solar panel performance more than anything else. First is orientation, or where the house has exposure to the sun. Ideally, solar panels should be mounted facing south to maximize efficiency. They can also work when facing some easterly or westerly directions, albeit with some performance loss.

For maximum exposure to the sun, solar panels should be mounted at an angle that matches the latitude at which your home sits. You also want to avoid any obstructions. The path from the sun to the solar panels should be as clear as possible, with minimal shading or obstructions to interfere with the panels collecting light.

While these represent ideal conditions, it is rare that a home will meet all of them as it sits. Fortunately, there are solutions to such problems, with the most comprehensive one being a ground mount. With a ground mount, a small structure is specially built and secured it to the ground, with the solar panels mounted on it. This is an especially good fix if you have problems with your orientation and roof angle. If the problem is shading or obstructions, that can be fixed simply be cutting down or trimming trees in the way.

Other Challenges

Independent of these major variables, other issues can come into play when determining if solar panels will be a good fit for your home. You have to worry about geography and weather, your energy needs, and the insurance costs of adding solar power to your home.

While these challenges exist, as you can see there are generally ways around each of them. Consult with a contractor or other expert, who can help you decide if solar panels are a good fit for your home.

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Saving Energy with Air Conditioners: A Tip From Tumwater

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Air conditioners can definitely make it easier to get through a particularly hot and sticky summer in Tumwater. But they are also pretty expensive to run, especially if you live in an area with long, hot summers. Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to help your air conditioner keep your home cool without running up those astronomical energy bills.

  • Think about Your Thermostat – Most people set their thermostat at one temperature and leave it there. But does it really make sense to pay to keep your home cool all day long when no one’s home? Instead, try turning up the temperature when you leave the house and then again at night before you go to bed. It’s likely you won’t notice the difference and even an adjustment of a couple of degrees can make a big difference.
  • Multiple Climate Zones – When you are home, of course, you want to set your thermostat to a temperature you’ll be comfortable with. But that probably still means you’ll be cooling a lot of empty space. Installing a multi-zone system allows you to set different temperatures for different parts of your home. You can keep the spaces you use regularly cool and comfortable without wasting money paying to cool the unoccupied parts of your home.
  • Ceiling Fans – It might seem silly at first glance to use a ceiling fan at the same time as an air conditioner. But the truth is that using a ceiling fan to compliment your air conditioning system can actually save you a lot of money. Ceiling fans use next to no electricity to operate and they can make the house feel a few degrees cooler. With that added help, you can turn your thermostat up a few degrees without sacrificing indoor comfort and save yourself quite a bit of money – more than enough to cover the cost of running the ceiling fan.
  • Keep Things Sealed – Making sure your house is well sealed and insulated is another important way to keep your energy usage down during the summer. The more cool air that escapes, the harder your system has to work and the more energy it will use.
  • Proper Maintenance – Keeping up with the recommended maintenance for your air conditioning system is the best way to make sure it maintains the highest possible level of energy efficiency. Over time, it will ensure your system stays efficient longer as well – well beyond the initial lifespan estimates.

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Label Your Panel Box for an Emergency

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

During an emergency, moving fast is a priority. You need to get your family out of the house fast, but there are certain things you should have done well before the emergency that can help to keep you and your family safe. Specifically, if there is an earthquake, flood, or other major natural disaster that can disrupt your appliances or cause a sudden power surge, you want to turn off your electricity immediately, before anything can go wrong. Emergency workers might also need to access your panel box if you’re not home or if the area is too unsafe to enter.

Specific Instances this Might Matter

Think of what can happen if there is a flood in your basement and you need to go down to save your prized possessions or to stop the flow of water. Walking into a flooded basement with live electricity is incredibly dangerous. So, it’s important to know where your panel box is and what each of the breakers in it is for. This gives you the control necessary to stop the flow of electricity and stay safe, even when knee deep in standing water.

This also makes it possible for someone else to flip those breakers if you’re not home or there is a more urgent disaster like a fire or an earthquake. In the case of an earthquake, you never know when electrical supplies might be tripped or when your appliances will become disconnected from exhaust hoods or vents. Your gas is usually tripped off immediately by an earthquake shutoff valve, but your electricity needs to be manually stopped.

The Risk of Live Electricity

The key to effectively keeping your home operational through an emergency is to take every possible precaution until you can be sure that the space is safe. That means turning off key breakers, checking your home for disconnected appliances or potentially dangerous situations, and if necessary calling in an electrician to take care of any specific problems. In the case of most emergencies, if you’re not totally sure that something is safe, take precautions first by calling a professional and then worry about saving possessions and cleaning up.

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What to Look for when a Home is 50 Years Old

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Buying an older home can be a very rewarding experience. The architecture is unique, the rooms have character, and it feels more like a home than a brand new, prefabricated home that was built in a development. But, there are quite a few things to keep in mind when buying a house that is 50 years old or more – from what construction materials were used to how it was maintained for the last 50 years.

Possible Safety Issues

Because the dangers of lead paint and asbestos were not yet understood in the 1950s and ‘60s, you should always have your home thoroughly inspected for both before buying. The risk of either being in a 50 year old home is high unless someone has gone to the trouble of removing them in a remodel. Even then, older insulation, hidden paint layers or other construction decisions can be potentially dangerous, especially if you have children.

Not that you should avoid an older home solely for this reason. There are plenty of homes that have been made livable again with a little hard work – it’s just important that you know about it before investing so much money.

Maintenance Issues

Another thing to consider is the upkeep of the house. A 50 year old home has been lived in for many years. That means there have been multiple furnaces and air conditioners, replacements of windows, new roofs put in and much more. How well and how often those things were done will play a major role in determining how good of condition the house is in.

If you buy a 50 year old home and the roof and furnace need to be replaced, that’s another 5 figure investment to update your living space.

Other things you should be on the lookout for are old appliances like your refrigerator and stove, as well as the gas lines and electrical. Your panel box may be outdated, as may your electrical lines and outlets. These are all things that get updated eventually, but a home built 50 years ago would be both unsafe and outdated by today’s standards.

More than anything, when buying an old home, the most important thing is the condition. Age has very little to do with how livable a home is. Some people live comfortably in homes that are 200 years old. Others must have 10 year old homes completely remodeled. It’s all about how the home is maintained and cared for.

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How Long Does It Take To Install A Solar Power System In A Home?

Monday, May 30th, 2011

As with any major home improvement project, the process of installing solar panels takes a good amount of time. However, most of that time is spent on research, planning, and purchasing leading up to the actual installation. This is important to keep in mind, as investing in solar energy is nothing to rush into, and there is a great deal to be considered first.

Once all this preparation is done, the actual installation is usually brief, depending on how robust your system will be and any additional components needed. Some “extras” that may cause installation to take a little longer may include:

  • System Size and Capacity – Obviously, the time it takes to install a system will vary depending on how many panels need to be installed. Even so, most home systems will use few enough panels that the time difference is not substantial.
  • Ground Mounting – A ground mount is sometimes necessary when there isn’t a good place to install panels on the house itself. This can be due to roof orientation, less than ideal angles, or nearby obstructions. The additional variables and construction of a ground mount may take a few extra days.
  • Backup Systems – For homeowners who opt to have batteries and/or a generator installed as backup, installation will take a bit longer due to the added complexity. Backup systems require additional components and wiring, which takes some extra time.
  • Weather – Often an overlooked variable, the weather is important as installing solar panels involves working outside and at inclined levels. Bad weather can put workers in danger, so the work may be necessarily delayed.

For most simple home systems, installation will take only a few days. Even with more complex systems that incorporate some of the additional elements mentioned above, installation time should not be affected by more than a day or two. As long as the process goes according to plan and the weather holds, you could expect to have your system up and running within a week. For many, that timeframe is even less. Also, since the work is being done outside, you generally will not be disturbed, aside from some sounds of movement on the roof.

Although installation is a big part of the process of switching to solar, the time it takes is not significant when compared to the preparations that should be done beforehand. Installation should be a brief, albeit exciting, culmination of a longer planning process.

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