Posts Tagged ‘Lacey’

AC Tip: Cooling Coil or Evaporator Coil Diagnosis & Repair for Air Conditioners

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Inside the air handler of your Seattle air conditioning system is a cooling coil or evaporator coil. From a home cooling perspective, this is where the magic happens: where the actual cooling occurs. So, if there is a problem with the cooling or evaporator coil, you will notice a decrease in the performance of your AC system.

You may notice that the air flow has slowed significantly or even stopped, even though you can hear the air handler running. You may also notice that the air isn’t as cool as it used to be or should be. Aside from having a house that is not cool enough, this can also cause problems like high electricity bills or damage to other parts of the air conditioner. Use this quick guide to start diagnosing and repairing the problem.

Diagnosis

For starters, just try to get a good look at the cooling coil. Some problems are obvious enough upon visual inspection that no further diagnostics or major repair is necessary.

If you are able to see the cooling coil, look for things like:

  • Dirt and debris
  • Mold
  • Staining that indicates a refrigerant leak
  • Ice or frost
  • Damaged fins on the coil

Repair

Any of these could be the culprit that is degrading the performance of your Seattle AC system. Some of these you can take care of pretty simply on your own – if there is obvious debris that you can remove safely, do so – but for most repairs you will want to call in a licensed technician. Especially if the problem is something potentially hazardous like mold growth or a refrigerant leak, you don’t want to take the risk. Let a professional from Sound Heating & Air Conditioning who is trained in safely and effectively repairing the problem take care of it, so that your home can be comfortable again.

Your Tacoma HVAC System and Ventilation

Monday, June 18th, 2012

The vent system in your home is vital to the operation of your Tacoma HVAC system. Without successful ventilation, your home won’t have the necessary clean air to keep you and your family healthy. So, what does proper ventilation require and how can you ensure your home has it? Here are some quick tips.

Install the Right Parts from the Start

Proper ventilation should result in even air pressure in your home to avoid problems with gas pilot lights. It should also be as energy efficient as possible and provide clean air through proper filtration and cleaning of the air that comes in. The best way to ensure your home has the ventilation needed to stay comfortable and safe for your entire family is to check the total size of the home and then measure the concentrations of certain pollutants like dander, pollen and smoke. A Tacoma HVAC contractor can provide these services for you.

Energy Loss

Another major ventilation issue to keep in mind is energy loss. Ventilation tends to remove heated or cooled air from your home, forcing your furnace or air conditioner to work harder to replace it. As a result, you pay more for energy and it’s never quite comfortable inside.

To avoid this problem, ask about an energy recovery ventilator. These devices are designed to transfer heat from one environment into another. So, in the winter, heated air inside is kept inside and in the summer, cooled air is kept inside. The result is a much lower energy bill without a disruption to your ventilation sources.

Supplements to Ventilation

Proper ventilation should not only provide fresh air, but it should also ensure your home has clean air. The air outside may be fresher, but it can be filled with pollutants like pollen, dander and smoke. These should be removed before they get inside and into the lungs of your loved ones. To do this, you need a full sized air cleaning system that removes particles from the air down to 0.3 microns.

HEPA filters can do this, as will electronic air cleaners which can ionize and remove smoke and gas particles. Make sure you discuss filtration and cleaning with your Tacoma HVAC contractor when they visit your home. Call Sound Heating & Air Conditioning today if you have any questions about how to improve your indoor air quality!

Common Mold Myths in Redmond

Monday, May 7th, 2012

You hear a lot of bad things about mold and while a lot of them are true, many are not. To help you avoid unnecessary scares and excessive worry about air filtration in Redmond, here are some of the most common myths we hear about mold:

  • Black Mold!! – Black mold is not the only mold you should worry about. While black mold does produce mycotoxins and can be quite dangerous if it develops in your living space, all molds can be potentially dangerous due to the off gassing of MVOCs and other chemicals. If you see mold – whether green, black, grey, or red – call someone immediately to test and check your home for toxicity.
  • Scrubbing with Bleach Gets Rid of Mold – Mold can be removed with bleach, but only on the surfaces you can reach. Real mold removal uses more advanced techniques to clear away spores, block sources of moisture and reduce the presence of the toxins produced by mold. It’s impossible to ever truly, 100% remove mold from any environment, but with the right abatement techniques, you can reduce its impact.
  • Mildew Isn’t a Big Deal – Mildew may have a different name but it’s the same problem. Mildew is a certain kind of mold and that stale, musty smell you experience when it develops is the development of microbial volatile organic compounds – chemicals like benzene and aldehyde. To ensure mildew doesn’t have a negative impact on the overall indoor air quality, be sure to reduce and remove moisture from your home whenever it develops – in basements and attics as well as bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Mold Needs Organic Material to Grow – Mold can grow on anything with enough moisture. While carpets, upholstery, paper and other organic based materials are more likely to develop mold, it can grow on glass, porcelain and metal if enough of the spores are present. The key to mold abatement is not material changes or closing it out; it is to remove the moisture and seal up holes.

Mold is a major health problem for millions – by better understanding it, you can minimize the risk and keep your family safe. If you suspect mold in your home, don’t wait to have it checked. Call Sound Heating today for full testing, inspection and, if necessary, removal.

Different Types of Furnace Filters for Lacey Residents

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

A good filter for your furnace is a must. Because that device heats and blows air throughout your home, you want to be sure that it doesn’t recycle contaminants and bacteria that could easily be captured at the air handler. By choosing the right filter you also contribute to your overall heating system maintenance over time.  That’s why it’s vital to choose the right furnace filter on the first try. Here are some furnace filters to consider and their various benefits to your home and family:

  • Electrostatic – Most electrostatic filters are permanent and must be washed on a regular basis. They are electronically charged to capture particles as they pass through, much like a magnet. These filters are effective because they are both physical and electronic. However, keep in mind that they are only as efficient as the cleaning they receive.
  • HEPA – HEPA is the highest rating available for a filtration system, removing up to 99.9% of all particles as small as 0.3 microns. However, they are also inefficient when used in furnaces as they severely reduce air flow. They are not often recommended for this reason.
  • Pleated – Pleated filters come in both reusable and permanent forms and can be either purely mechanical or electrostatic. There is a very wide range of efficiency ratings for pleated filters so make sure you analyze your home’s specific needs before selecting any one pleated filter.
  • Activated Carbon – Activated carbon is unique from the other three filter types because it effectively removes fumes, odors and chemicals from indoor air along with other larger particles. It is recommended that if you choose an activated carbon filter, you supplement it with a pleated or electrostatic filter (or choose a combination filter) to remove all unwanted components from your home.

There are a lot of options when it comes to furnace filters. To make sure you get only the best air quality, call Sound Heating and we can help you determine which pollutants are the biggest problem in your home.

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need For An Electric Solar Power System in Tacoma?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Aside from determining cost, knowing how many solar panels you need to potentially power your home in Tacoma helps you picture what the finished product will look like. After all, you want your home to be energy efficient, but you also want it to not be an eye sore. Estimating how many panels you will need involves some research and math, but it can be done simply enough and is worthwhile. Below are some steps to help you estimate how big your array will need to be:

Researching Solar Panels

First up, decide how much of your energy needs you want a solar array to provide. For example, you may choose to keep your home on the utility grid, but plan to have 50% of your home’s energy come from solar. The steps below assume 100% solar energy.

You should also determine your current energy usage. You can do this by looking at old utility bills. It is best to look at usage over a span of 6-12 months in order to get an accurate estimate. You will usually find this figure in kilowatt hours (kWh). Estimated energy use for an average American household is about 740 kWh per month.

Another important step is to find the insolation value for your area. This number reflects the number of hours in a day that a solar panel will perform as rated. You can find reference tables of insolation values online.

Calculations for Your Solar Panels

Now comes the fun part – a little bit of math. First, you need to figure out the desired wattage output of your system. To do this, divide the number of kWh to be produced in one day and divide it by the insolation value. Using the average monthly usage from your research, you can see the daily average usage is about 24 kWh per day. With an insolation value of 4 hours (for example), a solar array needs to generate 6 kilowatts per hour. Because the system is not 100% efficient, raise that value by 30% to account for possible energy loss. This system will need to generate 7.8 kilowatts per hour. Since large solar panels produce about 130 watts per hour each, this system would require about 60 panels.

Note that this is an extreme example, as most homes won’t use solar for 100% of their energy needs. You will almost certainly use fewer panels; these steps are just meant to help walk you through the process. There are also calculators available online to make the estimation process a little simpler.

HVAC Contractor Tip: Basic Heating Safety Tips

Monday, January 9th, 2012

While you should schedule a yearly maintenance visit with a qualified HVAC technician to check for any safety concerns, you can also reduce potential safety hazards in the heating system of your Enumclaw home. Whether you have a furnace, heat pump, or boiler, you can substantially decrease the chances of dangerous situations with a few minor routine tasks.

If you have any questions about how to better maintain your heating system, give us a call to speak with one of our expert HVAC technicians. Here are a few guidelines to get you started.

Ventilation in Forced-air Systems:

  • Regularly vacuum and clean out your heating vents and fan blower.
  • Check the condition of your chimney and vent pipe to make sure that none of the parts are damaged or show signs of deterioration.
  • Test the thermostat occasionally to make sure your heating system is working at optimal levels. There could be a safety concern if your heater is not properly heating your home.

Heat Exchangers:

  • Heat exchangers should be inspected often to prevent carbon monoxide leaks. Check for any obvious issues, such as rust or other damages.
  • The heat exchanger for furnaces should be inspected by a professional once a year in case there are hidden problems with the equipment, or if any of the components need to be replaced.
  • Check the pilot light in gas furnaces for any flickers or changes in color. Have someone turn up the thermostat while you watch the light, but turn off the system for five minutes first. If there are any changes, there could
  • be a problem with the heat exchanger. Call a professional if you suspect issues with your heat exchanger.

Heating Equipment Inspections and Adjustments:

  • Boilers should be drained regularly to reduce sediment buildup, in addition to testing the water level safety controls. It’s best to have a professional perform these tasks if you aren’t sure how to do them on your own.
  • Adjust the temperature settings if you suspect that the heater isn’t working properly, and if it doesn’t work call a professional heating technician, or if you aren’t sure how to locate or adjust the controls.
  • Check the overall equipment for cracks, rust, or any other obvious signs of damage or deterioration that could create safety hazards.

In addition to performing these tasks, call a licensed Enumclaw heating contractor to inspect your heating system at least once a year.

How a Ceiling Fan Can Help Heat Your Port Orchard Home

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Most people who have ceiling fans in Port Orchard never turn them on in the winter. They assume that the fan is designed solely to cool the house – after all, blowing air feels pretty nice doesn’t it? But, a ceiling fan can actually help to move heat around your home and lower your heating bill if used properly. Here are some tips to do just that.

Rotating Warm Air

Warm air naturally rises. So, when you turn on your furnace and the blower fan pushes warm air through your ductwork into the various rooms of your Port Orchard home, the warm air immediately rises to the ceiling. So, for the room to feel as comfortable as you want it, you must wait for enough heat to circulate into the room to displace the cold air that was already there.

However, instead of waiting for warm air to fill the room, you can circulate the warm air as it arrives with a ceiling fan. By turning on your ceiling fan and changing the direction so it blows down (which most people already have it set to), the warm air will be pushed toward the floor, mixing it smoothly into the room and keeping you more comfortable without having the furnace on constantly.

This does two things. First, it keeps the room comfortable regardless of when the furnace cycles on or off. Second, it keeps the thermostat reading stable so the furnace doesn’t cycle on and off so quickly. If the warm air regularly rises up and the lower levels begin to cool, your furnace will frequently turn on and off as it tries to maintain the same temperature.

A Low Cost Addition to Your Home

Ceiling fans are inexpensive and aesthetically pleasing. They move air throughout the room, keep warmth low where you need it and can help reduce your energy bill in multiple ways. If you’re not sure whether a ceiling fan is right for you, talk to a Port Orchard technician about just how much money one of these simple devices can save you. I bet you’ll be convinced.

Heating Installation Tip: Pros and Cons of Various Heating Systems

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

When it comes time to install a new heating system in your Tumwater home, there are a lot of options to consider. Many people get overwhelmed when confronted with all of the furnaces, boilers and heat pumps on the market these days. So, to help you get a handle on what each has to offer and which will offer you the best benefits, here is an overview of the modern heating system market.

Furnaces

Furnaces are the core of a forced air heating system and use gas, oil or electricity to heat air which is then circulated through your home by a blower in your air handler. Furnaces are among the most fuel efficient heating systems on the market today with options available at up to 95% AFUE (meaning it uses up to 95% of the fuel consumed to produce heat). They are also inexpensive to install and while they don’t last quite as long as boilers, they are highly efficient when well cared for.

Boilers

Boilers use gas, oil or electricity to heat water or steam which is then circulated through your home into radiators or baseboard heaters. The heated water or steam releases heat into your home and heats it in turn. While not quite as energy efficient as a high efficiency furnace, boiler heat is perfect for homes with existing radiators and no room for vents and ductwork. It also has less of an impact on indoor air quality since there is no air movement and boilers tend to last a very long time when well maintained.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular, especially in milder climates where it rarely gets below 40 degrees F. A heat pump uses the same technology as an air conditioner to extract heat from outside using a compressor, evaporator coils, and condenser coils with refrigerant.

It is most efficient in the spring and fall when temperatures are mild, but it uses much less energy than either a boiler or furnace and it can be used in the summer to cool your home. When properly maintained, a heat pump will last 10-20 years and save quite a bit of money, though it is recommended that you have an emergency heat source for days when the temperature outside gets below 40 degrees F.

Heating Guide: Where to Place a Thermostat for Accurate Heating

Monday, December 26th, 2011

It’s easy to forget that with your furnace in the basement churning away all day to keep your Sumner home warm, but your thermostat is the single most important device in ensuring your home is heated to the temperature you want. If it stops working or it misreads the temperature inside your home, your furnace won’t know what temperature it actually is and will turn on and off at the wrong time.

Where Not to Place Your Thermostat

To avoid inaccurate readings, avoid placing your thermostat in the following locations:

  • Direct Sunlight – Direct sunlight will almost always increase the perceived temperature of the thermostat. Unless you live in a greenhouse, this will be very uncomfortable for everyone in your home.
  • Windows – Windows can result in direct sunlight and breezes. If the windows are not properly sealed, cold air can blow in and make it seem cooler in your home than it really is. In any of these cases, your thermostat will misread the indoor temperature.
  • Drafts – Drafts from improperly sealed doors, windows, or anything else in your home can negatively impact the thermostat.
  • Heat Vents – Don’t place your thermostat near a radiator or heat vent where it is likely to be warmer than anywhere else in the house.
  • Kitchens – Kitchens tend to be warmer than other rooms in the house, especially when in use. Avoid placing a thermostat here unless you have a zone control system and your kitchen is separate from other rooms.

A properly placed thermostat will ensure your home is heated or cooled to the temperature you desire regardless of outdoor conditions. If you’re unsure whether your thermostat is calibrated properly, check the temperature with a separate thermometer in a different location in the same room. If it is significantly warmer or cooler in one place than another, try to determine which is more indicative of the actual comfort level in your home. When properly located, your thermostat should never be an issue again.

What is the Emergency Setting on My Heat Pump? A Question from Lacey

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

While installing or inspecting your Lacey home’s heat pump, you may have noticed that little switch or button labeled something like “Emergency Mode.” And then, you probably scratched your head and thought, “what is that for?”

Hopefully, the emergency setting is not something you will ever have to use. But, it is there for a reason, so it’s possible you may have to resort to it at some point. In that case, it makes sense to know what it is first.

The emergency setting on your heat pump interrupts the normal operation of the device. The compressor shuts off, so the heat pump no longer pumps heat from the outside into the home. Instead, the internal heating element is activated. This backup system is designed to provide a sufficient, albeit minimal, amount of heat when the heat pump is not working properly. The idea is that the element can keep your home warm enough while you get the heat pump fixed.

That’s what the emergency setting is, but when would you use it?

It’s not a trick question. As the name implies, you only want to use this setting in an emergency. For example, if the heat pump has frozen and isn’t operating, the best course of action is to switch on the emergency mode and call a professional to repair it.

You would also want to use the emergency mode when recovering from a power outage. Any time a heat pump is without power for more than thirty minutes the refrigerant can cool and get too thick to properly flow through the coils. Turning the pump back on in this situation can damage it, so instead you would use the emergency mode for a while to warm the refrigerant back up, then return to operating the heat pump normally.

The emergency setting is not to be used in place of a supplemental heating system. If there is an uncharacteristic cold snap, and your heat pump can’t keep up, then it makes sense to use the emergency setting to keep the house warm. However, if you live in a colder northern climate, where temperatures routinely drop below 30 degrees in the winter, you should have a supplemental heating system in addition to the heat pump. Using the emergency heat setting regularly is not a good idea.