Posts Tagged ‘New Castle’

Heating Question: Is Your Furnace Not Blowing Enough Air?

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Have you ever been in your house in the winter, listening to your Puyallup furnace churn away trying to heat the house, but noticed that the whole place is still cold? If you checked the heating vents in this situation, you would probably find that there is not much air flow coming out of them, which is why you are still freezing.

It is entirely possible for the furnace to be burning away, producing hot air, without enough of that warm air ever actually being distributed through your home. So it continues to run and run, resulting in excess wear and tear on the heating system that will probably shorten its productive life, as well as keeping your whole home too chilly.

Why does that happen? There are a several common culprits for insufficient air flow from a furnace. Below is a list of the most frequent offenders, along with solutions for each:

  • Cause: Dirty or broken air filter. An air filter that has accumulated too much build up or is damaged will slow down air flow in a hurry.
    Solution: Clean or replace the air filter as necessary. This should be part of routine furnace maintenance in order to ensure efficient operation. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations to see how often you should check your air filter(s).
  • Cause: Damaged, corroded, broken or collapsed ductwork. Your ducts are like the road that warm air travels on. If the road is out, then no one can get through. Simple as that.
    Solution: Have a professional inspect and repair your ductwork. A routine ductwork check is also part of a professional’s annual maintenance inspection.
  • Cause: Blower fan not blowing enough. This can be caused by a loose fan belt, or a dirty motor.
    Solution: First, clean the blower fan and the area around it. It has to deal with a lot of air, so it naturally becomes dirty over time. If that doesn’t fix it, the fan belt probably needs to be replaced.

There are some other causes of improper furnace air flow, but those are the most common and easiest to detect and repair. If your heat registers are not returning any warm air at all, that is likely a different problem and you should call a Puyallup furnace technician at Sound Heating to look at the system right away.

HVAC Question: What Type of Air Cleaner Is Best for People with Pets?

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Lots of people have pets, and they are a great addition to your family. However, pet ownership has one very obvious drawback: dander. The fur, dry skin cells and other debris that pets carry around flakes off their bodies and onto your furniture and rugs. The also means they inevitably wind up in your air, recirculated through your Kirkland house via your HVAC system.

Or at least, that’s what happens if you don’t have an air cleaner or some sort of air filtration system. This leads many pet owners to ask, “what is the best air cleaner for me?”

With all the choices in air cleaners, the choice can seem daunting. If the goal is specifically to filter out pet dander, it becomes somewhat easier.

Pet dander is quite large in size relation to other indoor air pollutants, so many air cleaners are equipped to do the job. You can use an air cleaner with a standard pleated HEPA filter, or one that uses electrostatic technology. You will want to make sure that the HEPA filter is rated to handle pet dander. A MERV rating of 8 or more is recommended.

Once you have an air cleaner installed, make sure to change or clean the air filter frequently, in accordance with manufacturer instructions. A clogged air filter won’t help eliminate pet dander from your household air and can actually degrade the operation of your HVAC system’s air handler.

In addition to installing a high quality air cleaner with a HEPA filter, you can also help reduce the amount of pet dander floating around your home by keeping the place clean. Vacuuming often and dusting hard surfaces weekly keeps pet hair and dander from being drawn up into the HVAC system, which reduces wear on the air cleaner. For more tips on upgrades you can make to your Kirkland HVAC system, give Sound Heating & Air Conditioning a call!

Air Conditioning Question: What Are Thermostatic Expansion Valves?

Monday, August 13th, 2012

The thermostatic expansion valve, sometimes known as a TEX, TEV or TXV, is a critical piece to influence the efficiency of air conditioning and refrigeration units.  A tiny sensor controlling the evaporating phase of process, the valve can have a big effect.

Cool air is manufactured by a rapid movement of a refrigerant between liquid and gaseous states.  Compound chemicals that are able to do this at a low temperature are compressed and expanded, absorbing and releasing heat at different points along the way.  The TEV controls the flow of the refrigerant into the evaporator coils according to the temperatures of the various ingredients.

Cool Air 101

To condition air, the refrigerant, most often freon or another fast acting, low temp compound, evaporates into a gas that runs through a coil and absorbs heat.  Passing through a compressor, the freon condenses under pressure back into a liquid again and releases the heat, becoming cool enough to chill a party.

Too much freon in the evaporator tube and the pressure is not low enough to expand to gas and absorb heat, working inefficiently for no gain.  Too little freon and the conversion is also ineffective by not reaching the density needed to condense.

There are four types of valves with different benefits for different types of cooling environments.  With its ability to adjust minutely to changing conditions, the thermal expansion valve creates the perfect mixture of pressure and freon for more complicated systems.

At the Starting Gate

An interactive device, the valve senses the evaporator pressure and temperature and adjusts the flow of the refrigerant so as to maintain a given “superheat”, the differ­ence between the refrigerant vapor temperature and its sat­uration temperature.  By controlling superheat, the TEV keeps nearly the entire evaporator surface active while not permit­ting liquid refrigerant to return to the compressor.

Some valves operate on an electrical impulse from sensors that can measure the temperatures.  Others are open all the time.  The thermostatic expansion valve actually utilizes the pressure between the two sections to open or close itself, regulating flow based on the very same pressure it is designed to moderate.

Like the buildings they comfort, central air conditioning systems in Tacoma are varied and diverse.  For more information about air conditioning or to schedule a service call, contact Sound Heating & Air Conditioning today!

 

AC Question: Do Heat Pumps Work for Air Conditioning?

Monday, July 9th, 2012

It’s possible that in the course of your search for a new air conditioning system in Tacoma, you read or were told about heat pumps. Doesn’t sound right, does it – heat pumps providing cooling for your home? Regardless of the seeming misnomer, heat pumps are actually much older and more reliable cooling technology than you know. And once you understand how these units work, the name makes much more sense.

What Is a Heat Pump?

Technically every refrigerant containing air conditioner is some form of heat pump. A heat pump is a device that removes heat from one area and transfers it to another. So, in the case of your air conditioner, warm air cycles into the condenser, the heat is removed, and the cooled air is circulated back through your home. The actual science behind this is slightly more complicated, but the gist is simple – cold air isn’t produced and then pumped into your home; warm air is removed.

Your refrigerator and freezer operate under the same principle. It works so well that it’s been a standard technology for nearly 100 years, albeit with quite a few upgrades and enhancements. So, if an air conditioner already is a heat pump, why are these devices called something different? Because heat pumps can do so much more.

Heat Producing Heat Pumps

A true heat pump can work in two directions. It can extract heat from your home or it can extract heat from outside and pump it into your home. A true heat pump offers year round climate control because it both heats and cools – not too shabby if you think about the cost of a furnace and central AC system. And with modern green technology, heat pumps can even be connected to geothermal systems that draw their energy from the earth – saving a tremendous amount of money.

So, back to the main question – should you purchase a heat pump for your Tacoma air conditioning needs? The short answer is “it depends”. For the most part, a heat pump is comparable to the same air conditioning model in terms of energy efficiency and capacity. The major difference is its ability to heat your home. So, if you are interested in ditching the furnace or boiler, it may be a great upgrade. If not, a standard air conditioner can get the job done equally well. For help choosing the right system for your home, give Sound Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. a call!

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.

Guide from Sammamish: How to Maintain High Efficiency Filters to Reduce Stress on Your Heat Pump

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

The filter on your heat pump is an integral part of your Sammamish home’s comfort system. Without that filter, the device will quickly be subjected to an influx of debris and contaminants that can get into the machinery and the air being filtered into your home. As a result, you need to make sure you properly maintain the filters to reduce stress on your heat pump.

Change Your Filters

High efficiency filters are designed to remove as much of the airborne contaminants in the air as possible. This is fantastic for keeping your indoor air clean. But if you don’t properly maintain the filter, air quality can worsen and your heat pump is put under unnecessary stress. Specifically, the extremely tight knit filter, designed to stop nearly anything from getting through, gets clogged.

Now your heat pump is forced to work much harder to draw the air it needs from outside and heat or cool your home. On top of that, the filter is filled with contaminants that can start to leak back into the air supply, actually making your indoor air quality worse than it would be otherwise. That’s why it is so important to clean your filters on a regular basis (for permanent filters) and replace them if they are one time use.

Recommended Filters

You have options as to which types of filters you use for your heat pump. Filters come in multiple options, from super high MERV rated filters that trap up to 99% of all contaminants as small as 0.3 microns.

Electrostatic filters are especially efficient because they extract contaminants of all types – from dust and mold to smoke and gas fumes. A good filtration system should effectively remove anything from the air without needing replacement too often.

Permanent filters tend to offer the best protection against airborne contaminants and generally need to be cleaned once a month. HEPA filters are often permanent and while each filter is different, these are often extremely effective at minimizing contaminants in the air without putting stress on your heat pump.

Essential Components of a Home Comfort System: A Tip from Federal Way

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Indoor comfort in your Federal Way home is defined by several factors: temperature, humidity, and air quality. If any one of the three is out of the “normal” range it can affect the quality of life for the building occupants.

The ultimate goal of any heating & cooling contractor is to ensure that customers are comfortable – meaning that all three factors are addressed when servicing, replacing, or installing new equipment in a home. This equipment includes furnaces and air conditioners but also extends to humidifiers, dehumidifiers, electronic filters, ultraviolet (UV) lighting, infrared heating, etc.

Obviously, the essential component for most U.S. households is a furnace. Air conditioners may not be essential for all parts of the U.S., namely the northern states, but are still considered an integral part of any home comfort system.

Let’s look at the furnace first. There are several choices but most can be found in two different classifications: single-stage or variable speed two-stage. Your choice depends on the indoor square footage, your own comfort needs, and possibly the cost of energy units (gas or electric for example). Forced air is a common method of moving heated air to all parts of the home via an air handling unit and through a duct system. But gaining in popularity is radiant heat (electric), which does not utilize a duct system.

Air conditioners also come in a variety of sizes, including window/room air conditioners or central air conditioning, which is likely a “split” system including an outdoor unit and indoor coil. The size of the air conditioner is determined by square footage, which is part of a load calculation performed by qualified heating & cooling contractors while planning the equipment replacement or new installation. An oversized air conditioner may produce high humidity levels and an undersized unit may not provide enough cooling to all areas of the home. High humidity levels contribute to higher indoor temperatures in the summer, and can also lead to respiratory problems.

If someone in your home has allergies or is sensitive to certain pollutants in the air, it may be important to include extra filtration in your heating & cooling system, such as electronic filtration and UV lighting mounted in the buildings duct system, to kill germs and contaminants.

As always, it is best to consult with a qualified and licensed heating and cooling contractor who can offer the best solutions for your home comfort system.

Get the Best Value From Your Contractor in Tukwila

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

When looking for the best value from a Tukwila service provider, it is best to understand what value means to you. The dictionary defines value as “a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged.”

In the case of a mechanical contractor, customers are looking for value in the quality of the replacement or newly installed parts or equipment. For example, if your contractor gives you the choice of a product that is warranted for five years versus one that is warranted for ten years – and the price for the longer warranty is within reason, it may be more valuable to choose the product with the longer warranty. It may cost more initially but it is less likely to be serviced as much and will last longer.

Similarly, your contractor may offer a value proposition which includes a “good,” “better,” “best” scenario for the product you are shopping for. You may choose from any of the three based on the amount of time you plan to live in your home or the level of comfort or convenience that you are accustomed to. And, if you choose a “good” product over a “best” product, it may diminish the value of your house when it comes time to sell.

Any good contractor who gives you these choices is one who is giving you the best value.

When it comes to service, there are also value choices, too. For example, how important is it to you to work with a contractor who values your time? Today, time can be just as important as money and is certainly a value consideration. One contractor may only be able to give you a large window of time when his company will be able to serve you, say 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Is it worth your time or someone else’s to wait?  It may cost a little more but is it worth it to you? The answer is likely to be yes; and this adds a value to the contractor who respects your time.

The true value of a contractor lies in the equipment he sells, the service he provides, and the peace-of-mind and time savings you get in return.

Possible Causes of Poor Heating Performance with Your Boiler: A Guide From Renton

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Fall is approaching, have you turned on your heating system yet? If it isn’t working, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a mechanical engineer to troubleshoot – and possibly diagnose – the problems with your Renton home’s boiler.

The good thing about boilers is that they are typically reliable and long-lasting. There aren’t a lot of working parts that can break down and cause problems, compared to other home heating equipment. When problems do arise, they are usually related to the expansion tank or circulating pumps. But a problem can be much simpler – like a tripped circuit breaker.

The most common problems can be noise, no heat, or poor/erratic heating. Before calling a qualified heating and cooling professional, take a moment to see if you can figure out the what’s wrong.

If you have a noisy boiler it might be because of two things – a faulty circulating pump or water trapped in the return lines. If the pump breaks it will make a loud noise when its motor runs. Water can be trapped in the return lines, which may require “re-pitching” the lines to allow for a flow back to the boiler. You may be able to adjust the flow by positioning hangers on the piping but replacing a pump is better left to a professional.

If your boiler is producing no heat, it could be because of something as simple as a circuit breaker being tripped or a fuse being blown. Check your circuit breakers and fuse and reset or replace if necessary. Is your boiler thermostat in the heat mode? It should be but if it isn’t, make the switch. If your boiler has a standing pilot you should check to see if it is lit and if not, re-light it.

Other problems would take a professional to fix. For example, no heat can be traced to low water levels in the boiler. The boiler should always be half-full of water and if it isn’t, it is likely because of leaks or a faulty pressure reducing valve. Don’t try and fix the problem by yourself.

Low water levels may not cause the boiler to lose its heating capabilities, but may cause fluctuations in its heating capacity. Again, it is advisable to call a professional to diagnose and fix the problem. Poor heating can also be traced to mineral deposits in the boiler. Consult your owner’s manual on instructions how to flush out the boiler.

As always, read the owner guide or operating manual for your boiler. You should get some good tips on proper maintenance and troubleshooting. And have the phone number of a qualified professional taped to your boiler – just in case.

Things You Should Have Inspected: A Guide From Snoqualmie

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Life would be great in Snoqualmie if we could just depend on things to work and last without requiring any sort maintenance or upkeep. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As good as modern manufacturing and engineering are, our devices, appliances and machines still need attention in order to stay in peak condition.

The Body Is a Machine

To illustrate this, think about the human body. We put a lot of wear and tear on ourselves, which can lead to minor illnesses, injuries and the like, especially when combined with the effects of aging. One way we attempt to stay ahead of the game is to get an annual physical. Once a year, we pay a visit to our doctor to make sure everything is in tip top shape. He checks everything out, lets us know what’s going on, helps us treat anything that may be acting up and then off we go, ready to go for another year.

And So Is Your Furnace

Likewise, your furnace needs annual attention as well. Although newer electrical furnaces can go up to three years without regular maintenance, gas and oil models should be inspected every year, as should older systems. During an annual inspection, an HVAC professional will:

  • Clean out fuel lines, keeping every flowing freely and efficiently.
  • Check for parts that are wearing out or need to be replaced.
  • Clean and inspect the heating ductwork as well as the vents.

These simple and routine maintenance tasks can extend the life of your furnace by years, keeping your home warm and your heating costs low.

The Best Time for Inspection

The best time to get your furnace inspected is in the late summer to fall months. Although you may still be trying to squeeze every bit of enjoyment from those last warm days, the cold weather comes not far behind, and you will want your furnace ready when that happens. A fall inspection ensures that your furnace will be all set when those temperatures start to drop, so your family won’t have to tolerate any chilly nights.

Annual inspections and maintenance are important for health and longevity, both for you and your furnace. You can even schedule your physical and your furnace inspection around the same time so you don’t forget. Make an appointment for your car while you’re at it, too. That makes three things you won’t have to worry about during those cold winter months.