Posts Tagged ‘Pierce County’

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.

Heating Repair Question: Why is My Furnace Making Noise?

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

During a bitterly cold night, in the luxury of our homes, we have the ability to adjust the temperatures to comfortably walk barefoot down the hall.  It is easy to take our Tacoma furnaces for granted, but without proper maintenance, they can become noisy and irritable, growling with mysterious sounds of dissatisfaction and ominous groans, warning that slippers and more blankets may soon be necessary.

This does not have to happen to you.

At the beginning of each season, it makes good sense to care for the furnace that is going to take care of you.   Scheduling an annual inspection and filter change with Sound Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. ensures a longer life and more comfort.

Rattles and Bumps in the Night

At the first sound of trouble, checking the filter can often be a quick relief.  As air passes through the furnace, a filter picks out much of the dust and some heavier particles that have come along, gotten snagged and accumulated over time to create a solid blockage.

This filter can become clogged and force your Tacoma furnace to work much harder to push the air through the blocked passage. Located just inside the front panel of the furnace, the filter is very accessible and easily exchanged for a clean one.  This should be the very minimum of regular maintenance and is simple enough to do that it can make anyone feel handy.

Deeper Trouble

Heated air and cold air returning to and from the furnace travel through ductwork which is often metal (those long, silvery boxes tucked up between joists in your basement and covered by a nasty layer of cobwebs).  The vibration of footsteps across the floor overhead or even of just the air movement through the ducts can loosen the fasteners and rattle the metal like a rumble of thunder.

Internally, there are fans and lots of moving parts in the motor.  A noise coming from this area portends a repair of a more complicated nature and should have the inspection of a certified technician, a service easily provided by Sound Heating.

With proper care and maintenance, furnaces are built to last for decades, providing heat and comfort to the home or office and improving the quality of life for the people inside.  Consult with experts to ensure the efficient operation.

What Exactly Are High Efficiency Boilers?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

As a Pierce County resident you have already read plenty about how energy costs are rising for most heating systems. You know plenty well that heating your home is a substantial expense, and that the cost of running a boiler is constantly on the rise.

But as technology has gotten better, boilers in Pierce County have also become more efficient at providing heat. It stands to reason that a more efficient boiler is one that costs less to run…but what does “efficient” really mean in the context of boilers? What makes a boiler “high efficiency”?

 What Is a High Efficiency Boiler?

All boilers are rated according to a standardized system of rating efficiency, called the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). Essentially, this rating tells you how much heat energy is produced by a boiler compared to how much energy it draws. The higher a boiler’s AFUE rating, the more efficient it is.

For a boiler to be called high efficiency, it must carry an AFUE of at least 90%. For basis of comparison, older systems carry an AFUE of about 70%, while mid-efficiency systems run at about 82%.

In addition, a high efficiency system has a second heat exchanger for capturing and condensing flue gases, as well as a closed combustion system.

These three things — an AFUE of 90% or above, condensing flue gases and closed combustion – define a high efficiency boiler.

The initial investment in a high efficiency boiler can be costly, but the savings over time in heating bills make it well worth the expense.

If you would like a high efficiency boiler installed in your home, call Sound Heating today!

Sound Heating and Air Conditioning Wishes Tacoma Residents a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Everyone at Sound Heating and Air Conditioning wishes you a very Happy Valentine’s Day!  We hope your day is full of love and laughter! Valentine’s Day is a time to really appreciate all of the wonderful people in your life, including your significant other, your family, and your friends. Take a moment today to let each of them know how special they are to you. Even something simple, like a handmade card, can really make someone’s whole day!

While your HVAC system might not seem like the most romantic place to start your gift giving, a few simple upgrades can make your house more comfortable, which is something your whole family will appreciate! A HEPA Air Filter can keep dust and allergens out of your air, and a new furnace or heat pump can keep your house at more consistent temperatures and cut down on your energy use. An upgrade to your HVAC system is truly a gift that keeps on giving!

For more information about easy ways to improve your home, give Sound Heating and Airconditioning a call! And to help make your Valentine’s Day as happy as it can be, here is a recipe for Ghirardelli Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Hearts

Ingredients

  • Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • Cheesecake:
  • 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Raspberry puree (recipe below)
  • 2 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Raspberry puree:
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen raspberries
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • Chocolate Ganache (optional):
  • 8 ounces Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Additional Garnishes (optional):
  • Fresh raspberries
  • 8 ounces white chocolate, melted for drizzling

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. CRUST: In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Add the chocolate graham crackers, ground almonds, and sugar and mix until combined. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.
  3. PUREE: In a saucepan, combine raspberries and sugar. Bring to boil, and continue boiling 3-5 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer to remove seeds and set aside.
  4. CHEESECAKE: In a small pot over low heat, bring the whipping cream to just boiling. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips. Set aside for 5 minutes and then stir until smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Remove approximately 1 1/2 cup of this batter and place into a smaller bowl and add 1/2 cup raspberry puree. Blend until combined. Add the melted chocolate to the remaining batter and mix until combined. Pour the chocolate cheesecake batter into the pan. Very carefully layer the raspberry cheesecake mixture on top of the chocolate mixture. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool in pan, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold before removing from pan.

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

HVAC Question: How Tightly Should You Seal Your Home?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

More and more products and solutions are available to us these days to help seal our homes off from the outside world. The idea is that by keeping outside air out, our Redmond homes are more energy efficient and healthier, because all pollutants and pathogens are barred from entry.

This is a good idea in theory, but it can have its drawbacks. Most notably, sealing your home up too much can be bad for your family’s health. If your home is sealed too tightly such that there is not enough air flow from within the home to the outside and vice versa, then the indoor air just…stays indoors.

That means that all the sneezes, coughs, dust, dander, smoke and carbon dioxide stay inside with it. All that stuff can make you sick, completely flying in the face of your efforts to stay healthy by sealing your home.

Now, that’s not to say that sealing your home is a bad thing. Using LEED glass in your windows does keep heat in and increase heating efficiency. Air filters do help eliminate pollutants and pathogens from the outside than can make you sick. Good insulation and intact ductwork do help keep your home comfortable and efficient in both the cold and hot months.

So, sealing your home is not a bad idea. The trick is to not go overboard and seal it up so tightly that you are crossing the threshold from having a healthy home to having a giant Petri dish. You want to have a home that is insulated, but not vacuum sealed. You want a home with filtered air, but still plenty of air exchange with the outside world.  Thankfully, mechanical ventilation is a way to both keep your home energy efficient and keep your indoor air from getting stale.

To help you with this endeavor, there are guides available online, such as at the ENERGY STAR website. In addition, it is a good idea to consult with a professional and ask plenty of questions when building a new home or making improvements to your current one. A qualified Redmond HVAC technician will know how to insulate and ventilate your home properly to protect your family’s health.

Heat Pump Tips: Common Questions

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Even if you installed a heat pump in your Issaquah home years ago, you may still have questions about the normal operation of your indoor and outdoor units. Here are answers to a few of the more common questions about heat pumps.

Do I need to schedule a heat pump maintenance visit before each season, or just once a year?

Scheduling a yearly maintenance visit is necessary to the proper upkeep and safe operation of your heat pump. This also extends the life of the system and helps it run more efficiently. However, scheduling a visit before the heating and cooling seasons isn’t necessary, unless you’ve had any concerns or issues with your heat pump.

Should I be concerned about the steam coming from my outdoor unit?

All heat pumps have a defrost cycle that melts the frost off of the outdoor coils in the winter. The steam rising from the outdoor unit results from the defrost cycle. If you notice that the defrost cycle lasts longer than ten to fifteen minutes, or if it cycles on and off frequently, you should call a service technician to look at your heat pump. There could be an issue with airflow that is affecting the compressor.

I just installed a heat pump. Why is my furnace running?

Many heat pump systems use the furnace fan blower to help distribute the heat throughout the house. Unless you’ve installed a geothermal heat pump, your furnace is most likely your backup heater, so it will kick on when the outside temperature drops below 20° F.

Is it really that important to clean my outdoor unit? It’s impossible to keep it clean all the time.

Yes, cleaning the outdoor unit is an especially important maintenance task. Not only does a routine cleaning of all the outdoor components maintain your heat pump’s efficiency and performance levels, it also prevents safety hazards. When you schedule a yearly maintenance visit with one of our technicians, cleaning the coils and outdoor unit is part of the service; however, if you want to clean the coils yourself, have one of our technicians show you how to do this before you attempt it on your own. You could suffer from electric shock if you are not familiar with the proper cleaning procedure. You can also help by making sure that the debris is cleared from around the outdoor unit.

If you have any questions about the heat pump in your Issaquah home, or if you’d like to schedule a maintenance appointment, give us a call any time.

Steilacoom Boiler Guide: Basic Maintenance

Friday, January 20th, 2012

The boiler in your Steilacoom home is a sensitive piece of equipment that needs routine maintenance and repairs. Regularly maintaining your boiler is especially important for safety reasons. Many boiler malfunctions and accidents are due to neglecting some of these basic tasks.

Even if you’ve just installed a new boiler, the safety valves and settings should be checked by a professional on a regular basis to prevent a breakdown or hazard. We recommend that you schedule a boiler inspection and cleaning at least once a year.

A service technician will measure the pressure, drain and remove sediment buildup, test the efficiency ratings, and make sure your boiler is set at the right temperatures. Regular maintenance can also help you determine whether or not you need a boiler replacement. By keeping track of performance levels, you will be able to tell when it’s time for an upgrade.

Other tasks performed during an annual maintenance visit include cleaning and lubricating all the components, checking for any leaks or clogs, and testing gas boilers for any carbon monoxide intrusion. If you have any gas appliances in your home, you should always have carbon monoxide detectors and test them once a month.

Boiler pressure is something that you can check often on your own. If you aren’t sure how to read the pressure gauge, or if you aren’t sure what the right pressure should be, just call one of our technicians to walk you through this process.

Always call Sound Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. if you have any problems with the boiler in your Steilacoom home. We are here to help and answer any questions you may have.

Heating Installation Tip: Load Calculations

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Do you ever feel that your Kent home just doesn’t get cool enough during the warm months or warm enough during the cold months? You have tried to adjust your thermostat to the right comfort level but it just never seems right. And on top of that, you notice that your utility bills keep going up and up. Even when you dial up the thermostat in the summer and dial it down in the winter to saving on energy usage, your bills are still about the same.

You could try adding fans and shedding clothes during the warm months or wearing sweaters and crawling under a pile of blankets in the cold months. But do you really enjoy living that way? There must be another solution as to why your heating and cooling (HVAC) system is just not keeping you comfortable – and affordable.

That air conditioning condensing unit sitting in your backyard and the furnace in your basement should be making your home as comfortable as possible. But in many cases, they are not. That’s because whoever installed those HVAC system components didn’t do their homework on your home. The components were sized incorrectly. If a furnace or air conditioner is sized incorrectly, it usually cannot keep up with the demand for heat or cold and often puts such a burden on the equipment. As a result, regular failures and repair bills are commonplace.

And it may not be the fault of the installing HVAC contractor. Over the years your home may have undergone renovations including additions and new windows, which have increased the square footage or demand for more heating or cooling. Those renovations may not have included upgrades to your home’s HVAC system.

So how do you check for the right size? Call a Kent HVAC contractor and ask for an energy audit for your home. The audit will include several key checks including a load calculation, which adds in the size of your home’s living space, number of door and windows where heat loss or gain could occur, and a check of heat loss or gain through leakage in cracks, roofs, crawlspaces, etc. An energy audit will determine what size of furnace or air conditioner is needed to meet the heating or cooling needs of your home and its own individual characteristics. Your HVAC contractor may also factor in the number of building occupants and normal usage patterns, i.e. having a home office or stay-at-home parent versus a working family where your home is occupied mostly at nights or on weekends.

All of these factors are considered when determining the equipment size. In air conditioning jargon, you will hear about tonnage of cooling capacity. An example may be a 2.5 ton air conditioning unit for a 2,000 square foot home. In furnace jargon, you will learn about Btu ratings, which are British thermal units. Most furnaces are sized in 20-25,000 Btu increments. Each is matched to the cooling or heating needs of your home. Your HVAC contractor will likely recommend using a programmable thermostat, too. That way, you can set the temperature of one or more zones in your home to when each zone is occupied.

Make sure you don’t hire someone who “guesstimates” how much cooling or heating capacity you need for your home. Find a qualified professional who will make the correct calculations and who will qualify their recommendations. A properly sized HVAC system will equate to manageable utility bills and above average indoor comfort. You can live with that.

5 Reasons to Replace the Furnace in Your Buckley Home

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Many Buckley homes are heated with furnaces, since they generally provide safe and efficient heat.  Furnaces have also improved dramatically over the years as manufacturers find ways to make them more efficient. Even if your furnace has been reliable for many years, it may be worth the money to replace your old furnace with a newer, more efficient model.

Here are five major benefits to upgrading your Buckley furnace.

1. Lowering Your Utility Bills

Whether you realize it or not, your current furnace could be costing you more than it should in heating bills. If your furnace is 15-20 years old, it’s probably not heating your home as efficiently as the newer models with higher AFUE ratings. Even if your heating system has been replaced within the last ten years, the technology has advanced enough to consider an upgrade.

2. Fewer Repairs

Repair costs can add up if you are constantly repairing your furnace. Routine maintenance for your furnace can help reduce the need for repairs, but as furnaces age, they tend to need more repairs and replacement parts. If you need frequent repairs for your furnace, it may be time to replace it with a newer one.

3. More Consistent Heat

While maintaining consistent temperatures throughout your home involves several factors, such as insulation and thermostat control, your furnace could also be the reason you aren’t getting enough heat to all parts of the house. If some rooms are colder than others, or if your heating bills have recently gone up, it may be time for a furnace replacement.

4. Reduce the Chances of a Breakdown

When a furnace breaks down, it not only leaves you without heat, but it is also a major expense. Budgeting for a new furnace before it breaks down will put less financial burden on you than needing an emergency furnace replacement. Newer model furnaces are also more reliable and less likely to give you problems if maintained properly.

5. Safety

There’s higher potential for safety concerns with older or poorly maintained furnaces. In addition to fire hazards, carbon monoxide poisoning is another serious threat. When the heat exchanger stops working because it’s corroded or faulty, carbon monoxide can leak into the home. If you’ve had your furnace for more than 20 years, it could create safety hazards that you may be unaware of.

No matter how long you’ve had the furnace in your Buckley home, it’s always wise to speak with a qualified HVAC technician about furnace upgrades, particularly if you have expensive heating costs. Call Sound Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. today to talk with one of our heating experts about furnace upgrades.

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.