Posts Tagged ‘Renton’

Air Conditioning Guide: Things You Should Never Do To Your Air Conditioner

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Whether it’s a large central system on the side of the house or a small unit in the window, with proper care and maintenance, your Olympia air conditioner should last for a decade or two.  Sometimes, however, people can do simple things which, in retrospect, should have obviously been avoided.

Some examples:

  • Don’t block the air intake–air is vital to the process, so laying anything over the unit (a towel or clothes to dry) will significantly strain the motor.  Always make sure there is enough clearance.
  • Don’t block the vents–likewise in a home, it is easy to move a sofa or lay an area rug over a grate in the floor or cover an unsightly vent in the wall with a pretty painting.
  • Don’t just set a unit in the window and trust the sash to hold it in place–make sure it is fastened properly according to the directions;
  • Don’t think it will run forever without cleaning the fins, vents and changing the filter at least once a cooling season;
  • Don’t bury the condensate drain in the ground–in central units it is vital that the drain is left with a clear flow away from the house;
  • Don’t install the central unit on the ground–there are pre-made pads or mix up a little concrete
  • Don’t steam clean or use hot water to clean the fins–damage and corrosion can easily be caused by the heat; flush with warm water or spray.
  • Don’t remove the overload relay to force continuous running–VERY dangerous and a guarantee of damage.

Your Olympia  air conditioner is a pretty reliable device, but a little attention goes a long way to ensure years of comfort. To schedule a maintenance appointment today, give Sound Heating & Air Conditioning a call!

No Heat From Your Boiler in Bremerton: Causes and Solutions

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Hydronic Boiler Systems in Bremerton are very popular because of their reliability and efficiency. Just like any other appliance though, hydronic heating maintenance is needed periodically, especially as units age, and they can happen for many reasons. The first step is to make sure you’re actually dealing with a breakdown and not something much more simple. If you’ve lost heat from your boiler, check to make sure there’s fuel in your oil or gas tank before making a service call. Also keep in mind that part of the heating system is electrical. A recent power outage or short circuit in the house could have tripped the circuit breaker for the boiler.

Next, check the emergency shut off switch. It looks like a typical wall light switch but with a red cover and bold lettering indicating the off and on positions. It’s usually placed in a convenient spot in the basement. In many Bremerton homes it’s located at the top of the basement stairs. Sometimes the switch is turned off accidentally, but if a repairman or someone else in you house turned it off for a reason, you need to find out why.

If the emergency switch is on and all the circuit breakers are on and there’s plenty of fuel, the next step in diagnosing the problem is checking the boiler. First, understand that most heating appliances automatically shut down when a critical component stops functioning properly. Don’t put yourself or your family at risk. Don’t attempt to restart or repair the boiler yourself. But you can help the HVAC technician help you by checking a few simple things before making the call.

A puddle on the floor usually means a pipe or valve is leaking. A drop in the water level inside the boiler could have triggered the shut down. But leaks in joints can also occur when something else shuts the boiler down and the metal plumbing shrinks. Is the puddle getting larger or is it stagnant?

If there’s no leak, carefully touch the copper pipes running in and out of the top. If some are hot and others cold, the boiler is probably working but some of the zone controls or thermostats may be broken.

If all the pipes are cold, carefully touch the metal panels covering the boiler. They usually warm up a bit when the boiler is operating normally. Listen for the faint hissing sound of the pilot light. If the  boiler is cold and completely silent, the pilot light may have gone out, triggering a shut down. Don’t attempt to relight the pilot unless you’ve done so before. The HVAC technician can show you how to do it. Keep in mind that many new boilers in the Bremerton area have pilotless electronic ignitions.

If the pilot is lit but the pipes and boiler are cold, and boiler uses fuel oil, the burner motor may have stopped working. The burner motor is a separate, smaller unit attached to the boiler. Most burners have a red reset button that pops up when there’s a burner malfunction. Try to locate the button and decide if it’s popped up, but don’t reset it. Call an HVAC technician first. Restarting a malfunctioning unit may cause further damage. Oil burner motors can stop working for many reasons, including soot blocking the air supply, blocked fuel line, dirty electrodes inside the motor, or seized up bearings. Only a licensed HVAC technician can correctly diagnose and fix such problems.

Please call Sound Heating if you have any questions about these tips.

AC Problems You Need A Professional to Fix in Puget Sound

Monday, April 16th, 2012

In a hot climate, it’s great to be cool.  Air conditioning in Puget Sound makes life possible for some people.  It lets us sleep and helps us be our best through the hottest days.

Air conditioning is a cool blanket that wraps around us like a mother’s arm around a little baby.  It’s such a part of our lives that it’s easy to forget that, like a baby, our own air conditioners must be well fed and maintained.

Some quick fixes are easy for a home owner, but other air conditioning repairs are complicated, and require a professionally certified HVAC company like Sound Heating to accomplish.

Doing the Basics

For window mounts or the big units on the side of the house, regular cleanings and a filter change should be a part of every season.  Even for the most bumbling of hands, it’s not hard to remove the cover and replace the panel of webbing that catches lint and other particles out of your conditioned air.

Some warm water and a good shot of compressed air gently on the exposed fins will help to increase the longevity of the unit.  Be careful not to put pressure on the fragile fins and coils or use hot water that could cause corrosion.

Make sure the drain is clear, always cover the unit or store it away when more naturally cool temperatures take over and you’ve got conditioned air and relative peace of mind in the years ahead.

Big Problems

Without the regular service, however, an air conditioner begins to work much harder to produce the same amount (or less) of cool joy and parts begin to break down.  With total neglect, the unit itself may need replacement much sooner than was promised when you paid for it. These are repairs that could be avoided and require a professional to make.

The key ingredient to cooling is a chemical called a refrigerant (most often Freon) that is capable of transforming rapidly from gas to liquid and back again at low temperatures. This runs through two intricate tubes, a compressor, and a critical expansion valve that controls the process.  It is a delicate and complicated process that calls for expertise and the right tools, especially since the refrigerant is considered hazardous and requires special handling.

When the air gets stuffy, it could be that the fan is the problem.  Belts could be worn, loose or broken.  The motor may be low on oil and is stained to the breaking point.

If mysterious signs of water or mold are showing up on the inside of the house near the unit, there could be a problem with the condensate that is released with the heat when air is cooled.  This could be a simple or complicated fix, but should be checked out professionally to ensure all is well.

With love and care, an air conditioner should provide us with a decade or two of wonderful sleep and cool times.  Schedule regular service with Sound Heating to increase the comfort.

Heating Q and A: What Is a Gravity Furnace?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

A long time ago, gravity furnaces were a very popular means of heating a home in Eatonville. Instead of pressurizing and blowing air through vents to each room of your home, a gravity furnace used gravity to move warm air between rooms.

The operation of these furnaces is pretty simple. When turned on, the furnace, which is located in your basement, burns fuel like gas or oil and produces heat. That heat is vented through ductwork to the top level of your home using the natural properties of gravity (hot air rises). The hot air exits vents as it travels up in the home and releases heat into the room.

Why to Replace a Gravity Furnace

While gravity furnaces can work nearly forever and have very few mechanical problems, they are incredibly expensive to operate and take up a lot of space. Due to the sheer volume of ducts needed to distribute air throughout your home and the cost of heating enough air to ensure it rises properly, you’re dealing with a heating efficiency of 50% or lower.

In fact, about half the energy you consume to heat air in a gravity furnace gets pumped straight out through the chimney. It’s a complete waste of money and a heating system replacement will start saving you money almost immediately.

Newer furnaces have efficiency ratings of up to 95% which makes them nearly twice as efficient as gravity furnaces. Additionally, they take up less space and with modern components, you can install newer devices like zone controls, electronic readout and display and more. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy steady, reliable heat in your home without having to invest a fortune in the fuel needed to operate it.

Comfort Matters

Another thing to consider is the comfort level of your home. Because gravity furnaces release warm air through the middle of the house and cold air comes back down along the walls, homes that have them are rarely comfortable except in the middle of the house. Forced air furnaces with blower fans are much more efficient at distributing heated air and matching the thermostat settings you select.  Please call Sound Heating to get started today.

Why Are Clean Filters So Important to AC Efficiency?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Air conditioners cost a lot of money to operate in Seattle – even more when they don’t work at 100% efficiency. So, it is important to perform the various regular air conditioning maintenance tasks that ensure the system uses as little electricity as possible. The first thing on your list (and the easiest) is cleaning those filters.

Keeping Filters Clean

The Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website states that you can reduce your air conditioner’s energy consumption by as much as 15% simply by keeping the air filters clean. Why do they matter so much? Consider the nature of a filter.

The filter on your AC unit is designed to capture any dust, debris and sediment in the air supply. If that dust and sediment was allowed in, not only would it gum up the mechanical workings of the device, it would get into your ductwork and reduce the air quality of your home. So, filters are used to capture such things. However, when a filter gets clogged, the system must work harder to draw the air in. As it works harder, the motor turns faster and more electricity is used.

It takes very little to clog the filter of an AC unit, especially if it is running 24 hours a day for two or three months out of the year. So, it’s best to check your filters once every 30 days regardless of what type of filter you are using.

Which Filters to Check

The main filter on your AC unit should be checked along with any air handler filters and any air cleaner filters you have installed in your system. Another thing to consider is the condition of your home and the area around your outdoor condenser. If you have pets, lots of plants or your condenser is located in a dusty area, you may need to check and change those filters even more often.

Most filters are located along the return length of the ductwork – sometimes in ceiling ducts and walls, though they may also be located in your furnace’s air handler or inside the air conditioning unit. If you have window units or mini splits, the filters are frequently in the unit.

Clean air filters are important for your health, your wallet and the longevity of your AC system. Stay on top of them and you will save money in more ways than you might expect.  Please contact Sound Heating if you have any questions.

Heat Pump Maintenance in Renton

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Heating and cooling your Renton home is a priority. You need your home and family to be comfortable all year round, so you either got or are considering a heat pump. These machines are great because under the right circumstances, they are essentially all-inclusive and incredibly efficient solutions for all your home heating and cooling needs.

Notice the “under the right circumstances” part. A number of things have to be considered when choosing a heat pump, such as the climate and the size of your home. But these are not the only circumstances that influence how well your heat pump works for you. Proper heat system maintenance is a vital component of heat pump ownership, ensuring that you get the best performance out of your heat pump for the longest time possible.

A major part of properly maintaining any machine is to keep it clean. A heat pump is no exception. Dirt and dust can affect the efficiency of your heat pump, as well as speed up corrosion problems. Keep the compressor and coils clean. Check them monthly or so and remove any accumulated dirt. Also, consistently check and change filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Simple cleaning is an easy and effective first step to heat pump maintenance, but there are some things that you just won’t be able to do on your own. For more intensive maintenance, it is best to call in a professional for an annual inspection.

During a routine maintenance check of your heat pump, a technician will inspect the whole heat pump system for problems. He will clean the compressor and coils, tighten any connections that may have loosened up and change the filters as needed. In addition, a skilled technician will be able to detect any early signs of trouble and make necessary repairs to prevent break downs. These small repairs can prevent big problems later on, thereby preventing some serious discomfort and a possible big expense.

If you are considering a heat pump as a heating and cooling solution for your home, great. If you have already decided on one and had it installed, congratulations on making a smart decision. Now, make another smart decision to protect that investment by keeping your new heat pump properly maintained.  Please call Sound Heating & Air Conditioning with any questions.

When Is it Time for a Backup Heating System?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

A backup heating system is sometimes necessary for Tacoma homeowners who heat their homes with an air-source heat pump. This style of heat pump transfers the heat from the outside air to your home in the winter, and it pushes the warm air outside the home in the summer. Although some systems are efficient enough to work in colder climates, most heat pump systems require a backup heater when temperatures drop below 20° F.

York Furnaces are commonly used as a backup heater for air-source heat pumps, especially since the furnace fan blower can help distribute the hot air throughout the home. Although they are more expensive to buy and install, geothermal heat pumps typically do not require a backup heating system. These are also called ground-source or water-source heat pumps since they draw in heat from the ground below the house or from a nearby water source. Because they take advantage of the ground or water temperatures, they are also easier to maintain and have lower operating costs.

Getting the most cost-efficiency from a geothermal heat pump will depend on several factors, such as the size of your property, the temps of the subsoil, and access to local water sources. You will most likely not have to install a backup heating system with a ground-source or water-source heat pump; however, it is important to think about the installation costs and the variables that need to be in place before deciding on this type of heat pump.

Absorption heat pumps use a heat source, such as natural gas or solar-heated water, instead of electricity. Natural gas is typically used for absorption heat pumps, so they are also called gas-fired heat pumps. Depending on the source of the heat, you may or may not need a backup heating system. It’s always best to speak to a professional heating and cooling contractor if you are not sure when it’s necessary for a backup heating system.

Call Sound Heating if you have any questions about a backup heater for your Tacoma home.

What to Do if Your Heating System Breaks in Tacoma

Friday, October 14th, 2011

What if the heart of your Tacoma home’s heating system – the furnace – stops working? The warm air that used to flow from your vents has been replaced by a chilly draft. It isn’t time to panic, but it is time to take action. Before you do anything, determine why the furnace stopped working. It may be something as simple as a tripped circuit breaker in your electrical panel. Check the circuit breakers first.

The pilot light in your furnace may have blown out. It can be re-lit if you follow the directions in your furnace owner’s manual. You can find answers on how to re-light a pilot light on the Internet, too.

If the shutdown has not been caused by an electrical or pilot light failure, there is still no need to panic. But another obvious question is: did you pay your last gas bill? Maybe you had a shutoff notice and either ignored it or forgot about it.

Now that you are convinced that the furnace has pooped out, here are some things you should do. First, find the name of a qualified heating and cooling professional. If you already use a heating contractor, contact them and schedule a service call.

While you are waiting for help to arrive, ensure that everyone is safe and accounted for. Make sure pets are nearby and protected from the cold, too. What you don’t want to do is use any appliance to keep you warm that is not designed to keep you warm, like a stove. If you have electric space heaters or propane heaters, carefully locate them in a well vented room (windows open a bit or portable fans circulating air). You don’t want any build-up of gases from fossil burning appliances, gases which could contain deadly carbon monoxide.

Huddle up everyone into a room and break out lots of blankets. You may even want to make an “adventure” of this – find a movie to watch and pop up a bunch of popcorn.  If your waiting time is more than 24 hours, you might want to call up a friend or relative and make arrangements to spend the night with them.

The main thing to remember is not to panic. Most qualified heating contractors, knowing the circumstances, will send out a repair person in a matter of minutes or within one or two hours. Just remember to avoid keeping warm by using unvented heating devices.

Warning Signs of a Broken Furnace: A Guide From Renton

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

How do you know when your furnace in your Renton house is “on the fritz?” There are warning signs of a broken furnace and some are recognizable – but not all. A broken furnace not only deprives your home of heat and comfort, it also can be deadly, too.

Let’s look at some of the warning signs.

Each year, hundreds of people die and many more are injured from the most common household poison: carbon monoxide. This colorless and odorless poisonous gas comes from several sources and the furnace is the most common source of all; more precisely a broken or malfunctioning furnace. Carbon monoxide is a result of incomplete combustion of a fossil fuel, which is when a fuel does not burn correctly or completely. In a furnace, carbon monoxide gas comes from a poorly operating burner or a cracked heat exchanger. A properly tuned and maintained furnace greatly reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Since carbon monoxide gas is colorless and odorless, it can go undetected. It can make people sleepy and create flu-like symptoms. Sometimes a person may fall asleep and never wake up. But there are warning signs. Drowsiness, vomiting, or flu-like symptoms are a warning sign. Regularly scheduled maintenance of your furnace by a qualified heating and cooling professional and installation of carbon monoxide detectors can reduce the risk of falling ill to carbon monoxide gas.

Another warning sign is a higher energy bill. Sometimes you can’t detect a problem right away because, like carbon monoxide, there may be no obvious signs. Higher utility bills can be a sure sign of a furnace that is working too hard and running more than usual. This may be a result of clogged or dirty air vents, or dirty filters. If your monthly bills are higher than those of the previous year, it may not just be because gas prices are higher.

There are other warning signs of a broken furnace, too. The most obvious is the failure of your furnace to bring your home up to the desired thermostat settings or to maintain an even temperature. Cold or uncomfortable houses are sure signs of a broken furnace. The furnace may cycle on or off, causing an uneven or inconsistent flow of heated air. This can be because of a poor blower or a clogged furnace filter. If you don’t feel any moving heated air or detect any unusual odors or smells coming from your heating vents, that’s a sure sign of a broken or malfunctioning furnace.

A broken or cracked gas line can emit odors and can cause a furnace to malfunction, too.

Don’t take a chance of losing heat and comfort this winter. At the first possible warning sign, call your local heating and professional for a heating system tune-up.

Is Special Insurance Required For Solar Systems? A Question From Puyallup

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

After working the costs of installation and the potential savings of solar energy over time for your Puyallup home, there is one more factor to include in your cost analysis: insurance. Inevitable questions surrounding the issue of insurance will arise such as whether home owner’s insurance covers your panels, if you can add coverage, and what additional insurance you might need. These are all logical and shrewd questions that you should be asking before installing a solar system in your house.

Existing Insurance

The unfortunate truth is that many homeowner’s policies won’t cover solar panels, with the logic being that the additional structure presents an additional liability. Insurance companies have expressed concerns over the solar panels overheating or that installation hardware mounted on the home creates opportunities for water to leak in.

These concerns have not been shown to be based in fact, but many companies still use them as guidelines. There is also the point of view held by some companies that because solar panels increase the potential resale value of the home, the insurance premiums should be correspondingly higher. In some cases, policies have been canceled due to the perceived increase in risk.

The most important thing is to inquire with your company regarding your current policy. Ask directly if you will be reimbursed for damage to solar panels, if they will raise your premiums, cancel your policy, and any other questions you might have.

Other Options

If you discover that your policy won’t cover solar panels, you still have some options. First of all, you can see if you can amend your policy to include your planned solar panels. If not, see if you can get a separate policy specifically for solar panels, either with your current company or another. Note that this will almost certainly be an additional expense, so you will want to account for that when figuring out costs. Fortunately, some of the more enlightened insurance companies offer discounts of up to 5% for homes that use solar power, so that may help offset the cost.

The degree of difficulty and amount of expense you must endure to insure a solar system will depend a lot on your insurance company’s philosophy and the area in which you live. The important thing is to look into these questions first in order to avoid a risky or expensive situation later.