Posts Tagged ‘Steilacoom’

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!

Save Energy and Save Money This Summer

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Some of the quickest ways to waste energy in Des Moines is by over using your air conditioner or using it inefficiently.  Many people are guilty of coming home and trying to create a cool environment as fast as possible by cranking up the air conditioner.  By asking too much from your cooling system you will not cool your house faster, and because of the heavy demand you are putting on your AC you will need air conditioning maintenance more often.  For more ways to save money on energy costs this summer keep reading.

Households throughout the US will spend somewhere between $1,200 and $2,200 per year on energy costs.  With the cost of living in many areas of life skyrocketing, it’s nice to know there are some easy ways to lower at least one household bill: the energy bill.  Of course, some of these fixes are free, and some cost a little time and energy, while others must be paid for as long-term investments.

Free, Do-It-Yourself Energy Solutions

These quick and easy, do-it-yourself, no cost solutions produce energy saving results almost immediately!

  • Adjust the air conditioning thermostat to higher numbers, such as 78 while at home and 85 or higher when away.  Supplement AC usage with a ceiling or room fan, as moving air feels cooler on the skin.
  • Eliminate wasted energy by turning off appliances, lights, and equipment when not in use, unplug electronic chargers when not in use, and get rid of spare appliances such as refrigerators which are plugged in but not in use.
  • Put those dishwashing gloves away and let the dishwasher do the dirty-work!  Dishwashers use less water than washing by hand.  In addition, let the dishes air-dry rather than running through the heat-cycle to save even more.
  • Do laundry more efficiently by washing and rinsing in only cold water, and line dry instead of using the dryer.
  • Use the microwave to cook and not only speed up the cooking process, but use two-thirds less energy than a stove or conventional oven.

Low-Cost, Economical Energy Solutions

Most of these energy saving options can be procured at the local hardware store, are fairly inexpensive, and can be easily done by any competent home-owner.

  • Replace HVAC filters regularly, according to manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Weather-proof your home by plugging air leaks on doors and windows with weather stripping, sealant, or caulk where applicable.
  • Purchase and install ENERGY STAR® certified products such as porch lights, floor and table lamps, pocket lights, and even programmable thermostats to ensure energy using items are using as little energy as possible.

Invest in Energy Solutions

If it is important to you to save energy and money long-term and on a larger scale, there are a number of durable energy-saving investments to consider.

  • Purchase new windows, a new air-conditioning unit, refrigerator, or other household appliances which use less energy than older units
  • Install window and house shading such as patio covers, or strategically plant trees to shade the home during peak times of heat
  • Install a whole house fan which can suck cool air into the home after sundown or in the early morning in order to cool the entire house thus reducing air conditioning usage
  • Seal and insulate all household ducts in crawl spaces and attics
  • Increase or upgrade attic insulation to higher than the standard grade to keep housing temperatures more constant

To save energy also means to save money, and by following any of the simple steps listed above the average consumer can save energy and save money almost immediately.  Please call Sound Heating to learn more ways you can save money on your energy bill.

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.

Indoor Air Quality Tips: Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Homes if Des Moines can develop microbial volatile organic compounds, which are chemical agents produced by organic materials like mold that can have a potentially dangerous effect on your nervous system. In fact, some MVOCs have an equal or even worse effect on the human body as petroleum based VOCs which have long been labeled as dangerous to inhale by the EPA.

The problem of course is that there are too many talking heads out there telling you that MVOCs will kill you or that they can be ignored. The truth is in between, and for your family to remain safe and healthy you need to keep a close eye on the effects of potential black mold patches in your home.

Handling MVOCs

The first step to reducing MVOCs in your home is mold abatement. Proper removal will reduce the volume of mold that can off gas these chemicals. Additionally, you should reduce your use of such chemicals as aerosol sprays, paints and paint thinners, hobby supplies, air fresheners and other chemicals compounds that produce manmade or petroleum based chemicals that feed mold.  Make sure that your home has proper ventilation and air filtration.

Finally, make sure you have your home inspected as soon as you suspect the presence of mold. Regardless of the mold’s color and the smell you notice, it should be checked by a professional in the mold detection and abatement field. It might be nothing, but if it is something, you want someone you can trust to take care of it immediately.  Ask a professional what type of air purification appliances you should utilize.

Toxicity in Many Molds

The most commonly cited “toxic” mold is black mold or stachybotrys. This mold produces a mycotoxin that can quite literally poison anyone who breathes or ingests it. However, other forms of mold which might appear as red, white, green or grey produce MVOCs that are equally dangerous. Many people with mold have these dangerous chemicals in their home and don’t even realize it.

Typically, MVOCs can be smelled as a musty, organic gas that develops from the mold as it matures. Mold produces a variety of chemicals including benzene, aldehyde, tulolene, more. These chemicals create that musty scent and are all quite dangerous to the human body. Just because a chemical is organic doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous to your health. Imagine if man made formaldehyde or benzene were in the air near your children – what would you do?

Please contact Sound Heating if you have any questions.

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.

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.

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.

Pros & Cons of Heat Pumps: A Guide from Bonney Lake

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

When deciding on any major purchase in Bonney Lake, a critical step is to weigh the pros and cons. This helps you to decide on the best option and reach the best decision for your needs and preferences.

Installing a new heating system is a perfect example of a situation in which you would need to weigh pros and cons. There are a lot of options, and not all of them are right for all people. Take heat pumps, for example. They are great devices and serve many people extremely well as home heating solutions, but they are not without their drawbacks. Below are some of the pros and cons of heat pumps to help you decide whether a heat pumps if the way to go for you.

Pros:

  1. Inclusive – A heat pump not only heats your home in the winter but also cools it in the summer, thanks to a reversing valve that changes the flow of the refrigerant. Having one appliance for both heating and cooling can be very convenient.
  2. Energy efficient – Heat pumps are extraordinarily efficient when it comes to energy use. Because they simply move and distribute heat, rather than producing any on their own, they use minimal electricity.
  3. Simple – Operating on the same basic principles as your refrigerator or an air conditioner, heat pumps are relatively simple. More importantly, they simplify your life by putting your heating and cooling solutions in one package and running on electricity, so you don’t need any other fuels on hand.
  4. Inexpensive to operate – In addition to being energy efficient – which lowers your monthly energy bills – many heat pumps are eligible for federal tax credit. You can save a bundle by using a heat pump.

Cons:

  1. May need supplementing in cold climates – In climates where winter temperatures stay below 30 degrees Fahrenheit for a while at a stretch, a heat pump will have trouble keeping up and need to be supplemented.
  2. Don’t work in power outage – Obviously, because they are powered by electricity, a heat pump won’t work in a power outage, unlike some other heating solutions that do not require electricity.

Although the pros clearly outweigh the cons here, the cons are important as well. Carefully consider all these factors and more while deciding whether a heat pump is the solution for you.

Why Select a Two Stage AC vs. Single Stage Air Conditioner: A Tip From Seatac

Monday, September 5th, 2011

When you are in the market for a new air conditioner in Seatac, one of the decisions you will have to make is whether you want a two stage system or one that only functions in a single stage. Of course, before you can make a decision about this, you need to know what all of this means.

A single stage air conditioning system is probably what you are most familiar with. They have been around for longer and can be found in a wide variety of locations. Single stage air conditioners come on at full capacity when the temperature in your home rises above the preset level on the thermostat. Once they have effectively cooled the house, these types of air conditioners shut off until the temperature works its way back up again.

Two stage air conditioners, on the other hand, can function at either 67% or 100% of capacity depending on exactly how warm it is in your home. What that really means is that if the temperature in your home is only a little above the thermostat’s preset limit, the air conditioning system will come on at 67% and gradually cool the house to keep it right in a comfortable range.

However, if you have not been home for a while and your home has gotten very warm inside, your air conditioner will come on at full power to get the temperature down quickly. What this really means is that your air conditioner will be running more than a single stage air conditioner because it will sometimes not be using all of its power to cool.

The end result of using a two stage air conditioner is that you will receive a relatively continuous flow of cool air throughout your home. A two stage air conditioner will send in a steady but smaller stream of cooled air as opposed to the large blast of cold air you would get from a single stage system.

This results in a more consistent and comfortable environment overall, and it also makes it possible for the air conditioning system to dehumidify your house more effectively. When the air is cooled too quickly, the dehumidification system does not always have time to do its job. But with the longer cooling cycles of the two stage system, there is plenty of time to make sure the right amount of humidity is removed from the air.

If you have more questions about which type of air conditioner is right for you, consult a professional.