Posts Tagged ‘Tukwila’

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.

Your AC and Your Energy Recovery Ventilator

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

As a Tacoma homeowner with an air conditioning system, you know that it costs plenty to keep your home cool and comfortable in the summer. It is an expense you are willing to pay for the comfort and overall health of your family, but if you are like most homeowners, you would do anything to lower your monthly electric bills where possible.

One way to make your air conditioning system a little more efficient is to install an energy recovery ventilator. Read on to learn what energy recovery ventilator is and how it works alongside your AC system to reduce energy loss and improve indoor comfort control.

What Is an energy recovery ventilator?

Not to be confused with a heat recovery ventilator, an energy recovery ventilator is a mechanical device that transfers heat and water vapor between the incoming (i.e. outside) air and outgoing air being moved by your ventilation system.

The main difference between an energy recovery ventilator and a heat recovery ventilator is that the former transfers both heat and moisture, while the latter transfers only heat.

What Does an energy recovery ventilator Do?

What does that transfer mean for your Tacoma air conditioning system? Well, in the hot summer months, your air conditioner pulls in warm air from the outside, cools it and then blasts it into your home, while exhausting warm air to the outside.

What an energy recovery ventilator does is make that process a little easier for the air conditioner to handle by transferring heat from the warm air coming in to the exhaust air that the AC is blowing out of the house. The incoming air therefore has to be cooled less, which means your AC doesn’t have to work as hard, which means less electricity is used.

Many users of energy recovery ventilator systems report that the moisture exchange also makes the air in their homes feel “fresher,” rather than the stale feel that air conditioning can sometimes produce.

So, if you would like to increase efficiency and reduce the cost of running your Tacoma AC system, consider an energy recovery ventilator as one possible solution. Call Sound Heating & Air Conditioning today to learn more!

HVAC Guide: Pollen’s Effects on Indoor Air Quality

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Unsure what’s got you feeling down? It might be the air quality in your Kirkland home that’s been compromised by high pollen levels. But, how do you know when pollen is the culprit as opposed to something like pet dander or simple dust? Luckily, there is a clear difference in the symptoms you might suffer from as a result of being exposed to pollen as opposed to another allergen.

Symptoms of Pollen in Your Home

Pollen is most often associated with seasonal allergies, though even perfectly healthy people without allergies are susceptible to pollen reactions if there is enough of it in the air. The most common symptoms of a pollen allergy include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Eye and Nose Irritation
  • Cough
  • Asthma (made worse)
  • Allergic Reactions

Other symptoms, like throat irritation or skin rash tend to be caused by other pollutants like tobacco smoke or bacteria build up. So, if this sounds like what you’re facing, what is the next step? There are a few things you can do to tackle pollen in your indoor air.

Getting Rid of High Pollen Levels

Step one when the pollen levels in your home are too high is to find the source of the pollen. If it’s an indoor plant, air cleaning upgrades may not get the job done. But, if it’s an outdoor source or a single room in your house, solutions abound.

The first step is to install filtration in your Kirkland house. Pollen is relatively big so a simple MERV 10+ filter will usually remove it from the air. However, if you have other pollutants that need to be removed, consider getting a HEPA filter. Designed to capture particles as small as 0.3 microns, HEPA filters are a fantastic solution to the pollen problem.

Once you have a good air filter in place, supplement with proper ventilation to remove pollen filled air from your house. Ventilation with energy saving technology allows you to retain any heat or cooled air in your home. Sound Heating & Air Conditioning  can help you select the best system to tackle your pollen problem.

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!

What to Do About an Ice and Snow Covered Heat Pump in Tukwila

Monday, December 5th, 2011

It’s very common for heat pumps in Tukwila to ice over in the winter time. It can be due to freezing temperatures and icing outside or it could be due to constant running of the heat pump or excess moisture on the coils. However, while a bit of ice on the heat pump is relatively normal, the entire unit should never be covered in ice – such a thing is not only hard on the machinery; it can result in no heat for your home.

How to Handle Ice and Snow on the Heat Pump

Should your heat pump become covered in ice or snow in the winter time, there are a few things you can do and some things you should not do. First, check to make sure the problem isn’t related to a broken defrost cycle timer. The heat pump should go into a defrost cycle every 30-90 minutes to keep excess ice from building up. If this doesn’t happen, it should be inspected for a thermostat or sensor problem.

To actually remove the ice from the unit, never use a sharp object to pick the ice clear. You can easily damage the coils or another part of the unit and leave it permanently broken. The best way to remove ice from your heat pump is to rinse it off with a hose – even cold water will remove ice. Just be sure the defrost cycle is ready to come back on so the water used to rinse away the ice doesn’t freeze.

Remember to check your emergency heating source and make sure it is switched on while this is happening. Your heat pump likely won’t work properly while iced over and if it is left in the on position, excess stress on the device will cause damage.

To avoid this kind of damage, turn off the heat pump and turn on your emergency heating source, then clear away the ice and check the defrost timer. If everything works properly, turn the heat pump back on, but if you find any problems, call a heating contractor to do a more thorough inspection of the device before you use it again.

How Often Should I Replace My Furnace Filter? A Question from Tukwila

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Just like the filter in your air conditioner, replacing your furnace filter is the key to keeping your Tukwila home healthy and comfortable. By keeping a good filter replacement schedule, you will reduce wear and tear to the furnace and keep your home warm, while keeping your family healthy and controlling energy costs all winter.

But when does your furnace filter need to be changed? Well, each system is different, but there are some general guidelines and recommendations to follow that can help you keep it all straight and stay on top of your furnace filter situation.

Conventional Wisdom

The long-standing rule of thumb on furnace filters is to change them every month. This is good practice if you are using older fiberglass filters, but for newer, more efficient filters, you should do it a little differently. These should be inspected and cleaned at least once a month, but you may need to replace them that frequently also.

Sometimes it is a little more complicated than these general guidelines, so it pays to be aware of some factors and conditions in your home that may affect how frequently you need to change your filter.

Things to Consider

As mentioned above, the first thing to consider is the efficiency of the filter. Because new filters are so efficient, when they get dirty or clogged with dust and debris, they actually restrict airflow, making your furnace bog down and work harder. So, it is important to stay on top of a monthly inspection and cleaning schedule with these filters.

Also take into account air quality and sources of allergens both inside and outside your home. If you live in an area with a lot of pollutants in the air, you’ll want to replace your filters often to keep those out of your home. If you own a lot of pets, the dander and hair will wind up in your furnace filter and you may have to replace it more often.

Complicated enough for you? It doesn’t have to be. Simplify the whole process by doing the following: check your filter monthly and be prepared to change it that often, clean high-efficiency filters regularly, replace the filter at least every three months and again at the start of heating season.

If you do those things at a minimum, you will be in pretty good shape.

Why is My Furnace Turning On and Off? A Question from Seatac

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

One of the most annoying things your furnace can do is to constantly keep turning on and off. This on-off cycling keeps your Seatac home from heating up properly. This action – called short cycling – also requires more electricity and drives up utility bills.

Short cycling is caused by an overheated furnace, which triggers safety mechanisms and shuts down the furnace. After a brief interval and cooling down, the furnace starts up again the cycle keeps repeating itself. Not only is it an annoyance, it can also signal more serious problems. A leaking heat exchanger can cause a furnace to overheat – and produce deadly carbon monoxide gas.

If a furnace is working too hard and overheating, it is usually because of airflow in and out. Your home’s ventilation system needs to be clear of dirt, dust, and debris. The more blockage in your ductwork and vents, the more friction is created, slowing down airflow and ultimately ending with an overworked furnace that continues to cycle on and off. And a blocked exhaust vent, such as a chimney or dedicated exhaust vent, can also cause a furnace to work harder. Check for things like leaves or bird’s nests.

The blockage may also be coming from a clogged furnace filter. You should clean or replace your furnace filter after a visual inspection reveals any type of build-up of dust or dirt. Do this at least every three-six months.

If you have a two-speed fan on your furnace, it is recommended that you run the fan in low speed during the cold months and high speed in the warm months. The reason? Warm air is lighter and takes less force to move.

There are other measures to take to prevent short cycling but these usually require a  heating and cooling service technician to correct the problem. If in doubt, call your local qualified heating and cooling contractor and schedule a furnace inspection. Don’t make your furnace work any harder than it was designed for – and keep your home’s occupants comfortable and safe.

Do I Need Battery Backup For My Solar Panels? A Question from Olympia

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Solar power is a great energy source for your Olympia home – clean, cheap, readily available in near infinite supply. But what happens when the sun doesn’t shine? Sure, UV rays still reach the Earth and provide solar energy on a cloudy day, but not as efficiently as in bright sunshine. What if it rains for a few days? What about the winter months when sunlight is in shorter supply?

These are all logical questions for anyone considering switching to solar energy. After all, without sunlight, your home could be without power and then what do you do? There are a few solutions to these issues, including a battery backup system. Before deciding one way or the other on a battery backup, there are a few things to consider.

Are You Staying On The Grid?

If you plan to keep you home connected to the local utility grid and use the two energy sources to supplement one another, then there is no real reason to have a backup system. Effectively, the electric company serves as your backup system, so if your solar supply runs low, you can use “regular” electricity by buying power as you need it and selling back any excess. If you are getting off the grid, however, and using solar or other alternative energy sources for 100% of your energy needs, then you will need to have some kind of backup system in place.

Battery or Generator?

Aside from battery systems, using a generator as a backup is another option. Generators work well and can produce enough electricity to power a home, but they can also be rather noisy and require you to have a fuel supply (usually propane or gasoline) on hand. They are best suited to short periods of use.

If you want to get completely off the grid, and you plan on needing backup power more frequently that a generator would be convenient for, then a batter backup system may be for you. Such a system requires installation of additional components, including not just the batteries but also an inverter and extra wiring. This means extra cost to you, and extra maintenance down the road. The batteries will also need to be replaced as they become depleted and unable to hold a charge.

These are many issues to be aware of in deciding whether a battery backup system is right for you. Strictly speaking, most home solar energy won’t need a battery backup, but it may be appropriate or necessary depending on your needs.

How to Get the Best Heat Pump in Tukwila

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Happy Halloween weekend from everyone at Sound Heating & Air Conditioning! We hope you have a fantastically spooky time! But buying a heat pump shouldn’t be scary, even around Halloween. Here are some tips on how to choose the right heat pump for your Tukwila home.

But how do you decide what the best option is, especially when choosing a product that you know little about, like a heat pump? The average homeowner does not spend a lot of time studying his heat pump or reading heat pump magazines for fun, so chances are you are not a heat pump expert. That’s understandable…but it doesn’t help you when you are trying to buy a new one and you want the best.

Fortunately, there some things you can look for to get clues about the quality of a heat pump and how well it suits your needs. Read on to learn more about these indicators in brief.

Efficiency is among the most important factors in choosing a heat pump. Because heat pumps can be used for both heating and cooling, they have two different efficiency ratings, one for each mode.

The heating efficiency for a heat pump is rated on a scale called the heating season performance factor (HSPF). This rating is actually the result of a calculation. To find the HSPF for a heat pump, the unit’s estimated heating output is divided by its energy consumption. Simply put, it’s the ratio of heat put out by the unit to the amount of power it draws. The higher the HSPF, the more efficient the heat pump is. To give a frame of reference, all new heat pumps are required to have an HSPF of at least 7.7. The most efficient units available carry an HSPF of 10.

The rating system used to convey the cooling efficiency of a heat pump is the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). This is a simple numeric value that rates how efficient the unit is. Many new heat pumps carry a SEER of at least 12, while the most efficient models rate between 14 and 18.

While efficiency is important, it is just one factor. More efficient units are also more expensive, so you will want to consider the upfront cost. The most efficient units will pay for themselves in savings relatively quickly, but the purchase price is still important. Be sure to weigh all the pros and cons when choosing a new heat pump. And if you have any questions, talk to your local contractor.

When Should You Replace Instead of Repair Your Heating? A Question from Olympia

Friday, October 21st, 2011

We all dread an expensive repair in Olympia, whether it is a car that needs a new transmission, a leaky roof that needs new shingles, or electrical wiring that has been chewed up by a wild animal. Equipment repairs are a necessary evil. We often try and put bandages on things that we know should be replaced but we just can’t afford to replace them.

The same can be said about your home’s heating system. When your heat goes out or your home just doesn’t seem to be heating up to the setting on your thermostat, your first inclination is to check and see if it is running. Some people will put their hand over a heating vent to check for hot air while others may go into the basement or mechanical room to listen to hear if the furnace is running. Maybe there is a blockage in the ventilation system or a blown circuit breaker, two relatively easy fixes.

If the furnace isn’t working after checking the obvious symptoms, your next move is to call for service. Any qualified heating professional would be able to diagnose your problem and offer suggested repairs. Something relatively minor like a bad circuit board or blown fan motor are not real expensive repairs and are the best option versus replacing the furnace. And you may keep experiencing the same problem and getting the same repair work done – anything to avoid an expensive replacement.

But at some point the vicious cycle will come to an end. Your repair bills will begin to inch their way past the cost of replacing the furnace. You can only bandage a problem so long before it becomes “unfixable.” You may not want to pay an expensive replacement bill but consider the alternatives.

First is the obvious – it costs too much to keep repairing the furnace. Secondly, you never know when the furnace may break down and its failure to operate could have dangerous effects on the people in your home, especially if someone is sick. Third, your furnace may not be able to keep up with the heating demand due to lifestyle changes, i.e. an addition put on the house, carpeting removed and wood floors exposed, a new window, door, or skylight added, etc. Your old furnace may not have been designed to keep up with these changes and the repairs are only delaying the inevitable.

Ask yourself if everyone in your home is comfortable during cold weather. If most answer no, it may be time to consider replacing that old furnace with a new, energy efficient model that uses today’s technology – and leaves a smaller carbon footprint – to keep up with the demand for heat, in any sized building or home. Your decision to replace your old heating system could be as simple as the need to use modern technology to solve your indoor comfort problems.