Posts Tagged ‘Tumwater’

AC Tip: Cooling Coil or Evaporator Coil Diagnosis & Repair for Air Conditioners

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Inside the air handler of your Seattle air conditioning system is a cooling coil or evaporator coil. From a home cooling perspective, this is where the magic happens: where the actual cooling occurs. So, if there is a problem with the cooling or evaporator coil, you will notice a decrease in the performance of your AC system.

You may notice that the air flow has slowed significantly or even stopped, even though you can hear the air handler running. You may also notice that the air isn’t as cool as it used to be or should be. Aside from having a house that is not cool enough, this can also cause problems like high electricity bills or damage to other parts of the air conditioner. Use this quick guide to start diagnosing and repairing the problem.

Diagnosis

For starters, just try to get a good look at the cooling coil. Some problems are obvious enough upon visual inspection that no further diagnostics or major repair is necessary.

If you are able to see the cooling coil, look for things like:

  • Dirt and debris
  • Mold
  • Staining that indicates a refrigerant leak
  • Ice or frost
  • Damaged fins on the coil

Repair

Any of these could be the culprit that is degrading the performance of your Seattle AC system. Some of these you can take care of pretty simply on your own – if there is obvious debris that you can remove safely, do so – but for most repairs you will want to call in a licensed technician. Especially if the problem is something potentially hazardous like mold growth or a refrigerant leak, you don’t want to take the risk. Let a professional from Sound Heating & Air Conditioning who is trained in safely and effectively repairing the problem take care of it, so that your home can be comfortable again.

Air Conditioning Guide: Things to Check on Your Broken AC Before Calling a Professional

Monday, June 25th, 2012

A broken air conditioner is a stressful situation, especially since you’re considering whether you need a Puyallup air conditioning professional to come out. No one likes spending the money to have a professional take a look at their system, so before you call anyone, make sure to check these problems. You may be able to fix the problem on your own without spending a dime.

Thermostat

The thermostat is one of the most common problems you’ll have with an air conditioner.  Make sure the thermostat wasn’t knocked out of position and the sensors near your coils are in the right place. Often times, a bumped sensor or a slightly off thermostat can cause this kind of problem and as a result, you’ll be left without steady cooling.

Check Your Filters

Another common problem that can cause issues with your air conditioner is filter clogging. While the system will continue to run with a clogged filter, there are a few issues that might pop up – it could smell funny or you might notice icing on the outside line (a major problem). If you allow the filter to get so clogged as to block the air flow from your system, you can expect a number of problems to crop up.

 Blower Belts

Check the system’s blower belt for damage like cracking, excess slack or general wear. A blower belt that isn’t properly installed or that needs to be replaced will reduce air flow which can result in ice buildup or poor air flow – it will make it harder for your system to maintain a steady temperature.

 Check the Outdoor Unit

Check to make sure nothing is blocking the outdoor unit. Clean the condenser coils and remove any debris that might have built up around the outdoor unit. Often, slowed air flow is caused by nothing more than leaves piled in front of your condenser.

If none of these problems is the culprit or if you fix them all and your system continues to struggle, it is time to call a Puyallup air conditioning professional like Sound Heating!

Your Tacoma HVAC System and Ventilation

Monday, June 18th, 2012

The vent system in your home is vital to the operation of your Tacoma HVAC system. Without successful ventilation, your home won’t have the necessary clean air to keep you and your family healthy. So, what does proper ventilation require and how can you ensure your home has it? Here are some quick tips.

Install the Right Parts from the Start

Proper ventilation should result in even air pressure in your home to avoid problems with gas pilot lights. It should also be as energy efficient as possible and provide clean air through proper filtration and cleaning of the air that comes in. The best way to ensure your home has the ventilation needed to stay comfortable and safe for your entire family is to check the total size of the home and then measure the concentrations of certain pollutants like dander, pollen and smoke. A Tacoma HVAC contractor can provide these services for you.

Energy Loss

Another major ventilation issue to keep in mind is energy loss. Ventilation tends to remove heated or cooled air from your home, forcing your furnace or air conditioner to work harder to replace it. As a result, you pay more for energy and it’s never quite comfortable inside.

To avoid this problem, ask about an energy recovery ventilator. These devices are designed to transfer heat from one environment into another. So, in the winter, heated air inside is kept inside and in the summer, cooled air is kept inside. The result is a much lower energy bill without a disruption to your ventilation sources.

Supplements to Ventilation

Proper ventilation should not only provide fresh air, but it should also ensure your home has clean air. The air outside may be fresher, but it can be filled with pollutants like pollen, dander and smoke. These should be removed before they get inside and into the lungs of your loved ones. To do this, you need a full sized air cleaning system that removes particles from the air down to 0.3 microns.

HEPA filters can do this, as will electronic air cleaners which can ionize and remove smoke and gas particles. Make sure you discuss filtration and cleaning with your Tacoma HVAC contractor when they visit your home. Call Sound Heating & Air Conditioning today if you have any questions about how to improve your indoor air quality!

Simple Steps to Prevent Heat Loss in Kirkland

Monday, June 4th, 2012

There are two fundamental ways to make your Kirkland house warmer. One is to generate heat, which is the job of your furnace or boiler. The second is to keep the warm air in — and thereby keep cold air out — which is the job of your system of insulation.

The idea that the physical structure of a home can be a component of the heating system is one that is often overlooked, but when you think about it, it makes sense. The insulation, windows, doors and building materials that comprise your home are designed to keep the place warm against the cold and vice versa.

So, when bolstering your HVAC system to promote efficient heating, it is important to also consider heat loss and how to prevent it. This is a process that can get out of hand if you go overboard, so it is important to prioritize. Let’s look at the top 3 places to start when trying to prevent heat loss.

  1. Doors and Windows:  If you have older doors and windows, they could be a source of heat loss in your house, even if they are always closed. Replacing your windows and door with Energy Star rated ones will make sure that you are not losing heat to the outside AND still getting all the heat energy from the sun. Installing storm windows or putting up heavy curtains in winter can also help cut down on your heat loss.
  1. Seal off drafts. If any opening to your house, such as windows and doors, is improperly sealed, improperly installed or if the surrounding construction is deteriorating, you can lose a lot of heat. Check any drafts that you notice that might indicate a problem, and also if your vents and air ducts are leaky.
  1. Start at the top. If you want to go farther in sealing your house up against the cold, it is time to work on the insulation. When installing new insulation, remember that heat rises, so you get the most bang for your buck by starting at the top. If you only have the budget or time to insulate one space, make it the attic. You can work down from there.

These areas should be your top three priorities on your mission to prevent heat loss in your home. If you start here, you will get the best gains with the least effort.  If you have any questions about additional ways to make you heating your home more efficient please call Sound Heating

HVAC Q/A: What Is an Electronic Ignition?

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Gas furnaces in Tacoma are very complex pieces of equipment. Modern ones in particular are designed to use as little gas as possible, and to recapture as much of the heat generated from burning that gas as can be done safely. One of the many safety and energy-efficient advances in furnace technology in the least twenty years is the electronic ignition.

The Purpose of Electronic Ignition

In older furnaces and boilers, a pilot light would stay lit continuously whenever the heating system needed to be available. That meant continuously burning gas throughout the fall, winter and spring months for those times when heat was needed. It was inefficient and unsafe, especially in older devices that didn’t have safety valves.

Today, furnaces are built with electronic ignitions – small devices that only ignite the gas supply when the thermostat is on. there are two types of electronic ignition used in boilers and furnaces today.

  • Intermittent Pilot – An intermittent pilot is unique in that it releases a spark through an electronic component to the gas pilot, lighting the gas burners.
  • Hot Surface Ignition – Hot surface ignition uses an electronic filament (like a lightbulb) to heat up and ignite the burners when the thermostat calls for heat.

Both devices are designed to use a very small amount of electricity and reduce the amount of gas needed for continuous operation of your furnace.

Safety Benefits of an Electronic Ignition

While gas efficiency was a big part of the transition from pilot lights to electronic ignition, safety was an equally big component. Whereas before, the pilot light was continuously lit, meaning gas was continuously flowing into the furnace, today’s furnaces are essentially off when not in use. This means less of a chance that gas will flow unburned or that the pilot will get dirty or burn too soft, releasing carbon monoxide.

If your furnace or boiler still uses a traditional pilot light, consider having it upgraded to electronic ignition, not just to save gas but to keep your home and family safer.  Call Sound Heating for more information.

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.

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.

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.

Who Invented Air Conditioning? Some History From Tumwater

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

For hundreds of years, people have been trying to figure out how to stay cool in the heat of the summer, even in Tumwater. But it wasn’t until 1902 that the first modern air conditioner was put into service in Brooklyn, NY. Since then, many adjustments and improvements have been made to make air conditioning available and convenient for people to use in their homes and cars. But through it all, the basic principles used in that first air conditioner have remained constant.

The Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company

The heat and humidity in New York in the summer isn’t something to be taken lightly, but it posed particular problems for the owner of the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company. The conditions inside his facility were such that the paper used was warping and the dimensions fluctuating, causing the printing to constantly come out misaligned.

To try and solve this problem, he hired the Buffalo Forge Company, which itself had just hired Willis Haviland Carrier, a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Engineering from Cornell University. Carrier approached this problem by trying to find a way to cool air by passing it over cold coils in the same way air was heated in those days by passing it over hot coils.

As it turned out, this process worked to reduce both the temperature and the humidity in the area and Carrier’s first air conditioner began running at Sackett-Wilhelms in July of 1902.

The Next Steps

As the potential for this new technology became more and more apparent, demand for Carrier’s device grew in all sectors of the economy. Employers were delighted by the way air conditioners increased the productivity of their workers during the hottest months of the year, and in order to keep up with demand, Carrier eventually founded the Carrier Air Conditioning Company which still exists today.

The coolants used in the earliest air conditioners were generally either highly flammable or toxic, and often both. In order to make air conditioning safer and easier to use, a safer coolant needed to be introduced, which was what drove Thomas Midgley, Jr. to develop Freon in 1928. Freon was initially made up of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), but as the disastrous environmental impacts of those chemicals became apparent, usage shifted first to hydrogenated chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and then to the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are predominantly used today.

If you have any questions about modern air conditioning, contact an air conditioning contractor.

Saving Energy with Air Conditioners: A Tip From Tumwater

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Air conditioners can definitely make it easier to get through a particularly hot and sticky summer in Tumwater. But they are also pretty expensive to run, especially if you live in an area with long, hot summers. Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to help your air conditioner keep your home cool without running up those astronomical energy bills.

  • Think about Your Thermostat – Most people set their thermostat at one temperature and leave it there. But does it really make sense to pay to keep your home cool all day long when no one’s home? Instead, try turning up the temperature when you leave the house and then again at night before you go to bed. It’s likely you won’t notice the difference and even an adjustment of a couple of degrees can make a big difference.
  • Multiple Climate Zones – When you are home, of course, you want to set your thermostat to a temperature you’ll be comfortable with. But that probably still means you’ll be cooling a lot of empty space. Installing a multi-zone system allows you to set different temperatures for different parts of your home. You can keep the spaces you use regularly cool and comfortable without wasting money paying to cool the unoccupied parts of your home.
  • Ceiling Fans – It might seem silly at first glance to use a ceiling fan at the same time as an air conditioner. But the truth is that using a ceiling fan to compliment your air conditioning system can actually save you a lot of money. Ceiling fans use next to no electricity to operate and they can make the house feel a few degrees cooler. With that added help, you can turn your thermostat up a few degrees without sacrificing indoor comfort and save yourself quite a bit of money – more than enough to cover the cost of running the ceiling fan.
  • Keep Things Sealed – Making sure your house is well sealed and insulated is another important way to keep your energy usage down during the summer. The more cool air that escapes, the harder your system has to work and the more energy it will use.
  • Proper Maintenance – Keeping up with the recommended maintenance for your air conditioning system is the best way to make sure it maintains the highest possible level of energy efficiency. Over time, it will ensure your system stays efficient longer as well – well beyond the initial lifespan estimates.