The Benefits of Professional Duct Cleaning

In order to help your heater and air conditioner work effectively, the ductwork that channels conditioned air to the vents and into your home needs to keep a complete seal along its length. This prevents a loss of air pressure. But this sealing does have a drawback: dirt, dust, and other kinds of debris that enter into the ducts through the return air vents will not dissipate, but instead start to accumulate inside the sealed environment. The only place this contamination can escape is… back into your room, where it will circulate through the ventilation system again, building up further.

You should make duct cleaning a routine done every one or two years. However, you shouldn’t be the one who does the job. You need to call up professional duct cleaning technicians with the right equipment to handle it. In Seattle, WA the duct cleaning team at Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning belongs to the NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Associations) and has the skill necessary to give you problem-free ductwork.

Reasons to have professional duct cleaning

  • Improved indoor air quality: The U.S. EPA has identified low indoor air quality as a major health threat in the country. Ducts clogged with dust, dust mites, dirt, pollen, dander, and even mold will lower a home’s air quality and contribute to numerous health problems, especially for people with allergies. Keeping ducts clean is an important part of maintaining higher indoor air quality.
  • Greater HVAC system efficiency: Even a thin layer of dust along the interior of ductwork creates friction against the airflow from a heater or an air conditioner. This puts strain on the system, and it requires more energy to run. You will soon see a difference on your energy bills—and not a pleasant difference. Regular duct cleaning will make sure your heater and air conditioner run at their best, and without increased danger of debris clogging up the interior of the cabinets and causing repair needs.
  • A cleaner home: Consider this: a six-room home can circulate 40 lbs. of dust through it in only a year. A large amount of that will rest inside the ventilation shafts. If you have this contamination cleaned out from the ductwork, you’ll have a huge portion of the dust in your house removed at once, resulting in a cleaner home with fewer dust bunnies and dusty surfaces.

Professional duct cleaning uses powerful vacuums that change the pressure inside the ventilation system to make it easier to remove the various particles. Special brushes mounted on long flexible lines assist with agitating pollutants from the walls of ducts so the vacuums can suction them up easier.

Get started with duct cleaning in Seattle, WA before the summer air conditioning season starts up. Call Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning today to schedule an appointment.

Factors in Sizing a New Furnace

How large a furnace do you need to keep your home warm? The answer isn’t, “As big as I can afford and that’ll fit.” Although it may seem logical that you can never have a heater that’s too large—you can simply turn it down if you feel too hot, right?—this is incorrect. Both oversized and undersized heaters will drain power and run down quickly because they will not be able to handle the requirements of the space they are supposed to heat.

To find the proper furnace, you’ll need to have professionals size it for your home. Furnace technicians perform a heat load calculation to determine how much heating, measured in tons, your house requires to reach the comfort level you want. They use then this information to select the correct size furnace.

Call Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning to handle your furnace installation in Tacoma, WA. Our NATE-certified technicians know how to professionally size your furnace so you end up with the right system for your home. Here are some of the factors our technicians use in their heat load calculations to size a furnace:

  • Insulation: It’s crucial that installers know how much heat your home traps with its insulation. The more heat that escapes through the walls or out through the attic, the more heating power the furnace will need to provide.
  • Home size: One of the basic components of a heat load calculation is assessing the size of the space that must be heated. This is much more than basic square footage, however: the volume of the space is even more important.
  • Heat gain from occupants: The number of people who live in your house or regularly spend time there contributes to how much heat is normally inside a home.
  • Heat gain from lights: Light fixtures can give off an enormous amount of heat when they are on. The technicians will consider the types of lights you use (LED light bulbs produce almost no heat, for example) and how often they are on.
  • Heat gain from appliances: Stoves, ovens, refrigerators, washers, dryers, televisions, and computers… all add to a home’s ambient heat and must be factored into the heat load calculation.
  • Windows and their facing: How much radiant heat enters the windows of your home? Technicians will check on the number of windows and the direction they face to find out how much they contribute to adding heat.
  • Door and windows drafts: You will lose heat around outside doors and through single-pane windows, requiring more heating to compensate.

All these criteria, as well as others we haven’t listed, go into a heat load calculation. Once the calculation is finished, the installers will have a solid idea of what size heater will do the best job for your home without overworking, short-cycling, or providing uneven heat.

Since 1957, Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning has brought warmth to the Greater Puget Sound Area. Trust us with your furnace installation in Tacoma, WA.

Schedule a Maintenance Session Before Summer Begins

Spring has started, and you know what that means: before you know it, it will be summer. Is your home’s comfort system ready for another warm season? There’s one way to make certain—or as certain as you can be—and that’s to schedule a regular maintenance visit from a local, experienced heating and cooling contractor. Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning offers the maintenance agreements that will help you keep you cool during the summer and then warm in the winter, with fewer needs for cooling or heating repair in Seattle, WA.

Here are some of the reasons you should have a maintenance visit in spring:

You didn’t schedule one for your heater in the fall

Let’s start with the system that you won’t use as much this summer: your heater. You should schedule maintenance for your heater each fall, before the winter starts. If your heater didn’t receive a maintenance session this previous fall, you should definitely have it inspected and tuned-up now so it’s ready for the next bout of cold weather. Don’t get too far behind on any maintenance… it will cause premature aging in the system.

Take advantage of the springtime slowdown

Spring brings mild, pleasant temperatures in Seattle, and people often need neither their heater nor their air conditioner working during many days. This means that HVAC technicians have less crowded schedules and fewer emergency calls, so you will have an easy time making a convenient appointment for a maintenance visit. Once the hotter weather starts, air conditioner repair technicians will be much, much busier.

Avoid starting the summer with higher bills

A year is enough time for any air conditioner to develop dust, dirt, and deterioration from aging, and that means more operating stress when it turns on. To keep away the high utility bills from an AC that has started to wear down, schedule a maintenance session that will clean, adjust, and tune-up the system to ideal working condition.

Find that small malfunction before it becomes a big malfunction

A maintenance visit is the best way to discover if your air conditioning has a potential problem before you need the system working for you. A maintenance technician will give the AC a thorough inspection and spot anything that needs repairs. Not only will this prevent problems later, the repairs will probably cost less if caught earlier.

You can get started with maintenance right away: call Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning and sign one of our maintenance agreements, which will deliver you an annual inspection and tune-up, as well as a 10% discount on parts and labor and other benefits. When it comes to inspection, installation, and cooling and heating repair in Seattle, WA, turn to Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning.

Heating Options to Improve Efficiency

Heating a Seattle, WA home can become expensive… but it doesn’t have to. There are choices you can make that will help you cut down on inflated utility bills each month. You’ll need help with some of these options, and that’s when you can turn to a dependable name in home comfort: Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning. We can help upgrade and maintain your heating systems so it gives you the most efficient performance possible.

Here are some ways to improve your heating efficiency and save money:

  • Install a programmable thermostat: An old, dusty piece of advice about saving money with heating is that you should keep your thermostat running at a steady temperature all day, even when you’re not home. But this is 100% inaccurate, as numerous studies have shown. You should lower the thermostat when you’re away (or turn it off) and set it to turn on before you come home. The only way to do this is to install a programmable thermostat. Most basic programmable models will let you assign two set-back periods: one for when you’re gone during the day, and one for when you go to bed in the evening. Studies have shown people can save from 20% to 75% from their heating bills this way.
  • Regularly change the air filter: The air filter that protects the insides of a furnace or heat pump from debris entering the return vent can also become a hindrance for the unit if it isn’t changed regularly with a new filter. If too much dust and other contaminants collect in the filter, it will choke off the airflow and cause the unit to strain and plunge in efficiency. During periods of the highest use of your heater, you should change the filter once a month.
  • Schedule regular maintenance: The best method to keep your heater running at its peak efficiency and using only the minimum amount of energy is to have professionals give the unit a yearly check-up and tune-up. Maintenance covers all the working parts of your heating system, from the burner to the air handler, from the electrical system to the compressor. It includes cleaning and adjustments, plus checks on airflow and power use. Maintenance will catch potential repair needs and remedy them before they can grow worse. You should have maintenance done once a year for your heater—preferably in fall—and another visit for your AC in spring.

Let our staff at Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning help you get the best energy-saving performance from your home’s heating system. Sign up for our maintenance agreement today and you’ll receive added benefits as a preferred customer. For professional Seattle, WA heating systems & service, look to us.

Why a Cracked Heat Exchanger Means You Should Replace Your Heater

When does a gas furnace reach the point where it no longer needs repairs, but instead needs a complete replacement? One of the major signs that a furnace has come to the end of its service is a cracked heat exchanger—which is a serious safety issue, as we’ll explain.

Installing a new gas furnace requires technicians with the best training and experience so the new unit operates correctly and without safety issues. Contact the staff at Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning when you’re ready for a new furnace installation instead of more heating repairs in Tacoma, WA.

Furnace age and the cracked heat exchanger

To understand why a cracked heat exchanger often means it’s time to heave out the ol’ furnace, you first need to understand why a cracked exchanger is a major problem. The heat exchanger is a clam-shell shaped metal chamber above the burner; it collects the high-temperature combustion gas from the burner and transfers the heat to its walls. When the blower sends air across the heat exchanger, the heated walls transfer their heat to the air. The exhaust vapor of the exchanger then goes safely out the furnace flue.

If the exchanger cracks—even a small crack—combustion exhaust will escape through the crack as the exchanger expands during heating up. This exhaust is dangerous carbon monoxide, which is not only toxic to breath but is highly combustible.

Heat exchangers usually crack because of corrosion across their surface. Although it is possible for a younger furnace to develop corrosion along the heat exchanger walls, more often this is a sign of extreme age in the furnace. The long exposure of the metal and combustion gas has caused a chemical reaction that causes corrosion. If your heater is near, on, or past its manufacturer’s estimate lifespan, a cracked exchanger is an important sign that you need to have the heat replaced. Shut down the gas to the furnace and call a technician to schedule a new installation.

Do not delay when it comes to the heat exchanger

We must stress that a cracked heat exchanger is potentially dangerous. With a younger furnace, you need to call for immediate repairs to replace the cracked exchanger. With older furnaces, you need to move on the replacement heater right away. We recommend you have carbon monoxide detectors in your home to warn you of a rise in gas levels. Also pay attention to the appearance of corrosion on the outside of your furnace, or strange clicking sounds from inside the cabinet before the blower fan comes on. These are often warnings that there is trouble with the heat exchanger.

Call Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule installation for a new furnace. We can help pick the new unit and size it so you’ll have years of safe warmth with only a minor future needs for professional heating repair service in Tacoma, WA.

Troubleshooting Steps for Your Heat Pump

Heat pumps make for an attractive alternative to more traditional HVAC systems: combining the functions of a heater and an air conditioner into a single multi-use unit. Here in Tacoma, heating systems like heat pumps work very well: saving residents money on monthly energy use and simplifying the process of conditioning your air. When problems arise with your heat pump, a good repair service can often help. Before you do so, however, it pays to exercise some preventative steps to help keep small problems in check and ensure that the unit functions as it should.

Here are some troubleshooting steps for your heat pump:

Firstly, exercise a little routine maintenance when you can. Change your air filters regularly (once every three months or sooner if you have family members with allergies) and keep the outside portion of your heat pump clear of leaves and other debris. From there, it’s easy to perform a basic functionality test to see that it’s working as it should. Turn your heat pump off and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then turn on the fan only. Make sure that it’s blowing as it should and that there’s no dust or debris emerging from the vents.

Assuming the fan works okay, then it’s time to check the temperature control system.  Set the fan to its automatic setting and turn on the heat pump’s cool mode. You should hear a click and the air being blown through the system should soon cool considerably. When the heat pump is working in this mode, go outside and listen to the outdoor portion of the unit. You should hear the outdoor fan running, as well as a soft hum of the compressor unit doing its job. From there, switch to the heating mode and perform the same task. This time, the air temperature should rise instead of falling.

If these troubleshooting steps for your heat pump don’t reveal any problems, great. If they do, then give Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning a call to help correct the issue. Our trained Tacoma, WA heating systems experts have a great deal of experience in handling problems with heat pumps. Contact us today and let us show you what we can do!

What a Heat Pump’s SEER Rating Means

The technical specifications on a heat pump—or any major home comfort system—can often seem baffling if you don’t have a background in HVAC technology. These numbers and acronyms mean something important for your comfort and your budget, but which ones should you focus on?

In this post, we’ll discuss a heat pump spec that you should always pay close attention to, SEER. When looking for a heat pump, you’ll find the SEER listed next to a harder to pronounce set of initials, HSPF. The two are closely related, and understanding SEER involves knowing how it differs from HSPF.

Even if you have a solid grasp on the technical specs of a heat pump, you will need the assistance of professional HVAC technicians to help you make the best choice for new installation. Call Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning for expert assistance on all your needs for heating installation and heating repair services in Tacoma, WA.

What SEER is (and how it differs from HSPF)

SEER stands for “seasonal energy efficiency rating,” and it measures how well the heat pump uses electrical power to provide cooling when it’s in air conditioning mode. SEER is a ratio expressed as a whole number: it’s the amount of cooling power produced in BTUs (British Thermal Units) to the amount of energy consumed in watt-hours. The higher the number, the more efficiently the heat pump uses energy when it runs in cooling mode. Unlike the similar EER, SEER is measured over an entire season.

To receive the U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR certification, a heat pump must have 14 SEER or higher. Many heat pumps rate 15–16 SEER, and high-efficiency models can often score 20 SEER.

If you’ve already asked yourself, “What about when the heat pump is in heating mode?”, then you’ve jumped ahead to HSPF. “Heating seasonal performance factor” is how heating efficiency is measured. It is identical to SEER in that it’s also a ratio of BTUs to watt-hours, only it measures heat produced in BTUs. However, HSPF is almost always lower than SEER, because heat pumps are less efficient at heating as at cooling. (Although they are more efficient than most other heating systems.) A heat pump with 15–16 SEER will usually have 10–11 HSPF.

Choosing a heat pump

SEER/HSPF shouldn’t be the only factor in determining which heat pump you should get. High efficiency won’t mean much if the heat pump is under-powered for your needs; sometimes a lower efficiency system is more economical. Have an HVAC professional help you focus on the most important criteria for picking your heat pump. Then rely on the professionals to install it.

Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning has served customers since 1957 with quality heating repair in Tacoma, WA. You can trust our expertise when it comes to installing, maintaining, and repairing your heat pump.

The Original Valentine’s Day Greeting Cards

It’s hard to imagine Valentine’s Day without the traditional greeting cards, whether accompanying a gift of flowers and candy, or sent between children in a school room. For commercial greeting card companies, February 14th is as important to them as the December holidays, Easter, and Mother’s Day.

Valentine’s Day as a celebration of romantic love predates printed greeting cards by a few centuries. In fact, the reason that sending romantic greeting cards became popular was because of the most un-romantic thing you can imagine: a reduction in postage rates.

In 1765, Parliament authorized the creation of “Penny Posts” that used a uniform rate of one old penny per letter throughout Great Britain and Ireland. Printers took advantage of the ease with which people could send letters to each other on Valentine’s Day by crafting cards with love poems on them. Many of these verses were collected in 1797 in the book The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which was a resource for the lover with a romantic soul but not the most confident poetry style.

By the mid-19th-century, the Valentine’s Day greeting card was flourishing across England. Although people still followed a tradition of creating handmade Valentine’s Day cards from lace, ribbons, and flowers, commercially produced cards now overtook them. In 1835, the English post office mailed 60,000 valentines. As production expenses dropped, the English card manufacturers branched out creatively with humorous and sometimes vulgar cards… many of which we would find startlingly familiar in the 21st century. One of the common jokes on these cards was to design them to look like marriage certificates or court summons.

Across the Atlantic, the United States was slower to embrace the popular British custom. It wasn’t until 1847 that a U.S. printer mass-produced greeting cards for Valentine’s Day. Only two years later, American journalists noted how rapidly people in the country had embraced the tradition, turning into a fad that has never died down. The woman who printed the first U.S. Valentine’s Day card, Esther Howland, is today recognized by the Greeting Card Association with the annual “Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary.”

The greeting card industry certainly has reason to thank Ms. Howland. Her idea of going into business printing romantic greeting cards, which came to her after she received a traditional English valentine when she was 19 years old, now sells 190 million cards in the U.S. every year. That number doesn’t include the smaller exchange cards used in elementary school classrooms, which would swell the number to 1 billion. (Who receives the most Valentine’s Day cards each year? Teachers!)

Whether you send out Valentine’s Day cards—handmade, store-bought, digital—or not, we at Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning hope you have a happy February 14th.

Things to Consider When Buying a New Heating System

Choosing a new heater to install in your home is a major decision, and one that requires a good deal of thought. Although there are many factors to take into consideration, there are four in particular you should be aware of when you are making the choice.

Don’t worry about making the choice alone, however. Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning is here to help you with your heating in Tacoma, WA.

Considerations before buying a new heating system

These considerations come direct from the U.S. Department of Energy:

  • Climate – The average highs and lows over the year will affect the type of heater that will best warm your home. In the Seattle/Tacoma area, we have mild summers and wet, mild winters, putting us in the middle temperature range. Most types of heaters work well here, with heat pumps as a particularly attractive option.
  • Efficiency – This is the measure of how well a heating system converts fuel into units of heat. The more efficient a heater, the less it will cost to run each year. However, high-efficiency systems usually cost more to install, and the amount you use the heater will affect the level of savings you receive.
  • Fuel – Heating systems today run from electricity, natural gas, or heating fuel (propane, oil). The availability of energy will help determine which heaters are best for your home. Electricity is always an option, although natural gas (if available) is a less expensive alternative. Heating fuel has advantages for back-up systems.
  • Size – It is crucial that, no matter the type of system, it is properly sized for the space it will heat. An undersized heater will need to overwork to reach the target temperature (and often fail), while an oversized heater will cost too much upfront and continually short-cycle, siphoning power each time it turns off and on.

Consult with professionals

To factor in all these above considerations and arrive at an answer to the question, “What heating system should I install?” will require the assistance of licensed HVAC technicians. For example, you will need a heating expert to perform a heat load calculation on your home to determine the appropriate size of heater that you need.

When you contact Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning, our staff will work with you to find the best options for your heating and then install it. With our more than 50 years in the business, we have a strong idea of how to provide the best hating in Tacoma, WA.

3 Problems Caused by a Faulty Thermostat

The modern thermostat is a remarkable device. Although physically a small part of the heating and cooling systems in your home, the thermostat plays an enormous role. It must stay in good repair and operating condition for your HVAC system to run the way you need it. Often, thermostat malfunctions are mistaken for faults in other parts of a comfort system, although trained professionals can quickly get to the source and provide the repairs or replacements needed to fix the thermostat.

This list contains some common problems a faulty thermostat can cause. For the necessary heating repairs in Seattle to remedy these troubles, call Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning—any time of the day or night.

  1. Heater/AC won’t run: When an HVAC system fails to come on, it causes an immediate sense of alarm. Although it’s possible that a catastrophic mechanical failure or power loss has caused this, a more common—and thankfully easier to repair—cause is a thermostat that has lost connection to the system. Thermostats use five different wires to communicate to the HVAC system, and it only takes a lost connection in the ones responsible for turning on/off the heater and the air conditioner (usually one wire for each) to cause the system to stop running.
  2. Heater/AC won’t stop running: The opposite problem can also occur. Crossed connections can lead to the heater or AC continually running, wasting energy and making your home extremely uncomfortable. This can also occur because of a thermostat miscalibration, meaning the thermostat is misreading the temperature in your home and believing the HVAC system must continue to run to reach the target temperature.
  3. Uneven heating: A miscalibrated thermostat can also cause a heater or AC to run too briefly to be able to spread heat evenly through your home. If you start notice rooms in your home that are hotter or colder than others, the thermostat is one of the likely reasons for it.

If the thermostat is behind any of these problems, it isn’t difficult for a trained repair technician to fix the problem. Often, it will require new thermostat installation, and you should take this opportunity to update your model to the newest technology: an advanced thermostat will save you money with precision controls and the ability to program it or access it remotely.

Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning can bring you the heating repair in Seattle to fix your thermostat—or whatever else is ailing your heater this winter! And remember to call us in the summer when you need AC repair.