Archive for January, 2012

What Size Water Heater Do I Need for My Home in Seattle?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

When installing a new water heater in your Seattle residence, it is important to get one that is the appropriate size. Of course, one that is too small will not handle the capacity you need, so you will be stuck with water that is not quite hot enough.

You may think to just buy one that you are sure can more than handle the capacity you need, but there are drawbacks to this strategy. A water heater that is “too big” will also draw more power, resulting in waste and unnecessarily high bills. Plus, it will cost more up front than you really need to spend.

The trick is to get a water heater that is the correct size for your needs. For a conventional tank water heater, the metric you will need to refer to is the unit’s first hour rating, or FHR. To determine the necessary FHR, you first need to determine during which hour of the day your home uses the most water. Typically, this is either first thing in the morning or later in the evening, when most people are bathing. Once you know this, determine what the water usage is during that hour based on average usage for each task. For example, let’s say a typical morning in your home consists of:

  • 3 showers (average of 12 gallons each)
  • 1 food preparation (5 gallons)
  • 1 hand dishwashing (4 gallons)

That’s about 45 gallons of hot water needed during that hour, so you need a unit with an FHR somewhere in that ballpark. The U.S. Department of Energy has a good worksheet to use for these measurements, which includes average usage rates for common household hot water tasks.

If you are looking at getting a tankless water heater system, the process is a little more complicated. The important figure to know in that situation is the maximum temperature increase possible for a particular flow rate. That means adding up the flow rates for all the various appliances you may use at once, then figuring out how much you need to increase the temperature.

If you find any of this confusing, consider a professional consultation during the selection process. That will ensure you get the water heater that is right for you.

Auburn Heating Installation Service – Review from Cathy Percy

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Having a new heating system installed is a big project. You not only need to decide what type of heating system you want, but also the make, model, and size of the equipment. That is why having a heating and air conditioning contractor that you can trust is so important. They will be able to give you expert advice on exactly what system will work best in your home and guide you through the installation process.

At Bob’s, we are not satisfied until our customer is satisfied. All of our technicians always deliver quality work and ensure that you understand exactly what is happening with your equipment. Here is what Cathy Percy in Auburn wrote to us about her heating installation:

Very satisfied. Gabe, my Comfort Consultant, was very knowledgeable, professional and worked hard to come up with a solution for my unique installation challenges.

- Cathy Percy, Auburn, WA

Thanks Cathy! Remember that even if you have a new heating system, routine maintenance is important to keep it functioning at peak efficiency. It will also help cut down on future repairs and extend the life of your equipment.

Lynnwood HVAC Maintenance Checklist: Year Round Tasks

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Taking care of your HVAC system is not just your responsibility as a Lynnwood homeowner, it is also the best way to protect your investment and save money on utility bills. A well-maintained HVAC system runs more efficiently and last longer than one that is neglected, meaning big savings to you.

So what should you do to maintain your HVAC system? It doesn’t take much, but it is a year round process.

First of all, have your system inspected every year by a professional. This is best done in the spring, when you likely won’t be using your heating or air conditioning, allowing you to get ready for the summer cooling system. During an annual inspection, a professional technician will perform routine maintenance and repairs, such as replacing air filters, tightening loose fittings, inspecting ductwork and fixing any small problems before they grow larger.

Beyond this professional walkthrough, you should also do your part to keep the whole system clean. That means doing things like:

  • Cleaning vents monthly, with either a damp rag or a vacuum hose. This gets the dust and debris out of the way so your air handler can function efficiently and you don’t breathe in pollutants and allergens.
  • During the heating and cooling seasons, inspect your air filters monthly. Clean and/or replace them when they are visibly dirty, or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Once a season, take a few hours to clean your furnace room. Sweep out any debris that could get sucked into the intake, and check to see that fitting are clean and rust-free. Similarly, clean the area around an outside air handler if you have an outdoor air conditioning or heat pump system.
  • Program your thermostat to turn heating and cooling down during the hours that no one is home.
  • Keep your home clean and clear of dust and dirt. Vacuum carpets and dust hard surfaces often. Less dust in the home means less dust in the ventilation system.

Small tasks like these have a cumulative effect on keeping your Lynnwood home’s HVAC system running smoothly for as long as possible, which saves you a bundle in the long run.

New Castle Heating Tip: Most Energy Efficient Upgrades for Your Home

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Before you decide which upgrades will make your New Castle home more efficient, it would be best to get a home energy audit. You can do this yourself with a few simple tests, or you can hire a professional auditor. The auditor will use advanced equipment and techniques, such as blower doors and infrared cameras, to detect air leaks and places that need more insulation.

When your New Castle home is properly insulated and sealed, here are some upgrades you’ll want to think about to make your home more efficient.

High-Efficiency Furnaces & Heat Pumps

If you have an old single-stage furnace, it is time to upgrade. These furnaces were designed to run on two settings—either off or on, and when they are on, they run at full speed. Not only do they lose heat this way, but they also take longer to warm up your home. The new two-speed and multispeed models run at lower speeds to maintain a constant temperature. You can also buy ones with variable-speed blowers that operate on various speeds, which are the most efficient. Heat pumps are a good option if you need both heat and A/C in your home. While most heat pumps are manufactured to be efficient by design, the newer models are the most efficient way to heat and cool your home. If you have a heat pump older than 15 years, talk to an HVAC technician about a heat pump replacement.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters heat your water with individual units located near hot water applications. You also have the option of installing a single, whole-home tankless water heater, or for appliances that use more hot water, such as dishwashers and washing machines, you can install tankless models just for their use.

Water-Saving Toilets & Low-flow Plumbing Fixtures

Duel flush, or water-saving toilets are an excellent choice for an upgrade if you want to save water. These toilets use less water overall, and you have the option of using more or less water each time you flush. Installing low flow faucets and fixtures can also provide up to 60% in utility savings. Low flow plumbing fixtures reduce the flow rate for each fixture or application, which reduces the overall amount water used in the home. These are a good option if you’ve installed a tankless water heating system. Your tankless water heaters will be more efficient if the sum of the flow rate total for every fixture in the home is lower.

Everett Heating Repair Guide: Inspecting Your Furnace Heat Exchanger for Leaks

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Like all the heating and cooling components in your Everett home, your furnace needs regular maintenance and annual checkups performed by certified HVAC technicians. Here are some things that a professional heating maintenance technician can do to make sure your furnace is functioning safely.

One of the main concerns with any type of furnace is the potential for carbon monoxide gas leaks, which can be fatal if not detected. The heat exchanger is designed to prevent dangerous flue products from leaking into the home; therefore, it is important to inspect the heat exchanger for any cracks or excessive corrosion.

There are a few methods for introspecting a furnace heat exchanger for leaks and potential repairs (again, best performed by a professional HVAC technician):

  • Visual Inspection of the Furnace Heat Exchanger. Use a strong flashlight to visually check the heat exchanger thoroughly for cracks or open seams, particularly in areas that are susceptible heat or mechanical stress. Some seams may have been joined improperly during manufacturing, so be sure to check all joints. Also check for rust or corrosion in areas exposed to any type of moisture. Make sure you can gain access to all the parts of the heat exchanger. If you see any cracks, holes, or severe deterioration, your heat exchanger needs a professional repair. Ultimately, you may not be able to see all the parts of your heat exchanger, so further testing is recommended in addition to a visual inspection.
  • Flame Test. You can also observe the flame after the furnace is first turned on to detect potential damage to the heat exchanger. Turn off the furnace for at least five minutes, and sit close enough to the furnace to observe the burner flame. Have someone turn up the thermostat, and watch the flame for any changes in color or irregular patterns in the flame. If the flame makes any sudden changes, this could mean that the heat exchanger is damaged. Keep in mind that like the visual test, the flame test cannot determine damage to your heat exchanger alone.

In addition to increasing efficiency and lowering your heating bills, inspecting your furnace will ensure that your heating system operates safely throughout the winter. Along with having your heat exchanger inspected, we recommend that you test all the carbon monoxide detectors in your home on a regular basis, as well as changing the filter every month and cleaning out the ventilation system.

If you need further assistance, or suspect any leaks in your furnace, you will need to schedule an appointment with an Everett HVAC technician.

Seatac HVAC Contractor’s Guide: Allergens Affected by Indoor Air Quality Systems

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Indoor air quality devices are designed to capture and remove certain allergens from the air in your Seatac home, but what exactly is being removed and how would those allergens affect your health if left to circulate? Here is a quick rundown of common allergens found inside the average home and why you should have them removed:

  • Animal Dander – Dander from cats, dogs, birds and other furry or feathered creatures is a common allergen for millions of people. If you suspect dander as an allergy, go on vacation to a place without dander and see how it affects you or your loved ones.
  • Dust and Dirt – Dust is in every home and while it is a common irritant, it can inflame asthma or worsen allergies many times over.
  • Pollen – Pollen is a problem for anyone with seasonal allergies or hay fever. While medicine can help, proper sealing of your house and indoor air filtration can reduce the presence of pollen from clothing and animals.
  • Mold Spores – Mold develops in high humidity and in ductwork where it is dark and sometimes damp. Proper filtration with a HEPA system will reduce this risk.
  • Bacteria and Viruses – Bacteria can develop in the air from common colds, old food or outside contaminants. Use a UV light to remove these from your air handler or ductwork.
  • Smoke and Exhaust – Indoor/outdoor ventilation can allow in smoke and exhaust that irritates most lungs. To avoid this problem install an electronic air cleaner that can target particles in smoke.

Getting rid of allergens in the air is an important aspect of maintaining a clean and healthy household. Proper air cleaning, filtration and UV purification will reduce these allergens many times over. There are also some great tips on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation website for how to reduce the presence of those allergens to start with.

Happy Martin Luther King Day from Your Greater Puget Sound Area HVAC Contractor!

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Happy Martin Luther King Day! Take some time today to think about how you, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., can serve your community. There are hundreds of things you can do to make the world a better place, from helping a neighbor to volunteering for your local homeless shelter. Everyone doing a little bit of extra service can make a big difference!

Burlington Heat Pump Repair Pointers: Common Heat Pump Performance Problems

Friday, January 13th, 2012

The heat pump in your Burlington home needs to work year round to provide heat and air conditioning. This is why you want to make sure it’s performing as efficiently as possible to save on energy costs and prevent break downs. You should schedule an annual maintenance check-up and inspection with a certified HVAC technician to test the efficiency levels.

However, there are a few common causes of performance issues to be aware of so that you can be sure your heat pump performs at optimal levels. Call Bob’s Heating if you have questions about heat pump performance issues, or to make an appointment for an annual inspection and professional cleaning.

Airflow Issues

There should always be a certain amount of airflow (measured in cubic feet per minute) in your heat pump to maintain proper efficiency levels. If the airflow is less than 350 cfm per ton, it could increase your energy costs. You should make sure your HVAC contractor checks the airflow whenever your heat pump is inspected. Always keep the coils clean. Sometimes the ducts are not the right size, or the fan speed needs to be increased, but often cleaning the coils will help airflow, which is why it is important to maintain the components of your heat pump.

Air Leaks in the Duct System

Inefficient or poorly-designed duct systems may not distribute air properly throughout your home because of potential air leaks. There should always be a balance between the intake and return air in a forced air system, which helps maintain a neutral pressure within the house and increase efficiency. Some contractors argue over how tightly a house should be sealed for this reason, but if your heat pump is losing heat through leaks in the air ducts, this will greatly affect its efficiency.

Improper Refrigerant

Refrigerant leaks are another common cause of low performance levels in heat pumps. Most heat pumps already have refrigerant when they leave the factory and shouldn’t have any issues. Heat pumps that are charged with refrigerant when they are installed can sometimes have the wrong amount of refrigerant. Either too much or too little refrigerant will lower the heat pump’s efficiency and performance levels. Always check the recommended refrigerant amount or ask an HVAC technician before you add refrigerant yourself.

If the heat pump in your Burlington home isn’t working properly, it is also affecting your heating bills. Call Bob’s Heating to set up an appointment.

Orting Heating Installation Tip: Things to Consider Before Your Upgrade

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Many Orting homeowners who heat their homes with an older heating system—whether it’s a furnace or a heat pump—may want to consider upgrading to a more efficient system. Older furnaces with an AFUE rating of less than 80%, for instance, could be costing you a lot more than you realize in heating bills.

While it is a significant initial investment, upgrading to a more efficient furnace or heat pump will pay for itself in energy savings. Before you decide on whether or not an upgrade is right for your home, here are some things to keep in mind.

Fuel Costs

Some types of fuel, such as electricity, are more expensive in certain areas. Depending on where you live, you may want to compare the cost of fuel before choosing a heating upgrade. In fact, natural gas may or may not be available to your home. Check with your utility company to find out what types of fuel are available and which ones would be more cost-efficient for heating your home. You can always call a qualified HVAC technician at if you have any questions about a heating system upgrade or the products we offer.

Insulation

Whenever you are thinking about upgrading your heating system, you’ll want to make sure your home is properly insulated and sealed. If you purchase and install a highly efficient furnace, it won’t save as much in energy bills if your house is poorly insulated. Get a home energy audit with a local energy resource organization if you aren’t sure. You might want to also consider upgrading your old windows and doors, or installing storm doors and windows to improve air tightness.

Property Value

A lot of homeowners forget that any upgrade or remodeling project will increase the value of their home. Not only will a heating system upgrade lower your heating bills; it will also add value to your home and property. Always make sure you choose the right system for your home so that it lasts as long as possible.

If you are considering upgrading the heating system in your Orting home, call Bob’s heating to speak with one of our HVAC experts to ask about our quality products and installation services.

Your Bremerton Heat Pump Settings and Your Comfort Level

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Your Bremerton home’s heat pump has a number of settings that can affect your overall comfort level. One of those settings is the fan – which can be set to run automatically when heating is needed or left on continuously so that the device never turns off. Which is better for your home, though? Let’s take a look.

Comfort vs. Economy

The reason there are two settings on your heat pump is that one is more economical. The auto setting allows the device to minimize how often it is on. So, it only turns on when the house needs warm air to maintain the thermostat setting.

On the other hand, the always on setting is designed to provide better comfort. When you leave your heat pump’s fan on continuously, it provides steady heat over time. This means that the temperature remains consistent and mixes the air to ensure there are no uncomfortable pockets of poorly conditioned air in your Bremerton home somewhere.

Which Is Better?

In terms of comfort level, it depends on your needs. If you’re not too picky about the exact temperature of your home, the auto setting is best because you will save money and it tends to be fairly accurate. However, if you want to ensure you and your family are perfectly comfortable, regardless of the weather outside, the always on setting is the best way to achieve this level of comfort.

Of course, if you’re concerned about the added cost of leaving the heat pump fan on all the time, you can adjust the thermostat to even out the cost. By raising the thermostat 2 degrees in the summer and lowering it 2 degrees in the winter, the added cost of running it constantly should be offset. If it isn’t, you should have your device inspected to ensure both of the settings are properly calibrated.