Posts Tagged ‘Redmond’

Seattle AC Guide: What to Do About Cool Spots

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Sitting on your couch watching TV should be an enjoyable experience, especially after a long day at the office. But, if your Seattle air conditioner deposits an abnormally high volume of cold air directly onto your couch, making you shiver despite the 90 degree heat outside, you may have a cool spot.

Cool spots are an unfortunate side effect of modern air conditioning technology. They occur when HVAC systems are improperly sized or ductwork is improperly installed. Other factors like insulation, vent configuration or window placement can also contribute to the presence of a cool spot (and possibly some hot spots). So, what can you do about it? There are a few options, starting with a quick inspection of the space.

Checking for Common Problems

Your inspector will check a number of things. Most importantly, they’ll measure the size of your HVAC system and compare it to the dimensions and particulars of your house. Usually, in the case of cool spots, the problem is directly related to an oversized system. When it turns on, even for a few minutes, it produces more cold air than is necessary, flooding your home with cooling. The thermostat recognizes this and the system shuts off soon after turning on. As a result, you’ll feel fluctuation between cold and warm as the system fails to properly condition the space.

Modern systems are sized for your house at 100% capacity. So, when the system turns on, it should stay on for a substantial period of time, keeping your home cool. Turning off and on frequently is bad for the system and wastes energy (plus it produces those pesky cool spots). Keep in mind that hot spots can also occur if the system isn’t powerful enough.

Your inspector will also look for vent placement and duct configuration. Improper placement of vents can lead to pooling of cool air that creates cool spots. By checking for potential problems in the layout of your HVAC system, an inspector can determine if new vents or ducts are needed to solve the problem.

Fixing the Cool Spots

For now, you may just want to move to another part of the house. Cool spots rarely affect the entire space – they tend to cluster around vents and outlets and can usually be fixed by resizing or adjusting your system. However, only your Seattle air conditioning contractor can tell you for sure what the best solution will be for your air conditioning issues so make sure to schedule an inspection. For any questions about your home’s air conditioning system, give Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning a call!

Attic Fans – Cool Your Maple Valley Home Quickly

Friday, February 10th, 2012

When you’re worried about keeping your home cool in the summer, having a good air conditioning system is probably the first thing that comes to mind. And a high-quality, energy efficient air conditioner is definitely an important component of your home comfort system. But if you really want to get the most out of that air conditioner without paying too much in energy costs, you should look into having an attic fan installed as well.

The Value of a Good Attic Fan

So why do you need an attic fan if you already have an air conditioner? Well, to begin with, a great deal of the heat that comes into your house during the summer does so directly through the roof of your home. As the sun beats down on your roof hour after hour, heat is constantly being transferred through the roof and into your attic. And as the temperature in your attic rises, some of that heat is transferred to the air in your living spaces as well.

Of course, with your state of the art air conditioner in place, you probably won’t even be aware that this is taking place. But because the heat coming into your attic raises the temperature in other parts of your home, your air conditioner is working that much harder to maintain a comfortable temperature in all living spaces, and will potentially need air conditioning maintenance. And that means it’s using more energy than necessary to keep your house cool.

One easy way to combat this situation is to put in an attic fan. Many of these devices even run on solar power, so once they’re in place, they cost you virtually nothing to operate. A good attic fan will switch on anytime the temperature in your attic gets above a certain level and will work quickly to channel that extra heat right back outside. This means that your attic temperature will stay at a reasonable level, and the rest of your house will not be impacted by the heat coming in through the roof.

While an attic fan isn’t a terribly complicated piece of equipment to install, it’s worth it to have the job done by a professional because it does involve cutting a hole in your roof all the way through to your attic. A professional can make sure that the hole is in the proper place and sealed up tightly so water, bugs and other debris don’t find their way in.

Graham Heating Installation Guide: High Efficiency vs. Mid Efficiency Furnaces

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Whenever you are in the market for a new furnace for your Graham home, there are many models to choose from.  Many of the furnaces manufactured within the last few years are high-efficiency furnaces with a high AFUE rating (AFUE measures the amount of fuel the furnace converts into heat). When people refer to a mid-efficiency furnace, they are usually talking about older furnaces.

Single-stage furnaces were considered to be an efficient heating system when they were manufactured, but compared to newer furnaces, they use up a lot more energy than they need to. Single-speed furnaces are designed to run at full capacity until the temperature inside the home reaches the thermostat setting. After they shut off, the home not only loses heat, but the furnace will also take longer and burn more fuel when it cycles on again.

Newer, two-speed and multispeed models run consistently at lower speeds, and the ones with variable-speed blowers are even more efficient because they can operate at various levels. These models will also automatically adjust to the thermostat to maintain a constant temperature, which saves energy by keeping the home at a consistent temperature so that there’s little heat loss.

When shopping for a new furnace, keep in mind that the AFUE ratings for multispeed and variable-speed furnaces only determine the efficiency of the actual furnace. If you are upgrading your old, mid-efficiency furnace to a high-efficiency furnace, you should make sure that your Graham home is properly insulated and sealed.  You could also consider upgrading any older doors and windows to more efficient double-paned ones, or you can also install storm doors and windows.

Fife Heating Contractor Tip: High Efficiency Furnaces and Chimney Concerns

Friday, December 16th, 2011

When upgrading to a high efficiency gas furnace in your Fife home, you may need to make some upgrades to your chimney. Older chimneys built for standard furnaces with normal exhaust needs are not built to the specifications needed by today’s high efficiency models. Not only is it unsafe to leave it as is, but the cost of repairs if you don’t have it upgraded can be substantial.

Down-Sizing

A common concern when upgrading to a high efficiency gas furnace is the issue of condensation and draft. Because the amount of exhaust being vented is reduced by a high efficiency furnace, your current setup is not sufficient for the new model. So, it needs to be reduced in size by a professional to avoid backup of exhaust. Proper chimney sizing is a complex process that requires professional guidelines and careful measurements of all appliances in your home.

Because the chimney often isn’t used at all for a high efficiency furnace (often PVC pipe used instead), the extra airflow in the chimney can become a major issue.

Chimney Condensation

The biggest concern for the chimney when changing the furnace efficiency is condensation. Specifically, acidic condensation droplets can build up in the chimney if not properly stopped. A new chimney liner must be placed in the chimney to avoid excessive corrosion due to the acid droplets. Keep in mind that the efficiency of your new furnace will determine whether you will use the traditional chimney for exhaust or if a new line will be installed to vent your furnace.

When to Take Action

If you have your furnace replaced, your technician will likely discuss the chimney situation in your home with you. Keep in mind that this might be necessary and that there might be an added cost involved because of it. Modern furnaces are not designed to accommodate aging chimneys and your safety and the integrity of your house are at risk if you don’t retrofit the chimney if necessary.

A Tip from Poulsbo: Heat Pump Load Calculation

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

When purchasing a heat pump, the first thing you should do is determine what type of heat pump you want and how big it needs to be to provide ample heating and cooling to your Poulsbo home. If you are unsure what you need, here are some tips to size a heat pump for your home’s particular needs.

The Importance of Sizing

Before buying anything, consider the cost of an oversized heat pump. A lot of homeowners opt for the biggest device on the market, but they do not realize that they are paying more than necessary for their device. An oversized device cycles on and off more often than is necessary and wears down much faster, resulting in an increased electric bill and faster wear on the device. It is not good for your heat pump or your wallet.

How to Size

To correctly size a heat pump, the first step is to perform a load calculation. This is done by measuring the total volume of the rooms being heated (in cubic meters) and then determining the heating factor based on the type of insulation used.

There are different measurements depending on the type and R-rating of your insulation. For example, a single external wall without any additional insulation has a heating factor of 15. The number of external walls, the insulation in those walls and/or the ceiling and the rating of the insulation will determine the total heating factor for the room.

You will then divide the room volume by the heating factor to determine the number of KW (converted to BTUs) needed to heat that particular room.

Professional Sizing

The reason it is so important to call a professional is that certain things, like poorly insulated windows, cracks in the foundation, leaks in the ducts and other issues can have an impact on the overall heating factor measurement. Additionally, the type of heat pump you choose must be effective when connected to an air handler for your entire home. A professional can make these measurements and ensure the right sized device is selected.

If you are unsure about anything related to sizing and selecting a new heat pump for your home, call a professional in. They will perform a full load calculation and present your options for a new heat pump based on those calculations.

A Guide from a Stanwood Heating Contractor: Is Your Furnace Making too Much Noise?

Monday, November 21st, 2011

The old saying that “It is better to be seen than heard” certainly applies to the mechanical equipment in your Stanwood home. If you hear a squeaky noise or loud clattering you automatically suspect that something is wrong. And if that noise is coming from your furnace, you better pay attention to it. A noise is an obvious sign of a problem – minor or major – and it could result in mechanical failure that could leave your home cold and uncomfortable – and affect your home’s indoor air quality.

Today’s newer variable-speed furnaces keep a constant airflow through the ventilation system utilizing a low speed fan that consumes small amounts of electricity. Constant airflow brings in fresh air and keeps the room air from becoming stale or stagnant. Because of this constant operation, it is important to ensure the furnace is running at peak efficiency, which also means that it is running quietly.

Here are some common noises, possible reasons, and suggested repairs. As always, if you are in doubt about how to repair your furnace, call a local qualified heating contractor and schedule a service call.

  • Squealing noise – could be a worn out or slipping blower belt. Check for proper tension of the belt or replace the belt if it is worn out or cracked.
  • Squealing noise – could be worn out motor shaft bearings. Lubricate the blower motor at the proper points.
  • Rumbling noise – often caused by a poorly adjusted pilot light when the burners are turned off. Adjust the pilot as necessary.
  • Rumbling noise – often caused by dirty gas burners when the burners are switched on. This problem requires service from a qualified heating technician.
  • Buzzing noise – often caused when a blower motor mounting come loose. Tighten the mounting screws or use shims to fill gaps.
  • Hissing noise – indicates a possible air leak. This problem requires service from a qualified heating technician.
  • Ticking noise – possibly a leaky gas valve. This problem requires service from a qualified heating technician.
  • Rattling noise – could be a dirty fan blade. Wipe the fan blade or clean with degreaser.
  • Rattling, grinding, or whining – could be resistance to airflow that causes the motor to work harder. Check the vents in each room for dirt, debris, or obstructions and clear them.
  • Vibrating noise – may not be the furnace but loose or cracked seams in the ventilation system. Check the ductwork seams and hangers to ensure everything is tight. You may need duct tape or bracket hardware.

The best way to keep your furnace and ventilation system from making noises is to practice preventative maintenance. Have your furnace checked annually by a Stanwood heating contractor – and enjoy the peace and quiet.

What is an Air Source Heat Pump? A Question from Puyallup

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Most heating systems have as their main component some sort of heat generator, such as a furnace or boiler. These machines generate heat through some form of combustion, which obviously converts energy directly to heat, which is then distributed throughout your Puyallup home. That’s a pretty simplified schematic explanation, but that’s more or less how most heating systems work.

Air source heat pumps are another type of heating solution; one that does not actually produce or generate any actual heat. There is no combustion. What an air source heat pump (ASHP) does instead is regulate the temperature of the home by essentially moving air around.

An air source heat pump use electricity to exchange indoor and outdoor air. Think of it like a more versatile air conditioner. In cooling mode, like an air conditioner, an ASHP will pump warm air from the inside out, using a system of refrigerant-filled coils and a compressor. By turning the ASHP to heating mode, the refrigerant flow is reversed, allowing the outdoor coils to extract heat from the outdoor air and pump it in higher concentrations to the inside.

If it seems like a simple system, that’s because it is. All the heat pump does is move heat either in or out, depending on what you need in the current season. Because this process generates no heat on its own, heat pumps can be very efficient. ASHP efficiency has been estimated at 150% to 300%, meaning that the heat energy produced is up to three times as much as the electricity used. That makes for a very efficient home heating and cooling solution.

Air source heat pumps are not necessarily right for every situation, however. In colder climates, where temperatures drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit for stretches at a time, a heat pump will likely not be able to keep up on its own. In these situations, you may either need to supplement the ASHP with an additional heating source, or use a different system altogether. Newer so-called “cold climate” heat pumps may also be an option. Under ideal circumstances, an air source heat pump can act as a complete home heating system, as well as providing heat for hot water.

If you are looking for a simple and efficient home heating solution, look into whether an air source heat pump can work for you.

How Much Will a High Efficiency Furnace Save Me? A Question from Bremerton

Friday, October 21st, 2011

The furnaces you can buy these days in Bremerton are all much more energy efficient than those available even 10 years ago. However, that doesn’t mean that all of the current models are created equal. There is still a pretty big variation when it comes to energy efficiency and when it comes to price, so you need to really know what you’re looking for if you want to get the best deal out there.

The first thing you should understand when you’re trying to pick out a furnace is how energy efficiency for this type of equipment it measured. All furnaces come with an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating that reflects just exactly how energy efficient they are.

Any furnace you buy today will have an AFUE of at least 80%, but it’s possible to purchase models with AFUEs of 97% or more. Of course, energy efficiency is generally a good thing, but there are some other things to consider when you’re trying to decide just how energy efficient you need your new furnace to be.

What this calculation really comes down to is how much you’ll be able to save monthly and annually with a higher efficiency furnace. While your heating bills will certainly be lower the higher the furnace’s efficiency is, you will also pay more up front for the highest efficiency models.

This higher purchase price may be worth it, however, if you live in an area with particularly harsh winters. If your heating load is very high and you’ll be using your furnace a lot, your monthly savings will make up for the higher initial price of the high efficiency furnace in a reasonable amount of time.

Keep in mind that a furnace with an 80% AFUE is still quite efficient and will almost certainly save you a considerable amount monthly when compared to the unit you’re currently using.

Worst Rooms in Your Home to Collect Allergens: A Guide From Bellingham

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Your Bellingham home can be a haven for allergens, but some rooms in particular are much worse than others. They are damp. They are warm. They often have garbage in them. These are the rooms that need especially close attention when trying to maintain air quality in your home.

Bathroom

Bathrooms are allergen havens for two reasons. They are filled with moisture, and without proper ventilation they will soon be filled with mold and mildew. Additionally, when not cleaned regularly they can house buildups of hair, skin, and other dust building residue that tend to trigger allergies.

The easiest way to handle this problem is to clean your bathroom regularly and make sure it is properly ventilated. Short of an exhaust fan in your bathroom, keep the door and windows open to help it dry faster.

Kitchen

Your kitchen produces allergens like mold and mildew due to the presence of garbage and fruit. It can also attract bugs and the dirt that accrues from people passing through constantly. Pets tend to eat in the kitchen, leaving behind dander. Additionally, plants and vegetables in the kitchen release pollen that circulates through your home to trigger additional allergies. Exhaust from cooking and smoke can also be a harmful allergen trigger.

The kitchen should be kept well ventilated and clean at all times. Check for any gaps in your insulation and have your exhaust fan and hood cleaned regularly to avoid backups of smoke or gas.

Allergens are everywhere in your home – with careful attention, however, you can stop them from affecting your family negatively.

New Filter Ratings – How to Evaluate Your Filter: A Guide From Roy

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Every home in Roy has need of a handful of filters that provide with comfortable, affordable air quality and temperature control throughout the year. So, when buying a new filter or upgrading your current system to provide the right comfort level for your home, there are a few things to consider. First is the actual rating of your filters. Every filter is rated for a particular level of efficiency. The higher the rating, the more particles it catches, but also the more it will cost.

Air Filter Ratings

Air filters are rated with a number of scales but the only one that really matters is the HEPA filter rating. HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate absorbing. These types of filters are considered the best on the market. A HEPA filter comes with a number of options. The actual device that uses the filter will have an MERV rating that corresponds to how small of particles it can capture.

An entry level MERV rating is usually around 10 and will capture most major particles like dust, debris, dander and pollen. However, the highest rated HEPA filters have MERV ratings of 13 and can capture particulates as small as 0.3 microns 99.7% of the time.

Some filters are even capable of capturing viruses and bacteria, which are often much smaller than those other particles but can be caught in the debris field through the filter.

What You Actually Need

So, what does your home actually need? It depends largely on how much you need to filter out of your indoor air. Most often, the contaminants you should worry about include dust, pollen and dander which mean a modest MERV 10 air filter is plenty.

However, if your air is filled with smaller contaminants like mold spores, a high grade HEPA filter is a must – not just for your comfort but for your health.

There are also other indoor air quality products you can get to supplement your indoor air quality system. These include air cleaners, UV germicidal lights to target airborne pathogens and humidity control devices to create the ideal environment in your home. Whatever you choose, know that it is possible to keep your family comfortable year round.