Posts Tagged ‘Spanaway’

Kirkland Air Conditioning Guide: Indoor Air Conditioning Components

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Cool air on a hot day is a precious commodity, but modern technology has made it as basic in our lives as a part of most Kirkland homes. Often taken for granted, the process of air conditioning has many components that combine to give us peace of mind and a good night’s sleep.

Air Conditioning 101

Utilizing a process of rapid evaporation and condensation, air conditioning is a process which involves the rapid evaporation and condensation of chemicals called refrigerants.  These are compounds that have properties allowing them to change from gas to liquid and back again at low temperatures.

When evaporating into a gaseous state, the refrigerant absorbs heat.  Compressed tightly together again, it condenses back into liquid, releasing that heat in the form of condensation which can be evacuated to the outdoors. Air is blown over the cooled liquid in the circulating system and distributed to the rooms through a system of duct works.

Round and Round

The refrigerant circulates through a closed loop system and maintains a delicate balance of pressure to compel its transformations. There are four components to the system:

  • the compressor
  • the condensing coil
  • the expansion valve, and
  • the evaporator coil

Starting with a compressor, the molecules are packed together tightly, creating and absorbing heat and becoming liquid.  The heated liquid enters the condenser coils, a series of delicate fins which allow the heat to dissipate to the outside.

The expansion valve controls the amount of liquid entering the evaporator coils.  If too much refrigerant is allowed at once, the system “floods” and is too dense to evaporate.  If there is too little, it idles inefficiently.

The evaporator coils are similar to the condensing coils with a series of fins, only these absorb heat from the conditioned space as the expanding refrigerant returns to gas and heads towards the compressor.

Inside and Out

Unlike the closed loop refrigerant system which is all about containment and control, the distribution system is about sending the heated and cooled air in different directions.  Employing two fans and extensive duct work, the heat is absorbed at one point and released to the outside at another.

Warm air from the conditioned space is blown over the evaporating coil where the heat which is needed to fill the expanding spaces between molecules gets absorbed by the gas.  The same blower that draws the heated air blows the cooled air back into the home, office or business.

Along the condensing coils, during the process of returning to liquid, the heat is released and blown to the outdoors by a second fan.

For more information about air conditioning or to schedule a service, give Kirkland AC professionals Bob’s Heating and Air Conditioning a call!

Electric Furnaces in Pierce County

Monday, February 13th, 2012

There are many types of furnaces in Pierce County that use a variety of energy sources to operate. Gas furnaces use natural or propane gas, boilers and radiators use water, heated by electricity. And then there are electric furnaces, which may have an advantage over other energy sources based on energy costs.

Simply put, electric furnaces function through the use of electricity. They do not require the use of any type of fuel – but function through wires and chords. An electric furnace uses heating coils, sometimes referred to as “resistance calrods” to create heat directly in the air flow. Inside the furnace cabinet are controls, a blower, and the circuit breakers for the heating elements. Some furnaces have the breakers accessible from the outside of the cabinet.

Other add-on accessories may include an electronic air cleaner, air filter, humidifier, high performance media filter, and air conditioning evaporator coil.

The heating process begins with the home’s thermostat. A drop in temperature is sensed by the thermostat, which alerts the electric furnace. The coil then warms up, thanks to the electric current that passes through it. The heated coil in turn heats the temperature of the air around it, which is then blown into the house through a blower. The pressure that is exerted by the blower on the heated air, warms it further. The blower is able to overcome the resistance of the duct work and replace unheated, colder air with the heated air. In most homes there are various return air ducts that are used to bring in the colder air to the furnace. This cold air travels through the furnace, through an air filter, the blower, and finally through the heat exchanger. After this it will then be pushed back into the house as warm air.

To maintain a supply of fresh air in the house, some furnaces also suck air from the atmosphere outside. After the air in the house reaches a particular temperature, the thermostat automatically shuts off the electric furnace.

An electric furnace may be less costly to run, depending on the price of electricity versus other sources like natural gas, propane gas, or oil. Gas and oil are fossil fuels and burning them leaves a “carbon footprint” – the release of carbon compounds and gases into the atmosphere. An electric furnace does not burn fuel and thus does not leave a carbon footprint. This electric warming process results in fewer particulates and contaminants in the air, too.  Please contact Bob’s Heating and AC with any questions about this topic.

Things Your Air Filter Can’t Filter in Seattle

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Air filters are great to have in your Seattle home. Many people who own air filters, especially those who suffer from allergies or asthma, swear by them as being very beneficial to their health and general well-being. They help you feel comfortable knowing that your air is clean and fresh.

But how confident should you be in your air filter? Is there anything your air filter is missing? Can you be sure that your air is as clean as can be?

Well, all air filters have limitations, and many do particularly well at trapping and removing certain types of air pollutants, but at the expense of letting others pass. What your air filter can and cannot do depends on what kind of equipment you have.

A conventional air filter, like the pleated kind you may have in your air conditioner, is designed to trap particles in the air. Pollen, dust, dander and other small but solid pollutants and irritants get trapped in their close-knit fibers. The thing to pay attention here is the filter’s HEPA rating—the higher it is, the smaller the particles it can trap. So, if you are using a lower rated filter, you may be trapping pollen but still breathing in smoke particles. Also, sometimes large, heavy particles settle before reaching the filter and can’t be trapped.

A less common option is the gas-phase air filter. As you may guess from the name, these filters are meant to filter out harmful gases in the air. They do not trap particles and usually have a short life, so they need to be replaced frequently.

In addition to filters, there are other air cleaning options like ultraviolet germicidal (UVG) lights and photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) cleaners. PCOs are meant to filter out harmful gases, but have limited use in homes. UVG lights use radiation that is harmless to people but deadly to microorganisms to pure air of bacteria and other pathogens.

In sum, if you are concerned about the quality of the air in your home, the best strategy is probably to use multiple solutions, such as a combination of an air filter and UVG lights, in order to get rid of as many pollutants as possible. Keep in mind, though, that no system is perfect in keeping everything out of your air.  If you have any question about this topic contact Bob’s HVAC experts

A Question from Burlington: What Does a Furnace Fan Limit Switch Do?

Monday, December 19th, 2011

When researching your Burlington home’s furnace and potential problems it might have, you’ve probably run across a few references to the fan limit switch. And while you know that it can break in a number of ways, do you know what the switch does and what you should look for when checking your furnace its air handler for problems?

What the Limit Switch Does

To put it very simply, the furnace fan limit switch is a control that tells your furnace’s fan when to turn on and off. So, when the furnace isn’t on, it tells the blower not to operate (and send cold air into your home) and when the furnace is on, it tells the blower to turn on and start circulating the warm air.

While the primary function of the limit switch is to turn the blower fan on and off, it also has a safety role. When the temperature in the air supply plenum gets too hot, the limit switch turns off the furnace boiler to keep there from being any damage from overheating. This is handy if there is a blockage in the air vents or the controls are messed up due to water damage or improper adjustments to the settings.

Looking for Problems

Most of the time, when there is an issue with your furnace turning off or on frequently, the limit switch is one of the first things you will check. Because the switch is electronic and is attached to a thermostat which measures temperature in the air supply plenum, a small problem can result in it not working properly. So, you can easily check it by temporarily bypassing the switch and seeing if your device turns on or off properly.

In many cases, if the limit switch is the problem, you will still need to call a professional for replacement, but you can avoid a lot of headaches related to tracking down the source of the problem. If you suspect a limit switch problem, make sure to call someone immediately, because it does provide an important safety function and because without it your furnace won’t cycle on and off properly.

Sultan HVAC Contractor Tip: What to Check If Your Furnace Isn’t Lighting

Monday, December 5th, 2011

If your furnace isn’t lighting properly and your family is starting to suffer because of it, there are a number of possible problems you should check for before calling a Sultan heating contractor. Some of these issues can be fixed quickly by you while others may be signs of a serious problem that needs heating contractor‘s attention right away.

Checking the Pilot Light

If you have a gas furnace, the first step is to check the pilot light and ensure it is still working properly. If the pilot light is still on but goes out when you try to light the furnace or simply won’t stay on when you relight it, you may need to have the gas valve replaced. In some cases, it is as simple as the pilot light not being large enough and the gas blowing out the light.

This happens when gas enters the chamber and doesn’t ignite right away. When it does ignite, which happens after more gas enters the chamber, the extra force of the ignition will blow out the light. This is still a problem and should be inspected to ensure you don’t have any potential gas related issues.

Still Not Lighting

If you don’t have a pilot light or the unit still isn’t lighting, it may be an electrical issue. Electrical ignitions for gas furnaces should spark when the thermostat is turned on, so if it doesn’t you know that the switch or relay are bad.

If you smell gas or anything similar in the room where the furnace is located, you should immediately turn off the unit and call your gas company, followed by a technician. There could be a leak causing low pressure that results in your pilot light going out. Whatever the case, you need someone to look at it immediately.

Your furnace should always turn on when you flip the switch and if it does not, assume there is a problem. If you cannot find the problem yourself and easily fix it, you should call a professional. The risk inherent in an improperly working furnace (especially gas or oil) is too high to ignore.

Why Should I Hire a Camano Island Duct Cleaning Contractor?

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

You know it’s important to keep your air ducts clean, but why?

Actually, there is no one reason why your air ducts need to be kept clean—there are several, all of which are connected to one another. Here are five of them for you to consider:

  • Efficiency – Clean air ducts allow the air to flow through much easier and more readily, so your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump won’t have to work as hard to ventilate the house. This makes for more efficient operation and lower energy consumption.
  • Performance – When your HVAC system does not have to work as hard to push air through the ductwork, it will perform better. Your home will be more comfortable and better ventilated.
  • Longevity – Because your HVAC system is operating more efficiently, it will be able to perform at a high level for a longer period of time. Well-maintained systems last longer than those that are not taken care of, and cleaning the ducts is part of good HVAC maintenance.
  • Savings – Clean ducts can save you a lot of money over time. Your energy bills will be lower because of how efficiently the whole system is running. And, as an added bonus, your ducts will last longer because of the decreased risk of corrosion and damage from being dirty.
  • Health – Last, but certainly not least, clean air ducts mean clean air, which is important for your health and your family’s health. Especially if you have pets, if you smoke or live with a smoker, or if anyone in the house has allergies or asthma, cleaning your air ducts is a must.

How Do I Lower My Heat Pump’s Energy Bill? A Question from Spanaway

Friday, November 4th, 2011

One of the biggest advantages of a heat pump is that it is highly efficient for both heating and cooling your Spanaway home. There is always room for improvement, though, so here some tips to lower your energy bill even more:

  • Get it checked. It’s been said many times before, but it’s always worth saying again: consistent maintenance is one of the biggest keys to keeping any appliance running efficiently. Get your heat pump inspected by a professional at least once a year. This will keep it in good shape and provide an opportunity to make small repairs, before they have a chance to turn into big problems.
  • Keep it clean. When it comes to HVAC equipment, a clean unit is an efficient unit. Check and replace the filters regularly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep the coils and fan clean. This will also be part of the annual maintenance, but you can – and should — do touch up cleaning on your own.
  • Install a thermostat. A programmable thermostat is a great energy efficiency tool for any home heating and cooling system, not just a heat pump. A thermostat will keep the temperatures lower during the day or any time no one is home, so that you are not wasting heat.
  • Let it run. It may seem counterintuitive, but turning off a heat pump to save energy may actually do more harm than good. Heat pumps operate most efficiently when they stay running on a regular basis. The components don’t need to take time to spin up, and the refrigerant stays warm so it can keep moving. Your best bet is to have your heat pump connected to a programmable thermostat, program it and then stop thinking about it. You’ll save a bundle over manual operation.
  • Protect the outdoor unit. The outdoor portion of your heat pump has to put up with a lot from the elements. Strong winds can damage them or negatively impact the efficient operation of the pump, so keep the outdoor unit protected from wind.

These simple measures, in combination with a highly efficient heat pump, will help slash your energy bills. In addition, check to see if your heat pump is eligible for a federal tax credit, which can save you even more money.

Troubleshooting Thermostat Issues: Some Pointers From Fife

Monday, September 26th, 2011

If your room temperature is too hot or cold in your Fife home, what is the first thing you check? Probably the thermostat. If you are a homeowner, you probably have played around with the setting on a thermostat, much to the chagrin of other occupants who don’t share your same comfort level.

So if you have a temperature problem, is it really the thermostat that causes it? Maybe yes and maybe no. One physical characteristic to check is the location of the thermostat. If it is in a drafty hallway or near a heat source, it only reads the temperature for that area and other parts of the building are neglected. You will often find more than one thermostat in a home that is tied into more than one furnace or air conditioner.

The older more popular round thermostats are manually controlled and do not adjust to any conditions in the home. They simply control the heating and cooling functions based on a human turning a dial. It’s as simple as that. So if you use this method to adjust the temperatures, blame yourself and not the thermostat. You might want to consider installing a digital, programmable thermostat.

With that in mind, let’s look at some typical ways to troubleshoot a thermostat.

  • Check the anticipator, which is a small metal tab on the front of the printed scale. Give it a light push in either direction. It may be stuck.
  • Clean the interior of the thermostat housing and clean the contacts (small metal plates)
  • Check loose wires or wires that may be corroded.
  • Read the thermostat manual (if not available, look online) for other tips such as ensuring there is voltage to the terminals.

If you have checked everything and the thermostat seems to be in working order, look for other things within the heating & cooling system. These include blocked or restricted registers and vents, leaks or cracks in ductwork, and dirty air handling filters.

Finding an Ozone Friendly Air Conditioner in Lacey

Friday, September 9th, 2011

We’ve heard about ozone depletion for almost 20 years as a major problem caused by a variety of chemicals we use almost every day in Lacey. Propellants in aerosols, certain cleaning materials and the refrigerant in your air conditioning system are all culprits in the depletion of the ozone layer. So when you purchase a new AC unit, you want to be sure you won’t continue to contribute to the problem.

What Causes Ozone Depletion?

The number one contributor to ozone depletion is chloroflourocarbons, the man-made chemicals used in air conditioners since Thomas Midgley, Jr. invented the compound in the 1920s. When these chemicals reach the stratosphere, the ultraviolet light from the sun breaks the compound down to its base components, including chlorine atoms which subsequently break down thousands of molecules of ozone before dissipating.

The earliest CFCs used in air conditioners were incredibly damaging to the ozone. But since legislation was passed to stop the damage and new technologies were developed, there are less damaging alternatives.

Specifically, the refrigerant R410-A is considered environmentally friendly in that it doesn’t cause ozone depletion. Some air conditioners still ship with the older refrigerant R-22, however, which has been linked to ozone depletion and will no longer be allowed in new products after 2020.

Which Products Can You Buy?

When searching for a new air conditioner, look for a system that uses only R410-A. On average, these systems tend to cost more money, but keep in mind that in less than 10 years, refrigerants for older R-22 models will become much more sparse while R410-A will be an industry standard.

Of course, while R410-A doesn’t cause ozone depletion, it isn’t necessarily 100% environmentally friendly. It is still an HCFC and it contributes in smaller ways to global warming. If you live in a low humidity environment, consider purchasing an evaporative cooler rather than an air conditioner. These systems don’t contain any coolant and can be powered by solar heated water. They are not as effective in high humidity environments, but for those in dry climates, they are less expensive and more friendly to the environment than conventional.

If you have questions about what will work for your home, talk to your local contractor.

How Do EER and SEER Work? A Question From Poulsbo

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

If you’ve looked for a new air conditioner recently in Poulsbo, you probably noticed each unit comes with an EER or SEER rating. The former is for room air conditioners and the latter for central air conditioning units. In both cases, the number is a measure of how efficiently the system uses electricity. Effectively, if you buy a system with a high rating, you spend less on electricity. Of course, there are tradeoffs. The higher rated machines tend to cost much more, so as a homeowner, you’ll have to evaluate how much you can spend now and how long it will take to save money from that investment.

How EER and SEER Are Measured

These numbers are required by the government to tell you, the consumer, how many BTUs per hour the device can use for every watt of electricity drawn. The more BTUs a system can use, the better for your bill.

Let’s say you want to buy a 10,000 BTU system to cool your living room and dining room. A pretty standard number for a single room unit is 11, meaning the 10,000 BTU system would use about 900 watts per hour to run at full capacity. We figure this out by dividing the BTUs (10,000) by the watts (900).

There is a lot of math to do here, so many people simply look for a higher number within their price range. But, at what point is the upgrade really worth your extra money?

Choosing the Right Energy Efficiency Rating

The easiest way to describe this is to compare two similar devices with different EERs:

Air Conditioner 1 Air Conditioner 2
BTUs 12,000 12,000
EER 9 11
Watts 1333 1091
Price $300 $450

In this particular case, we can spend more for a device that is the same size but uses less electricity. The question then is whether that increased expenditure will pay off in the short term. Let’s assume each device would be operated for 10 hours per day for 30 days in a typical summer month. That’s 300 hours of operation. If the average cost per kWh in you are is $0.09, it will take 4 hours for the first air conditioner to consume 1 extra kilowatt of electricity equal to an additional $0.09. If your air conditioner runs for four months out of the year, we know that it will operate for a total of 1200 hours. That means:

[(1200 hrs x 242 watts) / (1000 watts/kw) ] x $0.09/kWh = $26

So, you save roughly $26 per year from that high efficiency unit. With a $150 price difference, you will break even after 6 years (though probably sooner if the price of electricity goes up).