What Is a Gas Furnace Draft Pressure Switch?

October 31st, 2014

Your gas furnace comes equipped with a number of safety switches to ensure smooth and safe operation. One of these safety switches is known as the draft pressure switch. Correct internal air pressure is critical to the proper operation of your heating system, and this switch helps your system to know whether or not the right level of air pressure is present for operation. As with any component in your heating system, the draft pressure switch can malfunction. If you are experiencing issues with your system, don’t try to determine what the problem is yourself. Instead, call the Portland heating experts you can trust: Clean Air Act.

The Draft Pressure Switch

When your heating cycle starts, air is pulled into the combustion chamber via the draft inducer fan. The furnace pressure switch is designed to sense the negative pressure created by the draft inducer fan at start up, and if the air pressures and venting are not correct, the switch will shut down ignition.

Types of Draft Pressure Switches

The design of the draft pressure switch used in your furnace will depend upon the design of your furnace itself.

  • Single stage conventional furnace – this type of furnace will have one hose on the pressure switch that leads to the body of the draft inducer fan.
  • Single stage condensing furnace – a single stage condensing furnace has two hoses on the pressure switch: one for sensing the pressure at the draft inducer fan and a second one for sensing the pressure at the condensate collector box.
  • Two stage furnace – a two stage furnace can have two pressure switches as there are two heat exchangers, so each exchanger will have its own switch.

Common Problems with a Draft Pressure Switch

Pressure switches operate at 24 volts, so if the electrical flow to the switch is below that, the switch won’t work. Another common problem with draft pressure switches is that they can become stuck in an “open” position, which will shut down the ignition process every time your furnace starts up.

Draft pressure switches are important safety controls, and are delicate components to work on; this is why it’s important to call a professional for repair. Having problems with your furnace? Call Clean Air Act today and schedule an appointment heating service in Portland with one of our HVAC experts.

How Does Duct Cleaning Help Heating?

October 24th, 2014

It may seem a rather trivial thing to get your ducts cleaned on a regular basis. After all, they’re just ducts. As long as hot air comes through the vents, who cares, right? Actually getting your ducts cleaned regularly can have a dramatic effect on both the efficiency of your heating and the quality of your air. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of regular duct cleaning.

Heating Efficiency

The health of your ducts is actually a huge determining factor in how efficiently your heating system heats your home. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that as much as 30% of a forced air system’s heat is lost on average, due to leaks in the ducts. Regular duct cleaning can find and seal these leaks, increasing your heating efficiency and lowering your heating bills as a result.

Cleaning your ducts also clears out any potential obstructions that may be blocking the airflow. Occasionally, debris can get into the ductwork and cause problems. Small animals may even get into the ducts and become trapped. Which leads us to our next point.

Contaminants

Over time, it is almost inevitable for contaminants to enter your duct system. Insects, dust, and pollen are all small enough to easily find their way into the ducts, decreasing your air quality when the heating is on. The two biggest threats here, though, are mold and animals.

Mold tends to thrive in dark, damp areas. If water begins to leak into your ducts, it forms a perfect environment for mold growth. Not only is this bad for your ductwork, but some mold types can release spores that are detrimental to your health. These spores can be circulated throughout the house through the ducts.

Small animals, like squirrels and raccoons, can also enter the ducts from the outside. Often, they can become lost or trapped in the ducts, eventually dying. This can lead to a horrible smell when the heat is turned on, as well as presenting a biohazard. Regular duct cleaning can prevent these issues from occurring, or at the very least prevent them from getting worse when they do occur.

If you haven’t had your ducts cleaned in a while, call Clean Air Act. We provide heating services throughout the Portland area.

Why Is Maintenance An Important Heating Service?

October 17th, 2014

When people think of heating services, two thoughts commonly spring to mind: repair and installation. But there is another important heating service, one that can help keep your system running optimally year after year: maintenance. Maintenance involves much more than a quick once-over and changing your air filter; it’s a full tune-up of your system, and the benefits you gain from scheduling heating maintenance service far outweighs any costs involved with the service. For over a decade, Clean Air Act has been performing every kind of heating service for our customers, including maintenance. We know first-hand how important maintenance is for the health of your heating system, so if it’s been more than 12 months since your last maintenance appointment, call us today.

Reasons to Schedule Heating Maintenance

Fall offers a perfect window of time to schedule heating maintenance. Here are some reasons why scheduling maintenance is important:

  • Helps prevent future repairs – an important part of maintenance involves the thorough inspection of your system. This inspection helps the technician to detect any existing or developing problems. If there are small issues, such as a worn fan belt or corroded wiring, the technician will repair these items during the appointment. Should more serious issues be discovered, you’ll be notified so that you can schedule repairs immediately. These actions help prevent small problems from becoming large ones, and help get you ahead of any needed repairs.
  • Better energy efficiency – a system that is dirty and worn from last season won’t operate at the level it was designed to. This means that it can’t achieve the energy efficiency it’s supposed to. During a routine maintenance appointment, components are cleaned, adjusted and lubricated, which allows your system to work optimally.
  • Extends life of equipment – a heating system that operates for a long period of time due to wear and tear can age prematurely. Maintenance keeps your system and its components in good working order, which helps prevent premature aging.

As you can see, there are multiple reasons why scheduling heating maintenance service in Portland is so important. Call Clean Air Act today and schedule your fall maintenance appointment with one of our specialists.

What to Look for in a Heating Services Company

October 10th, 2014

Having a reliable heating services company in Portland is very important. We’ve all heard the nightmare scenarios from friends and neighbors who have dealt with problematic heating services companies, and maybe you’ve had that experience yourself.

To help you determine what the traits of a reliable, professional heating services company are, our Clean Air Act technicians have put together a list of things to look for:

  • Number of years in business – knowing the company has been around for a while lets you as a consumer know that they have experience, knowledge and customers who rely on them.
  • The company carries known equipment brands – manufacturers of known equipment brands are selective about the contractors they allow to sell and install their equipment. As such, if you see a specific, known brand affiliated with the heating service company you are researching, this can be seen as a positive.
  • Company is licensed and insured – working with a non-licensed and/or uninsured company puts you at risk for being liable for anything that happens during a job, including injuries to the technician.
  • Company has a physical, permanent address – it’s never a good idea to hire someone whose main contact is only a phone number; work with a company that has a real office at a physical address.
  • Professional, clean appearance – you are hiring a professional, and a technician should present him/herself that way. This includes dress, protective coverings on the feet and company vehicles.
  • Good standing with the Better Business Bureau – it’s easy to check the standing of a company with the Better Business Bureau; simply go online to their website or call.
  • Referrals – one of the best ways to know if you are hiring a quality heating service company is to go by the referral of a trusted personal friend, neighbor or family member.

24-hour emergency service – heating equipment doesn’t breakdown at a convenient times. You need to know that should your heating break at 2 am, you have a reliable service company to call.

It’s important to know you have a dependable heating service company to call in Portland. At Clean Air Act, our customers and their comfort are our #1 priority, so if you are in need of repair, installation or maintenance for your heating system, call us today!

Some Reasons Your Furnace Won’t Stay Lit

October 3rd, 2014

Nothing is worse on a cold winter day than turning on your heat and having nothing happen. Or, even more frustrating, having it the heat on for a couple of minutes before it inexplicably turns off. There are a number of possible reasons that this could happen. Let’s take a look at what could be causing it.

Thermostat

The thermostat is the control center for your entire heating system. When you notice something strange with your heat, check the thermostat first. It is quite possible that everything else is working fine, but the thermostat is malfunctioning. Even a furnace in peak condition can’t do much if it’s getting the wrong instructions.

Pilot Light

The pilot light is the continually burning flame used to light the burner and start the furnace. If the pilot light is out, the furnace has no way to start and your heat won’t work. It’s pretty easy to check this one. Look under your furnace, though some have a window into the unit itself. If you can’t see the pilot light, that’s the cause of your furnace failure.

Gas Valve

The gas valve controls how much gas flows into the furnace. If there is a problem with your gas valve, the furnace won’t light because it won’t have fuel to burn. If your pilot light is still lit, but your furnace isn’t turning on, this might be the reason. It is also possible that there is a leak or a blockage in the gas line itself that is preventing enough fuel from getting to the furnace. Either way, you’ll need a professional to fix it for you.

Burner

The burner is what keeps the furnace lit, and is controlled by the thermostat. Occasionally there may be parts of the burner that break or get dirty, and are unable to light or keep a flame going after contact with the pilot light. If everything else seems to be fine, but the burner itself isn’t lighting, you will likely need it serviced by a technician.

If you are experiencing problems with your furnace, call Clean Air Act today. Our professional technicians conduct hearing repairs throughout the Portland, OR area.

Air Conditioning Repair: Why Change the Air Filter?

September 26th, 2014

The air filter in your air conditioner helps significantly reduce the amount of dirt and dust that enters your system. When dirt and dust build up inside your air conditioning it can cause a number of problems; this is why it’s important to have a clean, effective air filter in your system during operation. When the air filter becomes dirty and/or clogged, it can cause problems, which is why the air filter needs to be changed regularly. If you need assistance with your air filter, call Clean Air Act and schedule AC service in Portland, OR with one of our specialists.

Problems Caused by Dirty Air Filters

Dirty air filters are easy enough to change, but because they aren’t visible, they can be easy to forget about. However, the effects a dirty or clogged air filter can have on your air conditioner aren’t so easily forgettable. Typical problems that can develop from keeping a dirty air filter in your air conditioner can include:

  • Restricted air flow
  • Decreased indoor air quality
  • More dust and dirt build-up throughout your system

Restricted Air Flow

There are several problems that can develop from restricted air flow. First, you may see a significant decrease in the amount of cool air being delivered into your home. This is because the volume of air has been reduced. Second, restricted air flow can cause problems with the heat release/cooling process in your air conditioner; this can result in warm air blowing into your home, or the development of ice on the evaporator coils. Third, restricted air flow forces your system to work harder. This can lead to overheating, malfunction, breakdown and premature aging.

Decreased Indoor Air Quality

When the air filter in your air conditioner becomes clogged, it can no longer trap the particles it needs to. As such, particles like dirt and dust will bypass the air filter and enter directly into your system. Once in the system, these particles become part of the air flow and are delivered directly into your living spaces.

Excess Dust and Dirt Build-Up

Seguing from above, loose particles will also go elsewhere in your system: the ductwork, both sets of coils and anywhere else it can settle. Significant buildup in your ductwork can add to air flow restriction and decreased indoor air quality, and dirt and dust on the coils acts as an insulator, and can further compromise the heat release/cooling process.

It is recommended that your air filter be changed every 3 months. If you have questions about your air filter, call Clean Air Act today and schedule an appointment today.

Why Scheduling Fall Maintenance Is Important

September 19th, 2014

Before the winter cold weather arrives, you must make sure that your home’s heater—whether a furnace, a heat pump, or geothermal system—is ready to do its job. You probably have not used the heating system for a number of months; you don’t want to encounter an unpleasant surprise when you first turn it on for the winter and find it malfunctioning, or perhaps not even working at all.

The best way to prep your heater for the winter is with professional maintenance during the fall. This is the time of the year when most people schedule an inspection and tune-up for their heating system, the same way they schedule it for their air conditioning system during the spring.

Arranging for maintenance is easy: you only have to call Clean Air Act and talk to one of our friendly technicians. We will give you all the details about our maintenance plans for heating and air conditioning in Portland, OR.

The Importance of Fall Maintenance

There are many reasons that you should arrange for heating maintenance during the fall, but the principle one is to avoid surprise malfunctions and breakdowns. During one of the coldest days of the year, the last thing you want is for your heater to start losing its power to keep you warm, or to fail completely. But without maintenance to catch potential faults and reduce the effects of aging and strain on the system, a heater is at much greater risk of needing emergency repairs.

You also need to schedule maintenance during the fall to keep the heating system efficient. A heating system undergoes a great deal of stress every year, and unless it receives regular attention that stress will make it drain more energy as it works. Each year that a heater goes without an inspection and tune-up, it will lose on average 5% of its efficiency. But with regular maintenance, it will keep 95% of its efficiency for most of its service life.

Finally, it’s always wise to arrange for maintenance during the fall because technicians have much less crowded schedules during this time of year. You should have few problems scheduling a convenient time for the maintenance visit.

At Clean Air Act, we offer regular maintenance for heating and air conditioning in Portland, OR that will protect your comfort and your investment in your HVAC system. We have a three-tiered maintenance program: please call us today for more details, and get a head-start on the winter.

Steps Involved With Geothermal Replacement

September 12th, 2014

One of the benefits of a geothermal heating and cooling system is that they last a long time. The ground loop has a lifespan of 25-50 years, and the heat pump has a lifespan of 20-25 years. With this much durability, it is very possible to have air conditioning (and heating) in Portland, OR for a full generation. But, if you’ve moved into a home with an older system, the possibility exists that you may have to replace some part of your geothermal system, and the part most likely to need replacing first is the heat pump. Heat pumps are complex devices, and anyone conducting repairs on a ground-source heat pump really needs to understand how the system works. This is why it’s important to call knowledgeable professionals, like the ones at Clean Air Act, for all your repair and replacement needs.

Replacing a Ground-Source Heat Pump

Geothermal heat pumps, also called ground-source heat pumps, have a replacement process similar to an air-source heat pump, but the connections differ due to the ground-source system. Here is a general overview of the ground-source heat pump replacement process:

  • The technician will disconnect all power to the heat pump
  • The technician will locate all pipes coming into the heat pump from the outside and turn off all valves
  • The technician will disconnect the pipes from the outside that connect to the heat pump
  • The technician will remove the heat pump and any separate parts, such as separate heat exchangers
  • The new heat pump will be put in place
  • The connections to the new heat pump will be checked and additional piping added if needed
  • The technician will connect the new heat pump to the outside connections
  • Once connected, the technician will bleed out any extra air by opening the valves
  • The technician will also add any water/anti-freeze to the system if needed
  • Mechanical tests will be run to ensure the heat pump has been installed correctly
  • Power is restored to the heat pump
  • The technician will run electrical tests of the new heat pump
  • The system will be started and tested

Ground Loop Replacement

It is rare for a homeowner to have to replace a full ground loop, but in case it does happen, the process is fairly quick. Since the original loop is already in place, there is no extra work determining where the loop should go; the technicians will excavate where the current loop resides. The most costly aspect of replacing a ground loop is the digging.

Geothermal replacement needs are pretty rare, but if you do need it, call the Portland, OR air conditioning experts you can count on: Clean Air Act.

How Do Your Air Conditioner And Dehumidifier Work Together Against Humidity in Fall?

September 5th, 2014

The way your air conditioner cools your home is by removing both heat and humidity. Humidity holds heat, so simply cooling the air doesn’t achieve the cool, dry feeling you need to be comfortable. While fall is on the way, we still have our hot, humid days here, and one of the best ways to defeat the humidity is with a whole-home dehumidifier. A whole-home dehumidifier installed into your home can offer a number of benefits. As with any repair, installation or upgrade to your AC, it’s important to always hire professionals, like the ones at Clean Air Act.

 Seamless Integration

Room dehumidifiers can provide a small amount of relief from indoor humidity, but to truly remove it throughout your home, it’s best to install a whole-home dehumidifier. A dehumidifier can be seamlessly added to your existing air conditioning system, and operates with the regular cycling of your AC.

 How Does a Dehumidifier Help?

A whole-home dehumidifier removes excess humidity from your air before it enters your system. Excess humidity is moisture, so this moisture is removed and sent outside your home before it can become part of your air flow. This reduces any extra work your AC would have to do to remove the excess humidity.

 What Are the Benefits of a Whole-Home Dehumidifier?

There are several important benefits to adding a dehumidifier to your air conditioning system:

  • Better comfort levels – humidity makes everything feel sticky, and when humid air is cooled without proper dehumidification, it can feel cold and clammy. By removing the excess moisture, the air will feel as it should: cool and dry.
  • Increased energy efficiency – having a dehumidifier reduces the amount of work your AC has to do. When your AC works less, it uses less energy, which can reduce your energy usage.
  • Better health – moist environments are perfect for mold and mildew, dust mites and other contaminants to thrive. By reducing the moisture level with a dehumidifier, you can reduce problematic allergens and increase your indoor air quality.

Excess humidity can cause health problems, damage household goods and strain your air conditioning. One of the best solutions is to install a dehumidifier in your home. Call Clean Air Act today and schedule your dehumidifier installation in Portland, OR with one of our experts.

The Very First Labor Day Celebration

August 29th, 2014

Labor Day as a federal holiday, held on the first Monday of September, has been with us now for 120 years. President Grover Cleveland signed the law that made Labor Day a national holiday in 1894. Ever since then, the three-day weekend has provided people in the U.S. with the opportunity for vacations, time with their families, shopping trips, and a general celebration of the conclusion of summer and the beginning of fall.

However, there were twelve years of Labor Day observations in the U.S. before it became an official holiday. The first Labor Day celebration took place in 1882 in New York City on September 5. According to the accounts from the time, it had a rough start and almost didn’t happen.

The main event planned for that first Labor Day was a parade along Broadway that was to start at City Hall. However, the parade ran into a bit of a snag early on. The marchers started to line up for the procession around 9 a.m., with a police escort to make sure the event went peacefully. However, the problem of the day wasn’t rowdy members of the parade—it was that nobody had remembered to bring a band!

With people ready to march, but no music to march to, it started to look like no parade would happen at all, and the first Labor Day would have ended up a failure. But just in time, Matthew Maguire of the Central Labor Union—one of the two men who first proposed the celebration—ran across the City Hall lawn to the Grand Marshal of the parade, William McCabe, to inform him that 200 men from the Jeweler’s Union of Newark were crossing the ferry to Manhattan… and they had a band!

At 10 a.m., only an hour late, the band from Newark walked down Broadway playing a number from a popular Gilbert and Sullivan opera. They passed McCabe and the other 700 marchers, who then fell in line behind them. Soon, the spectators joined in, and an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people marched through Lower Manhattan.

According to the New York Times, “The windows and roofs and even the lamp posts and awning frames were occupied by persons anxious to get a good view of the first parade in New York of workingmen of all trades united in one organization.”

The parade concluded two hours later when the marchers reached Reservoir Park. But the party was only getting started. Until 9 p.m., some 25,000 people celebrated with picnics and speeches and beer kegs. It was an enormous success, and all thanks to the speedy arrival of jewelers carrying band instruments.

If those musicians from Newark hadn’t shown up, perhaps we wouldn’t have the holiday opportunity that we now have every year. However you celebrate your Labor Day, our family at The Clean Air Act wishes your family a happy end of summer.