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.

Air Conditioner Sizing: Why It’s Important

August 22nd, 2014

When selecting an air conditioner for a home, one factor installers must give serious consideration is the system’s size. In this case, “size” doesn’t mean how much space the cooling system takes up (although that is, of course, something they must consider) but how powerful it is in term of cooling capacity.

Correctly sizing an AC is more important than you may realize. You need your air conditioner to have enough cooling power to keep your home at the right temperature, but an AC that is too powerful will also cause serious problems. This one of the reasons that it’s vital for only professionals to handle installation for an air conditioner—any mistake can lead to a poorly working system that will need to be replaced.

For skilled technicians to size and handle air conditioning installation, look to the experienced teams at Clean Air Act.

When An Air Conditioner Is Too Small…

An AC that cannot provide sufficient cooling capacity will fail to keep the temperature in a home at a comfortable level. It will also unevenly distribute cooling, so that more distant rooms will contain hot spots. The AC will run longer than it should, trying to make up for its lack of cooling power with constant operation, and this will cause the system to age rapidly. It will also significantly raise your utility bills. You may think that a smaller system will save your money, but in the long-run it will cost you money.

When An Air Conditioner Is Too Large…

It may seem odd that an oversized air conditioner can present problems. Why not just turn it down? But the problem with an air conditioner that is too large for the space it is required to cool is that the system will begin to “short-cycle”: it will lower the temperature in the nearest rooms so rapidly that the thermostat will register it has completed the cooling cycle and shut off the compressor early. The compressor will then turn back on shortly after, only to shut down again… and so on. This constant “stop-start” has the same damaging effect you would expect to occur with a car engine doing the same thing: it will wear down faster. Short-cycling also wastes energy, since air conditioners draw the most power when the compressor starts up. The system won’t provide even cooling, either, since the cooling will shut off too soon for the conditioned air to reach the rest of the home.

Have Your Air Conditioner Sized Professionally

In both cases, there is little that repairs can accomplish to fix these problems. You will need to replace the under- or oversized system and start over.

You can avoid this major hassle and expenditure by making sure to hire only experienced technicians to size an air conditioner. Trained installers will perform a heat load calculation for your home to determine exactly the amount of cooling load necessary to keep it comfortable. After that, the installers will have no trouble selecting the AC that will do the ideal job.

Make your first call for air conditioning installation in Beaverton, OR to Clean Air Act. We will make certain that you receive the right AC to keep you comfortable any time of the year.

3 Common Geothermal Repairs

August 15th, 2014

One of the major advantages of having a geothermal system to provide your home with heating and cooling is that it will last for many decades; the ground loops will often endure for more than 50 years. Geothermal heat pumps require fewer repairs than most other home comfort systems, but they will still need occasional professional attention, as well as annual maintenance.

If you detect problems with your geothermal heat pump—such as a drop in cooling or heating power, strange noises from the indoor cabinet, or indications of leaking from the ground loops—call for repairs immediately from technicians experienced with geothermal work. At Clean Air Act, we provide air conditioning repairs in Portland, OR that can take care of your geothermal system, no matter what is wrong with it.

Some of the More Common Geothermal Heat Pump Repairs

  • Acid flushing the ground loops: Geothermal heat pumps can work in closed-loop configurations, where the same refrigerant circulates through the loops; or in open-loop configurations, which connect to the water line that brings in fresh water. An open-loop configuration can develop an accumulation of deposits that will increase water pressure and even block the loops. Technicians can use an acid-flush to eliminate the obstructing build-up in the loops.
  • Sealing ground loop leaks: The plastic ground loops are designed for decades of service, but they can still suffer from leaking at times. Fortunately, sealing a leak will only require targeted digging that can be done quickly and with little interruption to your life. The technicians will first place a colored dye into the refrigerant, and then locate where the dye color reaches the surface of your property. This will identify where they need to dig to seal the leaks.
  • Standard heat pump repairs: Geothermal systems are heat pumps that use the earth for an exchange medium, and therefore they can require the standard repairs for the indoor cabinet that other heat pumps encounter: burnt-out motors, failed capacitors, stuck reversing valves, iced-over coils, damaged fan blades, etc. These repairs are no more difficult for a geothermal heat pump than they are for a standard heat pump.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems are more extensive than standard air-source heat pumps, so they need to have experts familiar with their layouts perform any necessary repairs. You can’t simply turn to any HVAC company that handles heating and air conditioning repairs to handle the work. Look to a company like Clean Air Act. We have more than a decade of experience working on geothermal systems in Portland, OR. Along with repairs, we also do installation and maintenance work.

How Can a Bad Capacitor Affect Your AC?

August 8th, 2014

Essential components of your air conditioning system (and most electro-mechanical machines) are the capacitors. A capacitor is used to store energy in an electrostatic field. Attached to motors, capacitors perform the job of stabilizing voltage and providing the necessary jolt to start the motor in the first place. In an air conditioner, capacitors are connected to the three main motors: the compressor motor, the blower motor, and the outdoor fan motor. Each of these has a separate capacitor to start it up (the start capacitor) and to keep it running (the run capacitor).

Failing capacitors are one of the common reasons for malfunctions in an AC. Thankfully, if you catch capacitor problems in time, repair technicians and easily swap them out for new ones without any serious effect to the AC. However, if bad capacitors are ignored, you may end up with a non-functioning air conditioning system right when you need one the most.

For urgent air conditioning repairs in Beaverton, OR, call the experienced professionals at Clean Air Act. We have 24-hour emergency service for your convenience.

Troubles from bad capacitors

The most common problem that bad capacitors can cause is “hard starting.” This is when the compressor of an AC has difficulty starting up, stutters trying to turn on, and then shuts off a short while later. There are a number of different causes for hard starting (the worst of which is a compressor approaching the end of its life), but a bad start capacitor is one of the most common. It is not always easy to diagnose that a start capacitor is the problem. A technician will examine the capacitor to see if there is visible damage to it (splitting, bulging, leaking oil) and run electrical tests to make certain.

A motor connected to a run and start capacitor may still attempt to start if one or both of the capacitors has failed, and this will result in a motor that hums and will not remain running for long. If this continues, the motor will begin to grow hot and will eventually burn out, requiring that the entire motor be replaced. If you encounter this humming sound or motors that will not stay on, stop trying to use the air conditioner and call for repairs right away.

Before a capacitor fails, it may start begin to make a clicking noise. This will help alert you to the problem before either the compressor or the fans cease working.

In most cases of capacitor problems, such as damage or a loss of charge, the capacitor will need to be replaced. Leave this in the hands of professionals, who will find the right replacement unit and will handle removing the old one safely. (Oil leaking from a capacitor can be dangerous to touch.)

Call Clean Air Act for air conditioning repair service in Beaverton, OR that will take care of failed capacitors or any other problem that can endanger the cooling in your home.