Will Thanksgiving Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

November 26th, 2014

We’ve all heard it before: you feel so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal because of the main event: the turkey. For years, people have credited extraordinary levels of tryptophan in turkey as the reason we all feel the need to nap after the annual feast. But contrary to this popular mythology, tryptophan is probably not he largest responsible party for your post-meal exhaustion.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means it’s something that our bodies need but do not produce naturally. Your body uses tryptophan to help make vitamin B3 and serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that sends chemicals to the brain to aid in sleep. But in order to get this essential amino acid, we have to eat foods that contain it.

Turkey has somewhat high levels of tryptophan, but so do many other foods, including eggs, peanuts, chocolate, nuts, bananas, and most other meats and dairy products. In fact, ounce-for-ounce cheddar cheese contains a greater amount of tryptophan than turkey. In order for tryptophan to make you feel sleepy, you would have to consume it in excessive amounts, and serotonin is usually only produced by tryptophan on an empty stomach.

The truth is, overeating is largely responsible for the “food coma” many people describe post-Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of energy for your body to process a large meal, and the average Thanksgiving plate contains about twice as many calories as is recommended for daily consumption. If anything, high levels of fat in the turkey cause sleepiness, as they require a lot of energy for your body to digest. Lots of carbohydrates, alcohol, and probably a bit of stress may also be some of the reasons it feels so satisfying to lay down on the couch after the meal and finally get a little bit of shut-eye.

If you feel the need to indulge in a heaping dose of tryptophan this year, go ahead! Turkey also contains healthy proteins and may even provide a boost for your immune system. Here at The Clean Air Act, we hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and contentment this year. Happy feasting!

What Are the Benefits of a High Velocity System?

November 7th, 2014

There are a few types of systems that offer homeowners both heating and cooling, and one of these is a high velocity system. High velocity systems are great options for homeowners, especially for those who need to retrofit an older home. It’s important that a specialist installs your system, as high velocity heating systems are different from more traditional ones. The trained and certified technicians at Clean Air Act have the expertise and knowledge to install your heating system in Portland, so call us today.

How Does a High Velocity System Work?

High velocity systems take advantage of a principle called aspiration. Using a high level of pressure and narrow venting, air is blown into your living spaces at a high rate of speed from corners and different points on walls. The speed at which the air enters your living space is 2,000 feet per second. This rate forces the warm air to mix with the air in the room, making the room warm and comfortable.

The venting for a high velocity system consists of 2” wide flexible, durable ductwork that is snaked through the walls of your home.  An outdoor unit contains the heat pump technology that provides both the heating and cooling, and a small indoor blower unit can be placed in a closet or other space. A refrigerant line runs between the outdoor unit and indoor blower. The outlets for the air are the same width as the flexible ductwork, and blend seamlessly with your walls and ceilings.

Benefits of a High Velocity System

There are some benefits you can gain with a high velocity system that you may not get with other more traditional heating systems:

  • Even heating – the high rate of speed at which the air travels with a high velocity system creates air currents in your living spaces that distribute the warm air evenly throughout your home.
  • Energy efficient – the heat pump technology doesn’t need fossil fuels to operate and uses only a small amount electricity to run.
  • No need for ductwork construction – the ductwork of a high velocity system does not need the room that traditional ductwork does, relieving you of potentially costly construction.
  • Quiet operation – the air blows very quietly, even more quietly than low velocity forced-air systems.

If you’ve been looking for a heating system that is energy efficient, can heat and cool your home and is great for retro-fitting, a high velocity system may be just what you’ve been looking for. Call Clean Air Act today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation experts.

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.