Why Isn’t My Air Handler Blowing?

December 12th, 2014

For those who do not know, the air handler is the device responsible for actually circulating air throughout your house. It consists of a motor, a fan, sound dampers and, in the case of a heat pump, the heating coil. If you turn on your heater and you don’t hear the fan, it’s a good sign that your air handler is broken. Here, we’ll take a look at what can go wrong with your air handler, and what you should do about it.

Broken Fan Belt

The fan belt is a rubber loop that connects the motor to the fan itself. When the motor turns on, it rotates the fan belt, which rotates the fan and begins blowing air. The fan belt is crucial to the operation of the entire air handler. Over time, however, the fan belt can stretch and develop cracks from the stress of regular use. Eventually, the belt will break. This renders the motor unable to turn the fan and circulate air throughout the house. If you turn on your heater and you can hear the motor, but air isn’t circulating, it is possible that the fan belt has snapped.

Burned Out Motor

The motor is the device that supplies power and motion to the blower part of the air handler. A burned out motor is often caused by dust or debris entering the system from the ductwork. This is why having a clean air filter is so important. Even with a working air filter, however, the parts inside the motor will accumulate dust over time. The worst place in a motor for dust to build up is on the bearings, which are responsible for keeping friction down and allowing the motor to run efficiently. If the bearings get dirty enough, they lose the ability to lubricate the motor. When this happens, the motor eventually burns out. If you turn on your heater and air isn’t blowing, check to see if the heater is actually on, and whether you can hear the motor. If the heater is on, but you can’t hear the motor, you’ll probably need to replace it.

If you are having issues with your heating system, call Clean Air Act. Our HVAC technicians offer reliable heating service throughout all of Portland.

What Is a Furnace Limit Switch?

December 5th, 2014

There are many parts of a furnace whose roles are pretty well known. Most homeowners already know what a pilot light does, or a heat exchanger, or an air filter. The furnace limit switch is rarely regarded as a major part of how the furnace operates. However, the limit switch serves a vital role in proper furnace operation. Let’s examine what the furnace limit switch is, what it does, and what can happen when it malfunctions.

What is the Limit Switch?

The furnace limit switch is a control circuit that determines whether to turn the furnace fan on or off. It is also responsible for turning off the burners. When the heat is turned on, the limit switch is the object that actually starts the fan in the furnace to that air can begin circulating. When the thermostat determines that the target temperature has been reached, it tells the limit switch to shut off the fan and the burners.

The limit switch is also attached to a separate thermostat, which measures the internal temperature of the furnace. The switch usually doesn’t turn the furnace fan on right away. Instead, it waits until the internal furnace temperature gets warm enough to begin heating the home. If the furnace’s internal temperature rises too high, the limit switch will shut off the furnace to prevent overheating. This brings us to the major issue that can occur with furnace limit switches.


Short-cycling is the name for when your furnace turns itself on and off rapidly and repeatedly throughout the day. This is caused by the limit switch registering an internal furnace temperature that is too high. When that happens, the switch shuts the furnace down to prevent overheating damage. After the furnace cools off, however, it starts up again and the cycle goes on indefinitely. This causes quite a bit of damage to the furnace, and should not be allowed to continue for any length of time. You’ll need a professional to determine whether the limit switch or the furnace is responsible for the short-cycling.

If you need to schedule service for your furnace in the Portland area, call Clean Air Act. We offer heating services throughout Portland, OR.

How Does Infrared Heating Work?

November 28th, 2014

If you have a large area in your commercial building, or even your home, that is extremely difficult to heat using traditional forced air heating methods without wasting large amounts of energy, such as a warehouse or garage, then one possible solution to your problem is the installation of infrared space heaters. If you have these heaters professionally installed, they will save you an immense amount of money by targeting only the spots that require heating and reducing the amount of energy lost.

At Clean Air Act, we install and service infrared space heating in Portland, and we are familiar with the specific requirement of these heaters and how they work best for large spaces. Call us today if you are curious about infrared heating for either your commercial needs or to handle a part of your home that is confounding your attempts to heat it efficiently using standard methods.

Infrared Space Heaters

Infrared heating is an excellent way to provide warmth for specific locations inside a building without spending an enormous amount on energy bills. An infrared space heater targets its heat toward a specific object, rather than distributing heat through a larger area, as happens with standard forced-air distribution. The localized heating reduces the amount of heat loss, and therefore requires far less energy.

Space heaters work very well for commercial locations that are expansive but do not require heating for the entire area, such as garages and warehouses and other large storage spaces. The heaters can have a number of effective residential uses as well, such as for homes with patios or oversized garages. There is no need to waste energy to heat up such spaces when only certain spots inside require it.

Although infrared space heaters are not difficult to install, they still require the assistance of professionals familiar with commercial heating who can assess the needs of your space in order to provide it with heating that is both effective and energy-efficient. For gas-powered infrared heaters, it is especially important that only licensed experts handle the installation. Professionals will also provide the necessary routine calibration and check-ups to keep the heaters working properly. For sizing and installation of infrared heating in Portland, come to Clean Air Act and talk to our specialists. Our experience will see that you receive the highest quality service possible.

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!

Reasons to Consider a Heat Pump

November 14th, 2014

Heat pumps are a unique option when it comes to home heating systems. They operate in a way completely different from the more common furnaces and boilers that most homes use. Different doesn’t necessarily mean better, of course. Still, there are many reasons to consider installing a heat pump in your home. Let’s examine the reasons why a heat pump is worth your time.

What is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is a device that moves heat from one area to another instead of creating it. Furnaces and boilers create heat by burning fuel, which can be quite expensive depending on the circumstances. A heat pump does not consume any fuel except electricity. Where, then, does it get its heat from?

A heat pump has two main parts, the interior and exterior units. When the heat is turned on, the exterior unit siphons thermal energy from the surrounding air. This thermal energy is then sent along a refrigerant line inside to the interior unit, where it is used to warm and circulate the air. By taking heat from the surrounding environment, the heat pump avoids the need to burn fuel.

Why should I Choose a Heat Pump

Because of the unique way that heat pumps operate, they garner a few advantages that other systems do not. First, heat pumps are extremely energy efficient. Due to the lack of need for combustible fuel, a heat pump system can save you a great deal of money on heating bills.

The second advantage has less to do with direct heating and more to do with the versatility of heat pumps. A heat pump is not only capable of heating, but cooling as well. The basic construction is very similar to an air conditioner, which takes heat from inside and pumps it outside. A heat pump can do this as well, but with the ability to switch functions to pump heat inside as well. This saves a great deal of cost and space, since you don’t need to install a separate unit just for air conditioning.

If you’re considering installing a new heat pump, call Clean Air Act today. We provide heating services throughout the Portland area.

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.


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!