Why Is Duct Repair Important for Heating?

January 22nd, 2015

Ducts are one of the most unobtrusive, and vital, parts of your heating system. They serve the same function in your home that your lungs do in your body. Even though your home won’t die if the ducts aren’t working correctly, the quality of life inside will definitely suffer. Most homeowners ignore their ducts, not because of any intentional neglect but because they simply don’t think about them. It’s time to get rid of that kind of attitude and really be aware of the role that your ducts play in your home. Let’s take a look at why duct repair is so important for your heating system.

Duct Construction

The sad fact of the matter is this: ducts are often not very well constructed. The primary needs for a piece of duct to do its job properly are: be light enough to be easily secured in walls and ceilings, be cheap enough to be easily replaced if necessary, and be small enough as to be unobtrusive to the occupants of the home. When these three factors are added up, you get a part of your heating system that is not very sturdy or long lasting. At this point you may be thinking that your ducts work just fine, and they haven’t been touched in years. Well, it may surprise you to know just how in need of repair your ductwork is.

Ductwork Repair Issues

As previously mentioned, ducts are relatively flimsy and vulnerable to damage. Now, because of their location there isn’t much that can actually deal a lot of damage at once to your ducts. Unfortunately, there doesn’t have to be. As the ducts have warm air flowing through them, they expand and contract due to the temperature changes. This causes small leaks to form in the ducts, allowing heat to leak out of the ducts before reaching their destination. An average forced air system can actually lose up to 30% of its total heat output this way, according to the US Department of Energy. This is why duct repair is so important for the efficiency of your heating system.

If you haven’t had your ducts checked in a while, contact Clean Air Act. We provide duct repair throughout Beaverton.

What Are My Options for Heating Installation?

January 15th, 2015

With the massive variety of home heating systems on the market today, many homeowners find themselves at a loss when shopping for a new heater. There are so many different types, each substantially different from every other, that the scope of choice can be overwhelming. Luckily, we’re here to help. Let’s take a look at some of your options for a new home heater, along with the pros and cons of each.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are unique among heating systems, in that they move heat from one place to another instead of creating it. They are very energy efficient, as they don’t burn any kind of fuel to create heat. Instead, they use a unit on the outside of the house to siphon thermal energy from the surrounding air. This thermal energy is then sent inside to the rest of the heat pump, where it is released to warm the air being circulated through the house.

Heat pumps are great for people who want to save money on their heating bills every year. However, they do tend to suffer in very cold environments. This is because the air holds very little thermal energy at sub-freezing temperatures, making the heat pump less efficient.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal heat pumps are just like air source heat pumps, with one big exception. Instead of siphoning thermal energy from the outside air, geothermal systems leech heat from the ground. Once you get around 15 feet underground, the temperature is always at 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. A geothermal system uses an underground refrigerant loop to harvest this heat from the ground, and use it to heat the house.

A geothermal system possesses all of the advantages of an air source heat pump, without the disadvantage of losing efficiency in very cold weather. The one disadvantage that geothermal heat pumps possess is that they have a much more involved installation process. For those willing to invest in the system, however, the geothermal heat pump provides a great return on investment.

If you’d like to know more, contact Clean Air Act. We provide heating installation services throughout Clackamas.

3 Common Furnace Repairs

January 12th, 2015

Since furnaces are the most common kind of heating system in the country, they also happen to have the most common heating problems. This isn’t to say that furnaces experience a greater incidence of problems, simply that furnace problems are the most common by virtue of the systems’ popularity. With that popularity in mind, let’s take a look at 3 common furnace repairs.

Faulty Thermocouple

Though more modern furnaces have begun using electric intermittent ignition systems, the traditional gas-powered pilot light is still in widespread use. A gas-powered pilot light is controlled by a part called a “thermocouple,” which regulates when to feed gas to the flame. When the pilot flame is lit, the thermocouple produces an electrical current that opens the gas valve and feeds the flame. When the pilot light goes out, the thermocouple’s electrical current stops and the gas valve closes as a safety measure. A faulty thermocouple is one that has lost the ability to keep the gas valve open, smothering the flame for want of fuel. The usual fix for this is to replace the thermocouple completely.

Short-Cycling

Short-cycling is the name for when your furnace won’t stop turning itself on and off over and over again. It is caused by the furnace’s interaction with a part called the “limit switch.” The limit switch is there to make sure the furnace doesn’t overheat and damage itself. When it detects an internal furnace temperature that is too high, it shuts down the furnace as a safety measure. This doesn’t solve the source of the overheating problem, though, and as soon as the furnace starts up again it will repeat the same cycle. A professional will need to isolate the cause of the overheating problem to solve the short-cycling.

Duct Leaks

Duct leaks are an especially insidious problem, because they are almost impossible for a homeowner to detect but can cause thousands of dollars of wasted energy. Almost 30% of an average furnace’s heat is lost to leaks in the ducts, according to the US Department of Energy. The only way to solve this is to have a professional examine and seal the home’s ductwork.

If you’re having furnace problems, call Clean Air Act. We provide furnace repair throughout Beavercreek.

What Is a High Efficiency System?

January 5th, 2015

One of the broad goals in the development of home comfort systems is to heighten energy efficiency. Heat pumps, air conditioners, and furnaces have all advanced in the amount of fuel they consume compared to the levels of heating and cooling they generate. This technology began to increase rapidly during the 1970s because of the energy crisis: this was a time when furnaces moved from 60% efficiency, which was standard for decades, to 90% for high efficiency condensing furnaces.

One of the best types of high efficiency comfort systems available when it comes to heat pumps is the high efficiency small ductwork system. The Clean Air Act Inc. specializes in installing and servicing these units for better cooling and heating in Portland, OR. Contact one of our experts today to learn more about these heat pumps and how they can help you achieve a combination of better comfort and higher energy savings for your home.

How High Efficiency Small Ductwork Systems Work

In most ways, these units work similar to standard heat pumps. The difference is in how their conditioned air is distributed through a home. The air handler of the heat pump sends out air at high speed through extremely narrow gauge ducts that are much smaller than traditional flexible and sheet metal ducts (usually a third the size). The air then enters rooms at around 200 ft. per second.

The reason that this process results in superior energy efficiency is that there is far less heat loss or gain through the ducts because of the reduction of surface area. The speed at which the air is forced through the ducts also reduces the loss or gain of heat before the conditioned air reaches the rooms. The custom gasket fittings on small ductwork are also less likely to leak air.

These systems also achieve better efficiency by the way they send conditioned air through rooms. The high velocity of the air from the vents creates currents inside rooms means the heating or cooling rapidly reaches all parts of a space. You will need to run the heat pump less often because of how quickly the high velocity air creates the temperature you want.

Aside from energy savings, there is another major benefit to consider when it comes to high efficiency small ductwork systems: space savings. If you live in an older home without sufficient room to add traditional ducts, you can have a high velocity system put in instead and enjoy central heating and cooling that you wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise.

We Offer High Efficiency Systems

A High efficiency small ductwork system requires custom fitting for a house, so you must contact skilled professionals with years of experience to install one for your home. We offer small ductwork cooling and heating, as well as other kinds of comfort systems. We will locate the ideal heat pump for your home and make sure that you enjoy year-round pleasant indoor temperatures combined with energy-saving performance. To schedule your heating service in Portland, call The Clean Air Act Inc. today!

When New Year’s Day Was Not on January 1st

January 1st, 2015

Some holidays fall on shifting calendar days for every year, such as Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) and Easter (the first Sunday after the first full moon to occur on or after March 21). Other holidays, such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween, are fixed. No holiday has a more solid calendar date attached to it than New Year’s Day. It has to fall on January 1st because it celebrates the first day of a new year. That only makes sense…

…except that, like most things that at first appear obvious, there is a bit more to the story. The beginning of the year was not always on the first of January. As with an enormous numbers of traditions in the Western World, the establishment of January 1st as the inaugural day of a new year goes back to the ancient Romans.

The modern solar calendar is derived from the Roman model, but the earliest Roman calendars did not have 365 days in a year spread over 12 months. Instead, there were 304 days spread over 10 months. The Romans believed this calendar originated with the mythical founder of the city, Romulus. If Romulus were a real person, we can credit him with a poor understanding of the seasons, as this abbreviated calendar soon got out of sync with Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Numa, one of the Kings of Rome (probably also fictional) receives credit for creating a longer year with two added months, Ianuarius and Februarius, bringing the number of days in the year to 355. The new month of Ianuarius, named after Ianus (Janus in contemporary spelling), the god of beginnings, would eventually be known in English as January. But when this new calendar was instituted, January was not the first month. March, named after the god of war, remained the first month, and March 1st was New Year’s Day.

This extended calendar still did not keep in synch with the seasons. In 45 BCE, Julius Caesar instituted reforms to align the calendar correctly according to calculations of astronomers, with an additional 10 days distributed across the year. January also became set as the first month, and offerings to the god Janus on this day started the tradition we now know as New Year’s. The date still fluctuated during the ensuing centuries, with a number of Western European holy days treated as the beginning of the year instead. It wasn’t until the next calendar reform in 1582, the Gregorian Calendar, that the date of the New Year was fixed at January 1st.

However you choose to celebrate the beginning of the current calendar, everyone here at The Clean Air Act hopes you have a wonderful 2015!

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

December 25th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from Clean Air Act!

Does Your Home Need to be Tested for Radon?

December 19th, 2014

Safety is the number one priority in your home, but you may accidentally skip over some of the key services that help protect your family and your home from dangerous toxins. Unfortunately, the air in your home may not be as clean as you think it is. Radon is a gas that seeps into your home even if you believe your air is well-protected from contaminants. And the consequences can be deadly: according to the U.S. surgeon general’s office, radon poisoning is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

But My Home Is Very Well-Sealed

You may believe that your home is well-filtered or sealed up tightly enough to inhibit such gases from invading your home. However, radon infiltrates your home in ways that you may not expect. It can enter through the soil surrounding a home, because it generally appears as uranium decays, which happens naturally in soils over time. While the home’s building material itself may sometimes contribute to allowing radon gas to enter, it’s more often due to cracks in the walls or floors or even, in some cases, the water supply.

Won’t I Notice Radon Gas in the Home?

You may believe that you would notice a gaseous intruder in your home. But radon is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Simply put, it’s time to stop making excuses and test your home for the potential presence of radon today. Experts are already equipped with the tools and expertise for the job, and know what to do to correct any areas in which leaking occurs.

If your home is found to contain high levels of radon, experts can help you to determine the source and mitigate the problem as soon as possible. At Clean Air Act, we’ll perform a thorough test, take the steps to find poorly sealed areas of the structure, and recommend services to help keep your home safe in the future. Don’t neglect this vital service for your health and safety. Schedule radon testing in Portland with our skilled technicians and get peace of mind that your family is safe from harm.

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

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.