Archive for August, 2012

How Do I Know if I Have a Radon Problem?

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Radon is a gas that is invisible, odorless, and radioactive.  Thus it is important to know if you have a radon problem.  The experts at Clean Air Act Inc. in Portland can help you understand exactly what radon is and how to determine if you have a radon problem.

While naturally occurring, radon usually comes from the breakdown of uranium which happens in soil.  It is also frequently found in areas where granite is present in the soil.  It can be transferred into a building through foundation cracks or even via the water supply.  Once it enters a building it gets trapped and can cause health problems as it is continually breathed in and out.

Some of the main symptoms of radon exposure include repeated respiratory infections, chest pain along with shortness of breath, and a sever cough.  Ultimately radon exposure leads to lung cancer because it is breathed in.  While there are some symptoms associated with radon exposure, it can be hard to truly know whether or not these symptoms are in fact a result of radon exposure, or if they are due to some other environmental problem.

Radon in and of itself is impossible to detect without the proper testing equipment.  The only proof positive way to know if you have a radon problem is to have your building professionally tested for radon.  During the radon testing process, if radon is found, the source of the radon will be identified so that it can be addressed during the radon mitigation process.

There are some home-methods of testing for radon which includes a charcoal canister, an ion detector, and an alpha track detector.  However, these must still be sealed up and sent to a lab for analysis.  Additionally, use of these is not considered completely accurate and it is best to work with a professional when radon testing is concerned so that a complete and thorough analysis can be made.

We are specialists in understanding radon and dealing with it properly, so call Clean Air Act Inc. if you need radon testing and mitigation in the Portland area!

How Do Limit Switches Work in Air Conditioning Systems?

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Your air conditioning system has a lot of components which work together to cool your home.  Here is some information about the limit switches in your AC to help you better understand its operation, and to let you know when you need to call a Gresham AC technician.

What are Limit Switches?

Limit switches are used in a variety of devices for both commercial and residential applications.  Limit switches are created with two main purposes in mind.  They control electrical circuits by either activating or deactivating them, starting or stop specific electric pulses. One of the easiest examples to understand is the light which automatically turns on when the fridge door is opened, and which shuts off again once the door is closed.  Most of the time limit switches are kept out of site, and in fact we often don’t even know when they are in use.

How Do Limit Switches Work in Air Conditioning Systems?

AC limit switches are quite common.  The main example is the link between the air handler blower and the thermostat.  When the thermostat reaches the preset indoor temperature an AC limit switch is flipped. This stops the air conditioning system from creating any more cold air.  An additional AC limit switch turns off the air handling unit simultaneously so that warmer air that has not been cooled does not continue to blow through the vents.  When the temperature read by the thermostat rises once again, both air conditioning limit switches are flipped back on, creating cold air and blowing it through the vents for distribution.

When a limit switch goes bad it will cause an AC to short cycle, turning the air conditioning system off too quickly, or not turning the AC off at all.  It could be that the AC limit switch is stuck or that its wiring has short-circuited.  Whatever the case may be, it is important to contact a trained AC company in Gresham such as The Clean Air Act, Inc. for repairs. Call us today if you need AC service in the Gresham area!

Duct Size and Central Air Conditioning

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Having proper duct size is vital to having a Portland air conditioning system that functions appropriately.  If the air ducts are too small not enough cooled air will reach the intended rooms, if the ducts are too large the air will not have enough force to make its way from the AC to the room vents.  As such there are some AC industry standards for duct sizing which should be followed by any Portland air conditioning professional.

Air Duct Sizing for Central AC Systems

While there are many misused rules of thumb in the AC industry, there are also some newer standards which have been put into place such as “Manual D” methods of design that have already begun to improve performance of AC systems in homes and offices.

There is a difference between what is needed for an AC system supply ducts and return ducts.  Supply ducts tend to need smaller ducts while return ducts will often need to be larger.

Proper air duct sizing greatly depends on the square footage of the building being cooled, the air conditioner capacity or BTUs, how many ducts will be utilized, where they are positioned, and how many vents there are.  Additionally, the entire system will need to be properly balanced so that the AC works efficiently.

Duct sizing is based on the air volume that will be produced and the velocity at which it will be flowing through the ducts.  Determining the proper combination of these factors with the AC that will be used is essential to having a duct system that works efficiently.  A good rule of thumb for proper air flow is to have anywhere from 600 to 900 feet per minute of air flow flowing through the ducts.  To reach this, the cubic feet per minute will be determined, which will then be compared with a standard friction rate of 0.1 inches of water per 100 feet.  This calculation will result in an appropriate duct size for either rectangular or round ducts based on the size of the building and how powerful the AC is.

Air ducts should be properly sized prior to being installed.   Call The Clean Air Act, Inc. today to learn more about AC installation!


Features to Look for When Buying an Air Conditioner

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Air conditioning systems have come a long way from the loud window units you may remember from years past. If you’re in the market for a new central air conditioner in Portland it can be overwhelming trying to navigate through all the new models and technologies available to you. The important thing to keep in mind is not what the “best” air conditioner features are, but what features are the best for you. New and improved options are only relevant if they’re options that you’re actually interested in. At The Clean Air Act Inc. we want to make sure that you get the air conditioner that’s right for you and your home. Here is some information to give you an idea of what features are available and whether or not you will benefit from them.


The ability to program your air conditioner’s output is a great way to fight inefficiency. Programmable thermostats paired with zoning technology will help you cut down on your energy use and reduce utility costs. By breaking your home into cooling zones, each controlled individually from the thermostat, and cooling your home only during the necessary times of day, a programmable system can really reduce the energy and monetary concerns of running your air conditioner.


Take into account any comfort issues you know to exist in your home. If your home is consistently, uncomfortably humid, think about an air conditioner with a dehumidifying feature. Should indoor air quality be a priority for you, look into systems that continuously filter air even when the cooling system is off. Fresh air intakes and exhaust settings also allow air to be vented without cooling. With so many options available there is no reason for you to wind up with an air conditioner that will not satisfy all your comfort needs.

Keep Your Home in Mind

When it comes to a home cooling system you must keep your home’s needs in mind as well as your own. If you have preexisting ductwork then a central forced air system will be an easy installation. If you do not have the room for ductwork there are ductless mini split systems available that require only a conduit to connect the outdoor components to indoor blowers. For historic houses, look into small-duct high velocity systems to avoid virtually all renovation. There are enough air conditioning options out there to suit every individual and every home.

A home cooling system is an investment. Don’t rush into a decision. Take your time, consider your options and available features, and get the air conditioner that’s right for your Portland home. The Clean Air Act Inc. is here to answer any questions you may have, so call us anytime.