Archive for December, 2013

New Year’s Traditions Explained

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

2014 is almost upon us, and with the coming of the New Year, we thought we’d take a brief look at some of the more popular traditions associated with this holiday. It’s been around for at least 4,000 years: as long as we’ve figured out how long it takes for the seasons to come and go. Here’s a quick discussion about some of our more modern traditions and where they started:

  • Auld Lang Syne. The famous song began in Scotland, where it was published by Robert Burns in 1796.  He claims he initially heard it sung by an elderly resident of his hometown, which suggests it has traditional folk origins even before that. It became even more popular when big band leader, Guy Lombardo, started playing it every New Year’s Eve, starting in 1929 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.
  • The Dropping of the Ball in Times Square. The tradition of dropping the ball in Times Square started in 1907. It was made out of iron and wood with light bulbs located on the surface, and the ball originally “dropped” over the offices of the New York Times at One Times Square. Dick Clark famously broadcast the event every year from 1972, until his death in 2012.
  • The Rose Parade. The Tournament of Roses Parade has been held in Pasadena every year since 1890; taking advantage of California’s warm weather to present a parade of floats, bands and horses. A football game was eventually added to the festivities in 1902, when Michigan dominated Stanford’s team by a score of 49-0
  • Baby New Year. The use of a baby to signify the New Year dates back to Ancient Greece, where it symbolized the rebirth of Dionysus (the God of wine and parties). Early Christians initially resisted the pagan elements of the story, but soon came to adopt it since it matched the traditional Christmas symbol of baby Jesus in the manger. Today, people of all faiths and traditions refer to the New Year as a baby, representing new beginnings.

Whatever traditions you choose to celebrate, we here at The Clean Air Act Inc. wish you the very safest and happiest of New Years. May 2014 bring you nothing but the best!

Longer Days Ahead: Why Winter Solstice Is a Reason to Celebrate

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Holiday greetings from all of us at The Clean Air Act!

December is a time of celebrations across the globe, despite the cold weather that affects much of the countries in the Northern Hemisphere. In fact, the cold weather is one of the reasons that it is so important for people to embrace celebrations of light, color, food, and warm drinks—what better way to cheer up during a time of short days and low temperatures?

There is another reason to feel joy at the end of December, regardless of your religion or culture: an astronomical event called winter solstice.

Four astronomical markers divide the seasons on planet Earth: two solstices and two equinoxes. Equinox (a combination of the Latin words for “equal” and for “night”) is the point in Earth’s orbit when its axis is parallel to the Sun. Solstice (from the Latin words for “sun” and “to stand still”) is the point in orbit where the Earth’s axial tilt points toward the Sun. During the equinoxes, which occur at the start of spring (vernal equinox) and fall (autumnal equinox), the periods of day and night are the same length. During the solstices, which occur at the start of summer (June solstice) and winter (winter solstice), either day or night is at its longest period. June solstice is the longest day of the year; winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year.

Occurring on the 20th or the 21st of the month (this year it falls on the 21st), winter solstice marks the official beginning of winter, but also the point at which the days start to grow longer once more. The sun, which has dropped lower in the sky since the June solstice (June 20-21) and reaches its lowest point above the horizon on noon on winter solstice, once again begins to rise.

From the earliest human prehistory, people have recognized the winter solstice as an important event in their lives. When winter survival was difficult for early human societies, the sight of the sun beginning to rise in the sky once more was a symbol of hope and a reason to celebrate.

(All of the above applies to the Northern Hemisphere of Earth. The equinoxes and solstices flip in the Southern Hemisphere. For example, in Australia, Christmas is a summer holiday.)

However you commemorate and observe this time of year, we hope you and your family have a joyful and safe season!

Air Handler Problems We Often See

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Forced-air heating is a common way to provide warmth for a house. If you have a heat pump or a furnace installed, it uses the distribution of heated air through ductwork and out vents to deliver you the temperature necessary to enjoy a comfortable winter season in Oregon.

A key component of forced-air systems is the air handler, which is responsible for the movement of air through the ducts. Air handlers are different from system to system—a furnace air handler isn’t like a heat pump air handler—so repair work requires technicians with extensive and broad training. When you need that kind of professional heating repair service in Portland, OR, the people to turn to are the experts at Clean Air Act.

A few common air handlers issues

  • Air filter clogs: The most frequent trouble to afflict air handler comes from the filter designed to protect the interior of the heating system. The air filter must be changed regularly (we recommend once a month during the height of the heating season) or the amount of dirt and debris trapped in it will begin to restrict air flow—and worse, damage the filter so the debris infiltrates it and harms the inside of the air handler.
  • Burnt-out motors: Motors are responsible for running the air handler fan. If left without regular maintenance and cleaning, or if a large amount of dust enters the handler, the motors will strain to work and eventually burn out. Dusty motor bearings are one of the most common reasons for motors running down. If an air handler motor burns out, a professional will need to replace it.
  • Damaged fan belts: The most exposed section of the air handler, and the one most susceptible to damage, is the blower motor fan belt. It operates similar to the fan belt in a car engine, although you shouldn’t attempt to replace an air handler belt just because you know how to change a car engine belt: the job requires specific skills. If the fan belt becomes cracked or comes loose entirely, it will threaten to damage other components inside the air handler, so the belt needs to be replaced as soon as you discover something is wrong. (Usually a violent clacking sound.)

If the air handler in your furnace or air pump breaks down, it won’t matter how effectively the rest of the system runs: you will have zero airflow from the vents, and therefore zero heating. Call for professional repairs before the problem grows too large. You should also enroll in routine maintenance with a trusted HVAC company so you will catch air handler problems early and keep your system clean and functioning its best.

You can reach Clean Air Act 24 hours a day when you need heating repair in Portland, OR. Look into our maintenance program to help take good care of your air handler and all parts of your heating system.

3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Attempt to Install Your Own Heater

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

If the time has come to replace your decrepit old heater, or if you’ve just built a new home, you’ve probably thought to yourself at least once, “Why can’t I save some money and handle the installation myself?”

We hope you quickly discarded this thought. But if it’s still knocking around in your brain, we’ll give you 3 very good reasons why you should entrust this large undertaking to a professional, experienced company. Once you see that you should go to the experts, we hope you will choose Clean Air Act for your Portland, OR heating installation.

1. It may be illegal

This depends on local codes and the type of heater you plan to install. However, in many jurisdictions, laws prevent anyone without a permit from installing or repairing a gas-powered appliance that connects to a municipal supply line, or that connects to any sort of exhaust system. You can check local laws to make sure… but the better route is simply to entrust the job to someone who does have a permit: a professional installer.

2. It may be dangerous

There are some good reasons why city and state laws often prohibit homeowners without licenses and permits from doing their own installations. The main one is that unskilled work on a heating system presents major health hazards. Work with natural gas lines can lead to leaks that expose people to toxic fumes and the risk of explosions; electrical heaters carry the danger of high voltage shocks. Even if you manage to install a heater without injuring yourself, you won’t know if the heater is running safely: a gas-powered heater could slowly leak carbon monoxide, and an electric heater could be a potential fire hazard because of faulty wiring.

3. It will need further repairs

It’s almost guaranteed that if you try to perform an installation without any professional assistance, you will not get the job done effectively. Although the heater may appear to run adequately, it will soon start to malfunction and require repairs. The money you “saved” by going solo will end up spent on numerous repairs to keep the system running. Eventually, you will need to scrap the whole heater earlier than you would have if you relied on professional installation from the beginning.

We understand that homeowners like to feel self-sufficient and want to find ways to save money. But a complex home heating system is not a place where you should cut corners or experiment with your toolkits. Too much rides on this system working properly. Stay safe and warm—and legal—by calling in an expert HVAC company for your Portland, OR heating installation.

Clean Air Act offers comprehensive installation on many different kinds of heating systems. Contact us today to get started with a superb installation for your home.

How to Heat Your Home Cleanly and Efficiently

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Two major concerns that homeowners face today when it comes to providing their houses with warmth during the winter: how to save money, and how to have improved indoor air quality. Nobody wishes to waste money unnecessarily, and with the high cost of heating, homeowners want to find ways to cut back on those expenses. And indoor air quality is now a major health concern in the U.S., where people spend 85% of their time inside.

It isn’t difficult to find ways to heat your home efficiently and cleanly. If you turn to a quality heating service, you will find there are many methods toward achieving safe and energy-saving warmth.

Here are some ideas from Clean Air Act to improve your heating in Portland. Contact us for more information or for professional heating service in Portland, OR, including installation, maintenance, and repairs.

Maintain an energy-saving thermostat level

You might not know it, but you may have your thermostat set at a temperature that is draining power without giving you any better comfort. A recommended indoor temperature for winter during the day time is 68°F; most people will find this comfort enough with the addition of an extra layer of clothes. At night, lower the temperature to 58°F. These changes can mean savings of nearly 20% off your bill annually.

Install air cleaners

A mechanical filter or an electronic air filter can remove allergens and contaminants from your home. HEPA filters are among the best: they remove up to 99.9% of all contaminants. Electronic air cleaners ionize the air to separate smaller particles.

Go with a ductless heating system

If you are thinking of installing a new heating system, consider having a ductless mini split heat pump put in. Without ductwork, you won’t have to worry about pressure loss, inefficiency from duct breaks, or dust and dirt contamination.

Schedule regular maintenance

The best way of all to make sure your heater keeps your air clean and your budget protected is to have an HVAC technician give it an annual check-up, cleaning, and tune-up. You’ll have a heater running at its best and cleanest after each yearly visit. This will also mean fewer repair emergencies in the future.

Clean Air Act offers a three-tiered maintenance program to fit your budget needs. We install many different air filters and electronic cleaners, and also install ductless mini split systems. We are your one-stop Portland, OR heating service company when you want more efficient and cleaner performance from your heater.