Archive for August, 2014

The Very First Labor Day Celebration

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Labor Day as a federal holiday, held on the first Monday of September, has been with us now for 120 years. President Grover Cleveland signed the law that made Labor Day a national holiday in 1894. Ever since then, the three-day weekend has provided people in the U.S. with the opportunity for vacations, time with their families, shopping trips, and a general celebration of the conclusion of summer and the beginning of fall.

However, there were twelve years of Labor Day observations in the U.S. before it became an official holiday. The first Labor Day celebration took place in 1882 in New York City on September 5. According to the accounts from the time, it had a rough start and almost didn’t happen.

The main event planned for that first Labor Day was a parade along Broadway that was to start at City Hall. However, the parade ran into a bit of a snag early on. The marchers started to line up for the procession around 9 a.m., with a police escort to make sure the event went peacefully. However, the problem of the day wasn’t rowdy members of the parade—it was that nobody had remembered to bring a band!

With people ready to march, but no music to march to, it started to look like no parade would happen at all, and the first Labor Day would have ended up a failure. But just in time, Matthew Maguire of the Central Labor Union—one of the two men who first proposed the celebration—ran across the City Hall lawn to the Grand Marshal of the parade, William McCabe, to inform him that 200 men from the Jeweler’s Union of Newark were crossing the ferry to Manhattan… and they had a band!

At 10 a.m., only an hour late, the band from Newark walked down Broadway playing a number from a popular Gilbert and Sullivan opera. They passed McCabe and the other 700 marchers, who then fell in line behind them. Soon, the spectators joined in, and an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people marched through Lower Manhattan.

According to the New York Times, “The windows and roofs and even the lamp posts and awning frames were occupied by persons anxious to get a good view of the first parade in New York of workingmen of all trades united in one organization.”

The parade concluded two hours later when the marchers reached Reservoir Park. But the party was only getting started. Until 9 p.m., some 25,000 people celebrated with picnics and speeches and beer kegs. It was an enormous success, and all thanks to the speedy arrival of jewelers carrying band instruments.

If those musicians from Newark hadn’t shown up, perhaps we wouldn’t have the holiday opportunity that we now have every year. However you celebrate your Labor Day, our family at The Clean Air Act wishes your family a happy end of summer.

Air Conditioner Sizing: Why It’s Important

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

When selecting an air conditioner for a home, one factor installers must give serious consideration is the system’s size. In this case, “size” doesn’t mean how much space the cooling system takes up (although that is, of course, something they must consider) but how powerful it is in term of cooling capacity.

Correctly sizing an AC is more important than you may realize. You need your air conditioner to have enough cooling power to keep your home at the right temperature, but an AC that is too powerful will also cause serious problems. This one of the reasons that it’s vital for only professionals to handle installation for an air conditioner—any mistake can lead to a poorly working system that will need to be replaced.

For skilled technicians to size and handle air conditioning installation, look to the experienced teams at Clean Air Act.

When An Air Conditioner Is Too Small…

An AC that cannot provide sufficient cooling capacity will fail to keep the temperature in a home at a comfortable level. It will also unevenly distribute cooling, so that more distant rooms will contain hot spots. The AC will run longer than it should, trying to make up for its lack of cooling power with constant operation, and this will cause the system to age rapidly. It will also significantly raise your utility bills. You may think that a smaller system will save your money, but in the long-run it will cost you money.

When An Air Conditioner Is Too Large…

It may seem odd that an oversized air conditioner can present problems. Why not just turn it down? But the problem with an air conditioner that is too large for the space it is required to cool is that the system will begin to “short-cycle”: it will lower the temperature in the nearest rooms so rapidly that the thermostat will register it has completed the cooling cycle and shut off the compressor early. The compressor will then turn back on shortly after, only to shut down again… and so on. This constant “stop-start” has the same damaging effect you would expect to occur with a car engine doing the same thing: it will wear down faster. Short-cycling also wastes energy, since air conditioners draw the most power when the compressor starts up. The system won’t provide even cooling, either, since the cooling will shut off too soon for the conditioned air to reach the rest of the home.

Have Your Air Conditioner Sized Professionally

In both cases, there is little that repairs can accomplish to fix these problems. You will need to replace the under- or oversized system and start over.

You can avoid this major hassle and expenditure by making sure to hire only experienced technicians to size an air conditioner. Trained installers will perform a heat load calculation for your home to determine exactly the amount of cooling load necessary to keep it comfortable. After that, the installers will have no trouble selecting the AC that will do the ideal job.

Make your first call for air conditioning installation in Beaverton, OR to Clean Air Act. We will make certain that you receive the right AC to keep you comfortable any time of the year.

3 Common Geothermal Repairs

Friday, August 15th, 2014

One of the major advantages of having a geothermal system to provide your home with heating and cooling is that it will last for many decades; the ground loops will often endure for more than 50 years. Geothermal heat pumps require fewer repairs than most other home comfort systems, but they will still need occasional professional attention, as well as annual maintenance.

If you detect problems with your geothermal heat pump—such as a drop in cooling or heating power, strange noises from the indoor cabinet, or indications of leaking from the ground loops—call for repairs immediately from technicians experienced with geothermal work. At Clean Air Act, we provide air conditioning repairs in Portland, OR that can take care of your geothermal system, no matter what is wrong with it.

Some of the More Common Geothermal Heat Pump Repairs

  • Acid flushing the ground loops: Geothermal heat pumps can work in closed-loop configurations, where the same refrigerant circulates through the loops; or in open-loop configurations, which connect to the water line that brings in fresh water. An open-loop configuration can develop an accumulation of deposits that will increase water pressure and even block the loops. Technicians can use an acid-flush to eliminate the obstructing build-up in the loops.
  • Sealing ground loop leaks: The plastic ground loops are designed for decades of service, but they can still suffer from leaking at times. Fortunately, sealing a leak will only require targeted digging that can be done quickly and with little interruption to your life. The technicians will first place a colored dye into the refrigerant, and then locate where the dye color reaches the surface of your property. This will identify where they need to dig to seal the leaks.
  • Standard heat pump repairs: Geothermal systems are heat pumps that use the earth for an exchange medium, and therefore they can require the standard repairs for the indoor cabinet that other heat pumps encounter: burnt-out motors, failed capacitors, stuck reversing valves, iced-over coils, damaged fan blades, etc. These repairs are no more difficult for a geothermal heat pump than they are for a standard heat pump.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems are more extensive than standard air-source heat pumps, so they need to have experts familiar with their layouts perform any necessary repairs. You can’t simply turn to any HVAC company that handles heating and air conditioning repairs to handle the work. Look to a company like Clean Air Act. We have more than a decade of experience working on geothermal systems in Portland, OR. Along with repairs, we also do installation and maintenance work.

How Can a Bad Capacitor Affect Your AC?

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Essential components of your air conditioning system (and most electro-mechanical machines) are the capacitors. A capacitor is used to store energy in an electrostatic field. Attached to motors, capacitors perform the job of stabilizing voltage and providing the necessary jolt to start the motor in the first place. In an air conditioner, capacitors are connected to the three main motors: the compressor motor, the blower motor, and the outdoor fan motor. Each of these has a separate capacitor to start it up (the start capacitor) and to keep it running (the run capacitor).

Failing capacitors are one of the common reasons for malfunctions in an AC. Thankfully, if you catch capacitor problems in time, repair technicians and easily swap them out for new ones without any serious effect to the AC. However, if bad capacitors are ignored, you may end up with a non-functioning air conditioning system right when you need one the most.

For urgent air conditioning repairs in Beaverton, OR, call the experienced professionals at Clean Air Act. We have 24-hour emergency service for your convenience.

Troubles from bad capacitors

The most common problem that bad capacitors can cause is “hard starting.” This is when the compressor of an AC has difficulty starting up, stutters trying to turn on, and then shuts off a short while later. There are a number of different causes for hard starting (the worst of which is a compressor approaching the end of its life), but a bad start capacitor is one of the most common. It is not always easy to diagnose that a start capacitor is the problem. A technician will examine the capacitor to see if there is visible damage to it (splitting, bulging, leaking oil) and run electrical tests to make certain.

A motor connected to a run and start capacitor may still attempt to start if one or both of the capacitors has failed, and this will result in a motor that hums and will not remain running for long. If this continues, the motor will begin to grow hot and will eventually burn out, requiring that the entire motor be replaced. If you encounter this humming sound or motors that will not stay on, stop trying to use the air conditioner and call for repairs right away.

Before a capacitor fails, it may start begin to make a clicking noise. This will help alert you to the problem before either the compressor or the fans cease working.

In most cases of capacitor problems, such as damage or a loss of charge, the capacitor will need to be replaced. Leave this in the hands of professionals, who will find the right replacement unit and will handle removing the old one safely. (Oil leaking from a capacitor can be dangerous to touch.)

Call Clean Air Act for air conditioning repair service in Beaverton, OR that will take care of failed capacitors or any other problem that can endanger the cooling in your home.