Posts Tagged ‘Welches’

Why is My Central Air Conditioner Making Noise?

Monday, July 16th, 2012

A good air conditioner is a life saver in the midst of a hot and sticky summer in Portland, but just because the system makes you comfortable and makes the hottest months bearable doesn’t mean you want to hear it clanging and banging all summer. If you notice excess noise coming from your air conditioner, it might be a problem that can be fixed by your technician. Here are some common causes of excess noise from an air conditioner and what you can do to fix them.

  • Blower – The blower is a motor and fan blade assembly. If the blade touches the housing or if the motor needs a tune up, it might start to make excess noise. Loose screws, foreign objects, or a need for oiling or new parts will all cause noise problems but they are all easy fixes for a Portland AC professional.
  • Ductwork – If the sounds you’re hearing are in the ductwork or vents, it may be due to expansion and contraction in your ventilation system. This is normal and while it may be obnoxious, it tends not to persist during the hottest months as temperature won’t fluctuate as much.
  • Bubbling Sounds – If you hear a gurgly or bubbly noise coming from your indoor unit, it may be due to a blockage in the condensate line. The easiest solution is to have technican clean the condensate line and check for any clogs or blockages in the system.
  • Clicking Sounds – If you hear a clicking sound, it is likely from the relay or contactor in the system. If this is the case, have a professional check it right away. Electrical problems are not to be taken lightly where your air conditioner is concerned.
  • Foreign Objects – Sometimes, the condenser fan will make a lot of loud noise because foreign objects get stuck in there. Sticks, leaves, toys, food from small animals – it can all get stuck in the fans and make a tremendous amount of noise. Keep the area around your condenser unit clear of debris and check it often if you hear loud noises.

Most noises from your central air conditioning unit are explainable and can be fixed relatively easily. If you cannot find the source of the noise, however, and it is only getting worse, call the Clean Air Act Inc. before the problem grows.

Air Conditioning from Your Smart Phone

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Most Welches residents are getting comfortable playing games and checking emails on the tiny screens of their smart phones.  Some are even watching movies and music videos, and for many, the smart phones have become the camera of choice to record their way in the world.

But have you considered the many practical ways a smart phone can be used to perform valuable functions in your home, greatly reducing energy costs and the size of your carbon footprint? The solution to one of our biggest problems is in your hands.

Smart Homes

New technology is both visible and invisible in many more ways around your home than just your giant TV screen or computer.  New homes today are being configured with wireless technology that does much more than connect you with the World Wide Web.

From the garage door opener that welcomes you to the alarm clock that sends you on your way, improvements are capable of being built-in or retrofitted into every nook and corner of the way you live, all controlled by your fingertips on the screen of your smart phone.  The technology is available and the only impediment today is finding the way to distract average consumers from their entertainment apps to learn how they can utilize the tool to increase their comfort (and give them more time to play).

One Touch Convenience

Instead of a brash buzz from the digital alarm clock on the nightstand, imagine being lured awake by the soft sounds of classical music and the succulent aroma of your favorite coffee brewed freshly to your specification.  From your phone, you can remotely direct this dream into reality.

On a cold winter night without wastefully leaving the heat on all day or risk of burning the house down, you can return from the workplace to a cozy home with a warmth of your heating system.  The oven is pre-heated and ready to roast.  The big screen is poised to play that game you couldn’t watch last night.  Even the car has been warmed up and waiting to comfortably get you on your way.

Cool When You Need to Be

As the reality of climate change sinks in, the wacky weather patterns that are bringing unpredictable heat spells and cold snaps creates unusual inconveniences.  If a sudden cold front rolls in when your air conditioning unit was scheduled to run, you could waste a ton of energy.  But with new wireless thermostat technologies that does not have to occur.  New apps allow you to turn off your air conditioning unit from wherever you are.

From your phone away from home, the new technology enables you to check the temperature inside and out and adjust the thermostat accordingly.

The Best is Yet to Come

The growing awareness of environmental change and our ability to impact it for better or worse is creating a “can-do” attitude amongst inventors, supply-side providers and consumers.  Join the party and put your toy to work!  Call The Clean Air Act today to learn about more interesting ways to save energy and stay efficient.

How Do I Get More Fresh Air in the House During the Winter?

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Winter is a real bummer for many Welches families. It’s cold and dark outside and to top things off, you have to keep your home sealed up nice and tight so the warm air produced by your boiler or furnace doesn’t escape. Not a lot of fun. Luckily, there are solutions to help your indoor air quality in Welches. Which solution you choose will depend on a few factors, however.

The Simplest Way

The easiest way to get fresh air is to open a window. Unfortunately, it is also the most expensive way. After all, the air outside is cold and by opening a window, you force all the air you just heated outside. Most modern heating systems can compensate for the energy loss, but it will cost you quite a bit over the course of the winter to heat not only your home, but your backyard.

That’s why there is so little circulation in the winter to start with. The need for effective insulation and weather stripping to reduce energy use and fuel costs led to increasingly sealed up homes.


So, ventilation is the next best option, and while there are fans and exhaust options that allow you to circulate air into and out of your home, the most cost efficient way to do so is with a heat recovery ventilator or for those with humidity problems, an energy recovery ventilator.

These devices contain advanced heat exchangers that will transfer the heat from your indoor air into new air as it is brought into your home. As fresh air is transferred inside, the heat is passed from indoor air to the outdoor air via a heat exchanger. By retaining the heat with a recovery ventilator, you keep your energy bills low and your home filled with fresh air.

The best part is that this same technology works in the summer if you want to let in a little fresh air on a sunny day. Instead of pouring all of that cool air conditioned air outside, you can simply use an energy recovery ventilator to draw heat out of new air as it enters your home. Heat and humidity stay outside and you stay nice and cool.

There are quite a few types of energy recovery ventilators, ranging from simple heat only models to advanced heat pumps that will gather lost heat from throughout your home. The size of your home and the climate in which you live will determine which the best fit is for you.  If you have questions call Clean Air Act

How Tightly Should You Seal Your Home?

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

More and more products, like high velocity heating systems, and solutions are available to Welches residents these days to help seal our homes off from the outside world. The idea is that by keeping outside air out, our homes are more energy efficient and healthier, because all pollutants and pathogens are barred from entry.

This is a good idea in theory, but it can have its drawbacks. Most notably, sealing your home up too much can be bad for your family’s health. If your home is sealed too tightly such that there is not enough air flow from within the home to the outside and vice versa, then the indoor air just…stays indoors.

That means that all the sneezes, coughs, dust, dander, smoke and carbon dioxide stay inside with it. All that stuff can make you sick, completely flying in the face of your efforts to stay healthy by sealing your home.

Now, that’s not to say that sealing your home is a bad thing. Using LEED glass in your windows does keep heat in and increase heating efficiency. Air cleaners do help eliminate pollutants and pathogens from the outside than can make you sick. Good insulation and intact ductwork do help keep your home comfortable and efficient in both the cold and hot months.

So, sealing your home is not a bad idea. The trick is to not go overboard and seal it up so tightly that you are crossing the threshold from having a healthy home to having a giant Petri dish. You want to have a home that is insulated, but not vacuum sealed. You want a home with filtered air, but still plenty of air exchange with the outside world.  Thankfully, mechanical ventilation is a way to both keep your home energy efficient and keep your indoor air from getting stale.

To help you with this endeavor, there are guides available online, such as at the ENERGY STAR website. In addition, it is a good idea to call The Clean Air Act and ask plenty of questions when building a new home or making improvements to your current one. A qualified technician will know how to insulate and ventilate your home properly to protect your family’s health.

Crawlspace Heating Tips

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Keeping your crawlspace warm and insulated in Washington County might not seem like something that should be at the top of your priority list. However, if you really want to find ways to save money on your heating and cooling bills and keep your home as comfortable as possible, it’s definitely something you should look into.

The crawlspace of your house is generally located beneath the floor and since it’s not someplace that you’re likely to spend much time, it’s generally not insulated or sealed against the elements very securely. In some cases, heating and cooling ducts and pipes carrying hot water can run through the crawlspace as well.

The lack of insulation in the crawlspace of your house can impact your indoor environment in a couple of ways. First of all, it often means that your floor is cold to walk on and that cool air can seep in through any cracks there might be in your flooring. This infiltration of cooler air means that your home heating system will have to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature inside.

Also, the air and water traveling through the ducts and pipes in your crawlspace will be losing heat as they go, so you won’t be getting all of the heat you’re paying for on that end either. Adding insulation in your crawlspace is the best way to keep from losing heat in this way. It’s generally not a huge investment and it will save you quite a bit in the long run. It can also help your heating system last longer because it won’t have to work so hard to keep your home warm enough.

If you live in an area with relatively mild winters and hotter summers, you might think that investing in some crawlspace insulation wouldn’t be worth it for you. But the truth is that you can save just as much by keeping your cool air inside in the summer as someone in a cooler climate can by keeping hot air inside in the winter.

And insulating and heating your crawlspace isn’t just about keeping the rest of your house warm. It can also help to keep moisture problems from developing. An excess of moisture in your crawlspace can quickly allow mold to develop and too little moisture is damaging to wood and can cause your heating system to function less effectively overall.  If you have any questions about these issues please contact Clean Air Act.

Heating Replacement Checklist: 5 Reasons to Replace Your Furnace

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Many Estacada homes are heated with furnaces, since they generally provide safe and efficient heat.  Furnaces have also improved dramatically over the years as manufacturers find ways to make them more efficient. Even if your furnace has been reliable for many years, it may be worth the money to replace your old furnace with a newer, more efficient model.

Here are five major benefits to upgrading your furnace.

1. Lowering Your Utility Bills

Whether you realize it or not, your current furnace could be costing you more than it should in heating bills. If your furnace is 15-20 years old, it’s probably not heating your home as efficiently as the newer models with higher AFUE ratings. Even if your heating system has been replaced within the last ten years, the technology has advanced enough to consider an upgrade.

2. Fewer Repairs

Repair costs can add up if you are constantly repairing your furnace. Routine maintenance for your furnace can help reduce the need for repairs, but as furnaces age, they tend to need more repairs and replacement parts. If you need frequent repairs for your furnace, it may be time to replace it with a newer one.

3. More Consistent Heat

While maintaining consistent temperatures throughout your home involves several factors, such as insulation and thermostat control, your furnace could also be the reason you aren’t getting enough heat to all parts of the house. If some rooms are colder than others, or if your heating bills have recently gone up, it may be time for a furnace replacement.

4. Reduce the Chances of a Breakdown

When a furnace breaks down, it not only leaves you without heat, but it is also a major expense. Budgeting for a new furnace before it breaks down will put less financial burden on you than needing an emergency furnace replacement. Newer model furnaces are also more reliable and less likely to give you problems if maintained properly.

5. Safety

There’s higher potential for safety concerns with older or poorly maintained furnaces. In addition to fire hazards, carbon monoxide poisoning is another serious threat. When the heat exchanger stops working because it’s corroded or faulty, carbon monoxide can leak into the home. If you’ve had your furnace for more than 20 years, it could create safety hazards that you may be unaware of.

No matter how long you’ve had the furnace in your Estacada home, it’s always wise to speak with a qualified HVAC technician about furnace upgrades, particularly if you have expensive heating costs. Call The Clean Air Act Inc. today to talk with one of our heating experts about furnace upgrades.

Most Commonly Asked Questions About Heat Pumps

Monday, November 28th, 2011

If you’re thinking about buying a new heat pump for your Gresham home, chances are you have some questions about these types of products and how they work. In fact, because these types of home comfort systems are relatively new to a lot of people, there are a quite a few misconceptions out there about how effective and efficient they can be.

Recently we’ve gotten some good questions from our readers, so we thought we’d like to pass along the answers so that others can benefit from the information as well.

If I Buy a Heat Pump, Do I Have to Buy an Air Conditioner Too?

That heat pumps are only able to heat your home is probably one of the biggest misconceptions about this type of equipment. Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air in one place and transferring it to another. That means that in the winter, your heat pump is able to heat your home by taking heat from the outdoor air and moving it inside.

However, in the summer, the heat pump is able to do the same thing only in reverse. When you switch on your heat pump’s cooling function, it will be able to take the heat out of your indoor air and transfer it outside. In this way, the same heat pump system can keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer without you needing to purchase an air conditioner or other supplemental comfort systems.

If I Choose a Heat Pump System, Will I Also Need to Install Supplemental Heat?

That depends on what the climate is like where you live and how warm you like to keep your home. In general, heat pumps can keep any home comfortable as long as the outdoor temperature is above 32°F or so. If the temperature outside drops below that, you may want to have some type of supplemental heating system just in case. However, a heat pump will still be able to provide some warmth at these lower temperatures and you may be able to keep yourself comfortable with a simple space heater or two.

Also, remember that these colder temperatures are most common at night when you would probably have turned your heat down anyway. As long as you live in a relatively moderate climate, heat pumps can do a great job of keeping your home comfortable all year long.

Common Heat Pump Problems

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Heat pumps are great pieces of machinery to have in your Aurora home, but they are not perfect. They come with their own problems and issues. Usually these can be fixed pretty easily, but it’s good to know what you are looking for.

Below are some common problems encountered by heat pump owners, along with some brief troubleshooting and repair advice. However, for any serious repair job, it is recommended that you call in a professional to fix the problem. This is to ensure the best performance of your heat pump, as well as for your own safety.

  1. No Heat – Obviously, this is a problem. A heat pump should do two things—heat and cool. If it’s not heating at all, something is wrong. Sometimes, this is just a matter of the power supply being interrupted. Press the “Reset” button on the power supply. If that does not fix it, it could be that the power supply has failed or the motor is overloaded.
  2. Incorrect Temperature – For example, you set the thermostat at 72 degrees, but even after several hours, the temperature won’t get over 70 degrees. This can be a problem with the sensor in the thermostat or with the heat pump itself. However, it could also just be the result of very cold temperatures outside. Heat pumps have trouble keeping up when the weather is consistently below 30 degrees Fahrenheit or so, so it may just need help in the form of a supplemental heat supply.
  3. It’s Noisy – Heat pumps are generally designed to run very quietly, so if you notice a lot of noise, there is probably something going on. Common culprits for this type of issue include loose connections, like screws, nuts and bolts. Check for any loose fittings on the heat pump. Also, make sure the contractor who does your annual heat pump inspection tightens these fittings as part of his maintenance routine.
  4. Frozen – This can be indicative of a few underlying problems, but the most common is dirt in the air filter. When filters get clogged, the heat pump can get frosted, ultimately leading to freezing. Check the air filter and make sure to change all air filters regularly.

Heat pumps can experience other issues, but these are some of the more common ones. Generally, though, heat pumps are pretty headache-free machines. Be sure to call a professional repair person is you experience any issues with your heat pump.

Components of a Geothermal Heating System

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

A geothermal heating system has three basic components and some add-on ones as well.

Its most distinguishing feature is the ground loops. The most common is the “closed” ground loop system, which is a series of pipes that are buried underground. These pipes contain a heat transfer fluid, comprised of antifreeze and water. This fluid absorbs heat from the ground and carries it to your Estacada home. This fluid also absorbs heat from the house and sends it into the ground to keep the home cool.

Examples of closed loop systems include the horizontal closed loop, which can be used in larger parcels of land (over an acre for example). The loops are placed typically placed horizontally 6-to-10 feet below the surface. A vertical closed loop design is recommended for smaller parcels of land and loops are often buried vertically approximately 20 feet underground. Other types of ground loop designs use well water to transfer heat in an open loop configuration, or have a closed loop submerged underwater in a pond or lake.

The next component is the heat pump, which draws the fluid from the ground loop. In a heat pump, heat energy is exchanged with the ground to heat or cool the home. In the heating mode, fluid warmed from underground flows through the heat pump. A fan blows across the pipe warmed by the fluid. Because the fluid is much warmer than the air inside the heat pump, heat energy is released into the cooler air. The cool air is warmed and distributed inside the home. The process is reversed for cooling. Cool fluid in the pipe absorbs heat from the warm air inside the home. Once pumped underground, the excess heat in the fluid is absorbed by the cooler earth.

The final component is the air handling or distribution system. Here, a fan in the heat pump’s furnace blows air over a fan coil and the heated cooled air is distributed through the home’s ductwork. Some distribution systems are hydronic, where hot water is circulated through radiators or radiant floor heat tubing. This water absorbs heat from the heat pump and then distributed throughout the home.

In some homes, both a forced air and hydronic system, often referred to as a “hybrid system” work together.

Optional components include a heat pump “desuperheater,” which is used to help with domestic hot water heating. In warm weather, the desuperheater recovers some of the heat – that would otherwise be sent to the ground loop – to help produce hot water. In cold weather, some of the heat pump capacity may be diverted from space heating for the same purpose. Desuperheaters save approximately 25% on domestic water heating costs.

Another component is an auxiliary electric heater, which is built into the geothermal heat pump This auxiliary electric heat is installed to allow heating and cooling technicians to size – or resize – a home’s geothermal heat pump system to assist the system during the few coldest days of the year. Auxiliary electric heat is also an emergency backup heat source if there are any operational issues with the geothermal heat pump system.

How to Maximize Savings in Your Home

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

When you are thinking about different ways you might be able to save money around your Welches house, the tendency is to think big. Maybe you need to upgrade to a more energy efficient furnace, or it could be time to install a new central air conditioning system. Maybe it is even a good idea to switch to solar or geothermal power.

But before you do any of that, you may want to try some quick and easy ways to save money around the house with the equipment you already have. Here are 8 great ways to cut your power usage and keep those energy bills down without investing a lot in new equipment.

  1. Seal Up Your House – No matter how energy efficient the heating and cooling systems are in your house, you will be using more energy than necessary if your house is not tightly sealed. Make sure there are not cracks or places where drafts can get in and you will start saving money right away.
  2. The Right Thermostat Setting – Are you really going to notice the difference between 72°F and 69°F? Probably not, but you will save about 3% off of your monthly heating bill for every degree you turn the thermostat down. The same goes in the summer too, just backwards.
  3. Programmable Thermostats – And while we are on the subject of thermostats, it is a good idea to invest in a new one with programmable settings. That way you will be able to set your house to be warm when you will be there and you do not have to pay to keep it warm all day long if it is empty.
  4. Ceiling Fans – Ceiling fans can help keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Plus, they cost very little to run so they are a great investment.
  5. Light Bulbs – Switching to energy efficient fluorescent bulbs all over your house will save you a ton even though they cost a bit more to begin with.
  6. Lights Out – But energy efficient bulbs will only get you so far. You should also be sure to turn off the lights in any room you are not using.
  7. Power Strips – Many home appliances draw a small amount of power even when they are not turned on. Use a power strip to easily cut the power to them completely and eliminate that drain.
  8. Sealing Windows – Plenty of air can come and go through your windows as well. Upgrading to more energy efficient windows is certainly an option, but you can also help to seal up your home inexpensively by covering your windows with plastic.