Tag Archives: heating and air conditioning

The Weather is Warming Up – Schedule Your Spring HVAC Maintenance Today!

flower toolboxIt’s that time of year again! We’ve had our first string of sunny, mild days in months, which means that Spring has officially hit the Willamette Valley. So break out those shorts and sundresses, get that summer garden started, and call your mechanical contractor!

Wait – mechanical contractor? But who cares about that when there is so much yard work to do, so many walks to take, and so much sunlight to soak up?

That’s the funny thing about Spring. The weather is great, but not so extreme that we give much thought to our heat pumps and air conditioners – after all, many of us won’t even need to kick them into full gear until Memorial Day Weekend. But ask yourself this: when was the last time you had your heat pump, air conditioner, or furnace serviced?

Don’t remember? If it’s been awhile since your system had a tune-up, this is the perfect time of year to consider having Home Comfort come out for a routine maintenance service. We’ll clean and adjust the moving parts of your system, check that everything’s operating properly, and replace your air filter to ensure that your heating and cooling equipment is operating optimally before it has to start working hard during the summer months.

When the weather is mild, we may not give much thought to our HVAC systems. But the milder months of the year – March through May, and September through October – are probably the best windows of opportunity a homeowner has to devote some time to care for their systems. If any part of your system isn’t operating properly or optimally, a licensed mechanical contractor can spot and fix the issue before it becomes a bigger, costlier problem. If you have an HVAC maintenance appointment now, while the weather is mild, you may be able to prevent your system from breaking down at the moment when you need it the most.

Need a Spring HVAC maintenance? Call Home Comfort today so you won’t worry tomorrow!

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Surge Protectors: Basic Protection Against Costly Repairs

surge protectorIf you’ve surfed past the Weather Channel lately, you may have noticed forecasts for thunderstorms in several parts of the country. When you hear that a thunderstorm is coming your way, you probably feel relieved knowing that you’ve done your best to protect your television, stereo system, and other major electronics by plugging them into a surge protector first. It makes sense, after all – in the event that your home does experience a rare power surge, replacing a flat screen television, desktop computer, top-of-the-line stereo system (or all of the above) can cost thousands of dollars! However, there may be one crucial appliance in your home that has missed out on this basic form of protection. How about your heat pump, furnace, or central air conditioner?

As we’ve mentioned in the past, a well-designed HVAC system can cost as much as a new car. At the very least, it is an investment of at least a few thousand dollars. And in the event of extreme weather, a blown-out heat pump can be far more inconvenient than a burned-up television.

Obviously, you can’t just plug your HVAC system into a power strip like the rest of your electronics. But fortunately, there are plenty of HVAC surge protectors on the market, and they may be able to provide basic protection against the kind of damage that can occur in electronics during a power surge. An HVAC surge protector works in a similar fashion to the power strips protecting your television and computer. In the event of a power surge, the surge protector can detect dangerous levels of electricity and divert that electricity to a ground wire before it can reach and damage your equipment’s electrical components. No surge protector can protect against the most powerful of surges, but in the event of a normal power surge, the protector can save a great deal of worry. And even if you don’t live in an area that’s prone to thunderstorms, installing a surge protector can be a good precaution. The most common power surges can be caused by a number of issues, including utility work, problems with a generator, or a sudden electrical glitch in an appliance that consumes a lot of power, such as a refrigerator or your HVAC system itself.

HVAC surge protectors aren’t built like your average power strip, and the best way to ensure proper installation and operation is to have it installed by a licensed mechanical contractor. Your technician can select the right surge protector model for your HVAC equipment and can safely and professionally install it, all for a reasonable price. The next time the weatherman forecasts a lightning storm in your area, you can rest easy knowing that all of your major appliances have some protection against damage.

Do you need a surge protector installed in your home? Give the experts at Home Comfort a call to schedule an appointment today!

Is Your Heating and Cooling System Ready for Winter?

Fall-Leaves-beautiful-AutumnFall is fast-approaching in the Pacific Northwest! The leaves on the trees are starting to change colors, cafés are rolling out their lines of pumpkin-flavored drinks and pastries, and, little by little, the weather is definitely getting chillier. Here at Home Comfort, we can always tell that summer is ending when our schedule begins to fill up with HVAC maintenance appointments. At this time of year, the extreme heat of summer is ebbing away, and the cold winter days have yet to set in. The beginning of fall is a great time of year to consider scheduling a routine maintenance visit for your HVAC equipment.

Routine maintenance is a service mechanical contractors perform to clean, lubricate, and adjust the many moving components of your HVAC system, as well as replace air filters and test basic equipment operations. Routine maintenance visits are performed in order to optimize the system’s performance before it has to operate in periods of extreme weather. During a maintenance visit, your HVAC technician can also point out any components that are due for replacement and notify you of issues that need to be addressed. Fixing minor issues between summer and winter can reduce the likelihood of a major breakdown occurring when you need your equipment the most – like a frigid winter day!

Whether the onset of fall or spring prompts you to call your mechanical contractor, or you’re already set up with a prepaid maintenance plan, scheduling routine HVAC maintenance can provide peace of mind and help you keep on top of caring for your heating and cooling system. If you think your equipment is due for a maintenance visit, give Home Comfort a call. Our technicians can help you make sure your family is ready for those long winter nights.

Decoding HVAC Jargon: SEER Ratings Demystified

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Industry-specific jargon can be rampant in just about any field, and the heating and cooling industry is no exception. Here at Home Comfort, we sometimes even need to catch ourselves and make sure to explain when we tell friends we work within the HVAC industry; after all, not everyone will know off the top of their heads that “HVAC” is shorthand for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. For the next few weeks we’ll be decoding some much-used but infrequently-explained terms that you may hear in a discussion about heating and cooling technology.

When it comes to central air conditioning, one of the most common industry-specific terms you might see in an advertisement will be the unit’s “SEER” rating. It comes up in radio, television, and newspaper advertisements all the time – next to a splashy photo and company logo, you may see something like: “We have 20-SEER air conditioners in stock!” In addition, a savvy friend or neighbor may have told you that it’s not worth your while to buy an air conditioner with a SEER rating of anything less than 13. But what, exactly, does SEER stand for, and what do those numbers really mean? Gaining a greater understanding of SEER ratings and their applications can help you make a more informed decision the next time you go out to shop for a central air conditioning unit.

Let’s start with what the term “SEER” stands for. SEER is an acronym which stands for “seasonal energy efficiency ratio.” This term was defined and developed by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, an organization that sets the standards for the heating and cooling industry in the United States. SEER is a mathematical calculation that divides the unit’s entire cooling capacity during normal periods of operation by its entire electric energy input during the same period of time. Simply put, the higher a unit’s SEER rating is, the less electricity the system is using to keep you cool. And if the system is using less electricity to keep you cool, it usually means that the unit is more energy-efficient. A system’s SEER rating is especially important to families living in warmer climates, such as Arizona or Texas, where air conditioning season typically lasts much longer than other parts of the country.

If you’re going to use your knowledge of SEER ratings to your advantage, you should also know some industry and government standards. First, keep in mind that in 2006, the United States government issued a requirement that all air conditioning models manufactured from that point forward have a minimum SEER rating of 13. If you have a unit manufactured before 2006, there is a chance that its SEER rating may not be that high. And while a SEER rating of 13 meets government standards, an air conditioner cannot be labeled an ENERGY STAR® model unless it has a SEER rating of 14 or higher.

Finally, in order to make sure your central air conditioning unit is living up to its full SEER-rating potential, it is important to have a licensed and trained mechanical contractor help you select and install your new HVAC system. A mechanical contractor like Home Comfort will make sure that your air conditioner is matched with the right HVAC components and installed properly, so that you can be sure your air conditioner is operating as efficiently as the advertisements claim it to be.

Is My Ducted Heating and Cooling System Outdated?

Ducted System ObsoleteThat’s a valid question since it appears we are in the middle of a ductless heat pump revolution.

If you’re a homeowner that has an older ducted system that needs to be put out to pasture, you’ve probably developed some pretty respectable calluses thumbing through all the publications and articles touting the highly efficient ductless units. Nearly every advertisement shows these sleek beauties mounted in every type of room a home can have. The overall message seems to be saying ductless systems are the best choice for when that old ducted system needs replacing.

Not so fast…Before you decide to go ductless, and convince yourself you can convert your ductwork to deliver laundry to the hamper the way a suction tube at the bank delivers your deposit to the teller, you have a little more info to absorb.

While they are an excellent choice for many applications, ductless systems are not one size fits all. The typical ductless system is best suited for small apartments, room additions and retro fit applications where adding a network of ducts would not be feasible.

Installing a ductless system that is comparable in all aspects to your existing ducted system would be an expensive blow to the family budget. And the operating characteristics are vastly different from that of your current system. For a household that is accustomed to having the heating and cooling system working in a sort of out of sight out of mind manner, the ductless system’s center of attention approach will take some getting used to.

A portion of wall space in most if not all of the rooms will need to be designated as the permanent location for the air handling unit, commonly referred to as the “head.” Large rooms may require the installation of multiple heads to adequately heat and cool the space.

Choosing the best location to mount the heads may require annexing prime real estate that is currently occupied by the prized family portrait or the shadow box shrine show casing the memorabilia of your glory days. That is if you have a choice; in most cases the unit’s operating requirements dictate where the head will need to be mounted.

Okay, so maybe you’re starting to realize that ductless is not the best option for replacing your aging HVAC equipment. But you really wanted that remote control… every time you see an ad for the ductless system there’s the awesome all controlling remote.

You’ve imagined yourself standing on the couch, waving that remote control at your new ductless unit; changing the temperature with just a click of a button..Hotter…Colder…Summer then Winter..The kids and dog watching you in total amazement, so in control of the seasons within your own living room that Mother Nature herself is taking notes.

Well that’s just weird… But having a ducted system doesn’t mean you can’t have the toys, or reap the benefits of modern technology.

Today’s air handlers, gas furnaces and heat pumps from manufacturers such as American Standard are built utilizing all the latest technology. Fully communicating systems, inverter compressors, modulating gas valves, electronic expansion valves, variable speed blower motors…What’s that? You’re in technology overload… just get to the thermostat information.

Well brace yourself…Honeywell offers thermostats that give you the power to control your heating and cooling system from far beyond the limits of both the traditional remote controller and your living room…Just imagine the look of amazement from the family when you’re commanding your heating and cooling system from five hundred miles away…with your smart phone…while standing on your Mother-in-law’s couch. Okay odds are “amazement” wouldn’t accurately describe the look on your Mother-in-law’s face. But she’ll come around when you demonstrate the full array of thermostat features that can be manipulated using your laptop, smart phone or desktop computer.

Call the experts at Home Comfort Heating to learn about all the features and options available from American Standard and Honeywell. We’ll help determine the best equipment to fit your needs and budget.

We can also help you understand the applications and benefits of a single or multi head ductless system available from manufacturers like Mitsubishi.

We’ll help you determine if a ductless system is right for your home or business.

 

Routine Maintenance: Long-Term Care for a Hard-Working HVAC System

 

On an average day in Oregon, you never know what the weather will bring!

On an average day in Oregon, you never know what the weather will bring!

It is mid-June, and the first day of summer is literally hours away, but here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the sunny weather we usually expect at this time of year has been interrupted by periods of gloomy skies and chilly rain. In fact, in the time it took to write this paragraph the weather changed from warm, clear blue skies to driving rain and back again — all in a span of five minutes!

The unpredictable weather that comes with the changing of the seasons can put us in front of our thermostats a lot, sometimes prompting us to manually adjust our temperature settings multiple times in the span of just a few days. At moments like this, think about how hard your system works to keep you comfortable! Whether you expect your system to be working hard in heating or cooling mode, it is good to be sure that everything is working properly in order to reduce the chance of unpleasant surprises on a particularly hot or chilly day.

In the same way that a car needs regular oil changes and tune ups to continue operating properly, your HVAC system is comprised of moving mechanical and electrical parts that can wear or break down over time and continued use, and can benefit from routine maintenance services. Many major repairs are related to the excessive wear or failure of a minor component, and can be avoided when detected during a routine maintenance service.

If you want to turn your HVAC maintenance into a long-term investment, you may want to consider purchasing a prepaid maintenance plan from a licensed mechanical contractor like Home Comfort. Our maintenance plans offer regular maintenance for a variety of HVAC systems over a span of one, three, or five years. The prices of a single maintenance visit under these plans are usually less expensive than a one-time maintenance visit, since you are essentially purchasing your maintenance services in bulk. Not only can a maintenance plan save you money over time; it can be especially helpful to homeowners with a busy schedule! When you purchase a maintenance plan from us, our office calls to remind you when an upcoming maintenance is approaching, so that you never forget to have your appointment scheduled.

If you’re not sure what kind of plan you should purchase, or how frequently your HVAC system should have maintenance performed, our staff is always available to explain the details of our maintenance plans and answer your questions. Contact Us and we’ll work hard to find the right maintenance plan for you!

Mitsubishi Electric’s Ads May be Playful, but Their Ductless Heat Pumps are Serious About Energy Savings

Recently Home Comfort has been featuring the following Mitsubishi Electric advertisement on our ductless mini-split webpage:

The advertisement, which has seen a lot of air time lately on national television networks, is playful in tone but makes a good point about the frustration that a lot of us face when periods of very hot and very cold weather force us to take a closer look at our thermostats. For many families, especially those with an older or inefficient system, a thermostat adjustment of just a couple degrees can translate to a noticeably higher utility bill at the end of the month.

Mini-split systems, or “ductless” heat pumps, have become the solution that a growing number of families are turning to when they make the decision to retrofit their existing heating and cooling system. When installed and used properly, ductless heat pumps can use between 25 to 50 percent less energy to operate than traditional systems, translating to lower energy bills and a higher level of comfort in summer and winter.¹ When your system operates more efficiently, suddenly a temperature adjustment of “only two degrees” doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

But ductless heat pumps aren’t just efficient; they’re convenient, too! Since no extra construction is needed to create or modify a network of air ducts, which can be quite expensive, this type of system is a good upgrade for homes that were originally built with a form of electric resistance heat, such as baseboard heaters, ceiling heat, or wall heaters.²

Home Comfort is listed as a Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Contractor, which means that our technicians and installation crews have undergone extensive training for the proper installation, repair, and maintenance of Mitsubishi’s ductless systems. More importantly, it also means we stand behind these units as our number one choice for ductless installations due to their efficiency and reliability.

And we’re not the only company or organization that is excited about the rise of ductless technology in the Northwest—for the last few years, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance has been working with regional utilities on the Northwest Ductless Heat Pump Project, which has been campaigning for higher consumer awareness about this alternative heating and cooling system. The Ductless Heat Pump Project works to set interested homeowners up with the resources and incentive programs they need to install this efficient home comfort system.

If you think installing a ductless heat pump system is a good option for your family, check out their website to learn more. And look for Home Comfort on their list of contractors – we’re a participating Master Installer!

Sources:

¹ Northwest Ductless Heat Pump Project, “Frequently Asked Questions,” http://goingductless.com/consumer/about-ductless-heating-and-cooling/FAQ

² Northwest Ductless Heat Pump Project, “Where they are Used,”  http://goingductless.com/consumer/about-ductless-heating-and-cooling/where-used

Save Time, Shop Online: Home Comfort Introduces Its New and Improved Filter Webpage

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Over the past few months, the tech team at Home Comfort has been working hard on a new and improved version of our online filter sales webpage. As of this month, our filter page is up and running with more sizes and brands of filters available for purchase than ever before! As an added convenience to our customers, we have made our filters available for purchase and delivery to any part of the contiguous forty-eight states.

Changing your air filter regularly is an important part of the overall maintenance of your HVAC system, and it’s a good idea to keep extra filters handy, in case they need to be replaced between regular maintenance visits. Since air filter access points are usually discreetly located, it can be easy to forget to change your filter on a regular basis – especially when you add a trip to the hardware store for a new filter to an already busy schedule. Home Comfort can take away some of that hassle by delivering a case of air filters directly to your door!

Never thought of keeping a whole case of filters handy? Buying goods in bulk is a common way for families to stock up on groceries and other essentials at a lower price. Why not give buying filters in bulk a try, too? Our air filters webpage offers many of our filters by the case, which keeps our prices competitive and puts less strain on your wallet in the long run. Other brands on our site, such as our Aprilaire selection, are still only available for purchase in single units, but we work hard to make sure the prices for our individually packaged filters are a bargain, too.

Do you need a custom-sized filter? Or maybe a filter with a specific MERV rating? Don’t fret! If you don’t see the filter you need on our website, contact us by phone or email. We may be able to place a special order just for you!

Carbon Monoxide and Your HVAC System

Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion, present whenever fuel is burned. It is produced by common home appliances, such as gas or oil furnaces, fireplaces, charcoal grills, and wood burning stoves. It is odorless and colorless; an unseen foe in an unprotected home.

Any of these sources can contribute to a CO problem in the home. If a home is vented properly, carbon monoxide will most likely be safely vented to the outside. But in today’s “energy efficient” homes this is frequently not the case. Tightly constructed/sealed homes can trap CO-polluted air in a home year-round. Furnace heat exchangers can crack, vents can become blocked, inadequate air supply for combustion appliances can cause conditions known as backdrafting or reverse stacking, which force contaminated air back into the home.

Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Experts believe, however, that individuals with greater oxygen requirements such as unborn babies, infants, children, senior citizens, and people with coronary or respiratory problems are at greater risk.

Why is carbon monoxide so dangerous?

The great danger of carbon monoxide is its attraction to hemoglobin in the bloodstream. When breathed in, carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen which cells need to function. When CO is present in the air, it rapidly accumulates in the blood, causing symptoms similar to the flu, such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizzy spells, confusion, and irritability. As levels increase, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and eventually brain damage or death can result.

At Home Comfort, we frequently receive calls from our customers worried about carbon monoxide poisoning in their homes.  We can quickly make a visit to your home and use a detector to determine first if there is any carbon monoxide present and if there is we can find the leak and fix it.  If you are concerned that you may have a leak or just want some reassurance that your family is safe, give us a call to schedule a visit.

Reference:

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/pages/communications/co/co1.html