G & S Heating Cooling & Electric Blog: Archive for February, 2014

Signs that You Need Electrcial Repairs?

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Homeowners should always pay attention to potential electrical issues that need professional attention. Sometimes small occurrences can point to larger troubles that can become hazardous if left without proper repairs. In this post we’ll run through a list of some of the major signs that you need to call for electrical services in Everett, WA.

G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. has served the Puget Sound Area since 1977 with electrical repairs. Trust to our experience when you notice any of the following:

  • Continually tripped circuit breakers / blown fuses: An occasional tripped circuit breaker (or blown fuse) is usually not a cause for concern, and you will often know the source of the sudden power overload, such as plugging in a new device. But if circuit breakers are tripping regularly, it means that there is something wrong… likely your electrical system is no longer capable of supporting your power needs. You will either need repairs to your system, or an electrician can create new, separate circuits.
  • Sparking outlets: Outlets can wear down over the years if they experience frequent plugging and unplugging. This will lead to a loose outlet, which can become dangerous if it is left unrepaired. If you notice an outlet that sparks every time you put a plug into it, call an electrician to investigate and fix it. (Don’t try to unscrew the outlet plate and look into it yourself; this can be very dangerous.)
  • Flickering and dimming lights: When you see lights start to dim or flicker for no reason, it probably indicates a poor connection along a circuit that will need attention.
  • Dead outlets and switches: If you find that an outlet isn’t working or a switch isn’t providing power, and the issue isn’t because of a tripped circuit breaker, you may have damaged or loose wiring. As these can turn into fire hazards, don’t ignore the problem: call an electrician.

Don’t try this on your own!

We can’t emphasize this enough: you should never attempt electrical repairs on your own unless you are a professional electrician. The threat of injury from a high-voltage shock is not worth it. Even if you do manage to avoid injuring yourself, failed electrical repairs can cause further damage throughout your electrical system and appliances. Take the safe route: pick up the phone and call an experienced electrician.

G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. has a staff of highly trained electricians with years of experience working on all types of home electrical systems. We can keep your home safe while providing the electrical services in Everett, WA necessary to keep the power flowing.

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Stages of an Energy Audit

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

How much energy is your house losing? The purpose of a home energy audit (a.k.a. a home energy assessment) is to answer that question. Technicians come to your home and perform an exhaustive examination of various systems to find places where your house consumes excess energy. You might be surprised to learn where you are wasting power, and although the results might be a little intimidating, an energy audit is a starting point for finding new ways to save energy.

G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. takes a “whole house approach” to our services: we offer installation, maintenance, and repair on cooling and heating systems in Lynnwood, WA, as well as electrical services. But we also do energy audits to help our customers live better with improved efficiency. We are proud of the quality we bring to the job: we are members of the Comfort Institute and our energy audit technicians are BPI-certified Building Analysts.

The stages of an energy audit

Customers are often curious about what we do in an energy audit. Here are the basic stages (every audit is different):

  • Blower door tests: This test is designed to measure how airtight your home is and find out where you lose heat through air leakage. A blower door is a powerful fan that mounts onto an exterior door and draws air out of the house to lower the indoor air pressure, which in turn causes the outside air to flow inside through any breaks or leaks. Auditors locate these leaks using smoke pencils.
  • Thermographic inspection: The auditors measure the surface temperatures of your home with infrared scanning equipment to find where there are thermal defects (heat loss) in your home. They will do this inside and outside your home.
  • Ventilation inspection: The auditors will look over your home’s ductwork to locate places where there are breaks, leaks, or dust and dirt build-up.
  • Insulation inspection: The auditors see if your insulation levels are where they should be to prevent heat loss and heat entry.
  • HVAC inspection and testing: The inspectors will examine your heater and air conditioner to see how efficiently they are using power and if they are draining extra energy.
  • Estimate energy use of light and appliances: Since the energy from your lights accounts for 10% of your electric bills, the inspectors will find places where more energy-efficient bulbs could help you save money. They will also look over the efficiency of major appliances.

Professional energy audits

You can find “do-it-yourself energy audit” guides online, but the U.S. Department of Energy advises that you call trained professionals with advanced equipment (like blower doors) to perform the most thorough job. It’s easy to schedule an audit for your Lynwood, WA heating systems and other energy-consuming appliances in your home: just call our specialists at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. today.

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How Do Attic Fans Help My Heating System?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

During a long summer, the attic in your home will reach scorching temperatures from the sun striking the roof. Often, the mercury in the thermometer can rise to 120°F inside the attic, usually a good 30°F warmer than the weather outside. This congestion of heat can travel down into your home and raise the temperature, which puts extra strain on your air conditioning. Installing electric attic fans can stop this problem, since they can lower the temperature down to match the outdoors.

This is good for the summer. But do attic fans serve a purpose during the colder months? Are they any benefit to heating systems? There are, and we’ll talk about how an attic can help make the colder months easier on furnaces in Lynwood, WA. Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. for help with heating or setting up attic fans.

What attic fans can do for you in colder weather

While an attic is a hot zone in summer, during the winter it will become a humid zone where water vapor from the rest of house—showers, humidifiers, the kitchen—rises and becomes trapped. This humidity can cause rot and mildew which will enter your heater’s vents. However, the motion of an attic fan can draw in drier outside air to reduce the problem. It is best to equip the fan with a humidistat, which measures humidity levels, to turn it on whenever the humidity climbs above a set level. In fact, in many building codes, attic fans are required to prevent moisture damage during winter.

Attic fans can also help push warmer air down into your home. Many people don’t realize that the rotation of a fan set in a ceiling affects the direction that it moves air, and it should rotate different directions depending on the season. During warm weather, the fan should move in a counter-clockwise motion, which creates the sensation of fanning yourself. But during the colder weather, you should change the direction so it goes clockwise. (Usually there is a small switch above the fan blades that toggles the direction of fan rotation.) This motion pushes up the air and pulls the warmer air trapped at the ceiling down the sides of the room, helping to evenly distribute it. For an attic fan, this will stop heat gathering at the peak of your house and push it down lower.

Attic fans will still do most of their best work during the summer, keeping the air in your attic moving so it doesn’t stagnate at high temperatures. But if you know how to use them, they can also help your heating system. Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. today to arrange for attic fan installation. When it comes to heating homes, from attic fans to furnaces in Lynwood, WA, trust to us.

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Are Solar Water Heaters a Good Investment?

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Today, solar energy is as flexible as any source of energy. With current solar technology, we can use the power of the Sun to run most important appliances. One excellent example: the solar water heater.

If you are thinking of gradually moving into the world of solar power, we recommend a solar water heater as your first step. We’ll explain why we think putting your money into a new solar water heater is an excellent investment. G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. has solar power specialists on staff to answer all your questions about solar water heaters in Shoreline, WA.

The benefits of a solar water heater

As with any device that uses solar power, the major benefit of a solar-powered water heater is that the energy from the Sun costs nothing. It’s 100% free. You have to spend money on the technology to capture the Sun’s radiant power, but there is no price tag on the fuel you draw from the Sun. It’s renewable as well—you don’t have to worry about running out of power.

Solar water heaters cost less than other solar installations, which is one reason we often recommend them to people who are getting started with alternative, green energy sources. Where larger solar power systems can require 5–7 years before they pay back their installation costs with their efficiency, water heaters take less time to begin saving you money—and they can last anywhere from 15 to 40 years. Once you’re past the payback period, you’re basically getting free hot water.

In 2005, the U.S. government started offering a tax credit of up to 30% off the cost of solar water heater installation. The rebate does not apply to swimming pool heaters, and you will need to have your system certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation before you receive the credit.

Investing in a solar water heater is also an investment in the planet’s future. According to studies, the annual carbon dioxide of standard residential water heaters in North America is roughly equal to that from cars and trucks. This means that installing a solar water heater is equivalent to purchasing an electric car when it comes to the environment.

In order to receive the full benefits of a solar water heater, you need to have experts size it so it will be able to supply the necessary amount of hot water for your family’s needs, and install it so it will run efficiently. G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. can take care of all the steps for you, and we also have excellent repair and maintenance services. When you want to go solar, start with one of our solar water heaters in Shoreline, WA.

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Electrical Needs for a New Entertainment System

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Home technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last few decades. Today, homeowners can assemble entertainment systems that rival old movie theaters, using cutting edge audio and video components to watch movies, play games and even surf the Internet as they never have before. If you’re setting up a new entertainment system, you’re basically preparing a new centerpiece for your household, with a lot of different components that need to work together. In the midst of your preparation, don’t forget the electrical needs for a new entertainment system. Here in Everett WA, electrical installation services can help you with the specifics, but you need to be aware of them before you begin.

Entertainment systems require a lot of power to use, particularly the screen which can use a considerable amount of electricity depending on how large it is. Furthermore because they are usually grouped very close to each other, homeowners tend to plug them all into the same outlet (possibly using a surge protector for insurance and/or to provide enough plugs). This can place an inordinate load on the outlet in question, which could lead to an overload and a short if you aren’t careful. In the worst cases, it might even damage your equipment in the process.

Running cables to additional outlet can mitigate the problem, but in those cases, you have to take care to keep them from running across walkways and creating a tripping hazard. And again, without proper surge protection, you’re looking at a potential electrical hazard that could short out one or more components.

A trained electrician can help with all that, first by inspecting the space and then providing recommendations on the best way to meet the electrical needs for a new entertainment system. He or she can install new outlets and run new lines for you, and ensure that your system is well-balanced in the process. He or she can even run cables through the walls so you don’t have to worry about tripping over them.  Electrical services are provided by the Everett, WA electrical installation experts at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical Inc. We’re ready to help you with every step of your project so give us a call today!

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What’s Required for Ductless Heating Installation

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Ductless heating systems make a viable alternative to traditional centralized systems that most people are used to. They divide your home into sections, each heated by its own separate unit. Some systems use heat pumps, which combine the features of a heater and an air conditioner into one. Other versions rely solely on heating and don’t include an air conditioning options. In towns like Mill Creek WA, ductless heating makes a ton of sense because comparatively mild climate works better in conjunction with the technology. Before you sign up for an installation, however, you should know what’s required for ductless heating installation.

The good news is that it’s not much. Ductless units require an outdoor as well as an indoor unit, which means you typically have to install them along an outside wall in order for them to function. You also need at least 18 inches of clear space around the edges to allow it to properly vent and to convey conditioned air. Keep the outside area clear of leaves, twigs and other debris, since they can cause problems if they black a vent or get caught up inside the system.

Beyond that, it’s mainly a question of determining how many units can adequately heat your home and where they can be placed to do the most good. Generally speaking, you’d like one unit for each room in your house, not counting bathrooms and hallways. Each person’s home is different, however, and each one needs specific set-ups in order to make the system work. Before you schedule an installation, you should have your technician thoroughly inspect your home and determine the best number and location of the heating units in order to best warm your space.

When considering what’s required for ductless heating installation, it pays to have a knowledgeable partner on your side. The Mill Creek, WA ductless heating system experts at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical Inc., heating systems are one of our areas of expertise, and we can help you set up a ductless heating system with courtesy and care. Pick up the phone and give us a call today!

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Are Ductless Heating Systems the Same as Heat Pumps?

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Most heating systems in modern homes use ductwork. Furnaces and heat pumps are “force-air” systems that send their conditioned air through ventilations channels using blower fans.

However, “ductless” systems have grown in popularity in homes. Originally used in businesses, primarily restaurants, ductless heating systems have entered the residential sphere and allow greater flexibility in home construction, as well as offering an ideal solution to add-on rooms for homes.

But “ductless” only indicates the lack of ducts: what kind of heat system lies at the center? The answer is “a heat pump”—at least most of the time. If you are interested in the installation of ductless heating in Everett, WA, contact our specialists at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc.

What ductless systems really are

The reason we qualified ductless heaters as heat pumps “most of the time” is that by their nature, boilers and other radiant heating systems do not use ducts either. They instead heat water and circulate it through pipes to terminal points that radiat out heat.

However, in the professional HVAC world, the term “ductless heating” refers specifically to ductless mini split heat pumps. In most ways they are identical to standard split heat pumps, with refrigerant cycling through the system, moving heat from one place and depositing it in another.

The difference lies in how the unit is split. A standard heat pump has an indoor and outdoor unit, and the indoor unit uses a single air handler to blow the conditioned air through the ductwork. But with a ductless system, there are multiple smaller indoor units: basically, air handlers containing refrigerant coils. These blowers are mounted in separate locations (usually up high on a wall), and each one has its own refrigerant line running to the outdoor unit. The blowers send the conditioned air directly into each room, bypassing the need for ducts. An added benefit of having separate blower units is that it allows people to individually control temperatures and the homeowner no longer needs to heat or cool rooms no one is using.

How can I have a ductless system installed?

First of all, you need to know if a ductless mini split heat pump is your best choice. They work well for new home construction and for add-on rooms. If you already have ducts, you might consider using a standard heat pump and installing zone control. Consult with heating experts if you’re interested in ductless heating in Everett, WA.

G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. specializes in ductless mini split heat pumps, and we can determine the best way to bring you the heating you want for your home. Call us today to schedule an appointment to see if ductless will work for you. Even if it isn’t the optimal choice, we’ll have fantastic alternate options.

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Benefits of Installing Attic Fans

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Fans in the attic? The idea at first may sound odd. We usually think of fans as blowing somewhere in our home where we can feel their effects, like hanging from ceilings or mounted in windows. Few people spend more time in their attic than they absolutely must, so it seems useless to install fans there.

However, attic fans can form an important part of maintaining the overall efficiency of your air conditioning system. If you’ve taken all the steps you can to keep your HVAC system working its best (regular maintenance, duct cleaning, changing the filter, proper insulation), attic fans will take you a step beyond. We’ll explain why putting in attic fans will benefit you.

For all your needs for electrical repair in Everett, WA, and for assistance with heating, air conditioning, and water heaters, contact our trained staff at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc.

How attic fans can help you

Attics are both heat traps and heat escape routes. You can use insulation to stop heat from escaping in winter, but what about summer, when heat gathers in the attic and creates excessively high temperatures that will seep into other parts of your home? (Go up into your attic on a hot day and see what it’s like. It can be miserable. You don’t want any of that to get to rooms you actually use.) To stop summer attic heat, you’ll need attic fans.

Attic fans should be wired to a thermostat that will turn the fan on based on the temperature. This saves energy since you won’t have to keep the fan on constantly or continually check on it. The movement of air in the attic will lower the high temperature.

The first benefit is the most obvious: your home will not get as hot during the summer. On average, the temperature in the attic will decrease 50 degrees with a fan, which means a drop of 10 degrees in your house.

This not only translates into comfort, it also means savings on your energy bills. A cooler house requires less work from an air conditioner to cool it. You’ll spend less, and your air conditioner will not receive extra stress that will lead to repairs and possibly an early replacement.

Attic fans will also extend the life of your roof. Rising moisture in your home will get into the roof, eventually creating mold in the insulation and the roof material. In winter, the freezing moisture can be extremely damaging. Attic fans move moisture away and keep it from settling.

Call for attic fan installation for summer

Get ready for the summer weather with the attic fans that will increase your air conditioning efficiency. Proper installation of automated fans requires the work of an excellent electrician. Look to G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. We’ve specialized in installation and electrical repair in Everett, WA since 1977.

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The Original Valentine’s Day Greeting Cards

Friday, February 14th, 2014

It’s hard to imagine Valentine’s Day without the traditional greeting cards, whether accompanying a gift of flowers and candy, or sent between children in a school room. For commercial greeting card companies, February 14th is as important to them as the December holidays, Easter, and Mother’s Day.

Valentine’s Day as a celebration of romantic love predates printed greeting cards by a few centuries. In fact, the reason that sending romantic greeting cards became popular was because of the most un-romantic thing you can imagine: a reduction in postage rates.

In 1765, Parliament authorized the creation of “Penny Posts” that used a uniform rate of one old penny per letter throughout Great Britain and Ireland. Printers took advantage of the ease with which people could send letters to each other on Valentine’s Day by crafting cards with love poems on them. Many of these verses were collected in 1797 in the book The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which was a resource for the lover with a romantic soul but not the most confident poetry style.

By the mid-19th-century, the Valentine’s Day greeting card was flourishing across England. Although people still followed a tradition of creating handmade Valentine’s Day cards from lace, ribbons, and flowers, commercially produced cards now overtook them. In 1835, the English post office mailed 60,000 valentines. As production expenses dropped, the English card manufacturers branched out creatively with humorous and sometimes vulgar cards… many of which we would find startlingly familiar in the 21st century. One of the common jokes on these cards was to design them to look like marriage certificates or court summons.

Across the Atlantic, the United States was slower to embrace the popular British custom. It wasn’t until 1847 that a U.S. printer mass-produced greeting cards for Valentine’s Day. Only two years later, American journalists noted how rapidly people in the country had embraced the tradition, turning into a fad that has never died down. The woman who printed the first U.S. Valentine’s Day card, Esther Howland, is today recognized by the Greeting Card Association with the annual “Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary.”

The greeting card industry certainly has reason to thank Ms. Howland. Her idea of going into business printing romantic greeting cards, which came to her after she received a traditional English valentine when she was 19 years old, now sells 190 million cards in the U.S. every year. That number doesn’t include the smaller exchange cards used in elementary school classrooms, which would swell the number to 1 billion. (Who receives the most Valentine’s Day cards each year? Teachers!)

Whether you send out Valentine’s Day cards—handmade, store-bought, digital—or not, we at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. hope you have a happy February 14th.

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How Ductless Heating Systems Save You Money

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

When people think of heating, most people think of centralized systems like boilers or forced-air furnaces. There’s another option when it comes to heating your home, however: ductless heating systems, which divide your home into different sections each warmed by its own individual unit. Ductless heating systems make a lot of sense in Shoreline, and while the cost of installation may be higher than central furnaces, that additional cost comes back to you in numerous different ways.

Here’s a short list of how ductless heating systems save you money:

  • Lower monthly costs. Ductless heating is usually much more efficient than centralized heating, which means it doesn’t cost as much to do the same job from month to month. Depending upon how often you use it, it can cut down on your monthly heating bills considerably, perhaps even recouping the original cost of installation over time.
  • Tailored heating. One of the benefits of ductless heating is the ability to raise or lower the temperatures in individual rooms to suit individual comfort levels. Simply turn the heat up on one unit and down on another. By extension, you can shut off the heat in parts of the house you aren’t using, which will drop your monthly heating costs a great deal.
  • Reduced repair costs. When the need for repairs comes up, a ductless heating system can save you money there as well. Because it entails individual systems, replacement parts tend to be cheaper, and because there are usually fewer moving parts than there are with forced air furnaces. Furthermore, you won’t be as inconvenienced when breakdowns occur, since you can simply move to parts of the house without faulty units until the problem can be repaired.

If you know how ductless heating systems save you money, the next step is to contact an installation service that knows how to do the job right. In Shoreline WA, ductless heating installation can be performed by G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. Heating systems are our business and we’re dedicated to doing the job right the right time, every time. Pick up the phone and give us a call today!

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