G & S Heating Cooling & Electric Blog: Archive for January, 2015

Types of Surge Protectors

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

Most home have so many electronic items that it’s hard to keep track of them – that is, until they don’t work. One of the main causes of electronics burn-out is a power surge. Power surges are huge waves of electricity that flow through your electrical system in just a few seconds, but they can cause a tremendous amount of damage in that short time. In fact, according to insurance statistics, power surges can account for up to a $1 billion dollars’ worth of claims every year, with the average claim coming in around $4,300. But there is a way to help protect your electrical system and electronics from falling victim to a power surge, and that’s by installing whole-home surge protection for your Medina property.

Three Levels of Protection

There are three levels of surge protection: Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3. Type 1 and Type 2 are considered whole-home protectors because of their capabilities. Type 1 surge protectors are installed onto the main electrical line coming into your home, in front of your electric meter; this allows the surge protector to divert a surge of power before it can enter your home. Type 2 surge protectors are installed between the electric meter and your electrical box, which helps protect your home and electrical panel from a surge. Type 3 surge protectors are the strip protectors that plug into outlets. While these types of surge protectors can help protect some of your electronics, they won’t be able to protect large appliances like refrigerators or alarm systems.

How Does It Protect?

When a whole-home surge protector detects a power surge, it automatically re-directs the wave of power to a ground that is part of the system. Why is this important? Power surges can add as much as 40,000-50,000 extra amps to your home’s electrical system; the normal amperage for the average household is 200 amps. Diverting this huge amount of excess power into the ground is the safest and best option for you and your home.

Power surges can occur from weather events, faulty appliances within your home and uneven power distribution in your home. With a whole-home surge protector, you can rest assured that your home, appliances and electronics are protected. Want to find out more?

Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today and schedule an appointment with one of our electrical experts.

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Why Won’t My Geothermal Unit Turn On?

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Geothermal heat pumps are some of the most effective, efficient, long-lasting systems out there for heating and air conditioning. So if your geothermal heat pump has worked well for a while now, you’re probably surprised when a sudden issue strikes. And perhaps the most alarming concern is when the geothermal heat pump won’t turn on at all.

Here at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, we’d like to help you solve this problem with our quick guide to a couple of things you should check before calling a technician. However, our friendly technicians are here to help with comprehensive geothermal services in Snohomish if it turns out that a component of your heat pump is in trouble.

Problems you may be able to fix at home

We recommend trying a couple of things before calling a technician. First, go back to the thermostat and make sure all the settings are programmed correctly. Of course, this is likely the first thing you did, but you may not have looked into the problem too much if the settings are usually the same. We can’t tell you how many times a parent has assumed their unit was broken, only to discover a child had switched the thermostat mode from heating to cooling. Second, check to see whether your unit has tripped the circuit breaker. If so, you may still need a technician to examine the system and determine why it may be running into electrical trouble.

Repairs that should be handled by professionals only

There are several repairs that will always be best suited to a professional. If you notice that the heat pump works in cooling mode, for example, but not in heating mode, it will take a professional to identify and replace the valve that is interfering with the refrigerant flow. If there is a leak in the refrigerant line, it’s best to allow a professional to repair the unit as only select technicians are certified to handle refrigerant according to EPA standards. An amateur may accidentally inflict further damage upon the system, so it’s best to allow a specialist to handle major repairs.

Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. today to schedule geothermal services in Snohomish with a trained professional who specializes in these systems.

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How to Size a Tankless Water Heater

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Tankless water heaters are small in size and because they heat on demand, it may seem that sizing is not an issue. The truth is, a tankless water heater does have to sized for your home in order to provide you with the hot water you need, but the sizing calculation is handled differently than that of a storage tank water heater. Working with a trained expert, like the ones from G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., can help you determine what size tankless water heater you’ll need for your Bellevue home.

Water Temperature Is the Key

With a heat-on-demand system, the goal is to make sure your hot water is heated to the temperature you want; tank water heaters don’t have this issue because the water held in the tank is already heated. The first temperature to consider in the configuration is the temperature you want your hot water to be; most people keep this number to a maximum of 120 degrees. The next temperature to look at is your ground water temperature, and for that, you’ll have to take into account where you live. In our area, the average water temperature is around 50 degrees. So to achieve a hot water temperature of 120 degrees, your tankless hot water heater has to heat the water an extra 70 degrees. This is known as temperature rise.

Flow Rate

The next factor in the calculation is flow rate. Flow rate in a tankless hot water heater tells you the maximum gallons of hot water that can demand hot water at any time. Flow rate is calculated in gallons per minute (GPM) and every faucet, showerhead and spigot in your home has a flow rate in GPM. Your technician will have a standardized chart detailing the average flow rates for the various water-using appliances you may have, and add up your average hot water flow rate. Then, using the temperature rise and your daily GPM, he/she will be able to tell you what size tankless water heater will be best for your home, in GPM.

Taking the time to correctly calculate the size you need for your tankless water heater in Bellevue ensures that you’ll have all the hot water you need.

Need help? Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today and make an appointment with one of our installation specialists.

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What Can a Smart Thermostat Do for My Home?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Smart thermostats are all the rage in the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) industry today, as more and more homeowners switch over to a more efficient, “smarter” way of controlling their heating and AC systems. You might have seen smart thermostats advertised on TV, on the web, or in print recently, but you still may feel as though your existing thermostat works just fine and that a replacement would be costly. Thermostats may run into trouble over time, but you don’t have to wait for this to occur before purchasing a new unit. Smart thermostats can help make your family more comfortable, save you money and time, and give you peace of mind over the state of your system from day to day.

A smart thermostat is mounted on the wall just like any other thermostat, but it can also be controlled wirelessly—with your smart phone or tablet. Simply download an application (or view a website on any computer with internet access) and you can view the current conditions in the home and make some adjustments to the programming. Coming home late from your dentist appointment? Delay the heater for another hour to avoid paying for excessive energy usage. Bringing your kids home early from school? Tap into the system right before you pick them up so that the perfect temperatures are waiting for them upon arrival.

Smart thermostats reduce energy use by allowing you to see which times of day your unit consumes the most energy and learning to adjust to the most efficient temperature while you’re away and while you’re home. This is a great step in “going green” and using as few fossil fuels as possible without upgrading your system entirely. Furthermore a smart thermostat learns your patterns and preferences, usually within a week. Eventually, it will automatically adjust to the most efficient temperature while you’re away, after you’ve programmed it for several days. And don’t worry about changing the settings when you’re home early unexpectedly; a smart thermostat can usually differentiate between permanent changes in your habits and temporary adjustments for an unexpected occurrence.

We can install it in the most efficient location possible and make sure it is wired properly as we have years of experience setting up all kind of thermostats in Redmond and the surrounding areas.

Contact the professionals at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. today to install a new digital, wireless, or smart thermostat.

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Spray Foam vs. Loose-Fill: Which Should I Choose?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

It wasn’t too long ago that homeowners had one choice when it came to insulating their homes: batt insulation. Batt insulation is very effective, but with four types of insulation now available to homeowners, the ability to use different types in different areas of the home have maximized energy efficiency. Two of the newer types of insulation homeowners may want to consider are spray foam and loose-fill. Each one is effective, but they work very differently. Getting the most from your insulation in Monroe is good for you, your home and your HVAC system, so if you are ready for new or additional insulation, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today.

Spray Foam

Spray foam has become very popular because it forms an air-tight seal with whatever it comes into contact with. This is because spray foam is an adhesive, and once it adheres to a wall, joist, etc., it is creates a permanent seal. If you’ve ever seen spray foam, you know it expands tremendously – up to 100 times its size – once it meets the air, so it’s important to have a trained expert install spray foam insulation. Like other insulation products, spray foam comes in different R-values, so you can match the R-value you need for the particular geographic area in which you live. One drawback of spray foam is that it can be most costly than other types of insulation, so this should factor into your decision-making process which choosing insulation for your home.

Loose-Fill

Loose-fill insulation is very much as it sounds: loose pieces of recycled material (mostly paper) that is blown into your home’s cavity from a small hole drilled in an outside wall. Loose-fill is excellent for retro-fitting with older homes and can fill areas that may be hard to reach. However, it does not create an air-tight seal like spray foam and will settle after a certain amount of time. Loose-fill is very environmentally-friendly and is less expensive than spray foam.

Need help deciding which type or types of insulation to use with your home?

Call the experts at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today and make an appointment with one of our insulation specialists.

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How Does Heat Pump Maintenance Improve Efficiency

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Annual maintenance is an important part of ensuring a long life for any type of electro-mechanical equipment. Electrical trouble can cause a system to draw in too much or too little voltage, potentially damaging some of the key portions of your heat pump, or mechanical components may begin to rub together and wear down far too soon. Regular maintenance takes preventive measures, improving the system so that it runs at top performance and potentially allowing it to live out its lifespan with few repair needs.

Besides extending the life of your equipment and preventing repairs, regular maintenance allows your system to continue to run efficiently, which was likely a large factor in your decision to purchase a heat pump in the first place. Heat pumps are known for two features: high efficiency and their ability to both heat and cool. Heat pumps are efficient for heating because they move heat from place to place instead of using fuel to generate it. This requires little electricity, and most heat pumps happen to have very high SEERs (seasonal energy efficiency ratings) for air conditioning as well.

While most heat pumps are highly rated for efficiency, your manufacturer’s manual most likely explains that a heat pump can only remain efficient with regular maintenance. While you’re expected to change the air filter every one to three months as needed, professional maintenance is key to continued efficiency throughout the year. When you set up regular maintenance visits, a technician will visit your home once or twice a year to tune up the system for the heating or cooling season. Twice a year is recommended since this type of system runs throughout the year and gets a lot of use.

Some key maintenance tasks that may improve efficiency include cleaning the inside and outside coils, adjusting or replacing fan belts, lubricating motors, straightening bent coils, and tightening electrical components. These services are all important because your heat pump simply cannot run as efficiently as intended if it is not in top shape. Anytime your heat pump has to work harder than it should, it uses too much energy. Furthermore, your maintenance technician will let you know if a problem area that is consuming too much energy needs immediate repair or replacement.

Talk to the friendly professionals at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. to schedule maintenance, repair, or installation for heat pumps in Everett and the surrounding area.

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Reasons to Get Rid of Your Fuse Box and Upgrade to a Circuit Panel

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

There are many different names for the steel box that divides the electrical power to your home into smaller circuits. This box is sometimes called the distribution board, panel board, service panel, load center, breaker box, or the breaker panel, but it’s more traditionally and colloquially deemed a fuse box. That’s because older panels contained fuses instead of circuits. Circuits and fuses are overcurrent devices that shut down parts of your electrical wiring to protect your home from a fire if a wire draws in more current than it can handle. But today, fuse boxes are rarely in use, and circuit panels are often a more logical choice.

Experiences vary among homeowners, but you may decide to schedule professional fuse box upgrades in Mercer Island when you notice any of the following.

Fuse Boxes Are Outdated

The fact of the matter is that fuse boxes are tedious to maintain, outdated, and simply unnecessary. If a circuit were to take in more current than it was designed to, it could overheat and start a fire in your home. Instead, the fuse serves as a chink in the armor that “blows out,” shutting down that portion of your electrical system. Of course, this is a good thing, as it protects you from a potential fire, but you’ll have to go out and purchase a new fuse as a replacement every time. With a modern circuit breaker, the breaker simply “trips” and you’ll only have to go to the panel and reset it.

Fuse Boxes May Need Replacement Over Time

If you’re experiencing trouble with your existing fuse box, it’s probably best to replace the entire unit. Most experts recommend scheduling maintenance every year so that a technician can examine your fuse box and the rest of your electrical system for damage. You may also want to upgrade if want to increase the capacity of your service panel. When the electrical wiring in your older home was installed, the electricians did not anticipate that we would use our electricity to power so many large appliances today. When you add in new appliances or renovate the home with a new room, you may need a replacement in order to accommodate wiring changes.

At G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., we offer fuse box upgrades in Mercer Island for homeowners looking to improve their electrical system. Call us today!

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How Insulation Improves Efficiency throughout the Year

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

What do you know about the insulation in your home? Many homeowners purchase a home and assume that there is already enough insulation to get by. Insulation is often added with new construction, so most homeowners assume that the existing materials would be adequate. However, it’s possible that your insulation was not installed by a professional technician, and a lack in certain areas may contribute to quite a bit of inefficiency with your heating and air conditioning system. In this guide, learn what makes it so important year-round in Kenmore and why you may want a professional to add or replace the insulation in certain areas of the home.

Insulation Is Vital in Cool Weather

Most people automatically associate insulation with cooler weather because it’s an important factor in keeping the heat indoors. Heat naturally rises, so when you run your heating system, it tends to collect at the top of a room. If you don’t have enough insulation in the attic, or if you don’t have any at all, heat can easily escape through the ceiling, meaning it takes longer for your house to heat up and for your family to be comfortable.

But It’s Just as Important in the Summer

Insulation acts as a barrier through which it is difficult for heat to pass. Heat moves naturally into cooler areas, so in warmer weather, heat may infiltrate your home because the drywall is not enough to keep it out. Even though your AC is working hard to move heat out of the home, it can reenter through poorly insulated walls and from uninsulated ductwork.

Choose Insulation with a High R-Value

The best way to get the most out of your insulation upon installation is to check the R-value, a measure of a material’s effectiveness. Your technician will also make sure you get the right amount of insulation. While you generally want to fill a space completely, too much insulation in a small space may end up fruitless. The best contractors will make sure you are covered in all areas of the home, including the ducts if necessary.

Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. to schedule an energy audit and discover whether your home suffers from insufficient insulation in Kenmore.

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Problems that May Be Detected with an Energy Audit

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Heating and air conditioning bills account for a large percentage of your utilities very month, and these systems can contribute greatly to greenhouse gases that pollute the air. Many homeowners would love to “go green” and cut back on spending, but they’re not always sure where to start. That’s where an energy audit becomes important. When you call on professionals to perform an energy audit in your home, they’ll perform the following tests to find out which areas of the home could use some improvements.

  • Inspecting HVAC Equipment: Technicians will thoroughly search your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment for worn down or loose parts, dirty components, and leaks.
  • Blower Door Testing: Blower door testing involves placing a device called an infiltrometer in the doorway to change the pressure in the home so that technicians can detect any leaks or areas of inefficiency throughout the home.
  • Evaluating Insulation for Effectiveness: Professionals will make sure you have an efficient amount and type of insulation throughout the home, and that you’re not missing any crucial insulation around the ducts or in the attic.
  • Assessing the Ductwork: The ducts should be checked for any leaks or cracks that could cause your HVAC equipment to run inefficiently.

Issues that May Be Uncovered in Your Home

Not only will technicians find areas that make your HVAC equipment run inefficiently; you may also find out about potential health and safety effects.

  • Inadequate Insulation: Poor insulation can allow heat to easily escape from your home in the winter or infiltrate your home in the warm season.
  • Cold or Warm Spots: Cool or warm spots in the home force you to crank up your HVAC system unnecessarily, so you may find that you need to seal door or window leaks.
  • Improper Ventilation for Gas Appliances: If gases don’t vent properly from your home, you risk a fire hazard or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Leaky or Inefficient Duct Design: Leaky ducts can hinder efficiency, reduce the indoor air quality, and heat or cool the home unevenly.
  • Poor Indoor Air Quality: A technician will also look for other factors that may affect the air quality such as high humidity and poor air ventilation.

Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. to schedule an energy audit in Mukilteo and start taking the right steps towards a more efficient home.

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Do I Have to Schedule Maintenance for a Geothermal System?

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Geothermal systems do not burn any kind of fuel to operate, nor do they have many moving parts. Additionally, the main components that comprise a geothermal system have long lifespans: the ground loop can last up to 50 years and the heat pump can last up to 25. Many people interpret this as meaning that a geothermal system does not need annual maintenance; this is not true. All heating systems, and especially ones that also cool, should always be scheduled for annual maintenance to ensure proper operation, among other things. If it’s been more than 12 months since your geothermal system was scheduled for maintenance, schedule an appointment with the people you can trust to handle the job: G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc.

What’s Involved with Geothermal Maintenance

Geothermal maintenance is a little different from the maintenance performed on more traditional heating systems, but it’s just as necessary. Components that are checked are:

  • The heat pump – whether your geothermal system uses a ground-source or water-source heat pump, the unit needs to be checked for any potential leaks, dirty air filter, the condensate array needs to be inspected, etc. Basically, the same kind of maintenance that is performed on an air-course heat pump system will be performed on your geothermal heat pump.
  • Measure of electrical components – it’s important that all wiring is in good shape and that all electrical components are delivering the right level of amperage and/or voltage they are supposed to. During a routine geothermal maintenance appointment, these items will be checked for this.
  • Check pressure of ground loop – closed-loop systems may need repressurizing to keep working as needed, so your technician will check the pressure level and adjust it if necessary.
  • Check antifreeze levels – geothermal systems use environmentally-friendly refrigerant or antifreeze to facilitate heat transfer; in fact, the systems require an exact amount to work correctly. As such, your technician will check the level of antifreeze or refrigerant to make sure it is at the correct level.

Your geothermal system is a durable one, but to get the most out of it, it’s important to schedule your geothermal system in Everett, WA, for annual maintenance.

Has it been a while since your system has had maintenance? Call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc., today!

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