G & S Heating Cooling & Electric Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Bothell’

What Do Heating Problems Look Like?

Monday, October 8th, 2018

cold-coupleWith temperatures hanging around in the fifties during the day and the forties at night, it’s safe to say that you’ll be counting on your heating system to keep you warm more and more in the coming days and weeks. That means that your heater really needs to be in the best working condition possible—at least if you want it to function as effectively and reliably as possible. And no, heater problems this early into the season are not unheard of. They’re not even that uncommon, actually.

So how can you tell if you need heating repair in Bothell, WA? One way is if your heater will not start up for you at all, obviously. Equally obviously, at least to us, is the fact that you really don’t want to wait for your system to break down entirely before you go ahead and schedule any repairs that it may need. Early intervention is always in your best interest, so here are a few examples of what heating problems may look (not to mention sound and smell!) like.

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What Parts of Your Heat Pump Require Maintenance?

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

A heat pump is an important investment in your home comfort. Heat pumps are some of the most efficient heating and cooling systems available for purchase today. Air source heat pumps work a lot like traditional split-system air conditioners to cool down a home by using refrigerant to pull heat from the air in your house and release it to the outside. But in cooler weather, refrigerant can reverse to bring heat into the house.

A lot of important components are required in order for this process to take place. And since your heat pump is such a vital investment, you should protect it by keeping the parts maintained. A well-maintained heat pump won’t run into too much trouble, and it will likely run more efficiently. Many people notice that their electrical bills lower soon after heat pump maintenance, and that their systems cool or heat the home faster.

So which parts of your system will a technician look at during professional heat pump maintenance? Well the short answer is everything! Each and every component of your system should be looked over during a maintenance inspection so that a technician can determine if something is in need of repair or adjustment. This is simply not a job for an amateur. A technician is better able to recognize whether something is not quite right. Contractors keep all of the tools necessary for heat pump maintenance on hand and you can schedule repairs sooner if necessary.

A contractor will also clean any component that could be hindered by dirt and debris. Dirt on the coils may keep refrigerant from absorbing heat properly, which could decrease efficiency and lead to repairs. Professionals know the proper methods to use to make minor adjustments and ways to clean that won’t damage the unit. There is one component you can clean or replace on your own: the air filter. This must be either replaced or cleaned every one to three months if you run your air conditioner frequently, as a clogged filter blocks air from entering the heat pump.

Call the experts at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. today to schedule heat pump maintenance with a professional technician at your home in Bothell.

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Why Insulate a Basement in Granite Falls

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Especially if your Granite Falls home’s basement is unfinished, you probably do not spend much time down there. And if that is the case, it can be hard to see why you would want to expend the time and money to put in quality insulation in an area of your house that you do not use for much other than storage. But your basement can be costing you a lot if it is not insulated and you probably do not even realize it.

The simple fact is that closing the door to your basement does not summarily cut it off from the rest of your house. The entire floor surface of the first floor of your house is directly connected to the basement and there is a great deal of heat lost through there in the winter. That means that your central heating system will have to work harder to keep the living spaces of your house warm. Plus, the floor will just always be cold.

But putting insulation in your basement can dramatically cut down on the amount of heat you are losing in the winter. Rather than channeling that heat right through your floor and out into the cold soil beyond, an insulated basement will hold the heat and help to keep your first floor warmer. This will reduce your heating costs and it can also cut back on many of the moisture retention problems that basements are so prone to developing.

There are several different ways to insulate a basement and the appropriate one for your situation will depend on a variety of factors. Some insulation needs to be installed on the exterior of the basement walls, but this can be difficult and costly if you are trying to do it on an existing home. Exterior basement insulation usually makes the most sense when you are building a new home.

However, you can still insulate your basement thoroughly with insulation that is installed on the interior of your basement walls. While this may take a few inches of useable space away from you, it will be well worth it in the end.

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How Do You Measure Your Air Cleaner’s Performance? A Question from Bothell

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Your air cleaner is designed to keep your family comfortable and healthy in your Bothell home, regardless of what contaminants make their way inside. This is important because homes these days are sealed up tightly to minimize the loss of heating or cooling, but as a result they have poor ventilation and frequently they will suffer a buildup of excess contaminants like mold, dust, pollen and dander.

To ensure you get the best possible air cleaner for your home, there are a number of measurements available to help you in the purchasing process. Let’s take a look at a couple of those measurements and what they mean.

MERV

MERV ratings are used to measure the ability of a filter to remove dust from the air that passes through it. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter works at removing particles. The MERV rating scale goes from 1-16 with 16 being the best possible rating you can obtain from a residential (non-HEPA) grade filter. Usually, they are designed to measure things like dander, dust, smog, wood smoke, spores, bacteria and mold.

When choosing an air cleaner, it is recommended that you look for a MERV rating of at least 8, which is good enough to remove almost all common household contaminants. Higher MERV ratings (17 and up) are found in HEPA filters which are considered among the best on the market, able to remove particles as small as 0.3 microns.

CADR

This rating stands for Clean Air Delivery Rate and is a measurement of how efficiently the air cleaner delivers clean air for tobacco smoke, pollen and dust (the common measurements given for each device). This is not a measurement of the efficiency of the device, so much as the speed of it the device. So, the higher the CADR measurement for all three contaminants, the faster those particles are removed from the indoor air.

The best way to choose a device to match your needs is to look for a CADR rating of at least 2/3 of the size of the room you are cleaning. So, if you are cleaning the air of a 150 square foot bedroom, you should get a device with a CADR rating of at least 100.

When choosing a good air cleaner for your home, make sure you do your research and choose on the best possible option for the space you need to clean. MERV and CADR allow you to do this.

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How to Calibrate Your Thermostat: A Guide from Kirkland

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Have you ever set the thermostat in your Kirkland home to a desired temperature and “hoped for the best?” Maybe it’s because the temperature setting you expected this finely tuned instrument to maintain just isn’t right. You may see 70 degrees on the thermostat but the home feels more like 65 degrees. In fact, if you used a hand-held thermostat, you might get real proof that your thermostat is not working like it should.

There are reasons for a malfunctioning thermostat and solutions to correct them, namely calibration. First, let’s look at some reasons why a thermostat can be out of kilter.

The first thing to note is that thermostats are very sensitive instruments and change to the slightest changes in temperature. An incorrectly installed thermostat or one that is accidentally bumped or jarred can malfunction. It may wind up out of level, causing it to operate incorrectly. Possibly the most common problem affecting accuracy is a build-up of dirt, which can affect the calibration of the thermostat. Other problems may be caused by loose wiring.

Here are some steps you can take to check your thermostat for accuracy and recommended actions.

  1. Use a standard glass thermometer to check the room temperature. You should mount it on the wall nearby your thermostat and use some padding to keep it from actually coming in contact with the wall, which could affect the readings.
  2. Wait 15-30 minutes for the thermometer to adjust to the temperature and enable it to give the most accurate reading. Once the time has elapsed, compare its temperature reading to that on your thermostat.
  3. If there is more than a one degree variation, your thermostat may be dirty. Remove its faceplate and examine it. If there is dirt or dust inside, blow it out. If you can reach the contact points, you can clean them with a new dollar bill (and speaking of dollars, a clean and accurate thermostat will make your furnace run more efficiently and save you money on your utility bill).
  4. Some thermostats use a mercury vial which can indicate if the thermostat is level or not. If it is not level, a simple adjustment using a screwdriver may do the trick. In the worst case, you may have to remove the thermostat and drill a new hole to reinstall the mounting screw in a different location.
  5. Now that you have made these corrections, check both thermostats to see if the temperatures match. If they don’t, try steps 3 and 4 again. If that still doesn’t work, your problem may be more than just a dirty, lopsided thermostat. You may need to replace the thermostat – or even look at the heating system in its entirety. It could be time to call a professional heating contractor to check out your entire system.

Today’s thermostats have few working components but are very sensitive, advanced instruments. It takes little to throw off a thermostat but luckily, it takes little effort to correct the resulting problems.

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How a Furnace Works: A Guide from Seattle

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Do you know how your furnace works? Believe it or not, lots of Seattle homeowners probably can’t explain the operation of furnace. It probably isn’t at the top of your “to do” list. It’s only important to know that once you set your thermostat to a desired temperature, the furnace comes on and warms the house.

The most common furnace is fueled by natural gas but there are other examples of heating equipment such as boilers, electric baseboard, or geothermal. But let’s look at how a gas furnace works since natural gas is found in most U.S. households. Gas furnaces use natural gas or propane to provide energy used for generating heat.

When the temperature in your home falls below the level set on the thermostat, an electric pilot light automatically ignites to heat a burner inside the furnace. This burner uses gas to generate heat within a combustion chamber inside the furnace. After the furnace senses that the thermostat has triggered the flame and that it is properly lit, the actual spark (or ignitor) is turned off.

Simultaneously, a motor in the furnace pulls in air from an exchange or return, which could be a grill in the floor, ceiling, or wall of a house. That air flows through ducts into the plenum of the furnace. The plenum is on the opposite side of the heat exchanger from the burner.

Gas will typically burn for at least two minutes before the blower starts to disperse heat throughout your home. This extra time gives the air an adequate period of time to warm up and also so that cold air won’t be pushed through the vents into the rooms in your house at the start. After either the preset time (roughly two minutes) or pre-established temperature is reached, the blower’s motor is turned on and it blows air over the heat exchanger, which usually consists of a series of copper tubes or pipes. When a fan blows air onto the heat exchanger, the air is heated. This heated air is then blown through a series of ducts to heat your home via vents in the floor, walls or ceiling. Exhaust fumes from the combustion process exit the furnace through a gas flue or chimney.

Just as the heat in your home turns on when a certain temperature is reached, it also turns off after the rooms are warm enough, thanks to your thermostat. The thermostat again senses the temperature in the room. When the room warms up to the temperature set by you at the thermostat, the gas valve is switched off, stopping the flow of gas. After the gas is turned off, the blower motor will still run for a few minutes, allowing the heat exchanger to cool off a bit. In some furnaces, the blower motor never shuts off, but operates at low speed to keep air circulating throughout your home.

In a nutshell, your thermostat is the brain in your heating system and your furnace is the brawn, doing most of the work.

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What Is Geothermal Heating? A Question From Bothell

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Having a geothermal heating system installed in your Bothell home means that you will actually be able to heat your home with heat extracted from the ground. If this sounds a bit preposterous to you, you are certainly not alone. But this type of home heating does actually work and the technology is not actually that much different from what is used in a standard heat pump system.

Regular heat pumps are able to remove heat from the outdoor air and transfer it into your house to maintain a comfortable temperature in the winter. You may think that there is no heat in the outdoor air in the winter, but that is not actually the case.

Air contains a substantial amount of heat even at very cold temperatures, and heat pumps are able to work quite well, particularly when the outdoor temperature is above freezing. Conveniently, the same process used to heat your house in the winter can be reversed in the summer to extract heat from the indoor air, providing you with a year round home comfort solution.

Geothermal heating works in much the same way, except that geothermal heat pumps extract heat from the ground rather than the air. In order to accomplish this, a loop of pipes is installed in the ground near your house and your geothermal heating system will pump a liquid, generally either antifreeze or water, through those pipes.

As it passes through the pipes, the liquid will absorb heat from the ground and carry it back to a heat exchanger within your house. At that point, the heat from the liquid will be released into air, which is then blown throughout your house.

And just as conventional heat pumps can cool your house in the summer by removing heat and pumping it outside, so too can geothermal heating systems. They do this simply by letting the liquid flowing through the pipes absorb the heat from inside air and then release it into the ground as it travels through the pipe loop below your house.

Because the ground is never as cold in the winter or as hot in the summer as the air, geothermal heat pumps are actually able to work effectively in more extreme conditions than many traditional heat pumps.

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Worst Rooms in Your Home to Collect Allergens

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Your home is a haven for allergens, but some rooms in particular are much worse than others. They are damp. They are warm. They often have garbage in them. These are the rooms that need especially close attention when trying to maintain air quality in your home.

Basement

First on the list is your basement. A basement is the biggest problem when it’s either unfinished or not used very often. If you have water leaks in your basement or poor insulation, it’s important to have a moisture barrier put in and have your pipes checked. If the water comes from a drainage pipe or your sewer line, repairs can be made. If it comes from excess ground water or leaks in the foundation, a sump pump or drain tile system will help remove the excess water. Either way, the wetter your basement gets, the higher the risk of mold and other contaminants becomes.

Beyond moisture, a basement tends to collect a lot of dust. After all, it is where we put many of our old and unwanted possessions, and because the furnace is often in your basement, all that damp, allergen filled air gets cycled back into your home.

Bathroom

Bathrooms are allergen havens for two reasons. They are filled with moisture, and without proper ventilation they will soon be filled with mold and mildew. Additionally, when not cleaned regularly they can house buildups of hair, skin, and other dust building residue that tend to trigger allergies.

The easiest way to handle this problem is to clean your bathroom regularly and make sure it is properly ventilated. Short of an exhaust fan in your bathroom, keep the door and windows open to help it dry faster.

Kitchen

Your kitchen produces allergens like mold and mildew due to the presence of garbage and fruit. It can also attract bugs and the dirt that accrues from people passing through constantly. Pets tend to eat in the kitchen, leaving behind dander. Additionally, plants and vegetables in the kitchen release pollen that circulates through your home to trigger additional allergies. Exhaust from cooking and smoke can also be a harmful allergen trigger.

The kitchen should be kept well ventilated and clean at all times. Check for any gaps in your insulation and have your exhaust fan and hood cleaned regularly to avoid backups of smoke or gas.

Allergens are everywhere in your home – with careful attention, however, you can stop them from affecting your family negatively.

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