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

Snohomish Electrical Guide: Why You Need a Pro to Add a Circuit

Monday, August 20th, 2012

There are many repairs that a savvy Snohomish homeowner can handle alone.  When it comes to electrical work, however, the job is best left to a skilled professional hand. One such project that homeowners are not advised to tackle is adding a circuit to your Snohomish electrical system. This is for several reasons, including the complexity of the job at hand, the legal components of local building codes and ultimately, your safety.

Not an Easy Job

Leaving aside for a moment the dangers of delving into your home’s wiring, adding a circuit is a difficult job to accomplish. Wiring a circuit is a job that requires some skill and training. There are lots of ways to do it wrong, but only one way to do it right.

There may be other challenges, too. For one, your breaker box may not accept another circuit, which means you would have to upgrade to one with a higher capacity. Right away, this project has gotten way more complicated than you would have liked.

Knowing the Code

Building codes are often complex and difficult to follow, which is why contractors have to spend hours in training learning about changes and modifications to local codes. If you were to inadvertently add a new circuit in a way that violated local codes, you could have a big mess on your hands.

In addition, many local codes prohibit anyone other than a licensed contractor from even performing electrical work– including the homeowner.

Safety First

Lastly, but clearly most importantly, consider the safety issues involved. Electrical wiring can be a serious hazard, and so it is best to hire professional electricians trained in how to properly and safely do electrical work.

Call a Snohomish electrician like G & S if you need any help with your electrical system!

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Happy Valentine’s Day From Your King County Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors!

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

We wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day! Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show your appreciation to everyone who makes a difference in your life. Even a small gift, like a batch of cookies or a homemade card, can really make someone feel special. Your friends, your family, and your significant other will all have a fantastic Valentine’s Day if you take a moment to let them know how important they are to you.

Calling us for an HVAC upgrade might seem like a usual gift, but it can actually be something that benefits your whole family. An improved indoor air quality system can make air cleaner and healthier, and a new heating system can make your home more comfortable and save you money by lowering your utility bills. Those are improvements that every member of your family can enjoy.

If you have any questions about upgrades for your heating and air conditioning system, give G&S Heating a call today! And to help you celebrate this sweet holiday, here is a recipe for Chocolate Mint Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 36 chocolate mint wafer candies

Directions

  1. In a large pan over low heat, cook butter, sugar and water until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips and stir until partially melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into a large bowl and let stand 10 minutes to cool off slightly.
  2. At high speed, beat in eggs, one at a time into chocolate mixture. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, beating until blended. Chill dough about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  4. Roll dough into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes. While cookies are baking unwrap mints and divide each in half. When cookies are brought out of the oven, put 1/2 mint on top of each cookie. Let the mint sit for up to 5 minutes until melted, then spread the mint on top of the cookie. Eat and enjoy!

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

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Is Geothermal for King County Residents?

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Geothermal heating is a great alternative to other types of home heating systems in King County. It is safe and efficient, costs very little to operate and makes use of a great renewable resource right below our feet. But is it right for you? Well, geothermal heating may be the right choice for many people, but there are many things to take into account before you can determine whether or not it is the best choice for your home.

The first important thing to understand when you are trying to decide whether or not to go with geothermal heating is how one of these systems actually works. A geothermal system heats your home by extracting heat from the ground and then transferring that heat into your indoor air. This happens when liquid, usually water or antifreeze, passes through a loop of pipes installed several feet below the ground.

The liquid absorbs heat from the ground, which in the winter is always warmer than the air, and carries is back up to an air handler inside your home where that heat is allowed to disperse into the air. Once the air is heated, the air handler blows the air through a system of ducts throughout your house, providing a constant stream of heated air to all areas of your home. The liquid, on the other hand, simply cycles back through the ground loop to pick up more heat and repeat the same cycle over again.

Because a geothermal heating system does not actually generate heat, it requires very little energy to operate. This means that it is both very cheap for you to run and environmentally friendly. But since installing a geothermal heating system involves putting pipes in underground, it can be pretty expensive initially. However, as long as the amount you save every month on your heating costs is enough to offset the high initial price of installation, it is worth it to put down the money up front.

Another alternative, of course, is a more traditional air source heat pump. These are much cheaper to install and nearly as cheap to run. However, air source heat pumps are not as efficient when the air temperature gets below freezing as a geothermal system can be. If you live in an area with harsh winters, the geothermal heat pump is a better option than an air source unit.  If you have any questions about this great alternative contact G & S Cooling and Heating anytime.

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Lake Stevens Heat Pump Tip: Outdoor Maintenance

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Sometimes, the trickiest part about owning a heat pump in Lake Stevens is keeping the outdoor components maintained. Because they are outside and generally out of sight, it can be easy to forget or neglect them. But because they are outside and exposed to the elements, outdoor heat pump components need attention and maintenance to keep them running properly.

The two most important routine maintenance functions you can do as an owner of an outdoor heat pump are keeping it free of debris and keeping it level.

Every month or so, inspect and clean your outdoor heat pump to make sure it is free of leaves, dirt and other debris. These can easily be sucked in by the fan and reduce the efficiency of the whole system. Turn the power off to the unit and use a vacuum or broom to remove any accumulated debris.

Once or twice a year, use a carpenter’s level to make sure the whole thing is sitting level on the pad. Use the level to gauge both side to side and front to back. While you are doing this, check the insulation for erosion or gaps. If you see that it is not level or the insulation is wearing thin, have a contractor come out reset the unit on the concrete pad or patch up the insulation.

These are two small maintenance tasks that you don’t have to do very often, but they can make a big difference in the performance and life of your heat pump.

In addition, you should always have your Lake Stevens home’s heating, ventilation and cooling system inspected by a professional annually in order to keep everything maintained and in good repair.

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G & S Home Performance Contracting in Seattle

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Did you know that you are most likely wasting 25% to 40% of your monthly energy bills due to inefficiencies in your heat pump, air conditioner, and central furnace?  G & S wants to put an end to this by researching problem areas in your home, and determining what improvements can be made.  With our new Home Performance Contracting services we inspect heating and cooling equipment, evaluate insulation, test doors and windows for air leakage, and diagnose flow through air ducts to identify areas that need improvement.

Our Home Performance Contracting services begins with a quick interview with the home owners to establish what areas of the home have apparent problems.  Then our technician thoroughly inspects the efficiency and safety of your heating and cooling systems.  Next G & S will measure the levels of insulation throughout your house, and check for any easily missed defects in insulation.  To check potential air leakages G & S uses a computerized blower door system called an Infiltrometer.  This new Infiltrometer system will be able to detect whether air leakages in a home are from safe air sources like windows and doors, or unsafe locations like attics, garages, and crawl spaces.  Tests will also be done on air duct systems to locate any flaws or blockages.  If homeowners notice that specific rooms are difficult to heat or cool our technician can use newly designed tools like Electronic Air Flow Capture Hoods to establish how much air is reaching that room, and how to remedy the air flow issue.  Once the tests are done our HVAC specialist will recommend a prioritized list of improvements.

At G & S the goal of our Home Performance Contracting services are to provide you with an actionable energy audit, and to decrease your monthly energy bills.  That is why we are becoming BPI ( Building Performance Institute ) certified and members of the Comfort Institute.  These two groups are recognized by the Department of Energy ( DOE ), Environmental Protection Association ( EPA ), and the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® for for their proficiency in energy conservation.

Keep coming back to our blog for ways to save on your energy bill, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about our new Home Performance Contracting services.

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Marysville Heat Pump Maintenance Guide

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Just like any HVAC system, the heat pump in your Marysville home needs routine maintenance and yearly check-ups to operate as efficiently and safely as possible. You also don’t want your heat pump to wear down to the point of a major malfunction or breakdown, which can be costly to repair or may require a complete system replacement.

Here are some things that could go wrong and cost you a lot more in the end if you don’t keep up with the regular maintenance of your heat pump.

Damage to the Compressor

The compressor in a split-system heat pump works whether you are heating or cooling your home. In the winter, the compressor reverses the flow of the refrigerant to defrost the outdoor coils, and in the summer it supplies the refrigerant to cool the home, as well as cooling the outdoor coils. Proper airflow is vital to keeping the compressor running smoothly. Filters that are not changed regularly, dirty coils, and dirty fans can all restrict airflow, which will damage the compressor. Debris around the outside components should also be cleared to allow proper airflow.

Decreased Efficiency

When dirty or broken components restrict the airflow, this damages the compressor and decreases the heat pump’s efficiency levels.  Not only is it important to clean your heat pump regularly, but you should also have it checked by a certified heating technician once a year. This will also prevent safety hazards and other hidden issues with the heat pump.

Improper Refrigerant Levels

Most heat pumps are charged with refrigerant at the factory; however, if models that are charged when they are installed are not given the right amount of refrigerant this can also affect performance levels. Refrigerant leaks and other common problems can be prevented by scheduling an annual maintenance visit with one of our qualified Marysville technicians.

Don’t wait until the heat pump in your home stops working, call to schedule your yearly check-up.

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Green Lake HVAC Guide on New Air Filter Ratings

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Every Green Lake home has need of a handful of filters that provide with comfortable, affordable air quality and temperature control throughout the year. So, when buying a new filter or upgrading your current system to provide the right comfort level for your home, there are a few things to consider. First is the actual rating of your filters. Every filter is rated for a particular level of efficiency. The higher the rating, the more particles it catches, but also the more it will cost.

Air Filter Ratings

Air filters are rated with a number of scales but the only one that really matters is the HEPA filter rating. HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate absorbing. These types of filters are considered the best on the market. A HEPA filter comes with a number of options. The actual device that uses the filter will have an MERV rating that corresponds to how small of particles it can capture.

An entry level MERV rating is usually around 10 and will capture most major particles like dust, debris, dander and pollen. However, the highest rated HEPA filters have MERV ratings of 13 and can capture particulates as small as 0.3 microns 99.7% of the time.

Some filters are even capable of capturing viruses and bacteria, which are often much smaller than those other particles but can be caught in the debris field through the filter.

What You Actually Need

So, what does your Green Lake home actually need? It depends largely on how much you need to filter out of your indoor air. Most often, the contaminants you should worry about include dust, pollen and dander which mean a modest MERV 10 air filter is plenty.

However, if your air is filled with smaller contaminants like mold spores, a high grade HEPA filter is a must – not just for your comfort but for your health.

There are also other indoor air quality products you can get to supplement your indoor air quality system. These include air cleaners with electronic ionization, UV germicidal lights to target airborne pathogens and humidity control devices to create the ideal environment in your home. Whatever you choose, know that it is possible to keep your family comfortable year round.

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How to Make Your Fall City Heating System More Effective

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Everyone wants an effective heating system in Fall City – one that will provide steady, reliable heat without you having to spend hundreds of dollars each month on gas, oil or electricity. And while the best way to improve the efficiency of your heating system in most cases is to upgrade it, there are some simple things you can do around the house to boost its effectiveness. Here are some of the best:

  • Rearrange Furniture – Just having the heat on doesn’t necessarily ensure the heat entering your room is being distributed evenly. Move your furniture in such a way that there is a clear, unimpeded path from the registers and radiators to the rest of the room. Done properly, this will make it much easier to and faster to heat every room of your house.
  • Maximize Air Flow – Air flow can be maximized in a number of ways. Make sure you close any windows near a register or radiator and that you remove any large objects that might block air flow. You should also install things that can help move air like fans and always call someone in for changes to the arrangement of your vents or radiators.
  • Clean Registers or Radiators – The cleaner your radiators or dust registers are, the more efficiently they release their heat. Not only have that, but clean radiators and registers resulted in better indoor air quality. Weekly cleaning of each room’s heating source is highly recommended.
  • Install Ceiling Fans – Ceiling fans switched to blow down are incredibly effective for distributing air throughout the room. This will keep push warm air down and keeps cold air up – in effect, reducing the need for constant running of your furnace or boiler.

Effective heating is important to keep your home comfortable, reduce the cost of heating and prolong the lifespan of your furnace. You should also make sure your heating system is properly maintained throughout the year. Skipping maintenance visits (which are highly recommended annually) will put unnecessary stress on your system and shorten its lifespan substantially, not to mention the decrease in efficiency when heating your home.

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How to Handle Your Finicky Kirkland Heat Pump

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

A heat pump is designed to keep your Kirkland home comfortable. Warm weather, cold weather – it doesn’t matter. It should turn on when you need it and turn off when you don’t. So, when the device starts turning on and off without reason or when you need it to stay on, what exactly is the problem and how can you fix that problem without losing the heating or cooling capacity of your device.

Common Causes of the Problem

There are a number of reasons why your heat pump would turn off shortly after turning on, and most of the time this occurs in heating mode. If it occurs in cooling mode, you should have the device inspected immediately because there is likely something wrong with a core component like the compressor. For heating mode issues, here are some common problems:

  • Dirty Coils – If the coils are dirty, the device won’t be able to properly operate, especially if it has been some time since the last cleaning. Both sets of coils need to be cleaned at least once a year to avoid this becoming a problem.
  • Low Refrigerant Charge – If the refrigerant gets low, you’ll need to have it recharged because the pressure in the device will drop and it will therefore turn off after a few minutes of use.
  • Defrost Timer – If the defrost timer is forcing the device into a defrost cycle too often (usually it is set to 30, 60, or 90 minutes), the fan might turn off every few minutes after turning on. This is a common problem and is usually due to a thermostat or switch issue which can be fixed relatively easily.

Another thing to ask yourself when this problem occurs is whether the device is heating properly when on. Defrost timer issues don’t usually impinge on the heating ability of the device, while low refrigerant can. You want to make sure the device is working properly when on and not just cycling on and off without heating capacity.

Based on what you find, you’ll need a technician to take a closer look and ensure everything is working properly. Most repairs for this type of problem are relatively simple. If you need any repairs, talk to your local contractor.

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A Question from Green Lake: How Warm is Furnace Heated Air?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

When your furnace turns on every day and warms your Green Lake home, just how hot is the air being blown through your vents? It’s a common question and while it varies depending on the type of furnace you have and the length of your ductwork, normally, the air is about the same temperature in most homes.

The Heating Process

When you turn on your furnace, it ignites fuel (gas or oil) or heats elements (electricity). A blower fan blows air through the heat exchanger and then into ductwork that distributes the heated air to vents around your home. When the combustion occurs and air is first heated, the temperature is between 140 degrees F and 170 degrees F.

This is extremely warm and could be dangerous to anyone if they got too close to it or it was blown directly into your home. However, as the heated air is distributed into your home it starts to cool. In some cases, it loses a significant amount of its energy in the ductwork.

This is intended, of course, because the temperature would be much too high if it was distributed directly to your rooms. That’s why high velocity ductwork often requires regulation to avoid overheating of the air. Cooling like this is normal and results in a better, more evenly distributed airflow.

When Something’s Wrong

To know something is wrong with your heating system, you must first understand what temperature air normally is when distributed through the vents. This will vary depending on which room you are in and how big your home (and furnace) are. However, if you notice a sharp drop off in comfort level in your home, it takes longer to heat rooms when cold or if that heating is suddenly uneven, it may be time for someone to inspect your furnace and check for potential problems.

A technician will then check to see if the air is being heated to the target 140-170 degrees F or if heat is being lost in the air handler or ductwork. There are a number of issues that can contribute to lost heat in your heating system – the easiest way to be sure the problem is solved properly is to call a professional when you notice the problem.

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