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

The Importance of Furnace Maintenance

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Here in Seattle, furnaces are an overwhelmingly popular way to keep warm and toasty during our cold, rainy winters. The Pacific Northwest has its share of chilly days, and even the summer can get cold enough to fire up the furnace every once in a while. That’s why the important of furnace maintenance cannot be underestimated. You never know when you’ll need to call upon your furnace to perform and when you do, the last thing you want is to have it fail on you. Furnace maintenance is the best way to prevent this, as well as helping to extend the life of your furnace overall.

Maintenance isn’t the same thing as repair, which usually means addressing a very specific problem hampering your heater. Rather a maintenance session acts as a “tune up” to help the furnace perform at its best. Our Seattle furnace service technician will arrive can clean off all of the internal components: clearing away any dust or dirt that can interfere with performances. He’ll tighten any loose bolts or fittings, check the burners to see if they’re functioning and monitor the furnace while it’s running to make sure everything is ship-shape. If he spots any kind of larger problem, he can identify it, the schedule a repair session to address it formally.

The benefits of this are obvious. In the first place, it helps spot potentially large problems when they’re still small, allowing you to correct them without spending as much money. You’ll also enjoy savings on your monthly bills, since a maintenance session allows your furnace to function more efficiently. Your furnace will also last longer than it might otherwise as well, since wear and tear will be kept in check. Finally, a regular furnace session gives you peace of mind by reducing the risk of a major breakdown just when you need it the most.

For more on the importance of furnace maintenance, or to schedule a maintenance session, contact G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical Inc. We handle Seattle furnaces of all varieties and can ensure that yours stays in tip-top shape to help combat our rainy Washington winters. Pick up the phone and give us a call today!

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Seattle Tip: Benefits of Geothermal Energy

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Energy costs seem to be forever on the rise. This should not deter your from keeping your home as comfortable as possible throughout the year, though. If energy efficiency and a reduced environmental impact are priority issues for you, you may want to look into the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system. With a geothermal system you can literally pull energy from the ground or water on your property and use it to heat your home. There are a number of benefits made possible by geothermal technology, and the heating and air conditioning professionals at G&S Heating have gathered some information to help you decide if a geothermal system installation is right for your home.

Improve Energy Efficiency with a Geothermal Energy System

The most obvious benefit that geothermal heating and cooling systems offer is improved energy efficient. Like other heat pump models, geothermal heat pumps transfer energy rather than consuming a fuel source to create it. A loop system is installed in the ground surrounding your home or submerged in a water source on your property. This system absorbs heat and transfers it from the source to a heat pump, where it is used to heat your home. In the warmer months a geothermal system, like other heat pumps, can be used to cool your home by transferring heat outside. This heat transferring process requires only a small amount of electricity for operation, meaning that it greatly reduces the amount of energy that you use when heating and cooling your home. This lessens your environmental impact considerably and can also help reduce the amount you pay in utility bills to keep your home comfortable.

Improved Effectiveness

Air-source heat pumps operate in much the same way that geothermal and water-source heat pumps do, but air-source models are more limited in terms of the climates in which they are most effective. This is because they draw heat from the air itself for use in your home, and the air is highly susceptible to temperature fluctuations. The depth at which geothermal loop systems are buried beneath the ground or submerged in water, on the other hand, allow for much more constant temperatures, meaning that they can provide effective heating and cooling service in harsher conditions than air-source models.

If you have any further questions about the operation, benefits or installation process of a geothermal heat pump system, call the experts at G&S Heating for answers from qualified professionals. We’ll help you decide if a heat pump is right for your Seattle home. Enjoy clean, sustainable energy with all the benefits of an effective heating and air conditioning system.

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What Makes Up a Geothermal Heating and Cooling System in Seattle

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Components of a Geothermal Heating System

A geothermal heating system has three basic components and some add-on ones as well. Its most distinguishing feature is the ground loops. The most common is the “closed” ground loop system, which is a series of pipes that are buried underground. These pipes contain a heat transfer fluid, comprised of antifreeze and water. This fluid absorbs heat from the ground and carries it to the home. This fluid also absorbs heat from the house and sends it into the ground to keep your Seattle home cool.

Examples of closed loop systems include the horizontal closed loop, which can be used in larger parcels of land (over an acre for example). The loops are placed typically placed horizontally 6-to-10 feet below the surface. A vertical closed loop design is recommended for smaller parcels of land and loops are often buried vertically approximately 20 feet underground. Other types of ground loop designs use well water to transfer heat in an open loop configuration, or have a closed loop submerged underwater in a pond or lake.

The next component is the heat pump, which draws the fluid from the ground loop. In a heat pump, heat energy is exchanged with the ground to heat or cool the home. In the heating mode, fluid warmed from underground flows through the heat pump. A fan blows across the pipe warmed by the fluid. Because the fluid is much warmer than the air inside the heat pump, heat energy is released into the cooler air. The cool air is warmed and distributed inside the home. The process is reversed for cooling. Cool fluid in the pipe absorbs heat from the warm air inside the home. Once pumped underground, the excess heat in the fluid is absorbed by the cooler earth.

The final component is the air handling or distribution system. Here, a fan in the heat pump’s furnace blows air over a fan coil and the heated cooled air is distributed through the home’s ductwork. Some distribution systems are hydronic, where hot water is circulated through radiators or radiant floor heat tubing. This water absorbs heat from the heat pump and then distributed throughout the home.

In some Seattle homes, both a forced air and hydronic system often referred to as a “hybrid system” work together.

Optional components include a heat pump “desuperheater,” which is used to help with domestic hot water heating. In warm weather, the desuperheater recovers some of the heat – that would otherwise be sent to the ground loop – to help produce hot water. In cold weather, some of the heat pump capacity may be diverted from space heating for the same purpose. Desuperheaters save approximately 25% on domestic water heating costs.

Another component is an auxiliary electric heater, which is built into the geothermal heat pump. This auxiliary electric heat is installed to allow heating and cooling technicians to size – or resize – a home’s geothermal heat pump system to assist the system during the few coldest days of the year. Auxiliary electric heat is also an emergency backup heat source if there are any operational issues with the geothermal heat pump system.

To learn more about the benefits of having a geothermal heating system in the Seattle area, contact G&S Heating today!

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Seattle Geothermal Installation Guide: What You Need To Think About Before Getting Geothermal

Monday, September 17th, 2012

With energy costs rising and supplies dwindling, people are taking much more serious looks at alternatives that in the past have seemed unfeasible and too “weird” to realistically contemplate.  Available since the formation of the Earth, geothermal heating and cooling is one such resource.

Geothermal energy is being used to provide more than 30% of Iceland’s electrical needs and it is fast becoming a viable option to provide heat for your home as well.  Before digging straight down, however, it is important to look around and consider some important points.

Geothermal 101

Thermal energy is a force that is produced from the movement of warm temperature to cooler.  The term “geo” is from the Greek word for Earth.  From harnessing the energy of hot springs in ancient times to technological advances to create electricity today, geothermal has long been considered, but often was ruled out as an expensive and unnecessary alternative to other cheaper forms of energy.  Now that those are harming the environment, more expensive and harder to get, geothermal has grown attractive.

Location, Location, Location

Difficult to retrieve from deep within the Earth, geothermal is most often considered for large production where natural breaks in the crust such as volcanoes, hot springs and faults are close to the surface.  Just ten feet below the surface, however, there is enough temperature difference to make available enough to efficiently heat a home.

Still, it’s not a guarantee of success, however.  The density of the bedrock, the water table and the balance between extreme hot and cold temperatures with the temperatures of the thermal energy are all factors to be considered.

Dollar for Dollar

For new construction, geothermal is a great alternative because after the more expensive installation, the cost from month to month can produce enough savings to quickly pay for the system.  The savings are potentially so significant, there are situations where the cost of replacing an old inefficient conventional system can be neutralized by the savings in just two to ten years.

To learn more about the benefits of installing a geothermal system in Seattle, give G & S a call!

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Seattle Geothermal Guide: Problems Caused by Poor Water Quality in Open Loop Systems

Monday, September 10th, 2012

As geothermal heating systems go, an open loop configuration can be an excellent choice, provided the environment supports it. Open loop systems work very effectively and efficiently because the deep water is held at an almost constant temperature year round. This property makes it a very good source of heat for the geothermal system.

However, an important factor to consider before choosing an open loop system is the quality of the water coming from the source. Although you won’t drink the water, the quality still matters a great deal, as poor water quality can cause serious problems in your geothermal system.

Let’s take a look at some common water quality problems and the damage they can potentially do to an open loop geothermal system in Seattle.

Mineral Deposits

If the water is filled with minerals — frequently called “hard water” — those minerals can be deposited within the geothermal coils. As they build up on the walls over time, they can slow the flow of the water or even clog it completely.

Hard water does not necessarily preclude the use of an open loop system. It just may call for extra maintenance, such as periodically flushing the system with a mild acid solution to remove mineral build-up.

 Impurities

Impurities in water, especially metals like iron, can also cause clogs. Most frequently this occurs in the return well of the geothermal system. Again, these impurities do not necessarily mean an open loop system can’t work for you, but you should consult with the contractor prior to installation for solutions to this problem.

Particulate and Organic Matter

If you plan to use surface water such as a pond or spring as the source for your open loop system, make sure to test the water composition thoroughly. An excess of sediment or organic matter can clog up your geothermal system very quickly.

Ideally, these are all situations that your Seattle geothermal contractor will anticipate and discuss with you ahead of time, so that your open loop system can be installed in such a way as to preempt any problems with water quality.

For more information about geothermal installation in Seattle, give G & S a call!

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Energy Cost Comparisons: How Efficient is Your Seattle Heating System?

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

G & S Heating, Cooling & Electric is all too familiar with the rising energy cost trend. Inefficient systems paired with costly fuel sources have many consumers looking for more cost effective ways to heat their homes. G&S Heating likes to help keep our customer base in the Seattle, WA area well informed. Here is some energy cost comparison information about different systems to help you better evaluate the amount of money you spend on energy.

Cost Examples by Fuel Type for 1,000,000 BTUs

  • Propane, at 80% efficiency and costing $2.80/gallon will cost $50.72
  • At $2.50/gallon, 80% efficiency, Oil will cost $41.97
  • An Electric Furnace, 100% efficient at 8.367¢ per kilowatt-hour will cost $30.62
  • Natural Gas at 80% efficiency and $1.25/therm costs $20.83
  • Electric Heat Pumps, 226% efficient, cost $13.55
  • Geothermal Heat Pumps, 300% efficient, will cost $10.21

All of the above figures assume 25% duct loss. The trend is plain to see. As efficiency increases, costs can drop dramatically. If you’re looking for a cheap way to heat your home and also make it more eco-friendly in the process, a geothermal heat pump may be the right choice for you.

Geothermal Heat Pump Installation, Maintenance and Repair in Seattle by G&S

Despite their incredible efficiency, geothermal heat pumps are not necessarily the best heating and cooling choice for everyone. There are a lot factors to take into account before a geothermal installation should be undertaken, including the amount of property you own, proximity to water and the quality and texture of the soil. If you’re interested in learning if a geothermal system is a viable option for your home, call G & S Heating, Cooling & Electric today. Our geothermal experts will assess your property and, if appropriate, perform a high quality geothermal heating and cooling system installation. We also provide quality maintenance and repair service, so call G & S with all your Seattle geothermal needs.

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North Seattle Air Conditioning Guide: What Professional AC Maintenance Includes

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Besides the cool air, what we like most about air conditioning in North Seattle is that we don’t have to do anything to still live in a cool climate when it’s boiling outside.  With programmed thermostats adjusting the temperatures automatically, we don’t even have to turn it on.

Annual Service

Air conditioning units are designed to last for quite a while, so long as they are maintained regularly.  A service contract with a reputable company ensures reliable maintenance and establishes a relationship so that if anything should go wrong, your call for help will be at the top of the list with a mechanic who likely knows the details of your particular unit.

Maintenance often includes:

  • a check for the correct amount of refrigerant in the system;
  • a pressurized system test for any leaks using an actual leak detector tool;
  • a controlled evacuation and disposal of any excess refrigerant instead of an illegal toss in the dumpster;
  • a check for and seal of any duct leakage within the in central systems;
  • a measure of air flow through the evaporator coil;
  • a verification of the correct electric control sequence, making sure the heating and cooling systems cannot operate simultaneously;
  • an inspection, cleaning and maintenance of the electric terminals and applying a non-conductive coating if necessary;
  • a check of all belts for tightness and wear;
  • a check for oil in the motors;
  • a check for the accuracy of the thermostat.

Call G & S today to schedule your maintenance visit!

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Seattle HVAC Tip: How Often Should I Have My Geothermal System Checked?

Monday, July 9th, 2012

The beauty of a geothermal system in Seattle is that is requires very little maintenance. They have fewer mechanical components are than other heating systems – and most of these components are underground or inside, shielded from the outdoor elements. The underground tubing usually is guaranteed to last 25-50 years and inside components are easily accessible for servicing.

Nonetheless, keeping a geothermal system working at peak efficiency is very important. If the geothermal system loses some of its efficiency, it will cost home and building owners money in energy costs, which makes little sense since geothermal system installation costs are higher than most other heating systems.

Its key component is the ground loop system, polyethelene tubing which carries refrigerant from below the Earth’s surface and back to an above-ground compressor. When installed correctly, the buried ground loop can last for decades. A leak in the metal tubing is usually the only problem if the ground loop is not installed correctly. In the case of a leak, it may be necessary to dig up the tubing – often installed at least ten feet below the surface – and repair the leak.

Other geothermal system components include its air handling unit, compressor, and pump. These components require periodic system checks by qualified professional heating and cooling technicians. Maintenance normally requires filter changes and component lubrication, to name the most common. It is recommended that an experienced technician perform a multiple-point inspection of the geothermal system components, usually during regularly scheduled annual or bi-annual service calls. To schedule your appointment today, give G & S a call today!

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Bellevue Air Conditioning Tips: Cleaning Your AC Condenser in Three Easy Steps

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Keeping your Bellevue air conditioning unit clean can help to maintain efficiency levels and prevent repair needs. It can also help the system last longer and improve indoor air quality. Because the condenser is part of the outside unit, it’s constantly exposed to outside dust, dirt, and yard debris; therefore, it is very important that you take the time to thoroughly clean the condenser coil and fan. Remember, before you clean any part of your AC system, always turn off all the power to the unit.

If you aren’t sure how to locate the condenser, feel free to call G & S, and we can tell you where to find it and provide a few cleaning tips. In general, you can clean the air conditioning condenser unit in three, easy-to-follow steps, which are outlined below:

  1. Always start by ensuring that there’s nothing blocking the airflow to the unit. You may have to trim low braches or prune back bushes that are obstructing the airflow. Clear away any dead grass clippings, or weeds that have grown up around the unit.
  2. Once the unit is free of debris and dirt, clean the condenser with a professional coil cleaner, which should come with instructions on how much to use and where to apply the cleaner. Although some contractors recommend washing down the entire outside unit with a garden hose, you have to be very careful not to bend the fins. It’s best to use a specialized condenser cleaner and let it air dry.
  3. To clean the fins, you can use a dry, soft brush to remove dust and dirt. Remember to clean the fins carefully because they are bendable and damage easily. Straighten bent fins with a fin comb, which you can find at any HVAC supply store, or sometimes a hardware stores. Ask a professional if you aren’t sure how to use the fin comb.

When your AC is not in use, keep it covered with the condenser cover that came with your air conditioning system. If you don’t have a cover that fits properly, call one of our Bellevue air conditioning experts to help you find a replacement cover or one that will fit your particular model. Don’t use anything that could come off easily in inclement weather. Covering your AC unit in the winter will help prevent damage or corrosion.

If you do happen to notice physical damage while cleaning your outdoor condenser unit, call G & S so that we can send one of our Bellevue air conditioning technicians to assess the damage or make any necessary repairs.

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Everett HVAC Q/A: Why Won’t My Heat Pump Start?

Monday, June 11th, 2012

If you are considering heat pump repairs in Everett, you may be surprised to learn that it is probably not the heat pump that is to blame, especially if the trouble is that it simply won’t start up. That seems counterintuitive, but it’s true: the heat pump can be in perfect working order but still not turn on.

The good news, then, is that you won’t need a new heat pump and you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg to fix or replace it. Still though, these types of problems can very frustrating to diagnose and correct. Here are four common culprits when a heat pump won’t start:

  1. No power to the heat pump. Check your breaker box to see if the circuit breaker was tripped. If so, reset it and see if that fixes the problem. Another possibility is that your heat pump is wired to a wall switch, or that there is a switch on the unit itself. Make sure the switch is turned on.
  2. Make sure the thermostat is set to the proper mode, such as “heat” mode if you desire more heat. It seems overly simple, but sometimes the trouble is as simple as that.
  3. A recently replaced thermostat. If you recently upgraded or replaced the thermostat in your home, it’s possible that something went wrong that is preventing your heat pump from starting. It may be the wrong kind of thermostat – heat pumps require a specific type – or it may have been improperly wired.
  4. Finally, the heat pump may have its own circuit breaker on the air handler cabinet. This is often the case with heat pumps that have supplemental electric elements. If that breaker is tripped, that could cause the problems you are experiencing.

If you exhaust these problems and the problem persists or recurs – for example, if the circuit breaker trips again – call G & S Heating, Cooling and Electric to work on your heat pump. There may be something larger at work that is causing problems in the electrical system that controls your heat pump, and that requires some expertise to properly address.

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