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

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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Landscaping, Your AC, and Saving Money!

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Who knew that proper landscaping of your home could save you money?  It’s true!  Our Everett air conditioners will work harder and more frequently than we would ever want to in direct sunlight, so landscaping is a way of giving the AC a break while at the same time saving money on utility bills.

  • Cut back any overgrown bushes or plants nearby, and remove any weeds growing near or over the AC unit, in order to ensure proper air circulation is maintained in the space immediately surrounding the AC unit. It might even be prudent to place stepping stones or cement in the foot of space immediately surrounding the AC unit, to keep a good barrier between the unit and surrounding foliage.
  • Pull out that green thumb and plant some flowers or greenery surrounding but not too close to the AC unit, making it a part of the yard’s landscaping, rather than an eye-sore which stands out.
  • Get your air conditioner under the shade.  This can be done simply by adding trees or tall bushes near the AC unit, protecting it from the blazing sun.  AC units can also be moved to the North side of a house or other building, making sure they are under the shade during the heat of the day.  Ensuring an AC unit is in the shade can mean not only saving approximately 5% on cooling bills, but can also increase the energy efficiency of the air conditioning unit by upwards of 10%.
  • Add trees or tall foliage all around a property to provide shade directly on the home or building, which can additionally contribute to overall cooling of the yard and buildings being cooled.

Proper landscape maintenance near, upkeep of, and airflow to an air conditioning unit ensures that there is reduced wear and tear on your Everett AC unit, helping it to run more efficiently for a much longer period of time.  Pay attention to your AC unit and it will provide a great service for many years. To schedule a maintenance appointment today, give G & S a call!

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Bellevue AC Guide: Indoor Air Conditioning Components

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Cool air on a hot day is a precious commodity, but modern technology has made it as basic in our lives as a part of most homes, businesses and the places we visit.  Often taken for granted, the process of air conditioning has many components to help perform the cooling process.

Air Conditioning 101

Utilizing a process of rapid evaporation and condensation, air conditioning is a process which involves the rapid evaporation and condensation of chemicals called refrigerants.  These are compounds that have properties allowing them to change from gas to liquid and back again at low temperatures.

When evaporating into a gaseous state, the refrigerant absorbs heat.  Compressed tightly together again, it condenses back into liquid, releasing that heat in the form of condensation which can be evacuated to the outdoors. Air is blown over the cooled liquid in the circulating system and distributed to the rooms through a system of duct works.

Round and Round

The refrigerant circulates through a closed loop system and maintains a delicate balance of pressure to compel its transformations. There are four components to the system:

  • the compressor
  • the condensing coil
  • the expansion valve, and
  • the evaporator coil

Starting with a compressor, the molecules are packed together tightly, creating and absorbing heat and becoming liquid.  The heated liquid enters the condenser coils, a series of delicate fins which allow the heat to dissipate to the outside.

The expansion valve controls the amount of liquid entering the evaporator coils.  If too much refrigerant is allowed at once, the system “floods” and is too dense to evaporate.  If there is too little, it idles inefficiently.

The evaporator coils are similar to the condensing coils with a series of fins, only these absorb heat from the conditioned space as the expanding refrigerant returns to gas and heads towards the compressor.

Inside and Out

Unlike the closed loop refrigerant system which is all about containment and control, the distribution system is about sending the heated and cooled air in different directions.  Employing two fans and extensive duct work, the heat is absorbed at one point and released to the outside at another.

Warm air from the conditioned space is blown over the evaporating coil where the heat which is needed to fill the expanding spaces between molecules gets absorbed by the gas.  The same blower that draws the heated air blows the cooled air back into the home, office or business.

Along the condensing coils, during the process of returning to liquid, the heat is released and blown to the outdoors by a second fan.

For more information about your Bellevue air conditioning system or to schedule a service call, contact G & S today!

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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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Will My North Seattle Air Conditioning Work Better with Dehumidification?

Monday, June 25th, 2012

There are a number of common misconceptions about humidity and air conditioning and how one affects the other. In truth, humidity is a major part of the discomfort we feel when the mercury rises. It can be 78 degrees outside but feel miserable simply because the humidity is high. So, many people wonder whether a dehumidifier is a good solution to moderate heat and how it will work in tandem with your North Seattle air conditioner.

Humidity and Your Air Conditioner

First, remember that air conditioning naturally lowers humidity because it cycles air through its condenser and evaporator coil. Conditioned air is naturally lower in humidity, regardless of what’s going on outside. So, if it is hot outside and humid, an air conditioner alone is very effective. On the other hand, a dehumidifier is useful is when the temperature isn’t that high but the humidity is.

Dehumidification not only lowers the relative humidity in your home, it reduces the need for cooling because you will feel more comfortable. Not only that, but a dehumidifier costs significantly less to run. So, when the temperature outside isn’t that high, there is no need to use thousands of watts per day of electricity just to stay comfortable.

This also reduces the overall wear on your air conditioner. Since it doesn’t need to run 24 hours a day to reduce humidity, wear and tear on the device is reduced and you save a tremendous amount of money on repairs and eventual replacement costs.

When to Use a Dehumidifier Alone

Generally, the Department of Energy recommends setting your air conditioner to 78 degrees and using a combination of a dehumidifier and fans to stay cool while it is off. If the temperature rises above that level, the air conditioner will turn on and supplement your dehumidifier. Consider too that a dehumidifier will reduce the burden placed on your air conditioner to pull humidity from the air. Humid air takes more energy to cool than dry air. Despite the fact that dehumidifiers will often raise the air temperature by 1-2 degrees, they save energy and make you more comfortable.

So, if you’re looking for a way to reduce your energy bill and enhance the longevity of your North Seattle air conditioner, look no further than a quality dehumidifier. Call G & S Heating, Cooling & Electric today to learn more!

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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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Seattle Heat Pump Tip: SEER vs. HSPF

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

When it comes buying a new Seattle heat pump, there are two different ratings you’ll often see – the SEER and the HSPF. So, what does each of them mean and which rating is more important when purchasing your new device? Here are a few things to consider:

 SEER

The acronym SEER is short for “seasonal energy efficiency rating” and is used most commonly to measure air conditioner efficiency or in this case, the cooling capacity of your Seattle heat pump.

 HSPF

The HSPF is short for “heating seasonal performance factor” and is a measurement of how efficient the heat pump is in producing heat during the cooler months of the year.

 The Difference Between the Two

Every heat pump will have both of these ratings, allowing you to see how efficient each is. This is important because you need to know for certain how well your heat pump will perform under certain situations – both in the winter and summer.

However, if you live in a colder climate where the summer rarely calls for air conditioner, your focus should be on the HSPF first. And if you live in a warmer climate where your heating needs are minimal, the SEER is most important. Another thing to consider is your supplemental heat. If the cost of your supplemental heating system is high, you’ll want an HSPF that is as low as possible to balance it out.

 Choosing an Efficient Heat Pump

Heat pump efficiency directly impacts the price of the device you purchase but is almost always worth the difference. The key is to find a device that provides what you need based on where you live. Keep in mind as well that, like most HVAC upgrades, you won’t immediately recoup the cost of the device in your energy savings, so if you plan on moving soon, you should purchase a more affordable device now and upgrade later.

Purchasing a heat pump is an important step in making your home more energy efficient. If you are unsure which rating you need or how to analyze their meanings, contact G & S Heating, Cooling & Electric to learn more.

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Why AFUE Ratings Matter When Installing a New Furnace in Your Snohomish County Home

Monday, February 13th, 2012

When you are in the market for a new furnace for your Snohomish County home, there are several reasons you should pay attention to the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. All newer model furnaces get an AFUE percentage, which measures how much fuel a particular model converts into heat. Furnaces with higher AFUE ratings are more efficient, but the size and type of furnace will also factor into how much you’ll save on energy costs.

Understanding the AFUE Ratio

The minimum AFUE rating for new furnaces is 78%. This means that seventy-eight percent of the fuel is turned into heat, and the remaining percentage is lost either through poor insulation, air leaks, or the ventilation system in the home. Because there’s no heat loss through a chimney flue, some all-electric furnaces can have an AFUE rating as high as 98%. However, if the cost of electricity used to meet your normal heating needs is higher than the efficiency savings, you may want to consider other options. Talk to a qualified HVAC contractor for advice about the most cost-efficient heater for your home.

Furnace Efficiency Features

Furnaces manufactured 15-20 years ago have significantly lower AFUE ratings (between 55%-70% for most older models) because they are typically single-stage, or single-speed systems. Single-stage furnaces are less efficient because they are designed to cycle on at full capacity and shut off when the desired temperature is met.  Newer, two-speed models have a second setting that runs consistently at a lower speed, which saves energy by burning less fuel. Multispeed furnaces that have variable-speed blowers are the most efficient because they operate at various levels and automatically adjust to the thermostat to maintain a constant temperature.

If you look at the AFUE ratings for multispeed and variable-speed furnaces, the ratios should be above 80%. Keep in mind that this only determines the efficiency levels for the furnace itself. You’ll need to factor in whether or not your home has proper insulation and other upgrades, such as double-paned windows and doors.

Call G&S Heating and Cooling to speak with one of our qualified HVAC technicians about a furnace upgrade for your Snohomish County home.

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Edmonds HVAC Safety Tip: Clothes Dryer Ventilation

Monday, January 9th, 2012

It’s important to maintain the ventilation system in your Edmonds home for many reasons. Increasing the efficiency of your HVAC system and lowering your utility bills are a few of them, but safety is the best reason to keep your vents clean, particularly your clothes dryer vent.

Clothes dryers are one of the leading causes of house fires each year. Poorly maintained venting systems and improper installation are usually the cause. Protect your home with these maintenance and safety tips.

Even if you clean out the lint trap after each use, lint can still get trapped in the exhaust vent and cause a fire hazard or a potential carbon monoxide leak with gas dryers. Maintaining proper ventilation for a clothes dryer includes cleaning out the exhaust duct and hose. To do this, you just need to unplug your dryer and detach the hose, which can be removed with common household tools. If you already do this regularly and find an abnormal amount of lint and debris, call an HVAC technician to inspect it. There could be something in the duct system blocking the ventilation for your dryer.

At least once a year, you should also have a qualified technician inspect and clean your exhaust duct and make sure you have the proper style hose. If you have a foil or vinyl hose, you should replace it with a flexible metal one that is fireproof. You might want to consider installing a dryer box, which protects the flexible hose and saves space.

Dryers that aren’t properly installed or put in areas that could create hazards are often found in older homes; however, some newer homes are built with designs that create longer ventilation paths and more potential for debris to get trapped inside the ducts.

Don’t wait until a hidden safety issue turns into a fire or carbon monoxide hazard in your Edmonds home. Inspect and clean your exhaust hose and duct today!

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Green Lake Heating Tip: Signs of an Undersized Furnace

Monday, December 12th, 2011

If you’re purchasing a new furnace for your Green Lake home, you want to avoid buying one that is undersized for your particular space. To do that, here are some common signs that the furnace isn’t powerful enough for the heating needs of your home. These signs might appear for an older furnace as well, especially as it ages and loses its ability to provide adequate heat for your home.

Maintaining Temperature

The most common (and in many cases only) sign that your furnace is undersized is that the device simply doesn’t maintain the temperature in your home properly. This means that when turned on to full and left for a few hours, your furnace doesn’t heat your home to the thermostat setting.

This can be due to an improper load calculation or a load calculation that wasn’t taken at all. The perfectly sized furnace will heat your home evenly on the coldest day your area is likely to have. So, undersizing should be pretty evident – if it doesn’t heat your home evenly and it’s not exceptionally cold outside, you might not have enough BTUs under the hood.

How to Fix the Problem

The problem is one that varies depending on the severity of the undersizing. Modern furnaces are often available with two stages, meaning they can operate at both a low BTU rating (often around 40K or so) and a higher BTU rating (70K or higher). This is the perfect solution for homeowners worried about undersizing because it ensures that your home always has enough heat in reserve should the weather get exceptionally cold.

For example, most furnaces are sized for extremely low temperatures, but if the temperature jumps up to 50 degrees F outside, your furnace is now oversized for that weather. A two stage furnace offers solutions for both common conditions and extreme conditions and will resolve most of the concern you have about undersizing and not having enough heat to offset outdoor temperatures.

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