Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

January 26th, 2015

The electrical power flowing into your home from the main electrical line is controlled by your electrical panel.

Like a dam controls water dispersal, so, too, does your electrical panel, by using a system of pre-set circuit breakers that are equipped to distribute a specific amount of power to the various systems of your home.

As such, the electrical panel has a maximum limit to the amount of power it will provide to your home. This means that should you need to draw more power, you will most likely have to upgrade your electrical panel.

Any work involving the electrical system of your home in Coeur d’Alene should always be handled by an electrical services professional, and the experts at ACI Northwest have the training and certification necessary to handle any kind of electrical services you may need.

Reasons to Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

Here are some reasons it’s important to upgrade your electrical panel:

  • You keep tripping breakers – if you keep tripping circuit breakers every time you have more than one major appliance operating, this is a good sign that you are drawing too much power from your electrical box.
  • You’ve expanded your home – your home’s electrical box was wired to accommodate the electrical power it needed when you purchased it; if you have expanded your home, your electrical panel should expand with it.
  • The panel has low amperage – the average household electrical draw per circuit is typically between 120 to 240 volts; if you don’t have enough amperage to support your systems, your panel should be upgraded as soon as possible.
  • You’re adding a major appliance or system – if you are adding a major appliance, such as a dryer, or a new whole-home system like air conditioning, your electrical panel has to be able to handle the power load.

Browning, dimming, flickering and tripping circuits are all signs that there may be a problem with your home’s electrical panel.

Don’t wait until a serious problem develops – call ACI Northwest and schedule an appointment for electrical services in your Coeur d’Alene home today.

What Is a Heat Recovery Ventilator?

January 16th, 2015

Have you ever wished you could give your heating system a boost without having to supplement it with a fireplace or woodstove?

If so, you may want to consider the installation of a heat recovery ventilator. Not only does this device help with heating, it also helps improve your home’s ventilation. Installation of a heat recovery ventilator should only be handled by a professional heating services company in Spokane, so call the people you can count on: ACI Northwest.

How It Works

A heat recovery ventilator is a pretty ingenious little device. What an HRV does is apply the thermal energy from your outgoing, stale, heated air to incoming fresh air. Applying this thermal energy to incoming fresh air pre-treats the new air, making it warmer while also keeping it fresh. The process is simple: the HRV exhausts your used indoor air to the outside, but the air doesn’t head straight outdoors; it goes through the core of the HRV, which contains a heat exchanger.

Inside the core of the HRV, the incoming fresh air stream and outgoing stale air stream exchange in the core, and the heat energy from the outgoing air is applied to the incoming fresh air. This pre-treated air then moves directly into your HVAC system, where it is warmed further and dispersed to your living spaces. The HRV is installed as part of your heating system, so the addition is seamless.

Benefit of an HRV

There are several benefits to installing an HRV that are worth considering:

  • Energy efficiency – the pre-treating action of the incoming air helps boost energy efficiency because it takes some of the work load off your heating system to do so.
  • Continuous fresh air – with an HRV, you won’t have to worry about poor ventilation as fresh air will come into your home continuously.
  • Less stress on your heating system – your heating system won’t have to work as hard to heat your home, which reduces the stress and wear and tear.
  • Increase comfort – the HRV helps balance the humidity level in your home and provides more even heating.

If you’ve been looking for a way to improve the energy efficiency of your heating system, call ACI Northwest and speak to one of our heating services experts in Spokane.

Why It’s Important to Hire Professionals for Electrical Work

January 15th, 2015

Electricity is a huge part of our day-to-day lives. As we become more and more integrated with our technology, that role is only going to get larger.

This increasing dependence on electricity is reflected in the home, as well, with an increasing number of electrical appliances being installed. It may be tempting to a lot of people to attempt some of this installation and maintenance on their own. Many of us have an urge to try our own electrical work, in an effort to save money and become more self-sufficient. While this drive to learn new skills is admirable, it really should not be practiced on something like your home’s electrical system.

Read on to find out why it’s important to hire professionals for electrical work.

Safety

Above all else, hiring a professional electrician keeps you safe. There is an incredible amount of power running through the average home’s electrical grid, and one wrong move can result in severe injuries, death or fire. The savings you would get from trying to do your own electrical work instead of hiring an electrician will never be worth the potential for injury or death. Be safe, and hire a professional electrician any time you need electrical work done.

Efficiency

The primary reason that people try to do their own electrical work is because they believe it will save them money. On the surface, this seems to be true. If you can wire your own outlet or ceiling fan, why bother spending money on a professional? The problem is that a lot of people who try to do their own electrical work don’t do it correctly, and end up causing more problems for themselves later on. Often, after fruitlessly trying to correct the mistake and making things worse, people have to call an electrician anyway to make things right. If you call an electrician the first time, instead of trying to do it yourself, you’re ensuring that the job is done right. This will save you a ton of hassle.

If you need a professional electrician, call ACI Northwest. We provide electrical repair services throughout Spokane.

3 Reasons to Consider a Boiler

January 5th, 2015

Sometimes homeowners hear the word “boiler” for heating and think of an outdated, clunky old heating system; this simply isn’t true. A boiler may not use the latest technology to heat your home, but that’s because it doesn’t have to: the way a boiler heats is fairly simple and straightforward, so it doesn’t need to be the trendiest system around. The heating from a boiler system is gentle and radiant, which is very comfortable for a lot of people, and the long-time use of boilers means that it isn’t hard to find parts for repairs. If you are looking at installing a new heating system in Spokane, you may want to consider a boiler for some of the following reasons:

Reason #1: They are great systems for allergy sufferers.

Having allergies is no picnic, and they can be as frustrating during the winter as they are during the summer. Forced air systems can be very challenging for allergy sufferers because the blowing air kicks up dust every time the system turns on. With a boiler, there is no blowing air, so allergy sufferers don’t have to worry about constantly swirling dust every time the heat turns on.

Reason #2: They are durable, reliable systems.

Boilers were the first whole-home heating systems and they have endured as such because they are reliable, durable systems. While today’s boilers are far more efficient than ones from just 10 years ago, the way a boiler heats your home is the same.

Reason #3: They can be used in several ways.

Boilers can be used with hydronic radiant heating, radiators and baseboard heating. They can be used in houses that are 100 years old or brand new. The piping can be easily zoned and you can even mix the outlets to maximize on heating the different areas of your home.

You can also use different kinds of fuels for a boiler, including natural gas, propane, oil and even solid fuels. Think a boiler may be a good fit for your home? Call ACI Northwest today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation experts!

When New Year’s Day Was Not on January 1st

January 1st, 2015

Some holidays fall on shifting calendar days for every year, such as Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) and Easter (the first Sunday after the first full moon to occur on or after March 21). Other holidays, such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween, are fixed. No holiday has a more solid calendar date attached to it than New Year’s Day. It has to fall on January 1st because it celebrates the first day of a new year. That only makes sense…

…except that, like most things that at first appear obvious, there is a bit more to the story. The beginning of the year was not always on the first of January. As with an enormous numbers of traditions in the Western World, the establishment of January 1st as the inaugural day of a new year goes back to the ancient Romans.

The modern solar calendar is derived from the Roman model, but the earliest Roman calendars did not have 365 days in a year spread over 12 months. Instead, there were 304 days spread over 10 months. The Romans believed this calendar originated with the mythical founder of the city, Romulus. If Romulus were a real person, we can credit him with a poor understanding of the seasons, as this abbreviated calendar soon got out of sync with Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Numa, one of the Kings of Rome (probably also fictional) receives credit for creating a longer year with two added months, Ianuarius and Februarius, bringing the number of days in the year to 355. The new month of Ianuarius, named after Ianus (Janus in contemporary spelling), the god of beginnings, would eventually be known in English as January. But when this new calendar was instituted, January was not the first month. March, named after the god of war, remained the first month, and March 1st was New Year’s Day.

This extended calendar still did not keep in synch with the seasons. In 45 BCE, Julius Caesar instituted reforms to align the calendar correctly according to calculations of astronomers, with an additional 10 days distributed across the year. January also became set as the first month, and offerings to the god Janus on this day started the tradition we now know as New Year’s. The date still fluctuated during the ensuing centuries, with a number of Western European holy days treated as the beginning of the year instead. It wasn’t until the next calendar reform in 1582, the Gregorian Calendar, that the date of the New Year was fixed at January 1st.

However you choose to celebrate the beginning of the current calendar, everyone here at ACI Northwest hopes you have a wonderful 2015!

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

December 25th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from ACI Northwest!

What’s at Risk with a Poor Furnace Installation?

December 19th, 2014

Today’s furnaces are very energy efficient and durable – but you won’t see these benefits or be comfortable in your home if your furnace isn’t installed correctly. Any home heating system should always be installed by a trained and certified professional to ensure proper installation. Multiple problems and even some risks can develop when your furnace isn’t installed correctly. If you are ready for a new heating installation and have chosen a furnace, take the next right step and hire a trained expert from ACI Northwest to install your new system.

Problems with Poor Installation

Here are some examples of problems that can develop when your furnace is installed poorly:

  • Fuel leaks – combustion furnaces have to be connected to a fuel source in order to work. Should this connection be performed incorrectly, you could be looking at issues with fuel leaks. Any kind of fuel leakage is a serious problem, and one that won’t occur with a trained expert.
  • Electrical issues – if you have an electric furnace, the furnace needs to draw considerable power from your home’s electrical box, so it will have to be connected to the electrical box by a breaker. If the breaker isn’t installed correctly, or is too small, it will trip constantly, affecting the operation of your electric furnace.
  • Problems with ductwork – furnaces need to be connected directly to your ductwork so that the heat can be blown into your home. This connection has to be sealed so that the air can make it through the ductwork as needed. If this connection isn’t made correctly, or the connection isn’t sealed, you could lose a great deal of heating.
  • Poor energy efficiency – if the system is installed incorrectly, it may not work as it is supposed to. This can put stress on the system, which forces it to work harder. Anytime a heating system works harder, it uses more energy.

Working with a trained expert from start to finish helps ensure that your furnace will be installed correctly and work just as it should. If you need help with your heating installation in Spokane, call ACI Northwest today!

What Are the Best Kinds of Flooring for a Radiant Heating System?

December 12th, 2014

Radiant heating systems are a great option for heating your home, especially if you’re looking for a more energy efficient option than traditional forced air systems. Unlike forced air systems, however, radiant heating forces some considerations beyond the heating system itself. Let’s examine how radiant heating is affected by flooring, and what you should do about it.

Why Does Flooring Matter?

Before we get into the best flooring options for radiant heating systems, it might help to discuss why flooring matters in the first place. Unlike forced air systems, radiant heating systems utilize a network of hot water pipes to transport heat throughout the house. These pipes are mainly installed in the subfloor of a room, though other areas like walls are possible as well.

The type of flooring matters because the heat from the system is transmitted through the floor to get into the room. This means that if the flooring is more or less conducive to heat, the system itself will be more or less effective.

What Kinds of Flooring Work Best?

Technically, any kind of flooring could work with a radiant heating system. That doesn’t mean that all flooring types work equally well, however. Generally, you’ll want to pick flooring that is more conducive to heat, making it more able to transmit the heat from the pipes to the room. Stone is a good choice, as is ceramic and even concrete. All of these materials conduct heat quite well, although they will take longer to warm up than lighter materials.

Hardwood can work, as can LVT or LVP (Luxury Vinyl Tile and Luxury Vinyl Plank). The problem with those last three is that they will contract and expand with the heat from the pipes, which can warp your floor. There are ways to mitigate this problem, but it will take some extra steps from whoever is installing your floors. Carpet is just about the only flooring option that really shouldn’t be considered with radiant heating. Carpet is designed to insulate a room, repelling heat instead of absorbing it. This makes it a particularly bad choice for radiant heating, as it will work at cross-purposes.

If you’d like to know more about radiant heating, call ACI Northwest. Our heating experts cover all of Spokane.

Common Problems with Furnace Air Handlers

December 5th, 2014

All furnaces have air handlers, also known as blowers, which push the warm air into your home. These large fans have several moving parts, so at some point during your ownership, you may have to repair your blower. A number of problems can develop with your furnace air handler, so it’s best to allow a trained technician handle any problem that may develop with your blower. The experts at ACI Northwest can handle any heating repair you may have, so if you are experiencing a problem with your heating, call us today!

Common Blower Problems

Here are some of the more common problems our technicians see regarding furnace air handlers:

  • Worn/broken belts – it is important that your blower rotate at the rate is was made to in order to maintain proper air flow; the fan belt is a critical part of this process. When the belt becomes loose, wears out or breaks, it needs to be replaced. Wearing belts may make a screeching noise, so if you hear this sound, call for a technician.
  • Problems with fan blades – fan blades can become loose or even break during use. While your fan can still operate with a bent or broken blade, they can cause damage to other parts of your system.
  • Motor issues – your motor can overheat, experience electrical problems or loose lubrication, which can cause the moving parts to grind. Sometimes fan motors can be repaired, but other times replacement may be required.
  • Electrical problems – relays, frayed or corroded wiring or a stuck limit switch can cause electrical problems that affect the operation of the fan and motor. It can be challenging to locate an electrical issue, so it’s best to allow a trained expert to detect the problem and repair it.

If your furnace is turning on but you find yourself without heat or with a serious decrease in the volume of heat coming into your home, you may have an issue with your air handler. It’s always best to have a professional handle any repairs you have. Call ACI Northwest to schedule heating repair service in Spokane today!

When Should I Replace My Heating System?

November 28th, 2014

As a homeowner, you know a time will come when you will have to replace your heating system. Though you may have an approximate estimation of when that time will be, however, it is sometimes difficult to be sure. How can you tell whether you need to replace your heater, or simply repair it? Let’s take a look at some of the most obvious signs.

Age

Any time something goes wrong with your heater, the easiest way to tell if it needs repair or replacement is to consider its age. Generally speaking, heating systems that are younger than 15 years old can probably last for a few more years. Systems over 15 years old can likely be replaced for the same amount of money it would cost to keep repairing them, which brings us to our next point.

Frequency of Repairs

All heating systems experience the need for repairs every once in a while. However, one thing you’ll need to pay attention to is the frequency with which your system breaks down. One or two repairs a year is a fairly common occurrence for most heating systems. Any more than that is a good indication that your heating system is, quite frankly, wearing out. This is especially true when taken with the advanced age of the system.

Increase in Heating Cost

As wear and tear begins to accumulate in your heating system, you will experience a gradual decline in your heater’s ability to do its job. Before parts actually start to break in your system, you will likely experience an increase in your monthly heating bill. Of course, wear and tear occurs any time you start your heating system, regardless of its age or condition. The older your heater is, however, the more likely that the burden of years of use will have a greater effect on the various parts in your system.

If you think you might need to replace your heating system, call ACI Northwest. Our HVAC technicians provide professional heating services throughout the entire Spokane area.