Reasons to Install a Whole-Home Generac Generator

September 12th, 2014

We can lose power for a number of reasons: weather-related events, environmental events like wildfires, road construction or a blown substation. Whatever the reason, it makes our lives exponentially more difficult when we don’t have the power we need to run our homes. One of the best ways to prepare for any event that can result in loss of electrical power is to install a Generac whole-home generator in your home. Since 1959, Generac has been the leader in home generators, and hiring the trained technicians from ACI Northwest for your generator installation means that you won’t have to be without power ever again.

Reasons to Install a Whole Home Generac Generator

Having the best equipment is part of being prepared. Generac generators are designed to seamlessly transition you to your back-up power should you lose yours. Here are some reasons why you will want to consider the installation of a Generac generator:

  • Automatic operation – each Generac whole-home generator is equipped with a sensor that will instantly switch your home’s power to the generator as soon as power is lost, whether or not you are home. The generator will also turn off automatically once power is restored.
  • No manual refueling – Generac whole-home generators are made to work with three fuel types: natural gas, liquid propane (LP) or diesel. For natural gas and LP generators, the fuel is piped directly to the generator. The diesel model has a tank below it that manages the diesel fuel, so there’s no running back and forth with gas cans. Simply have the diesel tank refueled by a fuel company as needed.
  • Connected directly to your electrical panel – Generac whole-home generators are wired directly into your home’s electrical panel, so there’s no need for long extension cords through windows.
  • Overload protection – in the rare case that your Generac generator gets overloaded, it is equipped with overload protection: the generator’s circuit will trip, which disconnects the unit from the load.

Being prepared means having the best tools at your disposal for the worst possible circumstances. Losing power isn’t a usual thing, but when it happens, it can disrupt our lives entirely. With a Generac generator in your home, you won’t have to worry about this kind of disruption. Need more information? Call ACI Northwest and schedule the installation of a Generac generator in Coeur d’Alene with one of our specialists today.

The Very First Labor Day Celebration

August 29th, 2014

Labor Day as a federal holiday, held on the first Monday of September, has been with us now for 120 years. President Grover Cleveland signed the law that made Labor Day a national holiday in 1894. Ever since then, the three-day weekend has provided people in the U.S. with the opportunity for vacations, time with their families, shopping trips, and a general celebration of the conclusion of summer and the beginning of fall.

However, there were twelve years of Labor Day observations in the U.S. before it became an official holiday. The first Labor Day celebration took place in 1882 in New York City on September 5. According to the accounts from the time, it had a rough start and almost didn’t happen.

The main event planned for that first Labor Day was a parade along Broadway that was to start at City Hall. However, the parade ran into a bit of a snag early on. The marchers started to line up for the procession around 9 a.m., with a police escort to make sure the event went peacefully. However, the problem of the day wasn’t rowdy members of the parade—it was that nobody had remembered to bring a band!

With people ready to march, but no music to march to, it started to look like no parade would happen at all, and the first Labor Day would have ended up a failure. But just in time, Matthew Maguire of the Central Labor Union—one of the two men who first proposed the celebration—ran across the City Hall lawn to the Grand Marshal of the parade, William McCabe, to inform him that 200 men from the Jeweler’s Union of Newark were crossing the ferry to Manhattan… and they had a band!

At 10 a.m., only an hour late, the band from Newark walked down Broadway playing a number from a popular Gilbert and Sullivan opera. They passed McCabe and the other 700 marchers, who then fell in line behind them. Soon, the spectators joined in, and an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people marched through Lower Manhattan.

According to the New York Times, “The windows and roofs and even the lamp posts and awning frames were occupied by persons anxious to get a good view of the first parade in New York of workingmen of all trades united in one organization.”

The parade concluded two hours later when the marchers reached Reservoir Park. But the party was only getting started. Until 9 p.m., some 25,000 people celebrated with picnics and speeches and beer kegs. It was an enormous success, and all thanks to the speedy arrival of jewelers carrying band instruments.

If those musicians from Newark hadn’t shown up, perhaps we wouldn’t have the holiday opportunity that we now have every year. However you celebrate your Labor Day, our family at ACI Northwest wishes your family a happy end of summer.

Signs You Need Electrical Service to Upgrade Your Outlets

August 22nd, 2014

Older outlets can become a source of irritation or even danger. As the electrical demands in your house increase with each year (think about how many more powered appliances you have competing for plug space now compared to only 10 years ago), the outlets will become more out of date and unable to handle the demands placed on them. This can lead to power outages, broken outlets, and even electrical fires and the risk of electrocution.

If you have aging and faulty outlets, you need to call for electricians to upgrade them, and possibly upgrade other parts of your electrical system as well. Look out for the following signs that you need electrical service in Spokane Valley, WA to upgrade your home’s outlets. Contact ACI Northwest for outlet installation and any other services you need for the electrical system in your home. Our years of experience will make sure you receive the best work possible.

Indicators you need outlet upgrades

  • Sparking or warm outlets: One of the major dangers from older outlets is the chance of electrical fires starting because of faulty wiring. A warning that this is happening is when outlets start to feel warm to the touch or spark whenever you plug anything in to them. Also watch for marks of charring on the outside of outlets, which will warn that an electrical fire has already occurred behind the outlet plate.
  • Tripped circuit breakers: If you plug in an appliance to an outlet, and it immediately causes a circuit breaker to trip (or a fuse to blow if you have an older fuse box), then there may be something wrong with the outlet, the electrical system, or both. If this continues to occur, call for repairs right away to see where the problem is.
  • They aren’t GFCI outlets: GFCI outlets (ground fault circuit interrupters) are outlets that have two buttons located between the outlet sets, marked RESET and TEST. If you do not have this type of outlet in your home (or you don’t even have three-pronged grounded outlets) you should schedule an upgrade. GFCI outlets can determine if electricity is flowing through a person and cut off the voltage before causing a severe electrical shock. They are an excellent way to protect the people in your house from receiving high voltage shocks from the outlets or any appliance connected to them.

Please do not attempt to replace outlets on your own! This is potentially hazardous work for non-professionals, and you can risk damaging your electrical system. Call for licensed electricians for all your needs for electrical service in Spokane Valley, WA. ACI Northwest is here to help you upgrade your home’s electrical system, whether you need new outlets, a circuit breaker panel to replace a fuse box, or new wiring.

Signs You Should Replace Your Circuit Breaker Panel

August 15th, 2014

If you have a circuit breaker panel for your home’s electrical system, then you are already ahead of a house that still uses an older fuse box. However, a circuit breaker panel is still subject to the pressures and wear of time, and eventually you may need to have a new unit installed. This job requires professional electricians to handle: don’t try to purchase a circuit breaker panel and put it in yourself, since you will risk high voltage shocks, a poorly functioning panel, and fire hazards from bad wiring.

Call ACI Northwest in Spokane, WA for electrical service that will replace your current circuit breaker panel. We provide a full range of services for home electricity, and we are on call 24 hours a day so we’re always there when you need us.

Warning signs to replace your circuit breaker panel

  • Breakers are tripping more often: Although frequently tripping circuit breakers can indicate a number of electrical problems, such as power surges and bad circuity, they can also warn that the electrical panel is wearing down and no longer functioning correctly. Call an electrician to look into the problem and see if the panel needs replacement.
  • Circuit breakers will not remain reset: This is a more specific warning than the above: if you reset a tripped breaker, but it will not stay that way for more than a few minutes, it most likely indicates that the panel itself is at fault and needs the experienced eyes of a professional electrician.
  • Burning smells from the panel: A major danger from a circuit breaker going bad is that it can cause fires inside the panel. If you notice an acrid smell from the panel, or other signs of burning, such as breakers that are hot to the touch or charring around the breakers, then you need to call for electrical help immediately and have a new panel put it.

Always, always, call on licensed electricians for work on the circuits, outlets, switches, and other components in your electrical system. This will ensure that the job is done right and you and your family is kept safe.

If you notice any of the above signs, or if you simply feel that your panel is too old to safely do its job, call for electrical service in Spokane, WA from ACI Northwest. We work hard every day to bring our customers complete satisfaction.

3 Common Evaporator Unit Problems

August 8th, 2014

The standard “split” central air conditioning system consists of two units: The outdoor unit is known as the condenser, where the AC releases and vents heat to the outside air. The condenser also contains the vital component of the compressor. The indoor unit is called the evaporator, where the evaporator coil absorbs heat from the air, and a blower fan sends it into the ventilation system to the rooms of the house.

The evaporator unit can run into a number of problems that will reduce the cooling ability of the AC and impair its airflow, possibly leading to a full breakdown. Should you notice any trouble with your air conditioner’s operation, contact a company like ACI Northwest immediately and let our trained technicians handle the issue. For more than 85 years, we have delivered excellent air conditioning repairs in Spokane, WA that has kept customers returning to us.

Three of the More Common Evaporator Unit Problems

  1. Ice on the evaporator coil: People often shrug off the appearance of a layer of frost along the indoor coil because they assume it’s a natural part of the cooling process. But any ice on the evaporator coil means serious trouble occurring within the system. It could be a refrigerant leak, a clogged air filter, or grime across the coil. Call for technicians to look into the trouble immediately to discover what is wrong, fix it, and then defrost the coil. If left without repair, the ice will continue to grow until it blocks the coil from performing heat exchange.
  2. Blower motor malfunction: The blower fan is essential both for sending conditioned air into the ventilation system and for running warm air across the evaporator coil to remove its heat. If the blower fan motor starts to fail due to wear, loss of lubrication, or electrical issues, it could cause the blower to stop entirely and prevent the AC from cooling. Major mechanical issues like this always require a technician to fix.
  3. Clogged air filter: The evaporator unit draws air into it through the return vents, and these vents can carry large amounts of dust, dander, and fibers that may damage the interior of the AC. To prevent these contaminants from entering the evaporator, an air filter traps the particles. But unless the air filter is changed regularly, it will become clogged and eventually begin to impede airflow into the system, leading to excess strain and higher AC bills. Make sure to change the filter once a month during air conditioning season, and call for technicians if a clogged filter has triggered a malfunction inside the AC.

Aside from routinely changing the filter, do not attempt to repair an AC on your own. Always call for professionally trained air conditioning repair in Spokane, WA from an experienced company with a long history. ACI Northwest is here for your cooling and heating needs, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Why Consider Ductless Air Conditioning?

July 30th, 2014

Ductless air conditioning is a great cooling option that is often overlooked by homeowners. Many homes come equipped with ducts that join with an air conditioning system to provide cool air. But sometimes, homes don’t have any pre-existing ductwork, or a homeowner may choose to add a new room in which extending the ductwork may be cumbersome.

Ductless air conditioning systems provide homeowners another option for air conditioning in Coeur d’Alene. Instead of using ducts to distribute air, ductless systems use multiple indoor air handlers at various locations throughout the home. The indoor air handlers do the job of the indoor evaporator unit of conventional systems, but also distribute cool air into the rooms directly. While these systems may be more expensive than central air conditioning systems, the benefits may be worth the cost.

  • No Major Renovations Required: Ductwork installation creates an unwanted disturbance for many homeowners. Besides, many homes cannot accommodate ductwork due to the layout of the home. Ductless installation only requires a small hole be drilled into the wall for the refrigerant line.
  • Eliminate Duct Loss: Unfortunately, a lot of energy is often lost in many ducted systems due to leaks, holes, and poorly installed ducts with loose connections. This means that most homeowners lose money cooling an unoccupied area of the house like the attic, a problem you’ll never have when you go ductless.
  • Higher SEER: The SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), which you can find printed on the EnergyGuide label of all air conditioners, can help you determine how efficient your air conditioner is and how much money you’ll save every month. Ductless air conditioners have significantly higher SEERs than many other systems, meaning you’ll pay a lot less than homeowners with central air.
  • Zone Control: Another reason to consider ductless air conditioning is zone control. Each indoor air handler is controlled by its own thermostat, which allows you to vary the temperature throughout the house according to each person’s temperature needs. You can also save money by shutting off the AC in unoccupied areas of the home.

To hear from an expert about the benefits of ductless air conditioning in Coeur d’Alene, call ACI Northwest today!

Upgrades That Can Make Your AC More Energy Efficient

July 25th, 2014

Many homeowners will do anything possible to lower their energy bills. But when you turn off your air conditioner or raise the temperature to save money, you give up your family’s comfort. Fortunately, there are other ways to save on cooling costs this summer without making your family feel the heat.

There are a few simple ways to make your AC more energy efficient, such as cleaning the air filters once a month and scheduling maintenance with an air conditioning technician. Dirty air filters can block airflow, causing your AC to run longer. An air conditioning maintenance technician can clean the components of your system for increased efficiency.

But another great way to increase the efficiency of your AC is by calling a technician to install money-saving upgrades for your system. A new programmable thermostat or zone control system may be the most enjoyable way for you to take advantage of the increased efficiency of your air conditioner this summer.

Thermostat Options

One upgrade you might consider is a digital, programmable thermostat. Manual thermostats are occasionally difficult to read which means your temperature reading is often inaccurate, raising your energy bills. If the temperature is even one or two degrees lower than you needed it to be, it can cause your bills to be significantly higher.

Digital, programmable thermostats have a clear display, so you’ll never set the temperature higher or lower than you want. Furthermore, you can program your digital thermostat to adjust the temperature throughout the day to save money when you are not home or during peak hours. For example, you can set the AC to switch on twenty minutes before you arrive home to avoid spending money on your AC bill when you’re not there.

Zone Control Systems

Another energy-saving upgrade is a zone control system. Zone control allows you the opportunity to choose the temperature in various areas of your home. If your family members rarely use every room at once, zone control is a great opportunity to save money by raising the temperature in unoccupied rooms while keeping others cool.

If you want air conditioning upgrades in Coeur d’Alene, call the professionals at ACI Northwest today!

Signs That Your Home Needs Electrical Repair

July 15th, 2014

Electricity is so essential to daily life, but it is also something we seldom think about because we are accustomed to receiving it with a flick of a switch or a touch of a power button. Your home may have electrical malfunctions that require repair, but unless you watch out for the signs you may not realize there are issues—until you suffer a major power loss or an electrical fire breaks out.

Should you notice any of the signs below, don’t ignore them and don’t attempt to fix the problem on your own. Call up professional electricians to handle the necessary electrical repairs. You can reach ACI Northwest any time of the day or night for emergency service from highly-trained professionals who will keep the electricity flowing safely through your home.

Watch for These Warning Signs of Electrical Repair

  • Flickering lights: If you spot lights in your home that occasionally flicker like candle flames, don’t dismiss the occurrences—especially if it occurs to a few lights at the same time. This indicates a power surge running through the electrical system, likely because a large appliance (the refrigerator, the air conditioner) has put excessive demand on the system. Small power surges like this will cause cumulative damage to appliances in your home, and could warn of bad circuits.
  • Warm or sparking outlets: Increased heat coming from outlets, or outlets that cause sparking whenever you plug an appliance into them, are suffering from bad wiring that can risk an electrical fire. Do not unscrew the outlet to look into it yourself; call for repairs.
  • Repeatedly tripped circuit breakers: The circuit breaker panel that has an occasionally tripped breaker is not usually a sign of a serious problem. But if you have tripped breakers occurring on a regular basis when appliances come on, then you may have repair issues within the panel itself (it may need a full upgrade) or trouble with the wiring. Call for an electrician to investigate the trouble and find a solution.

Remember, should you encounter any of these signs, turn off any of the affected appliances and unplug them. Do not attempt to use the suspect parts of the electrical system until after you have had an electrician examine and repair them.

Trust to Professional Electricians

Qualified electricians are a must for repairs: only trained electricians will know how to keep your home safe and up to local electrical code. Whatever your needs for electrical repair service in Coeur d’Alene, WA, you can put your trust in ACI Northwest. We provide comprehensive service for home electricity.

Common Problems with Air Conditioning Condenser Arrays

July 8th, 2014

Air conditioners for homes are known as “split systems,” or simply “splits,” because they consist of two sets of cabinets, one housed inside and the other outside.

The outside cabinet contains the condenser array, the components necessary for condensation to take place in the heat exchange cycle. These components are the compressor (which heats and places refrigerant under pressure), the condenser coil (where the heat of the refrigerant is released), and the fan (which forces cooler air across the condenser coil and then vents the heat outside).

The cabinet that protects the condenser array is sturdy, but no condenser is 100% damage-proof, and other types of repair needs can affect it as well. Here are a few of the more common troubles you can encounter with the condenser that will require you call ACI Northwest for skilled air conditioning repair in Coeur d’Alene, WA. Our NATE-certified technicians will get the job done right the first time.

Condenser Problems You May Encounter

  • Dirty condenser coil: Because the condenser is outside, it can pick up dust and dirt that will infiltrate the cabinet. (Make sure to have regular maintenance to prevent the system form becoming too dirty.) Dirt along the evaporator coil will make it harder for the coil to release heat, and the refrigerant will not cool down sufficiently for the second half of the heat exchange. You will need technicians to remove the coil and clean it if the grime is restricting proper operation.
  • Damaged or broken fan: The fan draws in the outdoor air across the hot coil to cause the condensation that releases heat. If the fan develops damages or it stops working because the motor fails or a fan belt breaks, the heat exchange cycle will become less efficient. Damage to the fan blades from debris can also cause the fan to start striking the casing and injure other components. Loud noises from the condenser cabinet are a reason to call for repairs.
  • Compressor issues: The last part of an air conditioner that you want to stop working is the compressor, which is the “engine” of the whole system and also the most expensive part to replace. (Often, you need to have the whole system replaced in the case of compressor failure.) If the compressor becomes dirty it will start overworking, and possibly overheat. Motor problems and capacitor failures will also affect the compressor’s performance. Any suspicion of malfunctions in the compressor requires immediate action from repair technicians.

When you need to move fast for condenser array repairs for your air conditioning system, call ACI Northwest. We are ready 24/7 to assist you with any AC troubles you have this summer.

Leading the Way with Independence Days!

July 3rd, 2014

The term “Fourth of July” is the popular name for the U.S. federal holiday officially known as Independence Day. It isn’t surprising that we would come up with a different name from the official one, since “Independence Day” is one of the most common holiday names across the globe. Most of the nations in existence today won their independence from another power, whether through wars, treaties, or long transitions.

What might surprise many people is how old U.S. Independence Day actually is compared to the similar holidays of other nations. Although the U.S. is still considered a young nation, it was one of the first to make a full break for its colonial master with a new constitution. Most countries that celebrate a national Independence Day are commemorating events that occurred in the second half of the 20th century, when many older empires at last relinquished control over their colonies.

How substantial is the difference in time for the U.S.A. and the rest of the world? U.S. Independence Day celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776, making our country unusual in that almost no existing nations celebrate an independence event from the eighteenth century.

In terms of age, there is only a tiny handful current countries that celebrate an independence day that occurred earlier than the United States. Switzerland celebrates its independence from the Holy Roman Empire of the Germans in 1291 with “Swiss National Day,” held every August 1—although this only gained status as a national holiday in 1994. Sweden Celebrates “National Day of Sweden” to commemorate events in 1523 and the election of King Gustav I during the War of Liberation against Christian II of Denmark and Norway. Romania comes almost a hundred years after U.S. Independence, with its 1877 freedom from Turkish rule.

The most recent Independence Days to come into existence are for Montenegro, which gained independence from Serbia in 2006 and celebrates the day on May 21, and South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011 and celebrates the day only a day after the U.S., on July 5.

Does anyone else celebrate a literal “Fourth of July,” an Independence Day that also falls on the fourth day of the seventh month? Yes: Abkhazia, a small Central Asian country that declared its independence from the Republic of Georgia in 1999 (although not all countries recognize it). Coming a day (like South Sudan) on July 5 is the independence of the small Atlantic island nation of Cape Verde, which became free from Portugal through signed agreement in 1975.

Everyone at ACI Northwest hopes you and your family enjoy a vibrant Independence Day/Fourth of July this year!