Advantages of Radiant Systems

November 7th, 2014

Radiant heating isn’t new, but with the advent of better radiant heating products, radiant systems have become a popular choice among homeowners. You have a few choices when it comes to radiant heating, including the choice of using hot water or electricity. The installation of a radiant heating system requires knowledge and expertise, so call the experts with over 20 years of experience: ACI Northwest.

Types of Radiant Heating

There are three main types of radiant heating, and two of them are for radiant flooring. The choices for radiant flooring are:

  • Electric radiant floors
  • Hydronic radiant floors (hot water)

Electric Radiant Floors

Electric radiant flooring can be installed in two ways. The first is a wet installation in which electric cables are placed in wet cement; when the cement dries, it becomes a radiant slab. The second option with electric radiant flooring is to install mats of electrically conductive plastic under flooring.

Hydronic Radiant Floors

A hydronic system uses a boiler to provide hot water or steam. Flexible, durable plastic tubing is installed under your flooring and the hot water or steam flows through it, providing the room with heat.

Radiant Panels

Radiant panels are installed in ceilings and walls. Like flooring, radiant panels can heat via hot water or electricity, but electricity is more commonly used. Radiant panels are usually made of aluminum and have a faster response time than radiant flooring. However, radiant panels have a much lower heat capacity than radiant flooring.

Advantages of Radiant Systems

Because of their unique layout, radiant systems have some benefits other heating systems may not:

  • Even heating – the heat from radiant systems is gradual and even, which can feel more comfortable as compared to forced hot air.
  • No blowing dust – with forced air systems, the blowing air circulates dust and other particles, which can be particularly difficult for allergy sufferers.
  • Quiet operation – except for the firing of the boiler, the heat distribution of a radiant system is silent.
  • Easily zoned – radiant heating is easy to zone, offering you the potential for customized heating.

Imagine being able to keep your feet warm without socks all winter long; with radiant heating, you can do this and more. Call ACI Northwest and schedule the installation of radiant heating in Coeur d’Alene with one of our HVAC experts today.

Upflow vs. Downflow Furnace: What’s the Difference?

October 31st, 2014

There are a lot of choices when it comes to installing a furnace, and one of the choices has to do with how the warm air will flow from your furnace. It may seem like a small detail, but the way the air flows – either up or down – directly affects the placement of your furnace. If you are looking to install a new furnace for this winter’s heating, it’s important to know some basic functions of a furnace so that you can make an informed decision. Working with trained heating professionals in Coeur d’Alene, like the ones at ACI Northwest, helps to ensure that you install a heating system that fits your home and your needs, so call us today.

Upflow Furnace

An upflow furnace takes in air from the bottom of the unit, warms it in the heat exchanger, and then blows it upward into the ductwork of your home. Upflow furnaces need to be placed in a basement or crawlspace to be energy efficient, as they work on the principle that warm air rises. Some of the benefits of an upflow furnace are:

  • Better energy efficiency – because heat rises, upflow furnaces tend to be more energy efficient than downflow ones.
  • Comfort – upflow furnaces heat from the floor up, and many people find this a little more comfortable than from the ceiling down.
  • No need for extra flooring – upflow furnaces can rest directly on the concrete of your basement; with a downflow system, flooring needs to be reinforced, as downflow systems are typically placed in attics.

Downflow Furnace

As you may have guessed, a downflow furnace takes in air at the top of the cabinet, warms it, and then disperses it down into your home’s ductwork. As such, the placement of a downflow furnace is commonly in attic space, although it can also be placed in a garage or on the main level of a home. Some of the challenges with a downflow furnace are that installation can be more complicated, as there are stricter requirements for downflow furnaces (they also need reinforced subflooring), and they fight the natural tendency of hot air to rise. However, not all homes have a basement or crawlspace, so the benefit of a downflow furnace is that it fits with every kind of home.

Understanding your choices can help you choose a heating system that best fits your home. Call ACI Northwest today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation experts.

Gas Furnaces vs. Electric Furnaces: Which Is Better?

October 17th, 2014

A furnace is an efficient, reliable way to heat a home. When choosing a new heater, the first step is deciding which type of system is best for your house: a boiler, furnace, or heat pump. And if you’ve already decided that you want a furnace installed in your home, the next question involves which type of power source to use: gas or electric?

Many homeowners wonder whether a gas furnace or an electric furnace is a “better” choice. Often, however, the question is not this simple. In many homes, a gas furnace may be the best option, but in some cases an electric unit may be a better choice, or possibly the only option available.

Making the Decision

Gas and electric furnaces both distribute heat in the same way. A blower moves the warm air through the ducts and into your home. However, the two generate heat much differently. A gas furnace uses an igniter to create heat in a combustion chamber. An electric model instead generates heat with a current that runs through series of electric heating coils which heat the air as it moves past.

In general, people choose gas furnaces over electric furnaces because they are less expensive to run. In most areas, the cost of electricity is simply too high to justify purchasing an electric model, and operating a gas furnace will save a lot of money over time. However, there are some homeowners who don’t have access to a gas line. And there are a few more advantages to electric models. The initial cost of electric units is usually lower, and they are safer to run since they pose no risk of gas leaks.

Other Considerations

Deciding whether to purchase a gas or electric model is not the only choice you will need to make. You should look into the AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) of your unit to find out how much energy your unit uses to heat your home and how much is lost during operation. Proper sizing is also key to ensuring an efficient system. Talk over your concerns with an expert, like the folks at ACI Northwest. To find out more about professional heating services in Coeur d’Alene, call us today!

What Is the Difference Between a Furnace and a Boiler?

October 10th, 2014

The most common types of heating systems—both of which have warmed homes and businesses for well over a century and a half—are furnaces and boilers. Chances are high that you have one or the other working to keep your home cozy during the winter. The two systems have little in common, however, except that they can use similar energy sources. Otherwise, they have completely different methods of providing heat for a building, and each requires specialists to install, repair, and maintain it.

If you are looking to have new heating system in installation, your choice may come down to a boiler or furnace. The one that will work best for your home heating will depend on many factors, and you should always rely on professionals to handle the installation so you end up with the right heater for your needs. Call ACI Northwest and put your trust in our many years of experience finding heating solutions for the greater Coeur d’Alene and Spokane area.

Furnace: Forced-Air Heating

The principle of a furnace is “forced-air heating,” which means that the system heats up air and then distributes it with a blower through a ventilation system. How the furnace heats up the air in its cabinet depends on its fuel source. The most common furnace type uses natural gas piped into the home. The furnace burns the natural gas to create a hot combustion gas. This gas enters a metal heat exchanger, which then heats the air blown past it and into the ductwork. The cooled-down combustion gas safely vents outside through a flue.

A popular alternative to gas is electricity. In these units, electric coils in a series of heating elements glow hot as current runs through them. The heating elements raise the temperature of the air through resistance heating, and the blower sends the air into the ventilation system.

Boiler: Hydronic Radiant Heating

Boilers do not use forced air or ductwork to provide warmth. Instead, they use heated water—and in some cases, steam—distributed through pipes to various terminal points in a home that then radiate heat waves into rooms. Boilers often use natural gas to create the heat to raise the temperature of the water in their water tanks, although some rely on electrical heating elements within the tank itself. Radiant heating in general is cleaner than forced-air heating because it does not require ductwork that can contain dust and dirt that will mix into the air stream.

Which One Is Best For My Home?

Both systems have advantages and disadvantages: furnaces can achieve high levels of heating, while boilers tend to use energy more efficiently and can last longer. If your home already has a set of ducts, it’s probably easiest to install a furnace. For a newer home without ducts, a boiler is an attractive possibility. The best way to know for certain is to work with a heating professional, who can measure the best way to efficiently and effectively provide comfort for your home.

ACI Northwest has a team ready to help with your needs for heating services in Coeur d’Alene, WA. Call us today to help choose between a furnace and a boiler.

How Does a Gas Furnace Work?

October 3rd, 2014

One of the most popular and common types of heating systems is the furnace. If you use a gas furnace for your heating, you are in good company: approximately 60% of homes have a gas furnace heating system. Understanding how your system works is important, so our ACI Northwest technicians have taken some time to explain below how your gas furnace brings warm air into your home.

How Does a Gas Furnace Work?

In a gas furnace, air is heated and blown into your home through ductwork. The process starts with ignition: the thermostat senses that the temperature in your home has dropped and cues the furnace to begin the ignition cycle. A component called the draft fan inducer motor draws air into the burner assembly; the burners are ignited and the heat from the burners warms the heat exchanger. The air from inside the burner assembly is exhausted to the outside while a second fan, known as the blower fan, turns on. The blower fan is attached to the return duct, and as such, brings in the return air from your living spaces and blows it over the hot heat exchanger. This blown air is warmed, and continues its way into the supply ducts where it is delivered, warmed up, back into your living spaces. This process continues until the set temperature has been achieved.

What Are the Benefits of a Gas Furnace?

Here are some benefits of gas furnaces worth considering:

  • Convenience – natural gas is piped into homes, eliminating the management of deliveries.
  • Clean burning – natural gas burns cleanly, unlike other fossil fuels.
  • Gas heat is very warm – the heat given off by gas-fueled heating systems is anywhere between 25 and 35 degrees warmer than other systems. This means your home will heat up quickly.
  • Good energy efficiency – the average gas furnace has an efficiency rating of 90% , and can go as high as 98%.

If you have questions about your gas furnace heating system, or need repair, call ACI Northwest today and schedule heating service in Coeur d’Alene with one of our HVAC experts.

Common Causes of Heating Problems

September 26th, 2014

Our temperatures are starting to cool, which brings our attention to heating in Coeur d’Alene. Fall is a great time to test your heating system for problems and repair them before the cold weather sets in. There can be a number of reasons your heater experiences problems, and knowing what to look for can help expedite repairs to your system. It’s important to always call a trained specialist for your heating repairs, as a heating system shouldn’t be handled by anyone who doesn’t have training. ACI Northwest has helped customers in Coeur d’Alene with heating repair for over two decades, so if you need heating repair, call us today!

Common Causes of Heating Problems

Here are some common causes of heating problems:

  • Clogged/dirty components – clogged and/or dirty components do not work as they should. Parts that commonly become dirty in a heating system are the burner, the air filter, the coils (in a heat pump system), etc.
  • Faulty ductwork (in forced-air systems) – faulty ductwork can account for uneven heating or hot and cold spots. Common problems with ductwork are obstructions, holes and cracks, broken seals and damaged sections.
  • Ignition problems (for combustible systems) – when your combustible heating system doesn’t light, it can’t provide heat. Several things can require repair with a burner assembly, including a faulty igniter, a malfunctioning or cracked thermocouple or dirt in the burner or pilot area.
  • Thermostat issues – your thermostat controls when your heating system cycles on and off, so if it is malfunctioning, it can cause problems with your whole system. Thermostats can get dirty, wires can loosen or corrode, or the unit can be mounted in a poor location. Thermostat problems can be tricky, so it’s best to call for a professional’s help.

If you are concerned about your heating system, now is a great time to test your system for problems. Even if your system appears to be running fine, fall offers a great time to schedule maintenance, which can help reduce the incidence of repairs. No matter your heating needs, ACI Northwest has the technicians who can help, so call us today and schedule your heating service in Coeur d’Alene!

Signs You Need Outlet Repair for Your Home

September 19th, 2014

The electrical system in your home is a complex network of circuits. However, you don’t see most of this: the primary way you access the electricity is through switches and power outlets. If the outlets in your home malfunction, the situation will develop into a major inconvenience… and it might even become a fire hazard.

Because outlets are one of the more visible parts of the electrical system, you will feel a temptation to grab a screwdriver, remove the outlet cover, and try to solve any problems on your own. Don’t do it! This is a job that you must leave to professional electricians. Amateur work on electrical systems risks high voltage shocks and it could cause a fire. Instead of reaching for the toolkit, reach for the phone and call for electrical repair service in Sandpoint, ID from ACI Northwest. We are available 24/7 for emergency repair service.

Here Are Some Signs of Defective Outlets That Need Repairs

  • Charring and discoloration: If you notice what appears to be burn marks or brownish discoloration on the outlet covers, it is usually a sign that an electrical fire has occurred inside the outlet, probably because of a loss of insulation along the wiring. Don’t ignore this: call for an electrician right away.
  • Warm or hot outlets: An outlet cover should not feel warm to the touch. This can indicate a number of different problems. One of the most likely is that there are loose or damaged wires behind the cover. It could also mean that the outlet is wearing down with age. Whatever the cause behind it, do not use the outlet again until you have had electricians look into the problem.
  • Sparking outlets: When you plug in an appliance to a wall outlet, you may see a momentary blue spark. This is the start of the flow of electrons, and isn’t anything to worry about if it is an occasional occurrence. If and outlet begins sparking frequently, and the sparks are larger than usual, it probably means there is a short in the outlet, and you will need electricians to deal with it.

When you call for professional electrical repair for outlets, you will often have the option to upgrade the outlets to GFCI models if you don’t already have them. For older homes, it is a good idea to have an update to these outlets because they will help protect everyone in your household from electrical shocks. We specialize in GFCI outlet installation at ACI Northwest, so when you contact us for electrical repairs because of faulty outlets, ask us about this service.

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.