Common Air Conditioning Repairs to Watch Out for

March 23rd, 2015

As we move into the spring season, it’s time to start thinking about the condition of your air conditioner. Though you may not use your air conditioner all that often during the spring, summer is not far off. You definitely don’t want your system to break down in the middle of a hot summer day. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your air conditioner. Read on for a list of the common air conditioning repair issues to watch out for.

Frozen Coil

The evaporator coil is what is responsible for evaporating refrigerant to absorb heat from the air in the home. If the coil is allowed to get too dirty, or if there is a leak in the refrigerant line, the coil can malfunction and freeze over. Once frozen, the coil is unable to draw heat from the air to cool the home. If you notice ice forming on the coil in your air conditioner, call a professional right away.

Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant is the liquid that makes it possible for your air conditioner to remove heat from your home. It is not consumed during the air conditioning process, but is instead endlessly cycled through the system. A refrigerant leak can slowly drain the system of refrigerant, destroying its ability to cool the home. If you notice liquid pooling or dripping around your air conditioner, you might have a refrigerant leak. Call a professional to have a look at your system.

Malfunctioning Compressor

The compressor is the part of your air conditioner that circulates refrigerant through the system. If the compressor malfunctions for whatever reason, it can cause irregular pressure throughout the refrigerant line. This can cause all sorts of problems, including short-cycling, which severely shortens the lifespan of the air conditioner. If your air conditioner is turning on and off rapidly, that means that it’s short-cycling. You may have to have your compressor replaced to restore the system to proper operation.

If you have any questions about air conditioning repair, call ACI Northwest. We provide air conditioning repair services throughout Spokane.

How a Clogged Air Filter can Cause Furnace Problems

March 13th, 2015

The air filter is a relatively small part of the overall structure of a furnace. It is basically just a woven mesh, stretched over a frame and installed in the air return duct. Despite its small and simple construction, however, the air filter plays a very important role. Let’s take a look at how the air filter works, and why neglecting yours could lead to problems with your furnace.

The Role of the Air Filter

There is a lot of dust and other debris that is frequently circulated through the ductwork of a home. If that debris is allowed to infiltrate the furnace, it can cause all sorts of havoc with the system. The air filter is there to prevent that from happening. As the air from the ducts flows into the furnace, any airborne debris is captured in the fibers of the filter. The air itself passes through the filter and into the furnace, now free of harmful debris.

There is one problem with these air filters, however: they have no way to rid themselves of the particles they capture. This means that if they are not cleaned or replaced every few months, they can become so clogged that they restrict the flow of air into the furnace. That’s where things start becoming problematic.

Furnace Issues

There’s one very big problem resulting from clogged air filters that you should be aware of: short-cycling. This is when your furnace keeps turning itself on and off over and over again throughout the day. When the air filter restricts airflow into the furnace, heat becomes trapped inside the unit. When that happens, the internal temperature of the furnace rises to dangerous levels. This activates the limit switch, a safety device that monitors the temperature of the furnace. The limit switch shuts down the system to prevent it from damaging itself by overheating.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t solve the original problem. When the furnace cools off enough to start again, the clogged air filter causes it to overheat again and the short-cycling repeats indefinitely. This puts the entire system under a lot more strain than it is designed to handle, increasing the likelihood of a breakdown. If allowed to continue for a long enough period of time, short-cycling may damage the furnace beyond repair.

If you notice your furnace short-cycling, call ACI Northwest immediately. We provide furnace repair services throughout Sandpoint.

What is Kettling, and why is it Dangerous?

March 9th, 2015

The sound of a kettle boiling over has the potential to be quite comforting. When that same sound it coming from a large boiler, however, it is considerably less comforting.

In fact, it can be downright unsettling. If you’ve ever heard a deep rumbling sound coming your boiler, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Sometimes it can seem as though the boiler might explode! Well, don’t worry. It won’t do that (at least it shouldn’t). What actually causes that sound, though? We’ll, that’s going to take some in-depth explanation. Let’s take a look at what that sound actually is, and why it’s so dangerous to your boiler.

What is Kettling?

That sound you hear is called “kettling”, and it’s a very bad sign for the health of your boiler. Its cause can be traced back to hard water, which is water with a very high mineral content. As hard water flows through the boiler’s heat exchanger, it deposits small amounts of minerals on the inner walls of the pipe. Over time, this mineral buildup can get so severe that it restricts or blocks the flow of water through the heat exchanger. This causes the water in the heat exchanger to evaporate into steam, putting massive pressure on the pipe and causing the rumbling sound you’re hearing.

Why is it Dangerous?

Did you know that most boilers are not actually designed to boil water? It may seem odd, but it’s true. When water boils, it evaporates into steam and expands many times over. This expansion puts the heat exchanger under an incredible amount of stress that it was not designed to handle. If the stress is not relieved, the heat exchanger may rupture and your boiler will break down. There are usually safeguards in place in the boiler to prevent this from happening, but it is a serious problem, nonetheless. If you notice your boiler kettling, shut it down immediately and call a professional.

If you find yourself in need of boiler repair, call ACI Northwest. We provide boiler repair services throughout Post Falls, ID.

Common Causes of Boiler Repair

February 27th, 2015

Many homeowners and business owners prefer the comforting heat of their hydronic heating system (heating systems that circulate hot water from a boiler through a home) to the kind of heat you feel from a forced-air heating system like a furnace. Furnaces only heat up the air, while boilers have the ability to heat up an entire room, evenly distributing heat to the objects and people nearby using convective heat transfer.

Besides the all-around comfort a boiler delivers to a home, there are a couple of other benefits as well. Boilers do not contain many mechanical parts, meaning they may be more efficient than many other heating systems, and they should not break down very easily. If you own a boiler, you may be surprised when it does encounter trouble. The folks at ACI Northwest can diagnose the trouble and provide boiler repair in Post Falls, and we’ve put together a brief list of some of the most common boiler trouble.

  • Faulty Circulator Pump – The circulator pumps help to bring water to the rooms in your home, either circulating it through an endpoint like a radiator or through a set of pipes underneath your floorboards. Your circulator pump may run into mechanical trouble over time, and you may notice you don’t get enough heat in one or more rooms.
  • Broken Aquastat – The aquastat keeps the boiler tank from overheating, so it should shut off the system as soon as temperatures rise too high. Your system may shut off too soon if something is causing it to overheat, the aquastat is damaged, or if the temperature limit is set too low.
  • Oversized Unit – Unfortunately, sometimes the trouble with your boiler is beyond fixing. If you never seem to get enough heat in the home, it may be that the boiler is too small. But if the boiler is too large, it will use too much fuel, and will likely fail long before the end of its expected lifespan. Professional installation is key to having a unit that continues to live up to its potential.

Our trained technicians replace or repair faulty boiler parts to the best of their ability, ensuring that your boiler is in the best shape possible. Call ACI Northwest today for quality boiler repair in Post Falls.

Common Home Electrical Problems

February 20th, 2015

Electrical problems have the potential to get really nasty no matter where they occur. They can be especially troubling, however, when they occur in your home. Not all electrical problems are equal, however. Some are fairly simple to fix, or not all that dangerous. Some, however, present a serious risk to your health and home. Let’s take a look at some of the more common electrical problems that homeowners deal with, and how to fix them.

Overlamping

This is a really common problem, which is also unique in that it is one of the only ones that is 100% user error. Overlamping is when a light socket has a bulb in it with a higher wattage than it can handle. Everyone has seen the warning signs on lightbulb sockets, stating what their maximum wattage is. Those warnings aren’t really guidelines so much as hard and fast safety rules. Overlamping can not only melt the socket, but the insulation in the wires leading to it. This is a huge fire risk, and not something you ever want to have to deal with. The solution for overlamping is simple: don’t use lightbulbs with higher wattage than the socket is rated for. If you don’t know what the socket is rated for, ask an electrician, just to be safe.

Flickering Lights

Another common problem, flickering lights indicates a short somewhere in the electrical circuit. Such short circuits are often caused by damaged insulation allowing wires arc electricity to each other, providing a different (and often dangerous) path for the current to travel down and interfering with the operation of the light. Just like overlamping, exposed wires that are allowed to arc to each other present a high risk of fire, and should be dealt with immediately by a professional electrician.

The most important thing to remember about your home electrical system is that electricity is inherently dangerous, especially in the amounts flowing through the walls of your house. A proper electrical system is designed to channel the current safely from place to place. However, any degradation in that system can drastically increase the risk of fire or electrocution. If you notice any issue that you suspect is related to your electrical system, call a professional immediately.

If your home is experiencing electrical issues, call ACI Northwest. We provide electrical repair services throughout the Coeur d’Alene area.

Lupercalia: The Origin of St. Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2015

Many people may think of Valentine’s Day as a holiday essentially created by card and gift companies, but the truth is that the holiday has long-standing roots going back to the Roman Empire. The name “Lupercalia” has its origins in the word “lupus”, which means wolf, and the reason for this is that according to Roman pagan religion, the she-wolf Lupa nursed the two orphaned infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

The Festival

The Festival of Lupercalia spanned two days each February, from February 13th to 15th. The festival was about fertility and was led by Luperci priests, known as “brothers of the wolf”. The festival was serious with intention (fertility) but was executed as quite a romp for both the priests and citizens of Rome. The process was this: two male goats and a dog were sacrificed at the beginning of the festival by the priests; two young Luperci were then anointed with the blood from the animals, and the hides of the animals were cut into straps. As food and drink flowed, the male priests would run around the city wearing nothing but thongs made from the animal skins, and they also carried a strap from one of the sacrificed animals. The strap was used to strike the palms of Roman women waiting for the priests in the city, as it was believed that being hit with the strap could help with infertility issues and a safe, healthy labor for women who were pregnant.

The Transition to St. Valentine’s Day

The Christian influence of the holiday came around the 5th century. The Roman Empire was still strong, but Christianity was rapidly taking hold throughout the world. It is believed that to try and remove the paganism from the holiday, the deaths of two men, supposedly both named Valentine, were added into the mix. During the 3rd and 4th centuries, a law created by Claudius II forbade young men eligible for military service to marry, because Rome wanted a strong army. The two men named Valentine were priests, and married young couples in secret. Both were found out and executed on February 14th, although in separate years. The Church made Valentine a saint (they chose one), and Lupercalia became St. Valentine’s Day.

Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

The Anode Rod and Water Heater Repair

February 9th, 2015

Your water heater is comprised of many different parts which must all work together in order to provide hot water to any tap in your home. Most of the important parts rely on natural processes in order to heat the water, although a burner or electric heating element is also necessary.

First, the cold water enters the top of the tank and goes straight down to the bottom of the tank through the dip tube. The heating element is located toward the bottom of the tank. Hot water naturally rises over the dense colder water. When you turn on a hot water tap in the home, the valve opens and pressure forces water to flow through a small tube at the top and into the hot water pipes.

The Water Heater Anode Rod

But one component in your water heater participates in an entirely different process. The water heater anode rod, a small rod made of either aluminum or magnesium, screws into the top of the tank. Some water heaters have two of these rods, in order to provide better protection against corrosion. In order for something to rust, iron, oxygen, and water must all be present. And since water heaters are usually made of steel, an iron alloy, you can expect rust to form over time, unless the right preventive measures are in place.

The anode rod, sometimes called the sacrificial anode rod, essentially sacrifices anodes for the good of the tank. Magnesium and aluminum are more reactive than steel, which means the rod should begin to corrode before the tank does.

Beware of Rust

When you turn on the hot water in your home and you notice flakes of rust at the bottom of the tub, you may begin to worry. Rust flakes could mean rusty pipes, but this is unlikely if it is only a problem with the hot water. On the other hand, it could indicate that your water heater tank has begun to corrode, in which case a replacement would be necessary.

However, it’s possible that only the anode rod has begun to rust through. In this case, you would only need to replace this part. In fact, the anode rod should be routinely replaced, which is why regular water heater maintenance comes highly recommended. During water heater maintenance, a technician cleans and adjusts parts of your unit and inspects all of the components in order to let you know whether a vital piece, like the anode rod, needs replacement.

Call the experts at ACI Northwest today for quality water heater repair or maintenance in Spokane, WA.

Why Is a Boiler System Good for Allergy Sufferers?

February 2nd, 2015

If you’re an allergy sufferer, the very air you breathe can seem hostile at times. Even when you’re inside, it can seem like your nose and eyes are going to swell shut from irritation.

Though it may seem like you just have to take allergy medication and deal with it, there are actually several ways to improve the air quality in your home. Let’s take a look at why a boiler system is one of the best heating systems available for allergy sufferers.

Airborne Contaminant Circulation

The reason that you seem to have just as many, or more, allergy attacks inside as outside is that the air inside your home is not as clean as you think. The air inside the average home is rife with millions of different airborne contaminants, including dust, pollen, dander, viruses, bacteria, and mold. These contaminants find a haven and transportation system in the form of the home’s ducts. When the heat is turned on, the contaminants are blown throughout the house and into the lungs of the home’s occupants.

Boiler Systems

Boiler systems are helpful to allergy sufferers primarily because they don’t make use of ductwork. A boiler heating system, often called a “radiant” heating system, involves the installation of a network of water pipes throughout the house. These pipes are installed either in the walls or the subfloor of each room that needs heating. The entire network is then connected to the central boiler.

When the heat is turned on, the boiler heats and distributes water through the pipe network. As the water flows through the pipes, it transfers its heat through the pipes, the floor, and out into the room. This method of heating has a number of advantages, but the biggest one for allergy sufferers is that it does not circulate air.

The lack of ductwork involved in boiler heating systems removes the biggest contributor to indoor air quality problems: dirty ducts. By utilizing a boiler system, you’ll be taking one big step towards better air quality and better quality of life.

If you’re suffering from severe allergies, call ACI Northwest. We provide boiler installation services throughout Hayden, ID.

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.