Posts Tagged ‘Post Falls’

Coeur d’Alene Heating Guide: How to Get Your Furnace Ready For Winter

Monday, September 10th, 2012

As the weather gets cold outside we need to warm the inside of our Coeur d’Alene homes. So for a warm inside we need to a well-maintained furnace. Here are a few tips to maintain your furnace so that it can keep your house warm and comfortable all winter long.

Guideline #1: Clean or replace the filter

The flow of heated air from the furnace is restricted by clogging in the filter, which makes your furnace work harder and release less heat. Simply cleaning this on a regular basis can greatly increase the effectiveness and energy efficiency of your furnace.

Guideline #2: Blower motor and blower belt

The operating time of a furnace may be increased due to loose belts, which lead to less heat being produced. Thus, replacing broken or frayed belts and oiling the motor with a few drops of lubricant will smoothen it and make it work more efficiently.

Guideline #3: Blower doors replacement

The replacement of the blower doors must be done properly to ensure healthy circulation of air in the house. These doors help keep the harmful gases such as carbon monoxide from entering the air circulation in your house.

Guideline #4: Check the vents of the house

The air in the house should be circulated well and easily through the vents. The furnace may not work properly if the flow of hot air is blocked by anything from furniture to debris.

Guideline #5:  The flue

Check the flue cap that is located near the furnace and carefully examine the outside with the help of the flue cap. Make sure the flue cap is replaced properly. If the furnace is in a closet, there should be enough ventilation, preferably in the form of direct vents to the outside to allow for efficient combustion.

Guideline #6: All flammable objects to be kept away from furnace

Flammable objects should not be placed near the furnace or water heater. Boxes, clothes, paints, gasoline, aerosols and similar items are most likely to catch fire if kept near furnace.

The above mentioned guidelines will definitely help you keep your furnace clean and in good working condition so you shouldn’t face a problem in the winter months ahead.

To schedule a heating maintenance visit in Coeur d’Alene today, give ACI Northwest a call!

Spokane Electrical Question: How Often Should I Check and/or Replace My Smoke Detectors?

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

The smoke detectors in your Spokane home are immensely important. They are the first and oftentimes only line of defense you have against a fire in your home. You need to know they will work at all times so it is important to check them regularly and have them replaced on a rotating schedule.

 When to Check Your Smoke Detectors

You should check the batteries in your smoke detectors once every 6 months – often daylight savings time is a good day on which to do this because it occurs roughly every 6 months. You can also check them more often if they do not have an electrical backup source and are therefore using battery power constantly. The packaging instructions will likely recommend a time at which to have them checked.

It is also recommended to have backup smoke detectors (as well as CO detectors) that are on a slightly different schedule so that if a malfunction occurs, you know you will still have protection.

 When Is It Time to Replace Your Smoke Detectors?

Most smoke detectors have a natural lifespan of 3-6 years. At the end of that lifespan, the device will beep in a certain configuration that means it no longer works. If this happens, you should replace yours right away. To avoid a situation in which the system doesn’t warn you before it breaks down, consider having your smoke detectors replaced even more often – upwards of once every 2-3 years.

Whatever your Spokane home’s smoke detectors’ specifications, it is vital to have them properly maintained and swiftly replaced according to their manufacturer designated schedules. This is a device that will keep you alive in the event of a fire so be prepared. If you need any help with your home’s smoke detectors, give ACI Northwest a call!

Rathdrum Electrical Question: What Size Generator Do I Need?

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Electricity has become so integrated with our day to day lives that it is easy to overlook the importance of a functioning electrical system. Like most other things, though, when your electricity isn’t working it becomes very clear very quickly just how much you rely on it. When your electricity goes out, whether from a storm, blackout or any other cause, a good generator can be a big comfort. Just as with a heating or cooling system, you should have a properly sized generator in order to get the best performance from it. Here are some tips to make sure you get the right generator for your Rathdrum home.

First of all, you must decide what exactly you’ll want to power when you lose electricity. What do you consider essential? This is important, so take your time and make a list. Any medical equipment is clearly a priority, but what about a full refrigerator? Your septic pump certainly needs to be powered, but does your climate demand heating and cooling power in your home? Once you have decided on the necessities you’re ready to get started.

It is important to remember that bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to a generator for your home. Larger generators are obviously more expensive, and if you’re never going to approach its capacity then you’re just paying for potential, not performance. Even the biggest generator will not provide enough power to service every electrical device in your home, so some restraint is necessary. Whole home generators do not require you to decide what appliances are necessities, but they will not power everything all at once. The best way to ensure that you’re covered in the event of an energy loss is to calculate the amount of energy that the appliances in your home use, and find a generator with the capacity to provide at least that much energy. Remember that some appliances have different starting energy requirements than running loads, and that some appliances are always running.

There are numerous energy calculators available online that can help you decide what size generator you need. To eliminate as much guess work as possible, though, we at ACI Northwest suggest having a Rathdrum electrician come to evaluate your home. We’ll help you decide exactly which generator best suits your needs, in addition to providing expert installation, maintenance and repairs for your device. Call today with any further questions you may have.

How to Clean Your Outdoor HVAC Unit in Kootenai

Monday, May 7th, 2012

That big metal box in your backyard or on the side next to your home plays a vital role to your air conditioning in Kootenai and keeping you comfortable. That box is called the outdoor condensing unit, the key component in your home’s central air conditioning system. The condensing unit houses the compressor, which converts gas into fluid before sending it to the condenser coil, where it is cooled and sent to an indoor evaporator coil.

What you need to know is that the entire outdoor operation runs smoothly when the area inside and around the condensing unit is clean and free of debris. In some cases, the outdoor unit will fail to work if there is too much debris or dirt build-up. That can cost you a lot of money in repairs or a total replacement. Keeping the condensing unit clean is not a difficult chore – and here are some steps you can take.

First air conditioning maintenance tip is try and avoid blowing leaves or grass clippings near the unit. And regularly cut down or remove any weeds or grass that may grow up around the base of the unit.

To clean the inside of the unit, first turn off the electrical power to it. Check for an on-off switch on the unit or on a separate box nearby. Remove the grille from the unit and carefully remove the fan in order to gain access to the coil and other moving parts. At this point, you should be able to clean out any debris from inside the unit using your hands. You can also use a vacuum hose to remove debris. A soft brush or cloth rag can be used to other areas of the unit.

The fins on the coil require a gentler approach as they can be easily bent or damaged. If you notice a bent fin you can straighten it out by using a simple dull knife or a special fin “comb” which you can buy at your local hardware store. While you are in the unit, check the fan belt on the motor to ensure it is not damaged or cracked. You can also add extra oil to lubrication ports on the condensing unit, if any are available.

Use a garden hose to clean the coil and the grilles on the condensing unit. Do not use highly-pressurized water as it may cause some damage to the fins. Once this last task has been completed, reinstall the grille, switch on the condensing unit, and start up your air conditioning. You should notice if your house is cooling down quicker. If not, you may want to do some more cleaning.

If you have any doubts about cleaning your outdoor condensing unit or if you find any damaged parts that may need repair or replacement, call ACI Northwest and schedule a service call.

Why Routine HVAC Maintenance Improves Indoor Air Quality in Post Falls

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Furnaces and air conditioners in Post Falls are by far the most common way to circulate air throughout homes, offices and institutions, heating in the winter months and cooling in the summer.  Adjust the thermostat and controlled air is delivered almost immediately.

If a system is not regularly and properly maintained, however, that air can be dirty, dusty and full of odor, having passed through the heat exchanger, filters and ductwork that have accumulated a build-up of residue over time.  IAQ or interior air quality quickly deteriorates.

The Basics

HVAC systems heat or cool air at a central point, often a furnace in the basement.  The air passes through filters to sift out dust and unwanted particles, then travels through a system of ductwork to be delivered to the space.  Return air ducts bring it back to the central point.

Along the way, the air accumulates the dust, germs and debris of the places it inhabits.  Over time, the filters become clogged and eventually contribute more contamination to the processed air than they can clean.  The enclosed and hard to reach ducts are also deposits of dust and decorated with spider webs that are quickly another form of filter that gives back more than it receives.

The Costs

Without routine maintenance, the system runs poorly and distributes more dirt into the living space than it is able to filter and clean, reducing the quality of life for the inhabitants, homeowners, businesses and customers.  Poor air quality can lead to serious health issues as well as the loss of time and productivity.

Not only does the quality of the air decrease, the strain on the system lowers efficiency.  Having to work harder consumes more energy, creating an immediate and noticeable rise in utility bills.  The stress also reduces the lifetime of the system and requires more rapid replacements of parts or the entire furnace, a huge financial cost.

Regular Maintenance is the Easy Solution

To maintain high levels of quality air, it is essential to schedule regular replacements of filters and a clean-out of the ducts.  The filters are accessible as part of the furnace and air conditioners and easily swapped out by the home owner once or (better) twice a year.

Ductwork, however, is enclosed and often out of site, just as easily out of mind and certainly harder to reach.  Calling ACI Northwest and scheduling a duct-cleaning along with an inspection and routine maintenance of the entire system with a licensed company ensures longevity and efficiency along with peace of mind.

Getting a Heating Upgrade? Consider an Energy Audit First for Your Bayview Home

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Are you considering a heating system replacement for your Bayview home?

Good for you! After all, it’s usually a sound investment that generates savings both in heating costs and repair bills, plus it keeps your family happy and comfortable.

Before you take the plunge on new equipment, though, you may want to get a home energy audit. What you find may help you choose the right system or even decide you don’t need to make the leap after all.

A home energy audit is essentially an inspection by a professional of the materials used to insulate your home. This includes not just the insulation in the walls, but also the walls themselves, along with windows, doors and so on. The idea is to figure out how much heat is escaping your home to the outside, so an audit may also include looking at ducts, vents or anywhere else where air could flow through.

So what does an energy audit have to do with a heating upgrade?

Think about it like this. There are two ways to make your home warmer: increase heat gain (e.g., get a more efficient heating system) or decrease heat loss. If you are able to do the latter, you may find that the former is unnecessary.

For example, you may get an energy audit and discover that by installing new windows and resealing your doors, you can increase heating efficiency by 10%. This could have big implications for your decision to get a new heating system, as you may decide that you can save money by getting a smaller capacity furnace.

You may even realize that you no longer need a new furnace at all!

Of course, you may still need a new heating system regardless. This is possible, but if it happens, so what? You have lost nothing by getting the audit — and you may have learned something about your home’s efficiency — and you wind up with the new system you were going to buy anyway.

Either way, a home energy audit is a diligent first step in upgrading your home’s heating efficiency.  To lean more call ACI Northwest

Common Air Conditioner Problems in Airway Heights

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Air conditioners are an important part of our lives here in Airway Heights. They keep us comfortable despite overbearing heat and humidity outside all summer, but because they run constantly for months and because they are such complicated pieces of machinery, they are prone to a number of problems. Here are some of the most common problems you’re likely to run into with an air conditioner and how to solve them:

Leaks

A common problem that many people ignore or are unaware of is refrigerant leakage. It is possible that when the system was installed, it wasn’t properly charged, but most of the time if your system is low on refrigerant, it is because of a leak. You can’t just pour more refrigerant in and call it good, though.

The leak needs to be fixed, both for health and environmental reasons. If you notice that your system is low on refrigerant or you smell something off – often like acetone, call a professional immediately for inspection and repair.

Sensors

An air conditioner doesn’t do you any good if the sensors don’t work properly. Improperly working sensors will fail to properly read the temperature in the home or from your thermostat. So, it might be 80+ degrees in your home but if the thermostat reads it as 72, the system won’t turn on. The air conditioner itself probably still works fine, but unless it can successfully read the temperature, you won’t get the cooling you need to stay comfortable.

Check first to see if the sensor was moved or knocked toward the evaporator coil (which will keep the temperature reading low).

Drainage problems

Your air conditioner acts as a dehumidifier as well, producing a liquid known as condensate. This liquid usually drains from the air conditioner into a designated area away from your home. However, if the condensate drain gets clogged or if the system wasn’t properly installed, that condensate can start to build up in your home. If you notice leakage around the coils, you may need a pump to remove the condensate properly.

Properly maintaining your air conditioner can usually be done with regular maintenance each year, but if one of these problems pops up, call a professional and get them fixed right away.  If you have any questions about this please contact ACI NW.

Kellogg Heating Q/A: What Exactly Are High Efficiency Boilers?

Monday, February 13th, 2012

As a Kellogg resident you have already read plenty about how energy costs are rising. You know plenty well that heating your home is a substantial expense, and that the cost of running a boiler is constantly on the rise. That whole array of topics has been more than adequately covered.

So rather than spend more time telling you what you already know, this post is about one of the solutions to combat the high costs of home heating: high efficiency boilers. As technology has gotten better, so have boilers become more efficient at providing heat. It stands to reason that a more efficient boiler is one that costs less to run…but what does “efficient” really mean in the context of boilers? What makes a boiler “high efficiency”?

What Is a High Efficiency Boiler?

All boilers are rated according to a standardized system of rating efficiency, called the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). Essentially, this rating tells you how much heat energy is produced by a boiler compared to how much energy it draws. The higher a boiler’s AFUE rating, the more efficient it is.

For a boiler to be called high efficiency, it must carry an AFUE of at least 90%. For basis of comparison, older systems carry an AFUE of about 70%, while mid-efficiency systems run at about 82%.

In addition, a high efficiency system has a second heat exchanger for capturing and condensing flue gases, as well as a closed combustion system.

These three things — an AFUE of 90% or above, condensing flue gases and closed combustion – define a so-called “high efficiency” boiler.

Getting More Efficient

To go the high efficiency route, the most obvious option is to replace your current boiler with a high efficiency unit. But what if you have a fairly new boiler that is not ready to be replaced yet?

In that case, you can retrofit your existing boiler with high efficiency equipment. It won’t be quite the same as getting a top-of-the-line high efficiency boiler, but it will produce high efficiency results without costing as much.

The initial investment in a high efficiency boiler can be costly, but the savings over time in heating bills make it well worth the expense.  Call ACI NW with any questions about boilers.

Understanding the Heat Pump Defrost Cycle: A Guide from Greenacres

Friday, February 10th, 2012

If your Greenacres home has a heat pump, you’ll want to understand the defrost cycle to help you maintain your heat pump and troubleshoot repairs. While this is a basic guide, you should call a qualified HVAC technician if you experience major issues with your heat pump.

During the winter when a heat pump is heating your home, the cooler outdoor air that’s pumped in and heated may have excess moisture. The outdoor coil evaporates this moisture, but under certain weather conditions, frost can accumulate on the coil and decrease the overall efficiency of the heat pump.  To help reduce the potential for damage from the frost, heat pumps are manufactured with a defrost cycle to melt the frost from the outdoor coil. The defrost cycle occurs often during heavy frost conditions, so check weather reports if your defrost cycle seems to be running often.

At the beginning of the defrost cycle, the heat pump switches to the cooling mode and temporarily warms up the outdoor coil until it reaches somewhere around 60° F to melt the frost from the coil. To increase the temperature of the coil, the outdoor fan is prevented from turning on until the outdoor coil reaches the desired temperature. Weather conditions and the timing device both affect the amount of time it takes for the heat pump to move through the entire defrost cycle.

In older homes, electric heating pumps are sometimes installed to prevent cool air from being distributed throughout the home. This element will turn on with the defrost cycle and shut down the blower fan inside the house. If you have an older heat pump, you may want to consider upgrading to a more efficient model.

Call ACI NW any time if you have questions about the defrost cycle for the heat pump in your Greenacres home.

A Question from Worley: What Does a Furnace Fan Limit Switch Do?

Friday, December 9th, 2011

When researching your Worley home’s furnace and potential problems it might have, you’ve probably run across a few references to the fan limit switch. And while you know that it can break in a number of ways, do you know what the switch does and what you should look for when checking your furnace its air handler for problems?

What the Limit Switch Does

To put it very simply, the furnace fan limit switch is a control that tells your furnace’s fan when to turn on and off. So, when the furnace isn’t on, it tells the blower not to operate (and send cold air into your home) and when the furnace is on, it tells the blower to turn on and start circulating the warm air.

While the primary function of the limit switch is to turn the blower fan on and off, it also has a safety role. When the temperature in the air supply plenum gets too hot, the limit switch turns off the furnace boiler to keep there from being any damage from overheating. This is handy if there is a blockage in the air vents or the controls are messed up due to water damage or improper adjustments to the settings.

Looking for Problems

Most of the time, when there is an issue with your furnace turning off or on frequently, the limit switch is one of the first things you will check. Because the switch is electronic and is attached to a thermostat which measures temperature in the air supply plenum, a small problem can result in it not working properly. So, you can easily check it by temporarily bypassing the switch and seeing if your device turns on or off properly.

In many cases, if the limit switch is the problem, you will still need to call a professional for replacement, but you can avoid a lot of headaches related to tracking down the source of the problem. If you suspect a limit switch problem, make sure to call someone immediately, because it does provide an important safety function and because without it your furnace won’t cycle on and off properly.