ACI Northwest Blog : Archive for October, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Happy Halloween! We hope you have an awesomely spooky day, we know we will! And since now fall has really begun, it is time to start thinking about tuning up your heating system. Call your local contractor to come and take a look, a little maintenance now will save you from surprises later this year!

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No Heat in the House? Things to Check and Do: Some Pointers from Colbert

Friday, October 21st, 2011

In general, when your heating system stops working, you’ll need to call a Colbert professional to come out and take a look. However, before you do that, there are likely a couple of things you can check on your own to ensure that there really is a problem with the system itself.

For instance, if it’s cold in your house and your heat isn’t coming on, check to make sure that the thermostat is set to a high enough temperature that the heating system would be triggered. Particularly if this is the first really cold day of the season, it’s entirely possible that your thermostat was turned down at some point and left there. And if the thermostat isn’t turned up high enough, the heat will never come on.

Also, it’s worth just taking a second to check and make sure that the power switch on the heating system itself is actually in the proper on position. For the most part, there would be no reason for you to turn this off, but it’s always possible it could have happened in any number of ways and it only takes a second to check.

Depending on the type of fuel source your heating system uses, it’s probably a good idea to check to make sure the supply is still available as well. If you use natural gas, check to make sure that the gas line is open, but don’t try to repair it yourself if it seems to be compromised. If you find something like that, be sure to call your gas company right away.

However, if you use oil as a heat source, take a quick peek at the levels in your tank. There’s always the possibility that you used more than you thought you did or that a delivery was missed for some reason and so your heating system simply has no fuel to run on. Similarly, if your heating system runs on electricity, make sure that the fuse wasn’t blown or that it’s not just too loose to provide an adequate power supply.

If you’ve covered all of these basic troubleshooting bases, it may be time to take a closer look at the heating system itself. On just about every type of system there should be some type of reset switch or button. Follow the instructions to press this button and engage the reset process, but be sure to only try this once. If that resetting doesn’t work, it’s time to back off and call in some professional help.

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Enter to Win an iPod Shuffle!

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Time is running out to enter our iPod shuffle drawing, so don’t hesitate, like our Facebook page today!

All you have to do is click the “Like” button on our Facebook page and your name will be entered in a drawing to win a new iPod Shuffle. Drawing will be held December 1st, we will just contact you through Facebook if you are the winner, no additional sign up necessary!

And even if you are not the lucky winner, being a fan of our Facebook page will give you easy access to other ACI Northwest deals and promotions as well as some of our great blog articles and maintenance tips. It is also a easy way for us to communicate with you, feel free to post your comments and feedback on our wall! We love to hear what you have to say.

Good luck to everyone, see you on Facebook!

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What Are Your Heat Pump Options? A Tip from Kellogg

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Once you’ve decided that a heat pump really is the best option for your Kellogg home, you’ll still have a lot of options to consider. There are actually quite a few types of heat pumps and they can vary considerably in terms of their energy efficiency and other available features.

For instance, you can choose to go with a heat pump with a one-speed, two-speed or multi-speed compressor. Single speed compressors are only capable of operating at full capacity. That means that they’ll certainly be able to keep your home warm, but they may be working harder than they need to at some points.

A two-speed or multi-speed compressor, on the other hand, can be adjusted to more appropriately fit the heating and cooling needs of the moment. There will certainly be times when you don’t need your heat pump to be going all out, and the ability to regulate this level of performance can benefit you in several ways.

It will allow you to maintain a more consistent indoor temperature to be sure, but it will also reduce the overall wear and tear on your heat pump over time. If your heat pump doesn’t have to run all out all of the time, it simply won’t wear out as fast, and that will save you both money and frustration in the long run. It’s also worth noting that heat pumps with two-speed or multi-speed compressors are more easily integrated into a zone control system if you have one in your home.

However, regardless of what type of compressor your heat pump has, you’ll also have to examine the various heat pump models available to determine what their actual energy efficiency ratings are. Each heat pump actually comes with two ratings, one for heating and one for cooling.

The heating season performance factor (HSPF) reflects the heat pump’s heating efficiency, while the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) is a measure of its cooling efficiency. The higher both of these numbers are, the higher the efficiency of the unit. But you don’t necessarily need both numbers to be as high as possible to get the best heat pump for your home.

If you’re going to be using the heat pump more for cooling than for heating because of the climate where you live, you’ll want to make sure the unit you get has as high a SEER as possible, but you won’t have to worry too much about the HSPF. But if you’re going to need more heating than cooling, you should pay more attention to the HSPF than the SEER.

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When Should You Replace Your Existing Heat Pump? A Guide from Latah

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Nobody wants to think about having to replace a home heating and cooling system in Latah. It’s a big job and a new system probably won’t come cheap – not if it’s worth buying anyway. But in the end, you’ll be better off replacing your heat pump sooner rather than later if you start noticing signs that it may be on its way out.

So what are these signs? Well, they’re actually pretty easy to recognize if you know what to look for. For instance, if your heat pump is suddenly making more noise than it used to, there’s a good chance that something’s going wrong inside. This may only require a minor repair, but if minor repairs like this become a regular occurrence, you should start seriously thinking about looking around for a new system.

The cost of even minor repairs will certainly add up quickly over time, and you’ll have to seriously think about whether it makes financial sense to continue to repair an older system rather than simply replacing it with a new one. Chances are that you’ll have to invest in a new one anyway, and the sooner you do it, the less you’ll have paid for repairs to a system you were just going to get rid of anyway.

Also, if you’re starting to notice humidity problems in your home or if some parts of your house are being kept warmer than others, it may very well be a sign that you heat pump isn’t working like it should. Again, this can sometimes be rectified with repair work, but especially if your heat pump is 10 years old or more, it probably makes more sense to replace it.

Another item to keep an eye on when you’re worried about how well your heat pump is working is your monthly energy bill. If you notice a sudden or even a gradual but steady increase over time that you know isn’t a result of an increase in energy prices in your area, you should suspect that your heat pump isn’t working like it should.

Even if it’s still keeping your home at a comfortable temperature, the fact that your heat pump is using more energy to do it is a sign that there’s something wrong with your system. Plus, newer systems are generally more energy efficient anyway, so you’ll be making up for the initial investment of purchasing a new system when you start paying even less on your monthly energy bills.

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How Much Will a High Efficiency Furnace Save Me? A Question from Kootenai

Friday, October 14th, 2011

The furnaces you can buy these days in Kootenai are all much more energy efficient than those available even 10 years ago. However, that doesn’t mean that all of the current models are created equal. There is still a pretty big variation when it comes to energy efficiency and when it comes to price, so you need to really know what you’re looking for if you want to get the best deal out there.

The first thing you should understand when you’re trying to pick out a furnace is how energy efficiency for this type of equipment it measured. All furnaces come with an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating that reflects just exactly how energy efficient they are.

Any furnace you buy today will have an AFUE of at least 80%, but it’s possible to purchase models with AFUEs of 97% or more. Of course, energy efficiency is generally a good thing, but there are some other things to consider when you’re trying to decide just how energy efficient you need your new furnace to be.

What this calculation really comes down to is how much you’ll be able to save monthly and annually with a higher efficiency furnace. While your heating bills will certainly be lower the higher the furnace’s efficiency is, you will also pay more up front for the highest efficiency models.

This higher purchase price may be worth it, however, if you live in an area with particularly harsh winters. If your heating load is very high and you’ll be using your furnace a lot, your monthly savings will make up for the higher initial price of the high efficiency furnace in a reasonable amount of time.

However, if you live in an area with relatively mild winters and you won’t be demanding a whole lot of your furnace, then the amount you’ll save each month with the highest efficiency models really won’t add up to much.

Keep in mind that a furnace with an 80% AFUE is still quite efficient and will almost certainly save you a considerable amount monthly when compared to the unit you’re currently using.

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Components of a Geothermal Heating System: A Guide from ACI Northwest

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

A geothermal heat system in your Hayden home has three basic components and some add-on ones as well.

Its most distinguishing feature is the ground loops. The most common is the “closed” ground loop system, which is a series of pipes that are buried underground. These pipes contain a heat transfer fluid, comprised of antifreeze and water. This fluid absorbs heat from the ground and carries it to the home. This fluid also absorbs heat from the house and sends it into the ground to keep the home cool.

Examples of closed loop systems include the horizontal closed loop, which can be used in larger parcels of land (over an acre for example). The loops are placed typically placed horizontally 6-to-10 feet below the surface. A vertical closed loop design is recommended for smaller parcels of land and loops are often buried vertically approximately 20 feet underground. Other types of ground loop designs use well water to transfer heat in an open loop configuration, or have a closed loop submerged underwater in a pond or lake.

The next component is the heat pump, which draws the fluid from the ground loop. In a heat pump, heat energy is exchanged with the ground to heat or cool the home. In the heating mode, fluid warmed from underground flows through the heat pump. A fan blows across the pipe warmed by the fluid. Because the fluid is much warmer than the air inside the heat pump, heat energy is released into the cooler air. The cool air is warmed and distributed inside the home. The process is reversed for cooling. Cool fluid in the pipe absorbs heat from the warm air inside the home. Once pumped underground, the excess heat in the fluid is absorbed by the cooler earth.

The final component is the air handling or distribution system. Here, a fan in the heat pump’s furnace blows air over a fan coil and the heated cooled air is distributed through the home’s ductwork. Some distribution systems are hydronic, where hot water is circulated through radiators or radiant floor heat tubing. This water absorbs heat from the heat pump and then distributed throughout the home.

In some homes, both a forced air and hydronic system, often referred to as a “hybrid system” work together.

Optional components include a heat pump “desuperheater,” which is used to help with domestic hot water heating. In warm weather, the desuperheater recovers some of the heat – that would otherwise be sent to the ground loop – to help produce hot water. In cold weather, some of the heat pump capacity may be diverted from space heating for the same purpose. Desuperheaters save approximately 25% on domestic water heating costs.

Another component is an auxiliary electric heater, which is built into the geothermal heat pump This auxiliary electric heat is installed to allow heating and cooling technicians to size – or resize – a home’s geothermal heat pump system to assist the system during the few coldest days of the year. Auxiliary electric heat is also an emergency backup heat source if there are any operational issues with the geothermal heat pump system.

If you have any questions about this system, talk to your local contractor.

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How Often Should I Have My Geothermal System Checked? A Question from Greenacres

Monday, October 10th, 2011

The beauty of a geothermal system for your Greenacres home is that is requires very little maintenance. They have fewer mechanical components are than other heating systems – and most of these components are underground or inside, shielded from the outdoor elements. The underground tubing usually is guaranteed to last 25-50 years and inside components are easily accessible for servicing.

Nonetheless, keeping a geothermal system working at peak efficiency is very important. If the geothermal system loses some of its efficiency, it will cost home and building owners money in energy costs, which makes little sense since geothermal system installation costs are higher than most other heating systems.

Its key component is the ground loop system, polyethelene tubing which carries refrigerant from below the Earth’s surface and back to an above-ground compressor. When installed correctly, the buried ground loop can last for decades. A leak in the metal tubing is usually the only problem if the ground loop is not installed correctly. In the case of a leak, it may be necessary to dig up the tubing – often installed at least ten feet below the surface – and repair the leak.

Other geothermal system components include its air handling unit, compressor, and pump. These components require periodic system checks by qualified professional heating and cooling technicians. Maintenance normally requires filter changes and component lubrication, to name the most common. In some cases, building owners can perform their own filter replacement and refill of lubricants. However, it is recommended that an experienced technician perform a multiple-point inspection of the geothermal system components, usually during regularly scheduled annual or bi-annual service calls.

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Common Furnace Problems: A Tip From Harrison

Friday, October 7th, 2011

When it comes to the furnace in your Harrison home, you simply want it to work all of the time. But just like any other piece of equipment, your furnace will have problems from time to time. A few of these are relatively simple to fix on your own, but for the most part you’ll need to call in someone to take care of the repairs for you.

However, before you can do that, you’ll need to recognize that a problem exists at all. And the earlier you notice the warning signs, the better off you’ll be. It’s always better to get a furnace problem taken care of right away than to wait until your furnace stops working completely.

It’s also good to remember that quite often the problems you’re having with your furnace are really originating with your thermostat. This is usually welcome news, as thermostats are much cheaper and easier to repair and replace than many other parts of your furnace. In fact, even if your furnace isn’t working at all, it may only be the result of a faulty thermostat.

Another problem you may start to notice is that one part of your house is being warmed more than another part. When this happens, it can be a sign that there is something wrong with the furnace, but it may also be that the pressure in your duct system is not balanced properly. A simple rebalancing of this system can have your house heating evenly again in no time.

You may also realize that your furnace seems to be cycling on and off too often. When a furnace is working properly, it will come on for a considerable period of time and then shut off until the temperature in the house drops below the desired level. However, some problems can cause your furnace to complete many short cycles rather than fewer short ones.

If this is happening to your furnace, there are several possible causes. Something might be wrong with the blower on the furnace or the thermostat might not be feeding the furnace the correct information. Another possibility is that your furnace’s air filter is dirty or clogged.

While there are sometimes simple and straightforward solutions to these types of common furnace problems, it’s best to call in a professional to have them take a look if you’re not sure where to start searching for a problem. In most cases you’ll need them to come out and make the necessary repairs anyway.

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How Effective is Geothermal Heating? A Question From Cocolalla

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Geothermal heating is an efficient way to use the Earth’s natural resources to heat a building’s interior in Cocolalla. But is it an effective way? Of course.

Consider the cost of geothermal heating. Once you get past the initial installation costs of a geothermal heating system, which are higher than other conventional heating systems, its operating costs are much lower because of its use of a natural, renewable heat source – the Earth. If you plan to stay in your home for many years, a geothermal heating system will likely pay for itself because according to International Ground Source Heat Pump Association, geothermal operating efficiencies are 50-70% higher than other heating systems, which represents a substantial lowering of energy costs.

And according to a leading electric utility company, the cost of electricity for operating a geothermal heat pump is lower than any other heating system which includes natural gas, propane, and oil.

Beyond lower energy costs, geothermal heating leaves a smaller carbon footprint than other heating systems. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the average U.S. home is 17%, most of which comes from burning fossil fuels for electricity. Geothermal uses natural heat from the ground and therefore uses 30-60% less energy than more conventional heating and cooling systems. Using less energy equals less carbon dioxide production.

A geothermal heating system is only as effective as the equipment used to deliver it throughout the building. The most common delivery method is through a ground source heat pump. This pump pulls the heat from the earth and distributes it. When properly installed and maintained, a ground source heat pump can last 15-20 years and provide an excellent source for heating – and cooling.

The components of a geothermal system also include a compressor, air handling unit, and duct system. When all are installed and maintained correctly, a geothermal heating system will be just as effective in heating a building’s interior as any other heating system. Just be sure you hire a qualified heating and cooling professional to install and service your geothermal heating system.

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