ACI Northwest Blog: Archive for November, 2014

When Should I Replace My Heating System?

Friday, November 28th, 2014

As a homeowner, you know a time will come when you will have to replace your heating system. Though you may have an approximate estimation of when that time will be, however, it is sometimes difficult to be sure. How can you tell whether you need to replace your heater, or simply repair it? Let’s take a look at some of the most obvious signs.


Any time something goes wrong with your heater, the easiest way to tell if it needs repair or replacement is to consider its age. Generally speaking, heating systems that are younger than 15 years old can probably last for a few more years. Systems over 15 years old can likely be replaced for the same amount of money it would cost to keep repairing them, which brings us to our next point.

Frequency of Repairs

All heating systems experience the need for repairs every once in a while. However, one thing you’ll need to pay attention to is the frequency with which your system breaks down. One or two repairs a year is a fairly common occurrence for most heating systems. Any more than that is a good indication that your heating system is, quite frankly, wearing out. This is especially true when taken with the advanced age of the system.

Increase in Heating Cost

As wear and tear begins to accumulate in your heating system, you will experience a gradual decline in your heater’s ability to do its job. Before parts actually start to break in your system, you will likely experience an increase in your monthly heating bill. Of course, wear and tear occurs any time you start your heating system, regardless of its age or condition. The older your heater is, however, the more likely that the burden of years of use will have a greater effect on the various parts in your system.

If you think you might need to replace your heating system, call ACI Northwest. Our HVAC technicians provide professional heating services throughout the entire Spokane area.

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Will Thanksgiving Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

We’ve all heard it before: you feel so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal because of the main event: the turkey. For years, people have credited extraordinary levels of tryptophan in turkey as the reason we all feel the need to nap after the annual feast. But contrary to this popular mythology, tryptophan is probably not he largest responsible party for your post-meal exhaustion.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means it’s something that our bodies need but do not produce naturally. Your body uses tryptophan to help make vitamin B3 and serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that sends chemicals to the brain to aid in sleep. But in order to get this essential amino acid, we have to eat foods that contain it.

Turkey has somewhat high levels of tryptophan, but so do many other foods, including eggs, peanuts, chocolate, nuts, bananas, and most other meats and dairy products. In fact, ounce-for-ounce cheddar cheese contains a greater amount of tryptophan than turkey. In order for tryptophan to make you feel sleepy, you would have to consume it in excessive amounts, and serotonin is usually only produced by tryptophan on an empty stomach.

The truth is, overeating is largely responsible for the “food coma” many people describe post-Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of energy for your body to process a large meal, and the average Thanksgiving plate contains about twice as many calories as is recommended for daily consumption. If anything, high levels of fat in the turkey cause sleepiness, as they require a lot of energy for your body to digest. Lots of carbohydrates, alcohol, and probably a bit of stress may also be some of the reasons it feels so satisfying to lay down on the couch after the meal and finally get a little bit of shut-eye.

If you feel the need to indulge in a heaping dose of tryptophan this year, go ahead! Turkey also contains healthy proteins and may even provide a boost for your immune system. Here at ACI Northwest, we hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and contentment this year. Happy feasting!

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Why Consider a Geothermal Heating System?

Friday, November 14th, 2014

You’ve probably heard about heat pumps, and the extremely energy efficient way in which they provide heat to a home. This is done not by creating heat through combustion, but by moving thermal energy in the surrounding air from one place to the other. This saves a great deal on heating costs, but most heat pumps come with some caveats. All of their heating ability depends on the temperature of the air around the exterior unit. As a lower temperature will by definition lower the amount of available thermal energy, a heat pump’s heating efficiency drops with the temperature. So what do you do when you want to have a heat pump for its myriad advantages, but live in a colder climate? That’s where geothermal heating comes in.

What is Geothermal Heating?

A geothermal heating system is another kind of heat pump, which operates on the same principle of moving thermal energy instead of creating it. The difference between it and other heat pumps, however, is how it obtains this thermal energy. A geothermal system uses a loop of subterranean pipe to siphon heat from the ground. This pipe is usually installed in a backyard, approximately ten feet underground, and filled with either water or some kind of refrigerant. This pipe loop is then linked to the heat pump inside the house.

Once you get a few feet underground, the temperature is a fairly constant 55-60 degrees regardless of season. A geothermal heat pump relies on this constant temperature to help it heat a house. Though 55-60 degrees may not seem like a warm temperature, it is likely higher than the temperature outside on many winter days. The heat pump cycles the water, or refrigerant, into the central unit, taking the underground thermal energy with it. It then uses that thermal energy as a boost to reach the desired indoor air temperature. By relying on this constant underground temperature, a geothermal system avoids the sub-zero climates that can prevent most heat pumps from heating a home. Thus, it provides all of the benefits of a heat pump without one of the biggest drawbacks.

If you’re thinking of installing a geothermal heat pump, call ACI Northwest. We provide heating installation services throughout Coeur d’Alene.

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Advantages of Radiant Systems

Friday, 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.

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 for radiant heating repair and maintenance services today!

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