ACI Northwest Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Cheney’

Know Your Electrical Outlets

Monday, October 14th, 2019

new-GFCI-electrical-outletAs the seasons change and the weather cools, we all start plugging things in. During fall and winter, we actually plug in a lot of things. From hair dryers to electric blankets to additional lights to moving Halloween decorations, your plugs are probably seeing a lot of use.

But have you ever considered what all that use could do if your house hasn’t been correctly outfitted with the recommended outlets? At the least, improperly installed or incorrectly placed outlets can cause an electrical short. At the worst, they could put you or your loved one at risk of a serious electrical shock, or they could cause a major fire.

Using the correct outlets can greatly reduce these risks, which is why were want to make sure you understand what outlets you should use, why you should use them, and where.

Read on to learn more.

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Consider an Electrical Panel Upgrade

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

two electricians inspecting electrical panelThe circuit breaker panel of your home, known as the electrical panel, is probably not something you give a whole lot of thought to (even though you may walk past it a couple times a day). However, this component is the central hub of your electrical system, and plays a huge role in keeping that electrical system safe and fending off electrical repair in Cheney, WA .

The electrical panel is where incoming electricity gets routed to the different circuits that control the outlets, and subsequently the electrical appliances and equipment in your home, and switches. The breakers are designed to shut off circuits if and when there is a voltage overload. If this is occurring all the time, then it’s a pretty clear sign your electrical panel can’t take the demand being placed on it any longer.

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Heating Question: Can My Generator Power My Heating System in an Outage?

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Back-up generators come in many types and sizes. There are many that are perfectly capable of powering a heating system during a power outage, but you’ll need to know how much energy your heating system needs, as well as how much energy you’ll be using for other appliances like your refrigerator, television, lights and microwave.

Calculating Your Wattage Use

You’ll have to check your heating system and other appliances to find out exactly how much energy they each use. But just to get a general idea of what this total will be like, we can use some common numbers from current energy star models. On average, a furnace fan takes 400-600 watts to keep running, a refrigerator uses about 200 watts and a microwave consumes about 1,200 watts when in operation.

These numbers don’t tell the whole story, though, because they don’t take into account the fact that most of these appliances take much more energy to start than they do to keep running. For instance, that same furnace fan requires about 1,600 watts to start and the refrigerator likely needs another 1,600. Of course, you don’t need to turn all of these appliances on at once, so if you’re careful and creative with when and in what order you use them, you can get by with much less available wattage.

Generator Types

Both portable and stationary generators are available in a wide variety of sizes, although stationary systems are generally much more powerful than their portable counterparts. If you plan on powering your home for a long period of time or you have a lot of powerful appliances you want to keep on, a stationary generator may be necessary.

For more information about installing a generator in your home, give ACI Northwest a call!

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What You Need to Know About Water Heater Leaks

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

In Cheney a leak in your water heater can be a big or small problem depending on where the leak is, how severe it is and whether it requires repair or replacement. Here are some things you should know about tank water heater leaks that will help you determine who to call and how to act.

Where Is the Leak?

Step one is to determine where the water is coming from. Look for leaks around the fittings and valves attached to the device. If one of them is loose or if you see water dripping from a connection, it can probably be fixed relatively easily. However, if the leak is coming from the body of the water heater, you may have a ruptured tank which is a sure sign of a bad water heater that needs to be replaced.

Draining Your Tank

Once you identify the leak, turn off the water supply to the tank and prepare to drain it the rest of the way. You should also disconnect the power from the device. If the water heater is gas, I recommend you call a professional who is certified to work on gas appliances. For electric water heaters, you may still want a professional, but the next step here is to simply turn off the breaker to stop electricity from flowing to the device.

Drain the tank next, using the bucket to capture the water as it is released. If you have a floor drain and can angle the tank over the drain, go ahead and do that now. Once the tank is empty, it is time to tighten your fittings.

Fixing the Problem

Assuming this is a fittings or valve problem, loosen any fittings that appeared to have leaked, repair the plumbing thread and retape the pipes, finally tightening the fittings back into place. The pressure valve may need to be replaced as well – do this now if it is necessary.

Before reapplying the electricity to the water heater, reattach the water supply and turn it on to check for leaks. If it holds water, you are lucky and your water heater’s tank isn’t leaking. Reattach everything and turn it back on.

If you notice the leak continues, you should call ACI Northwest, as it is likely the glass inside your tank has cracked or is leaking. Most of the time, this cannot be repaired and means you need a new water heater installed.

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Tankless Water Heater Tip: How to Get the Right Size

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Tankless water heaters are gaining popularity among Cheney homeowners because of their on demand hot water supply and space-saving design. Although they are more expensive than traditional tank water heaters, on demand water heaters are more efficient, reliable, and easier to install and maintain. Before choosing to install a tankless water heater, however, you will have to decide which size will meet your hot water needs.

Rather than storing hot water in a tank, the tankless models heat the water with individual units located near the application where hot water is needed, such as a shower or washing machine. For larger homes, some of these smaller units cannot heat enough water for several applications running at the same time. You can also install a single tankless water heater for the entire house, or separate ones for appliances that use more hot water.

Finding the proper size and type will depend on the flow rate—measured  by a GPM (gallons per minute) number—that each fixture needs. Every application has a standard flow rate that must be added up in order to calculate the hot water demands for your entire home. For instance, if someone is using a sink with a 1.5 GPM at the same time another person is running a shower with a 2.0 GPM, the flow rate for the tankless unit would need to be at least 3.5 gallons per minute. You will have to add up the flow rate for all the applications in the house to get the minimum GPM figure for your tankless water heater.

In addition to flow rates, tankless hot water heaters are also measured by how much the water temperature needs to rise as it moves through the heating unit. You can determine the temperature rise for each application by subtracting the temperature of water coming in from the desired temperature going out. Once you add those together with the overall flow rates, you will know which tankless water heater can handle your overall hot water needs.

Before you buy an on demand hot water heater, it is best to talk to a professional installer. While the flow rates and temperature rise for most household appliances are fairly standard, these numbers can vary because of several factors that professionals are trained to calculate. Size is not the only factor to consider when shopping for a tankless water heater. Fuel type and efficiency should also be factored in to your purchase.

If you aren’t sure what type or size of tankless water heater is right for your Cheney home, call ACI Northwest to speak with one of our professional technicians. We are always glad to offer our expert advice so that you can meet all of your hot water needs in the most efficient way possible.

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The Beauty of Zone Heating: A Tip from Furnace Contractor

Monday, November 28th, 2011

While it might not technically be a necessity, there are a lot of reasons why you might want to look into having a zone heating system installed in your Cheney home. Whether you’ve been using the same home heating system for a long time or are looking to have a new one installed, there’s never a bad time to have a zone heating system put in.

Most people think that the only thing that affects their home heating and cooling bills is the energy efficiency of their furnace or heat pump. However, that’s simply not always the case. Certainly, the more efficient your furnace or heat pump is, the lower your energy bills will be. But that doesn’t mean they’re as low as they could possibly be.

After all, if you don’t have a zone control system installed, you’re paying to heat your entire house every time you turn on the heat. Depending on the size of your house, that could mean you’re heating anywhere from two to 10 rooms or more that are unoccupied at the time. In fact, you could be paying to heat an entire empty wing of your home. And while you’ll pay less than you would if your heating system was less efficient, you’re still paying more than you need to.

With a zone control system, you can heat your home much more efficiently because you can control which areas of the house get the heat and which ones don’t. You can set multiple different temperatures for the different zones of your home, which allows you to keep the occupied areas warm while not forcing you to waste energy to heat unoccupied spaces.

Aside from the economic benefits of only heating the areas of your home that you need, zone control systems also can put an end to some of those contentious thermostat wars that go on in so many households. If the members of your household can never agree on what a comfortable temperature is, they can simply each set their own temperature for their own area of the house.

That way, everyone is happy and no one has to suffer uncomfortably. After all, you paid a lot for your state of the art home heating system. It’s only fitting that you should be able to get the most possible out of it.

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Troubleshooting Thermostat Issues: Is it the Thermostat or Something Else?

Friday, November 4th, 2011

If the temperature in your Cheney home is too hot or cold, what is the first thing you check? Probably the thermostat. If you are a homeowner, you probably have played around with the setting on a thermostat, much to the chagrin of other occupants who don’t share your same comfort level. And if you try and adjust a thermostat at work – well forget about it. Most companies now have locking thermostats or “false” ones that don’t actually connect to the heating and cooling system.

So if you have a temperature problem, is it really the thermostat that causes it? Maybe yes and maybe no. One physical characteristic to check is the location of the thermostat. If it is in a drafty hallway or near a heat source, it only reads the temperature for that area and other parts of the building are neglected. You will often find more than one thermostat in a home that is tied into more than one furnace or air conditioner.

The older more popular round thermostats are manually controlled and do not adjust to any conditions in the home. They simply control the heating and cooling functions based on a human turning a dial. It’s as simple as that. So if you use this method to adjust the temperatures, blame yourself and not the thermostat. You might want to consider installing a digital, programmable thermostat.

With that in mind, let’s look at some typical ways to troubleshoot a thermostat.

  • Check the anticipator, which is a small metal tab on the front of the printed scale. Give it a light push in either direction. It may be stuck.
  • Clean the interior of the thermostat housing and clean the contacts (small metal plates)
  • Check loose wires or wires that may be corroded.
  • Read the thermostat manual (if not available, look online) for other tips such as ensuring there is voltage to the terminals.

If you have checked everything and the thermostat seems to be in working order, look for other things within the heating & cooling system. These include blocked or restricted registers and vents, leaks or cracks in ductwork, and dirty air handling filters.

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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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How Much Can I Save with New Equipment? A Tip From ACI Northwest

Monday, September 12th, 2011

There is certainly something to be said for upgrading your current Cheney home’s HVAC equipment to newer, more energy efficient equipment. Doing so can save you a ton of money in heating and cooling costs and it can make your home a more comfortable place in general. Of course, upgrading your equipment is a big investment, but ideally you will save enough on your monthly energy bills that it will more than make up for the initial cost of the installation.

But before you can decide whether or not it makes sense for you to upgrade, you need to know exactly how much you stand to save every month by upgrading. And that will vary considerably depending on several particulars of your situation.

For instance, you will have to take the age of your current system into account. No matter how energy efficient your system was when you first bought it, that energy efficiency has almost certainly deteriorated over time. Plus, the older your system is, the less energy efficient it probably was to start with. And the less energy efficient your current system is, the more you will save when you upgrade to a newer, more energy efficient system.

But that is not the only variable you will have to be on top of. The amount you will save monthly and annually will also have to do with how much you use your HVAC system. If you live in a rather temperate climate, you may use your HVAC much less, both in the summer and the winter.

In a case like this, the percentage you will save with an equipment upgrade will be the same as it would for someone who lived in an area with a harsher climate, but the actual dollar value will be much lower. All that really means is that it will take you longer to recoup your investment, but it may still be worth it to invest in a new system now.

You will also need to be aware of other factors that could impact the energy efficiency of your HVAC system. For instance, if your house is not well insulated, it will not matter how good your HVAC system is. You will still be paying more than you should to keep the indoors comfortable, and while investing in a new system may save you money, you will save more by taking care of your insulation problem first.

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What Size Air Conditioner Will Fit My Home?

Friday, July 29th, 2011

When you are trying to determine what size air conditioner to get, the first thing you need to know is how large the space you want to keep cool is. Air conditioners come in a wide variety of sizes and each is appropriate for a particular type of space. So once you know how big the space is, you will be able to compare that to the capacities of the various air conditioners out there to find the right one for your needs.

The cooling power of air conditioners is actually measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. Each BTU rating corresponds to a particular square footage which that air conditioner should be able to cool properly and efficiently. For instance, a 10,000 BTU air conditioner can cool a room that measures between 400 and 450 square feet, and so forth. The higher the BTU, the larger the area the air conditioner can acceptably cover.

It is pretty easy to see why you would not want to pick out an air conditioner that is too small for the space you need to cool. The system simply would not be able to keep the space cool enough and it would use a lot of energy trying.

However, that does not mean that the bigger the air conditioner is the better. In fact, you will do just as poorly to purchase an air conditioner that is too big for the space you want to cool than one that is too small. This is because air conditioners do more than cool the room. They also remove humidity as they cool the space.

An air conditioner that is too large will cool the room quickly, causing it to switch on and off frequently. Not only is this annoying because of the noise that the air conditioner makes, but it also increases the wear and tear that the unit must endure. An air conditioner that is too big will also not be able to remove humidity as efficiently because the room is cooled so quickly. Plus, it will use much more energy than necessary to do a sub-standard job.

With these types of calculations, it is relatively easy to pick out a single room air conditioner. However, if you are trying to purchase a whole home air conditioning system, you will probably need a professional to help you figure out exactly how powerful you need the system to be to keep your home comfortable and cool all summer long.

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