For More Information, Contact Seatown Electric, Heating & Air!
At Seatown Electric Heating and Air, we are dedicated to providing our customers with the highest quality care possible. In order to help achieve that goal, we make ourselves as available as possible to answer your questions and address your concerns. Below, we answered several of our most frequently asked questions. If you have a question and do not see it below, please feel free to call us at 206-209-0690 or contact us online. We would be more than happy to assist you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is my home up to current code?
A: If your home was built before 2014, then the answer is most likely no. If it was built between 2000 and 2014, it most likely won't be in bad shape; it just won't be up to current code. As the years go by and codes changes take effect, it is always recommended that you upgrade your devices to meet current code. To determine how outdated your system is, a whole home safety check would be recommended.
Q: Is knob & tube wiring safe?
A: All Knob and Tube wiring is dangerous. There is nothing safe about Knob and Tube. Most homeowners have heard rumors from neighbors or handyman contractors, hearing things like "It's not dangerous if you don't tamper with it" or "It's been around this long and it still works." The fact is, yes, it does work, and so does speaker wire. But is speaker wire safe to use as a replacement for NMB wire? NO. And neither is Knob and Tube. Why isn't Knob and Tube safe? Well, for starters, it was designed for the early 1900's appliances, a table lamp or two, and maybe a refrigerator. It was not designed for computers, multiple small kitchen appliances, flat screen TVs, cell phone chargers, etc... This is old, brittle wire, we are talking about. There is a reason why, legally, insulation companies have to get Electrical Contractors to "sign off" on the Knob and Tube before they can cover it. Knob and Tube wiring has no ground. What happens if you have no ground? It's simple. You and your family are at risk of shock. Anyone who says this is safe needs to be educated on electrical grounding and bonding. Bottom line is, Knob and Tube is far from safe and it should be replaced as soon as possible. Seatown Electric Heating and Air’s knowledgeable estimators will come up with a plan to meet any budget and help make your home the safest it can be.
Q: What does GFCI mean?
A: GFCI stands for “ground fault circuit interrupter” and is a special circuit breaker that cuts electrical power when incoming and outgoing current is imbalanced. This helps prevent injuries due to electric shock. Chances are that you have a GFCI power outlet in your bathroom with their characteristic red and black buttons. Press the red button to make sure the breaker cuts power. Press the black button to reset the breaker and close the circuit.
Q: What does AFCI mean?
A: AFCI stands for “arc-fault circuit interrupter.” Like GFCI, AFCI is another special circuit breaker that cuts power after detecting hazardous electric arcs such as in short circuits. Electric arcs from short circuits are a major cause of house fires. Like a GFCI outlet, an AFCI outlet also has test and reset buttons for its breakers
Q: What does grounded mean?
A: A circuit that is “grounded” means that there is a path for an electrical charge to go when there is a surge or if an electrical charge escapes the circuit to its surroundings. In many home electrical systems, a grounding wire runs from the circuit into the ground where any dangerous electrical charges can dissipate. This minimizes the risk of receiving an electric shock.
Q: Is aluminum wiring safe?
A: Some dwellings—particularly those constructed between 1965 and 1972—use aluminum wires instead of the more common copper wire. Aluminum wiring can overheat at its terminals and connections, especially when not maintained for a long time, increasing the risk of electrical fire. A trained electrician can help minimize the risk of fire by capping aluminum wires with a small section of copper material.
Q: When should I upgrade my panel?
A: At a minimum, one should replace an old electrical panel with wiring issues. If wires are worn out and frayed, they could start a fire in your home. Additionally, electrical panels might not comply with current building and safety code regulations. For example, electrical panels that use fuses instead of modern circuit breakers are not “up to code” since fuses are now considered to be a fire hazard. If you are installing newer electrical equipment or appliances—such as AC units, hot tubs, or refrigerators—you should make sure your electrical panel is compatible with the newer technology. An experienced electrician can determine whether your electrical panel needs an upgrade to meet your specific needs.
Q: Can I do my own electrical repairs?
A: Electrical repairs not only require technical skill and knowledge to perofrm effectively, but they also require knowledge of electrical safety protocols and regulations. The average person likely has little or no knowledge about what electrical configurations and equipment are appropriate and safe in specific situations. When it comes to electrical repairs, using the wrong material and equipment can cause fires or expose you to fatal levels of electricity. As a result, we generally do not recommend people to tackle their own electrical repairs.
Q: Why do I need to hire an electrician?
A: Working with electricity can be very dangerous. Electricians are licensed by the state to perform electrical work. Part of the licensing requirements for electricians involves being trained in proper safety techniques when working with electricity. This ensures that electrical work complies with applicable building and safety codes. Licensed electricians also have the training and gear to minimize the risk of electrical fires and exposure to fatal levels of electricity.
Q: I reset my home's breaker, and I still have no power. What should I do?
A: If you do not have power in your home and your circuit breaker wasn’t tripped—or after you properly reset a tripped breaker—there could be a number of different causes. If you only have power loss in one area or room, check to see if lights or appliances are connected to a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) or arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) outlet that tripped. These outlets of their own breakers that could have been tripped. Resetting these breakers might restore power. If tripped GFCI outlets aren’t the source of the issue, you may have a larger systemic malfunction on your hands. One possibility is that you have bad breaker for your main or sub-main circuits. This can result from an overloaded circuit. Another possible culprit can be bad terminals in your panel or bad wiring. Nevertheless, calling an experienced electrician from Seatown Electric Heating and Air is probably the more efficient and cost-effective solution for most people.
Q: What should I expect from the estimate process?
A: It's really simple. You fill out the online form or call to set up an appointment. Appointments are scheduled with a two-hour arrival window. The actual appointments will usually only last 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the extent of your project. Our estimator will show up with helpful ideas on the work you are looking to get done, along with information on your current electrical system. We will always provide you with upfront pricing and present it to you within 24 hours. Virtually all work needs permitting. Permits can be pulled onsite by Seatown Electric Heating and Air and printed out for your records. Once the work has been done, we will need to schedule an inspection. The homeowner is required to let the inspector in the home on the inspection day. That's it. Contact us today to get started!
Q: Do I need to be home for the technicians to complete the work?
A: No. In fact, a lot of customers leave a key for access to the home while they are at work. Our normal workday starts around 8 a.m. and we start cleaning up for the day around 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Q: If I have electrical work done, will I be without power?
A: Yes, depending on the project. For panel and service upgrades, plan on having your power out for roughly 8 to 10 hours. During this time, we will set up temporary power to refrigerators. At the end of the day, power will be restored. On rewires and smaller jobs, power will be out only in sections of the home throughout the day. Our technicians are trained to walk you through the daily plan to make sure you are aware of what times your power will be out.
Q: Will there be wall damage during rewires? What is the process?
A: Sometimes there is wallboard/plaster damage. This all depends on the house layout. If you have an exposed basement, crawl space, and attic space, then there will most likely not be damage to the walls. If you have a finished basement below and no attic, then the only way to do the rewire is through the walls. Our technicians are trained to keep damage to a minimum. Our process for a rewire begins with a detailed and very in-depth walk-through. This ensures that we are giving accurate estimates on the time and labor and to assure what is actually knob and tube. Once the proposal has been approved and permits have been pulled, we can begin work. Day one is a layout day, mainly to get familiar with framing layout in your home. Day two; we start the work, moving room by room. Every day starts with drop cloths and a plastic layout and ends with a thorough cleaning of the home. Most all rewires take six to eight days.
Q: What is a heat pump?
A: Heat pumps are devices used in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC) to transfer heat from one place to another. A heat pump can be part of either the heating or cooling process. When used as a heater, a heat pump takes heat from the surrounding environment and transfers it to your home’s interior. When used as an air conditioner, a heat pump takes heat away from your home and pumps it out to the surrounding environment. A heat pump uses a compressor to circulate refrigerant which absorbs and dissipates heat.
Q: What is a ductless mini-split?
A: A ductless mini-split is a type of air conditioning system that provides cool air using multiple indoor air-handling units. Ductless mini-split systems utilize an outdoor compressor unit that connects to the air-handling units using conduits. Ductless mini-split systems are typically found retrofitted to older buildings that lack a system of air ducts that the typical centralized air conditioning uses. Because ductless mini-split systems deliver cool air through conduits instead of ducts, you won’t have to deal with the type of energy loss associated duct-based HVAC systems.
Q: What is the difference between single-stage, two-stage, and variable speed furnace?
A: A single-stage furnace operates at only one level of heat output. Single-stage furnaces are considered to be less energy efficient than multi-stage furnaces and variable speed furnaces because they always operate at full capacity when activated. A two-stage furnace has two operational settings—low and high heat output. These furnaces run on the low setting for the majority of year. The high setting only activates when temperatures get extremely cold, providing extra heat in such cases. A variable speed furnace has the ability to adjust blower motor speeds, allowing you to have more accurate temperature control. Variable speed furnaces are generally considered to be more energy efficient than other furnaces and can be utilized to manage different temperatures for different regions of your home.
Q: Should I cover my air conditioner or heat pump in the winter?
A: Yes. Although your air conditioner or heat pump is designed to withstand the elements, such as rain and snow, it is still susceptible to debris. Fallen leaves, branches, acorns, and dirt can clog your AC system, leading to inefficient energy use and inconsistent temperatures during operation. Therefore, it is beneficial to cover your air conditioner or heat pump unit during the fall and winter seasons when more loose underbrush and debris poses a greater risk of clogging.
Q: What is SEER rating?
A: A SEER rating refers to an air conditioning system’s “seasonal energy efficiency ratio,” which is a number that describes how much energy your AC system uses to cool your home. More specifically, it is ratio of cooling output (measured in British thermal units or “BTUs”) per watt-hours (BTU/W·h). For example, an AC unit with a 14 SEER rating provides 14 BTUs of cooling output per watt of electricity running for one hour. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the air conditioning unit.
Q: What is HSPF?
A: HSPF stands for “heating seasonal performance factor,” which represents the energy efficiency of heating systems. Similar to the SEER rating of air conditioners, the HSPF is a number that describes how much energy your heating system uses to warm your house. HSPF is also measured in BTUs per watt-hours.
Q: When should I change my air filter?
A: Air filters must be changed periodically as they become worn and clogged over time. How often a person should change their air filter depends on certain circumstances. For instance, filters for an HVAC system servicing an average home without pets should be changed every 90 days. A home with multiple pets in addition to a householder member with allergies should consider replacing their HVAC system’s filters as often as every 30-60 days, depending on the total number of pets and the sensitivity of the person’s allergies.
Q: What is indoor air quality?
A: Indoor air quality is a broad term that refers to the comfort and breathability level of your home’s indoor air. There are several aspects to indoor air quality, including:
- Temperature: Most people are familiar with this aspect of indoor air quality as it refers to how hot or cool your home’s indoor air is.
- Humidity: This aspect of indoor air quality involves how much water vapor is in the air. High humidity makes for a muggy indoor air environment that negatively impacts comfort and makes breathing more difficult.
- Pollutant concentration: An important part of indoor air quality refers to how much contaminants are present in your home. Pollutants can lead to health complications and exacerbate medical conditions.
Q: How can I control energy costs?
A: Many different things can potentially affect the total costs you pay on your electric bill. The number one thing that impacts your energy costs is household behavior. Leaving your lights and HVAC system running when you’re not using them can result in drastic increases in your energy bill. Another contributing factor to your electricity costs concerns the energy efficiency of your appliances. Different HVAC systems are designed with different levels of energy efficiency. However, older, run-down appliances can cause your energy costs to surge. For example, a malfunctioning, worn-out air conditioner requires more energy to do the same amount of work that a newer, well-functioning AC system offers with less energy needs. A professional HVAC technician or electrician can determine whether your HVAC system or other appliance is unnecessarily draining energy.
Q: How do I eliminate odors in my home?
A: Odors can come from any number of sources. Generally, odors comes from gases, fumes, or tiny particles that get carried through the air in your home. Common odor sources for the average American home include:
- Pets: Our furry companions excrete oils, shed fur and dander, which people can perceive as an unpleasant odor.
- Food: Ordinarily, food doesn’t emit an offensive smell. However, foods with strong smells—such as garlic, onions, and fish—can linger for hours or days after cooking them.
- Fungus: Mold and mildew are the culprits for the stale, musty smell that plague some dwellings.
- Smoke: Smoke involves both particles and fumes that can smell unpleasant to some people and can even have an adverse affect on your health.
One way to counteract the negative consequences of odors is to use air purifiers and filtration systems. For example, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) purifiers filter out particles, such as pet hair and dander, mold spores, and food. However, they do not address odors from chemical fumes and gases. Some HEPA purifiers use ultraviolet light to sterilize microorganisms like bacteria and mold. Other filtration systems use advanced technology to either absorb odors or attack odors. For example, carbon air filters use activated carbon to absorb fumes and gases. Photo electricochemical exidation (PECO) purifiers generate charged particles that dissolves odors at the molecular level.
Q: How much will it cost?
A: The cost of electrical HVAC work depends on the size of the job. Minor repair work that can be accomplished quickly will understandably cost less. However, major replacements and system overhauls might be labor-intensive in addition to requiring you to purchase newer equipment to replace older systems. At Seatown Electric Heating and Cooling, you can call ahead to speak with one of our technicians who can provide you with an estimate. Our customers also benefit from financing options for larger, more demanding jobs.
Q: Do I need a permit?
A: Virtually all work needs permitting. Permits can be pulled onsite by Seatown Electric Heating and Air and printed out for your records. Once the job is done, we will need to schedule an inspection. The homeowner is required to let the inspector in the home on the inspection day. That's it. Contact us today to get started.