10 HVAC Terms You Should Know


The HVAC industry has a lot of different terms that can be confusing if you don’t know what they mean. As a homeowner, there are some HVAC terms you should know. Here are the top 10.

  1. HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor)
    This is a term used to measure the efficiency of air source heat pumps and many times, air conditioners are rated by the HSPF. The higher the HSPF rating on a unit, the more energy efficient it is.
  2. SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio)
    This term is used to rate the efficiency of air conditioners. The rating of the unit is calculated by the cooling output during a cooling season divided by the total electrical energy input during that season. The higher the unit is rated, the more energy efficient it is.
  3. MERV
    This stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is a measurement scale used to rate the effectiveness of air filters. The ratings are from 1 to 16 and it’s primarily used to show the worst-case performance of a filter when dealing with harmful air particles that are captured. For example, a MERV 16 filter could capture more than 95% of the particles.
  4. HVAC
    Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are used to offer comfort for users and help provide cleaner indoor air. The technology relies on mechanical engineering, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer.
  5. BTU
    The British Thermal Unit is a unit of heat that is part of the British Imperial unit system. It’s defined as the amount of heat that is needed to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
  6. Ton
    A ton is the cooling capacity of an air conditioning system. One ton is equal to the amount of heat that is needed to melt one ton of ice in a 24-hour time span. An air conditioner that is one ton would be rated at 12,000 BTU per hour.
  7. CFM
    This stands for cubic feet per minute is a measurement used to show the velocity at which air flows in or out of an area. To measure how much a room needs for heating, you would multiply the room’s volume by the number of times the heated air gets changed hourly, then divide that number by 60 to get the amount of CFM that’s needed.
  8. Hybrid Heat
    A hybrid heat system responds to fluctuating temperatures and automatically adjusts to the most energy saving method available to heat or cool a home. This is often used as a fuel-saving alternative to traditional heating and cooling systems.
  9. Variable Speed
    This term refers to the furnace’s indoor blower motor that will move at different speeds to accurately control the flow of heated and cooled air around the home.
  10. Modulating
    Modulating furnaces reduce temperature variations and provide consistent indoor temperatures and quiet operations. They are also known to have a fuel efficiency rate up to 98% which means that the fuel is used more efficiently and you’ll see less energy costs associated with using it.

If you have additional questions on HVAC terms and what it means for you and your home, contact our experienced team of professionals at Specialty Heating & Cooling today!

Signs that your ductwork needs to be sealed

It can sometimes be difficult to determine if your ductwork is leaking air. How do you really know that your ductwork is in need of sealing, especially when many of the ducts are unseen behind ceilings, walls, and floors? Here are some warning signs and common indicators that mean you should call us for duct sealing services.

Sign #1: Reduction in airflow.
A small hole in a portion of your ductwork could mean the airflow inside has been reduced significantly. When you notice that there isn’t as much airflow coming from the vents, it may mean that there is a leaking issue in the ducts that needs to be addressed.

Sign #2: High utility bills.
When the air pressure drops in your home, your HVAC system will need to work harder to reach the temperature you want in the home. This means that you’ll likely see an increase in your heating/cooling bills.

Sign #3: Unusual smell coming from the vents.
If there are any holes in your ductwork, they will many times appear in places that are dusty or musty, including crawl spaces or in between walls. The air in these areas usually don’t smell good, so you may notice unpleasant smells coming from the ductwork. If you notice this smell on a regular basis, call the professionals right away to do some investigating, as this air could be contaminated with harmful particles that you do not want to breathe.

If any of these things are happening in your home, do not delay in contacting HVAC professionals. Ignoring these warning signs could be harmful to your heating/cooling system, but your health as well. Even if there is not a leak in your ductwork, there could be other issues somewhere else in your HVAC system that need to be addressed.

The ductwork in your home plays a crucial role, especially when it comes to inside air quality. We’re proud to be a licensed contractor that offers Aeroseal duct sealing for clients around the area. Aeroseal is a patented solution that has a 98% success rate. This is an affordable solution that can fix leaks from the inside out and the best part is: you will notice a difference right away!

Contact us today for more information on how duct sealing can help you breathe cleaner air and stay comfortable all year long.

What are the different ways to finance your heating and cooling system?

If you’ve been contemplating upgrading your heating and cooling system, 2017 is the year to do it…especially if you love discounts and tax credits! Everyone appreciates saving money, especially when it comes to a big home improvement purchase. We have a variety of incentives, financing options, and tax credits that are ready and available for our customers this year.

Tax Credits:
There are a variety of state tax credits and energy rebates that can add up to substantial savings when it comes to replacing or upgrading your current heating and cooling system in your home. Gas furnaces are eligible for $352 or $492 in state tax credits this year, while ducted and ductless heat pumps could receive between $800 and $1300, depending on which system you get. PGE and Energy Trust of Oregon provide incentives as well.

  • Save up to $2,775 on a high efficiency Carrier Greenspeed system
  • Save up to $2,300 on a ductless heat pump system
  • Save up to $850 on a new high efficiency furnace

Visit our special offers page for more details and current incentives that are available.

Financing your system:
We’re dedicated to making your furnace replacement as hassle-free as possible. In addition to these great tax incentives and rebates, we also provide great financing options. We’re proud to partner with competitive financial institutions to offer some easy finance options that are available on approved credit that includes:

  • 0% Interest with payments over a specific timer period, 12, 18 and 60 months. Minimum monthly payments are required. 
  • Low monthly payment fixed rate programs (APR 7.49% on approved credit for 144 months)
  • No Payment and No Interest for 6 or 12 months

We’re happy to provide you with all of the details about each financing option so you can be sure you’re getting what works best with your monthly budget. 

Annual maintenance discounts:
Don’t forget about your annual maintenance that is very important for the longevity of your heating and cooling system and by manufactures to meet warranty requirements.  For improved air quality and comfort, as well as peace of mind knowing that the professionals have taken care of your HVAC system, we’re offering a special offer for your first annual maintenance appointment! Regularly valued at $189.95, you can now receive this service for $164.95. This is for first time customers of this service. Act today, because the offer ends February 28, 2017.

If you’re unsure of where to start, our team of specialized HVAC professionals will take a look at your home and give you options on which heating and cooling system would work best for your home’s layout. More importantly, we’ll help you find something that fits within your budget, we’ll help you determine which credits are available, and we even submit the required rebate and incentive forms for you.  2017 is your year to save thousands of dollars on a new system and stay comfortable at the same time!

Why isn’t my furnace keeping up with the cold?

Winter in the Pacific Northwest this year has gotten off to a cold start. Snow has already fallen and school has already been cancelled for several days! If the cold has hit your home hard and your furnace just isn’t producing enough heat to keep up with the cold days of winter, don’t panic. Here are some reasons why your furnace system might not be working at maximum efficiency.

#1: There’s a thermostat problem.
If your home is cold, it very well could be that there is a problem with your thermostat that is causing the problem. First of all, check your power source. Next, be sure that the area around the thermostat is clean. Clean up any dirt, dust, or cobwebs that may have formed around the inside of the thermostat. If there is debris buildup, this could contribute to the electrical or mechanical malfunctions. When you’re cleaning it, do not get it wet, just simply use a soft and clean brush to clean it. If your thermostat is old, it could mean that it’s time to replace it completely. Old thermostats not only break down, but they also waste energy. There are a variety of programmable thermostats that are available now and they’re easily connected to your HVAC system.

#2: The filters need replacement.
Be sure that your filters are replaced regularly. Old, dirty filters can cause your system to slow down and sometimes, malfunction completely. New filters will allow your furnace to work at its peak and provide maximum airflow to your home whenever you need it.

#3: Inside components are dirty.
It’s a good idea to inspect the inside components of your system for any dust, dirt, or other debris build up. Over time, this build up can contribute to decreased efficiency and sometimes it can cause the system to break down prematurely.

#4: The system has not been tuned up.
Regular HVAC tune ups are key to maintaining an HVAC system that works well for many years. You should have your system checked and tuned up by HVAC professionals once a year at least. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to get your system checked out and ready to tackle the rest of the seasons in 2017.

If you want our experienced service team to take a look at your system and determine why it’s not keeping up with the cold weather, contact us today for an appointment. Or, if you know your system is old and simply not cut out to keep you and your family warm this winter and you’ve decided that this is the year to install a new heating system, our friendly and non-pushy sales team is happy to find a great system that will fit your home and your budget.

#SHCJingleContest voting is now open!

This autumn, Specialty Heating & Cooling began their first jingle contest, calling schools and local youth organizations for participation by asking them to create their own version of the Specialty Heating & Cooling song. We waited for the creativity to start flowing and we got some amazing entries from some talented young people around The Portland metro area!

Entry #1: Oregon City High School Choir
Led by teacher Julia Voorhies, this award-winning choir came in strong with their entry. Not only were the vocals on point, but the videography was impressive, too! This well-known vocal program has performed in front of various audiences and has even traveled to Ireland to perform! The school has a rich history in Oregon, having been founded in 1885 and has been recognized with an outstanding AYP (adequate yearly progress) rating for the last three years by the Oregon Department of Education.
Check out their entry here.

Entry #2: Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls:
This one of a kind entry came from a talented group of girls that rocked it…literally! This is a non-profit organization headquartered in Portland that gives girls of various ages the chance to build their self-esteem through creating and performing music. The organization started in 2001 by a Portland State University student as a summer day camp and today, it’s going strong, working with dozens of girls every year. Check out their entry here.

Entry #3: Oregon Youth Chorale:
The Oregon Youth Chorale came in ready to showcase their creativity with their “cool hot cool hot” sound! Sandra Miller is the founder and artistic director of the program and has put her outstanding experience and education in music to work in teaching this choir. The choral group tours around Oregon and they have even presented concerts in Austria, Italy, and France. Check out their entry here.

Voting is open, so you can head over to our page and VOTE NOW for your favorite rendition of our jingle! The 1st place winner will receive $5,000 and a chance to appear in a major television ad campaign. The 2nd place winner will receive $2,500 and 3rd place will take home $1,000! The winner is selected January 4th!

How to Know If Your Home Needs Duct Sealing


The ductwork in your home plays a crucial role in the indoor air quality and overall comfort level throughout the home from room to room.  Often times the air inside your home is more contaminated than the outside air.  Professional duct sealing with Aeroseal is a very good investment for any homeowner and it can save money in the long run too, simply because the hot or cold air that is going through the duct work is not being leaked out of the ductwork.  We’re proud to be a licensed heating and cooling company that offers duct sealing with Aeroseal to clients around the area. Here’s how to know if your home needs duct sealing.

Sign #1: You have hot or cold spots throughout the house.
Some rooms are warm and others aren’t…sound familiar? These warm or cold spots in the home could mean that you have leaks in your air ducts.

Sign #2: You have a lot of dust accumulation around the home.
Do you feel like you’re always dusting? Excess dust accumulation could be a sign that you have damaged or leaky ducts. Excess dust can come from your attic or crawl space areas and when the heating system pulls the dust from those spaces into your home, it will be circulated throughout the area.

Sign #3: You see a spike in utility costs.
Normally homeowners in the winter see a bit of an increase in their utility bills over the winter because their furnaces are running for longer periods of time. But if you see a dramatic spike in the utility bills and there hasn’t been an increase in utility rates, leaky air ducts could be one of the issues. Leaky ducts let cold air in and leak the warm air out, which means your furnace is working a lot harder to do its job and this means you could see some expensive utility bills. Sealed ductwork allows you to keep cold air out and warm air in and you’ll be able to avoid astronomically priced energy bills.

How Aeroseal works:
Aeroseal Duct Sealing is a patented solution that has a 98% success rate. A sealant is injected into the ductwork of the home and as the air stream makes exists through the leak, the tiny aerosol particles collide and attach to the areas where the leaks are present. During the process, we will provide a computer analysis of your home’s generated leakage, and then once the Aeroseal process is complete, we’ll provide a report showing that the process was successful.

Leaky ductwork can cost homeowners hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars every year in wasted energy. Aeroseal is an affordable solution that can fix leaks from the inside out! Contact us today for more information on how Aeroseal can help you home stay warm and comfortable this winter and all year long!

How to Avoid Furnace Hazards



The temperatures are dropping and the official winter season will be here in just a few weeks. When this happens, most homeowners crank up the heat inside their homes to stay comfortable. However, if your furnace isn’t maintained the right way, you could be putting yourself and your loved ones at risk. It’s important to educate yourself on proper furnace maintenance as well as what the potential hazards are so you can be safe and operate your furnace the safest way possible.

Tip #1: Beware of faulty or broken furnace parts.
Furnace hazards oftentimes are a result of malfunctioning or faulty parts. This could be manufacturer errors in the furnace, or older furnaces sometimes have parts that break or wear down over time, which could pose a safety risk. In addition, if you don’t follow directions properly on how to operate the furnace, you could be creating the potential accident to happen.

Tip #2: Have your furnace inspected on a regular basis.
You should always inspect your furnace regularly to make sure there isn’t something obvious wrong with it, but you should also have a certified HVAC specialist come out and look at the machine regularly, especially before the start of winter. That way, you could be sure that any potential issues are identified and fixed before they become hazardous or potentially dangerous.

Tip #3: Always complete repairs in a timely manner.
If something breaks down on your furnace – even a small part – get it repaired right away. The longer you let repairs sit undone, the greater chance you have for a potential hazardous issue to arise. In addition, don’t attempt to repair anything by yourself. A trained professional should always take care of any furnace repairs in order to avoid personal injury or greater damage to your furnace or the surrounding property.

Safe indoor heating is important during the winter, so understanding how your furnace operates and taking the time to be sure that it’s working at its maximum efficiency is key. Contact us today for a furnace tune-up or repair so you can be ready to tackle the cold winter air with warmth inside your home!

Winter HVAC maintenance tips

The cool, wet weather is back and weather experts are predicting that this winter will be colder than usual this year. Besides bundling up in extra layers to stay warm, winterizing your furnace and performing regular maintenance on it should be a top priority. Your HVAC system is essential during the cold months of winter, so make sure that it’s working efficiently before it’s too late. Here are some winter HVAC maintenance tips.

Tip #1: Make sure filters are clean.
The filter is very important and clogged filters can disrupt the flow of air to your home. Not only that, dirty filters can trip safety switches inside the furnace. If this continues to happen, the system will have to work hard and it could cause the system to wear our quickly. Make sure to check your filters regularly and replace them as needed.

Tip #2: Clean the inside.
If you’re able to open up the inside of the furnace, you’re likely to see some debris and/or dust buildup. You don’t need anything special to clean this out, just grab a regular vacuum and clean it. This will not only allow for cleaner air to travel through your home, but it will help the machine function at its maximum efficiency.

Tip #3:  Don’t ignore unusual sounds.
If you’ve noticed some strange sounds coming out of your system recently, or if the system doesn’t seem to be acting right, don’t ignore these signs any longer. The worst time for your heater to break down is during a cold stretch of winter! Unusual sounds can be a sign that a part replacement or repair is needed. If you’re not sure, our team of experienced technicians can help accurately diagnose the problem and make sure that the system is fixed so you’re comfortable.

Tip #4: Set up an annual maintenance appointment.
Make sure that your HVAC system undergoes regular annual maintenance. This is a great investment and should be done at the turn of fall or winter. Maintenance appointments will help identify any potential problem areas that may be unseen that could lead to expensive repairs later down the road.

You and your family rely on the heater throughout the cold months, so it’s important to prepare your system for the upcoming weather. If your system needs servicing, you can easily request service online here. Or, perhaps your old furnace has reached the end of its lifetime and a new HVAC system is in order for your home. We offer a variety of quality heating systems and our team can help customize a solution for your home and most importantly, your budget. Contact us today!

Why is my furnace so loud?

The mornings and evenings in the Pacific Northwest are getting chilly, so you may have found yourself relying on your furnace to keep you warm! You’ve probably become used to the sounds that your furnace makes when it kicks on, but if there are some new noises that have developed recently that have you scratching your head, let us help. There may be a specific issue that needs to be addressed.

What are the causes of a loud furnace?
If you hear banging or a clanking sound, this could mean that there is a part of your system that has become loose or damaged. This could be an urgent issue that needs to be fixed right away, as other parts of the furnace could be damaged as a result of one damaged part. If it’s ignored for too long, the furnace could breakdown completely and may need to be replaced altogether.

If you hear a whining or whistling noise, this could mean there is a problem linked to the ductwork in the home. Gaps in ducts could cause a whistle and this means that the efficiency of your furnace is not up to par. Whistling noises could also mean that your filters are dirty and that they need to be cleaned out. Change or clean your filters every month.

If you notice a high-pitched screeching noise, this could be alarming and indicate that there is something wrong with the motor that blows the air. Perhaps it has come loose or is broken, or just needs to be lubricated so it can run smoothly.

If you’re experiencing other noises that we haven’t covered here, we’re happy to come and take a look at the system and see what’s going on. Our specialists at Specialty Heating & Cooling are experienced and can find and diagnose the problem quickly so you can run your furnace in peace and quiet in the comfort of your own home.

In addition, it’s important to stay on top of regular maintenance by having a team of professionals come out and service your furnace regularly. When your heating system is maintained in this way, these types of noises can usually be avoided altogether. Taking care of your home’s furnace is just like changing the oil or getting a tune-up on your car: this type of care means you’ll help prevent problems from happening in the future and you’ll maintain optimal comfort and efficiency throughout the year!

Contact our award winning service team today for an appointment!

Why heat your home with a heat pump?


Weather in Oregon changes greatly from season to season and we’re used to rain and colder weather during the fall and winter months and we get accustomed to cranking up the heat if we need it. When summer rolls around, it’s time to bring out the air conditioning unit to stay cool. If you’re tired of using separate systems to heat and cool your home and you’re looking for one system that can provide the comfort you need while also saving energy, a heat pump is a great answer. Here’s why you should get your home set up with a heat pump this autumn.

  1. Comfort
    Heat pumps provide clean air and consistent temperatures no matter what season it is. You are given the control of what temperature is most comfortable for your home. Heat pumps are built with longer run times at lower speeds which can increase dehumidification capability and offer even temperatures inside.
  2. Efficiency
    Heat pumps take the heat from the outside air to warm your home and then efficiently cools your home by taking the heat out of your house. If you’re used to heating your home with other heat sources that are less efficient and expensive like oil or electric, you will see a big price drop in your heating bill after installing a heat pump. Heat pumps are one of the most environmentally friendly ways to heat and cool your home because of how efficiently they utilize electricity.
  3. Noise
    Are you tired of being woken up to a rattling, outdated HVAC system? Say goodbye to those days with a heat pump. They’re so quiet that you can hardly hear them! Many heat pumps are made to operate at lower capacities so the sound levels are kept extremely low.
  4. Rebates and Incentives
    Since, heat pumps are very efficient there are a variety of rebates and incentives available to customers throughout the year. In fact, customers have the opportunity to save up to $3825 on a new heating and cooling system with a heat pump.  By combining state and federal tax credits, Carrier cool cash, and local utility rebates customers can save up to $3,825!
  5. Dual fuel with hybrid system
    A hybrid system combines a heat pump with a gas furnace and is used to heat your home when the weather is mild. When the weather turns very cold, the heat pump will shut off and the furnace alone will heat the home. These machines run in tandem with each other and this is a more efficient option.



Here are two great heat pump options:

18vs heat pump
This is an efficient heat pump that stands out above the rest. It features variable-speed compression that can change to as many as 5 stages. The ability to run at lower speeds means that it will be quieter and better at removing humidity from the air. It also keeps temperatures even, which allows users to get the most out of the unit’s efficiency levels. It’s also smaller and lighter than other 2-stage units and works with communicating thermostats. It’s durable and comes with a 10 year limited warranty, so homeowners can rely on it for years to come.

Infinity 20
This whisper-quiet heat pump features Greenspeed Intelligence and comes with the highest rating for efficiency.  The variable-speed compressor allows it to adapt to the unique needs of the home and can adjust between 40 and 100% capacity.

Contact us today at 503-946-6396 and let us talk to you about what options there are for your home’s layout and most importantly, your budget. Our experienced and professional sales team can help you decide which one will work for you and get you ready to experience ultimate comfort in your home in the coming cooler months.