Signs That It’s Time for Boiler Replacement

October 15th, 2014

Boilers can be remarkably sturdy machines. Some well-maintained iron boilers have lasted over a century, and still see use in homes today. Despite their hardy natures, however, even boilers have a limit to their longevity. When that limit is reached, it pays to recognize the signs so that you can replace your boiler before it fails.

Rising Maintenance and Repair Costs

The easiest way to tell if your boiler is reaching the end of its life is by monitoring the cost of maintenance and repairs. If the cost of simple maintenance is significantly higher this year than it was the year before that, and the year before that, your boiler may be reaching the end of its life. The simple fact of the matter is that wear and tear is inevitable. No matter how well you maintain your boiler system, the years and decades of use will eventually cause parts to fail. This will happen more and more often, causing an increase in repair costs. Which brings us to our next point.

Frequency of Repairs

If you find yourself calling for boiler repair more and more frequently, especially within a relatively short period of time, you may need to replace your boiler. As mentioned above, wear and tear will become more and more pronounced on a system as it gets older. Since different parts tend to experience different levels of stress during normal operation, this can cause a waterfall effect. You may have just finished getting one part replaced when another one fails, and you have to start the whole process over again. This isn’t just annoying, it’s expensive. If it starts to seem like your boiler is in a constant state of disrepair, it’s time to replace it.

Heating Efficiency

If you begin to experience cold spots or other signs of uneven heating, it’s a good sign of problems with your boiler. One or two occurrences isn’t necessarily a sign of a deteriorating boiler. When the noticeable decrease in heating becomes constant, however, that is a reliable indication of a failing boiler.

If you think you may need to replace your boiler, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We offer quality heating replacement throughout the Brentwood area.

Why Schedule New Furnace Installation This Fall?

October 8th, 2014

So, your furnace is getting on in years, and you think it’s time to replace it. But when should you actually have it done? Does it even matter when you get a new furnace? As a matter of fact, it does. The fall season is the best time to ensure that your new furnace gets off to a good start. Let’s take a look at why you should have a new furnace installed in fall.

Perfect Timing

There’s a reason that most annual furnace maintenance takes place in fall. The best time for any sort of preventative maintenance is right before a period of heavy usage. This ensures that your furnace is in peak condition at the time that you need it the most. The same principle applies to installing a new furnace. A new furnace is already in the best possible condition, which means that it will be giving its best performance during the winter months. Since you were probably planning on scheduling an HVAC service call during the fall season anyway, why not install a new furnace at the same time? That way, you can stay right on schedule without having to change any plans to accommodate a new appointment time.

Convenience

Installing a new furnace necessitates the removal of the old one. This is obvious, we know, but it should factor into your thinking about when to install your new furnace. Whenever you install your new furnace, you’ll be depriving yourself of heat for at least a day. That day without heat is bound to be uncomfortable if you wait until the winter months.

You should also consider the ebb and flow of demand on HVAC repair services. During the winter months, calls for fast furnace repair tend to spike. This makes things more difficult if you want to install your furnace during the winter months. You are far more likely to get prompt service if you call for a furnace installation in fall, when there are fewer customers to compete with.

If you need a new furnace installed, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We install furnaces throughout the Whitehall area.

Have Your Boiler Repaired before Winter Strikes

October 1st, 2014

Boilers have been the most popular heating option in homes in the United States for a very long time, and for good reason. Boilers are generally rather reliable, and modern units have a long lifespan and can be very efficient. But because you use your boiler for much of the year, it’s likely that you will need to call a technician for heating repair at some point in the life of your system.

If there is a problem with your boiler, don’t wait to schedule repairs. When you let a repair need go on for too long, it can only get worse. And you don’t want to be without a boiler in the middle of a cold winter night, right when you need it most. The following list describes just a few of the problems that should be repaired before winter begins. For heating repair in Pittsburgh, be sure to call Boehmer Heating & Cooling at the first sign of trouble.

  • Water leaks: When water leaks from your boiler, it is a serious problem that cannot wait for repair. Water may leak from the expansion tank, the pump, the pressure relief valve, or from the gaskets. But even a minor leak can become worse, causing reduced heating, and possibly damaging the foundation of your home over time.
  • Strange Noises: Another repair that cannot wait until winter is unusual noises. While these noises may sometimes seem bearable, they could indicate problems with the pump or sediment in the tank. A damaged pump may only need simple repairs or it may need to be replaced. And if sediment continues to collect in the tank, it will reduce the tank volume, increasing the temperature and leading to overheating.
  • Not enough heating: If your home is not warm enough, it could be any number of issues. A leaking tank, broken thermostat, or pump problems are just a few of the potential culprits.

Don’t need any repairs before winter? Be sure to schedule heating maintenance with a professional technician toward the beginning of the heating season. A maintenance technician will thoroughly inspect your unit for any possible repair needs. Whether you want to schedule preventive services or find out you’re in need of heating repair in Pittsburgh, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today!

The Differences Between Mechanical and Electronic Air Cleaners

September 24th, 2014

Air cleaners can greatly improve the indoor air quality in your home, but there are several types of cleaners from which to choose. The main two types for whole-home use are mechanical air filters and electronic air cleaners. Understanding how each air cleaner works can help you determine which will work best in your home. Air cleaners in Baldwin should always be installed by professionals, so if you are ready to install a whole-home air cleaner, call the company that has been around since 1933: Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

Mechanical Air Filters

Mechanical air filters are square-framed, with filter media stretching across the entire space within the frame. These filters typically fit inside the space where your standard air filter resides, but not always. Mechanical air filters screen out particles from the air as the air passes through them, trapping the particles in the filter media. Not all air filters work the same. In fact, there is a special rating system called MERV – minimum efficiency reporting value – that will tell you how effective a particular filter is. The typical MERV rating for whole-home air filtration is 5-12; the highest ratings belong to HEPA filters, which range anywhere from 13-20. However, HEPA filters are so strong that they can restrict air flow in your HVAC system, so it’s important to work with  a professional before deciding that a HEPA filter is right for your system.

Mechanical air filters can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns, which covers many types of particles, including allergens, dirt, dust, pet dander and some biological contaminants. Many biological contaminants are smaller than 0.3 microns, so an air filter will not capture all of them. Mechanical air filters should be replaced every 3 months to remain effective.

Electronic Cleaners

There are two main types of electronic air cleaners:

  • Ion Generators
  • Electronic Precipitators

Each uses electricity to capture particles, but each does so in a different way.

Ion Generators

Ion generators disperse negative ions into the air. These ions attach themselves to particles in the air, and are then attracted to the different surfaces in your home, such as tables, walls and counter tops. The particle and negative ion attach to these surfaces and are removed when they are cleaned.

Electronic Precipitators

An electronic precipitator draw particles into it using a fan. Once inside the precipitator, the particles are charged in an ionization section. The newly-charged particles are attracted to oppositely-charged metal plates inside the precipitator, where they are captured. The plates need to be washed every 3 months in order to stay effective.

Air cleaners in Baldwin are an important part of healthy indoor air quality. If you want to know more about how any of these products can help you, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling and schedule a consultation with one of our indoor air quality experts.

Air Conditioning Repair: Could It Be the Thermostat?

September 17th, 2014

When your air conditioner malfunctions or breaks down, it can be easy to jump to the worst conclusions:

  • The compressor blew!
  • A fan motor is shot!
  • My whole system is a mess!

Sometimes, it can be this: the thermostat.

Thermostats are sensitive instruments, and because they control when your air conditioner cycles, problems with it can look like a lot of other (potentially bad) things. If you’ve ruled out the possibility of other problems, it may be time to focus your air conditioning repair in Pittsburgh on your thermostat, with the help of a trained professional from Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

Signs of Problems with Your Thermostat

There are a few signs that your thermostat may be malfunctioning:

  • Short cycling – your system is turning on and off too much and not achieving target temperatures
  • Large temperature swings – you are seeing wild temperature swings in your home without changing the temperature
  • Won’t turn on at all – your AC won’t start

Common Causes of Thermostat Problems

As we stated above, thermostats are sensitive instruments, so even small things can alter their proper operation. Here are some common causes of thermostat malfunction:

  • Dirt and dust – dirt and dust can easily get inside your thermostat, and when they make a home on the instrumentation, they can interfere with the workings of the entire thermostat. The removal of dirt and dust requires a delicate cleaning of the inside and outside of the thermostat.
  • Thermostat isn’t level – to operate properly, a thermostat needs to be level and at least 5 feet up from your floor. Otherwise, the orientation affects the readings, and the cooler temperature of the floor (unless you have radiant heat) can contribute to an incorrect reading.
  • Loose wires – faulty connections with the wires can cut off the power to the thermostat, or make the power flow intermittently, disrupting operation.

Thermostat repairs are best handled by a professional, and it’s important to make them as quickly as possible before the issues can cause more problems. If you need thermostat or any other air conditioning repair in Pittsburgh, be sure to call the company that has been around for 80 years: Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

Common Misunderstandings About Geothermal Systems

September 10th, 2014

Geothermal systems aren’t new, but they have become more popular over the last few years with homeowners as technology has made them more accessible. The concept of geothermal heating and cooling– using the Earth’s steady temperature to heat and cool homes – can sometimes lead to misunderstandings about how the system is installed and operates. The fact is, geothermal installation and use in Pittsburgh is pretty straightforward and may be a great option for your home. Our Boehmer Heating & Cooling technicians have put together a list of common misunderstandings to help dispel any confusion about geothermal.

Common Myths About Geothermal Systems:

  • You need a lot of yard space to install a geothermal system – geothermal systems can be installed either horizontally or vertically. As such, if you have a small yard, you can install a vertical ground loop that won’t take up that much square footage.
  • Geothermal systems only heat – geothermal systems provide both heating and cooling, and do it very efficiently with the help of a heat pump.
  • The installation process will destroy my yard – while the ground loop does require excavation, your yard and any landscaping will be returned to the state it was in before the installation.
  • A geothermal system won’t generate enough heat or cooling for my home – on the contrary, there is more than enough energy to go around with a geothermal system, and it’s 2-3 times more efficient than traditional HVAC systems.
  • It’s really hard to repair a ground loop leak – not so. The ground loop is designed so that should a leak occur, a technician will inject dye into the system and see on the ground level where the dye appears. This helps pinpoint where the leak is and the technician can conduct the repair.

The key with any geothermal installation and repair in Pittsburgh is ensuring you hire and work with professionals with the knowledge and expertise needed to install a geothermal system. This is where Boehmer Heating & Cooling comes in. We’ve been around since 1933, and we’ve learned every new system that has come to the market for the past 8 decades. If you are interested in seeing what a geothermal system can do for your home, call us today.

The Fashion of Wearing White and Labor Day

September 1st, 2014

You may have heard about the fashion faux pas of wearing white after Labor Day. In the present, this tradition is usually treated as old fashioned and a joke. Few people will criticize you for wearing white articles of clothing after the first Monday in September, or even take notice of it except to wonder why it was ever a major concern at all.

Where did this tradition of white clothing going out of fashion after Labor Day come from, and why did it fade away like colorful fabric washed in a hot load in the washing machine?

In general, white makes sense for the heat of summer. Light-colored clothing reflects away the radiant heat of the sun, instead of absorbing it the way dark colors do, so for thousands of years of human history people have preferred to wear white clothing during the hotter months.

However, the idea of white as strictly fashionable during the summer season only emerged in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—the time when the very concept of “fashion” began to spread across the Western Hemisphere.

It was only the highest level of post-Civil War society in the U.S. that strict and often bizarre rules for fashion controlled whether someone was in with the “in” crowd. Compared to our ideas of what’s fashionable today, the Czars of Style in the 1880s were true despots. Things as trivial as sleeve length could determine whether a woman in high society—no matter her level of wealth—was fashionable or a pariah.

Wearing white during the only summer, when it was common for weddings and outdoor parties, was only of these restrictive society rules. When the U.S. government made Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894, the Fashion Czars gained a definite cut-off point for when wearing white was no longer “acceptable” in the upper echelons of wealthy society.

For many decades, this rule only applied to a small number of millionaire socialites in a few big cities, but in the 1950s it reached general fashion magazines that were read around the country and started to affect more people.

But time eventually broke apart this odd rule, and during the 1970s fashion became more individual. Some fashion legends, like Coco Chanel, also purposely rejected the restriction and wore white throughout the year. Today, the “no white after Labor Day rule” is little more than an amusing gag to tease friends, and almost nobody takes it seriously.

Whatever you choose to wear after Labor Day (and if it’s white, we won’t tease!), everyone here at Boehmer Heating & Cooling hopes you have a happy end of the summer and great plans for the fall!

Reasons to Schedule an Energy Audit in Pittsburgh

August 27th, 2014

The amount of energy you use directly impacts your monthly finances. Approximately 40% of household budgets are used for annual energy expenses, but what if you could shrink that number? An energy audit in Pittsburgh can help you do just that. By understanding how your home heats and cools, you’ll be able to create and execute a plan that will help you save money on energy costs all year. Boehmer Heating & Cooling home energy advisers are certified and trained in all home services, and the company is a partner with GreenHomes America. If you are looking to schedule an energy audit for your home, call the best people for the job: Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

What Is an Energy Audit?

An energy audit is an assessment of how much energy your home uses and how you can improve upon its energy efficiency. During an energy audit with a Boehmer Heating & Cooling expert, you can expect the following:

  • Utility Bill Analysis — effectively determines usage patterns of your home’s heating and cooling to help you look for ways to reduce your energy and gas (oil or propane) consumption
  • Blower Door Test — detects the source and measures the amount of air leakage in your home
  • Infrared Scan — identifies hidden defects in the house, from air and duct leaks to moisture issues and gaps in your insulation
  • Visual Inspection — helps to uncover potential problems that may compromise the integrity of your home
  • Insulation Inspection — determines the insulation levels in specific areas of the house
  • Attic Inspection — identifies evidence of issues involving maintenance, insulation, and damage caused by moisture on the roof from the attic
  • Furnace, Boiler, Air Conditioner, Heat Pump, and Hot Water Equipment Inspection — inspects the condition of your HVAC system for existing or potential issues

What Are the Benefits of an Energy Audit?

There are several important benefits to conducting an energy audit:

  • Increase energy efficiency
  • Reduce energy usage
  • Improve indoor air quality
  • Produce consistent interior temperatures
  • Reduce interior drafts
  • Improve humidity control & ventilation

To gain these benefits, you need to implement the recommendations listed in the energy audit report.

If you are interested in a Boehmer Heating & Cooling energy audit for your Pittsburgh home, call us today and schedule an appointment with one of our certified home energy advisors.

How Technicians Determine the Size of Your New AC

August 20th, 2014

In order for an air conditioner to work well for a home, it must be properly sized for the home. The installers need to determine how large a cooling load a new air conditioning system must produce in order to keep the home at the temperature that the homeowner wants for comfort.

Sizing is a complicated process. It’s easy for an amateur to assume that the more powerful an AC, the better it will cool a house. However, an oversized air conditioner can be a major a problem as an undersized one: it will lower the temperature so rapidly that it will shut off the cooling cycle before completing it, only to turn back on a short time later, and continue to repeat the process. This is called “short-cycling,” and it leads to wasted energy and a shortened lifespan for the system.

For your air conditioning installation in Brentwood, PA, call on Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We’ve helped keep homes comfortable in the Greater Pittsburgh Area since 1933.

How Sizing is Done for an AC

The way that technicians find out the cooling load (in tons) an air conditioner needs to supply to both keep a house cool and not to short-cycle, they perform a heat load calculation. This complex calculation collects data about the house to determine how well it traps heat and keeps heat outside. The more heat that stays inside a home, the more powerful an AC is needed to combat it.

The basic part of the heat load calculation is the volume of the house; square footage along is enough to determine how much space the AC must cool down. The technicians then analyze other parts of the home to see where heat is entering and where it is being generated.

Heat can enter a home through poor insulation, especially in the attic, so the technicians look over the insulation in the walls and ceilings. They also factor in the number of windows and the directions they face to see where radiant heat is entering the house.

Technicians look over the number of heat generating appliances in the house and how often they run: washing machine, laundry machine, oven, entertainment center, lights, etc. The number of people regularly in the home also affects how much heat is inside it.

Once the technicians have gathered all the pertinent data (and there’s even more than we’ve listed here), they can plug it into the calculation and return with the amount of cooling load necessary to keep the home comfortable.

The heat load calculation is one of the many reasons to rely on professionals for your air conditioning installation in Brentwood, PA. The only way to receive the right AC working at its best is to leave the job to the experts. Call on the experienced team at Boehmer Heating & Cooling the next time you need a new AC sized and installed.

What Does the SEER Number Mean for My Air Conditioner?

August 13th, 2014

Just as a car has the miles per gallon rating (mpg) to assess how well it uses its energy source (gasoline, in this case), so, too, does an air conditioning system. This rating is called SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) and it tells you how efficient a specific air conditioning system in Brentwood will be. Understanding what SEER means for your air conditioner is important when installing a new or replacement AC, so our Boehmer Heating & Cooling technicians have taken some time to explain this below.

What Is SEER?

As mentioned above, SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, and it is a number placed on all air conditioning systems. SEER is rated on a scale of 1 to 23; energy efficiency improves with each higher point.

Today’s air conditioners have to be manufactured with a minimum SEER of 13, a law that went into effect in 2006; prior to this the minimum required SEER was 10.

What Is the Importance of SEER?

SEER isn’t just a number; it tells you how much energy your air conditioner will use to cool your home. According to Energystar.gov, each point higher on the SEER scale equates to an approximate savings of 10% on your annual air conditioning costs. As an example, let’s say an AC with a SEER of 16 will cost you $300 for the year; the same model with a SEER of 21 would cost you $150. By comparing SEER numbers, you can estimate the annual cost of your air conditioning and how much you can potentially save with each SEER number.

How Is SEER Calculated?

SEER is calculated by measuring the amount of cool air an air conditioner expels for every unit of energy it consumes to do so.

Benefits of an Energy Efficient AC

The clear benefit of an energy efficient air conditioner is the savings you can achieve in monthly utility bills. If you have seen your energy bills rise due to an aging or seriously malfunctioning system, it may be time to think about replacement.

The second benefit of purchasing an energy efficient system is the benefit to the environment. Less energy means a smaller carbon footprint and less greenhouse gases for the planet.

Have questions about what SEER means to you? Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today and schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.