What Is an Energy Audit?

December 11th, 2014

Looking to save some money on your monthly bills? The first step to take towards a more efficient home is scheduling a home energy audit.

A home energy audit is used to determine which parts of the home are responsible for lost energy. When you run your heating or air conditioning system, heat may escape or enter through the walls, causing your unit to work much harder than it needs to and using a lot of energy in the process. Not only does this hurt your wallet; it also makes the people in your home feel far less comfortable.

Most homes have small holes and cracks in various areas, which may only seem to be a small issue. However, if you were to put all of these holes together, it could create a gaping opening the size of a hula hoop. Furthermore, many homes are poorly insulated, meaning that heat can easily move through the walls and ceilings. In the summer, this means that too much heat enters your home, and in the winter, the heat created by your furnace or radiant system can effortlessly escape.

A home energy audit is used to determine which components of your home are responsible for energy loss and a whole host of other problems. A technician will examine various parts of your home with a series of tests and inspections to determine what parts of the house contribute to energy loss, allergies, illness, poor HVAC performance, stuffiness, humidity, and more. After inspection, the technician will let you know what type of service will help alleviate the issues in your house. They may recommend that you schedule any of the following services:

  • Air Sealing
  • Insulation Services
  • Duct Sealing
  • Ventilation
  • New HVAC Replacement or Repair
  • Mold Remediation
  • Indoor Air Quality Installation

It’s important to know about the state of your home, not only for your utility bills but also for your health. Faulty gas furnaces and stuffy garages can allow poisonous gases to leak into your home. Or, a musty and humid room may give way to mold development, causing family members with asthma and allergies to suffer and sometimes leading to sudden illness.

Our audit includes a visual inspection, utility bill analysis, HVAC inspection, infrared scanning, a blower door test and more, so that you can rest easy knowing you’re saving as much money as possible and that your family remains comfortable and safe.

Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling for a comprehensive energy audit in Pittsburgh.

What Can Happen if Your Heat Pump Loses Refrigerant

December 3rd, 2014

The heat pump is one of the most efficient types of home comfort systems available for both heating and cooling. More and more, people are making the switch to heat pumps since they require little energy to run and may last longer than many other types of AC systems. However, like any type of electro-mechanical unit, a heat pump requires maintenance in order to run properly and offer the best performance. And one of the key steps of heat pump maintenance involves checking the refrigerant levels.

The term “heat pump” is a bit confusing as it leads many people to believe these are mostly used for heating purposes. However, the design of a heat pump is much closer to that of a standard home air conditioner. Heat pumps use refrigerant to cycle throughout the major components of the system in order to carry out heat exchange. In the summer, a heat pump uses refrigerant to absorb heat from the air in your home and move it outdoors. In the winter, it uses refrigerant to absorb heat form outside, even in very cool weather, to bring into the home.

As you can see, refrigerant, a chemical blend with the ability to convert easily from gas to liquid state and vice versa, is vital in heat pump operation. When refrigerant leaks, you simply cannot get the heating and cooling power that you need as the heat exchange process is jeopardized. But sometimes, the diminishing heating or cooling power is still tolerable, which leads many to believe they can continue to run their system on low refrigerant.

However, you should keep in mind that this is simply not an option. If you continue to run your heat pump at all with leaking refrigerant, you can damage a couple of key components. For one, you may force the indoor coil to freeze over during the evaporation process. But more importantly, you could damage the compressor, one of the most important (and costly) parts of your whole unit.

Only a trained and certified professional can work with refrigerant safely. Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling whenever you experience problems with your heat pump in Brentwood. We know how risky it is to wait for repairs so we’ll get the job done quickly and professionally.

10 Facts You Should Know about Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2014

Thanksgiving has been celebrated as an official holiday in the United States for over 150 years, so you may think you understand all there is to know about this family feast. Most of us have heard the story of the pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving in 1621 after arriving in North America on the Mayflower. But did you know that only about half of the people on this ship were actually pilgrims? This fact is one of ten things that may actually surprise you about the Thanksgiving tradition!

  1. Although we often consider Thanksgiving a holiday unique to the United States, many other countries and cultures celebrate their own set of harvest-time and thanksgiving traditions. In Korea, Chu-Sok (or “fall evening”) is put on in remembrance of forefathers on August 15th of every year. Brazil celebrates a contemporary version of the U.S. holiday. Chinese, Roman, and Jewish cultures all have a history of harvest celebrations as well.
  2. President Harry S. Truman began the tradition of a ceremony held before Thanksgiving during which the president receives a turkey. George H.W. Bush was the first to pardon the turkey instead of eating it.
  3. In Minnesota alone, farmers raise over 40 million turkeys a year. In fact, U.S. farmers produce about one turkey for every one person in the country.
  4. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American will gain about one to two pounds every year during the holiday season.
  5. On the other hand, turkey is naturally high in protein and has been known to support and boost immune systems to protect against illness and speed up healing. So feast on!
  6. Abraham Lincoln issued a “Thanksgiving Proclamation” in 1863, but a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale can be credited with the idea. While Thanksgiving had been celebrated at different times of year in many areas of the U.S. for years, it was Hale, prominent magazine editor and author of the rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” who urged Lincoln to finally establish the national event.
  7. President Franklin D Roosevelt once tried to change the date of Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday of the month in order to extend the holiday shopping season and boost the economy.
  8. Only about half of the people on the Mayflower were what we would consider today as “Pilgrims.” The other (approximately) 50 people were simply trying to find a way over to the New World.
  9. Gobble, gobble! Click, click? While male turkeys make a gobbling noise, females (hens) do not; it’s often described as a clicking.
  10. Even though we celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, the month of June has been declared National Turkey Lovers’ Month by the National Turkey Federation so you can continue the celebration in the summer as well!

From our family here at Boehmer Heating and Cooling, we’d like to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Is Rust a Sign That My Boiler Needs Repairs?

November 19th, 2014

Your boiler uses water to heat your home, but it is made to withstand the effects of rust. For rust to develop, there has to be enough oxygen present in the air in addition to the water; boilers are made to be as air-tight as possible, so rust shouldn’t be an issue. If you are seeing rust and corrosion on your boiler, it is time to call a technician as the rust is most likely the result of a problem somewhere in your system.  The trained and certified technicians at Boehmer Heating & Cooling are available around the clock when you’re in need of quality boiler repair service in South Hills, so if you are seeing significant rust on your boiler, call us today.

Sacrificial Anode

Manufacturers of boilers understand that rust development is a potential issue with any boiler. This is why every boiler comes equipped with a component called a sacrificial anode, also called a sacrificial rod. A sacrificial anode is placed at the top of the water tank. It is made from a highly active metal alloy that corrodes faster than the metal of the tank, so it “sacrifices” itself ahead of the tank. But should the anode completely corrode and not be replaced, the rusting process will move on to the tank itself.

Problems Caused by Rust

Rust and corrosion are never good for any whole-home system; here are a few ways it can be problematic for your boiler:

  • Development of leaks – if rust has developed in an area like your water tank, the expansion tank or on piping, water leaks can develop. This will lower the pressure in your system and cause heating problems in addition to potential water damage.
  • Problems with water temperature – rust acts as an insulator. If significant rust develops on your water tank or heat exchanger, the system can overheat. Additionally, the higher temperature can increase the pressure in your system, which can cause problems.

Maintenance Is Great Prevention

One of the best ways to ensure that your boiler isn’t rusting is to schedule annual maintenance. During a maintenance appointment, you system will be thoroughly inspected and the sacrificial anode will be checked and replaced if needed.

Rust is never a good sign on a heating system. If you are seeing excessive rust on your boiler in South Hills, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today to schedule a service appointment.

How a Home Energy Audit Can Help Your Home

November 12th, 2014

Wouldn’t you love to pinpoint the exact areas of your home where you are losing heating and cooling? By scheduling a professional energy audit with a Boehmer Heating & Cooling energy expert, you can. A home energy audit can help you understand where your home is losing energy, as well as how much energy your home is using. It takes training and expertise to conduct an effective home energy audit in Pittsburgh, so call the people you can trust: Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

What Is an Energy Audit?

An energy audit is a series of tests and evaluations done in your home to pinpoint areas where you are losing heating or cooling. There is some variation as to the types of tests and analyses performed, but here is a general overview of what to expect from any professional home energy audit:

  • Thorough visual inspection – the specialist will conduct thorough inspections of your home’s exterior and interior to assess your home’s building envelope and potential issues inside.
  • Insulation inspection – an insulation inspection helps determine if you have enough insulation throughout your home, and if you have the right type of insulation.
  • Attic inspection – attic space can greatly affect your energy efficiency if it isn’t properly insulated; it can also allow for mold growth should there be issues with excess moisture. This inspection will identify any standing issues with your attic space.
  • Home appliance and HVAC inspections – thorough inspection of your HVAC system, hot water heater, dryer and any other home appliance; the purpose of this inspection is to detect any developing or existing energy problems.
  • Blower door test – pinpoints the exact areas of air leakage in your home.
  • 12-Month analysis of energy bills – this analysis helps determine your home’s energy consumption over the last year and the costs associated with it.

Home Report

Once all of the findings have been reviewed and analyzed, you’ll be given a comprehensive report detailing the findings and recommendations on how to fix any problems that were discovered during the process.

Energy.gov estimates that a home energy audit can save you anywhere from 5-30% on your annual energy bills. If you are concerned about the energy efficiency of your home, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today and schedule a home energy audit in Pittsburgh with one of our experts.

Home Energy Solutions: How Does It Benefit Me and My Home?

November 5th, 2014

Is ineffective and inefficient heating or cooling a headache for the people in your home? Do you shut off your air conditioning or heating system even on the most uncomfortable days because you cannot bear the thought of spending more money on your monthly utilities? The folks at Boehmer Heating & Cooling are proud to offer home energy solutions in Pittsburgh for homeowners looking to solve a number of problems with the conditions inside of their home.

When you schedule a home energy audit, we’ll test, inspect, and evaluate all of the areas of your home that could contribute to an unpleasant climate or poor indoor air quality. This includes an analysis of your utility bills and the state of your HVAC system. Technicians will check for any duct leaks, air leakage in the home, poor insulation, and any other problems that may contribute to inefficiency and discomfort. Then, they’ll give you a full report of their findings and recommend services to correct your particular issues. Afterwards, you may notice any of the following advantages.

  • Retain Even Temperatures throughout the Home. Many homeowners struggle with an HVAC system that distributes heat or air unevenly in various rooms or areas of the house. With duct repairs, proper insulation, and/or HVAC maintenance, you should no longer notice this issue.
  • Lower Your Energy Bills. Improper insulation, air leaks, and a faulty HVAC component can all cost you more every month. Our home energy solutions will keep your home running as efficiently as possible to reduce energy bills.
  • Eliminate Excessive Dust, Mold, and Mildew. By sealing any air leaks, changing filters, and installing solutions for poor indoor air quality, you can significantly reduce the amount of allergens circulating in the air.
  • Keep Your Home Safe. Technicians will check the gas lines and electrical connections to make sure your home is as safe as possible.
  • Extend the Life of Your HVAC Equipment. Finally, with an HVAC inspection and cleaning as well as air duct services, your heater or air conditioner may last longer and require fewer repairs over time.

These are only a handful of the benefits you may notice when you receive home energy solutions in Pittsburgh. Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling and ask about scheduling a home energy audit today.

3 Common Heat Pump Repairs

October 29th, 2014

Heat pumps are quickly rising in popularity among homeowners looking to replace their heating and cooling systems. This is because these units are extremely efficient, with very high SEERs (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios) so that you are likely to save a lot of money every month in the summer and a high HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) for heating efficiency as well. Heat pumps are efficient because they only move heat back and forth instead of generating it. And heat pumps are very durable, with a lifespan of over 15 years in many cases.

However, even the sturdiest heat pump may eventually run into the need for repairs. You can prevent repairs by calling a technician for maintenance every heating and cooling season. But when you need reliable heating repair in Brentwood, trust the exceptional technicians at Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

Heat Pump Repair Needs

Here are a few of the most common reasons homeowners call us for heat pump repair.

  • Not Enough Heat: If you feel little or no heat from your heat pump, you should call a professional right away, before the issue becomes worse. For example, if the reason for reduced heating is leaking refrigerant, it will only continue to leak, which means you may feel no heating at all, and it can cause irreversible damage to the compressor. There may be other problems with the heat pump components, or your heat pump may struggle when the weather outdoors becomes too cold. In this case, a technician may recommend a backup heating source.
  • Strange Noises: One other reason you may call a technician for heating repair is if you hear unusual noises from your heat pump. A banging noise could mean anything from a broken fan to a failing compressor. A hissing noises may indicate refrigerant leaks or duct leaks. It’s best to let a technician diagnose the problem before assuming the worst.
  • Unit Doesn’t Switch into Heating Mode: Heat pumps are basically air conditioners except for one key component, the reversing valve. This part allows refrigerant to switch directions so that it can heat your home. If your unit will not switch into heating mode, it could be a thermostat issue, or you may need to replace this part.

For expert heating repair in Brentwood, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today to schedule an appointment!

How Do I Know When I Need to Replace My Old Boiler?

October 22nd, 2014

Boilers can be great heating systems, but they will age and breakdown like any other mechanical system. It can be tempting to hang on to an aging system, particularly if it is still working, but sometimes nursing a system along can cost you more money than if you’d gone ahead and just replaced it. There are some common signs that can indicate it’s time for your system to go, as we’ll explain below. One thing to keep in mind with any boiler replacement in Baldwin is to make sure you hire professionals to perform the installation. Your heating system is critical to being comfortable, and the best way to ensure that you are comfortable this winter is to call your Boehmer Heating & Cooling expert for assistance.

Reasons to Replace an Aging Boiler

Here are some common reasons to consider replacing your boiler:

  • Age – with good maintenance, you can get up to 20 years out of your boiler, but once you start to encounter problems with a boiler this old (and you will), your money may be better spent on a new system.
  • Constant repairs – did your boiler need a lot of repair work to keep running last year, and are you potentially looking at more this year? At some point those repairs can add up to a significant expense.
  • Insufficient heating – is your boiler struggling to heat your home? It is not uncommon for aging boilers to have a hard time reaching the temperature you’ve set for your home.
  • Uneven heating – another sign of a failing boiler is uneven heating, aka, hot and cold spots. Maintaining consistent heating is important to your overall comfort level, which may be difficult to attain with an aging heating system.
  • High energy bills – are you seeing your energy bills go up even though you aren’t using your system any differently? When your system struggles to achieve the heating you need, it uses more energy to do so.

A boiler replacement in Baldwin can offer you better energy efficiency, better comfort and reliability. If you think it’s time to replace the boiler in your home, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call today to schedule an appointment.

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.