Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Archive for August, 2011

Why Install a Ductless Air Conditioner? A Question From Bethel Park

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

As you explore your options in terms of a new home air conditioning system, you will probably have to decide whether you want a system that uses ducts to get the cooled air around your Bethel Park house or one that is considered ductless. Each type of air conditioning system is appropriate in certain situations, so it is important to understand the benefits of each before you can make a decision.

Duct air conditioning systems are the more traditional type on the market today. They generally consist of an outdoor compressor and condenser unit and an indoor air handler. The outdoor unit passes the cooled air through ducts to the air handler, which then takes over circulating the air through the house and back out to the condenser again.

It makes sense to install this type of air conditioning system if you have a large house or if you have ducts already in place. Duct air conditioners can cool a moderate to large sized house quite effectively and they can also be coupled with zone control systems to give you multiple climate zones within your house.

Ductless air conditioners, as their name suggests, do not rely on a system of air ducts to get cooled air distributed throughout your house. Instead, these types of systems use refrigerant lines to transfer coolant from the outdoor compressor to the indoor, wall mounted units. Each of these indoor units can take care of cooling one or two rooms, but in order to cool an entire house with one of these systems, you will need to install multiple indoor units.

However, these multiple indoor units can all be connected to the same outdoor compressor, and they can also be controlled independently. That gives you much greater control over which parts of your house are cooled and how much energy you are using to cool areas that may or may not be occupied.

Ductless air conditioners are generally more energy efficient than ducted ones, but their real advantage comes from the facts that they can be installed even in places where air ducts do not exist or cannot go. If you do not already have ductwork in your house, installing a duct system will add considerably to the price of installing a ducted air conditioning system. In a case like this, a ductless system is much easier and cheaper to install and certainly makes more sense.

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AC Maintenance: Why You Cannot Neglect It in West Mifflin

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Especially if you have just purchased a new air conditioning system for your West Mifflin home, maintenance is probably the last thing you are thinking about. In fact, if you are like most people, you do not think about your air conditioning system at all until it does not work when you need it. But if you simply continue to use your air conditioning system without maintaining it, you will be setting yourself up for a lot of problems later on.

Just like your car or any other machine that you run on a regular basis, your air conditioning system requires a regular tune up to keep it running like it is supposed to. The type of air conditioning system you have will dictate exactly how often this maintenance service needs to take place, but most systems benefit greatly from having a tune up once a year.

When you have just purchased an air conditioning system, the last thing you probably want to do is shell out a bunch of extra cash when the system is still running fine. But it really is much cheaper to pay now rather than waiting until you have a problem with your air conditioner to call for service.

During a regular maintenance visit, your technician will examine all of the component parts of your air conditioning system to make sure that they are working the way they should and not showing any signs of excess wear and tear. This is a great way to detect problems early, even when they have not yet begun to show in the air conditioner’s performance.

Your air conditioning technician will also thoroughly clean out your system to ensure that no excess debris is allowed to build up around the coil or other vital parts of the air conditioner. This is important because it helps the air conditioner to continue to function at peak energy efficiency levels. Without regular maintenance, your air conditioner will gradually lose efficiency over time. It will only lose a little bit every year, but if you do not do something to stop it, those little bits will quickly add up.

Regular maintenance also helps to prevent more costly and inconvenient repair visits later on. And it will certainly help to increase the lifespan of your air conditioner as well. Whether you have just purchased an air conditioning system or have had yours for several years, it is never too late to start your annual maintenance visits.

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Window and Through Wall Units – Benefits and Disadvantages: A Guide From Sewickley

Friday, August 26th, 2011

When you’re trying to decide what type of air conditioner to get for your Sewickley home, you’ll first have to determine whether a central air conditioning system or smaller individual unit is best for you. These smaller air conditioners are generally installed either in a window or through the wall of your home, and they can provide excellent cooling under the proper conditions.

If you’re still on the fence about what type of air conditioner is right for your home, here are a few items to consider:

  • Ducts – If your home already has ductwork installed for a central forced air heating system, it should be relatively easy to hook up a central air conditioner. But if there are no ducts currently in place, your installation costs will be a lot lower with window or wall mounted units.
  • Portability – Most window units are designed to be removed and stored at the end of the summer, so you can have your windows back and not have to look at that unit all winter long. Through wall units aren’t generally removable, but because they don’t take up window space and provide a more thorough seal against the elements, that’s not as much of a concern.
  • Aesthetics – With both window and through wall units, you’ll have something protruding into your room at least a few inches. These types of units are hard to hide, particularly when compared to the simple air ducts that central air conditioning systems use.
  • Flexible Sizing – No matter how big or small your room is, you should have no trouble finding a window or through wall unit to match it. A central air conditioning system needs to be sized to fit the entire house. If you’re only inclined to use air conditioning in two or three rooms during the hottest months of the year, you may not want to pay to cool the entire house all of the time. Smaller units provide that type of flexibility.
  • Affordability – Installing a central air conditioning system, even if you already have ducts in place, is a large undertaking and likely to cost you several thousand dollars up front. On the other hand, small window and through wall air conditioners are available for as little as $200 and you can buy more whenever you’re ready to spend that extra money. You can also usually install a window unit yourself, and the cost of having a through wall unit installed is minimal compared to that of a central AC unit.

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How Do I Find the Right Size Unit for My Room? A Question From Ross

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

When buying an air conditioner in Ross, there are a lot of things you need to take into account. One of the most important is the size and power of the unit you choose. Air conditioners come in many different sizes, so if you really want to get the most out of your purchase, you need to do your research and pick one that fits your home like a glove.

Square Feet and BTUs

The best way to determine how large of an air conditioner you need is to match the number of BTUs the unit has to the square footage of the room you want to use it in. That means you need to know what room you’re buying it for before you make your purchase.

The number of BTUs needed goes up proportionately with the room size, so even if you don’t have exact measurements or if your room is oddly shaped, you can get a good idea of how large an air conditioner you need. For instance, a 400 to 550 square foot room is best served by an air conditioner with between 8,000 and 11,000 BTUs, while a room that’s only 250 square feet would probably be fine with a 6,000 BTU unit.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

One of the most common mistakes people make when buying an air conditioner is to assume that the bigger the unit the better it will work. The truth is that buying an air conditioner that’s too big for your room is just as much of a waste as buying one that’s too small.

A larger air conditioner will cost more, and it will probably make the room too cold. It will also cycle on and off more frequently than a properly sized unit and it won’t be able to properly control the humidity level, leaving you with a cold, damp environment. That’s not very comfortable.

Other Factors

The square footage is definitely the most important piece of data you’ll need before buying a new air conditioner for any room in your house. But don’t forget to take some other factors into account as well. For instance, if the room has particularly high ceilings or receives a lot of direct sunlight, you’ll probably need a slightly more powerful unit than the straight square footage would indicate.

If you’re not sure how certain features of your home will impact your buying decision, call a professional who can help you get a more exact idea of what it will take to stay cool.

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Energy Efficient Home Cooling Tips From Wexford

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Having an energy efficient air conditioning system in place is a great way to keep your Wexford house cool in the summer for less. But that is far from the only thing you can do to help reduce your energy bills throughout the hottest months of the year. In fact, there are several simple steps you can take to start cutting down on your cooling costs right now and lighten the cooling load that your air conditioning system has to bear.

One of the main things to remember when you are trying to keep your house cool is that every door and window is potentially letting in warmer air from outside and letting the cooler indoor air escape. You can cut down on this considerably if you simply take the time to seal up these access points and any others you are able to find.

Putting up plastic over unused doors and windows and checking all areas of the house for drafts and adequate insulation will dramatically reduce the cost of keeping your house cool in the summer. Also, you can keep the sun from warming up your indoor air by drawing the blinds, particularly on those windows that let in the hot afternoon sun.

Putting up light colored siding and reflective roofing will also do a great deal to keep your overall cooling costs down. That is because these materials are able to direct the heat of the sun away from your house rather than letting it be absorbed so that it can heat up the inside. The vast majority of the heat that your air conditioning system has to remove from your house comes in through your roof and walls, so blocking this access point is extremely helpful in keeping your overall cooling costs down.

All of these are steps you can take to reduce the total cooling load that your air conditioning system has to deal with. But if you want your system to continue to function at peak energy efficiency, you will have to take care of it as well.

This typically means having someone come in once a year to perform a thorough inspection and maintenance of your air conditioning system and to clean out any debris that may have accumulated over time. Having this done will make it possible for your air conditioner to continue to function at the highest possible levels of energy efficiency for years to come.

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Variety of Ways to Cool Your Home Naturally: A Guide From Oakdale

Friday, August 19th, 2011

It is normal these days to simply switch on the air conditioning when the temperature begins to rise outside in Oakdale. But this can get expensive quickly, so it is a good idea to look into some alternative cooling methods as well. Fortunately, there are actually some great ways to help keep your home cool without touching that air conditioning at all. You will probably still want to have it around for extreme circumstances, but the less you need to use it, the more you will save in the long run.

Using fans, ceiling fans in particular, can certainly help to keep you cool on many moderate summer days. But they are far from the only options available. In fact, the design and composition of your house itself will have a lot to do with how easy it is to keep it cool all summer long.

One of the main reasons that your house gets so hot inside during the summer is that sunlight heats the air inside when it hits the walls, roof and windows. Closing your blinds will help to keep some of this out, but there will still be plenty of heat from the sun working to increase the indoor temperature.

What you really want to do to keep your house from heating up because of sunlight is to actively reflect the sun’s rays away from your home. You can do this by having light colored roofing and exterior paint or siding put on. While the dark colors typically used for this type of work absorb the vast majority of the sunlight that hits them, lighter colors will reflect it away.

This works well for the walls, but on your roof it can be a bit more difficult to stop the absorption of heat from the sun because of the nature of typical roofing materials. What you can do, however, is add a reflective coating like white latex on the roof. This will dramatically reduce the amount of heat that is able to come into your home in this way.

Also, natural shade can do a lot to keep sunlight from getting to your home to begin with. Planting trees close enough to your home that they will block out the sun but far enough away that they have room to grow will eventually help to keep your home much cooler without any extra work whatsoever.

For more tips about keeping your house cool, talk to a air conditioning contractor.

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How Does Central AC Work? A Question From McKeesport

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

We pretty much just take the fact of central air conditioning for granted these days in McKeesport. It is present almost everywhere and it is hard to imagine getting through a long hot summer without it. But if you are like most people, you probably do not actually know how central air conditioning works. While you can certainly take advantage of it without understanding it, the basic concept is pretty simple.

Basically, central air conditioning systems are composed of an outdoor unit that typically houses the compressor and condenser and an indoor unit that manages the flow of air throughout your house or other building. This indoor unit is typically either an air handler or a furnace, and it directs the flow of air through a series of ducts that feed into the various rooms of the house.

The cool air originates in the outdoor unit and is blown into the house, gradually absorbing heat as it goes, and that air is then returned to the outdoor unit to be re-cooled. What actually happens in the outdoor unit involves the cycle of a type of refrigerant from a gas to a liquid and back. In the condenser area of the outdoor unit, the pressure on the refrigerant is lessened and it is able to absorb heat from the air returning from the house.

This gas, while warmer than the liquid refrigerant, is still quite cold and acts to cool the air being passed back into the house. As that refrigerant moves along to the compressor area, the gas is converted to a liquid and is forced to release the heat it had been holding. In that way, the air conditioner is able to remove heat from the inside of your house and release it outside.

Your air conditioning system is also generally hooked up to a thermostat, which is what controls when the unit switches on and off. You can set the thermostat at the temperature you would like to maintain inside your house and the thermostat will signal the air conditioner to switch on when the indoor temperature rises above that level. And once the indoor temperature is again below the preset level on the thermostat, the air conditioner will switch off again.

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What Size Air Conditioner Will Fit My Home? A Question From Brentwood

Monday, August 15th, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Who Invented Air Conditioning? Some Facts From Braddock

Friday, August 12th, 2011

For hundreds of years, people have been trying to figure out how to stay cool in the heat of the summer, from Braddock to West Mifflin. But it wasn’t until 1902 that the first modern air conditioner was put into service in Brooklyn, NY. Since then, many adjustments and improvements have been made to make air conditioning available and convenient for people to use in their homes and cars. But through it all, the basic principles used in that first air conditioner have remained constant.

The Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company

The heat and humidity in New York in the summer isn’t something to be taken lightly, but it posed particular problems for the owner of the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company. The conditions inside his facility were such that the paper used was warping and the dimensions fluctuating, causing the printing to constantly come out misaligned.

To try and solve this problem, he hired the Buffalo Forge Company, which itself had just hired Willis Haviland Carrier, a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Engineering from Cornell University. Carrier approached this problem by trying to find a way to cool air by passing it over cold coils in the same way air was heated in those days by passing it over hot coils.

As it turned out, this process worked to reduce both the temperature and the humidity in the area and Carrier’s first air conditioner began running at Sackett-Wilhelms in July of 1902.

The Next Steps

As the potential for this new technology became more and more apparent, demand for Carrier’s device grew in all sectors of the economy. Employers were delighted by the way air conditioners increased the productivity of their workers during the hottest months of the year, and in order to keep up with demand, Carrier eventually founded the Carrier Air Conditioning Company which still exists today.

The coolants used in the earliest air conditioners were generally either highly flammable or toxic, and often both. In order to make air conditioning safer and easier to use, a safer coolant needed to be introduced, which was what drove Thomas Midgley, Jr. to develop Freon in 1928. Freon was initially made up of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), but as the disastrous environmental impacts of those chemicals became apparent, usage shifted first to hydrogenated chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and then to the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are predominantly used today.

To find out more about the air conditioning systems available today, contact your local air conditioning professional.

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Is it Possible to Vent Hot Air from a Garage? A Question From Verona

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

If you have a garage in Verona, you know how hot it can get in there on a warm summer day. In fact, the air in your garage is likely hotter and more humid than the air right outside. Of course, you may not spend a lot of time in your garage, so reducing the temperature in there might not be an immediate concern for you.

But just like heat buildup in your attic, higher temperatures in your garage can have negative effects on the temperature in the rest of your home. Heat seeping into the house from the garage will cause your air conditioning system to work harder to keep it comfortable indoors. And that’s going to cost you money.

Getting the Heat Out

For all of these reasons, it’s a good idea to reduce the temperature in your garage as soon as possible. Of course, if you’re actively working in the garage or right outside, you can always leave the door open. This allows an influx of fresh, cooler air to clear it out.

But that’s not really a practical solution when you’re not immediately on hand. After all, you can’t leave your garage door open indefinitely and as soon as you close it, the heat will start to build right back up again.

Vents and Fans

One thing we don’t want to forget is that heat rises. That means installing a vent and fan in the roof where the hottest air will be can help remove the majority of the excess heat building up in your garage. Just like an attic fan, this fan can be triggered to come on when the temperature inside the garage reaches a certain point. Usually, the fan comes on when the indoor temperature reaches a point that is likely higher than outside – 90 degrees F or higher.

The fan then draws hot air out through your vent, reducing the temperature inside the garage to equalize the outdoor temperature. This will be effective in and of itself, but if you want even better results, you can also install another vent towards the bottom of your garage door. That way, as the hot air is pulled out of the top of the garage, fresh air will be drawn in through the vent, providing a constant stream of cooler, fresh air and promoting healthy circulation within your garage.

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