Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Archive for December, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve from Your Pittsburgh Area Heating and Cooling Contractor!

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! We hope you have a wonderful time celebrating the beginning of 2012! Now is also a great time to set goals and reflect on what you would like to accomplish in the year ahead. If you are thinking of trying to be more environmentally friendly, your HVAC system might be the place to start. Annual maintenance will make your system run efficiently, and if you upgrade your system you can be sure that you will be using less fuel than before. Give us a call to learn more ways to reduce your home’s carbon footprint!

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Pittsburgh Furnace Installation – Testimonial from Bill B.

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Choosing a new furnace for your Pittsburgh home is a big decision. You need to pick a furnace that is the right size, the right energy efficiency, and the right price for your home. The furnace you choose will be in your house for many years to come, and it will make a big impact on how comfortable you feel in your home.

Since choosing a new heating system is a big decision, it is important to go with a contractor that you trust. A good contractor will answer any questions you might have and guide you through the installation process. At Boehmer Heating & Cooling, we always offer the very best service possible. Here is what Bill B. in Pittsburgh wrote to us about his furnace installation:

“The sales rep “Jim” was a great person to deal with. He was very informative. The two reps that installed our furnace did a great job. Thank you. We love our furnace. “

– Bill B. in Pittsburgh

Thanks Bill! Remember that even if you have a brand new system, maintenance is important to keep it running as efficiently as possible. If you have not had your annual furnace inspection yet, don’t hesitate to call us today!

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A Question from Fox Chapel: What Does a Furnace Fan Limit Switch Do?

Monday, December 26th, 2011

When researching your Fox Chapel home’s furnace and potential problems it might have, you’ve probably run across a few references to the fan limit switch. And while you know that it can break in a number of ways, do you know what the switch does and what you should look for when checking your furnace its air handler for problems?

What the Limit Switch Does

To put it very simply, the furnace fan limit switch is a control that tells your furnace’s fan when to turn on and off. So, when the furnace isn’t on, it tells the blower not to operate (and send cold air into your home) and when the furnace is on, it tells the blower to turn on and start circulating the warm air.

While the primary function of the limit switch is to turn the blower fan on and off, it also has a safety role. When the temperature in the air supply plenum gets too hot, the limit switch turns off the furnace boiler to keep there from being any damage from overheating. This is handy if there is a blockage in the air vents or the controls are messed up due to water damage or improper adjustments to the settings.

Looking for Problems

Most of the time, when there is an issue with your furnace turning off or on frequently, the limit switch is one of the first things you will check. Because the switch is electronic and is attached to a thermostat which measures temperature in the air supply plenum, a small problem can result in it not working properly. So, you can easily check it by temporarily bypassing the switch and seeing if your device turns on or off properly.

In many cases, if the limit switch is the problem, you will still need to call a professional for replacement, but you can avoid a lot of headaches related to tracking down the source of the problem. If you suspect a limit switch problem, make sure to call someone immediately, because it does provide an important safety function and because without it your furnace won’t cycle on and off properly.

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Merry Christmas Eve from Your Pittsburgh Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor!

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Everyone at Boehmer Heating & Cooling Company wishes you a very Merry Christmas! We hope you enjoy spending time with family and opening lots of presents. The holidays are all about appreciating what you have, and we are very thankful for all our customers. We hope that you get everything you want under the Christmas tree tomorrow!

To help make your Christmas a little sweeter, here is a recipe for Molasses Sugar Cookies:

“These are a wonderful chewy spice cookie. They are drop cookies that keep very well. I make them at the beginning of the holiday season and they keep all the way to New Year’s!”

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups shortening

2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup molasses

2 eggs

4 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Melt the shortening in a large pan on the stove, and cool.
  2. Add sugar, eggs, and molasses, beat well.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients together and add to the pan. Mix well and chill 3 hours or overnight.
  4. Form into walnut-size balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 8-10 minutes.
  6. Store in an airtight container to keep from getting overly crisp. If they do lose their softness, an easy way to restore it is to place one slice of fresh bread in the container with the cookies for a couple of hours or overnight and they will be soft again!

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

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Pittsburgh HVAC Contractor Tip: Furnace Air Temperature

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

When your furnace turns on every day and warms your Pittsburgh home, just how hot is the air being blown through your vents? It’s a common question and while it varies depending on the type of furnace you have and the length of your ductwork, normally, the air is about the same temperature in most homes.

The Heating Process

When you turn on your furnace, it ignites fuel (gas or oil) or heats elements (electricity). A blower fan blows air through the heat exchanger and then into ductwork that distributes the heated air to vents around your home. When the combustion occurs and air is first heated, the temperature is between 140 degrees F and 170 degrees F.

This is extremely warm and could be dangerous to anyone if they got too close to it or it was blown directly into your home. However, as the heated air is distributed into your home it starts to cool. In some cases, it loses a significant amount of its energy in the ductwork.

This is intended, of course, because the temperature would be much too high if it was distributed directly to your rooms. That’s why high velocity ductwork often requires regulation to avoid overheating of the air. Cooling like this is normal and results in a better, more evenly distributed airflow.

When Something’s Wrong

To know something is wrong with your heating system, you must first understand what temperature air normally is when distributed through the vents. This will vary depending on which room you are in and how big your home (and furnace) are. However, if you notice a sharp drop off in comfort level in your home, it takes longer to heat rooms when cold or if that heating is suddenly uneven, it may be time for someone to inspect your furnace and check for potential problems.

A technician will then check to see if the air is being heated to the target 140-170 degrees F or if heat is being lost in the air handler or ductwork. There are a number of issues that can contribute to lost heat in your heating system – the easiest way to be sure the problem is solved properly is to call a Pittsburgh professional when you notice the problem.

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Happy Hanukkah from Your Pittsburgh Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Everyone here wishes you a Happy Hanukkah!  Whether you have a Menorah or a Christmas tree in your house, the holidays are all about spending time with family.  We hope you have a great holiday and enjoy eight days of gift giving! One of the great Jewish traditions for this time of year is great food, so here is an excellent recipe for potato latkes:

Potato Latkes

“Shredded potatoes and grated onions are bound with flour, salt and eggs, then fried in oil to make delicious potato pancakes that are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.”

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups peeled and shredded potatoes

1 tablespoon grated onion

3 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup peanut oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the potatoes in a cheesecloth and wring, extracting as much moisture as possible.
  2. In a medium bowl stir the potatoes, onion, eggs, flour and salt together.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot. Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick patties. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other. Let drain on paper towels. Serve hot!

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

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North Hills Heating Tip: Geothermal Myths

Monday, December 19th, 2011

As with any misunderstood technology, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions concerning geothermal heat pumps and how well they work in North Hills. While these types of systems certainly have their limitations, the same is true of just about any type of heating and cooling system you could have installed in your home. But if you are really trying to evaluate whether or not a geothermal heating system is right for your home, you need to know exactly what is true about these systems and what is just not true.

For instance, there is a widely held belief that geothermal energy is not a viable heating option in areas with harsh winters. The fact is, though, that even when the air temperature outside is below freezing, the temperature several feet below ground can be as high as 55°F.

With a ground temperature like that, a geothermal heat pump will have no trouble extracting enough heat to keep your home comfortable even when it is well below freezing outside. And even when the ground freezes, the frost usually only extends three or four feet below the surface. Since the pipes for your geothermal heat pump will be at least four feet down, the frost should not affect them at all.

Also, it is common for people to assume that geothermal heat pumps will always need to have a regular heating system in place to serve as a backup. In fact, a geothermal heat pump is quite capable of providing consistent and adequate heating for your entire house as long as it is properly sized and installed. Make sure you are dealing with an experienced and qualified contractor and you will have no problems along these lines.

There are also plenty of myths floating around out there that geothermal heat pumps are just too expensive to make sense as a home heating solution. The truth is that geothermal heating costs almost nothing to operate.

While it is true the geothermal systems are quite a bit more expensive to install than many of the other options, alternative heating systems will still cost a significant amount to install and you will also have to pay much more to operate them on a regular basis. With a geothermal heating system, you pay quite a bit up front, but it is a one-time cost and there will be minimal monthly heating bills after that.

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A Question from Carnegie: What Makes a Furnace High Efficiency?

Friday, December 16th, 2011

You’ve probably heard in Carnegie about the new lines of high efficiency furnaces being released by popular home heating companies, but what exactly is different about these high efficiency devices from your current furnace? Let’s take a closer look at what a high efficiency furnace offers and why it can save you money.

Added Features

A high efficiency furnace uses familiar technology in a new way to reduce the amount of energy lost when combustion takes place. This means:

  • Sealed Combustion – Instead of open combustion which allows heat to escape during and after the combustion process, a high efficiency furnace uses a sealed chamber with carefully measured and fed airflow to burn fuel and produce heat. Exhaust heat can then be recaptured and used to heat air transferred to your air vents.
  • Two Stage Gas Valves – With a two stage gas valve, your furnace can respond to the temperature outside. There isn’t just one “on” switch. The furnace will regulate gas flow based on how much energy is needed to produce heat for your home. So, if there is a sudden burst of cold outside, the furnace will respond accordingly, but for most days when heating needs are low, it will use only the minimum amount of needed gas.
  • Programmable – High efficiency furnaces are now programmable, meaning you can set specific time limits for operation, change thermostat settings digitally and inspect the device through an electronic read out. The level of control given to you by a programmable high efficiency furnace can greatly reduce gas or electricity consumption.

Cost Benefit

The real reason many people are interested in high efficiency furnaces is that they are so much less expensive to operate. Instead of costing hundreds of dollars to run through the winter, they operate the bare minimum needed to heat your home. Using up to 95% of the fuel they consume to produce heat and regulating gas to cut how much is consumed during milder days, these furnaces are built to save you money.

If you have an old furnace that chews through energy like nobody’s business, now might be the time to consider the benefits of a brand new, high efficiency model.

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Pros and Cons of Various Heating Systems in South Fayette

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

When it comes time to install a new heating system in your South Fayette home, there are a lot of options to consider. Many people get overwhelmed when confronted with all of the furnaces, boilers and heat pumps on the market these days. So, to help you get a handle on what each has to offer and which will offer you the best benefits, here is an overview of the modern heating system market.

Furnaces

Furnaces are the core of a forced air heating system and use gas, oil or electricity to heat air which is then circulated through your home by a blower in your air handler. Furnaces are among the most fuel efficient heating systems on the market today with options available at up to 95% AFUE (meaning it uses up to 95% of the fuel consumed to produce heat). They are also inexpensive to install and while they don’t last quite as long as boilers, they are highly efficient when well cared for.

Boilers

Boilers use gas, oil or electricity to heat water or steam which is then circulated through your home into radiators or baseboard heaters. The heated water or steam releases heat into your home and heats it in turn. While not quite as energy efficient as a high efficiency furnace, boiler heat is perfect for homes with existing radiators and no room for vents and ductwork. It also has less of an impact on indoor air quality since there is no air movement and boilers tend to last a very long time when well maintained.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular, especially in milder climates where it rarely gets below 40 degrees F. A heat pump uses the same technology as an air conditioner to extract heat from outside using a compressor, evaporator coils, and condenser coils with refrigerant.

It is most efficient in the spring and fall when temperatures are mild, but it uses much less energy than either a boiler or furnace and it can be used in the summer to cool your home. When properly maintained, a heat pump will last 10-20 years and save quite a bit of money, though it is recommended that you have an emergency heat source for days when the temperature outside gets below 40 degrees F.

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West Mifflin Heating Tip: What to Check If Your Furnace Isn’t Lighting

Monday, December 12th, 2011

If your furnace isn’t lighting properly and your family is starting to suffer because of it, there are a number of possible problems you should check for before calling a West Mifflin heating contractor. Some of these issues can be fixed quickly by you while others may be signs of a serious problem that needs professional attention right away.

Checking the Pilot Light

If you have a gas furnace, the first step is to check the pilot light and ensure it is still working properly. If the pilot light is still on but goes out when you try to light the furnace or simply won’t stay on when you relight it, you may need to have the gas valve replaced. In some cases, it is as simple as the pilot light not being large enough and the gas blowing out the light.

This happens when gas enters the chamber and doesn’t ignite right away. When it does ignite, which happens after more gas enters the chamber, the extra force of the ignition will blow out the light. This is still a problem and should be inspected to ensure you don’t have any potential gas related issues.

Still Not Lighting

If you don’t have a pilot light or the unit still isn’t lighting, it may be an electrical issue. Electrical ignitions for gas furnaces should spark when the thermostat is turned on, so if it doesn’t you know that the switch or relay are bad.

If you smell gas or anything similar in the room where the furnace is located, you should immediately turn off the unit and call your gas company, followed by a technician. There could be a leak causing low pressure that results in your pilot light going out. Whatever the case, you need someone to look at it immediately.

Your furnace should always turn on when you flip the switch and if it does not, assume there is a problem. If you cannot find the problem yourself and easily fix it, you should call a professional. The risk inherent in an improperly working furnace (especially gas or oil) is too high to ignore.

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