Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Archive for May, 2012

Your McKeesport HVAC System and Electricity

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

While not every McKeesport HVAC system in your home requires electricity, many of them do. Your air conditioner and water heater and ventilation system all need access to the central power line. So what does that mean for your system and what problems should be you beware of?

How Your HVAC System Uses Electricity

How your HVAC system works depends largely on which components need electricity to operate. Here is a quick summary of how each system uses electricity:

  • Air Conditioning – Most air conditioners are electric and therefore use electricity based on the number of BTUs produced. For example, if your air conditioner produces 25,000 BTUs and has a SEER of 16, it can produce 16 BTUs for every watt of electricity consumed per hour. As a result, it consumes 1,562.5 watts per hour when the system is running at maximum capacity. If it runs at full capacity for 8 hours per day, 30 days a month in the summer, that’s 375 kilowatt hours – which is the measurement unit you’ll see on your electric bill.
  • Ventilation – Your ventilation system is almost always going to use electricity to circulate and filter air. While mechanical filters rely on the movement of air to remove certain particles, ventilation systems have a variety of components including fans and possibly even condenser coils to conserve energy as air is exchanged between the inside and outside.

Electricity plays an important role in your McKeesport HVAC system no matter how your system works. To ensure yours continues to operate as intended, have your power system checked on a regular basis when the rest of your HVAC system is serviced. To schedule your annual maintenance visit, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call today!

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Pittsburgh HVAC Guide: How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Monday, May 21st, 2012

When we think of air pollution we often think of outdoor “smog”, but the air in your home or office may also be polluted, even if it looks clean. Sources of indoor pollution include

  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Household cleaners
  • Household décor and furnishings (like rugs and paint)
  • Household pesticides (like rodent or ant-killers, or plant sprays)
  • Radon
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Building materials (like asbestos and lead)

Indoor air quality is of particular concern in newer, better-insulated homes, or in older homes that have been recently weatherized. The “tightness” of modern houses means that any pollutants that get into the home stay there – and perhaps even increase in concentration over time if the source of the pollution is inside the house.

Indoor air quality problems can cause discomfort and even serious disease, especially in children. The good news, though, is that there are many effective ways to improve indoor air quality in your Pittsburgh home.

There are three basic strategies for improving indoor air quality:

  • Air purification. Air cleaners range from small tabletop models to full-house models that are part of the central heating and cooling system. Small air purifiers are typically not very useful, but central air filters can be very effective at removing airborne contaminants. If your heating and cooling system does not include central air filtration, you should consider an upgrade to a new system.
    • It is important to note that air purification will not remove gases like carbon monoxide or radon from your home. Gas pollution must be remedied by professionals.
  • Ventilation. Many forced-air heating and cooling systems do not bring outdoor air into the home. Kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans and attic ventilation fans (when weather permits) can be very important in promoting the circulation of air. Also, opening windows is very important, especially when doing short-term activities such as painting that increase the number of pollutants in the air.
    • You should also consider upgrading to one of the newer central heating and cooling systems that bring outdoor air into the home.
  • Source control. This is the most important indoor air quality strategy, and in many cases, the simplest one. Source control is definitely the most cost-effective strategy for improving indoor air quality, because purification and ventilation both require a constant use of energy.
    • Switch to all-natural household cleaners, buy household furnishings made of natural fibers (instead of synthetic fibers that can “off-gas” volatile organic compounds). When painting, use VOC-free paint. Quit smoking, if you haven’t already.
  • And, don’t forget to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home, ideally next to the sleeping areas.
For more information about how to improve your indoor air quality in Pittsburgh, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling!

 

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Pittsburgh Family Fun

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Looking for some fun family activities in the Pittsburgh area? This weekend is the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival and the 2012 Venture Outdoors Festival!

Family Fun | Pittsburgh | Boehmer Heating and CoolingPittsburgh International Children’s Festival– Enjoy free hands-on educational and cultural activities and a bevy of additional shows and performances for an extra fee.
Schenley Plaza and University of Pittsburgh Theaters
Wednesday, May 16 through Sunday, May 20, 2011

Venture Outdoors Festival 2012– Climbing, fishing, kayaking, biking, hiking, and much more. Best of all? It is free for the whole family!
Point State Park, Downtown Pittsburgh
Saturday, May 19, 2012

Boehmer Heating and Cooling serves the heating and cooling needs of the Greater Pittsburgh area since 1933. Check out our specials and promotions to get a great deal on your next home comfort purchase.

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Pittsburgh AC Question: What Are Thermostatic Expansion Valves?

Monday, May 14th, 2012

The thermostatic expansion valve, sometimes known as a TEX, TEV or TXV, is a critical piece to influence the efficiency of all air conditioning and refrigeration units, including the AC system in your Pittsburgh home.  A tiny sensor controlling the evaporating phase of process, the valve can have a big effect.

Cool air is manufactured by a re rapid movement of a refrigerant between liquid and gaseous states.  Compound chemicals that are able to do this at a low temperature are compressed and expanded, absorbing and releasing heat at different points along the way.  The TEV controls the flow of the refrigerant into the evaporator coils according to the temperatures of the various ingredients.

Cool Air 101

To condition air, the refrigerant, most often freon or another fast acting, low temp compound, evaporates into a gas that runs through a coil and absorbs heat.  Passing through a compressor, the freon condenses under pressure back into a liquid again and releases the heat, becoming cool enough to chill a party.

Too much freon in the evaporator tube and the pressure is not low enough to expand to gas and absorb heat, working inefficiently for no gain.  Too little freon and the conversion is also ineffective by not reaching the density needed to condense.

There are four types of valves with different benefits for different types of cooling environments.  With its ability to adjust minutely to changing conditions, the thermal expansion valve creates the perfect mixture of pressure and freon for more complicated systems.

At the Starting Gate

An interactive device, the valve senses the evaporator pressure and temperature and adjusts the flow of the refrigerant so as to maintain a given “superheat”, the differ­ence between the refrigerant vapor temperature and its sat­uration temperature.  By controlling superheat, the TEV keeps nearly the entire evaporator surface active while not permit­ting liquid refrigerant to return to the compressor.

Some valves operate on an electrical impulse from sensors that can measure the temperatures.  Others are open all the time.  The thermostatic expansion valve actually utilizes the pressure between the two sections to open or close itself, regulating flow based on the very same pressure it is designed to moderate.

Like the buildings they comfort, large central air conditioning systems in Pittsburgh are varied and diverse.  There are nearly as many thermostatic expansion valves as there are units to receive them.

For more information about how to help your AC work effectively, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call!

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Pittsburgh AC Repair Question: Why Is My Air Conditioner Not Cooling?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Designed for one to two decades of life, your Pittsburgh air conditioner is able to run virtually trouble free with just a little maintenance annually.  If these little things like changing the air filter and cleaning the drain are not done regularly, the neglected units can really lose their cooling power.

The Basic Course

Through a process which involves the rapid evaporation and condensation of chemicals called refrigerants, air conditioners use compounds that have properties that allow them to change rapidly from gas to liquid and back again at low temperatures.

Heat is absorbed when the liquid evaporates and transforms into gas, making the space around it cooler.  Compressing it tightly together again, the heated gas condenses back into liquid with a residue of unwanted moisture that must be released and is vented usually to the outdoors.

The newly cooled air is distributed through the house by means of ductworks, pushed by fans driven by electric motors.  As the air moves along, it passes through a filter and can be further de-humidified.

Problems in the System

If the filter is clogged, movement of the cooled air is slowed to the point we might think the unit is broken.  If the condensate drain is plugged, the motor can get damaged and stop producing.  Regular maintenance performed by the home owner or as a service of  Boehmer Heating & Cooling can avoid or eliminate these simple aggravations.

When the heat builds, however, and cool relief seems nowhere near the air ducts, it may be time to call a professional to dig deeper to find the reason and suggest solutions.

Back to Cool

If not serviced regularly, the amount of refrigerant in the coils may decrease over time or the coils themselves could get clogged and impede the evaporation/condensation process.  A leak in the coils could drain the system, rendering the unit useless and wholly unproductive.

There are belts on each of the two separate fan motors which may be worn or loose, causing the fans to blow less efficiently.  The motor may need to be oiled or have a broken part that doesn’t allow it to push the air at all.

Most of the time, these fixes are relatively minor and do not threaten the life of the air conditioning unit.  Schedule an annual inspection and service from a certified Pittsburgh HVAC company like Boehmer Heating & Cooling to take it off your list and stay cool.

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