Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Archive for February, 2014

Common Boiler Problems

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Listing “boiler problems” takes a more work than listing “furnace problems” or “heat pump problems.” That’s because boilers experience fewer repair needs and malfunctions than other home comfort system because they do not use as many mechanical parts that can break or wear down. Boilers have remarkable longevity because of this, and with basic maintenance performed once a year by a professional, your boiler should give you at least two decades of excellent heating.

But although there are fewer “boiler problems” to list, they do exist. Here are some troubles with boilers that will require you call for heating repair in Pittsburgh, PA. You can reach Boehmer Heating & Cooling 24 hours a day when you need emergency work to restore your malfunctioning boiler.

Boiler problems that require repairs

  • Frozen pipes: In a city that can get as cold as Pittsburgh, pipes freezing can become a major problem—and the pipes attached to your boiler are as susceptible as those attached to your regular plumbing. Frozen pipes will often burst, and you’ll need professionals to replace the afflicted sections. The repair technicians can also help you insulate your pipes to avoid freezing problems in the future.
  • Leaking: Any system that circulates water can suffer from leaking. Aging pipes, poor soldering, corrosion, high water pressure… all can lead to your boiler springing leaks. You need professionals to seal the leaks before it reduces your boiler’s heating ability, and also to find out what caused the leaks in the first place.
  • Sediment build-up in the tank: Over time, the water tank of a boiler can begin to collect sediment that will settle along the bottom of the tank. This sediment can contribute to rust and a dangerous increase in water pressure. Technicians can flush the tank to eliminate the build-up.
  • Limescale: If the water inside the boiler’s system is hard (i.e. it contains too much calcium and magnesium), the high temperature will cause a phenomenon called limescale to develop inside the tank as it heats the hard water. Limescale is in insulator, and this will unbalance the temperature in the tank, leading to high water pressure.
  • Cold water mixing in the tank: A broken mixing valve can cause cold water to enter the top of the tank and begin mixing with the hot water, causing a drop in water temperature throughout your home. If you notice rumbling from the tank, this is probably the reason.

Call for professional repairs

Boehmer Heating & Cooling can take care of the heating repair in Pittsburgh, PA you need to restore your boiler if any of the above happens. Don’t try repairs yourself… you may only cause further damage. Put your trust in our NATE-certified technicians.

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Common Zone Control Heating Problems

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Either as an upgrade to an existing system or as part of a new installation, a zone control system makes a lot of sense. They divide your home into different sections, allowing you to raise or lower the temperature of each one separately. So one family member can turn up the heat in the bedroom to stay warm while another can turn it down while working over a hot stove in the kitchen. Zone controls help cut down on monthly heating bills since you can simply turn down the heat in areas of the home you aren’t using. What kind of issues might those be? It depends. Here’s a brief list of common zone control heating problems.

  • Stuck dampers. With any zone control system, you might have problems with the dampers or valves. If they won’t close (or stay stuck) then the zone they control can’t be heated or cooled the way you need it to. A technician can usually get into the duct system and fix the stuck damper with a minimum of effort.
  • Control panel. The control panel is what regulates the dampers in the zone control system, and because it is electrically powered, most of the problems with it stem from there. If it isn’t working, it may have a faulty component or there may be a problem with the electrical flow coming into it. In some cases, the component can be repair. In orders, the whole panel needs to be replaced.
  • Thermostats. The thermostats for each of your zones can have the same problems as a thermostat that controls the temperature in your whole house.  They can misread the temperature, fail to activate when they should or fail to turn off the system when the desired temperature has been achieved. A trained technician can repair or replace them as appropriate.

For help with common zone control heating problems, Boehmer Heating & Cooling is here to help. We handle all kinds of Pittsburgh heating repair services, and we can address the issues plaguing your zone control system with speed and efficiency. Call us today to make an appointment!

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3 Causes of Boiler Leaks

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Boilers have a number of advantages that keep them competitive as heating options. Perhaps the most attractive one is longevity. Boilers have few mechanical parts, which means they are less prone to wear and tear due to age. With regular maintenance, they can last over two decades and require few repairs during that time.

It’s rare for any system to last that long without any repairs, however, and boilers do have a particular issue that sometimes needs professionals to fix: leaks. There are a few different reasons for leaks to occur, but no matter how they happen, they need immediate attention before the whole heating system is compromised or a house sustains water damage. Boehmer Heating & Cooling has worked on boilers since 1933; place your trust in us when it comes to your boiler in Pittsburgh, PA.

Three common reasons for boiler leaks:

1. High water pressure

Boilers are designed with an expansion tank to maintain water pressure inside the main tank as the temperature rises. But if a malfunction occurs that allows the pressure to increase or the water to overheat, it will start to cause leaks to spring up in multiple connections and valves throughout the boiler system. A professional will need to seal the leaks and discover the reason for the pressure spike.

2. Corrosion

Wherever water and metal meet, there is possibility of corrosion occurring. Although modern boilers are designed to resist corrosion, it can still occur because of oxygen infiltration into the tank. Corrosion weakens metal, and will soon cause leaking to begin. Corrosion must be removed as soon as possible before it spreads too far and requires a full tank replacement.

3. Improper installation

We cannot emphasize this enough: you must rely on professionals to install a boiler system. If your boiler received poor installation, it will lead to multiple troubles, but leaking is the most common. Untrained installers usually perform poor soldering jobs on the connections, and these will soon start to develop leaks. Although sometimes repairs from experts can fix initial installation glitches, often the whole boiler will need to be replaced.

If you detect leaks anywhere on your boiler, call for service right away. If you notice a decrease in heating power or hear a rumbling in the tank (often a sign of overheating), you should also call for repairs. Take good care of your boiler and it will reward you with many years of effective warming that will outstrip any other heating system.

Boehmer Heating & Cooling is available for 24-hour emergency service. We also offer maintenance plans to keep your boiler in Pittsburgh, PA in good shape all year.

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Who Wrote the First Valentine’s Day Poem?

Friday, February 14th, 2014

The celebration of Valentine’s Day is often seen as a modern institution, even if the roots of the holiday go back to Late Antiquity and the figures of St. Valentine of Rome and St. Valentine of Terni. It’s difficult to separate our view of February 14th from the more recent phenomenon of greeting cards, comical cupids, and specialty treats from candy companies.

However, not only are some of these traditions older than we might think (mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards were an enormous success in early 19th-century England), but the earliest Valentine’s Day love poem comes from none other than the first great English author, Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote in the second half of the 14th-century.

Chaucer’s most famous work is The Canterbury Tales, an enormous collection of linked stories in poetry and prose. But his 700-line poem “Parlement of Foules” has the special distinction of being the first surviving record of a connection between Valentine’s Day and romantic love. Chaucer probably composed the poem in 1381–82. At the time, he was a member of the court of King Richard II, holding an important bureaucratic position in London. The date suggests that Chaucer wrote “Parelment of Foules” to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of the English king to Princess Anne of Bohemia.

The poem follows the dream of the narrator, where he walks through Venus’s temple and discovers a meeting of birds where they all choose their mates. This is where the mention of St. Valentine’s Day appears (English modernized):

For this was on St. Valentine’s Day,

When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.                                                                  

The poem also contains a familiar Valentine’s image, Cupid with his arrows:

Under a tree, beside a well, I saw

Cupid our lord his arrows forge and file;                                                             

And at his feet his bow already lay.

When Chaucer mentions St. Valentine’s Day, is he referring specifically to February 14th? Late winter isn’t a time when birds in England would mate. However, the date for the start of spring—when some birds would have started nesting in England—was on February 23rd in the calendars of the time, certainly close enough for Chaucer to take poetic license and nudge it a bit to match with Valentine’s Day.

Love birds remain a popular symbol of Valentine’s Day even now, and for this we can thank Chaucer. In fact, he may very well have invented the link between love and Valentine’s Day, although we will probably never know for certain.

Whoever started these traditions, all of us here at Boehmer Heating & Cooling Company hope you have a wonderful February 14th!

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The Boiler Expansion Tank and Heating Repair

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

If you’ve ever taken a good look at your boiler, examined its various external parts and components, you probably noticed what looks like a smaller water tank above the boiler with a pressure gauge attached to it. That’s the expansion tank, and it’s a vital part of the boiler system that can prevent serious problems leading to repairs. The expansion tank itself can need repairs as well, and it’s important for the general health of your heating system that it remains in good working order.

In this post we’ll explain what the expansion tank is and how it helps prevent problems in your boiler. If you encounter any troubles related to an expansion tank, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We have live operators standing by 24/7 to help with your heating repair in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Basics of the Expansion Tank

Despite what the name may indicate, an expansion tank is not an extra water tank. The expansion tank does contain some water, but half of it contains air, which serves the purpose of relieving the pressure of the water in the main tank.

If you were to view an expansion tank in a cut-away view, you would see two separate compartments with a rubber diaphragm between them. One compartment connects to the top of the boiler tank, where rising hot water enters it. The other side contains pressurized air connected to the valve that measures the pressure level. This set-up allows for the water to press against the diaphragm when its pressure rises, pushing against the air cushion on the other side. This relaxes the pressure on the water in the tank.

To create equilibrium, the valve in the other compartment adds air. As the water pressure begins to drop, the pressure from the air eventually restores the balance between the two sides.

Older boilers did not have expansion tanks. Instead, to relive high water pressure, they maintained an air cushion within the top of tank itself. However, this promoted corrosion because of the presence of oxygen. The creation of the expansion tank permitted a release of pressure without allowing the mixing water and oxygen.

How the Expansion Tank Prevents Repairs

High water pressure can cause some serious problems. When pressure spikes, it threatens leaks throughout the system, and could even cause the boiler tank to rupture. Even small amounts of pressure will put extra stress on the system and wear it down. The expansion tank maintains an even pressure to prevent these occurrences.

Sometimes the expansion tank needs repairs: the membrane can rip or come loose, or the valve breaks. When high water pressure starts to affect your boiler, call for repairs right away to see if the expansion tank needs attention.

Boehmer Heating & Cooling has kept people warm since 1933 with our excellent heating repair in Pittsburgh, PA. Make us your first call when you need help with an expansion tank or any other part of your boiler.

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