Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog: Archive for September, 2014

The Differences Between Mechanical and Electronic Air Cleaners

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Air cleaners can greatly improve the indoor air quality in your home, but there are several types of cleaners from which to choose. The main two types for whole-home use are mechanical air filters and electronic air cleaners. Understanding how each air cleaner works can help you determine which will work best in your home. Air cleaners in Baldwin should always be installed by professionals, so if you are ready to install a whole-home air cleaner, call the company that has been around since 1933: Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

Mechanical Air Filters

Mechanical air filters are square-framed, with filter media stretching across the entire space within the frame. These filters typically fit inside the space where your standard air filter resides, but not always. Mechanical air filters screen out particles from the air as the air passes through them, trapping the particles in the filter media. Not all air filters work the same. In fact, there is a special rating system called MERV – minimum efficiency reporting value – that will tell you how effective a particular filter is. The typical MERV rating for whole-home air filtration is 5-12; the highest ratings belong to HEPA filters, which range anywhere from 13-20. However, HEPA filters are so strong that they can restrict air flow in your HVAC system, so it’s important to work with  a professional before deciding that a HEPA filter is right for your system.

Mechanical air filters can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns, which covers many types of particles, including allergens, dirt, dust, pet dander and some biological contaminants. Many biological contaminants are smaller than 0.3 microns, so an air filter will not capture all of them. Mechanical air filters should be replaced every 3 months to remain effective.

Electronic Cleaners

There are two main types of electronic air cleaners:

  • Ion Generators
  • Electronic Precipitators

Each uses electricity to capture particles, but each does so in a different way.

Ion Generators

Ion generators disperse negative ions into the air. These ions attach themselves to particles in the air, and are then attracted to the different surfaces in your home, such as tables, walls and counter tops. The particle and negative ion attach to these surfaces and are removed when they are cleaned.

Electronic Precipitators

An electronic precipitator draw particles into it using a fan. Once inside the precipitator, the particles are charged in an ionization section. The newly-charged particles are attracted to oppositely-charged metal plates inside the precipitator, where they are captured. The plates need to be washed every 3 months in order to stay effective.

Air cleaners in Baldwin are an important part of healthy indoor air quality. If you want to know more about how any of these products can help you, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling and schedule a consultation with one of our indoor air quality experts.

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Air Conditioning Repair: Could It Be the Thermostat?

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

When your air conditioner malfunctions or breaks down, it can be easy to jump to the worst conclusions:

  • The compressor blew!
  • A fan motor is shot!
  • My whole system is a mess!

Sometimes, it can be this: the thermostat.

Thermostats are sensitive instruments, and because they control when your air conditioner cycles, problems with it can look like a lot of other (potentially bad) things. If you’ve ruled out the possibility of other problems, it may be time to focus your air conditioning repair in Pittsburgh on your thermostat, with the help of a trained professional from Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

Signs of Problems with Your Thermostat

There are a few signs that your thermostat may be malfunctioning:

  • Short cycling – your system is turning on and off too much and not achieving target temperatures
  • Large temperature swings – you are seeing wild temperature swings in your home without changing the temperature
  • Won’t turn on at all – your AC won’t start

Common Causes of Thermostat Problems

As we stated above, thermostats are sensitive instruments, so even small things can alter their proper operation. Here are some common causes of thermostat malfunction:

  • Dirt and dust – dirt and dust can easily get inside your thermostat, and when they make a home on the instrumentation, they can interfere with the workings of the entire thermostat. The removal of dirt and dust requires a delicate cleaning of the inside and outside of the thermostat.
  • Thermostat isn’t level – to operate properly, a thermostat needs to be level and at least 5 feet up from your floor. Otherwise, the orientation affects the readings, and the cooler temperature of the floor (unless you have radiant heat) can contribute to an incorrect reading.
  • Loose wires – faulty connections with the wires can cut off the power to the thermostat, or make the power flow intermittently, disrupting operation.

Thermostat repairs are best handled by a professional, and it’s important to make them as quickly as possible before the issues can cause more problems. If you need thermostat or any other air conditioning repair in Pittsburgh, be sure to call the company that has been around for 80 years: Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

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Common Misunderstandings About Geothermal Systems

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Geothermal systems aren’t new, but they have become more popular over the last few years with homeowners as technology has made them more accessible. The concept of geothermal heating and cooling– using the Earth’s steady temperature to heat and cool homes – can sometimes lead to misunderstandings about how the system is installed and operates. The fact is, geothermal installation and use in Pittsburgh is pretty straightforward and may be a great option for your home. Our Boehmer Heating & Cooling technicians have put together a list of common misunderstandings to help dispel any confusion about geothermal.

Common Myths About Geothermal Systems:

  • You need a lot of yard space to install a geothermal system – geothermal systems can be installed either horizontally or vertically. As such, if you have a small yard, you can install a vertical ground loop that won’t take up that much square footage.
  • Geothermal systems only heat – geothermal systems provide both heating and cooling, and do it very efficiently with the help of a heat pump.
  • The installation process will destroy my yard – while the ground loop does require excavation, your yard and any landscaping will be returned to the state it was in before the installation.
  • A geothermal system won’t generate enough heat or cooling for my home – on the contrary, there is more than enough energy to go around with a geothermal system, and it’s 2-3 times more efficient than traditional HVAC systems.
  • It’s really hard to repair a ground loop leak – not so. The ground loop is designed so that should a leak occur, a technician will inject dye into the system and see on the ground level where the dye appears. This helps pinpoint where the leak is and the technician can conduct the repair.

The key with any geothermal installation and repair in Pittsburgh is ensuring you hire and work with professionals with the knowledge and expertise needed to install a geothermal system. This is where Boehmer Heating & Cooling comes in. We’ve been around since 1933, and we’ve learned every new system that has come to the market for the past 8 decades. If you are interested in seeing what a geothermal system can do for your home, call us today.

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The Fashion of Wearing White and Labor Day

Monday, September 1st, 2014

You may have heard about the fashion faux pas of wearing white after Labor Day. In the present, this tradition is usually treated as old fashioned and a joke. Few people will criticize you for wearing white articles of clothing after the first Monday in September, or even take notice of it except to wonder why it was ever a major concern at all.

Where did this tradition of white clothing going out of fashion after Labor Day come from, and why did it fade away like colorful fabric washed in a hot load in the washing machine?

In general, white makes sense for the heat of summer. Light-colored clothing reflects away the radiant heat of the sun, instead of absorbing it the way dark colors do, so for thousands of years of human history people have preferred to wear white clothing during the hotter months.

However, the idea of white as strictly fashionable during the summer season only emerged in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—the time when the very concept of “fashion” began to spread across the Western Hemisphere.

It was only the highest level of post-Civil War society in the U.S. that strict and often bizarre rules for fashion controlled whether someone was in with the “in” crowd. Compared to our ideas of what’s fashionable today, the Czars of Style in the 1880s were true despots. Things as trivial as sleeve length could determine whether a woman in high society—no matter her level of wealth—was fashionable or a pariah.

Wearing white during the only summer, when it was common for weddings and outdoor parties, was only of these restrictive society rules. When the U.S. government made Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894, the Fashion Czars gained a definite cut-off point for when wearing white was no longer “acceptable” in the upper echelons of wealthy society.

For many decades, this rule only applied to a small number of millionaire socialites in a few big cities, but in the 1950s it reached general fashion magazines that were read around the country and started to affect more people.

But time eventually broke apart this odd rule, and during the 1970s fashion became more individual. Some fashion legends, like Coco Chanel, also purposely rejected the restriction and wore white throughout the year. Today, the “no white after Labor Day rule” is little more than an amusing gag to tease friends, and almost nobody takes it seriously.

Whatever you choose to wear after Labor Day (and if it’s white, we won’t tease!), everyone here at Boehmer Heating & Cooling hopes you have a happy end of the summer and great plans for the fall!

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