Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Archive for January, 2015

The Basics of an Electric Boiler

Friday, January 30th, 2015

With the massive popularity of natural gas as a fuel source for home heating systems, it’s not surprising that so many people view it as the only option. Though natural gas is a great choice for many reasons, it is thankfully not the only option available. Whether due to limitations on the availability of natural gas, or simply the desire to use a non-combustion system, more and more people are making use of electric heaters in their home. Let’s examine one of the more common electric heaters, the electric boiler, and how it can benefit your home.

How it Works

An electric boiler is actually fairly similar to one powered by natural gas. The only real difference is that an electric boiler eschews any sort of combustion to create heat, instead using several heating elements to warm the water being circulated around the house.

In a gas boiler, the heat exchanger is suspended over the flames of the burner assembly. Water flows through the heat exchanger and is heated by the fire below before flowing into the house. An electric boiler is a little different, with the heating elements actually inside the heat exchanger with the water supply. The heating elements themselves are basically very thick metal wires, coiled and connected to the electricity supply. As the system runs an electrical current through these wires, it meets resistance that causes the coils to heat up. The now-hot heating elements heat the water in the heat exchanger before distribution.

Why Install an Electric Boiler?

There are many reasons to prefer an electric boiler over other heating systems, the first of which being efficiency. Electricity is often more expensive as a fuel type, compared to natural gas. However, natural gas heaters vent a lot of heat out of the house as combustion gases, which are useless to the heating system and dangerous to the homeowner. As an electric boiler does not combust fuel, almost all of its heat goes directly into the water used to heat the house. Electric boilers also require a lot less maintenance, due to their lack of moving parts compared to combustion heaters.

If you are interested in installing an electric boiler, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling to schedule an appointment. We provide quality boiler installation services throughout Bethel Park.

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How to Find the Ideal Air Purifier for Your Home

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Though it may seem clear, the air quality in your home is not as pristine as you would think. There are hundreds of different types of particulates floating through your home’s air at any given moment. Most of these particulates are harmless. Some of them, however, are not. Viruses, bacteria, dust, pollen, mold, insect dander, and all sorts of other contaminants can reduce your quality of life by provoking allergic reactions or making you sick. In order to combat these contaminants, a number of air purifiers have been invented over the decades. There are many different kinds of these, as well, each suited to take care of a different kind of airborne pollutant. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of air purifiers available, and which one would be best for your needs.

Electronic Purifiers

Electronic air purifiers work by creating an electromagnetic field around themselves during operation. As particles pass through this field, they receive a negative charge. These negatively charged particles are then attracted to any surface that has a positive charge. To prevent the particles from merely sticking to the walls and floor, most electronic purifiers contain a number of metal plates inside the unit. The particles will stick to these metal plates, which can then be removed and washed. Electronic purifiers are effective at catching all kinds of particulates in the air. They do nothing to impede the progress of the air itself, though, so gaseous contaminants like cigarette smoke will not be affected.

UV Germicidal Lights

There are many kinds of viruses, bacteria, mold, and other biological organisms that are sterilized or even completely destroyed by too much exposure to ultra-violet light. The UV germicidal air purifier takes advantage of this by bathing the area around it in ultraviolet light. This is great for those people who have weaker immune systems, as it kills a lot of otherwise-minor germs that might make them sick. It only focuses on biological contaminants, however, which means that things like dust are not affected.

To schedule a service or if you’d like to know more about air purifiers, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We provide professional air purifier services in the Canonsburg area.

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What is an Aquastat?

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Furnaces have been around for a very long time, and have been one of the most popular heating systems available for most of that time. This has led homeowners to gain at least a little bit of basic knowledge about the various parts of the furnace and their roles. Hydronic systems, however, are only recently becoming popular among homeowners. This means that much of their inner workings are not common knowledge quite yet. In an effort to educate homeowners about some of the ways in which hydronic systems operate, let’s examine the aquastat.

The Aquastat

An aquastat is a device installed in hydronic water systems for the purpose of controlling temperature within the boiler. An aquastat is similar to the furnace limit switch in operation, maintaining a safe operating temperature for the central heating unit. There are two settings in every aquastat, a high setting and a low setting.

Despite the name, most boilers are not actually meant to boil water. Doing so would result in steam, and a dangerous buildup of pressure in a system that is not designed for it. For this reason, the aquastat shuts off the boiler when it reaches the high temperature limit. This keeps the water hot, but below boiling temperature.

The low temperature limit is meant to keep the water supply temperature from dropping too low. When the boiler shuts off after reaching the high limit, the system will continue to circulate water for as long as the thermostat is asking for heat. Eventually, however, the water will begin to cool. When the water temperature reaches the low limit, the aquastat starts the boiler up again to raise the water temperature.

These two limits allow the aquastat to keep a tight control over the water temperature in the system, making sure that it is neither too hot nor too cold. Without the aquastat, the boiler would run the risk of overheating or not heating enough to meet the home’s needs.

If you’d like to know more about the aquastat, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We offer professional boiler installation service in the North Hills area.

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How a Furnace Limit Switch Helps Keep Your Home Safe

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Through urban legend and other unreliable means, furnaces have garnered a level of concern around their ability to be safe. While safety should always be taken with any type of combustion system, today’s heating systems are equipped with a number of safety mechanisms and devices, many which are redundant, that ensure your personalized safety. If you have a furnace, one of these safety mechanisms is a component known as the limit switch.

What Is a Limit Switch?

The limit switch is part of your blower assembly and helps with the operation of the blower while also keeping your system safe from overheating. In regard to blower operation, the limit switch is the device that doesn’t allow your blower to start pushing air through your ductwork until the generated heat has reached the correct temperature; this keeps your furnace’s fan from blowing chilly air into your home. The second job of the limit switch has to do with your safety. This is because the limit switch is also equipped to sense when the air around the heat exchanger becomes too hot, and if the switch senses this, it can instantly kill the burner and extinguish all combustion.

Common Problems with the Limit Switch

Should your limit switch malfunction, you may see the following:

  • Constant running of the blower
  • Blower won’t turn on
  • Burner won’t stay lit

Operating your furnace, or attempting to operate the furnace, with a safety mechanism malfunctioning is not advisable as your safety and the safe operation of your system may be at risk. It is also not advisable to try and repair the problem yourself; instead, call an expert for assistance.

If you have questions about the safety mechanisms on your furnace in your Brentwood home, or are experiencing heating issues with your furnace, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today and schedule an appointment with one of our specialists. We offer professional furnace services in the Brentwood area.

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12 Grapes for 12 Months: An Unusual New Year’s Tradition

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Across the world, many cultures have specific traditions to celebrate the transition from the old year to the new. In the U.S. and Canada, we associate New Year’s with the ball in Times Square, kissing at the stroke of midnight, resolutions, and singing “Old Lang Syne.” But for many Spanish-speaking countries, one of the key traditions has to do with eating grapes as fast as possible.

The “twelve grapes” tradition comes from Spain, where it is called las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). To ensure good luck for the next year, people eat one green grape for each of the upcoming twelve months. However, you cannot just eat the grapes during the first day of the new year any time you feel like it. You must eat the twelve grapes starting at the first stroke of midnight on Nochevieja (“Old Night,” New Year’s Eve) as one year changes to another. And you have to keep eating: with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you about twelve seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish all dozen grapes—you can’t still be chewing on them!—before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year.

Where did this tradition come from? No one is certain, although it appears to be more than a century old. One story about the Twelve Lucky Grapes is that a large crop of grapes in 1909 in Alicante, Spain led to the growers seeking out a creative way to eliminate their surplus. But recent research through old newspapers shows that perhaps the tradition goes back almost thirty years earlier to the 1880s, where eating grapes was meant to mock the upper classes who were imitating the French tradition of dining on grapes and drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve.

It can be difficult to consume grapes this fast, and the lucky grapes of New Year’s Eve have seeds in them, making the job even trickier. (Seedless grapes are not common in Spain the way they are over here.) For people to manage eating all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight requires swallowing the seeds as well and only taking a single bite of each grape.

Oh, there is one more twist to the tradition: you have to be wearing red undergarments, and they have to be given to you as a gift. The origins of this part of the tradition are even more mysterious, and it’s anybody’s guess why this started.

Whether you go for the grape challenge or find another way to ring in New Year’s, all of us at Boehmer Heating & Cooling hope you have a great start to the year and a, uhm, fruitful 2015.

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