Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog: Archive for the ‘Heat Pumps’ Category

Why Your Heat Pump Is Stuck in Cooling Mode

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Answer as fast as you can: What is the great advantage of having a heat pump?

Did you respond “It works as both a heater and an air conditioner?” You most likely did, since the reason most people opt to have a heat pump installed in their home is that is takes care of two installations at once and simplifies their lives.

So if the heat pump in your home loses one of its two modes and starts blowing out cold air when you want warm air, you need to have professionals come to your home and find out what needs repair.

There are a few reasons that a heat pump might become stuck in cooling mode (or heating mode, as is sometimes the case). Most of them will need repairs from trained technicians. Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling when you need heating repair in Pittsburgh, PA for your malfunctioning heat pump. We have live operators standing by 24/7 for emergency service.

Reasons a Heat Pump Won’t Switch Modes

The most common cause for a heat pump to remain fixed in cooling mode is a broken reversing valve. This component sits along the refrigerant line and is responsible for changing the direction that refrigerant moves through the pump. Essentially, the reversing valve is what makes a heat pump different from an air conditioner, and if it breaks down, it will leave you with an air conditioner. (As mentioned above, it could also leave you with it heater. It depends on how the manufacturer set the reversing valve’s “relaxed” state, the one where it doesn’t receive an electric charge.)

Fortunately, a broken reversing valve is a simple fix for a technician. He or she will swap out the old valve for a new one. New reversing valves are a basic part of most technician’s vans when attending to heat pump problems.

Another reason for a heat pump staying in one mode is a thermostat issue. A faulty wiring connection can cause thermostat to lose its connection to the system that signals for it to begin heating. This is a simple wiring fix for a technician, but don’t attempt to pull the unit off the wall and fiddle with the wires yourself; you will probably only cause the problem to get worse.

If the air that comes from the vents isn’t cold but instead feels room temperature, the trouble may be a loss of refrigerant. Check to see if icing has started over the outdoor coils, then call for repairs.

Heat pumps are among the more complex comfort devices available for homes today, and they require a precise balance of components to work properly. Do not trust any repairs to amateurs, and do not go the “do-it-yourself” route. Look to the Pittsburgh, PA heating repair professionals at Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

Continue Reading

My Heat Pump Won’t Turn On! What Should I Do?

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

It’s the emergency you don’t want to occur in the middle of a rough winter: suddenly discovering that your heat pump won’t come on when it should. Is it broken and can you do anything about it?

Obviously, a heat pump that malfunctions and doesn’t turn on is a serious problem and needs to be remedied as soon as possible. We will look over some of the reasons that a heat pump might fail to turn on and what you can do about it.

Most of the time, you’ll need to call for professional repairs; heat pumps are complex mechanical devices that require special training to fix. For 24-hour emergency service on your heat pump or any other heating repair in Pittsburgh, PA, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

Reasons for a Heat Pump Not Turning On

  • Thermostat issues: The first thing you should check when any heating system fails is the thermostat (or thermostats if you have a zone control system). Is it set correctly? If you have a programmable thermostat, check that the program is set so the heat will come on at the appropriate time. If the thermostat seems set correctly, the issue might be a miscalibration that is causing the thermostat to read the temperature incorrectly, or possibly an electrical failure that has cut if off from communicating with the heat pump. You will need professional repairs for this.
  • Power loss: Heat pumps can sometimes trip circuit breakers. Check your fuse box to see if this is the case. If the heat pump continues to trip the circuit breakers, there may be an electrical fault in the heat pump that needs attention.
  • Failed start capacitor: Listen to the cabinet of your heat pump. If you can hear a clicking noise whenever the heat pump should be turning on, then likely the problem is a failing start capacitor, the component responsible for transmitting the electrical charge that starts the motors. Call technicians to replace it.
  • Broken reversing valve: The reversing valve is responsible for changing the direction of refrigerant in the heat pump so that it can function as both a heater and an air conditioner. If you find that the heat pump will still provide cool air, but won’t provide heat, then it’s probably the fault of the reversing valve, and it will need replacement.

Heat pump repairs usually do not take long to complete, so call for repairs right away when you cannot get your heat pump started so you’ll avoid a long stretch in the cold. Boehmer Heating & Cooling has specialized in heating repair in Pittsburgh, PA since 1933, so you can trust in our services for your heat pump.

Continue Reading

Will a Heat Pump in Pittsburgh Work Year ‘Round?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Heat pumps are designed to both heat and cool your home. They essentially pull the heat from the air and transfer it to another location, moving heat out of your home when you need it to be cool, and absorbing it from the outside when you need it to be warm. That makes it a good fit in cities like Pittsburgh, which have warm, humid summers and cold winters. Will a heat pump work year ‘round in a city like that? Generally speaking, heat pumps work best in milder climates, when the temperatures rarely drop below 40 degrees. A geothermal heat pump, hybrid system or a cold-weather system could be more beneficial than a typical air source heat pump.

Most heat pumps have two different sections, an outdoor section and an indoor section. The first one contains a compressor that places pressure on refrigerant gas, and a coil that cools the pressurized gas into a liquid state, releasing heat into the outside air. The liquid refrigerant then moves into the indoor unit, which contains a coil of its own. The liquid expands in that coil, which pulls heat from the nearby air. A fan then blows the cool air into your home.

That process takes place in the summer, and isn’t dissimilar to the process used by a tradition air conditioning system. In the winter, however, the process is reversed. The indoor coil condenses the gas into a liquid, releasing heat into your home. The liquid is then sent to the outdoor unit, where it evaporates and absorbs heat from the outside air. That allows the heat pump to act as both a heater and an air conditioner in one single unit. However, it only works efficiently if the outside temperature is over 40 degrees. When it gets colder, you’ll need a supplementary heating system in place. Geothermal heat pumps, however, use the temperature of the earth which stays constant all year round, so they are able to heat your home throughout the winter.

If you want to install a heat pump in your home, or you already own one and need a maintenance or repair call, then contact Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We’ll discuss your options with you and then work hard to implement the correct solution.

Continue Reading

Why Consider Installing a Heat Pump?

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

If you’re in the market for a new cooling system, there is an unprecedented variety of system types and brands. The selection process is critical to the future of your comfort, however, and should not be taken lightly. You should consider not only the energy efficiency of your new system, but also its performance. Many of today’s models boast high SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings, which is a good barometer for how your system will perform in the future. The higher the SEER rating, the better the efficiency. And this is precisely why the heat pump makes such a good cooling option. But that’s not the only reason. Let’s take a look at some reasons why you should consider installing a heat pump in your Pittsburgh, PA home. For more info, call Boehmer Heating & Air Conditioning today!

  • Year-round comfort: Part of the attraction of heat pumps is that they offer both cooling and heating. They operate in the same way as an air conditioner does during the summer. They remove the warm indoor air and replace it with cool air by means of a circulating refrigerant. During the cooler months, they use the thermal energy of the outdoor air to warm the indoors. This works because of a component called the reversing valve, which allows the refrigerant cycle to reverse direction. If it gets too cold for your heat pump to heat your house, you can supplement it with another system, such as a furnace.
  • Energy efficiency: Energy efficiency is a critical factor if you’re considering installing a new system. Whether you’re looking to replace your existing AC or need a comprehensive comfort system for a new home, you need to make sure that you’re getting the most for your dollar. Heat pumps are widely known for the small amount of electricity they consume during operation.
  • Geothermal: The heat pumps we have been referring to above are known as air-source heat pumps, but there is an alternative type that is quickly gaining popularity. Geothermal technology uses a ground-source heat pump to offer heating and cooling throughout your home. This tends to be far more energy efficient than other conventional systems. Check with your local technician to see if geothermal is right for your property.

If you need a heat pump, call Boehmer Heating & Air Conditioning today!


Continue Reading

Benefits of Using a Heat Pump in Pittsburgh

Monday, April 1st, 2013

At Boehmer Heating & Cooling, we do everything we can to ensure that our clients are able to keep their homes comfortable throughout the entire year. That is why we offer such a great selection of home heating and air conditioning systems to choose from, as well as a wide array of outstanding HVAC services. We also like to help our customers keep comfortable in the most efficient way possible. We know how expensive it can be to heat and cool a home. If you are interested in an efficient alternative to traditional heating and cooling systems, give us a call to learn more about the benefits of using a heat pump in Pittsburgh.

One great benefit of using a heat pump in Pittsburgh is the fact that it acts as both a heating and air conditioning system. This means that you only need to invest in one system in order to keep your home comfortable throughout the year. When you schedule your heat pump installation with a qualified professional you can count on a great, reliable performance, no matter what season it is.

Of course, many home comfort system options double as both heating and cooling systems. What truly sets a heat pump apart is the great benefit of its outstanding efficiency. Heat pumps are among the most efficient heating and cooling systems available. The more efficient a heating and cooling system is, the less it costs to keep your home comfortable.

The key to the great efficiency with which heat pumps operate is their dependence on the heat transfer principle to heat and cool your home, as opposed to the consumption of fuel. A heat pump uses just a small amount of electricity to transfer heat into or out of your home, unlike a traditional system. By transferring existing heat, a heat pump is able to keep you comfortable while using very little energy. This is not only a great benefit to your budget but also to the environment.

To learn more about the benefits of using a heat pump in Pittsburgh, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We have the answers to all your questions. Let us keep you comfortable with greater efficiency than ever before.

Continue Reading

Boehmer Heating and Cooling Welcomes Jim to the Team!

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Boehmer Heating & Cooling would like to welcome Jim to the team! Jim comes to us as a veteran of the lumber and building materials industry for 38 years.  He brings his experience in sales and management to help our customers plan the replacement of their heating and cooling systems.  Jim calls Jefferson Hills home with his wife Paula. He enjoys spending time with his grandkids and volunteering at church.

“I enjoy working for Boehmer Heating & Cooling because of their reputation, honesty, and commitment to their customers. It is a great pleasure to work with a third-generation family business that has been around for 80 years!”

Boehmer Heating & Cooling offer heating installation, maintenance and repair services in the greater Pittsburgh area. If you need boiler, heat pump or furnace services give us a call today!

Continue Reading

Pittsburgh Heat Pump Question: Why Do Heat Pumps Need Refrigerant?

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Despite its name, your Pittsburgh heat pump is not designed solely for heating. In fact, the technology in your heat pump was originally designed for air conditioning and is used today in air conditioners, refrigerators and cooling units in vehicles and airplanes. And the entire process relies on refrigerant – a chemical compound that is compressed and expanded to move energy from one environment to another.

 How Refrigerant Makes Heating and Cooling Possible

Your heat pump has multiple components designed to transfer refrigerant from one state to another. The compressor, for example, compresses the refrigerant into a liquid. The liquid is then moved through the expansion valve to the evaporator coils where it expands into a gas. Because refrigerant evaporates at much lower temperatures than water, it does this rapidly and in the process draws heat from the surrounding environment.

That’s how an air conditioner or your refrigerator cool a space. However, in the case of a heat pump, the process can work in both directions. In cooling mode, your heat pump extracts heat from the air going into your home. In the case of heating mode, the heat pump extracts heat from the outside air. Because the heat is transferred into the refrigerant, it can then be recompressed by the compressor. The heat is then is then released in the condenser coils, where the gas returns to liquid state. A blower then distributes air blown across the condenser coils into your home as heat.

 Troubleshooting the Process

Your Pittsburgh heat pump is a complex piece of machinery, but once you know how it works, you can perform quite a bit of troubleshooting should anything go wrong with the device. For example, if you notice cold air coming from your vents, you can check to make sure it isn’t in cooling mode and that there is enough refrigerant in the device.

Keep in mind that if any service needs to be performed on the heat pump involving refrigerant, you should call a Pittsburgh HVAC professional due to the volatile nature of the chemical. In most municipalities, you must have a license to distribute or dispose of refrigerant and even if not, it can be dangerous to both you and the environment. Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today for any help with your heating or cooling system!

Continue Reading

Pittsburgh HVAC Tip: How to Maintain High Efficiency Filters to Reduce Stress on Your Heat Pump

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

The filter on your Pittsburgh heat pump is an integral part of your home’s comfort system. Without that filter, the device will quickly be subjected to an influx of debris and contaminants that can get into the machinery and the air being filtered into your home. As a result, you need to make sure you properly maintain the filters to reduce stress on your heat pump.

 Change Your Filters

High efficiency filters are designed to remove as much of the airborne contaminants in the air as possible. This is fantastic for keeping your indoor air clean. But if you don’t properly maintain the filter, air quality can worsen and your heat pump is put under unnecessary stress. Specifically, the extremely tight knit filter, designed to stop nearly anything from getting through, gets clogged.

Now your heat pump is forced to work much harder to draw the air it needs from outside and heat or cool your home. On top of that, the filter is filled with contaminants that can start to leak back into the air supply, actually making your indoor air quality worse than it would be otherwise. That’s why it is so important to clean your filters on a regular basis (for permanent filters) and replace them if they are one time use.

 Recommended Filters

You have options as to which types of filters you use for your heat pump. Filters come in multiple options, from super high MERV rated filters that trap up to 99% of all contaminants as small as 0.3 microns.

Electrostatic filters are especially efficient because they extract contaminants of all types – from dust and mold to smoke and gas fumes. A good filtration system should effectively remove anything from the air without needing replacement too often.

Permanent filters tend to offer the best protection against airborne contaminants and generally need to be cleaned once a month. HEPA filters are often permanent and while each filter is different, these are often extremely effective at minimizing contaminants in the air without putting stress on your heat pump.

We all know that high efficiency filters are great to have in your home because they remove contaminants from the air. This keeps your indoor air clean and healthy by preventing pollutants from circulating throughout your forced air system. But what most people don’t know is that if you don’t maintain your air filters, they can actually cause your heat pump to work much harder. When high-efficiency filters get clogged, they can restrict airflow and cause stress to your heat pump. Not to mention making your indoor air quality worse! The contaminants that were caught by the air filter might now start getting back into the air supply, acutally making your indoor air quality worse. It is easy to see why it is so important to change your Pittsburgh heat pump’s air filter regularly, especially if they are high efficiency.

To schedule any maintenance you need for your home’s heat pump, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call!


Continue Reading

Do you know how to maintain your heat pump?

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Heat Pump Maintenance | Pittsburg | Boehmer Heating and CoolingA heat pump provides a number of benefits over traditional heating and cooling. The versatility of a heat pump means having reliable comfort control every day of the year.  Generally heat pumps are more efficient, however they do still need to have some regular maintenance in order to make sure that they continue to effectively heat or cool your home. The average homeowner can change the filters monthly and make sure that the components are clean, but you will need a professional HVAC technician to perform some of the maintenance tasks. The technician will check things like the air flow and refrigerant charge, as well as inspect the electrical systems.


Annual maintenance will not only help you cut down on future repairs, but it will also save money on your utility bills. Check out our maintenance plans to help with your Pittsburgh area heat pump and home comfort system maintenance.

Continue Reading

McKeesport HVAC Tip: History of Heat Pumps

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Thermal energy is the natural movement from warm temperatures to colder temperatures creating energy in the change of temperature to the mass.  A heat pump typically is a device that moves the air (or other matter) in the opposite direction from its natural flow.

Your McKeesport heat pump uses an intermediate fluid called a refrigerant which absorbs heat as it vaporizes and releases the heat when it is condensed,  using an evaporator to absorb the heat (or energy) from inside an occupied space and forcing this heat to the outside through the condenser. The key component that makes a heat pump different from an air conditioner is the reversing valve which allows for the flow direction of the refrigerant to be changed, allowing the heat to be pumped in either direction.

Timeless Technology

While mechanical movement of this energy, what we can actually call a pump,  has been a relatively recent invention,  the concept of this principal of physics has been in use since ancient times. Harnessing the power of geothermal energy (produced from the heat of the earth itself), natural hot springs “pumped” warm air into cool spaces in China and Europe thousands of years ago.

By 1852, Lord Kelvin had theorized the heat pump, but it took nearly 100 years to actually build one.  In the last half century, the technological advances have made heat pumps part of our lives in many ways.

First Pump

In the 1940s a man named Robert Webber was motivated to build the first known heat pump while tinkering with his refrigerator.  Accidently burning his hand on the outlet pipes of the cooling system, he was quite painfully awakened to an idea about the transference of heat.

Recognizing the freezer was constantly producing heat to cool its interior, he connected the outlet pipe to the storage tank of his hot water heater, extended that into a flow through pipes which heated air nearby, and  then used a fan to blow the warmth into another room.

The first heat pump was a crude, but effective method to provide comfort.  Creating a full-size version soon after, Wagner could heat his entire home.

Heat and Electricity

Today McKeesport heat pumps are built in many ways and shapes to heat or cool buildings of many sizes. As technological improvements are refined, heat pumps promise to play an important part in our futures.


Continue Reading