Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Allegheny County’

Cranberry Heating Maintenance Advice: Basic Heating Safety

Friday, January 27th, 2012

While you should schedule a yearly maintenance visit with a qualified HVAC technician to check for any safety concerns, you can also reduce potential safety hazards in the heating system of your Cranberry home. Whether you have a furnace, heat pump, or boiler, you can substantially decrease the chances of dangerous situations with a few minor routine tasks.

If you have any questions about how to better maintain your heating system, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call to speak with one of our expert HVAC technicians. Here are a few guidelines to get you started.

Ventilation in Forced-air Systems:

  • Regularly vacuum and clean out your heating vents and fan blower.
  • Check the condition of your chimney and vent pipe to make sure that none of the parts are damaged or show signs of deterioration.
  • Test the thermostat occasionally to make sure your heating system is working at optimal levels. There could be a safety concern if your heater is not properly heating your home.

Heat Exchangers:

  • Heat exchangers should be inspected often to prevent carbon monoxide leaks. Check for any obvious issues, such as rust or other damages.
  • The heat exchanger for furnaces should be inspected by a professional once a year in case there are hidden problems with the equipment, or if any of the components need to be replaced.
  • Check the pilot light in gas furnaces for any flickers or changes in color. Have someone turn up the thermostat while you watch the light, but turn off the system for five minutes first. If there are any changes, there could be a problem with the heat exchanger. Call a professional if you suspect issues with your heat exchanger.

Heating Equipment Inspections and Adjustments:

  • Boilers should be drained regularly to reduce sediment buildup, in addition to testing the water level safety controls. It’s best to have a professional perform these tasks if you aren’t sure how to do them on your own.
  • Adjust the temperature settings if you suspect that the heater isn’t working properly, and if it doesn’t work call a professional heating technician, or if you aren’t sure how to locate or adjust the controls.
  • Check the overall equipment for cracks, rust, or any other obvious signs of damage or deterioration that could create safety hazards.

In addition to performing these tasks, call a licensed Cranberry heating contractor to inspect your heating system at least once a year.

Continue Reading

Finleyville Heating Installation Question: What is a Gas Furnace Draft Hood?

Friday, January 20th, 2012

As every Finleyville HVAC contractor knows, a draft hood is a necessary part of any gas burning appliance. For a gas furnace in particular it ensures steady air flow to the burners to avoid flares or the pilot light being put out by fluctuation in temperature and air flow.

What the Draft Hood Does

The draft will change in the chimney as exhaust vents towards it – especially when going from cold air to hot. A draft hood is placed above the upper most part of the gas furnace to draw air into the chimney and makes it possible to draw more or less air through the chimney as necessary to create a constant flow.

This makes it possible for the burner to enjoy consistent air flow without any wind gusts or sudden temperature spikes or drops. Hot air, if not put through a draft hood would create a strong air flow through the burners.

A draft hood cools the air as it is released by the burners from 500 degrees F to between 300 degrees F and 350 degrees F. The cooling needs to be carefully calibrated to avoid condensation build up in the chimney however – a problem that occurs when the temperature gets too low.

Maintaining Pressure

The draft hood is a part of a larger system designed to maintain air flow to the chimney. For every cubic foot of gas burned, the furnace needs to have 15 cubic feet of air for combustion and another 15 cubic feet of air for dilution. A draft hood and the rest of the ventilation system make it possible to put a furnace that has many thousands of BTUs in the basement of your home and still supply it with enough air to burn gas and dilute the exhaust before it enters the chimney.

For all of these reasons, if you see your pilot light flickering irregularly, notice a backflow of exhaust or a burning smell in your furnace room, it’s important to call a professional who can inspect and repair the problem before it becomes any worse. Not only can gas burner exhaust contain high levels of carbon monoxide, it can be bad for the device and the chimney if it doesn’t vent properly.

Continue Reading

Upper St Clair HVAC Contractor Tip: The Energy Star Label

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

The Energy Star program is a joint program of the US environmental protection agency and the US department of Energy. The program’s goal is to help consumers, including Upper St Clair homeowners, save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices.

The best-known aspect of the Energy Star program is the Energy Star label, which is awarded to appliances and other items that are significantly more efficient than average. Energy Star efficiency guidelines vary depending on product category, but in general, Energy Star products use 20%-30% less energy than minimum federal standards.

The Energy Star guidelines were designed both with energy efficiency and performance in mind. While low energy use is one of the most important criteria for selecting Energy Star appliances, product performance, features, warranty, safety, and durability are also taken into account. Price is also a factor: if a product costs significantly more than other products in its category, it will only receive the Energy Star label if the up-front cost will be recovered through savings in operating costs within a reasonable amount of time.

The first Energy Star labels were given to computers and monitors in 1992. Now labels can be found on many other products, including:

Energy Star products can be found wherever appliances and electronics are sold. Look for the blue and white Energy Star label. You can also look for the yellow EnergyGuide label that is affixed to most heating and cooling systems and household appliances. This label is created by the Department of Energy and shows a product’s annual cost of operation compared to similar models. It will often indicate whether a product is Energy Star.

It’s important to note that while an Energy Star label indicates that a heater, air conditioner, or household appliance is more efficient than the minimum guidelines, it does not always mean that you are getting the most energy efficient option on the market. If you are making a major appliance purchase, use the Energy Star label to be sure every model on your “short list” is energy efficient. Then, look carefully at the EnergyGuide label to compare the efficiency of the models you are considering.

The EPA has also extended the Energy Star label to cover new homes and commercial and industrial buildings. To qualify for the Energy Star rating, a new home must use at least 15% less energy than standard homes (built to the 2004 International Residential Code). Energy Star homes usually include insulation, high-performance windows, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, appliances, lighting, and water heaters.

The Energy Star standards and label have been recognized in many other countries, including Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and the European Union.

Continue Reading

Ross HVAC Contractor’s Guide: Heat Pump Load Calculation

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

When purchasing a heat pump in Ross, the first thing you should do is determine what type of heat pump you want and how big it needs to be to provide ample heating and cooling to your home. If you’re unsure what you need, here are some tips to size a heat pump for your home’s particular needs.

The Importance of Sizing

Before buying anything, consider the cost of an oversized heat pump. A lot of homeowners opt for the biggest device on the market, but they don’t realize that they’re paying more than necessary for their device. An oversized device cycles on and off more often than is necessary and wears down much faster, resulting in an increased electric bill and faster wear on the device. It’s not good for your heat pump or your wallet.

How to Size

To correctly size a heat pump, the first step is to perform a load calculation. This is done by measuring the total volume of the rooms being heated (in cubic meters) and then determining the heating factor based on the type of insulation used.

There are different measurements depending on the type and R-rating of your insulation. For example, a single external wall without any additional insulation has a heating factor of 15. The number of external walls, the insulation in those walls and/or the ceiling and the rating of the insulation will determine the total heating factor for the room.

You will then divide the room volume by the heating factor to determine the number of KW (converted to BTUs) needed to heat that particular room.

Professional Sizing

The reason it is so important to call a professional is that certain things, like poorly insulated windows, cracks in the foundation, leaks in the ducts and other issues can have an impact on the overall heating factor measurement. Additionally, the type of heat pump you choose must be effective when connected to an air handler for your entire home. A professional can make these measurements and ensure the right sized device is selected.

If you’re unsure about anything related to sizing and selecting a new heat pump for your home, call a Ross professional in. They will perform a full load calculation and present your options for a new heat pump based on those calculations.

Continue Reading

A Question from Allison Park-Hampton: How Do I Check a Gas Furnace Draft Pressure Switch?

Monday, December 5th, 2011

There are many reasons why a furnace stops working and in many cases, an Allison Park-Hampton homeowner can perform some simple diagnostics to pinpoint the problem. Finding the problem is one thing – fixing it is another. When in doubt, don’t try it yourself. Call a qualified heating contractor.

But let’s look at one possible problem and solution you may be able to perform yourself – testing the draft pressure switch. The draft pressure switch on a gas furnace allows an electrical current to pass through to ignite the furnace. The pressure switch monitors the draft conditions and won’t allow the furnace’s gas valve to open unless draft is correct.

If the switch is malfunctioning, so too will (or will not) the furnace.

The best way to locate the switch is by consulting with your owner’s manual or by going online and simply typing in the words “gas furnace draft switch.” It is identifiable by its round size and is bolted to the outside of the furnace. It should be nearby the draft inducer motor because the two are connected by a metal tube. The tube may sometimes be the culprit, too. A tube that is blocked with condensation may cause the switch to go bad.

To check for proper function, first turn off power to the furnace, either by shutting down the ‘on’ switch at the furnace or shutting off the circuit breaker.

Use a volt ohm meter to check if the switch is opening and closing properly. Start by zeroing out the meter’s probes by touching the tips together. Using the dial (could be analog or digital), set the meter to 24 volts. Ground the black probe by attaching it to any metal part of the furnace. Then place the end of the red probe on the metal tube connecting the draft pressure switch to the draft inducer motor.

If the switch is working properly the meter should read at least 24 volts, or very near that. If the reading is short of 24 volts, the switch is not working correctly. At that point you may decide to replace it or call a professional to do the task (recommended).

Always remember that there are many sources which will help you diagnose and repair a problem, especially those available through the Internet. If you search YouTube.com you will find many videos advising you on how to repair certain components. Use all of the resources available to you and keep the phone number of a qualified and professional heating and cooling contractor nearby.

Continue Reading

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! We would like to thank you all for being loyal customers and helping our business prosper. Have a great holiday; we hope your Thanksgiving is full of friends, family, and delicious food! And to make you day a little sweeter, here is a recipe for Pumpkin Gingerbread from allrecipes.com:

Pumpkin Gingerbread

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large mixing, combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove.
  3. In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.

For more details, click here.

Continue Reading

Is Your Furnace Making too Much Noise? (and Happy Halloween Weekend!)

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Happy Halloween weekend from everyone at Boehmer Heating & Cooling! We hope you have a fantastically spooky time! But don’t be scared of the noises coming from your furnace, here is some information about common causes and solutions.

The old saying that “It is better to be seen than heard” certainly applies to the mechanical equipment in your Pittsburgh home. If you hear a squeaky noise or loud clattering you automatically suspect that something is wrong. And if that noise is coming from your furnace, you better pay attention to it. A noise is an obvious sign of a problem – minor or major – and it could result in mechanical failure that could leave your home cold and uncomfortable – and affect your home’s indoor air quality.

Today’s newer variable-speed furnaces keep a constant airflow through the ventilation system utilizing a low speed fan that consumes small amounts of electricity. Constant airflow brings in fresh air and keeps the room air from becoming stale or stagnant. Because of this constant operation, it is important to ensure the furnace is running at peak efficiency, which also means that it is running quietly.

Here are some common noises, possible reasons, and suggested repairs. As always, if you are in doubt about how to repair your furnace, call a local qualified heating contractor and schedule a service call.

  • Squealing noise – could be a worn out or slipping blower belt. Check for proper tension of the belt or replace the belt if it is worn out or cracked.
  • Squealing noise – could be worn out motor shaft bearings. Lubricate the blower motor at the proper points.
  • Rumbling noise – often caused by a poorly adjusted pilot light when the burners are turned off. Adjust the pilot as necessary.
  • Rumbling noise – often caused by dirty gas burners when the burners are switched on. This problem requires service from a qualified heating technician.
  • Buzzing noise – often caused when a blower motor mounting come loose. Tighten the mounting screws or use shims to fill gaps.
  • Hissing noise – indicates a possible air leak. This problem requires service from a qualified heating technician.
  • Ticking noise – possibly a leaky gas valve. This problem requires service from a qualified heating technician.
  • Rattling noise – could be a dirty fan blade. Wipe the fan blade or clean with degreaser.
  • Rattling, grinding, or whining – could be resistance to airflow that causes the motor to work harder. Check the vents in each room for dirt, debris, or obstructions and clear them.
  • Vibrating noise – may not be the furnace but loose or cracked seams in the ventilation system. Check the ductwork seams and hangers to ensure everything is tight. You may need duct tape or bracket hardware.

The best way to keep your furnace and ventilation system from making noises is to practice preventative maintenance. Have your furnace checked annually by a qualified heating contractor – and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Continue Reading

Things to Look for When Buying a Heating System: A Guide from Bridgeville

Monday, October 24th, 2011

If you are in the market for a new or replacement heating system in Bridgeville and don’t know much about heating systems, you are not alone. Many homeowners are in the same boat as you. And many of that number put their trust in their local, professional, and qualified heating and cooling contractor to find the right furnace for their homes.

Before calling for an estimate, there are some things you can do to “prepare” yourself for one of the most important purchase you can make. Here is a checklist of things you should look for when buying a heating system.

Know your energy alternatives. There are lots of options today when it comes to heating your home. Gone are the days when the choices were so cut and dried. Check with your heating and cooling contractor for suggestions.

  1. Know what size your furnace should be. Furnaces are not “one size fits all.” The size of the furnace is determined by its Btu (British thermal unit) rating. For example, a one-story ranch home on a crawl space requires less heating capacity than a two-story colonial with a basement, thus it would require a furnace with a smaller numbered Btu rating. A home with a great deal of heat loss through windows and doors may require various furnace sizes. And don’t forget about insulation. Insulation can affect the furnace size, too. Again, check with your heating and cooling contractor for recommendations.
  2. How much room do you need for your furnace? Some homes have mechanical rooms for furnaces and water heaters while others utilize attics, basements, or crawlspaces for furnaces. If you think you need a big furnace to heat a big home, think again. Furnace manufacturers have been downsizing their heating equipment for years, while maintaining the same heating capacities. One example are wall hung boilers, which utilize water and electric as heating sources and are installed on a wall, making the unit easy to locate and easy to service – while at the same time being off the floor and out of the way.
  3. Will your heating system be “plug and play?” New furnaces can take the place of the ones they are replacing by using the same space. But sometimes a replacement unit may need some altering to fit into an existing duct system. It is almost a given that a new plenum (the part attaching the furnace to the ductwork) will have to be fabricated. But the new furnace may also require some other modifications to an existing duct system. You should understand this ahead of time and be prepared to pay additional costs.
  4. A box is a box is a box. As a rule, most heating systems are made the same. In some cases, one furnace manufacturer may produce several different brand names. The best “brand” is the heating and cooling contractor who installs and services your heating equipment. Do your homework ahead of time and find a qualified and professional contractor. Ask friends and family for recommendations. This is may be the most important thing to look for when buying a heating system

Continue Reading

Is a Heat Pump Right for Your Home? A Guide from Carnegie

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Deciding which type of home comfort system to go with in Carnegie can be a difficult process to navigate. There are a ton of factors to take into account including how much you will be using the system, what type of fuel you mainly rely on and what the specific climate is like where you live.

Heat pumps are a great home comfort solution for many people but they aren’t always the appropriate choice. However, there are many benefits to going with a heat pump system, so this is certainly an option you should keep in mind as you evaluate your options.

Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air in one place and then transferring that heat to another space. For instance, in the winter, heat pumps take heat from the outside air and pump it into your house. In the summer, on the other hand, your heat pump will be able to take heat from your indoor air and pump it back outside, thereby keeping your home cool and comfortable.

Heat pumps are also extremely energy efficient because they don’t actually have to generate the heat they pump. Unlike furnaces, which take in fuel and convert it into heat, heat pumps simply harness the heat that’s already there, making them by far the more energy efficient option.

Another benefit to heat pumps is that they maintain a more constant temperature than many other types of heating systems do. Rather than pumping in a big blast of hot air and then waiting until the temperature indoors falls below a preset level before doing it again, heat pumps provide a relatively constant stream of warm air.

The initial amount of heat is smaller than what you might be used to from a furnace, but the cumulative effect means that you’ll be able to enjoy a much more consistently comfortable indoor environment.

It is important to evaluate the climate in your area before you decide to purchase a heat pump, though. These systems are extremely effective at heating and cooling your home as long as temperatures stay above the mid-thirties.

Below that, you may need to install some type of supplemental heating in order to keep your home warm enough on those really cold days. So if you live in an area where temperatures routinely dip below freezing for large portions of the winter, a heat pump might not be the most sensible solution for you.

Continue Reading

Common Furnace Problems: Some Pointers From Cranberry

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

When it comes to the furnace in your Cranberry house, you simply want it to work all of the time. But just like any other piece of equipment, your furnace will have problems from time to time. A few of these are relatively simple to fix on your own, but for the most part you’ll need to call in someone to take care of the repairs for you.

However, before you can do that, you’ll need to recognize that a problem exists at all. And the earlier you notice the warning signs, the better off you’ll be. It’s always better to get a furnace problem taken care of right away than to wait until your furnace stops working completely.

It’s also good to remember that quite often the problems you’re having with your furnace are really originating with your thermostat. This is usually welcome news, as thermostats are much cheaper and easier to repair and replace than many other parts of your furnace. In fact, even if your furnace isn’t working at all, it may only be the result of a faulty thermostat.

Another problem you may start to notice is that one part of your house is being warmed more than another part. When this happens, it can be a sign that there is something wrong with the furnace, but it may also be that the pressure in your duct system is not balanced properly. A simple rebalancing of this system can have your house heating evenly again in no time.

You may also realize that your furnace seems to be cycling on and off too often. When a furnace is working properly, it will come on for a considerable period of time and then shut off until the temperature in the house drops below the desired level. However, some problems can cause your furnace to complete many short cycles rather than fewer short ones.

If this is happening to your furnace, there are several possible causes. Something might be wrong with the blower on the furnace or the thermostat might not be feeding the furnace the correct information. Another possibility is that your furnace’s air filter is dirty or clogged.

While there are sometimes simple and straightforward solutions to these types of common furnace problems, it’s best to call in a professional to have them take a look if you’re not sure where to start searching for a problem. In most cases you’ll need them to come out and make the necessary repairs anyway.

Continue Reading