Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Allison Park-Hampton’

Pittsburgh Air Conditioning Tip: What to Do About Cool Spots

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Sitting on your couch watching TV should be an enjoyable experience, especially after a long day at the office. But, if your Pittsburgh air conditioner deposits an abnormally high volume of cold air directly onto your couch, making you shiver despite the 90 degree heat outside, you may have a cool spot.

Cool spots are an unfortunate side effect of modern air conditioning technology. They occur when HVAC systems are improperly sized or ductwork is improperly installed. Other factors like insulation, vent configuration or window placement can also contribute to the presence of a cool spot (and possibly some hot spots). So, what can you do about it? There are a few options, starting with a quick inspection of the space.

Checking for Common Problems

Your inspector will check a number of things. Most importantly, they’ll measure the size of your HVAC system and compare it to the dimensions and particulars of your house. Usually, in the case of cool spots, the problem is directly related to an oversized system. When it turns on, even for a few minutes, it produces more cold air than is necessary, flooding your home with cooling. The thermostat recognizes this and the system shuts off soon after turning on. As a result, you’ll feel fluctuation between cold and warm as the system fails to properly condition the space.

Modern systems are sized for your house at 100% capacity. So, when the system turns on, it should stay on for a substantial period of time, keeping your home cool. Turning off and on frequently is bad for the system and wastes energy (plus it produces those pesky cool spots). Keep in mind that hot spots can also occur if the system isn’t powerful enough.

Your inspector will also look for vent placement and duct configuration. Improper placement of vents can lead to pooling of cool air that creates cool spots. By checking for potential problems in the layout of your Pittsburgh  HVAC system, an inspector can determine if new vents or ducts are needed to solve the problem.

Fixing the Cool Spots

For now, you may just want to move to another part of the house. Cool spots rarely affect the entire space – they tend to cluster around vents and outlets and can usually be fixed by resizing or adjusting your system. However, only your Pittsburgh air conditioning contractor can tell you for sure what the best solution will be for your air conditioning issues so make sure to schedule an inspection.

Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today if you are concerned about cool spots in your home!

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Allison Park-Hampton Geothermal Installation Question: How is Geothermal Different than Other Heating Systems?

Monday, February 6th, 2012

There are many methods to heating a building in Allison Park-Hampton. Early methods included burning coal and wood. Today, sophisticated building controls call for more efficient means of heat – and a method gaining in popularity is geothermal heating.

Many use air handling units to deliver heat – and that method has remained constant over the years. But air handling units are only designed to move air from one space to another. How that air is heated from the source is what differentiates geothermal from other energy sources.

To understand some of the differences, let’s look at the definition of geothermal heat. By definition, geothermal heating comes from its direct use of geothermal energy, which comes from below the Earth’s surface. And the Earth is known as the greatest conductor of heat. The constant, renewable temperature of the Earth (56-58 degrees on average below 10 feet) provides a heat source requiring no energy conversion, which adds to heating efficiency and ultimately, the cost to heat a building.

In order to heat a building, natural heat from the ground absorbs a colder refrigerant, which is circulated throughout the ground by a series of polyethelene tubing, which is generally positioned five to ten feet below the surface. This heat is transported via the refrigerant to a compressor inside a heat pump, where it is compressed and the lower temperatures are transformed from around 50 degrees to temperatures much higher, as high as 100 degrees of more. This hotter refrigerant is circulated through the tubing within an air handling unit, where colder return interior air absorbs the heat. The heated air is then carried to a building’s interior via fans. The refrigerant, with the heat removed, now becomes colder as is re-circulated into the ground to absorb the natural, renewable heat. In essence, the ground provides free heat.

Other methods of heating include forced air natural gas, oil, solar, propane, electric, radiant, and steam. Each heat source requires mechanical means to heat up the supply air. For example, natural gas – which is used to heat about half of all U.S. homes – is heated via a heat exchanger in a mechanical furnace, which runs on electricity. Radiant or steam heat is generated by mechanically raising the temperature of water or refrigerant via electricity. These methods differ from geothermal because the natural heat of the Earth provides the means for raising the temperature of the refrigerant used to transport heat to the air handling unit.

One drawback to using geothermal heat compared to other energy sources is the cost to bring this natural heating method into a building. The initial installation of a geothermal heating system is much higher than conventional natural gas heating – for example – because of the cost to install the tubing called a ground loop beneath the Earth’s surface. No other heat source, other than radiant heat, requires a series of tubing to deliver heat. But then again, radiant heat does not require a ductwork system to transport heated air or remove colder air. Geothermal requires a series of metals tubes to heat the refrigerant and the ductwork to move the heated air throughout the building.

On the flip side, its energy efficiency – using the Earth’s natural heat – is much greater than other heating sources resulting in lower utility costs, often fractions of the cost to use other heat sources. Energy savings could pay for the cost of installing the geothermal system over several years – another characteristic of geothermal heating.

 

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A Question from Carnegie: What Makes a Furnace High Efficiency?

Friday, December 16th, 2011

You’ve probably heard in Carnegie about the new lines of high efficiency furnaces being released by popular home heating companies, but what exactly is different about these high efficiency devices from your current furnace? Let’s take a closer look at what a high efficiency furnace offers and why it can save you money.

Added Features

A high efficiency furnace uses familiar technology in a new way to reduce the amount of energy lost when combustion takes place. This means:

  • Sealed Combustion – Instead of open combustion which allows heat to escape during and after the combustion process, a high efficiency furnace uses a sealed chamber with carefully measured and fed airflow to burn fuel and produce heat. Exhaust heat can then be recaptured and used to heat air transferred to your air vents.
  • Two Stage Gas Valves – With a two stage gas valve, your furnace can respond to the temperature outside. There isn’t just one “on” switch. The furnace will regulate gas flow based on how much energy is needed to produce heat for your home. So, if there is a sudden burst of cold outside, the furnace will respond accordingly, but for most days when heating needs are low, it will use only the minimum amount of needed gas.
  • Programmable – High efficiency furnaces are now programmable, meaning you can set specific time limits for operation, change thermostat settings digitally and inspect the device through an electronic read out. The level of control given to you by a programmable high efficiency furnace can greatly reduce gas or electricity consumption.

Cost Benefit

The real reason many people are interested in high efficiency furnaces is that they are so much less expensive to operate. Instead of costing hundreds of dollars to run through the winter, they operate the bare minimum needed to heat your home. Using up to 95% of the fuel they consume to produce heat and regulating gas to cut how much is consumed during milder days, these furnaces are built to save you money.

If you have an old furnace that chews through energy like nobody’s business, now might be the time to consider the benefits of a brand new, high efficiency model.

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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.

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