Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Braddock’

Oakdale Heating Maintenance Question: What Are the Different Types of Furnace Maintenance?

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Everyone in Oakdale knows that there are different types of maintenance tasks associated with keeping your automobile in tip top shape. Did you also know there are tasks that can be performed at various intervals to keep your home’s furnace in peak running condition?

For example, the most frequent maintenance task is checking the filters in your air handling unit. These are often called furnace filters but in reality, they serve the same function to filter air to and from your air conditioner, too. It might be easiest to just call them air filters. The frequency of replacing or cleaning air filters usually depends on the type of indoor environment you live in – like humidity levels, number of household pets or occupants, etc. In general, filter maintenance should occur every one to three months.

A less frequent maintenance task is cleaning the moving parts of the internal mechanism. You may only need to have your furnace cleaned every six months to a year, depending on its use. In some cases you can perform the cleaning yourself or it is included in an annual cleaning as part of a service agreement with a qualified heating and cooling contractor. A furnace can typically run at peak efficiency when it is cleaned on an annual basis.

You can also make it a regular habit of checking the motor bearings and fan belt, too. You can lubricate the bearings and tighten or replace the fan belt on a same schedule as cleaning the moving parts.

Other maintenance tasks related to your furnace, which may require longer interval times include ventilation system cleaning, or more commonly known as duct cleaning. Some homes don’t require this type of maintenance more than every five to ten years – perhaps longer. Unless there are unusually high levels of dust, allergens, or contaminants in the air, most ventilation systems can remain clean for several years.

Of course, you can turn all of your maintenance tasks over to a heating and cooling contractor like  Boehmer Heating & Cooling Company – and have the most peace of mind.

Continue Reading

A Tip from Verona: Where to Place a Thermostat for Accurate Heating

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

It’s easy to forget with your furnace in the basement churning away all day to keep your Verona home warm, but your thermostat is the single most important device in ensuring your home is heated to the temperature you want. If it stops working or it misreads the temperature inside your home, your furnace won’t know what temperature it actually is and will turn on and off at the wrong time.

Where Not to Place Your Thermostat

To avoid inaccurate readings, avoid placing your thermostat in the following locations:

  • Direct Sunlight – Direct sunlight will almost always increase the perceived temperature of the thermostat. Unless you live in a greenhouse, this will be very uncomfortable for everyone in your home.
  • Windows – Windows can result in direct sunlight and breezes. If the windows are not properly sealed, cold air can blow in and make it seem cooler in your home than it really is. In any of these cases, your thermostat will misread the indoor temperature.
  • Drafts – Drafts from improperly sealed doors, windows, or anything else in your home can negatively impact the thermostat.
  • Heat Vents – Don’t place your thermostat near a radiator or heat vent where it is likely to be warmer than anywhere else in the house.
  • Kitchens – Kitchens tend to be warmer than other rooms in the house, especially when in use. Avoid placing a thermostat here unless you have a zone control system and your kitchen is separate from other rooms.

A properly placed thermostat will ensure your home is heated or cooled to the temperature you desire regardless of outdoor conditions. If you’re unsure whether your thermostat is calibrated properly, check the temperature with a separate thermometer in a different location in the same room. If it is significantly warmer or cooler in one place than another, try to determine which is more indicative of the actual comfort level in your home. When properly located, your thermostat should never be an issue again.

Continue Reading

How Often Should I Have My Geothermal System Checked? A Tip from Pittsburgh

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

The beauty of a geothermal system is that is requires very little maintenance from  your Pittsburgh contractor. They have fewer mechanical components are than other heating systems – and most of these components are underground or inside, shielded from the outdoor elements. The underground tubing usually is guaranteed to last 25-50 years and inside components are easily accessible for servicing.

Nonetheless, keeping a geothermal system working at peak efficiency is very important. If the geothermal system loses some of its efficiency, it will cost home and building owners money in energy costs, which makes little sense since geothermal system installation costs are higher than most other heating systems.

Its key component is the ground loop system, polyethelene tubing which carries refrigerant from below the Earth’s surface and back to an above-ground compressor. When installed correctly, the buried ground loop can last for decades. A leak in the metal tubing is usually the only problem if the ground loop is not installed correctly. In the case of a leak, it may be necessary to dig up the tubing – often installed at least ten feet below the surface – and repair the leak.

Other geothermal system components include its air handling unit, compressor, and pump. These components require periodic system checks by qualified professional heating and cooling technicians. Maintenance normally requires filter changes and component lubrication, to name the most common. In some cases, building owners can perform their own filter replacement and refill of lubricants. However, it is recommended that an experienced technician perform a multiple-point inspection of the geothermal system components, usually during regularly scheduled service calls.

Continue Reading

How to Add Freon to a Central Air Conditioning Unit: A Guide From Braddock

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

An air conditioner cannot cool your Braddock home without an adequate amount of Freon. So if you’ve noticed a drop off in the cooling power of your central air conditioning system, inadequate Freon levels may be the culprit. But before you try to add more Freon to your unit, there are several things you need to know.

Low Freon Means a Leak

The truth is that your central air conditioning system should never need to be “topped off” with Freon. The coolant in your unit is part of a closed loop system and doesn’t get used up like fuel. Instead it continues to circulate through your compressor, absorbing and releasing heat to keep the air passing through it cool and comfortable.

If the level of Freon inside your air conditioner drops below the proper level, it generally means there’s a leak somewhere in your system and you’ll need a qualified professional to find that leak and make the necessary repairs.

Professional Access and Expertise

Even if you’re inclined to add Freon to your unit, you’ll probably have a hard time getting your hands on it. As an EPA regulated substance, Freon can only be purchased by EPA certified technicians. If you’re able to purchase this type of coolant for your air conditioner, you’ll need to make sure you know what type your unit uses. Most air conditioners these days use either R22 or R-134a. It’s important that you only use the type of Freon that your air conditioner is built for.

Potential for Harm

Freon is regulated so strictly because it is an extremely hazardous substance. It can harm you or your family and it can do a lot of damage if accidentally released into the atmosphere. To top everything off, if you do accidentally release it, you could be subject to some hefty EPA fines.

In extreme cases, you can do irreparable damage to your air conditioning system by trying to add Freon inappropriately or without proper training. For all of these reasons, it’s best to let a certified professional check and, if necessary, top off the Freon levels in your AC system. For the minimal cost of this service, you can avoid risking the health and safety of your family as well as that of your AC system.

Continue Reading

Who Invented Air Conditioning? Some Facts From Braddock

Friday, August 12th, 2011

For hundreds of years, people have been trying to figure out how to stay cool in the heat of the summer, from Braddock to West Mifflin. But it wasn’t until 1902 that the first modern air conditioner was put into service in Brooklyn, NY. Since then, many adjustments and improvements have been made to make air conditioning available and convenient for people to use in their homes and cars. But through it all, the basic principles used in that first air conditioner have remained constant.

The Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company

The heat and humidity in New York in the summer isn’t something to be taken lightly, but it posed particular problems for the owner of the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company. The conditions inside his facility were such that the paper used was warping and the dimensions fluctuating, causing the printing to constantly come out misaligned.

To try and solve this problem, he hired the Buffalo Forge Company, which itself had just hired Willis Haviland Carrier, a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Engineering from Cornell University. Carrier approached this problem by trying to find a way to cool air by passing it over cold coils in the same way air was heated in those days by passing it over hot coils.

As it turned out, this process worked to reduce both the temperature and the humidity in the area and Carrier’s first air conditioner began running at Sackett-Wilhelms in July of 1902.

The Next Steps

As the potential for this new technology became more and more apparent, demand for Carrier’s device grew in all sectors of the economy. Employers were delighted by the way air conditioners increased the productivity of their workers during the hottest months of the year, and in order to keep up with demand, Carrier eventually founded the Carrier Air Conditioning Company which still exists today.

The coolants used in the earliest air conditioners were generally either highly flammable or toxic, and often both. In order to make air conditioning safer and easier to use, a safer coolant needed to be introduced, which was what drove Thomas Midgley, Jr. to develop Freon in 1928. Freon was initially made up of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), but as the disastrous environmental impacts of those chemicals became apparent, usage shifted first to hydrogenated chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and then to the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are predominantly used today.

To find out more about the air conditioning systems available today, contact your local air conditioning professional.

Continue Reading

Save by Buying Low, Buying at the Right Time

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Buying a new HVAC system is a big step and a big investment. You know you will be spending a considerable amount of money, but it is worth it to get the right system for your home. However, that does not mean you should not shop around and compare prices before you buy. Prices in this industry are far from static, and you could get a great deal if you do some research and know what you are looking for.

Of course, you first have to have the luxury of being able to shop around. If your HVAC system has broken down completely, you will be much more limited on what options you can explore and how much you will pay for the system that you want.

But if you know that you are going to be replacing your existing HVAC system sometime soon, the best thing you can do is to start looking around at what is on the market now. Get a feel for the type of system that you want, the features that are important to you and what it will cost you to get all of that in one package deal.

You can also compare the prices for the same system offered by various retailers and installation companies. While it may seem like the same system should cost the same everywhere, this is often not the case. Also, different places may be offering special discounts or installation specials at different times, and you want to put yourself in the best position to take advantage of that.

The time of year can also affect the price of the system you are looking at. Buying a heating system in the middle of the summer, for instance, is often a good way to get a great deal. So if you plan ahead a little bit, you can make out big when you see the deal you were looking for.

Staying on top of the market is the best way for you to see how the prices on different systems change over time and you will be in a great position to grab a good deal when it comes up. You can also often get good deals on HVAC systems that are close to being replaced by a newer model. Just make sure that the newer model does not offer too much more than the previous year’s and you will likely come out ahead.

Continue Reading

Looking at Moving to a New House – What to Look for in HVAC and Plumbing

Friday, June 24th, 2011

What are the Minimum Efficiency and Maximum Age of a Furnace?

Most homeowners overlook simple things like the maintenance and age of their furnace. However, if you know exactly what your furnace should do and how long it should last, you’ll be better prepared to setup your maintenance visits and start looking for a new model. So, how do you tell what your furnace should provide? Here are some easy tips.

The AFUE Rating

Furnaces built in the last 20 years come with an AFUE rating that tells you how much of the fuel they consume is effectively converted into heat. If your home’s furnace has an AFUE of 80% that means it will effectively convert 80% of the fuel it consumes into heat. However, if your furnace has an AFUE of 98% it will convert 98% of the fuel it consumes into heat.

These ratings are designed to show you what to expect from your system from month to month. If the furnace suddenly starts using far more energy and produces the same amount of heat, you know that the AFUE is no longer accurate. It’s either a sign of a problem or that your furnace needs to be replaced.

Maximum Age

No manufacturer likes to give a maximum age for their furnaces because they can last for much longer than originally rated in many cases. However, most furnaces will come with at least a 10 year limited warranty for the heat exchanger and a 10 year limited warranty for the parts. So, if you take good care of your system, they expect it to last at least 10 years.

However, if you maintain your system annually, check the filters throughout the winter and don’t push it too hard when it gets cold out, your system could last even longer than the limited warranty, allowing you to enjoy an efficient furnace for years to come.

Moving In

While you’ll have your new home inspected, a working furnace doesn’t necessarily mean a good furnace. Make sure to learn just how old the furnace is, how much maintenance it needs, and the level of efficiency you can expect. It may be in your best interest to simply have it replaced now and start saving on your energy bill immediately instead of two or three years down the road as it continues to get worse.

Continue Reading

What Is LEED Certified?

Friday, May 20th, 2011

If you’ve been looking into purchasing a home or having any type of major construction done, you may have run across the term LEED Certified. Of course, contractors boast of so many certifications these days that it can be tough to tell which you should pay attention to and which you shouldn’t. But the LEED certification is definitely one that’s worth taking into account when you’re choosing a contractor and planning out your project.

The Benefits of LEED Certification

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The standards and guidelines for obtaining LEED certification were put together by the U.S. Green Building Counsel in order to improve construction practices and help buyers find property that meets higher standards in a variety of environmentally significant categories.

For instance, a LEED certified home boasts better water and energy efficiency than the average home that is not LEED certified. It also was put together using techniques designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve indoor air quality, making it both the healthy choice for you as the consumer and the environmentally responsible one.

When you purchase a LEED certified home, you’re not just helping the environment either. You’re also helping yourself in a variety of ways. That’s because a home that meets LEED certification standards for energy and water efficiency will help you generate smaller energy and water bills each month. That translates to huge saving over time, so even if you pay a bit more initially for your home, you’ll get that money back many times over as time passes.

LEED certification isn’t just something you should pay attention to when you’re buying a new home. Any construction project you undertake for your existing home can also benefit from these guidelines and standards. For that reason, it’s worth seeking out a contractor who can provide services in line with LEED standards. These types of improvements and techniques need to be incorporated in your home improvement project from the initial planning stage, and a contractor familiar with LEED standards will have no trouble doing just that.

You can also have confidence in the contractor you pick if they carry LEED credentials because they’re not easy to get. Anyone who is LEED certified has put a lot of time and energy into obtaining those credentials and is likely just the type of contractor you’d like taking care of your next home improvement project.

Continue Reading