Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Carnegie’

Does Your Heating System Need Repair Service? A Pittsburgh Heating Guide

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

The winters here in Pittsburgh can be brutal. We all love the occasional outing into the snow, but when it comes down to it, you really need your home to stay warm and cozy. In order to make that happen, you need your heating system to be in good working order. However, sometimes it can be difficult to tell when your heating system needs repairs.

Low Air Flow

This is a very common heating problem in Pittsburgh. Here are a few causes of low air flow.

  • Air filter – If you have a forced air system like a furnace or heat pump, then you likely have a filter to keep dust and dirt from building up on the moving parts inside. If this filter isn’t changed regularly, it can cause a bunch of problems.
  • Fan – The fan inside your air handler is responsible for pushing the heated air throughout your home. If it isn’t working right, it could result in not enough air coming out of the registers.

Insufficient Heat

This is another common problem that we get calls for service for in Pittsburgh – here are common causes of insufficient heating:

  • Air filter – Again, regularly changing the air filter can keep your heating system working effectively.
  • Thermostat – Your thermostat is responsible for regulating the temperature in your home. If it isn’t working correctly, it could be telling your heating system that the home doesn’t need heat, so it doesn’t turn on when it needs to.
  • Dirty burner – Sometimes, the burner in your heating system can become so dirty that only a part of the burner is actually working. This can cause insufficient heat in your home as well.

No Heat

Finally, if your heating system isn’t producing any heat, here are a few reasons why this could be:

  • Thermostat – Like before, a faulty thermostat can cause your heating system not to turn on at all.
  • Pilot light and/or Thermocouple – It’s expected that your pilot light will go out occasionally. But if it starts to happen often, you may want to call a heating technician. Also, the thermocouple is a fantastic safety device for your gas-fired system. It sits next to the pilot light and detects when there is flame. If it senses that the pilot has gone out, it shuts off the flow of gas. This keeps your gas-fired heating system from filling your basement with gas fumes. If it is malfunctioning, it could be shutting off the flow of gas and keeping you from getting any heat.

If you’re experiencing any of these heating problems in your Pittsburgh home, call the heating experts at Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We have experience working on all types and brands of heating systems. We can diagnose the problem quickly and get you back up and running soon. Call us today!

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Pittsburgh AC Question: Refrigerant and Load Capacity – How Are They Linked?

Monday, August 6th, 2012

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think too much about how your Pittsburgh air conditioning system works. All you really need to know is that when you switch on the system, your house gets cooler. But if you’re looking to purchase a new air conditioner for your home, it’s a good idea to know how to select the right one to fit the space you’re trying to cool.

Air Conditioning Basics

Air conditioners use refrigerant as a coolant to remove heat from indoor air and transfer that heat outside. To do this, they cycle the refrigerant through a closed loop of coils. When the cold refrigerant enters the cooling coil of the air conditioner, it absorbs heat from the air passing by, thereby lowering the temperature of the air. That cooled air can then be transferred into your home and more warm air can be cycled past the cooling coils.

Air Conditioner Sizing

The more air your air conditioner can cool at once, the larger its load capacity. In order to keep a particular space cool, an AC unit has to have a large enough load capacity to accommodate that type of air volume. A unit that’s too small will obviously never be able to keep your room cool enough, but one that’s too big will have a similar problem.

The truth is that when it comes to air conditioner sizing, bigger is not better. It’s best to simply get as good an estimate as you can of what type of load capacity is ideal for the space you’re trying to cool and stick as close to that as you can.

Load Capacity and Refrigerant

Of course, if you want your air conditioner to cool more air at a time, you’ll need more coolant. But simply increasing the amount of refrigerant in your air conditioner won’t make it cool any better. Refrigerant is simply one of many elements that contribute to effective cooling. And the larger the entire system is, the more refrigerant is needed.

So more refrigerant technically contributes to greater cooling capacity, but it’s not enough to accomplish that all on its own. There is really nothing you can do to increase the load capacity of your Pittsburgh air conditioner once it’s in place. So for best results, make sure you pick out an appropriately sized unit the first time around. For any help choosing the right AC for your Pittsburgh home, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call!

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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.

 

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Pittsburgh HVAC Installation Guide: How to Install a Programmable Thermostat

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Programmable thermostats are one of the best ways to save on heating costs, especially if you have a hard time remembering to turn down the heat in your Pittsburgh home. Installing a programmable thermostat will allow you to set the times you want the heat turned up or down. Not only will this make heating your home more consistent and save energy, but it will also allow you to tailor your heating needs to your schedule.

For instance, you can set the thermostat to turn on before you get up in the morning so that the house is already warm when you get out of bed, and conversely, set it to turn down after you go to bed or leave the house for work. Depending on the brand and setting options, programmable thermostats are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

Although all styles are slightly different, here are some basic instructions that show you how easy it is to install a programmable thermostat.  Remember, this is only a general guide; always check the instructions inside the packaging of your new thermostat before you install it, or check with an electrician.

1. Remove the Old Thermostat

Before you remove the old thermostat, check to see where it’s mounted. If it’s mounted to an electrical box, the voltage used to power the old thermostat may not be compatible with the new one. Ask a certified electrician or heating technician if you aren’t sure.

CUT THE POWER TO THE HEATING SYSTEM TO AVOID ELECTRIC SHOCK. You should always turn off the main power supply to your heating system before installing any new thermostat. If you aren’t sure how to do this, ask your HVAC contractor. Once you unscrew the mounting plate for the old thermostat, just unhook the wires. Don’t throw an old mercury controlled thermostat. You should ask your local waste management facility how to properly dispose of mercury products.

2. Locate all Wires

Wrap the loose wires around a pencil to keep the wires from falling back into the wall. Identify and label each corresponding wire with a letter (do not use color coding since this is not always accurate). Strip the plastic off the ends of the wires about ¼ inch if you need to.

3. Install and Insulate Wallplate

If the area around the new wallplate is larger than the plate, insulate the hole with non-flammable insulation. Take the wallplate off the programmable thermostat and hold it against the wall to mark the screw holes with a pencil. Pull the wires through the large opening at the bottom and screw the plate to the wall.

4. Wiring

Make sure you are comfortable with wiring before you attempt to do any electrical installations. Check the manual for your programmable thermostat for instructions on wiring that specific model. In general, you’ll want to make sure you match the wire labels with the corresponding terminals on the thermostat. Sometimes there will be extra wires that aren’t needed. Always test it before completing the installation. Don’t forget the battery!

5. Install the Faceplate

Once you have it wired correctly, all you need to do is align the brackets on the faceplate with the corresponding slots on the wallplate and fasten the faceplate to the rest of the mounting. Lastly, tighten the screw at the bottom of the thermostat to hold it in place.

If you have any questions regarding programmable thermostats or would like a professional to install one in your home, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling Company a call.

 

 

 

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Carnegie Heating Replacement Guide: Heating System Ventilation 101

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Maintaining Proper Ventilation for Combustion Systems

Anytime you maintain, retrofit, or replace a gas heating system in your Carnegie home you also need to be concerned with air quality. Combustion air is needed by all oil and gas heating systems to support the combustion process. This air is provided in some homes by unintentional air leaks, or by air ducts that connect to the outdoors. The combustion process creates several byproducts that are potentially hazardous to human health and can cause deterioration in your home. You can protect yourself from these hazards, as well as maintain energy efficiency, by ensuring that your chimney system functions properly and that your gas heating system is properly ventilated. In some cases, installing a sealed-combustion furnace can also help.

Chimneys

Properly functioning chimney systems will carry combustion byproducts out of the home. Therefore, chimney problems put you at risk of having these byproducts, such as carbon monoxide, spill into your home.

Most older gas furnaces have naturally drafting chimneys. The combustion gases exit the home through the chimney using only their buoyancy combined with the chimney’s height. Naturally drafting chimneys often have problems exhausting the combustion gases because of chimney blockage, wind or pressures inside the home that overcome the buoyancy of the gases.

Atmospheric, open-combustion furnaces, as well as fan-assisted furnaces, should be vented into masonry chimneys, metal double-wall chimneys, or another type of manufactured chimney. Masonry chimneys should have a fireclay, masonry liner or a retrofitted metal flue liner.

Many older chimneys have deteriorated liners or no liners at all and must be relined during furnace replacement. A chimney should be relined when any of the following changes are made to the combustion heating system:

When you replace an older furnace with a newer one that has an AFUE of 80% or more. These mid-efficiency appliances have a greater risk of depositing acidic condensation droplets in chimneys, and the chimneys must be prepared to handle this corrosive threat. The new chimney liner should be sized to accommodate both the new heating appliance and the combustion water heater by the installer.

When you replace an older furnace with a new 90+ AFUE appliance or a heat pump. In this case, the heating appliance will no longer vent into the old chimney, and the combustion water heater will now vent through an oversized chimney. This oversized chimney can lead to condensation and inadequate draft. The new chimney liner should be sized for the water heater alone, or the water heater in some cases can be vented directly through the wall.

Other Ventilation Concerns

Some fan-assisted, non-condensing furnaces, installed between 1987 and 1993, may be vented horizontally through high-temperature plastic vent pipe (not PVC pipe, which is safely used in condensing furnaces). This type of venting has been recalled and should be replaced by stainless steel vent pipe. If horizontal venting was used, an additional draft-inducing fan may be needed near the vent outlet to create adequate draft. Floor furnaces may have special venting problems because their vent connector exits the furnace close to the floor and may travel 10 to 30 feet before reaching a chimney. Check to see if this type of venting or the floor furnace itself needs replacement. If you smell gases, you have a venting problem that could affect your health. Contact your local utility or Carnegie heating contractor to have this venting problem repaired immediately.

Chimneys can be expensive to repair, and may help justify installing new heating equipment that won’t use the existing chimney.

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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.

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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.

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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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What Size Furnace is Right for My Home? A Question from Coraopolis

Monday, November 21st, 2011

When it comes to your Coraopolis home’s heating equipment, the right size is very important. If your furnace is sized correctly, you will enjoy a high level of indoor comfort, which you should. However, an incorrectly sized furnace may result in many cold spots in your home, an overworked furnace, or higher utility bills.

An undersized furnace will turn off and on frequently, which is called short cycling. Short cycling can lead to moisture in the system, causing less efficiency and damage to equipment from accumulating moisture in the heating system. The constant cycling adds to wear and tear on equipment, too. An oversized furnace may not be able to keep up with the demand for heat during the coldest days. The furnace may be constantly running and unable to keep up – adding to higher utility costs. So size really does matter when it comes to selecting the right heating equipment for your home.

But a big furnace does not mean it is right-sized. Have you ever seen a “five-way” gravity furnace? It was manufactured in the mid-1900’s and took up a lot of room – as much as half of a basement – while being extremely inefficient. The key here is efficiency. A furnace that works right is sized to the space it is heating, which does not include attics, crawlspaces, or uninsulated rooms (porches, mud rooms, etc.).

A furnace must make efficient use of its Btu’s, which is abbreviated for British thermal unit. Btu is used to measure a furnace size. Furnaces are often rated by input Btu, which is the amount of energy consumed when running. The output Btu may be different based on the system. And output Btu is the best way to select a furnace, since this is the actual heating capacity.

When sizing a furnace, the first thing to do is to determine the inside space that will be heated. If you are looking to heat your home, you can measure the square footage of each room (multiply width by length). The rooms should include bathrooms and hallways but exclude attics and crawlspaces. Add up the totals and match up the Btu output to the total square footage. If you aren’t sure of your calculations, call a qualified heating and cooling contractor.

There are many factors that go into heating a home and today’s energy efficient furnaces give homeowners many more choices. Whatever furnace you choose to purchase, make sure you do your homework and hire a qualified professional HVAC contractor to determine the best size furnace for your home.

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How Heating Zone Control Can Save You Money: A Tip from Homestead

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The costs of heating your Homestead home have risen dramatically over the past couple of decades, thanks to higher energy costs and price increases for heating equipment. Despite the strides made in energy efficiency, there seems to be no end in sight for the steady rise in heating equipment operating costs.

Now add in the cost of heating unoccupied areas of your home, such as basements, hallways, or extra bedrooms, and the energy costs go even higher. Most of these costs are unnecessary and avoidable if you have the time and a small investment in a well-planned heating “strategy” for your home. This strategy involves using heating zone controls to make the most efficient use of your heating system.

In a nutshell, here is how heating zone control works. The rooms in your home are connected to your heating system by a series of ductwork, which carries heated and conditioned area to all corners. But some of these areas may not need to be heated as much – or possibly at all – compared to other rooms in your home. For example, do you need heat in your kitchen but not in your basement? Most people would answer yes. Or they may say they need more heat in the kitchen and some, but not very much heat in the basement.

Or try this: do most people in your house spend more time in one room, such as the family room, and less time in their bedrooms? If so, why would it be necessary to heat the bedrooms all of the time? In order to deliver heat to areas in your home that need it the most, the ductwork to these rooms should always be “open.” Ductwork to other unused areas of your home can be “closed” during various times of the day.

Opening and closing of ductwork and airflow is achieved by zone controls. A zone control is installed in the home which electronically or wirelessly opens and closes “dampers” in the ductwork, depending on the heating demand. You can divert heat to areas of your home using zone control and dampers while decreasing the heating load on your furnace. This type of heating zone control will move heated air to where you want it. Simply put, you are not heating areas of your home that don’t need the heat.

The heating zone controls can be programmed for various times of the day, too. For example, you may not need any heat in your basement while you sleep or when you are away from home. You can program the damper in your basement’s ductwork to remain closed or partially open during these times. In a sense, the heating zone control in your home acts like a programmable thermostat – only it uses a series of dampers to control indoor temperatures.

The next time you walk into an unused part of your home, think about how much money you are spending to heat it. It makes sense to consider heating zone controls. The initial costs of installing zone controls and dampers are minimal and the payback in energy savings and comfort are substantial.

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