Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Castle Shannon’

Pittsburgh AC Repair Question: Why Is My Air Conditioner Not Cooling?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Designed for one to two decades of life, your Pittsburgh air conditioner is able to run virtually trouble free with just a little maintenance annually.  If these little things like changing the air filter and cleaning the drain are not done regularly, the neglected units can really lose their cooling power.

The Basic Course

Through a process which involves the rapid evaporation and condensation of chemicals called refrigerants, air conditioners use compounds that have properties that allow them to change rapidly from gas to liquid and back again at low temperatures.

Heat is absorbed when the liquid evaporates and transforms into gas, making the space around it cooler.  Compressing it tightly together again, the heated gas condenses back into liquid with a residue of unwanted moisture that must be released and is vented usually to the outdoors.

The newly cooled air is distributed through the house by means of ductworks, pushed by fans driven by electric motors.  As the air moves along, it passes through a filter and can be further de-humidified.

Problems in the System

If the filter is clogged, movement of the cooled air is slowed to the point we might think the unit is broken.  If the condensate drain is plugged, the motor can get damaged and stop producing.  Regular maintenance performed by the home owner or as a service of  Boehmer Heating & Cooling can avoid or eliminate these simple aggravations.

When the heat builds, however, and cool relief seems nowhere near the air ducts, it may be time to call a professional to dig deeper to find the reason and suggest solutions.

Back to Cool

If not serviced regularly, the amount of refrigerant in the coils may decrease over time or the coils themselves could get clogged and impede the evaporation/condensation process.  A leak in the coils could drain the system, rendering the unit useless and wholly unproductive.

There are belts on each of the two separate fan motors which may be worn or loose, causing the fans to blow less efficiently.  The motor may need to be oiled or have a broken part that doesn’t allow it to push the air at all.

Most of the time, these fixes are relatively minor and do not threaten the life of the air conditioning unit.  Schedule an annual inspection and service from a certified Pittsburgh HVAC company like Boehmer Heating & Cooling to take it off your list and stay cool.

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South Fayette Heating Installation Guide:Comparing High-Efficiency and Mid-Efficiency Furnaces

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Whenever you are in the market for a new furnace for your South Fayette home, there are many models to choose from.  Many of the furnaces manufactured within the last few years are high-efficiency furnaces with a high AFUE rating (AFUE measures the amount of fuel the furnace converts into heat). When people refer to a mid-efficiency furnace, they are usually talking about older furnaces.

Single-stage furnaces were considered to be an efficient heating system when they were manufactured, but compared to newer furnaces, they use up a lot more energy than they need to. Single-speed furnaces are designed to run at full capacity until the temperature inside the home reaches the thermostat setting. After they shut off, the home not only loses heat, but the furnace will also take longer and burn more fuel when it cycles on again.

Newer, two-speed and multispeed models run consistently at lower speeds, and the ones with variable-speed blowers are even more efficient because they can operate at various levels. These models will also automatically adjust to the thermostat to maintain a constant temperature, which saves energy by keeping the home at a consistent temperature so that there’s little heat loss.

When shopping for a new furnace, keep in mind that the AFUE ratings for multispeed and variable-speed furnaces only determine the efficiency of the actual furnace. If you are upgrading your old, mid-efficiency furnace to a high-efficiency furnace, you should make sure that your South Fayette home is properly insulated and sealed.  You could also consider upgrading any older doors and windows to more efficient double-paned ones, or you can also install storm doors and windows.

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Gibsonia Heating Tip: Signs of an Undersized Furnace

Friday, January 6th, 2012

If you’re purchasing a new furnace for your Gibsonia home, you want to avoid buying one that is undersized for your particular space. To do that, here are some common signs that the furnace isn’t powerful enough for the heating needs of your home. These signs might appear for an older furnace as well, especially as it ages and loses its ability to provide adequate heat for your home.

Maintaining Temperature

The most common (and in many cases only) sign that your furnace is undersized is that the device simply doesn’t maintain the temperature in your home properly. This means that when turned on to full and left for a few hours, your furnace doesn’t heat your home to the thermostat setting.

This can be due to an improper load calculation or a load calculation that wasn’t taken at all. The perfectly sized furnace will heat your home evenly on the coldest day your area is likely to have. So, undersizing should be pretty evident – if it doesn’t heat your home evenly and it’s not exceptionally cold outside, you might not have enough BTUs under the hood.

How to Fix the Problem

The problem is one that varies depending on the severity of the undersizing. Modern furnaces are often available with two stages, meaning they can operate at both a low BTU rating (often around 40K or so) and a higher BTU rating (70K or higher). This is the perfect solution for homeowners worried about undersizing because it ensures that your home always has enough heat in reserve should the weather get exceptionally cold.

For example, most furnaces are sized for extremely low temperatures, but if the temperature jumps up to 50 degrees F outside, your furnace is now oversized for that weather. A two stage furnace offers solutions for both common conditions and extreme conditions and will resolve most of the concern you have about undersizing and not having enough heat to offset outdoor temperatures.

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Top 9 Mistakes People Make When They Buy HVAC Equipment: Guide From Castle Shannon

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Every year millions of homeowners buy a new HVAC system for their home, some of them in Castle Shannon. And whether for heating, cooling or air quality, they make a huge investment in a new system that will be with them for years to come. Unfortunately, many of those people make big mistakes when buying their next system, so to help you avoid doing so, here are some simple things you should not do.

  1. Ignoring Air Quality – Air quality is about more than comfort. It affects the health of everyone in your home equally. Consider it carefully when installing a new system.
  2. Not Upgrading Your AFUE or SEER – New systems are highly efficient. Take advantage of that by buying one with a higher AFUE or SEER rating.
  3. Not Vetting Your Contractor – Always spend time checking up on your contractor, reading reviews and asking other customers how their experience was.
  4. Skipping the Service Agreement – Service agreements save money and help your system last longer. Don’t skip them.
  5. Buying the Cheapest Option Available – It may be tempting, but a cheap HVAC system is a bad idea if you want it to last and save you money in heating and cooling. Even a midrange system will save you money in only a few years with higher efficiency ratings.
  6. Picking the Same Model You Already Had – New models are stronger and more efficient. When possible, get an upgrade and your bills will reflect the difference.
  7. Waiting too Long to Buy – The longer you wait, the more you pay in heating and cooling bills for an old, worn down system. If you know you’re going to buy a new system, act fast to save the most possible money.
  8. Not Asking Questions – If you have a question, ask it. There is no such thing as a stupid question when looking for a new HVAC system.
  9. Ignoring Maintenance Recommendations – Maintenance recommendations are optional but almost always to your benefit. Research on your own before committing to anything, but don’t ignore the necessity either.

If you do things just right, your new HVAC system will last for years to come and provide steady, comfortable heating or cooling throughout that time. But, if you rush through things, make a hasty decision and neglect to do any research, you may have issues with your system in far less time than you’d like. Be smart and you’ll be rewarded.

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Air Conditioners and Humidity: A Tip From Bridgeville

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Ever wonder why all of those air conditioners hanging out of people’s Bridgeville windows are constantly dripping water on hot summer days? All they’re actually doing is disposing of the moisture they’ve removed from the indoor air. That’s right – air conditioners are dehumidifiers too.

When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. After all, you know how much more uncomfortable 90° is when the humidity’s up around 90% than when it’s closer to 60%. Of course, some air conditioners are better at removing moisture from the air than others, so you should definitely consider how well an air conditioner dehumidifies when evaluating your air conditioning options.

Why Humidity Matters

High humidity, even at lower temperatures is uncomfortable. But there are more reasons than simple comfort to want an air conditioner that reduces indoor humidity levels. For instance, high levels of humidity promote the growth and spread of several allergens like dust mites and mold spores. High indoor humidity can also cause problems for the wood fixtures and furnishings in your home.

The Importance of Proper Sizing

Most air conditioners do a decent job of controlling humidity indoors. But depending on the severity of your problem and the typical levels of humidity in your area during the summer months, you may want to pay special attention to each unit’s capabilities when evaluating your options.

An air conditioner’s ability to maintain proper humidity levels indoors has a lot to do with how well it’s matched to the size of your room as well. An air conditioner that’s too small likely won’t get the humidity or the temperature down to a comfortable level. On the other hand, that doesn’t necessarily mean that bigger is better.

In fact, an air conditioner that’s too large for the space you’re using it to cool will have a hard time bringing down the humidity level. Sure, you’ll wind up with a cold room, but that room will remain damp, making it no more comfortable than it was before the air conditioner was turned on.

For all of these reasons, it’s important to carefully evaluate your options when buying an air conditioner and make sure that the unit you buy is the right kind and size for the area you’re cooling. A little extra time spent researching your options will make your home infinitely more comfortable this summer.

If you have any questions about maintaining your indoor air quality, contact your local HVAC professional.

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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.

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Sick Building Syndrome? Could Your House Have It?

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

When you buy a house, you assume that it’s safe to live in. You assume that the construction is sound and the air quality is good so that you never need to worry about things like excessive illness due to contamination. However, the World Health Organization estimates that nearly 30% of homes built in the 1980s subjected homeowners to Sick Building Syndrome – a situation where indoor air quality causes symptoms and feelings of illness without a clear cause.

That number has dropped in the last 25 years as many homes have been remodeled and retrofitted to stay comfortable year round, but without proper air quality control, a home with poor ventilation and filtration may still be unsafe.

How Do I Know We Have Sick Building Syndrome?

There are quite a few potential symptoms of poor air quality and SBS in your home. Chest tightness and coughing is a primary factor and can lead to fevers and chills. Often, recovery from the illness has nothing to do with your health, but with the conditions of your home – you may not feel better until repairs are completed or you leave the house.

Other symptoms of sick building syndrome include headache, eye and nose irritation, dry skin, nausea and dizziness, fatigue and trouble concentrating. And throughout it all, your doctor likely won’t be able to determine the cause of your discomfort.

What Causes This

The most common reason for sick building syndrome is poor ventilation. In the 1970s, the ventilation requirements for new homes were reduced by 66% to help save energy. However, air quality measures were not included to ensure people stayed healthy. That has since changed as ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers raised the recommendations back to the pre-1973 levels and even increased them in some cases.

There are other things as well you should look out for including indoor chemical exposure to carbon monoxide from exhaust fans, nitrogen dioxide, and formaldehyde. Outdoor sources can make you ill as well. Smoke, exhaust, and various gases from outside your home can enter your indoor air and cause illness to your family if they aren’t properly filtered out.

Finally, there are things like mold, bacteria and pollen which are always issues for indoor air. Proper purification and filtration will help with each of these problems, but only if you monitor and test for them regularly.

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How Do I Reduce Dust in My Home?

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Dust is everywhere. There is no way to stop it from occurring, so instead we turn to cleaning and filtration to keep the amount of dust circulating through the air to a minimum. Luckily, there are quite a few things you can do, even without installing new equipment, to reduce your dust levels.

Duct Cleaning

First on the list is regular duct cleaning. You dust your furniture and your floors, so why not clean out your ductwork? Properly cleaned ductwork is very important because of just how much stuff can build up in there over time. Imagine regular air flow in an enclosed space that never gets cleaned. How much dust and debris do you think could build up over the course of a year? Hint: it’s enough to keep a steady flow of dust in your indoor air.

Professional duct cleaning is important and should be done once every year or two depending on how often you use your home comfort system. However, you should also clean in and around the vents and ducts in your home where you can reach. This can be done weekly and will help immensely to reduce dust.

Filtration

Most air filters equipped with high quality HEPA filters work extremely well to remove dust from the air. Because HEPA filters can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns, they won’t just remove dust, but pollen, pet dander and even mold. Mold especially is a problem that occurs in far greater frequency in homes without filtration.

Simple air filtration is an affordable solution to a lot of different contaminants, so it’s a good fit for any home. However, there are more powerful systems as well that will reduce both dust and pathogens like bacteria – these purifiers use ionization to draw particles from the air electronically.

Humidity

Humidity imbalance can cause dust problems as well. Low humidity leads to more dead skin and dust in the house, while high humidity causes the development of dust mites. Properly regulating your humidity to slightly less than 50% will create a perfect environment in which less dust is created and circulated in your home.

The best way to reduce dust is to take a three pronged approach to indoor air quality. Cleanliness is always first on the list, but after that don’t neglect the value of filtration and proper humidity control. When used properly, these three things will ensure dust never bothers you again.

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Why It’s Important to Think about Plumbing

Monday, May 16th, 2011

If you’re like most people, your plumbing is usually the last thing on your mind. Until something goes wrong, that is. And it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll have a clogged drain or leaky pipe in your home sooner or later. But while some plumbing problems are certainly unavoidable, there are quite a few things you can do to help keep them to a minimum and avoid larger plumbing emergencies later on.

Professional Checkups

For one thing, it’s a good idea to have your plumbing system checked by a professional every year or two. They can make sure that no roots interfere with the pipes in your yard and that things are generally flowing smoothly throughout the system. A professional inspection will also uncover any leaks, cracks or partial blockages that you may not have realized were there but that could cause significant damage later on if not dealt with promptly.

Do It Yourself Maintenance

In addition to professional inspections, though, there are some things you can do on your own. For instance, every season brings new challenges for your home plumbing. Many people know that there are dangers associated with freezing pipes in the winter, but did you know that there are things you can do all year round to help your plumbing work better?

Fall is the best time of year to start disconnecting outdoor faucets and checking them for leaks. If you take these steps before the really cold weather sets in, you’ll be able to get necessary repairs done well before freezing outdoor temperatures become a problem.

This is also a good time of year to check for proper insulation around pipes and to make sure your water heater is tuned up and ready to go for the winter. Sure, you use it all year round, but the colder it is outside, the harder your water heater has to work all winter.

Once spring rolls around again, there are plenty of other tasks you can take on to ensure the continued healthy functioning of your plumbing. For instance, you should check all of your outdoor drains and gutters to see that they’re clear of debris that could have built up during the winter. You can also flush out your water heater again to clear whatever’s accumulated over the winter and check any pipes and faucets for problems that may have developed during the cold months.

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