Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Finleyville’

Pittsburgh AC Guide: Things to Look for in a New Central Air Conditioning System

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

When it comes time to buy a new air conditioner in Pittsburgh, there are a lot of factors to consider. Beyond the obvious issues like cost, you need to consider how that system will operate once installed. What factors are most important to you? Control? Comfort? Cost? Here are some things to consider when selecting your new air conditioner.

  • SEER – The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating measures the efficiency of your cooling system during a typical hour. To calculate this number, we divide the total BTUs of cooling produced by the watt/hours of electricity consumed during that hour. So, the higher your SEER rating, the less electricity is used to produce the same amount of cooling. Standard SEER ratings are between 11 and 15 these days, but some high end units have SEER ratings of up to 20.
  • Controls – How much control do you want of your system? Many air conditioners these days come with multiple speeds, allowing you to control the air flow as well as the amount of energy consumed by the device in cooling. Do you want it to constantly blow at 100% or would you like it to run at 50% to reduce consumption. Another option available in central air conditioners is zone control, allowing you to determine which rooms receive cooling with separate thermostat settings.
  • Dehumidification – Air conditioners are dehumidifiers by default, but not every system offers the same degree of humidity control. Some simply remove moisture as part of their regular operation. Others have more advanced controls to provide specific humidity control throughout the year.
  • Sound Dampening – Newer models have sound dampening features like insulation and vibration isolation to reduce sound. These are also great for weather protection and help to maintain your system for more years.
  • Refrigerants – Most new air conditioners now use the R410-A refrigerant which will be required in all new units starting in 2020, but there are some lower cost units still using R-22. Check to make sure you have the environmentally friendly coolant offered by newer models.

A good central air conditioner will keep your family cool and comfortable for years to come so make sure to do your research and choose a model that fits your needs in advance. If you’re not sure about any one feature, a  Pittsburgh air conditioning professional can help you make your decision.  Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today if you need any help choosing a new air conditioning system!

Continue Reading

Pittsburgh Air Conditioning Tips: How to Troubleshoot a Failed AC Unit

Monday, June 11th, 2012

In most cases, a failed air conditioning system may be fixed by going through some troubleshooting guidelines. If you would like one of our Pittsburgh air conditioning technicians to help you get your AC unit running again, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call. We can also send someone to your home if we can’t get your system working again.

Here are some basic steps to try before you call for a repair.

Check All Controls and Fuses

When your Pittsburgh air conditioner won’t cool your home properly, always check the thermostat to see if it is on “cool” and set for the right temperature. If the air conditioner has shut down, check to make sure that the unit is receiving power by looking in the fuse box for a flipped circuit breaker and also making sure it is plugged in properly. You can also inspect the visible wires and electrical components for obvious damages. Call a TOWN NAME air conditioning technician if you see physical damage to the electrical components. Never try to fix this yourself.

Sometimes when there’s extreme weather conditions in the summer, such as very high temperatures or high humidity levels, the high-pressure switch can get flipped and turn off the air conditioner. You can easily find the switch on most AC models in the compressor’s access panel. Check your owner’s manual or call us if you don’t know how to locate or reset the limit switch.

Check for Refrigerant Problems or Condensate Pan Leaks

Refrigerant problems caused by the wrong amount of refrigerant can keep the AC unit from cooling your home properly, and you can usually tell if there’s a refrigerant issue by looking for frost or icing on the evaporator coil. When there’s excess coil icing, it means that there isn’t enough cool air being delivered to your home. If you see thick frost on the evaporator coil, a technician will most likely need to charge the refrigerant, or there could be a leak in the refrigerant line.

Condensate leaks into the condensate pan can also cause an air conditioner to fail. The condensate drip pan is installed underneath the air handler to catch condensate leaks if the drain system gets clogged. Most of the time, a small clog in the drain line can be easily cleared. Also check the condensate switch for issues; sometimes these can be defective and cause your air conditioner to shut down.

At Boehmer Heating & Cooling, we want to be the only Pittsburgh air conditioning contractor you’ll ever need. Call us any time to get troubleshooting advice for your AC system.

Continue Reading

West Mifflin Heating Tip: Simple Steps to Prevent Heat Loss

Friday, February 24th, 2012

There are two fundamental ways to make your West Mifflin house warmer. One is to generate heat, which is the job of your furnace or boiler. The second is to keep the warm air in — and thereby keep cold air out — which is the job of your system of insulation.

The idea that the physical structure of a home can be a component of the HVAC system is one that is often overlooked, but when you think about it, it makes sense. The insulation, windows, doors and building materials that comprise your home are designed to keep the place warm against the cold and vice versa.

So, when bolstering your HVAC system to promote efficient heating, it is important to also consider heat loss and how to prevent it. This is a process that can get out of hand if you go overboard, so it is important to prioritize. Let’s look at the top 3 places to start when trying to prevent heat loss.

  1. Doors and Windows:  If you have older doors and windows, they could be a source of heat loss in your house, even if they are always closed. Replacing your windows and door with Energy Star rated ones will make sure that you are not losing heat to the outside AND still getting all the heat energy from the sun. Installing storm windows or putting up heavy curtains in winter can also help cut down on your heat loss.
  1. Seal off drafts. If any opening to your house, such as windows and doors, is improperly sealed, improperly installed or if the surrounding construction is deteriorating, you can lose a lot of heat. Check any drafts that you notice that might indicate a problem, and also if your vents and air ducts are leaky.
  1. Start at the top. If you want to go farther in sealing your house up against the cold, it is time to work on the insulation. When installing new insulation, remember that heat rises, so you get the most bang for your buck by starting at the top. If you only have the budget or time to insulate one space, make it the attic. You can work down from there.

These areas should be your top three priorities on your mission to prevent heat loss in your West Mifflin home. If you start here, you will get the best gains with the least effort. For more information on how to improve your home’s heating, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call today!

Continue Reading

Bridgeville Geothermal Installation Guide: Components of a Geothermal Heating System

Friday, January 13th, 2012

A geothermal heating system for your Bridgeville home has three basic components and some add-on ones as well.

Its most distinguishing feature is the ground loops. The most common is the “closed” ground loop system, which is a series of pipes that are buried underground. These pipes contain a heat transfer fluid, comprised of antifreeze and water. This fluid absorbs heat from the ground and carries it to the home. This fluid also absorbs heat from the house and sends it into the ground to keep the home cool.

Examples of closed loop systems include the horizontal closed loop, which can be used in larger parcels of land (over an acre for example). The loops are placed typically placed horizontally 6-to-10 feet below the surface. A vertical closed loop design is recommended for smaller parcels of land and loops are often buried vertically approximately 20 feet underground. Other types of ground loop designs use well water to transfer heat in an open loop configuration, or have a closed loop submerged underwater in a pond or lake.

The next component is the heat pump, which draws the fluid from the ground loop. In a heat pump, heat energy is exchanged with the ground to heat or cool the home. In the heating mode, fluid warmed from underground flows through the heat pump. A fan blows across the pipe warmed by the fluid. Because the fluid is much warmer than the air inside the heat pump, heat energy is released into the cooler air. The cool air is warmed and distributed inside the home. The process is reversed for cooling. Cool fluid in the pipe absorbs heat from the warm air inside the home. Once pumped underground, the excess heat in the fluid is absorbed by the cooler earth.

The final component is the air handling or distribution system. Here, a fan in the heat pump’s furnace blows air over a fan coil and the heated cooled air is distributed through the home’s ductwork. Some distribution systems are hydronic, where hot water is circulated through radiators or radiant floor heat tubing. This water absorbs heat from the heat pump and then distributed throughout the home.

In some homes, both a forced air and hydronic system, often referred to as a “hybrid system” work together.

Optional components include a heat pump “desuperheater,” which is used to help with domestic hot water heating. In warm weather, the desuperheater recovers some of the heat – that would otherwise be sent to the ground loop – to help produce hot water. In cold weather, some of the heat pump capacity may be diverted from space heating for the same purpose. Desuperheaters save approximately 25% on domestic water heating costs.

Another component is an auxiliary electric heater, which is built into the geothermal heat pump This auxiliary electric heat is installed to allow heating and cooling technicians to size – or resize – a home’s geothermal heat pump system to assist the system during the few coldest days of the year. Auxiliary electric heat is also an emergency backup heat source if there are any operational issues with the geothermal heat pump system.

Continue Reading

What is Air Purification? A Question from Wexford

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

The air around us is getting more and more polluted these days in Wexford, and people are trying to do more and more to combat it. Cars come with ratings like “ultra-low emission vehicle” and windmills generate power from moving air rather than burning coal. No doubt, these efforts help, but if you want to take an active role in improving the quality of air in your own home, consider an air purification system.

Simply put, air purification is the process of removing contaminants and pollutants from the air. There are a number of devices on the market that can purify the air in your home. While anyone can enjoy the benefits of cleaner air, they are of particular utility for people which suffer from asthma or allergies, or who live in areas with higher concentrations of outdoor air pollution.

There are three main kinds of air purifiers, categorized by the kind of technology they use:

  1. HEPA filtration
  2. Negative ion generation
  3. Electrostatic precipitation

HEPA filtration purifiers simply filter the air that passes through them using a sieve-like filter or series of filters. Depending on the efficiency of the device and the filter, some of these purifiers can trap not only solid and like particles, but also gases and odors. One advantage of this type of purifier is that the HEPA filters can last for years before they need to be changed.

Negative ion generation and electrostatic precipitation models are more complicated and technical because of the technology they use. Consult with a professional to choose which kind of technology is best for your needs, depending on the air quality problem you are experiencing. Some air purifiers can trap bacteria, viruses, fungi or chemicals, so there is bound to be one that will suit your needs.

After deciding on which type of technology you need, you will also have to choose whether you want a portable air purifier unit or a central system that covers the whole house. Obviously the former works well if you are only concerned about the air in a room or two, while the latter is better if you have chronic asthma or a more widespread air quality problem.

Continue Reading

It’s Time for a New Furnace: Some Advice from Finleyville

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Replacing your furnace in your Finleyville home is probably not something you want to think about. After all, a new furnace is a big investment and not something you probably have too much experience with. And sometimes having your current system fixed or tuned up is all you need to get your home heating situation back on track. But there are certain situations in which it makes more sense to just go ahead and get a new furnace rather than simply patching up the old one.

For instance, if you have to call for either minor or major repairs to your furnace on a regular basis, it’s probably time to consider investing in a replacement. All of those repairs cost money and chances are that the furnace you’re paying repeatedly to replace isn’t going to last that much longer anyway.

Rather than continuing to dump money into a furnace that just isn’t cutting it anymore, you’ll be better off making the investment in a new unit. The truth is, you’re going to have to do it sooner or later and by buying a new furnace now, you’re actually saving all of the money you would have spent on repairing the old one for another year or so.

Also, a furnace that requires such frequent repairs is probably not functioning all that efficiently either. When you replace it with a newer model, you won’t just save money on repairs. You’ll also likely notice a considerable savings on your monthly energy bills because of how much more efficient your new model is.

Even if you haven’t been repairing your furnace often, you may be able to notice some signs that the old unit isn’t quite up to the task anymore. If you’re suddenly having some significant humidity problems in your house or if your home isn’t being heated evenly, there’s a good chance your furnace is on its way out.

And, in fact, even if your furnace is functioning just fine but is more than 10 years old or so, it’s very likely you’d benefit by replacing it. That’s because the newer furnaces available now are so much more energy efficient than their predecessors that the savings you’ll incur monthly will quickly make up for the initial installation investment.

Of course, you don’t want to get rid of a good furnace if you don’t have to. But if your furnace is getting close to the end of its expected lifespan, you may very well benefit by putting out the money for a new one now so you can start saving right away on your monthly energy bills.

Continue Reading

Staying Safe with Clean Indoor Air in Gibsonia

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Millions of homeowners are living in polluted air and don’t even know it, and some of them are even in Gibsonia. In fact, the quality of air inside homes is a significant factor influencing the health and wellbeing of millions annually. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.6 million people die every year as a result of poor indoor air quality. That makes it the 8th most common risk factor for death in the world and a huge contributor to cancers and other respiratory health problems.

So why is indoor air quality such an issue? Consider for a moment what a home does. At its core, a home is designed to keep you and your family protected from outside threats. It does that with solid walls, tightly sealed windows and a well-built roof over your heads. But the same technology that has made homes better sealed than ever also contributes to safety and health problems for residents of those homes by trapping air pollutants inside.

What’s at Stake?

The most common indoor air pollutants are mere irritants. Things like pollen, dust and dander are uncomfortable but don’t necessarily make anyone deathly ill. However, when a home is sealed up too tightly and the air isn’t filtered and cleaned regularly, the result can be downright dangerous to the occupants. Those seemingly innocuous pollutants suddenly make up a much larger percentage of the air inside.

In some cases, according to the WHO, the amount of smoke and other particles inside the home can be up to 100 times higher than what is considered safe outside. Now consider the other pollutants that can be inside the house. If pollen and dander cannot get out, what about exhaust from your stove, radon gas in your basement or mold spores in your ductwork.

You’re breathing all of it and the result is a significant increase in health risks for diseases like pneumonia, respiratory disease, and asthma – all of which are highly dangerous to anyone, but especially children and the elderly.

Solutions Abound

Luckily, this is not a problem you must deal with indefinitely. Modern HVAC systems integrate advanced ventilation technology, air filtration and air cleaning systems to remove the vast majority of these pollutants. But, first, you need to have them installed. It’s just a matter of finding the right contractor.

Continue Reading

Is Geothermal Energy Renewable? A Question From Finleyville

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Geothermal heating systems take heat from the ground and transfer it to your Finleyville home. But how does this heat get into the ground in the first place? Conventional heating systems like furnaces use energy sources like oil or natural gas to generate heat. These energy sources are not renewable, and neither is electricity which is typically generated by burning coal or another non-renewable resource.

The renewable resources we usually think of first are solar and wind power. The sun, of course, will continue to shine and provide heat year in and year out whether we make use of it or not. Similarly, we cannot use up the wind. It will continue to blow no matter how many times it has blown before.

But what category does geothermal energy fit into exactly? Well, it is actually a renewable resource just like solar or wind energy. In fact, geothermal energy is a direct result of the sun’s heat relentlessly pounding the ground. The ground actually absorbs a considerable amount of the heat from the sun that reaches the earth every day, and that is the heat that your geothermal heating system is using to heat your home.

Of course, a geothermal heating system cannot run on geothermal energy alone. The indoor components of this heating system that keep the air flowing throughout your house must be powered by electricity. But the amount of energy needed to do this is much less than what you would need to use to run a furnace or other type of more conventional home heating system.

Over all, geothermal energy is an excellent and renewable source of energy. And once you have the heating system in place, you will need to spend very little to keep it up and running. It is an excellent option for many people, and can help to keep your home cool in the summer as well.

Continue Reading

How to Maximize Savings in Your Home

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

When you are thinking about different ways you might be able to save money around the house, the tendency is to think big. Maybe you need to upgrade to a more energy efficient furnace, or it could be time to install a new central air conditioning system. Maybe it is even a good idea to switch to solar or geothermal power.

But before you do any of that, you may want to try some quick and easy ways to save money around the house with the equipment you already have. Here are 10 great ways to cut your power usage and keep those energy bills down without investing a lot in new equipment.

  1. Seal Up Your House – No matter how energy efficient the heating and cooling systems are in your house, you will be using more energy than necessary if your house is not tightly sealed. Make sure there are not cracks or places where drafts can get in and you will start saving money right away.
  2. The Right Thermostat Setting – Are you really going to notice the difference between 72°F and 69°F? Probably not, but you will save about 3% off of your monthly heating bill for every degree you turn the thermostat down. The same goes in the summer too, just backwards.
  3. Programmable Thermostats – And while we are on the subject of thermostats, it is a good idea to invest in a new one with programmable settings. That way you will be able to set your house to be warm when you will be there and you do not have to pay to keep it warm all day long if it is empty.
  4. Water Heater Temperature – Most hot water heaters are set to about 140°F. However, you really only need your water to be at 120°F. So turn down the hot water heater and you will save a lot.
  5. Ceiling Fans – Ceiling fans can help keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Plus, they cost very little to run so they are a great investment.
  6. Light Bulbs – Switching to energy efficient fluorescent bulbs all over your house will save you a ton even though they cost a bit more to begin with.
  7. Lights Out – But energy efficient bulbs will only get you so far. You should also be sure to turn off the lights in any room you are not using.
  8. Insulation – Proper insulation will go a long way towards keeping in the temperature controlled air that you want and keeping out the outdoor air that you do not.
  9. Power Strips – Many home appliances draw a small amount of power even when they are not turned on. Use a power strip to easily cut the power to them completely and eliminate that drain.
  10. Sealing Windows – Plenty of air can come and go through your windows as well. Upgrading to more energy efficient windows is certainly an option, but you can also help to seal up your home inexpensively by covering your windows with plastic.

Continue Reading

What Is the Single Biggest Money-Saver Upgrade You Can Make?

Friday, July 15th, 2011

While it would be great if there was a simple answer to this question, the real right answer depends to a great extent on your own particular situation. There are literally dozens of steps you can take to save on your home heating and cooling costs, and which ones are most appropriate for you will have a lot to do with what you already have, how you use it and where you live.

For instance, if you have a well-insulated house but your HVAC system is more than 10 or 15 years old, investing in a new system will almost certainly save you a ton in the long run. Even if your existing system is working well, the newer systems available are simply so much more energy efficient that having one will cut your monthly bills dramatically.

Plus, you will be replacing your system relatively soon anyway if it is that old, so you might as well start saving now on your heating and cooling costs. However, even the best heating and cooling system on the market will not save you that much money if you do not have a properly insulated and sealed house.

Insulation keeps the warm air in during the winter, and it also keeps colder air from seeping in. In the summer, it works the other way around, keeping in the air you are paying to cool and keeping out the hotter outside air. If you do not have thorough insulation or if it is too old, that temperature controlled air that you are paying for will be leaking out and unwanted outdoor air will be finding its way in. You will pay much more than necessary to keep the indoor temperature comfortable as a result.

If you have both good insulation and an energy efficient HVAC system, your thermostat might be the place to look when you want to try and cut your energy costs. A programmable or wireless thermostat might be just the ticket you need to cut back even more on your energy bills because of the added control it gives you to more precisely regulate the temperature inside your home.

Particularly if you have a large house, you might even consider having a zone control system put in so that you can set different temperatures for different areas of the house. After all, there is no need to be paying to regulate the temperature in a part of the house that is unoccupied.

Continue Reading