Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Furnace’

Upgrading to a More Efficient Furnace in Pittsburgh

Monday, March 25th, 2013

The spring off-season is a great time to make any upgrades to your heating system. If your furnace is getting older or requires frequent repairs, then it’s probably time to think about a high-efficiency replacement. Efficiency measures the amount of fuel or electrical input to the amount of heating output. Upgrading is a great way to improve your long-term savings, and allows you to take control of the future of your home comfort. Today’s energy-efficient models are powerful systems that make very little waste. Are you ready for a new furnace in Pittsburgh? Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today!

One of the most important ratings in the heating industry is known as AFUE, which stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. It estimates the yearly average of heating output per energy input. It’s a percentage that indicates how much of the furnace’s energy is converted into heat, and how much is waste product exhausted outside the home. Some of today’s furnaces have AFUE ratings of up to 97%, which means that only 3% of the furnace’s energy is wasted—an incredible ratio. Most modern furnaces are AFUE rated at 90% and above, which is a drastic improvement from those produced just 15 years ago.

If you’re considering upgrading to a more efficient furnace, perhaps one with a much higher AFUE than your current system, you’ll also need to consider whether to choose gas or electric. You should take into consideration several factors: what type of energy source your current system runs on, the respective costs of gas and electric in your area, as well as your budget. If you’re already set up for a gas furnace, then perhaps it makes sense to stick with your setup and simply swap out the unit itself. If you previously had electric and you want natural gas, then you’ll need to make sure that you have a gas hook-up nearby that is available. While both types are efficient, electric furnaces tend to be more so, because they don’t need to convert a fuel, such as gas or oil, and they can theoretically operate at 100% AFUE.

Upgrading your furnace is a great way to maximize your savings over the long term and your comfort in the short term. For furnace installation in Pittsburgh, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today! 

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Pittsburgh Heating Guide: Is Your Furnace Not Blowing Enough Air?

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Have you ever been in your Pittsburgh house in the winter, listening to the furnace churn away trying to heat the house, but noticed that the whole place is still cold? If you checked the heating vents in this situation, you would probably find that there is not much air flow coming out of them, which is why you are still freezing.

It is entirely possible for the furnace to be burning away, producing hot air, without enough of that warm air ever actually being distributed through your home. So it continues to run and run, resulting in excess wear and tear on the heating system that will probably shorten its productive life, as well as keeping your whole home too chilly.

Why does that happen? There are a several common culprits for insufficient air flow from a furnace. Below is a list of the most frequent offenders, along with solutions for each:

  • Cause: Dirty or broken air filter. An air filter that has accumulated too much build up or is damaged will slow down air flow in a hurry.
    Solution: Clean or replace the air filter as necessary. This should be part of routine furnace maintenance in order to ensure efficient operation. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations to see how often you should check your air filter(s).
  • Cause: Damaged, corroded, broken or collapsed ductwork. Your ducts are like the road that warm air travels on. If the road is out, then no one can get through. Simple as that.
    Solution: Have a professional inspect and repair your ductwork. A routine ductwork check is also part of a professional’s annual maintenance inspection.
  • Cause: Blower fan not blowing enough. This can be caused by a loose fan belt, or a dirty motor.
    Solution: First, clean the blower fan and the area around it. It has to deal with a lot of air, so it naturally becomes dirty over time. If that doesn’t fix it, the fan belt probably needs to be replaced.

There are some other causes of improper furnace air flow, but those are the most common and easiest to detect and repair. If your heat registers are not returning any warm air at all, that is likely a different problem and you should call Boehmer Heating & Cooling to look at the system right away.

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Pittsburgh Heating Guide: How to Monitor Heat Flow from Furnace Registers

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Of the many kinds of heating systems, forced air furnaces are among the simplest in Pittsburgh and monitoring the flow of heat is as simple as checking the registers and feeling the flow.

The Basics of Hot Air

At your Pittsburgh furnace, usually in the basement or a central location, air is heated to a temperature set by the thermostat.  Once large and dominant, over the years, technological improvements have enabled furnaces to be much smaller and fit into closets.

With a fan, the warm air is circulated through a system of ducts and distributed at registers or grates usually in the floor.  A second grate takes the cooler air back to the furnace to be heated.

Going With the Flow

While a forced air system tends to fluctuate between cycles, temperatures should be consistent throughout the home from room to room.  As heat is distributed, rooms get quickly warmer, then cool several degrees as heat dissipates until the thermostat setting starts the cycle over.

If there is poor circulation, the efficiency of the system is greatly reduced.  The furnace runs more often, adding strain and cost to the heating of your home.  Some rooms remain comfortable while the rise and fall of temperatures in others may be more radical or remain too cool.

Monitoring the Flow

By turning the thermostat higher, the furnace will engage and begin to force air to the registers.

Most registers have adjustable slats that can be rotated to allow more or less flow.  Checking to make sure all are fully open is the first step.  There is usually a lever or gear in obvious view.

Make sure all registers are free to allow air movement and not blocked by furniture or carpets.

After testing with your hand to see if there is adequate air flow, using an infrared or dial thermometer will more accurately identify if there are differences from register to register which could indicate a blockage of some sort in the vent or a problem with the system at the furnace.

Solutions

Furnaces should be maintained on a yearly basis by contracting with a company like Boehmer Heating & Cooling who can regularly change the filters, inspect the internal elements and ensure proper and efficient functioning of this most important part of your home.

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Pittsburgh Heating Quesiton: What Are Flue Gas Spill Switches?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

While some components of their Pittsburgh heating system make sense to the average homeowner – think blower fan, thermostat and air ducts – others are more esoteric and prone to bouts of head scratching.

So, you may find yourself asking “what the heck is a flue gas spill switch?”

As you know, gas heating appliances produce heat by means of combustion. The gas line feeds gas into the appliance, the gas is ignited, and the burning gas produces heat. It’s a simple concept that goes all the way back to our caveman ancestors building fires to keep warm, and it is the same process in gas furnaces, boilers and water heaters.

In addition to producing the cozy heat we love in the winter time, this combustion process also releases gases. Known collectively as “flue gases,” some of these – carbon monoxide being the most notorious – can be very toxic. This why we have flues or chimneys in our homes– to give these gases a means of egress.

A flue gas spill switch is designed to shut down the furnace if these gases start seeping out. It is made up of a sensor or series of sensors that detect heat outside the flue, not unlike the flame sensor in your furnace. If flue gases start to escape and pass by the sensor, the sensor heats up and signals the furnace to shut down. This cuts off the power and gas, so that no more flue gases can leak into the home and create a health concern.

If your Pittsburgh furnace has been abruptly shutting down, it could be your flue gas spill switch trying to tell you that you have a leaky or cracked flue. If this is the case, you want to have it repaired right away. The constant off and on is not good for the furnace, and more importantly, those flue gases can be exceptionally hazardous to your family’s health.

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