Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Glenshaw’

O’Hara Heating Repair Question: What Causes Cracks in a Heat Exchanger?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Furnaces are designed so that the heat – and the combustion byproduct produced inside – doesn’t interact directly with the outside air. This design is to ensure you have a safer furnace in your O’Hara home that won’t inadvertently affect your family’s health.

The metal piece that separates the furnace heat from the outside air stream is called the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger performs a very important function, and if it is broken or cracked, it can’t work properly.

A cracked heat exchanger is very common problem with heating systems, as well as one that should be repaired as soon as possible. But what causes a heat exchanger to crack? Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • A long period of normal use. A furnace heat exchanger naturally expands and contracts with the heat of the furnace, over and over again as the furnace is turned off and on to heat the home. Over several years, this stress can crack the metal.
  • Poor air flow, often caused by dirty or obstructed vents, can result in poor air flow through the furnace. This overworks the furnace, which can crack the heat exchanger prematurely.
  • Poor, incomplete or improper combustion can also cause a heat exchanger to crack. When the combustion process is less efficient – which can also be a result of poor air flow — your furnace’s burners have to run hotter and longer to heat your home, which means extra stress on the heat exchanger.

Essentially, if a furnace is running at less than optimal efficiency for an extended period of time, the heat exchanger is put under additional stress beyond the usual and can crack prematurely. Therefore, the best way to prevent a cracked heat exchanger is proper maintenance, particularly keeping all vents clean and unobstructed and getting an annual maintenance inspection.

If your heat exchanger does crack, do not hesitate to call an O’Hara professional and get it repaired. The crack can allow potentially dangerous combustion gases to seep into your home, which can have a negative impact on your family’s health.

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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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Pros and Cons of Various Heating Systems in South Fayette

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

When it comes time to install a new heating system in your South Fayette home, there are a lot of options to consider. Many people get overwhelmed when confronted with all of the furnaces, boilers and heat pumps on the market these days. So, to help you get a handle on what each has to offer and which will offer you the best benefits, here is an overview of the modern heating system market.

Furnaces

Furnaces are the core of a forced air heating system and use gas, oil or electricity to heat air which is then circulated through your home by a blower in your air handler. Furnaces are among the most fuel efficient heating systems on the market today with options available at up to 95% AFUE (meaning it uses up to 95% of the fuel consumed to produce heat). They are also inexpensive to install and while they don’t last quite as long as boilers, they are highly efficient when well cared for.

Boilers

Boilers use gas, oil or electricity to heat water or steam which is then circulated through your home into radiators or baseboard heaters. The heated water or steam releases heat into your home and heats it in turn. While not quite as energy efficient as a high efficiency furnace, boiler heat is perfect for homes with existing radiators and no room for vents and ductwork. It also has less of an impact on indoor air quality since there is no air movement and boilers tend to last a very long time when well maintained.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular, especially in milder climates where it rarely gets below 40 degrees F. A heat pump uses the same technology as an air conditioner to extract heat from outside using a compressor, evaporator coils, and condenser coils with refrigerant.

It is most efficient in the spring and fall when temperatures are mild, but it uses much less energy than either a boiler or furnace and it can be used in the summer to cool your home. When properly maintained, a heat pump will last 10-20 years and save quite a bit of money, though it is recommended that you have an emergency heat source for days when the temperature outside gets below 40 degrees F.

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How to Replace a Thermostat: A Guide from Washington

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

There are a lot of common household tasks that do-it-yourselfers in Washington can handle beyond changing light bulbs or replacing a fuse. One of those is changing out a thermostat. The reasons for replacing a thermostat can vary from making an upgrade to changing out a thermostat that is not working right – or at all. Whatever the reason, the task is pretty simple and require s very little time and very few tools.

Let’s set the stage.

The materials you will need are the replacement thermostat, wire connectors, electrical tape (optional), needle nose pliers, and a screwdriver.

Here are the steps:

  1. Turn off electrical power to the existing thermostat. You can do this by flipping a breaker switch or removing a fuse from your home’s electrical panel. This would be a good time to make a note of the circuit’s location, writing the circuit number on the panel door or using a sticker.
  2. Remove the cover from the existing unit. You should be able to locate the screws that hold it to the wall mounting plate. Remove the screws and pull the unit away from the wall and mounting plate. Be careful not to touch the electrical wires together on the thermostat.
  3. Disconnect the wiring. Carefully remove the electrical wiring from the unit and keep the wires apart. You might want to tape the bare ends and also ensure that the wires don’t fall back through the wall. If the wires are not color coded, mark each one and which terminal they were removed from. Remove the mounting plate.
  4. If you are using a new mounting plate, make sure it fits over the existing hole and then pull the wires through the opening of the plate. Make sure the mounting plate is secured to the wall with the proper screws.
  5. Now match the wires to the terminals on the new thermostat. The wires are usually color-coded but if not, make sure you attach the right wires to the corresponding numbered terminals on the next thermostat. A green wire, which operates the furnace fan blower, is connected to the “G” terminal. The white wire operates the heater and attaches to the “W” terminal. The yellow wire operates the air conditioner and connects to the “Y” terminal. Use a wire nut to secure the wires and keep them apart from other wires. Ignore any other wires coming out of the wall as they are not necessary and may have been added by the original builder for other purposes.
  6. Carefully move the wires back into the wall as you line up the new thermostat on the mounting bracket. Install the new bracket and secure the thermostat to the bracket.
  7. Turn your power back on and check your thermostat by setting the temperature high or low, to engage the furnace or air conditioner.

This simple procedure can be done in less than 10 minutes. But if you have any doubts and want greater peace of mind, call a professional heating and cooling contractor to perform the installation.

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Heat Pump and Zoning or Zone Control Systems: A Tip From Bridgeville

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

When you’re putting in a heat pump in your Bridgeville home, it may also be a great time to look into having a zone control system put in as well. These types of systems can do a lot to both lower your energy bills and make your home as comfortable as possible throughout the year.

Zone control systems actually allow you to set different temperatures in different parts of your home. They use a system of dampers to direct more heat to certain areas and less to others. For instance, you may like to keep the living room nice and cozy in the winter because you’re typically just lounging around when you’re in there.

When you’re working in the kitchen, on the other hand, you’re usually generating some heat yourself from the stove and oven, so you don’t need to keep the temperature quite as high as it is in other parts of the house in order for the kitchen to remain comfortable. Of course, in the summer, these situations are likely reversed, and a zone control system will allow you to adjust accordingly.

Having the type of refined temperature control that zone control systems provide can be beneficial on several levels. It certainly helps make your home more comfortable, but it can also make it easier to reduce some of your home heating and cooling costs because you don’t have to heat or cool your whole house to keep it that way.

Zone control systems can also be a great way to end those constant thermostat battles that tend to erupt from when certain members of the household prefer one temperature, while the rest of the people in the house are more comfortable with another.

If you’re thinking of integrating a zone control system with your heat pump, you should make sure that the heat pump you get is as compatible as possible with this type of system. Most heat pumps will, in fact, work with zone control systems, but certain types are better than others.

The most important thing to look at when you’re trying to find the best heat pump to fit with a zone control system is the type of compressor the unit has. Heat pumps are available with one-speed, two-speed and multi-speed compressors and this affects how well they work at part of a zone control system. For best results, it’s good to opt for a two-speed or multi-speed compressor when you’re installing a zone control system as well.

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IAQ – Ultra Violet Lighting: A Guide From Glenshaw

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

With a state of the art home comfort system in place, complimented by a high tech indoor air cleaner, you may think you’re set to take on climate and contaminant related challenges in your Glenshaw home. But you’re probably missing one thing, and that’s the ability to remove living contaminants like bacteria and viruses from your indoor air.

Unlike non-living particulate indoor air contaminants, bacteria and viruses are not easily caught by indoor air filters or ionizers. They often slip through and continue to circulate again and again through your home, greatly increasing the likelihood that you and your family will get sick. They also tend to reproduce, so the longer you go without eliminating these germs, the more of them there will be.

Killing those Germs for Good

Fortunately there is a technological solution to this indoor air quality problem. The inclusion of ultra violet lights into your air purification system not only specifically targets bacteria and viruses; it helps to slow the spread of disease when someone in your home gets sick.

UV germicidal lights are extremely effective at removing all types of living contaminants from your indoor air. Unlike HEPA filters and air ionizers, UV germicidal lights don’t try to remove these contaminants by trapping them. Instead, they kill them outright, making sure that the germs can’t stick around to reproduce or work their way free of the containment system.

Installation and Maintenance

For most indoor air contaminants, you want to have someone test your air first. However, with bacteria and viruses, you can rest assured that they are always in the air around you. It often only takes a smaller number of pathogens to make someone ill.

Most UV germicidal lights are easy to integrate into your existing indoor air cleaning system. They are usually installed just past the filters so they can catch the germs without other indoor air contaminants getting in the way. And best of all, UV germicidal lights require very little attention or maintenance.

Simply put them in place and let them do their work. You should schedule a routine maintenance visit every so often to make sure that no part of your indoor air cleaning system needs to be repaired or replaced. But other than that, installing UV germicidal lights in your home allows you to relax and enjoy a completely contaminant free living environment.

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Window and Through Wall Units – Benefits and Disadvantages: A Guide From Sewickley

Friday, August 26th, 2011

When you’re trying to decide what type of air conditioner to get for your Sewickley home, you’ll first have to determine whether a central air conditioning system or smaller individual unit is best for you. These smaller air conditioners are generally installed either in a window or through the wall of your home, and they can provide excellent cooling under the proper conditions.

If you’re still on the fence about what type of air conditioner is right for your home, here are a few items to consider:

  • Ducts – If your home already has ductwork installed for a central forced air heating system, it should be relatively easy to hook up a central air conditioner. But if there are no ducts currently in place, your installation costs will be a lot lower with window or wall mounted units.
  • Portability – Most window units are designed to be removed and stored at the end of the summer, so you can have your windows back and not have to look at that unit all winter long. Through wall units aren’t generally removable, but because they don’t take up window space and provide a more thorough seal against the elements, that’s not as much of a concern.
  • Aesthetics – With both window and through wall units, you’ll have something protruding into your room at least a few inches. These types of units are hard to hide, particularly when compared to the simple air ducts that central air conditioning systems use.
  • Flexible Sizing – No matter how big or small your room is, you should have no trouble finding a window or through wall unit to match it. A central air conditioning system needs to be sized to fit the entire house. If you’re only inclined to use air conditioning in two or three rooms during the hottest months of the year, you may not want to pay to cool the entire house all of the time. Smaller units provide that type of flexibility.
  • Affordability – Installing a central air conditioning system, even if you already have ducts in place, is a large undertaking and likely to cost you several thousand dollars up front. On the other hand, small window and through wall air conditioners are available for as little as $200 and you can buy more whenever you’re ready to spend that extra money. You can also usually install a window unit yourself, and the cost of having a through wall unit installed is minimal compared to that of a central AC unit.

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