Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Heat Pumps’

How to Tell If Your Heat Pump Is Low on Refrigerant

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Refrigerant is the lifeblood of any heat pump system. A heat pump moves heat from one place to another by evaporating and condensing refrigerant to capture and release heat in different areas, depending on the mode it’s using. Without sufficient refrigerant, a heat pump would lose the ability to actually operate as a heating or cooling system. Refrigerant is not consumed during normal heat pump operation, which means if your heat pump is low on refrigerant it was either not charged properly on installation or it has a leak in the system. How can you tell if your heat pump is low on refrigerant? Read on to find out.

Low Output

Heat pumps are capable of both heating and cooling functions, which they accomplish by simply reversing the flow of refrigerant through the system. Therefore, if your heat pump begins to experience a drop in heating or cooling output, you may have a problem with your refrigerant level. This is often the first sign of a refrigerant leak, so be sure not to ignore it if it happens.

Gurgling Sounds

You should always pay attention to any unusual noises that your heat pump is making, but gurgling sounds in particular are an indication that you have a refrigerant leak. As the refrigerant leaks out of the system, more and more air gets into the line. The air bubbles in the refrigerant line are what make the gurgling sounds, like the last few drops of a drink traveling through a straw. This is an almost certain indication that not only do you have a refrigerant leak, but that it has progressed pretty far already.

Pooling Liquid

You should conduct a visual inspection on your heat pump every once in a while, paying special attention to the area around the unit. If you notice any liquid dripping or pooling around the heat pump, you may well have a refrigerant leak.

If you suspect that your heat pump has a refrigerant leak, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We provide quality heat pumps and services throughout the Brentwood area.

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How the Reversing Valve Works in Your Heat Pump

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Have you ever wondered how your heat pump can offer both heating and cooling? It’s because of a special component called a reversing valve. This valve is a bit complex, which is why, should a problem develop with it, it’s best to hire a professional for repair. Without the reversing valve, your heat pump wouldn’t be able to heat and cool. So how does this component work? Let’s take a look.

Two States: Excited and Relaxed

The reversing valve is a cylindrical metal tube that has 4 valves; there is a slide inside the tube that moves back and forth when your heat pump changes modes. A small electronic component called a solenoid sits on top, and helps the valve slide back and forth as needed. Every valve has two states: excited and relaxed. The manufacturers decide which state matches which mode; for example, Manufacturer A may make the excited state the cooling mode for their reversing valve, while Manufacturer B makes relaxed the cooling mode. These assignments are permanent, so once they are made for a particular valve, they will stay that way for the life of the valve.

As the homeowner, all you have to do to change modes is press a button on your dual-mode thermostat. When the cue comes from the thermostat to change modes, the solenoid activates and starts to slide the valve in the direction opposite of where it is. As the valve change direction, so does the flow of the refrigerant; this directional change of the refrigerant is what physically changes the modes. But it is the reversing valve that allows for this change to happen.

Common Problems with Reversing Valve

Like other components, the reversing valve can develop some problems. The most common one is a “stuck” valve. Reversing valves can become stuck in a specific mode (i.e., heating or cooling) or in-between modes. A second problem that can develop with reversing valves are refrigerant leaks. Unfortunately, refrigerant leaks can’t be repaired when they are inside a reversing valve, so the valve needs to be replaced.

If your system is having trouble switching modes, there is a good chance something is wrong with the reversing valve. If you are experiencing this kind of trouble with your heat pump in your home in Whitehall, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today and schedule an appointment for our professional heat pump service.

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My Heat Pump Won’t Turn On! What Should I Do?

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

It’s the emergency you don’t want to occur in the middle of a rough winter: suddenly discovering that your heat pump won’t come on when it should. Is it broken and can you do anything about it?

Obviously, a heat pump that malfunctions and doesn’t turn on is a serious problem and needs to be remedied as soon as possible. We will look over some of the reasons that a heat pump might fail to turn on and what you can do about it.

Most of the time, you’ll need to call for professional repairs; heat pumps are complex mechanical devices that require special training to fix. For 24-hour emergency service on your heat pump or any other heating repair in Pittsburgh, PA, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

Reasons for a Heat Pump Not Turning On

  • Thermostat issues: The first thing you should check when any heating system fails is the thermostat (or thermostats if you have a zone control system). Is it set correctly? If you have a programmable thermostat, check that the program is set so the heat will come on at the appropriate time. If the thermostat seems set correctly, the issue might be a miscalibration that is causing the thermostat to read the temperature incorrectly, or possibly an electrical failure that has cut if off from communicating with the heat pump. You will need professional repairs for this.
  • Power loss: Heat pumps can sometimes trip circuit breakers. Check your fuse box to see if this is the case. If the heat pump continues to trip the circuit breakers, there may be an electrical fault in the heat pump that needs attention.
  • Failed start capacitor: Listen to the cabinet of your heat pump. If you can hear a clicking noise whenever the heat pump should be turning on, then likely the problem is a failing start capacitor, the component responsible for transmitting the electrical charge that starts the motors. Call technicians to replace it.
  • Broken reversing valve: The reversing valve is responsible for changing the direction of refrigerant in the heat pump so that it can function as both a heater and an air conditioner. If you find that the heat pump will still provide cool air, but won’t provide heat, then it’s probably the fault of the reversing valve, and it will need replacement.

Heat pump repairs usually do not take long to complete, so call for repairs right away when you cannot get your heat pump started so you’ll avoid a long stretch in the cold. Boehmer Heating & Cooling has specialized in heating repair in Pittsburgh, PA since 1933, so you can trust in our services for your heat pump.

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Will a Heat Pump in Pittsburgh Work Year ‘Round?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Heat pumps are designed to both heat and cool your home. They essentially pull the heat from the air and transfer it to another location, moving heat out of your home when you need it to be cool, and absorbing it from the outside when you need it to be warm. That makes it a good fit in cities like Pittsburgh, which have warm, humid summers and cold winters. Will a heat pump work year ‘round in a city like that? Generally speaking, heat pumps work best in milder climates, when the temperatures rarely drop below 40 degrees. A geothermal heat pump, hybrid system or a cold-weather system could be more beneficial than a typical air source heat pump.

Most heat pumps have two different sections, an outdoor section and an indoor section. The first one contains a compressor that places pressure on refrigerant gas, and a coil that cools the pressurized gas into a liquid state, releasing heat into the outside air. The liquid refrigerant then moves into the indoor unit, which contains a coil of its own. The liquid expands in that coil, which pulls heat from the nearby air. A fan then blows the cool air into your home.

That process takes place in the summer, and isn’t dissimilar to the process used by a tradition air conditioning system. In the winter, however, the process is reversed. The indoor coil condenses the gas into a liquid, releasing heat into your home. The liquid is then sent to the outdoor unit, where it evaporates and absorbs heat from the outside air. That allows the heat pump to act as both a heater and an air conditioner in one single unit. However, it only works efficiently if the outside temperature is over 40 degrees. When it gets colder, you’ll need a supplementary heating system in place. Geothermal heat pumps, however, use the temperature of the earth which stays constant all year round, so they are able to heat your home throughout the winter.

If you want to install a heat pump in your home, or you already own one and need a maintenance or repair call, then contact Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We’ll discuss your options with you and then work hard to implement the correct solution.

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Why Consider Installing a Heat Pump?

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

If you’re in the market for a new cooling system, there is an unprecedented variety of system types and brands. The selection process is critical to the future of your comfort, however, and should not be taken lightly. You should consider not only the energy efficiency of your new system, but also its performance. Many of today’s models boast high SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings, which is a good barometer for how your system will perform in the future. The higher the SEER rating, the better the efficiency. And this is precisely why the heat pump makes such a good cooling option. But that’s not the only reason. Let’s take a look at some reasons why you should consider installing a heat pump in your Pittsburgh, PA home. For more info, call Boehmer Heating & Air Conditioning today!

  • Year-round comfort: Part of the attraction of heat pumps is that they offer both cooling and heating. They operate in the same way as an air conditioner does during the summer. They remove the warm indoor air and replace it with cool air by means of a circulating refrigerant. During the cooler months, they use the thermal energy of the outdoor air to warm the indoors. This works because of a component called the reversing valve, which allows the refrigerant cycle to reverse direction. If it gets too cold for your heat pump to heat your house, you can supplement it with another system, such as a furnace.
  • Energy efficiency: Energy efficiency is a critical factor if you’re considering installing a new system. Whether you’re looking to replace your existing AC or need a comprehensive comfort system for a new home, you need to make sure that you’re getting the most for your dollar. Heat pumps are widely known for the small amount of electricity they consume during operation.
  • Geothermal: The heat pumps we have been referring to above are known as air-source heat pumps, but there is an alternative type that is quickly gaining popularity. Geothermal technology uses a ground-source heat pump to offer heating and cooling throughout your home. This tends to be far more energy efficient than other conventional systems. Check with your local technician to see if geothermal is right for your property.

If you need a heat pump, call Boehmer Heating & Air Conditioning today!

 

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Benefits of Using a Heat Pump in Pittsburgh

Monday, April 1st, 2013

At Boehmer Heating & Cooling, we do everything we can to ensure that our clients are able to keep their homes comfortable throughout the entire year. That is why we offer such a great selection of home heating and air conditioning systems to choose from, as well as a wide array of outstanding HVAC services. We also like to help our customers keep comfortable in the most efficient way possible. We know how expensive it can be to heat and cool a home. If you are interested in an efficient alternative to traditional heating and cooling systems, give us a call to learn more about the benefits of using a heat pump in Pittsburgh.

One great benefit of using a heat pump in Pittsburgh is the fact that it acts as both a heating and air conditioning system. This means that you only need to invest in one system in order to keep your home comfortable throughout the year. When you schedule your heat pump installation with a qualified professional you can count on a great, reliable performance, no matter what season it is.

Of course, many home comfort system options double as both heating and cooling systems. What truly sets a heat pump apart is the great benefit of its outstanding efficiency. Heat pumps are among the most efficient heating and cooling systems available. The more efficient a heating and cooling system is, the less it costs to keep your home comfortable.

The key to the great efficiency with which heat pumps operate is their dependence on the heat transfer principle to heat and cool your home, as opposed to the consumption of fuel. A heat pump uses just a small amount of electricity to transfer heat into or out of your home, unlike a traditional system. By transferring existing heat, a heat pump is able to keep you comfortable while using very little energy. This is not only a great benefit to your budget but also to the environment.

To learn more about the benefits of using a heat pump in Pittsburgh, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We have the answers to all your questions. Let us keep you comfortable with greater efficiency than ever before.

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McKeesport Heating Question: What Is the Most Efficient Way to Heat My Home?

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

When it comes to heating, efficiency is one of the main factors most people take into consideration in McKeesport. There are quite a few different options in terms of home heating, including oil, gas and electric furnaces, heat pumps, and boilers, and each of these have their own set of advantages and disadvantages depending on your own particular situation.

For better or worse, there is no one system that is universally more energy efficient and effective than the others. The one that will turn out to be the best choice for you is the one that fits best with your specific heating needs, the climate you live in and the relative price of the fuel sources available to you.

For instance, if you live in a relatively moderate climate, a heat pump may very well be a good option for you. These systems are able to operate much more efficiently than furnaces because they extract heat from the air rather than generating it themselves. That means that in the winter, a heat pump can take heat from the outdoor air and pump it indoors to heat your home. In the summer, the heat pump can actually do the opposite, taking the excess heat from indoors and transferring it out to provide you with a yearlong temperature control solution.

Heat pumps generally run on electricity which can be expensive, but since they use so much less energy than something like an electric furnace, they can still be a very energy efficient home heating option. However, these systems are not as effective in areas with harsh, long winters, and so would likely require a supplemental heating system as well. Also, the lower the outside temperature, the less efficient a heat pump is going to be.

Furnaces, on the other hand, are quite effective at heating homes no matter how harsh or cold the climate. Gas furnaces are generally the most popular of the models available now, mostly because the cost of natural gas is lower in most areas compared to the cost of other potential fuels.

However, it may be worth considering an oil or electric furnace if these types of energy sources are relatively inexpensive in your area. No matter what type of furnace you get, you’ll be able to choose how energy efficient you want it to be as well, with lower efficiency 80% AFUE furnaces costing substantially less than those with an AFUE of 90% or more.

If you are interested in installation a new heating system in McKeesport or the surrounding area, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call today!

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Pittsburgh Heat Pump Question: Why Do Heat Pumps Need Refrigerant?

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Despite its name, your Pittsburgh heat pump is not designed solely for heating. In fact, the technology in your heat pump was originally designed for air conditioning and is used today in air conditioners, refrigerators and cooling units in vehicles and airplanes. And the entire process relies on refrigerant – a chemical compound that is compressed and expanded to move energy from one environment to another.

 How Refrigerant Makes Heating and Cooling Possible

Your heat pump has multiple components designed to transfer refrigerant from one state to another. The compressor, for example, compresses the refrigerant into a liquid. The liquid is then moved through the expansion valve to the evaporator coils where it expands into a gas. Because refrigerant evaporates at much lower temperatures than water, it does this rapidly and in the process draws heat from the surrounding environment.

That’s how an air conditioner or your refrigerator cool a space. However, in the case of a heat pump, the process can work in both directions. In cooling mode, your heat pump extracts heat from the air going into your home. In the case of heating mode, the heat pump extracts heat from the outside air. Because the heat is transferred into the refrigerant, it can then be recompressed by the compressor. The heat is then is then released in the condenser coils, where the gas returns to liquid state. A blower then distributes air blown across the condenser coils into your home as heat.

 Troubleshooting the Process

Your Pittsburgh heat pump is a complex piece of machinery, but once you know how it works, you can perform quite a bit of troubleshooting should anything go wrong with the device. For example, if you notice cold air coming from your vents, you can check to make sure it isn’t in cooling mode and that there is enough refrigerant in the device.

Keep in mind that if any service needs to be performed on the heat pump involving refrigerant, you should call a Pittsburgh HVAC professional due to the volatile nature of the chemical. In most municipalities, you must have a license to distribute or dispose of refrigerant and even if not, it can be dangerous to both you and the environment. Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today for any help with your heating or cooling system!

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Pittsburgh HVAC Tip: How to Maintain High Efficiency Filters to Reduce Stress on Your Heat Pump

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

The filter on your Pittsburgh heat pump is an integral part of your home’s comfort system. Without that filter, the device will quickly be subjected to an influx of debris and contaminants that can get into the machinery and the air being filtered into your home. As a result, you need to make sure you properly maintain the filters to reduce stress on your heat pump.

 Change Your Filters

High efficiency filters are designed to remove as much of the airborne contaminants in the air as possible. This is fantastic for keeping your indoor air clean. But if you don’t properly maintain the filter, air quality can worsen and your heat pump is put under unnecessary stress. Specifically, the extremely tight knit filter, designed to stop nearly anything from getting through, gets clogged.

Now your heat pump is forced to work much harder to draw the air it needs from outside and heat or cool your home. On top of that, the filter is filled with contaminants that can start to leak back into the air supply, actually making your indoor air quality worse than it would be otherwise. That’s why it is so important to clean your filters on a regular basis (for permanent filters) and replace them if they are one time use.

 Recommended Filters

You have options as to which types of filters you use for your heat pump. Filters come in multiple options, from super high MERV rated filters that trap up to 99% of all contaminants as small as 0.3 microns.

Electrostatic filters are especially efficient because they extract contaminants of all types – from dust and mold to smoke and gas fumes. A good filtration system should effectively remove anything from the air without needing replacement too often.

Permanent filters tend to offer the best protection against airborne contaminants and generally need to be cleaned once a month. HEPA filters are often permanent and while each filter is different, these are often extremely effective at minimizing contaminants in the air without putting stress on your heat pump.

We all know that high efficiency filters are great to have in your home because they remove contaminants from the air. This keeps your indoor air clean and healthy by preventing pollutants from circulating throughout your forced air system. But what most people don’t know is that if you don’t maintain your air filters, they can actually cause your heat pump to work much harder. When high-efficiency filters get clogged, they can restrict airflow and cause stress to your heat pump. Not to mention making your indoor air quality worse! The contaminants that were caught by the air filter might now start getting back into the air supply, acutally making your indoor air quality worse. It is easy to see why it is so important to change your Pittsburgh heat pump’s air filter regularly, especially if they are high efficiency.

To schedule any maintenance you need for your home’s heat pump, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call!

 

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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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