Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Jefferson Hills’

Pittsburgh Heating Guide: 5 Easy Ways to Save Energy

Monday, March 4th, 2013

As a homeowner, you’re always looking for ways to save energy. As one of the leading energy efficiency experts in the area, Boehmer Heating & Cooling is committed to informing you about some easy ways to save energy. Remember that there is no substitute for professional consultation. We’re happy to sit down with our customers and find ways they can make their homes more energy-efficient. For more information, or to schedule heating and air conditioning maintenance in Pittsburgh, call us today!

  • Enroll in a maintenance program. Prevention is the best medicine, as they say and we agree. Enrolling in an annual or bi-annual maintenance program is one of the best ways to prevent major repairs before they happen. It may also be able to increase the energy efficiency of your home. Let the Pittsburgh heating and air conditioning repair experts at Boehmer Heating & Cooling come take a look at your equipment.
  • Replace your attic insulation. Attic insulation has a major impact on the efficiency of the heating and cooling systems in your home. In the winter, thin, old or rotting insulation is one of the greatest factors contributing to heat loss. In the summer, poor insulation can allow hot air into your home from your attic.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat is a great way not only to customize your home living environment, but also to ensure that any temperature changes occur gradually and not drastically. This will allow your system to “anticipate” changes in temperature. Programmable thermostats allow you to control your home’s heating and air conditioning systems much more conveniently.
  • Change your air filters. You have air filters throughout your heating and cooling systems. They are there in order to prevent dust, pollen, and debris from entering into your indoor air. They need to be changed and replaced on a regular basis so they don’t get in the way of your cool or hot air.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. Compact fluorescents, or CFLs, are highly-efficient bulbs. Not only do they use about 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, they also last up to 10 times as long.

There you have it: 5 easy ways every homeowner can save energy. When you need your heating and air conditioning repair in Pittsburgh or any installation or maintenance, call on Boehmer Heating & Cooling. No job is too big or small. Call us today. 

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Pittsburgh Heating Question: What To Do If Your Furnace Keeps Turning On or Off?

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Your Pittsburgh furnaces is designed to last decades without major problems so long as it is regularly maintained.  They typically work so well, in fact, there is a danger of taking our comfort for granted and skipping the annual service for a year or two as time rushes by, waking up suddenly and brutally to a dark night and no heat.

In retrospect, a preliminary indication of trouble could have been the furnace continually turning off and on in short bursts, something that was tugging at your senses, but not strongly enough to really catch your attention.

Possible Problems

A furnace constantly turning on and off could often be a direct result of poor airflow through the system.  Heat builds up and the detectors sense the proper temperatures have been reached and automatically shut down.  In the room, the thermostat calls for more heat and starts the cycle over again.

A relay switch or control valve may also be worn and working improperly.  A crack in the heat exchanger might fuel the flame to burn too hotly and cause the sensor to misinterpret the information and shut down.

These problems not only impede the distribution of heat to the living spaces, decreasing comfort, but also create intense wear on the motor and controls, threatening the very life of the appliance.

Simple Solutions

Restricted airflow can be caused most often by a dirty or clogged filter.  At the furnace, there is usually a panel that can be removed to check, clean or replace the filter.  It is typically a single or series of cardboard and screen panels approximately 1′ by 2′, but varies by manufacturer and furnace output.

A vacuum to pull lint free or compressor to blow it clean are the recommended tools to use a few times each year.  It is a good idea to change the filters at the beginning of each heating season. The belts are also easily replaced.

The fan belts for the blower may also be worn loose and not pushing the air hard enough to get through the filters.  It is a good idea to check them regularly as well.

The Calvary Charge

When in doubt, call the experts out.  Scheduling an annual inspection and service with Boehmer Heating & Cooling Company takes the worry out of living in a furnace heated home.  Call us today to schedule your appointment!



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Pittsburgh Air Conditioning FAQs: How Do I Determine the Cooling Capacity of My Central AC or Heat Pump System?

Monday, August 13th, 2012

For any type of air conditioning system in Pittsburgh, the cooling capacity is measured in BTU’s. This is important to know if the system doesn’t seem to be adequately cooking your home, and there are many different ways to check the cooling capacity of your AC system.

1. Air Conditioning System’s Age and Serial Numbers

An air conditioner’s age will usually give you a general idea for its cooling capacity, and if you aren’t sure, you can always check the serial number. Because serial number formats vary by the year the equipment was made, you can check to see how old an air conditioner is from looking at the serial number.

The first four digits of every serial number is the week and year the unit was manufactured.  For example, the serial# 1188E53294 on a compressor unit tells us that it was made between 1980 and 1990, and to be more exact, week 11 in 1988.

2. Air Conditioner’s Model Number

You should also look at the model number for your specific model because some manufacturers also vary how they assign each number in the serial number; however, they usually stand for tonnage or MBTUH. You can always call us if you aren’t sure how to read the serial number or model number.

3. AC Equipment’s RLA Numbers

RLA stands for “Rated Load Amps,” which means that it’s the manufacturer’s rate of the cooling capacity (also known as the draw) or load while it’s operating (minus the draw when you start the system). Most air conditioning compressor or condenser units will draw 5 to 6 RLA per ton of cooling capacity. You can check the data tag on the compressor for the RLA rating; however, this will need to be translated into BTUH for the total cooling capacity.

Feel free to call one of the Pittsburgh air conditioning experts at Boehmer Heating & Cooling Company if you have any questions how to calculate your AC system’s cooling capacity.

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Pittsburgh AC Question: What Are Thermostatic Expansion Valves?

Monday, May 14th, 2012

The thermostatic expansion valve, sometimes known as a TEX, TEV or TXV, is a critical piece to influence the efficiency of all air conditioning and refrigeration units, including the AC system in your Pittsburgh home.  A tiny sensor controlling the evaporating phase of process, the valve can have a big effect.

Cool air is manufactured by a re rapid movement of a refrigerant between liquid and gaseous states.  Compound chemicals that are able to do this at a low temperature are compressed and expanded, absorbing and releasing heat at different points along the way.  The TEV controls the flow of the refrigerant into the evaporator coils according to the temperatures of the various ingredients.

Cool Air 101

To condition air, the refrigerant, most often freon or another fast acting, low temp compound, evaporates into a gas that runs through a coil and absorbs heat.  Passing through a compressor, the freon condenses under pressure back into a liquid again and releases the heat, becoming cool enough to chill a party.

Too much freon in the evaporator tube and the pressure is not low enough to expand to gas and absorb heat, working inefficiently for no gain.  Too little freon and the conversion is also ineffective by not reaching the density needed to condense.

There are four types of valves with different benefits for different types of cooling environments.  With its ability to adjust minutely to changing conditions, the thermal expansion valve creates the perfect mixture of pressure and freon for more complicated systems.

At the Starting Gate

An interactive device, the valve senses the evaporator pressure and temperature and adjusts the flow of the refrigerant so as to maintain a given “superheat”, the differ­ence between the refrigerant vapor temperature and its sat­uration temperature.  By controlling superheat, the TEV keeps nearly the entire evaporator surface active while not permit­ting liquid refrigerant to return to the compressor.

Some valves operate on an electrical impulse from sensors that can measure the temperatures.  Others are open all the time.  The thermostatic expansion valve actually utilizes the pressure between the two sections to open or close itself, regulating flow based on the very same pressure it is designed to moderate.

Like the buildings they comfort, large central air conditioning systems in Pittsburgh are varied and diverse.  There are nearly as many thermostatic expansion valves as there are units to receive them.

For more information about how to help your AC work effectively, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call!

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Save with Maintenance on HVAC

Monday, July 18th, 2011

You can never save too much money by making improvements and taking steps around the house. Of course, it is hard sometimes to see exactly where the money saving opportunities are. That’s because you expect to spend a certain amount on various types of services when you own a home. You know you are always going to have heating and cooling bills, for instance. But are they higher than they need to be?

For many people, the answer to that question is “yes.” And it is not because they use their home heating and cooling systems inappropriately or because they have the wrong equipment. It is simply because they neglect to get their HVAC systems the regular care and maintenance that would keep them running at peak effectiveness and energy efficiency.

When your HVAC system is new, it runs well and can be remarkably energy efficient. However, over time that energy efficiency will gradually deteriorate. This drop off in efficiency is often not obvious at first, but if you compare your energy bills from the year you got your system to bills for the same time of year and same usage five years later, you will probably notice that the bill has gone up quite a bit, and not just because energy prices have gone up.

You can do a lot to prevent this loss of energy efficiency, though, if you simply have a professional HVAC technician come out once a year and give your system a tune up. During this type of maintenance service, the technician will check over your entire system looking for worn out parts and buildup that could be interfering with your system’s performance.

They can clean out any areas of your HVAC equipment that require it and they will be able to make any necessary repairs at that time. Often, a technician performing this type of maintenance will be able to catch minor issues before they are able to develop into bigger problems. And while you still have to pay for the maintenance visit, the cost is much less than what you would pay for an emergency repair.

It also represents a substantial savings over what you would be paying on your energy bills every month without it. Regular HVAC maintenance can preserve the vast majority of your system’s energy efficiency loss over time, and it is never too late to start. Even if it has been several years since you had your system installed, you will still be able to get back the vast majority of your original energy efficiency by starting with regular maintenance now.

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Noise Control for Your HVAC System

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Most people think of HVAC and associate it directly with comfort. They assume that once they are warm or cool in their home that there is nothing else to worry about, but even the smallest HVAC systems can be quite noisy, and if you own a business or live in a multi-family building, they can be downright disruptive.

Luckily, there are tools available to cut the sound level and make it far more comfortable for everyone both inside and outside the building.

Residential Noise Control

The easiest way to reduce noise in your home is to purchase HVAC equipment designed to run quietly. Today, many manufacturers provide air conditioners and furnaces with dampeners and quiet control devices that reduce the sounds these devices traditionally make. Even the classic banging sound of a boiler is now generally history.

But, even with new technology, most HVAC systems still make some noise, so if you want to cut out the noise completely, there are upgrades you can make. First on the list is a sound blanket. A sound blanket wraps around your compressor and blocks out the steady noise that these devices make. Older compressors especially can benefit from these.

Your ductwork can be noisy as well so duct lagging is a popular upgrade to keep the sound of heated or cooled air passing through your home to a minimum.

Industrial Strength Noise Control

If you live in a larger building or own a business, industrial strength devices are necessary to stop the noise. Blankets and lagging are still effective, but you might also consider mufflers and silencers to block out the exhaust noises that are made by larger units. Vibration isolation helps reduce structural noise and sound barriers wrap around an HVAC unit to contain residual noise to a certain area.

Overall, there are quite a few ways to make sure you stay comfortable and blissfully unaware of the operation of your system throughout the year. The key is to make sure you target whatever noise source is most prevalent in your particular HVAC system. Some systems suffer from vibrations while others have noisy compressors. Find the culprit and stop the sound in its tracks with the right noise controller.

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What to Look for when a Home is 100 Years Old

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Many people like older homes, but at a certain point, the age of a home can be a bit of a turnoff. It’s not the architecture – old homes are magnificently built and tend to have more character in the woodwork and nooks and crannies than any new home. But, when you move beyond how impressive early 20th century (or earlier) architecture is, you might find a number of maintenance and upkeep issues that have only been made worse by the passage of time.

Common Problems to Watch For

As with a 50 year old home, materials are a big issue. You need to have your home tested for lead paint and asbestos – both things that can be incredibly dangerous for every resident, especially children. These are very likely to be a part of the home if it hasn’t been remodeled in the last 30 years. Retrofitting to cover them up or remove them will be an added expense.

Additionally, older homes have much greater ratios of ventilation. If insulation has not been added in the last 25 years to cover those vents and gaps, your home will be very drafty, which is uncomfortable in the winter and costly year round. Make sure to have your home pressure tested and sealed up as soon as possible.

Upgrades You Can Make

Electricity is another major issue in older homes. While most old homes have been owned multiple times and likely upgraded since they were built, occasionally you will run across a house with extremely old wiring. That might mean a low capacity panel box or single strand wiring. Either way, it’s unsafe and unstable – for modern appliances and electronics you’ll need to upgrade that wiring as soon as possible.

The same may be true for your plumbing. If the house has original plumbing and fixtures, not only will they be inefficient, they may be rusty or prone to leakage. Sewer lines in particular are expensive replacements if they decide to break. Make sure you have these thoroughly inspected before a purchase.

The Joy of an Older Home

Despite all of the potential problems an old home might offer, there are plenty of benefits. Established neighborhoods, solid construction, and the ability to alter your home however you want are all positives you can’t overlook when buying a home. Just make sure you’re fully aware of what you’re getting into. Even a well maintained old home may have some issues that you miss on your initial walkthrough – make sure your inspector is thorough.

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What Is LEED Certified?

Friday, May 20th, 2011

If you’ve been looking into purchasing a home or having any type of major construction done, you may have run across the term LEED Certified. Of course, contractors boast of so many certifications these days that it can be tough to tell which you should pay attention to and which you shouldn’t. But the LEED certification is definitely one that’s worth taking into account when you’re choosing a contractor and planning out your project.

The Benefits of LEED Certification

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The standards and guidelines for obtaining LEED certification were put together by the U.S. Green Building Counsel in order to improve construction practices and help buyers find property that meets higher standards in a variety of environmentally significant categories.

For instance, a LEED certified home boasts better water and energy efficiency than the average home that is not LEED certified. It also was put together using techniques designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve indoor air quality, making it both the healthy choice for you as the consumer and the environmentally responsible one.

When you purchase a LEED certified home, you’re not just helping the environment either. You’re also helping yourself in a variety of ways. That’s because a home that meets LEED certification standards for energy and water efficiency will help you generate smaller energy and water bills each month. That translates to huge saving over time, so even if you pay a bit more initially for your home, you’ll get that money back many times over as time passes.

LEED certification isn’t just something you should pay attention to when you’re buying a new home. Any construction project you undertake for your existing home can also benefit from these guidelines and standards. For that reason, it’s worth seeking out a contractor who can provide services in line with LEED standards. These types of improvements and techniques need to be incorporated in your home improvement project from the initial planning stage, and a contractor familiar with LEED standards will have no trouble doing just that.

You can also have confidence in the contractor you pick if they carry LEED credentials because they’re not easy to get. Anyone who is LEED certified has put a lot of time and energy into obtaining those credentials and is likely just the type of contractor you’d like taking care of your next home improvement project.

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New Filter Ratings – How to Evaluate Your Filter

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Every home has need of a handful of filters that provide with comfortable, affordable air quality and temperature control throughout the year. So, when buying a new filter or upgrading your current system to provide the right comfort level for your home, there are a few things to consider. First is the actual rating of your filters. Every filter is rated for a particular level of efficiency. The higher the rating, the more particles it catches, but also the more it will cost.

Air Filter Ratings

Air filters are rated with a number of scales but the only one that really matters is the HEPA filter rating. HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate absorbing. These types of filters are considered the best on the market. A HEPA filter comes with a number of options. The actual device that uses the filter will have an MERV rating that corresponds to how small of particles it can capture.

An entry level MERV rating is usually around 10 and will capture most major particles like dust, debris, dander and pollen. However, the highest rated HEPA filters have MERV ratings of 13 and can capture particulates as small as 0.3 microns 99.7% of the time.

Some filters are even capable of capturing viruses and bacteria, which are often much smaller than those other particles but can be caught in the debris field through the filter.

What You Actually Need

So, what does your home actually need? It depends largely on how much you need to filter out of your indoor air. Most HVAC providers can provide full testing of your indoor air quality and let you know if you need to target anything in particular. Most often, the contaminants you should worry about include dust, pollen and dander which mean a modest MERV 10 air filter is plenty.

However, if your air is filled with smaller contaminants like mold spores, a high grade HEPA filter is a must – not just for your comfort but for your health.

There are also other indoor air quality products you can get to supplement your indoor air quality system. These include air cleaners with electronic ionization, UV germicidal lights to target airborne pathogens and humidity control devices to create the ideal environment in your home. Whatever you choose, know that it is possible to keep your family comfortable year round.

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What Is a Chilled Beam System?

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

If you’ve been researching new ways to cool larger office or industrial spaces, chances are you’ve come across information on the chilled beam system. These systems are not suitable for residential use, but they can be extremely effective in other types of applications. They’ve been used more extensively overseas, but are rapidly gaining ground in the US.

How They Work

In a chilled beam system, cooled water is sent through pipes into a beam that runs across the ceiling of an area. The water chills the beam, which in turn passes that chill to the air in the room. As the air in contact with the beam cools, it also becomes denser and sinks, thereby making room for warmer air to rise from below and contact the beam. In this way, air is both cooled and circulated throughout the room.

Active vs Passive

Chilled beam systems are available in both active and passive implementations. Passive systems rely solely on the natural convection currents to circulate air and bring warmer air into contact with the beam. Active systems, on the other hand, make use of a central air handler and ducts to bring new air into contact with the beam and circulate air around the space to be cooled.

Passive systems, of course, use less energy than active ones, but their application is also more limited. Active chilled beam systems are still much more energy efficient than many other types of industrial or commercial cooling systems and they can be integrated into many more types of spaces.

System Advantages

Energy efficiency is certainly a very attractive feature of chilled beam systems, but they have several other solid selling points. For one thing, chilled beams operate extremely quietly because of their lack of moving parts. This also makes them much easier and cheaper to install and maintain. And because of the simplicity of their design, chilled beam systems don’t require that a large amount of space be devoted to a machine room or control center, making them an excellent choice when space is at a premium.


Of course, chilled beam systems aren’t without their drawbacks. For one thing, these systems can cost quite a bit more than other more conventional systems because they must be imported from overseas. There is also a limit to how much cooling they can accomplish because if the temperature of the beam itself drops below a certain level, condensation will begin to form.

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