Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Murrysville’

Pittsburgh Boiler Tip: 5 Common Boiler Problems You Don’t Know You Have

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Heating homes in Pittsburgh with boilers is common, especially in older homes. While boiler systems are relatively simple, there can be many hidden issues with them.  Here are 5 common boiler problems that you may not be aware of. Call the heating experts at Boehmer Heating & Air Conditioning any time for more tips and advice.

1. Sediment Buildup and Pressure Gauge Problems

If you notice that your boiler is not producing enough heat or not working at all, there are a few reasons that this can happen. Something could have gone wrong inside the boiler that has decreased the hot water levels, which can be caused by sediment buildup or the pressure valve. If you aren’t sure how to check the pressure gauge, call your heating contractor. You may be able to adjust the water levels if the water is low, but if there’s mineral buildup, your boiler will need to be drained and flushed out by a professional.

2. Boiler Expansion Tank Issues

There are a few reasons your boiler expansion tank is causing problems. The air pressure could be low, which an issue that can be detected by inconsistent temperatures within the tank. The hot water should be at the bottom and cold at the top. If this is reversed, you could have problem with the air pressure or a water level problem. Call your Pittsburgh heating contractor if you suspect an issue with the expansion tank.

3. Broken Radiator in Boiler Systems

Usually if you are having trouble with the radiator, excess air in the lines or inside the actual radiator could be causing the problem. Hissing noises and lack of heat could be indicators of this. Problems with air in the lines will require a repair service.

4. Thermocouple Failure in Gas Boilers

If you have a gas boiler, it is equipped with a thermocouple sensor that monitors the gas flow to the burners. It helps to regulate the amount of heat that is produced. If your pilot light has gone out and you cannot get it lit again, it may an issue with the thermocouple. This a fairly easy part to replace, so call a service technician if you are having problems getting the pilot light on your gas boiler to stay lit.

5. Boiler Leaks

Water leaking from your boiler is something that should be taken care of by a technician. Leaks can reduce the pressure inside your expansion tank, and this will affect proper temperature control. If you notice water leaking from your boiler or any corrosion on the equipment, call a heating technician.

If you suspect any of these problems with the boiler in your Pittsburgh home, call Boehmer Heating & Air Conditioning.

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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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Your Monroeville Heating and Air Conditioning System and Ventilation

Monday, August 20th, 2012

The vent system in your home is vital to the operation of your Monroeville HVAC system. Without successful ventilation, your home won’t have the necessary clean air to keep you and your family healthy. So, what does proper ventilation require and how can you ensure your home has it? Here are some quick tips.

Install the Right Parts from the Start

Proper ventilation should result in even air pressure in your home to avoid problems with gas pilot lights. It should also be as energy efficient as possible and provide clean air through proper filtration and cleaning of the air that comes in.

Energy Loss

Another major ventilation issue to keep in mind is energy loss. Ventilation tends to remove heated or cooled air from your home, forcing your furnace or air conditioner to work harder to replace it. As a result, you pay more for energy and it’s never quite comfortable inside.

To avoid this problem, ask your contractor about how you can improve your system’s energy efficiency.

Supplements to Ventilation

Proper ventilation should not only provide fresh air, but it should also ensure your home has clean air. The air outside may be fresher, but it can be filled with pollutants like pollen, dander and smoke. These should be removed if possible. To do this, you need a full sized air cleaning system that removes particles from the air down to 0.3 microns.

HEPA filters can do this, as will electronic air cleaners which can ionize and remove smoke and gas particles. Make sure you discuss filtration and cleaning with your Monroeville HVAC contractor when they visit your home. If you have any questions about your HVAC system or you need to schedule a service, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call!

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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 Air Conditioning Installation Tip: Why it Is Important to Examine Your Ducts

Monday, June 18th, 2012

For most homeowners the day a new air conditioner gets installed is a great one. It means you can look forward to plenty of days of cool comfort, sheltered from the blistering summer heat that would otherwise make you feel sticky and sluggish.

Before that installation can take place, however, there are many smaller tasks that must be performed. You have to do some research, shop around, consult with a Pittsburgh air conditioning contractor and finally decide on the best system for your home. Finally, you should have your ducts examined.

Your ducts are the pathway by which cooled air will be distributed through your home. Without regular maintenance, ducts are less efficient in transferring air and can cost you money, not only in electricity but in air quality control. Like any major component of your HVAC system, they need to be properly maintained to work properly.

So, you want your ducts to be in tip top shape for your new Pittsburgh AC system. Having a professional inspect them thoroughly prior to installation will identify any damage, dirt, debris, leaks, corrosion or other trouble spots that could impede your air conditioning.

This gives you the opportunity to get any of those problems fixed before the new system is installed. Plus, a professional inspection is an important part of routine duct maintenance anyway. Having it done at this juncture is easier and ensures you know will have a smooth running air conditioner for some time to come.

Having duct work in good repair is vital to the operation of your HVAC system, including the new AC system you want to install. If you are contemplating having a new air conditioning system installed or even if you are not, now is the time to call a professional for full inspection of your ductwork. Especially if you have a forced air heating system and those ducts are used year round, you want to know for a fact that they will work properly in the future, no matter what is hooked up to them. Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling to schedule your appointment today!

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Your McKeesport HVAC System and Electricity

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

While not every McKeesport HVAC system in your home requires electricity, many of them do. Your air conditioner and water heater and ventilation system all need access to the central power line. So what does that mean for your system and what problems should be you beware of?

How Your HVAC System Uses Electricity

How your HVAC system works depends largely on which components need electricity to operate. Here is a quick summary of how each system uses electricity:

  • Air Conditioning – Most air conditioners are electric and therefore use electricity based on the number of BTUs produced. For example, if your air conditioner produces 25,000 BTUs and has a SEER of 16, it can produce 16 BTUs for every watt of electricity consumed per hour. As a result, it consumes 1,562.5 watts per hour when the system is running at maximum capacity. If it runs at full capacity for 8 hours per day, 30 days a month in the summer, that’s 375 kilowatt hours – which is the measurement unit you’ll see on your electric bill.
  • Ventilation – Your ventilation system is almost always going to use electricity to circulate and filter air. While mechanical filters rely on the movement of air to remove certain particles, ventilation systems have a variety of components including fans and possibly even condenser coils to conserve energy as air is exchanged between the inside and outside.

Electricity plays an important role in your McKeesport HVAC system no matter how your system works. To ensure yours continues to operate as intended, have your power system checked on a regular basis when the rest of your HVAC system is serviced. To schedule your annual maintenance visit, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call today!

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Pittsburgh Geothermal Guide: Types of Loop Systems

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Energy resources are changing rapidly.  The conventional oil, gas and coal fuels are giving way to alternative sources like wind, solar and hydro.  Geothermal energy is less understood by consumers, but potentially the most abundant source available, nearly as huge a supply as the Earth itself. Many people are considering installing geothermal heating and cooling in Pittsburgh.

From the Greek word “geo” for “earth”, geothermal energy is generated by the natural process of heat gravitating toward cooler temperatures.  The by-product can be captured and utilized simply as heat or converted to electricity. In small, self-contained residential or large commercial applications, this typically happens in either closed or open looped systems.

Closed Loop Geothermal Systems

Systems using water or anti-freeze that run from the pump into the ground and back to the pump continuously are closed looped.  Most efficient for smaller residential systems where land is available, two or three horizontal loops are side by side just a few feet underground.  Sometimes the loops are spiraled underground to extend the overall length in a shorter area.

Where the need for length may be prohibitive to run alongside the building, large commercial buildings and schools often use vertical systems.  A series of holes four inches in diameter are drilled about 20 feet apart and 100–400 feet deep and filled with two pipes connected at the bottom to form a loop. Each loop is connected with a horizontal manifold pipe in a trench which connects to the heat pump in the building. Vertical loops are also the choice when the soil is too shallow for trenching.  This system minimizes the disturbance to existing landscaping.

If the site has an adequate water body, a pond/lake loop may be the lowest cost option where a supply line is run underground directly to the water and coiled into circles at least eight feet under the surface to prevent freezing before looping back to the building.

Open Loop Geothermal Systems

An open loop system takes surface water or a well to use as the heat exchange fluid that circulates directly through the GHP system instead of a piped fluid passing through the surface. Once circulated through the system, the water returns to the ground through the well or a discharge over the surface.

Hybrid systems using a combination of a geothermal loop underground and outdoor air (i.e., a cooling tower), are another technology option, particularly effective when cooling needs are significantly higher than heating needs. Where local geology permits, the “standing column well” is a variation of an open-loop system with one or more deep vertical wells drilled.

Whichever loop is used, it is clear the face of energy is changing and geothermal energy is beginning to play an increasing role of supply to meet the new demand.

For more information about getting geothermal heating and cooling installed in your Pittsburgh home, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling  a call today!

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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!

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Pittsburgh HVAC Installation Guide: How to Install a Programmable Thermostat

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Programmable thermostats are one of the best ways to save on heating costs, especially if you have a hard time remembering to turn down the heat in your Pittsburgh home. Installing a programmable thermostat will allow you to set the times you want the heat turned up or down. Not only will this make heating your home more consistent and save energy, but it will also allow you to tailor your heating needs to your schedule.

For instance, you can set the thermostat to turn on before you get up in the morning so that the house is already warm when you get out of bed, and conversely, set it to turn down after you go to bed or leave the house for work. Depending on the brand and setting options, programmable thermostats are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

Although all styles are slightly different, here are some basic instructions that show you how easy it is to install a programmable thermostat.  Remember, this is only a general guide; always check the instructions inside the packaging of your new thermostat before you install it, or check with an electrician.

1. Remove the Old Thermostat

Before you remove the old thermostat, check to see where it’s mounted. If it’s mounted to an electrical box, the voltage used to power the old thermostat may not be compatible with the new one. Ask a certified electrician or heating technician if you aren’t sure.

CUT THE POWER TO THE HEATING SYSTEM TO AVOID ELECTRIC SHOCK. You should always turn off the main power supply to your heating system before installing any new thermostat. If you aren’t sure how to do this, ask your HVAC contractor. Once you unscrew the mounting plate for the old thermostat, just unhook the wires. Don’t throw an old mercury controlled thermostat. You should ask your local waste management facility how to properly dispose of mercury products.

2. Locate all Wires

Wrap the loose wires around a pencil to keep the wires from falling back into the wall. Identify and label each corresponding wire with a letter (do not use color coding since this is not always accurate). Strip the plastic off the ends of the wires about ¼ inch if you need to.

3. Install and Insulate Wallplate

If the area around the new wallplate is larger than the plate, insulate the hole with non-flammable insulation. Take the wallplate off the programmable thermostat and hold it against the wall to mark the screw holes with a pencil. Pull the wires through the large opening at the bottom and screw the plate to the wall.

4. Wiring

Make sure you are comfortable with wiring before you attempt to do any electrical installations. Check the manual for your programmable thermostat for instructions on wiring that specific model. In general, you’ll want to make sure you match the wire labels with the corresponding terminals on the thermostat. Sometimes there will be extra wires that aren’t needed. Always test it before completing the installation. Don’t forget the battery!

5. Install the Faceplate

Once you have it wired correctly, all you need to do is align the brackets on the faceplate with the corresponding slots on the wallplate and fasten the faceplate to the rest of the mounting. Lastly, tighten the screw at the bottom of the thermostat to hold it in place.

If you have any questions regarding programmable thermostats or would like a professional to install one in your home, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling Company a call.

 

 

 

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Furnace Safety: Some Pointers from Gibsonia

Friday, November 4th, 2011

There are many advantages to a properly operating furnace in your Gibsonia home. The most important are the safety and comfort of a home’s occupants and the cost of running the furnace. There are several things you can do to ensure the safe operation of your furnace.

Here is a checklist of ideas:

  • Clean or change furnace filters on a regular basis. Replace disposable filters and clean permanent filters using water or cleaning solutions. Your owner’s manual or a qualified heating contractor can suggest a regular maintenance schedule.
  • Check the exhaust vent from the furnace. Clear obstructions such as leaves, clothing, or animal nests from the vent pipe or chimney. Keep roof exhaust vents clear of snow. If there is a faulty exhaust system (like a blocked flue), of if there are cracks and leaks in the pipes or improper adjustment of the burner, or if there is lower air pressure indoors than outside, the furnace can create serious indoor air pollution.
  • A clear air intake is important too, since furnaces need fresh air to “breath” and complete the fuel burning cycle. Again, check for debris, snow, or animal nests in intake pipes.
  • If you have an older gas furnace, you may want to install a supplementary induced-draft fan that reduces the possibility of backdrafting. Some furnaces have automatic shutoff devices that turn off the furnace if it begins to backdraft.
  • Check internal components such as the blower motor and vacuum any dirt. Check belts and pulleys for excessive wear. You should consult your owner’s manual for any suggested maintenance tips on internal working components.
  • You may also want to check the pilot light to see if it is working and if it producing an even, blue flame. If the flame is uneven, it may be a sign of incomplete gas combustion, which can result in the creation of dangerous carbon monoxide gas.
  • Ensure that your thermostat is operating correctly by raising or lowering the temperature settings to make sure the furnace cycles on and off.
  • Install and maintain battery or hard-wired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Externally vented natural gas furnaces, when properly designed and installed, will operate safely for years. But if you detect a problem, use the most common solution – contact a qualified heating professional to check out your furnace.

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