Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Oakmont’

Is Geothermal a Good Cooling Option in Pittsburgh?

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Every year, thousands of homeowners are turning to geothermal heating and cooling for its highly-efficient, cost-reducing, and eco-friendly energy. It is very similar to how a heat pump works, and shares most of the same components. But it differs from the air source heat pump in its capacity to harness the energy of the earth. When looking at cooling options in your area, you’ll have to take into consideration your cooling needs, the size and location of your home, as well as your budget. A geothermal system can be an innovative and reliable way to make your home comfortable this cooling season. For more information, or to schedule a consultation with a Pittsburgh geothermal expert, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling.

The two major components of your geothermal cooling system are underground piping, also known as the “earth loop,” and the geothermal heat pump. Depending on your location and the topography of your land, your geothermal piping will be arranged either in a shallow horizontal bed, or in deep vertical wells. The pipes are typically made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and they circulate the water-refrigerant mixture in a closed or open loop. The geothermal heat pump is just like a regular heat pump, but instead of transferring heat indoors and outdoors by drawing it in and out of the air, it draws the heat from the earth loop during the winter, and disperses it into the earth loop during summer.

Geothermal Benefits:

  • Efficiency: Geothermal cooling can often cut your bills in half. The heat pump uses very little energy when compared to a standard air conditioner.
  • Durability: As an alternative to other systems, geothermal cooling systems are made with durable materials that are intended to survive the elements and last many years.
  • Eco-friendly: In a world of every-increasing energy demands, it can be comforting to know that you rely on the temperature of the earth under your feet to cool your home. You’ll not only save money, but you can also reduce the production of ozone-depleting substances.

All in all, geothermal cooling is a great option. For more information, or to schedule a consultation with a Pittsburgh geothermal cooling expert, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today!

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How Does Geothermal Heating Work? A Pittsburgh Geothermal Installation Question

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Are you interested in a home heating and cooling option that will allow you to keep your home comfortable while drastically reducing the amount of energy that you use in doing so? Contact the home heating experts at Boehmer Heating & Cooling today to learn more about how a professionally installed geothermal heating and cooling system can help you do just that. By utilizing a heat pump and the energy stored right beneath your feet, you too can heat and cool your home in a more efficient, environmentally friendly way. Make your Pittsburgh home a little greener with the installation of a geothermal heating system.

Like other heat pump systems, geothermal heating and cooling systems make use of ambient energy for use in your home. Unlike air-source heat pumps, though, geothermal heat pumps draw this heat from beneath the ground or under the water on your property. A loop system is buried or submerged in your property, and an antifreeze solution is circulated throughout this system. When heat has been gathered the liquid goes through the heat exchanger in the heat pump, and the process is repeated. The conditioned air is then distributed through a ductwork system throughout your home.

Because the temperatures at the depths that these loop systems are either buried or submerged are more constant than that of the air, geothermal systems are actually more dependable than other heat pumps. A number of factors and geological considerations of your property will decide if a geothermal system is right for your home. Only a qualified professional is able to determine this.

If you would like to learn more about the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system in your home, contact the experts at Boehmer Heating & Cooling today. A member of staff will be happy to answer all of your questions. We can help you to decide if a geothermal system is the right choice for your Pittsburgh home.

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Does Your Heating System Need Repair Service? A Pittsburgh Heating Guide

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

The winters here in Pittsburgh can be brutal. We all love the occasional outing into the snow, but when it comes down to it, you really need your home to stay warm and cozy. In order to make that happen, you need your heating system to be in good working order. However, sometimes it can be difficult to tell when your heating system needs repairs.

Low Air Flow

This is a very common heating problem in Pittsburgh. Here are a few causes of low air flow.

  • Air filter – If you have a forced air system like a furnace or heat pump, then you likely have a filter to keep dust and dirt from building up on the moving parts inside. If this filter isn’t changed regularly, it can cause a bunch of problems.
  • Fan – The fan inside your air handler is responsible for pushing the heated air throughout your home. If it isn’t working right, it could result in not enough air coming out of the registers.

Insufficient Heat

This is another common problem that we get calls for service for in Pittsburgh – here are common causes of insufficient heating:

  • Air filter – Again, regularly changing the air filter can keep your heating system working effectively.
  • Thermostat – Your thermostat is responsible for regulating the temperature in your home. If it isn’t working correctly, it could be telling your heating system that the home doesn’t need heat, so it doesn’t turn on when it needs to.
  • Dirty burner – Sometimes, the burner in your heating system can become so dirty that only a part of the burner is actually working. This can cause insufficient heat in your home as well.

No Heat

Finally, if your heating system isn’t producing any heat, here are a few reasons why this could be:

  • Thermostat – Like before, a faulty thermostat can cause your heating system not to turn on at all.
  • Pilot light and/or Thermocouple – It’s expected that your pilot light will go out occasionally. But if it starts to happen often, you may want to call a heating technician. Also, the thermocouple is a fantastic safety device for your gas-fired system. It sits next to the pilot light and detects when there is flame. If it senses that the pilot has gone out, it shuts off the flow of gas. This keeps your gas-fired heating system from filling your basement with gas fumes. If it is malfunctioning, it could be shutting off the flow of gas and keeping you from getting any heat.

If you’re experiencing any of these heating problems in your Pittsburgh home, call the heating experts at Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We have experience working on all types and brands of heating systems. We can diagnose the problem quickly and get you back up and running soon. Call us today!

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Pittsburgh AC Tip: Why Are Cleans Filters So Important to AC Efficiency?

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Air conditioners cost money to operate – even more when they don’t work at 100% efficiency. So, it is important to perform the various regular maintenance tasks on your Pittsburgh AC that ensure the system uses as little electricity as possible. The first thing on your list (and the easiest) is cleaning those filters.

Keeping Filters Clean

The Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website states that you can reduce your air conditioner’s energy consumption by as much as 15% simply by keeping the air filters clean. Why do they matter so much? Consider the nature of a filter.

The filter on your AC unit is designed to capture any dust, debris and sediment in the air supply. If that dust and sediment was allowed in, not only would it gum up the mechanical workings of the device, it would get into your ductwork and reduce the air quality of your home. So, filters are used to capture such things. However, when a filter gets clogged, the system must work harder to draw the air in. As it works harder, the motor turns faster and more electricity is used.

It takes very little to clog the filter of an AC unit, especially if it is running 24 hours a day for two or three months out of the year. So, it’s best to check your filters once every 30 days regardless of what type of filter you are using.

Which Filters to Check

The main filter on your AC unit should be checked along with any air handler filters and any air cleaner filters you have installed in your system. Another thing to consider is the condition of your home and the area around your outdoor condenser. If you have pets, lots of plants or your condenser is located in a dusty area, you may need to check and change those filters even more often.

Most filters are located along the return length of the ductwork – sometimes in ceiling ducts and walls, though they may also be located in your furnace’s air handler or inside the air conditioning unit. If you have window units or mini splits, the filters are frequently in the unit.

Clean air filters are important for your health, your wallet and the longevity of your Pittsburgh AC system. Stay on top of them and you will save money in more ways than you might expect. To schedule your annual maintenance visit today, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call!

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McKeesport HVAC Tip: History of Heat Pumps

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Thermal energy is the natural movement from warm temperatures to colder temperatures creating energy in the change of temperature to the mass.  A heat pump typically is a device that moves the air (or other matter) in the opposite direction from its natural flow.

Your McKeesport heat pump uses an intermediate fluid called a refrigerant which absorbs heat as it vaporizes and releases the heat when it is condensed,  using an evaporator to absorb the heat (or energy) from inside an occupied space and forcing this heat to the outside through the condenser. The key component that makes a heat pump different from an air conditioner is the reversing valve which allows for the flow direction of the refrigerant to be changed, allowing the heat to be pumped in either direction.

Timeless Technology

While mechanical movement of this energy, what we can actually call a pump,  has been a relatively recent invention,  the concept of this principal of physics has been in use since ancient times. Harnessing the power of geothermal energy (produced from the heat of the earth itself), natural hot springs “pumped” warm air into cool spaces in China and Europe thousands of years ago.

By 1852, Lord Kelvin had theorized the heat pump, but it took nearly 100 years to actually build one.  In the last half century, the technological advances have made heat pumps part of our lives in many ways.

First Pump

In the 1940s a man named Robert Webber was motivated to build the first known heat pump while tinkering with his refrigerator.  Accidently burning his hand on the outlet pipes of the cooling system, he was quite painfully awakened to an idea about the transference of heat.

Recognizing the freezer was constantly producing heat to cool its interior, he connected the outlet pipe to the storage tank of his hot water heater, extended that into a flow through pipes which heated air nearby, and  then used a fan to blow the warmth into another room.

The first heat pump was a crude, but effective method to provide comfort.  Creating a full-size version soon after, Wagner could heat his entire home.

Heat and Electricity

Today McKeesport heat pumps are built in many ways and shapes to heat or cool buildings of many sizes. As technological improvements are refined, heat pumps promise to play an important part in our futures.

 

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Carnegie Heating Replacement Guide: Heating System Ventilation 101

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Maintaining Proper Ventilation for Combustion Systems

Anytime you maintain, retrofit, or replace a gas heating system in your Carnegie home you also need to be concerned with air quality. Combustion air is needed by all oil and gas heating systems to support the combustion process. This air is provided in some homes by unintentional air leaks, or by air ducts that connect to the outdoors. The combustion process creates several byproducts that are potentially hazardous to human health and can cause deterioration in your home. You can protect yourself from these hazards, as well as maintain energy efficiency, by ensuring that your chimney system functions properly and that your gas heating system is properly ventilated. In some cases, installing a sealed-combustion furnace can also help.

Chimneys

Properly functioning chimney systems will carry combustion byproducts out of the home. Therefore, chimney problems put you at risk of having these byproducts, such as carbon monoxide, spill into your home.

Most older gas furnaces have naturally drafting chimneys. The combustion gases exit the home through the chimney using only their buoyancy combined with the chimney’s height. Naturally drafting chimneys often have problems exhausting the combustion gases because of chimney blockage, wind or pressures inside the home that overcome the buoyancy of the gases.

Atmospheric, open-combustion furnaces, as well as fan-assisted furnaces, should be vented into masonry chimneys, metal double-wall chimneys, or another type of manufactured chimney. Masonry chimneys should have a fireclay, masonry liner or a retrofitted metal flue liner.

Many older chimneys have deteriorated liners or no liners at all and must be relined during furnace replacement. A chimney should be relined when any of the following changes are made to the combustion heating system:

When you replace an older furnace with a newer one that has an AFUE of 80% or more. These mid-efficiency appliances have a greater risk of depositing acidic condensation droplets in chimneys, and the chimneys must be prepared to handle this corrosive threat. The new chimney liner should be sized to accommodate both the new heating appliance and the combustion water heater by the installer.

When you replace an older furnace with a new 90+ AFUE appliance or a heat pump. In this case, the heating appliance will no longer vent into the old chimney, and the combustion water heater will now vent through an oversized chimney. This oversized chimney can lead to condensation and inadequate draft. The new chimney liner should be sized for the water heater alone, or the water heater in some cases can be vented directly through the wall.

Other Ventilation Concerns

Some fan-assisted, non-condensing furnaces, installed between 1987 and 1993, may be vented horizontally through high-temperature plastic vent pipe (not PVC pipe, which is safely used in condensing furnaces). This type of venting has been recalled and should be replaced by stainless steel vent pipe. If horizontal venting was used, an additional draft-inducing fan may be needed near the vent outlet to create adequate draft. Floor furnaces may have special venting problems because their vent connector exits the furnace close to the floor and may travel 10 to 30 feet before reaching a chimney. Check to see if this type of venting or the floor furnace itself needs replacement. If you smell gases, you have a venting problem that could affect your health. Contact your local utility or Carnegie heating contractor to have this venting problem repaired immediately.

Chimneys can be expensive to repair, and may help justify installing new heating equipment that won’t use the existing chimney.

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Cranberry Heating Maintenance Advice: Basic Heating Safety

Friday, January 27th, 2012

While you should schedule a yearly maintenance visit with a qualified HVAC technician to check for any safety concerns, you can also reduce potential safety hazards in the heating system of your Cranberry home. Whether you have a furnace, heat pump, or boiler, you can substantially decrease the chances of dangerous situations with a few minor routine tasks.

If you have any questions about how to better maintain your heating system, give Boehmer Heating & Cooling a call to speak with one of our expert HVAC technicians. Here are a few guidelines to get you started.

Ventilation in Forced-air Systems:

  • Regularly vacuum and clean out your heating vents and fan blower.
  • Check the condition of your chimney and vent pipe to make sure that none of the parts are damaged or show signs of deterioration.
  • Test the thermostat occasionally to make sure your heating system is working at optimal levels. There could be a safety concern if your heater is not properly heating your home.

Heat Exchangers:

  • Heat exchangers should be inspected often to prevent carbon monoxide leaks. Check for any obvious issues, such as rust or other damages.
  • The heat exchanger for furnaces should be inspected by a professional once a year in case there are hidden problems with the equipment, or if any of the components need to be replaced.
  • Check the pilot light in gas furnaces for any flickers or changes in color. Have someone turn up the thermostat while you watch the light, but turn off the system for five minutes first. If there are any changes, there could be a problem with the heat exchanger. Call a professional if you suspect issues with your heat exchanger.

Heating Equipment Inspections and Adjustments:

  • Boilers should be drained regularly to reduce sediment buildup, in addition to testing the water level safety controls. It’s best to have a professional perform these tasks if you aren’t sure how to do them on your own.
  • Adjust the temperature settings if you suspect that the heater isn’t working properly, and if it doesn’t work call a professional heating technician, or if you aren’t sure how to locate or adjust the controls.
  • Check the overall equipment for cracks, rust, or any other obvious signs of damage or deterioration that could create safety hazards.

In addition to performing these tasks, call a licensed Cranberry heating contractor to inspect your heating system at least once a year.

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Oakmont Heating Tip: Signs of an Oversized Furnace

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Most people in Oakmont, when they choose a new furnace, think that “bigger is better”. However, an oversized furnace can present just as many if not more problems than an undersized furnace. So, if you feel you may have overdone it in the past or you want to avoid making a mistake in the future, here are some signs that your furnace may be oversized.

Short Cycling

The most common sign of oversizing is short cycling. Short cycling occurs when your furnace turns on and off frequently because it reaches the thermostat setting so fast. Basically, your furnace is so powerful that it can produce what you need rapidly and then shuts off. But, because it does this, the temperature in your home is likely to cool much faster as well since the furnace isn’t on all the time.

Additionally, the on and off short cycling has a negative effect on your furnace, causing excess wear and tear on the system and eventually leading to extra repairs and in some cases early replacement.

High and Low Temperatures

When your furnace is turned on for a comfortable indoor temperature like 70 degrees F, the high and low temperature between cycles should be relatively close to that temperature. In an ideal situation, you shouldn’t even notice a fluctuation.

So, if the high temperature gets close to 75 degrees F and the low temperature is around 66 degrees F, you have a furnace much too large for the size of your home.

Furnace Room Issues

You might find that the space and exhaust given for the furnace are not sufficient either, especially if your previous furnace was replaced with this oversized unit. Backflow of a gas or oil smell or excess heat in and near your furnace room are both common signs that the furnace is much too large.

So, what should you do about your oversized furnace? If you have had that furnace for some time or just moved into a new home, it’s a good idea to have a new one installed. Have a proper load calculation done and then get a new furnace installed so you don’t have to worry about the system cycling on and off so often. If it’s a newer unit, call your Oakmont technician and discuss possible options to reduce the negative effects of the miscalculation of its size.

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A Tip from Verona: Where to Place a Thermostat for Accurate Heating

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

It’s easy to forget with your furnace in the basement churning away all day to keep your Verona home warm, but your thermostat is the single most important device in ensuring your home is heated to the temperature you want. If it stops working or it misreads the temperature inside your home, your furnace won’t know what temperature it actually is and will turn on and off at the wrong time.

Where Not to Place Your Thermostat

To avoid inaccurate readings, avoid placing your thermostat in the following locations:

  • Direct Sunlight – Direct sunlight will almost always increase the perceived temperature of the thermostat. Unless you live in a greenhouse, this will be very uncomfortable for everyone in your home.
  • Windows – Windows can result in direct sunlight and breezes. If the windows are not properly sealed, cold air can blow in and make it seem cooler in your home than it really is. In any of these cases, your thermostat will misread the indoor temperature.
  • Drafts – Drafts from improperly sealed doors, windows, or anything else in your home can negatively impact the thermostat.
  • Heat Vents – Don’t place your thermostat near a radiator or heat vent where it is likely to be warmer than anywhere else in the house.
  • Kitchens – Kitchens tend to be warmer than other rooms in the house, especially when in use. Avoid placing a thermostat here unless you have a zone control system and your kitchen is separate from other rooms.

A properly placed thermostat will ensure your home is heated or cooled to the temperature you desire regardless of outdoor conditions. If you’re unsure whether your thermostat is calibrated properly, check the temperature with a separate thermometer in a different location in the same room. If it is significantly warmer or cooler in one place than another, try to determine which is more indicative of the actual comfort level in your home. When properly located, your thermostat should never be an issue again.

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Mt Lebanon Heating Contractor’s Guide: Warning Signs of a Broken Furnace

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

How do you know when your Mt Lebanon home’s furnace is “on the fritz?” There are warning signs of a broken furnace and some are recognizable – but not all. A broken furnace not only deprives your home of heat and comfort, it also can be deadly, too.

Let’s look at some of the warning signs.

Each year, hundreds of people die and many more are injured from the most common household poison: carbon monoxide. This colorless and odorless poisonous gas comes from several sources and the furnace is the most common source of all; more precisely a broken or malfunctioning furnace. Carbon monoxide is a result of incomplete combustion of a fossil fuel, which is when a fuel does not burn correctly or completely. In a furnace, carbon monoxide gas comes from a poorly operating burner or a cracked heat exchanger. A properly tuned and maintained furnace greatly reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Since carbon monoxide gas is colorless and odorless, it can go undetected. It can make people sleepy and create flu-like symptoms. Sometimes a person may fall asleep and never wake up. But there are warning signs. Drowsiness, vomiting, or flu-like symptoms are a warning sign. Regularly scheduled maintenance of your furnace by a qualified heating and cooling professional and installation of carbon monoxide detectors can reduce the risk of falling ill to carbon monoxide gas.

Another warning sign is a higher energy bill. Sometimes you can’t detect a problem right away because, like carbon monoxide, there may be no obvious signs. Higher utility bills can be a sure sign of a furnace that is working too hard and running more than usual. This may be a result of clogged or dirty air vents, or dirty filters. If your monthly bills are higher than those of the previous year, it may not just be because gas prices are higher.

There are other warning signs of a broken furnace, too. The most obvious is the failure of your furnace to bring your home up to the desired thermostat settings or to maintain an even temperature. Cold or uncomfortable houses are sure signs of a broken furnace. The furnace may cycle on or off, causing an uneven or inconsistent flow of heated air. This can be because of a poor blower or a clogged furnace filter. If you don’t feel any moving heated air or detect any unusual odors or smells coming from your heating vents, that’s a sure sign of a broken or malfunctioning furnace.

A broken or cracked gas line can emit odors and can cause a furnace to malfunction, too.

Don’t take a chance of losing heat and comfort this winter. At the first possible warning sign, call your Mt Lebanon heating professional for a heating system tune-up.

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