Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Ross’

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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Pittsburgh Air Conditioning Guide: Cooling Coil or Evaporator Coil Diagnosis & Repair

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Inside the air handler of your Pittsburgh air conditioning system is a cooling coil or evaporator coil. From a home cooling perspective, this is where the magic happens: where the actual cooling occurs. So, if there is a problem with the cooling or evaporator coil, you will notice a decrease in the performance of your AC system.

You may notice that the air flow has slowed significantly or even stopped, even though you can hear the air handler running. You may also notice that the air isn’t as cool as it used to be or should be. Aside from having a house that is not cool enough, this can also cause problems like high electricity bills or damage to other parts of the air conditioner. Use this quick guide to start diagnosing and repairing the problem.

Diagnosis

For starters, just try to get a good look at the cooling coil. Some problems are obvious enough upon visual inspection that no further diagnostics or major repair is necessary. To inspect the cooling coil on your air conditioner, first turn off the electricity at your fuse panel or breaker box. Then, locate the access panel on the air handler that can be removed to at least partially expose the coil. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for help.

Once you are able to see the cooling coil, look for things like:

  • Dirt and debris
  • Mold
  • Staining that indicates a refrigerant leak
  • Ice or frost
  • Damaged fins on the coil

Repair

Any of these could be the culprit that is degrading the performance of your Pittsburgh  AC system. Some of these you can take care of pretty simply on your own – if there is obvious debris that you can remove safely, do so – but for most repairs you will want to call in a licensed technician. Especially if the problem is something potentially hazardous like mold growth or a refrigerant leak, you don’t want to take the risk. Let Boehmer Heating & Cooling who has technicians that are  trained in safely and effectively repairing the problem take care of it, so that your home can be comfortable again.

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Bridgeville Geothermal Installation Guide: Components of a Geothermal Heating System

Friday, January 13th, 2012

A geothermal heating system for your Bridgeville home has three basic components and some add-on ones as well.

Its most distinguishing feature is the ground loops. The most common is the “closed” ground loop system, which is a series of pipes that are buried underground. These pipes contain a heat transfer fluid, comprised of antifreeze and water. This fluid absorbs heat from the ground and carries it to the home. This fluid also absorbs heat from the house and sends it into the ground to keep the home cool.

Examples of closed loop systems include the horizontal closed loop, which can be used in larger parcels of land (over an acre for example). The loops are placed typically placed horizontally 6-to-10 feet below the surface. A vertical closed loop design is recommended for smaller parcels of land and loops are often buried vertically approximately 20 feet underground. Other types of ground loop designs use well water to transfer heat in an open loop configuration, or have a closed loop submerged underwater in a pond or lake.

The next component is the heat pump, which draws the fluid from the ground loop. In a heat pump, heat energy is exchanged with the ground to heat or cool the home. In the heating mode, fluid warmed from underground flows through the heat pump. A fan blows across the pipe warmed by the fluid. Because the fluid is much warmer than the air inside the heat pump, heat energy is released into the cooler air. The cool air is warmed and distributed inside the home. The process is reversed for cooling. Cool fluid in the pipe absorbs heat from the warm air inside the home. Once pumped underground, the excess heat in the fluid is absorbed by the cooler earth.

The final component is the air handling or distribution system. Here, a fan in the heat pump’s furnace blows air over a fan coil and the heated cooled air is distributed through the home’s ductwork. Some distribution systems are hydronic, where hot water is circulated through radiators or radiant floor heat tubing. This water absorbs heat from the heat pump and then distributed throughout the home.

In some homes, both a forced air and hydronic system, often referred to as a “hybrid system” work together.

Optional components include a heat pump “desuperheater,” which is used to help with domestic hot water heating. In warm weather, the desuperheater recovers some of the heat – that would otherwise be sent to the ground loop – to help produce hot water. In cold weather, some of the heat pump capacity may be diverted from space heating for the same purpose. Desuperheaters save approximately 25% on domestic water heating costs.

Another component is an auxiliary electric heater, which is built into the geothermal heat pump This auxiliary electric heat is installed to allow heating and cooling technicians to size – or resize – a home’s geothermal heat pump system to assist the system during the few coldest days of the year. Auxiliary electric heat is also an emergency backup heat source if there are any operational issues with the geothermal heat pump system.

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Ross HVAC Contractor’s Guide: Heat Pump Load Calculation

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

When purchasing a heat pump in Ross, the first thing you should do is determine what type of heat pump you want and how big it needs to be to provide ample heating and cooling to your home. If you’re unsure what you need, here are some tips to size a heat pump for your home’s particular needs.

The Importance of Sizing

Before buying anything, consider the cost of an oversized heat pump. A lot of homeowners opt for the biggest device on the market, but they don’t realize that they’re paying more than necessary for their device. An oversized device cycles on and off more often than is necessary and wears down much faster, resulting in an increased electric bill and faster wear on the device. It’s not good for your heat pump or your wallet.

How to Size

To correctly size a heat pump, the first step is to perform a load calculation. This is done by measuring the total volume of the rooms being heated (in cubic meters) and then determining the heating factor based on the type of insulation used.

There are different measurements depending on the type and R-rating of your insulation. For example, a single external wall without any additional insulation has a heating factor of 15. The number of external walls, the insulation in those walls and/or the ceiling and the rating of the insulation will determine the total heating factor for the room.

You will then divide the room volume by the heating factor to determine the number of KW (converted to BTUs) needed to heat that particular room.

Professional Sizing

The reason it is so important to call a professional is that certain things, like poorly insulated windows, cracks in the foundation, leaks in the ducts and other issues can have an impact on the overall heating factor measurement. Additionally, the type of heat pump you choose must be effective when connected to an air handler for your entire home. A professional can make these measurements and ensure the right sized device is selected.

If you’re unsure about anything related to sizing and selecting a new heat pump for your home, call a Ross professional in. They will perform a full load calculation and present your options for a new heat pump based on those calculations.

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North Hills Heating Tip: Geothermal Myths

Monday, December 19th, 2011

As with any misunderstood technology, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions concerning geothermal heat pumps and how well they work in North Hills. While these types of systems certainly have their limitations, the same is true of just about any type of heating and cooling system you could have installed in your home. But if you are really trying to evaluate whether or not a geothermal heating system is right for your home, you need to know exactly what is true about these systems and what is just not true.

For instance, there is a widely held belief that geothermal energy is not a viable heating option in areas with harsh winters. The fact is, though, that even when the air temperature outside is below freezing, the temperature several feet below ground can be as high as 55°F.

With a ground temperature like that, a geothermal heat pump will have no trouble extracting enough heat to keep your home comfortable even when it is well below freezing outside. And even when the ground freezes, the frost usually only extends three or four feet below the surface. Since the pipes for your geothermal heat pump will be at least four feet down, the frost should not affect them at all.

Also, it is common for people to assume that geothermal heat pumps will always need to have a regular heating system in place to serve as a backup. In fact, a geothermal heat pump is quite capable of providing consistent and adequate heating for your entire house as long as it is properly sized and installed. Make sure you are dealing with an experienced and qualified contractor and you will have no problems along these lines.

There are also plenty of myths floating around out there that geothermal heat pumps are just too expensive to make sense as a home heating solution. The truth is that geothermal heating costs almost nothing to operate.

While it is true the geothermal systems are quite a bit more expensive to install than many of the other options, alternative heating systems will still cost a significant amount to install and you will also have to pay much more to operate them on a regular basis. With a geothermal heating system, you pay quite a bit up front, but it is a one-time cost and there will be minimal monthly heating bills after that.

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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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How to Add Freon to a Central Air Conditioning Unit: A Guide From Braddock

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

An air conditioner cannot cool your Braddock home without an adequate amount of Freon. So if you’ve noticed a drop off in the cooling power of your central air conditioning system, inadequate Freon levels may be the culprit. But before you try to add more Freon to your unit, there are several things you need to know.

Low Freon Means a Leak

The truth is that your central air conditioning system should never need to be “topped off” with Freon. The coolant in your unit is part of a closed loop system and doesn’t get used up like fuel. Instead it continues to circulate through your compressor, absorbing and releasing heat to keep the air passing through it cool and comfortable.

If the level of Freon inside your air conditioner drops below the proper level, it generally means there’s a leak somewhere in your system and you’ll need a qualified professional to find that leak and make the necessary repairs.

Professional Access and Expertise

Even if you’re inclined to add Freon to your unit, you’ll probably have a hard time getting your hands on it. As an EPA regulated substance, Freon can only be purchased by EPA certified technicians. If you’re able to purchase this type of coolant for your air conditioner, you’ll need to make sure you know what type your unit uses. Most air conditioners these days use either R22 or R-134a. It’s important that you only use the type of Freon that your air conditioner is built for.

Potential for Harm

Freon is regulated so strictly because it is an extremely hazardous substance. It can harm you or your family and it can do a lot of damage if accidentally released into the atmosphere. To top everything off, if you do accidentally release it, you could be subject to some hefty EPA fines.

In extreme cases, you can do irreparable damage to your air conditioning system by trying to add Freon inappropriately or without proper training. For all of these reasons, it’s best to let a certified professional check and, if necessary, top off the Freon levels in your AC system. For the minimal cost of this service, you can avoid risking the health and safety of your family as well as that of your AC system.

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How Do I Find the Right Size Unit for My Room? A Question From Ross

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

When buying an air conditioner in Ross, there are a lot of things you need to take into account. One of the most important is the size and power of the unit you choose. Air conditioners come in many different sizes, so if you really want to get the most out of your purchase, you need to do your research and pick one that fits your home like a glove.

Square Feet and BTUs

The best way to determine how large of an air conditioner you need is to match the number of BTUs the unit has to the square footage of the room you want to use it in. That means you need to know what room you’re buying it for before you make your purchase.

The number of BTUs needed goes up proportionately with the room size, so even if you don’t have exact measurements or if your room is oddly shaped, you can get a good idea of how large an air conditioner you need. For instance, a 400 to 550 square foot room is best served by an air conditioner with between 8,000 and 11,000 BTUs, while a room that’s only 250 square feet would probably be fine with a 6,000 BTU unit.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

One of the most common mistakes people make when buying an air conditioner is to assume that the bigger the unit the better it will work. The truth is that buying an air conditioner that’s too big for your room is just as much of a waste as buying one that’s too small.

A larger air conditioner will cost more, and it will probably make the room too cold. It will also cycle on and off more frequently than a properly sized unit and it won’t be able to properly control the humidity level, leaving you with a cold, damp environment. That’s not very comfortable.

Other Factors

The square footage is definitely the most important piece of data you’ll need before buying a new air conditioner for any room in your house. But don’t forget to take some other factors into account as well. For instance, if the room has particularly high ceilings or receives a lot of direct sunlight, you’ll probably need a slightly more powerful unit than the straight square footage would indicate.

If you’re not sure how certain features of your home will impact your buying decision, call a professional who can help you get a more exact idea of what it will take to stay cool.

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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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The Facts about Indoor Air Quality

Friday, May 27th, 2011

One of the least understood aspects of your home’s comfort system is the indoor air quality. Most people assume that once they have a good furnace and air conditioner installed, there’s nothing left to worry about. However, with the push in the last 20 years to reduce energy loss through poor insulation, most homes are sealed up tighter than ever before. This doesn’t just cause stuffy indoor air – it can actually lead to illness.

How Bad Can Indoor Air Quality Get?

Homes built in the 1980s were recommended to have one third of the ventilation of those built before. Today, the standards have returned to their original levels, but for many years, homes were built with poor ventilation and excessive insulation. The result is a space that holds the air in too well. Everyday contaminants and allergens like dust, pollen, pet dander, mold, or smoke cannot get out of your home and as a result, you can get sick.

In fact, some people even suffer from Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). This is when they feel ill constantly, with respiratory symptoms that have no root cause and are hard to diagnose. Often, it is because they simply breathe too many contaminants and too much stale air.

Fixing Air Quality Is Simple

The first thing needed to fix air quality is a good filtration system. Despite what many people think, simple filtration is not that expensive. There are big, powerful purification systems with advanced ionization units and UV lighting to kill bacteria and viruses, but most families are served well with a simple HEPA filter to remove things like dust, pollen and dander.

It’s a good idea to have your indoor air quality tested, however, just to make sure other contaminants are not present. High humidity can lead to mold growth, and poor ventilation can lead to exhaust or gas fumes in your home. A good carbon monoxide detector is recommended for the latter, but testing should be done to make sure nothing else is floating around.

Finally, make sure your home is properly ventilated. Standard ventilation tends to leak heated or cooled air outside, so many homeowners now opt for energy recovery ventilators. These systems have heat exchangers that transfer warm air between indoor and outdoor air.

However you want to fix your indoor air quality issues, know that there are plenty of things you can do with the help of a good filtration device and regular cleanings of your ductwork and vents.

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