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

Finleyville Heating Installation Question: What is a Gas Furnace Draft Hood?

Friday, January 20th, 2012

As every Finleyville HVAC contractor knows, a draft hood is a necessary part of any gas burning appliance. For a gas furnace in particular it ensures steady air flow to the burners to avoid flares or the pilot light being put out by fluctuation in temperature and air flow.

What the Draft Hood Does

The draft will change in the chimney as exhaust vents towards it – especially when going from cold air to hot. A draft hood is placed above the upper most part of the gas furnace to draw air into the chimney and makes it possible to draw more or less air through the chimney as necessary to create a constant flow.

This makes it possible for the burner to enjoy consistent air flow without any wind gusts or sudden temperature spikes or drops. Hot air, if not put through a draft hood would create a strong air flow through the burners.

A draft hood cools the air as it is released by the burners from 500 degrees F to between 300 degrees F and 350 degrees F. The cooling needs to be carefully calibrated to avoid condensation build up in the chimney however – a problem that occurs when the temperature gets too low.

Maintaining Pressure

The draft hood is a part of a larger system designed to maintain air flow to the chimney. For every cubic foot of gas burned, the furnace needs to have 15 cubic feet of air for combustion and another 15 cubic feet of air for dilution. A draft hood and the rest of the ventilation system make it possible to put a furnace that has many thousands of BTUs in the basement of your home and still supply it with enough air to burn gas and dilute the exhaust before it enters the chimney.

For all of these reasons, if you see your pilot light flickering irregularly, notice a backflow of exhaust or a burning smell in your furnace room, it’s important to call a professional who can inspect and repair the problem before it becomes any worse. Not only can gas burner exhaust contain high levels of carbon monoxide, it can be bad for the device and the chimney if it doesn’t vent properly.

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South Fayette Heating Installation Guide:Comparing High-Efficiency and Mid-Efficiency Furnaces

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Whenever you are in the market for a new furnace for your South Fayette home, there are many models to choose from.  Many of the furnaces manufactured within the last few years are high-efficiency furnaces with a high AFUE rating (AFUE measures the amount of fuel the furnace converts into heat). When people refer to a mid-efficiency furnace, they are usually talking about older furnaces.

Single-stage furnaces were considered to be an efficient heating system when they were manufactured, but compared to newer furnaces, they use up a lot more energy than they need to. Single-speed furnaces are designed to run at full capacity until the temperature inside the home reaches the thermostat setting. After they shut off, the home not only loses heat, but the furnace will also take longer and burn more fuel when it cycles on again.

Newer, two-speed and multispeed models run consistently at lower speeds, and the ones with variable-speed blowers are even more efficient because they can operate at various levels. These models will also automatically adjust to the thermostat to maintain a constant temperature, which saves energy by keeping the home at a consistent temperature so that there’s little heat loss.

When shopping for a new furnace, keep in mind that the AFUE ratings for multispeed and variable-speed furnaces only determine the efficiency of the actual furnace. If you are upgrading your old, mid-efficiency furnace to a high-efficiency furnace, you should make sure that your South Fayette home is properly insulated and sealed.  You could also consider upgrading any older doors and windows to more efficient double-paned ones, or you can also install storm doors and windows.

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Pittsburgh HVAC Contractor Tip: Furnace Air Temperature

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

When your furnace turns on every day and warms your Pittsburgh home, just how hot is the air being blown through your vents? It’s a common question and while it varies depending on the type of furnace you have and the length of your ductwork, normally, the air is about the same temperature in most homes.

The Heating Process

When you turn on your furnace, it ignites fuel (gas or oil) or heats elements (electricity). A blower fan blows air through the heat exchanger and then into ductwork that distributes the heated air to vents around your home. When the combustion occurs and air is first heated, the temperature is between 140 degrees F and 170 degrees F.

This is extremely warm and could be dangerous to anyone if they got too close to it or it was blown directly into your home. However, as the heated air is distributed into your home it starts to cool. In some cases, it loses a significant amount of its energy in the ductwork.

This is intended, of course, because the temperature would be much too high if it was distributed directly to your rooms. That’s why high velocity ductwork often requires regulation to avoid overheating of the air. Cooling like this is normal and results in a better, more evenly distributed airflow.

When Something’s Wrong

To know something is wrong with your heating system, you must first understand what temperature air normally is when distributed through the vents. This will vary depending on which room you are in and how big your home (and furnace) are. However, if you notice a sharp drop off in comfort level in your home, it takes longer to heat rooms when cold or if that heating is suddenly uneven, it may be time for someone to inspect your furnace and check for potential problems.

A technician will then check to see if the air is being heated to the target 140-170 degrees F or if heat is being lost in the air handler or ductwork. There are a number of issues that can contribute to lost heat in your heating system – the easiest way to be sure the problem is solved properly is to call a Pittsburgh professional when you notice the problem.

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How to Make Your Heating System More Effective in South Hills

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Everyone in South Hills wants an effective heating system – one that will provide steady, reliable heat without you having to spend hundreds of dollars each month on gas, oil or electricity. And while the best way to improve the efficiency of your heating system in most cases is to upgrade it, there are some simple things you can do around the house to boost its effectiveness. Here are some of the best:

  • Rearrange Furniture – Just having the heat on doesn’t necessarily ensure the heat entering your room is being distributed evenly. Move your furniture in such a way that there is a clear, unimpeded path from the registers and radiators to the rest of the room. Done properly, this will make it much easier to and faster to heat every room of your house.
  • Maximize Air Flow – Air flow can be maximized in a number of ways. Make sure you close any windows near a register or radiator and that you remove any large objects that might block air flow. You should also install things that can help move air like fans and always call someone in for changes to the arrangement of your vents or radiators.
  • Clean Registers or Radiators – The cleaner your radiators or dust registers are, the more efficiently they release their heat. Not only have that, but clean radiators and registers resulted in better indoor air quality. Weekly cleaning of each room’s heating source is highly recommended.
  • Install Ceiling Fans – Ceiling fans switched to blow down are incredibly effective for distributing air throughout the room. This will keep push warm air down and keeps cold air up – in effect, reducing the need for constant running of your furnace or boiler.

Effective heating is important to keep your home comfortable, reduce the cost of heating and prolong the lifespan of your furnace or boiler. You should also make sure your heating system is properly maintained throughout the year. Skipping maintenance visits (which are highly recommended annually) will put unnecessary stress on your system and shorten its lifespan substantially, not to mention the decrease in efficiency when heating your home.

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A Question from Allison Park-Hampton: How Do I Check a Gas Furnace Draft Pressure Switch?

Monday, December 5th, 2011

There are many reasons why a furnace stops working and in many cases, an Allison Park-Hampton homeowner can perform some simple diagnostics to pinpoint the problem. Finding the problem is one thing – fixing it is another. When in doubt, don’t try it yourself. Call a qualified heating contractor.

But let’s look at one possible problem and solution you may be able to perform yourself – testing the draft pressure switch. The draft pressure switch on a gas furnace allows an electrical current to pass through to ignite the furnace. The pressure switch monitors the draft conditions and won’t allow the furnace’s gas valve to open unless draft is correct.

If the switch is malfunctioning, so too will (or will not) the furnace.

The best way to locate the switch is by consulting with your owner’s manual or by going online and simply typing in the words “gas furnace draft switch.” It is identifiable by its round size and is bolted to the outside of the furnace. It should be nearby the draft inducer motor because the two are connected by a metal tube. The tube may sometimes be the culprit, too. A tube that is blocked with condensation may cause the switch to go bad.

To check for proper function, first turn off power to the furnace, either by shutting down the ‘on’ switch at the furnace or shutting off the circuit breaker.

Use a volt ohm meter to check if the switch is opening and closing properly. Start by zeroing out the meter’s probes by touching the tips together. Using the dial (could be analog or digital), set the meter to 24 volts. Ground the black probe by attaching it to any metal part of the furnace. Then place the end of the red probe on the metal tube connecting the draft pressure switch to the draft inducer motor.

If the switch is working properly the meter should read at least 24 volts, or very near that. If the reading is short of 24 volts, the switch is not working correctly. At that point you may decide to replace it or call a professional to do the task (recommended).

Always remember that there are many sources which will help you diagnose and repair a problem, especially those available through the Internet. If you search YouTube.com you will find many videos advising you on how to repair certain components. Use all of the resources available to you and keep the phone number of a qualified and professional heating and cooling contractor nearby.

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What to do if Your Heating System Breaks: A Guide from Bridgeville

Monday, November 14th, 2011

What if the heart of your Bridgeville home’s heating system – the furnace – stops working? The warm air that used to flow from your vents has been replaced by a chilly draft. It isn’t time to panic, but it is time to take action. Before you do anything, determine why the furnace stopped working. It may be something as simple as a tripped circuit breaker in your electrical panel. Check the circuit breakers first.

The pilot light in your furnace may have blown out. It can be re-lit if you follow the directions in your furnace owner’s manual. You can find answers on how to re-light a pilot light on the Internet, too.

If the shutdown has not been caused by an electrical or pilot light failure, there is still no need to panic. But another obvious question is: did you pay your last gas bill? Maybe you had a shutoff notice and either ignored it or forgot about it.

Now that you are convinced that the furnace has stopped working, here are some things you should do. First, find the name of a qualified heating and cooling professional. If you already use a heating contractor, contact them and schedule a service call.

While you are waiting for help to arrive, ensure that everyone is safe and accounted for. Make sure pets are nearby and protected from the cold, too. What you don’t want to do is use any appliance to keep you warm that is not designed to keep you warm, like a stove. If you have electric space heaters or propane heaters, carefully locate them in a well vented room (windows open a bit or portable fans circulating air). You don’t want any build-up of gases from fossil burning appliances, gases which could contain deadly carbon monoxide.

Huddle up everyone into a room and break out lots of blankets. You may even want to make an “adventure” of this – find a movie to watch and pop up a bunch of popcorn.  If your waiting time is more than 24 hours, you might want to call up a friend or relative and make arrangements to spend the night with them.

The main thing to remember is not to panic. Most qualified heating contractors, knowing the circumstances, will send out a repair person in a matter of minutes or within one or two hours. Just remember to avoid keeping warm by using unvented heating devices.

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It’s Time for a New Furnace: Some Advice from Finleyville

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Replacing your furnace in your Finleyville home is probably not something you want to think about. After all, a new furnace is a big investment and not something you probably have too much experience with. And sometimes having your current system fixed or tuned up is all you need to get your home heating situation back on track. But there are certain situations in which it makes more sense to just go ahead and get a new furnace rather than simply patching up the old one.

For instance, if you have to call for either minor or major repairs to your furnace on a regular basis, it’s probably time to consider investing in a replacement. All of those repairs cost money and chances are that the furnace you’re paying repeatedly to replace isn’t going to last that much longer anyway.

Rather than continuing to dump money into a furnace that just isn’t cutting it anymore, you’ll be better off making the investment in a new unit. The truth is, you’re going to have to do it sooner or later and by buying a new furnace now, you’re actually saving all of the money you would have spent on repairing the old one for another year or so.

Also, a furnace that requires such frequent repairs is probably not functioning all that efficiently either. When you replace it with a newer model, you won’t just save money on repairs. You’ll also likely notice a considerable savings on your monthly energy bills because of how much more efficient your new model is.

Even if you haven’t been repairing your furnace often, you may be able to notice some signs that the old unit isn’t quite up to the task anymore. If you’re suddenly having some significant humidity problems in your house or if your home isn’t being heated evenly, there’s a good chance your furnace is on its way out.

And, in fact, even if your furnace is functioning just fine but is more than 10 years old or so, it’s very likely you’d benefit by replacing it. That’s because the newer furnaces available now are so much more energy efficient than their predecessors that the savings you’ll incur monthly will quickly make up for the initial installation investment.

Of course, you don’t want to get rid of a good furnace if you don’t have to. But if your furnace is getting close to the end of its expected lifespan, you may very well benefit by putting out the money for a new one now so you can start saving right away on your monthly energy bills.

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Top 9 Mistakes People Make When They Buy HVAC Equipment: Guide From Castle Shannon

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Every year millions of homeowners buy a new HVAC system for their home, some of them in Castle Shannon. And whether for heating, cooling or air quality, they make a huge investment in a new system that will be with them for years to come. Unfortunately, many of those people make big mistakes when buying their next system, so to help you avoid doing so, here are some simple things you should not do.

  1. Ignoring Air Quality – Air quality is about more than comfort. It affects the health of everyone in your home equally. Consider it carefully when installing a new system.
  2. Not Upgrading Your AFUE or SEER – New systems are highly efficient. Take advantage of that by buying one with a higher AFUE or SEER rating.
  3. Not Vetting Your Contractor – Always spend time checking up on your contractor, reading reviews and asking other customers how their experience was.
  4. Skipping the Service Agreement – Service agreements save money and help your system last longer. Don’t skip them.
  5. Buying the Cheapest Option Available – It may be tempting, but a cheap HVAC system is a bad idea if you want it to last and save you money in heating and cooling. Even a midrange system will save you money in only a few years with higher efficiency ratings.
  6. Picking the Same Model You Already Had – New models are stronger and more efficient. When possible, get an upgrade and your bills will reflect the difference.
  7. Waiting too Long to Buy – The longer you wait, the more you pay in heating and cooling bills for an old, worn down system. If you know you’re going to buy a new system, act fast to save the most possible money.
  8. Not Asking Questions – If you have a question, ask it. There is no such thing as a stupid question when looking for a new HVAC system.
  9. Ignoring Maintenance Recommendations – Maintenance recommendations are optional but almost always to your benefit. Research on your own before committing to anything, but don’t ignore the necessity either.

If you do things just right, your new HVAC system will last for years to come and provide steady, comfortable heating or cooling throughout that time. But, if you rush through things, make a hasty decision and neglect to do any research, you may have issues with your system in far less time than you’d like. Be smart and you’ll be rewarded.

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Air Conditioners and Energy Use by Percentage: A Tip From Coraopolis

Friday, September 9th, 2011

It’s no secret that air conditioners use up a lot of electricity and can add substantially to your energy bills during those warm summer months in Coraopolis. But did you know that they actually account for an estimated 11% of the total energy used in all buildings in the US each year? This is a staggering figure and makes it easy to see why it’s best to invest in the most energy efficient system possible.

Keeping Your Consumption Down

There are plenty of reasons to try and keep your energy consumption down. You want to save on your energy bills, and the less energy you use, the better it is for the environment. The best and most straightforward way to go about this is to purchase only highly energy efficient appliances and equipment, and that includes air conditioners.

Because air conditioner usage accounts for such a substantial part of the total energy used in this country, putting more energy efficiency models into use is the best way to cut that usage down.

Supplementary Cooling

However, there are other ways to reduce the workload of your air conditioner. For instance, you can use a ceiling fan to maintain good air circulation and keep your home cool. Using a ceiling fan with an air conditioner, even on the hottest days of the year, allows you to turn up your thermostat a bit to conserve energy while still enjoying a comfortable indoor environment. And because ceiling fans use so little energy to operate, you’ll come out ahead on your energy bill.

Passive Cooling

There are also several passive cooling methods you can employ to keep the temperature in your home down. Blocking out sunlight is the most important of these, so keep your blinds closed on any windows that receive direct sunlight, particularly in the early afternoon. Alternately, you can have awnings put up, which allow you to block the direct sun while still keeping the blinds open.

Shade is another effective passive cooling device. Planting trees around your home to block out the sun at the hottest times of day is a totally energy-free way of keeping your home cool and reducing the workload on your air conditioning system. The less your air conditioner has to work, the less energy it consumes and the lower your energy bills will be.

For more tips on how to keep your home cool during the last days of summer, contact your local HVAC contractor.

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What Do the Energy Stars Indicate?

Friday, July 1st, 2011

If you’re in the market for any type of appliance for your home, you’ve probably come across some that boast an Energy Star certification. But what does this really mean? After all, there are all types of special labels that manufacturers put on their products to make them look better, so how can you know which ones are really worth paying attention to?

Why Energy Star Matters

The truth is that no matter what type of appliance you’re looking for, from a coffee maker to a new furnace, buying one with the Energy Star label is definitely a good investment. This certification is conferred by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and it can only be used on products that pass the EPA’s stringent tests for energy efficiency and environmental impact.

Energy Star products create fewer pollutants like greenhouse gasses because they use less energy to get the job done than their inefficient counterparts. This is great for our planet, but it also translates to savings for you as a consumer. Because Energy Star appliances use less energy to heat or cool your home or do whatever else you need them to do, your monthly bills will be significantly reduced.

Quality and Performance Measured

And you don’t have to worry about inferior performance as a result of increased energy efficiency either. Energy Star products can only receive the label if they provide all of the features you’ve come to expect from comparable products across the board. They need to maintain high energy efficiency ratings while still maintaining a superior level of performance.

While it’s true that you may wind up paying a bit more for an Energy Star product, that is only a one-time cost. If you compare the monthly savings you’ll receive by using your Energy Star appliance on a regular basis to what you would pay out over time with a less efficient model, it’s easy to see how the Energy Star product costs you less.

For all of these reasons, the Energy Star rating is definitely worth looking out for when shopping for home appliances and equipment. These products are made to be reliably energy efficient and can save you a ton over the years as long as they’re properly cared for.

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