Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘West Mifflin’

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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West Mifflin Heating Tip: What to Check If Your Furnace Isn’t Lighting

Monday, December 12th, 2011

If your furnace isn’t lighting properly and your family is starting to suffer because of it, there are a number of possible problems you should check for before calling a West Mifflin heating contractor. Some of these issues can be fixed quickly by you while others may be signs of a serious problem that needs professional attention right away.

Checking the Pilot Light

If you have a gas furnace, the first step is to check the pilot light and ensure it is still working properly. If the pilot light is still on but goes out when you try to light the furnace or simply won’t stay on when you relight it, you may need to have the gas valve replaced. In some cases, it is as simple as the pilot light not being large enough and the gas blowing out the light.

This happens when gas enters the chamber and doesn’t ignite right away. When it does ignite, which happens after more gas enters the chamber, the extra force of the ignition will blow out the light. This is still a problem and should be inspected to ensure you don’t have any potential gas related issues.

Still Not Lighting

If you don’t have a pilot light or the unit still isn’t lighting, it may be an electrical issue. Electrical ignitions for gas furnaces should spark when the thermostat is turned on, so if it doesn’t you know that the switch or relay are bad.

If you smell gas or anything similar in the room where the furnace is located, you should immediately turn off the unit and call your gas company, followed by a technician. There could be a leak causing low pressure that results in your pilot light going out. Whatever the case, you need someone to look at it immediately.

Your furnace should always turn on when you flip the switch and if it does not, assume there is a problem. If you cannot find the problem yourself and easily fix it, you should call a professional. The risk inherent in an improperly working furnace (especially gas or oil) is too high to ignore.

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Home Energy Myths: A Tip From Cranberry

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Measuring and controlling your Cranberry home’s energy consumption is a little tricky. There are plenty of talking heads and information resources on the Internet that tell you how it’s supposed to work, but in most cases you’ll find that so called common knowledge about your home’s energy use isn’t always true. Here are some of the most common myths and how to differentiate from the truth.

  1. Conservation and Efficiency Are Different – Many people think that by getting an energy efficient appliance, like an Energy Star air conditioner, they are conserving energy and helping the environment. To some degree this is true. However, in reality, you are merely reducing how much energy it takes to complete a task. Conservation is finding ways to actually stop using energy for common tasks. Taking baths instead of showers, not watering your lawn, and turning off lights completely are all examples of conservation.
  2. Turning Off an Appliance Saves a Lot of Energy – Regardless of whether an appliance is physically on or not, it still consumes power as long as it is plugged in. The only way to completely stop your energy consumption is to unplug an item completely or use a power strip that blocks access to electricity when the switch is turned to off.
  3. Turning on Items Creates a Power Surge – While turning a computer on and off uses a bit more electricity than simply leaving it on all the time, it isn’t a significant difference. In fact, the longer you leave an appliance on, the more it wears down and the faster it starts to use extra power to remain effective.
  4. One Energy Source is Cheaper than Another – This depends largely on the type of energy source you have for heating and cooling, the cost of that source and how much heating and cooling you need. A single portable electric heater is cheaper than running your entire oil heating system. But, electric heaters are rarely cheaper if you use them to heat your entire home.

Myths abound when it comes to energy use around your home. But there are some easy ways to conserve energy and if you need more information, contact your local HVAC professional.

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AC Maintenance: Why You Cannot Neglect It in West Mifflin

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Especially if you have just purchased a new air conditioning system for your West Mifflin home, maintenance is probably the last thing you are thinking about. In fact, if you are like most people, you do not think about your air conditioning system at all until it does not work when you need it. But if you simply continue to use your air conditioning system without maintaining it, you will be setting yourself up for a lot of problems later on.

Just like your car or any other machine that you run on a regular basis, your air conditioning system requires a regular tune up to keep it running like it is supposed to. The type of air conditioning system you have will dictate exactly how often this maintenance service needs to take place, but most systems benefit greatly from having a tune up once a year.

When you have just purchased an air conditioning system, the last thing you probably want to do is shell out a bunch of extra cash when the system is still running fine. But it really is much cheaper to pay now rather than waiting until you have a problem with your air conditioner to call for service.

During a regular maintenance visit, your technician will examine all of the component parts of your air conditioning system to make sure that they are working the way they should and not showing any signs of excess wear and tear. This is a great way to detect problems early, even when they have not yet begun to show in the air conditioner’s performance.

Your air conditioning technician will also thoroughly clean out your system to ensure that no excess debris is allowed to build up around the coil or other vital parts of the air conditioner. This is important because it helps the air conditioner to continue to function at peak energy efficiency levels. Without regular maintenance, your air conditioner will gradually lose efficiency over time. It will only lose a little bit every year, but if you do not do something to stop it, those little bits will quickly add up.

Regular maintenance also helps to prevent more costly and inconvenient repair visits later on. And it will certainly help to increase the lifespan of your air conditioner as well. Whether you have just purchased an air conditioning system or have had yours for several years, it is never too late to start your annual maintenance visits.

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Who Invented Air Conditioning? Some Facts From Braddock

Friday, August 12th, 2011

For hundreds of years, people have been trying to figure out how to stay cool in the heat of the summer, from Braddock to West Mifflin. But it wasn’t until 1902 that the first modern air conditioner was put into service in Brooklyn, NY. Since then, many adjustments and improvements have been made to make air conditioning available and convenient for people to use in their homes and cars. But through it all, the basic principles used in that first air conditioner have remained constant.

The Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company

The heat and humidity in New York in the summer isn’t something to be taken lightly, but it posed particular problems for the owner of the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company. The conditions inside his facility were such that the paper used was warping and the dimensions fluctuating, causing the printing to constantly come out misaligned.

To try and solve this problem, he hired the Buffalo Forge Company, which itself had just hired Willis Haviland Carrier, a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Engineering from Cornell University. Carrier approached this problem by trying to find a way to cool air by passing it over cold coils in the same way air was heated in those days by passing it over hot coils.

As it turned out, this process worked to reduce both the temperature and the humidity in the area and Carrier’s first air conditioner began running at Sackett-Wilhelms in July of 1902.

The Next Steps

As the potential for this new technology became more and more apparent, demand for Carrier’s device grew in all sectors of the economy. Employers were delighted by the way air conditioners increased the productivity of their workers during the hottest months of the year, and in order to keep up with demand, Carrier eventually founded the Carrier Air Conditioning Company which still exists today.

The coolants used in the earliest air conditioners were generally either highly flammable or toxic, and often both. In order to make air conditioning safer and easier to use, a safer coolant needed to be introduced, which was what drove Thomas Midgley, Jr. to develop Freon in 1928. Freon was initially made up of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), but as the disastrous environmental impacts of those chemicals became apparent, usage shifted first to hydrogenated chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and then to the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are predominantly used today.

To find out more about the air conditioning systems available today, contact your local air conditioning professional.

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The Preventative Maintenance That Will Save You the Most

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Having a high performance, energy efficient HVAC system will save you a good deal of money in terms of your monthly heating and cooling bills. But that efficiency will not last unless you also take the necessary steps to keep your equipment in good working order. While regular maintenance visits from a professional HVAC technician are an important part of this, there are also several things you can do on your own to keep your equipment running at peak efficiency.

  1. Keep it Clear – The first thing you should do is to make sure that there is plenty of space cleared around your outdoor unit. Whether it is the condenser and compressor for your air conditioning system or part of your heat pump, that outdoor equipment needs to have plenty of space to vent hot air. Also, the space will mean that debris is less likely to develop inside the unit.
  2. Clean the Condensing Coil – While your technician will do this when they make their annual visit, it is best to clean your coil more than just once a year. Just make sure that the power is turned off to your unit before you begin. This will help the unit cool air more efficiently and can prevent a whole host of other problems from developing.
  3. Check on the Blower – If your blower is not working right or the blade is clogged, your HVAC unit will not work properly. Make sure your blower fan is free of all debris and that is turns freely once you have cleaned it. If you are still having a problem with it, you may have to call a technician for repairs. Cleaning the blower out on a regular basis, however, should keep this from becoming a problem you need a professional for.
  4. Air Filters – You should also make sure you change your air filters regularly. This can help to keep your indoor air clean and healthy and it will also enable your HVAC system to run more efficiently.
  5. Clean it Out – Clean out any debris that you can reach from any part of your system. Just make sure any time you work inside your HVAC system that you have all of the power turned off. Anything from leaves to dust can get in there and cause a problem if it is allowed to build up over time. As long as you are on top of things and keep to a regular schedule of maintenance, none of this should take you very long.

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I Have a Room that Won’t Stay Warm or Cool

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

When you have a home heating or cooling system installed, you expect it to keep all areas of your home at the same temperature unless you tell it otherwise. But sometimes you’ll find that one of the rooms in your home just won’t stay warm no matter how high you turn up the heat. This can be a very frustrating situation, particularly if that room is one you use a lot.

Insulation and Ductwork Checkups

There are actually several possible reasons that a problem like this can develop. The first thing you should check is if there is adequate, proper insulation in the walls and the floor of the room. Even if you know that insulation is in place, it’s worth it to have a professional come take a look to see if the insulation there is still adequate. Even the best insulation doesn’t last forever, and once it breaks down, you could be losing a lot of heat to the outdoors in the winter.

If insulation isn’t the problem, it’s time to have someone examine your ductwork to see if it’s properly pressurized throughout or if there could be a break in the system somewhere leading to that room. If your home comfort system pumps heated and cooled air towards that room and that air is allowed to leak out along the way, you’ll never be able to maintain the comfort level you want.

Digging Deeper for Causes

Even if there is no break on the way to that particular room, a leak or blockage somewhere else can throw off the balance of the entire system, reducing how much temperature controlled air can reach that part of your home. These are all things that a professional duct tester can find and fix for you relatively easily and inexpensively.

Of course, it’s always possible that uneven heating and cooling is a symptom of a larger problem in your home heating and cooling system. But if that’s the case, you’re better off finding out sooner rather than later because the problem will only get worse when not addressed. No matter what the ultimate underlying cause for your uneven heating and cooling is, you’ll need a professional to come out and investigate before you can have it fixed for good.

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Warning Signs: When to Call for an Air Conditioning Service

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

The last thing you want is to be without an air conditioner during the hottest days of the year. Ideally you would never have to call for service to repair your air conditioning system, but just like anything else, your air conditioner will break down once in a while. However, you can dramatically reduce the inconvenience and cost of emergency air conditioning repairs if you are able to spot the warning signs of a problem before it shuts down your system completely.

For instance, all air conditioners make noise, but if your air conditioning system is suddenly making much more noise than it used to, chances are that something in there is not working properly. Calling for repairs when you notice this sudden increase in noise from your system will greatly increase the chances that the repair will be relatively minor and that you will not have to go without air conditioning when you need it most.

Also, it is a good idea to call for service if your air conditioning system does not seem to be doing as good a job as it used to when it comes to cooling your home evenly and effectively. Uneven cooling is a good sign that something is not working right within your system. And even if your air conditioner continues to work, it will probably be using up more energy than necessary for a less than ideal end result.

Along these same lines, a noticeable increase in humidity in all or part of your home is another good indication that something is wrong with your air conditioning system. Air conditioners both cool and dehumidify the air, so if yours stops removing humidity properly, you need to find out why.

In fact, even if you do not notice any difference in the way that your air conditioner is performing, you can still spot a problem if you keep a close eye on your energy bill. If you see a sudden increase in the amount of your bill because of the amount of energy that your air conditioning system is using, it is a good sign that something is not working right.

It may be tempting to put off calling for repairs, particularly if your air conditioner is still able to keep your house comfortable. However, it will likely be much cheaper and more convenient to have the repairs done early rather than waiting until the unit breaks down entirely.

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How Can I Be Sure My Home’s Air is Safe?

Monday, May 30th, 2011

There are many ways to ensure your home’s air is safe to breathe, but the easiest is to have it tested regularly and to use proper filtration and ventilation. However, there are a lot of different filtration methods, so here are a few known to work best.

Air Filtration

If you have pets or a lot of plants, air filters are a great idea because they remove most of the larger particles that get into our air supply. This includes things like pet dander, pollen, mold, and other particles like dust. If you have allergies or someone in your home has asthma of any kind, this is the best way to be sure they don’t breathe anything they shouldn’t.

Air filtration is also very simple to install and inexpensive to maintain. Just be sure you opt for HEPA air filters. They are the best on the market and are certified to capture much smaller particles than any other filters, plus they tend to last quite a bit longer.

Air Purification

For big time air cleaning, you want to go with an electronic air purifier. These machines will actually ionize the air in your home to separate out smaller particles such as gas, smoke, or pathogens like bacteria and viruses. They can also capture some larger particles like mold and dust mites. The key to effective air purification is to use it in conjunction with a good air filter.

Also, consider the use of a good UV filter with your air purifier. UV filtration can be installed in your air ducts or vents to kill any unwanted pathogens as the air is circulated.

Testing and Cleaning

The final step is to make sure your air stays clean. Get detectors for big time contaminants like radon and carbon monoxide but also have your air quality tested every year or two to check for high levels of other contaminants.

If you have filters and ductwork, make sure they are cleaned regularly. Filters must be changed on schedule or they simply won’t work as intended. You should also maintain a powerful ventilation system that will keep a steady supply of fresh air coming into and out of your home. An energy recovery model is best to minimize heat and cooling loss from your comfort system.

Overall, your air quality can be maintained year round with a close eye to the maintenance of your equipment and regular testing.

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