Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Westmoreland County’

Pros and Cons of Various Heating Systems in South Fayette

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

When it comes time to install a new heating system in your South Fayette home, there are a lot of options to consider. Many people get overwhelmed when confronted with all of the furnaces, boilers and heat pumps on the market these days. So, to help you get a handle on what each has to offer and which will offer you the best benefits, here is an overview of the modern heating system market.

Furnaces

Furnaces are the core of a forced air heating system and use gas, oil or electricity to heat air which is then circulated through your home by a blower in your air handler. Furnaces are among the most fuel efficient heating systems on the market today with options available at up to 95% AFUE (meaning it uses up to 95% of the fuel consumed to produce heat). They are also inexpensive to install and while they don’t last quite as long as boilers, they are highly efficient when well cared for.

Boilers

Boilers use gas, oil or electricity to heat water or steam which is then circulated through your home into radiators or baseboard heaters. The heated water or steam releases heat into your home and heats it in turn. While not quite as energy efficient as a high efficiency furnace, boiler heat is perfect for homes with existing radiators and no room for vents and ductwork. It also has less of an impact on indoor air quality since there is no air movement and boilers tend to last a very long time when well maintained.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular, especially in milder climates where it rarely gets below 40 degrees F. A heat pump uses the same technology as an air conditioner to extract heat from outside using a compressor, evaporator coils, and condenser coils with refrigerant.

It is most efficient in the spring and fall when temperatures are mild, but it uses much less energy than either a boiler or furnace and it can be used in the summer to cool your home. When properly maintained, a heat pump will last 10-20 years and save quite a bit of money, though it is recommended that you have an emergency heat source for days when the temperature outside gets below 40 degrees F.

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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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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! We would like to thank you all for being loyal customers and helping our business prosper. Have a great holiday; we hope your Thanksgiving is full of friends, family, and delicious food! And to make you day a little sweeter, here is a recipe for Pumpkin Gingerbread from allrecipes.com:

Pumpkin Gingerbread

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large mixing, combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove.
  3. In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.

For more details, click here.

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How to Replace a Thermostat: A Guide from Washington

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

There are a lot of common household tasks that do-it-yourselfers in Washington can handle beyond changing light bulbs or replacing a fuse. One of those is changing out a thermostat. The reasons for replacing a thermostat can vary from making an upgrade to changing out a thermostat that is not working right – or at all. Whatever the reason, the task is pretty simple and require s very little time and very few tools.

Let’s set the stage.

The materials you will need are the replacement thermostat, wire connectors, electrical tape (optional), needle nose pliers, and a screwdriver.

Here are the steps:

  1. Turn off electrical power to the existing thermostat. You can do this by flipping a breaker switch or removing a fuse from your home’s electrical panel. This would be a good time to make a note of the circuit’s location, writing the circuit number on the panel door or using a sticker.
  2. Remove the cover from the existing unit. You should be able to locate the screws that hold it to the wall mounting plate. Remove the screws and pull the unit away from the wall and mounting plate. Be careful not to touch the electrical wires together on the thermostat.
  3. Disconnect the wiring. Carefully remove the electrical wiring from the unit and keep the wires apart. You might want to tape the bare ends and also ensure that the wires don’t fall back through the wall. If the wires are not color coded, mark each one and which terminal they were removed from. Remove the mounting plate.
  4. If you are using a new mounting plate, make sure it fits over the existing hole and then pull the wires through the opening of the plate. Make sure the mounting plate is secured to the wall with the proper screws.
  5. Now match the wires to the terminals on the new thermostat. The wires are usually color-coded but if not, make sure you attach the right wires to the corresponding numbered terminals on the next thermostat. A green wire, which operates the furnace fan blower, is connected to the “G” terminal. The white wire operates the heater and attaches to the “W” terminal. The yellow wire operates the air conditioner and connects to the “Y” terminal. Use a wire nut to secure the wires and keep them apart from other wires. Ignore any other wires coming out of the wall as they are not necessary and may have been added by the original builder for other purposes.
  6. Carefully move the wires back into the wall as you line up the new thermostat on the mounting bracket. Install the new bracket and secure the thermostat to the bracket.
  7. Turn your power back on and check your thermostat by setting the temperature high or low, to engage the furnace or air conditioner.

This simple procedure can be done in less than 10 minutes. But if you have any doubts and want greater peace of mind, call a professional heating and cooling contractor to perform the installation.

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Furnace Fan Doesn’t Run? Why Is That? What Should You Do? A Guide from Bridgeville

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

There are several reasons that a furnace fan might stop working at one point or another. While many of these do require a Bridgeville professional‘s attention, there are probably some things you can check on your own before you go and call in the pros. After all, if you can address the problem on your own, it will at least save you from having to pay a technician to come out.

The first thing to check when your furnace is running but the fan isn’t turning is whether or not the fan is actually switched on. Certain models of furnaces have a separate switch to turn the fan on and off. While there is probably no reason that you would want to turn off the fan by itself, it’s worth taking a look just in case. If that really is the problem, you’ll be up and running and back to dealing with better things in no time.

If that’s not the problem, you might try looking to see if any wires leading to the fan are loose or the fuse is blown. If the fan has no power, of course, it won’t be able to work but the rest of the furnace likely would work just fine as long as it doesn’t run on electricity as well.

Of course, the problem very well may be beyond your power to solve on your own. Don’t despair though. Even though you need to call in a professional, that doesn’t mean that the problem will be expensive to fix. In fact, it may be as simple as replacing your thermostat or the motor for the fan itself.

Just because a fan isn’t working doesn’t mean that you’re going to be paying an arm and a leg to have work done on your furnace. If you can’t easily discover the problem on your own, however, or if you’re not comfortable inspecting this type of equipment at all, you’re generally better off just calling in an expert and letting them do the dirty work for you. Paying for simple furnace fan repairs is definitely preferable to having to pay someone to fix the fan and the stuff you broke yourself while trying to fix the fan on your own.

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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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Is Geothermal for Me? A Guide From Sewickley

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Geothermal heating is a great alternative to other types of home heating systems in Sewickley. It is safe and efficient, costs very little to operate and makes use of a great renewable resource right below our feet. But is it right for you? Well, geothermal heating may be the right choice for many people, but there are many things to take into account before you can determine whether or not it is the best choice for your home.

The first important thing to understand when you are trying to decide whether or not to go with geothermal heating is how one of these systems actually works. A geothermal system heats your home by extracting heat from the ground and then transferring that heat into your indoor air. This happens when liquid, usually water or antifreeze, passes through a loop of pipes installed several feet below the ground.

The liquid absorbs heat from the ground, which in the winter is always warmer than the air, and carries is back up to an air handler inside your home where that heat is allowed to disperse into the air. Once the air is heated, the air handler blows the air through a system of ducts throughout your house, providing a constant stream of heated air to all areas of your home. The liquid, on the other hand, simply cycles back through the ground loop to pick up more heat and repeat the same cycle over again.

Because a geothermal heating system does not actually generate heat, it requires very little energy to operate. This means that it is both very cheap for you to run and environmentally friendly. But since installing a geothermal heating system involves putting pipes in underground, it can be pretty expensive initially. However, as long as the amount you save every month on your heating costs is enough to offset the high initial price of installation, it is worth it to put down the money up front.

Another alternative, of course, is a more traditional air source heat pump. These are much cheaper to install and nearly as cheap to run. However, air source heat pumps are not as efficient when the air temperature gets below freezing as a geothermal system can be. If you live in an area with harsh winters, the geothermal heat pump is a better option than an air source unit.

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Is Your Home More Valuable with Energy Efficient Appliances? A Question From Sewickley

Friday, September 16th, 2011

It’s impressive the things people do to improve the value of their Sewickley home. We’re talking about crown molding, new floors, new siding, upgrades to the landscaping and much more. The cost of upgrading these things can grow out of hand quickly and if the boost to your home’s value isn’t equally exponential, it’s hard to justify the expense.

So, it’s always nice to find a simple upgrade that can be performed for a few hundred dollars that will save you money immediately and improve the value of your home in the future. Your appliances are one such upgrade.

The Value of Energy Efficiency

An energy efficient washing machine can save upwards of $150 per year on water costs. An energy efficient toilet cuts consumption by as much as 150%. Low flow shower heads cut water costs by one third to one half and your heating and air conditioning systems can be improved by 10-35% depending on the upgrades available to you.

When you add up all those savings, the result is a tremendous amount of money that can be saved each year on everything from your water bill to your cooling needs. Imagine what happens when someone looks to buy your home. They see that there are all new appliances with energy efficient ratings that will save them money.

It’s not just lower bills; it’s a decrease in upfront investment. On the surface, it’s unlikely that your energy efficient appliances will directly increase the value of your home, but they can increase the likelihood of someone paying what you’re asking for the home. They add value to the livability of the home, if not the property itself and in today’s housing market, that’s a major plus.

Best Upgrades

The best upgrades to your home’s appliances are the ones that save money without additional work. Major upgrades to your heating and cooling are good if you need an upgrade anyway or you plan on staying in your home for a few years.

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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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