Boehmer Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Wexford’

Pittsburgh Heating Question: What To Do If Your Furnace Keeps Turning On or Off?

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Your Pittsburgh furnaces is designed to last decades without major problems so long as it is regularly maintained.  They typically work so well, in fact, there is a danger of taking our comfort for granted and skipping the annual service for a year or two as time rushes by, waking up suddenly and brutally to a dark night and no heat.

In retrospect, a preliminary indication of trouble could have been the furnace continually turning off and on in short bursts, something that was tugging at your senses, but not strongly enough to really catch your attention.

Possible Problems

A furnace constantly turning on and off could often be a direct result of poor airflow through the system.  Heat builds up and the detectors sense the proper temperatures have been reached and automatically shut down.  In the room, the thermostat calls for more heat and starts the cycle over again.

A relay switch or control valve may also be worn and working improperly.  A crack in the heat exchanger might fuel the flame to burn too hotly and cause the sensor to misinterpret the information and shut down.

These problems not only impede the distribution of heat to the living spaces, decreasing comfort, but also create intense wear on the motor and controls, threatening the very life of the appliance.

Simple Solutions

Restricted airflow can be caused most often by a dirty or clogged filter.  At the furnace, there is usually a panel that can be removed to check, clean or replace the filter.  It is typically a single or series of cardboard and screen panels approximately 1′ by 2′, but varies by manufacturer and furnace output.

A vacuum to pull lint free or compressor to blow it clean are the recommended tools to use a few times each year.  It is a good idea to change the filters at the beginning of each heating season. The belts are also easily replaced.

The fan belts for the blower may also be worn loose and not pushing the air hard enough to get through the filters.  It is a good idea to check them regularly as well.

The Calvary Charge

When in doubt, call the experts out.  Scheduling an annual inspection and service with Boehmer Heating & Cooling Company takes the worry out of living in a furnace heated home.  Call us today to schedule your appointment!

 

 

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Pittsburgh Heat Pump Question: Why Do Heat Pumps Need Refrigerant?

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Despite its name, your Pittsburgh heat pump is not designed solely for heating. In fact, the technology in your heat pump was originally designed for air conditioning and is used today in air conditioners, refrigerators and cooling units in vehicles and airplanes. And the entire process relies on refrigerant – a chemical compound that is compressed and expanded to move energy from one environment to another.

 How Refrigerant Makes Heating and Cooling Possible

Your heat pump has multiple components designed to transfer refrigerant from one state to another. The compressor, for example, compresses the refrigerant into a liquid. The liquid is then moved through the expansion valve to the evaporator coils where it expands into a gas. Because refrigerant evaporates at much lower temperatures than water, it does this rapidly and in the process draws heat from the surrounding environment.

That’s how an air conditioner or your refrigerator cool a space. However, in the case of a heat pump, the process can work in both directions. In cooling mode, your heat pump extracts heat from the air going into your home. In the case of heating mode, the heat pump extracts heat from the outside air. Because the heat is transferred into the refrigerant, it can then be recompressed by the compressor. The heat is then is then released in the condenser coils, where the gas returns to liquid state. A blower then distributes air blown across the condenser coils into your home as heat.

 Troubleshooting the Process

Your Pittsburgh heat pump is a complex piece of machinery, but once you know how it works, you can perform quite a bit of troubleshooting should anything go wrong with the device. For example, if you notice cold air coming from your vents, you can check to make sure it isn’t in cooling mode and that there is enough refrigerant in the device.

Keep in mind that if any service needs to be performed on the heat pump involving refrigerant, you should call a Pittsburgh HVAC professional due to the volatile nature of the chemical. In most municipalities, you must have a license to distribute or dispose of refrigerant and even if not, it can be dangerous to both you and the environment. Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today for any help with your heating or cooling system!

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Pittsburgh HVAC Guide: How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Monday, May 21st, 2012

When we think of air pollution we often think of outdoor “smog”, but the air in your home or office may also be polluted, even if it looks clean. Sources of indoor pollution include

  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Household cleaners
  • Household décor and furnishings (like rugs and paint)
  • Household pesticides (like rodent or ant-killers, or plant sprays)
  • Radon
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Building materials (like asbestos and lead)

Indoor air quality is of particular concern in newer, better-insulated homes, or in older homes that have been recently weatherized. The “tightness” of modern houses means that any pollutants that get into the home stay there – and perhaps even increase in concentration over time if the source of the pollution is inside the house.

Indoor air quality problems can cause discomfort and even serious disease, especially in children. The good news, though, is that there are many effective ways to improve indoor air quality in your Pittsburgh home.

There are three basic strategies for improving indoor air quality:

  • Air purification. Air cleaners range from small tabletop models to full-house models that are part of the central heating and cooling system. Small air purifiers are typically not very useful, but central air filters can be very effective at removing airborne contaminants. If your heating and cooling system does not include central air filtration, you should consider an upgrade to a new system.
    • It is important to note that air purification will not remove gases like carbon monoxide or radon from your home. Gas pollution must be remedied by professionals.
  • Ventilation. Many forced-air heating and cooling systems do not bring outdoor air into the home. Kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans and attic ventilation fans (when weather permits) can be very important in promoting the circulation of air. Also, opening windows is very important, especially when doing short-term activities such as painting that increase the number of pollutants in the air.
    • You should also consider upgrading to one of the newer central heating and cooling systems that bring outdoor air into the home.
  • Source control. This is the most important indoor air quality strategy, and in many cases, the simplest one. Source control is definitely the most cost-effective strategy for improving indoor air quality, because purification and ventilation both require a constant use of energy.
    • Switch to all-natural household cleaners, buy household furnishings made of natural fibers (instead of synthetic fibers that can “off-gas” volatile organic compounds). When painting, use VOC-free paint. Quit smoking, if you haven’t already.
  • And, don’t forget to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home, ideally next to the sleeping areas.
For more information about how to improve your indoor air quality in Pittsburgh, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling!

 

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Pittsburgh Heating Quesiton: What Are Flue Gas Spill Switches?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

While some components of their Pittsburgh heating system make sense to the average homeowner – think blower fan, thermostat and air ducts – others are more esoteric and prone to bouts of head scratching.

So, you may find yourself asking “what the heck is a flue gas spill switch?”

As you know, gas heating appliances produce heat by means of combustion. The gas line feeds gas into the appliance, the gas is ignited, and the burning gas produces heat. It’s a simple concept that goes all the way back to our caveman ancestors building fires to keep warm, and it is the same process in gas furnaces, boilers and water heaters.

In addition to producing the cozy heat we love in the winter time, this combustion process also releases gases. Known collectively as “flue gases,” some of these – carbon monoxide being the most notorious – can be very toxic. This why we have flues or chimneys in our homes– to give these gases a means of egress.

A flue gas spill switch is designed to shut down the furnace if these gases start seeping out. It is made up of a sensor or series of sensors that detect heat outside the flue, not unlike the flame sensor in your furnace. If flue gases start to escape and pass by the sensor, the sensor heats up and signals the furnace to shut down. This cuts off the power and gas, so that no more flue gases can leak into the home and create a health concern.

If your Pittsburgh furnace has been abruptly shutting down, it could be your flue gas spill switch trying to tell you that you have a leaky or cracked flue. If this is the case, you want to have it repaired right away. The constant off and on is not good for the furnace, and more importantly, those flue gases can be exceptionally hazardous to your family’s health.

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O’Hara Heating Installation Advice: High Efficiency Furnaces and Chimney Concerns

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

When upgrading to a high efficiency gas furnace in your O’Hara home, you may need to make some upgrades to your chimney. Older chimneys built for standard furnaces with normal exhaust needs are not built to the specifications needed by today’s high efficiency models. Not only is it unsafe to leave it as is, but the cost of repairs if you don’t have it upgraded can be substantial.

Down-Sizing

A common concern when upgrading to a high efficiency gas furnace is the issue of condensation and draft. Because the amount of exhaust being vented is reduced by a high efficiency furnace, your current setup is not sufficient for the new model. So, it needs to be reduced in size by a professional to avoid backup of exhaust. Proper chimney sizing is a complex process that requires professional guidelines and careful measurements of all appliances in your home.

Because the chimney often isn’t used at all for a high efficiency furnace (often PVC pipe used instead), the extra airflow in the chimney can become a major issue.

Chimney Condensation

The biggest concern for the chimney when changing the furnace efficiency is condensation. Specifically, acidic condensation droplets can build up in the chimney if not properly stopped. A new chimney liner must be placed in the chimney to avoid excessive corrosion due to the acid droplets. Keep in mind that the efficiency of your new furnace will determine whether you will use the traditional chimney for exhaust or if a new line will be installed to vent your furnace.

When to Take Action

If you have your furnace replaced, your O’Hara technician will likely discuss the chimney situation in your home with you. Keep in mind that this might be necessary and that there might be an added cost involved because of it. Modern furnaces are not designed to accommodate aging chimneys and your safety and the integrity of your house are at risk if you don’t retrofit the chimney if necessary.

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How Often Should I Have My Geothermal System Checked? A Tip from Pittsburgh

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

The beauty of a geothermal system is that is requires very little maintenance from  your Pittsburgh contractor. They have fewer mechanical components are than other heating systems – and most of these components are underground or inside, shielded from the outdoor elements. The underground tubing usually is guaranteed to last 25-50 years and inside components are easily accessible for servicing.

Nonetheless, keeping a geothermal system working at peak efficiency is very important. If the geothermal system loses some of its efficiency, it will cost home and building owners money in energy costs, which makes little sense since geothermal system installation costs are higher than most other heating systems.

Its key component is the ground loop system, polyethelene tubing which carries refrigerant from below the Earth’s surface and back to an above-ground compressor. When installed correctly, the buried ground loop can last for decades. A leak in the metal tubing is usually the only problem if the ground loop is not installed correctly. In the case of a leak, it may be necessary to dig up the tubing – often installed at least ten feet below the surface – and repair the leak.

Other geothermal system components include its air handling unit, compressor, and pump. These components require periodic system checks by qualified professional heating and cooling technicians. Maintenance normally requires filter changes and component lubrication, to name the most common. In some cases, building owners can perform their own filter replacement and refill of lubricants. However, it is recommended that an experienced technician perform a multiple-point inspection of the geothermal system components, usually during regularly scheduled service calls.

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What is Air Purification? A Question from Wexford

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

The air around us is getting more and more polluted these days in Wexford, and people are trying to do more and more to combat it. Cars come with ratings like “ultra-low emission vehicle” and windmills generate power from moving air rather than burning coal. No doubt, these efforts help, but if you want to take an active role in improving the quality of air in your own home, consider an air purification system.

Simply put, air purification is the process of removing contaminants and pollutants from the air. There are a number of devices on the market that can purify the air in your home. While anyone can enjoy the benefits of cleaner air, they are of particular utility for people which suffer from asthma or allergies, or who live in areas with higher concentrations of outdoor air pollution.

There are three main kinds of air purifiers, categorized by the kind of technology they use:

  1. HEPA filtration
  2. Negative ion generation
  3. Electrostatic precipitation

HEPA filtration purifiers simply filter the air that passes through them using a sieve-like filter or series of filters. Depending on the efficiency of the device and the filter, some of these purifiers can trap not only solid and like particles, but also gases and odors. One advantage of this type of purifier is that the HEPA filters can last for years before they need to be changed.

Negative ion generation and electrostatic precipitation models are more complicated and technical because of the technology they use. Consult with a professional to choose which kind of technology is best for your needs, depending on the air quality problem you are experiencing. Some air purifiers can trap bacteria, viruses, fungi or chemicals, so there is bound to be one that will suit your needs.

After deciding on which type of technology you need, you will also have to choose whether you want a portable air purifier unit or a central system that covers the whole house. Obviously the former works well if you are only concerned about the air in a room or two, while the latter is better if you have chronic asthma or a more widespread air quality problem.

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How Can You Improve Your Home’s Air Quality? A Tip from Pittsburgh

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

One of the easiest ways to protect the health of your family is by maintaining high air quality in your Pittsburgh home. Without good air quality, you run the risk of contracting Sick Building Syndrome or making other problems like allergies or asthma worse. Depending on what type of air quality system you already have in place, there are many things you can do to improve your air quality.

Filter Changes

The easiest way to improve air quality is to maintain the equipment you already have. Specifically, change your filters regularly. Filters each have a specified period of time for which they will last. However, if your home has high levels of larger contaminants like pollen and dander, you may need to change your filter more often.

Beyond filter changes, make sure your filtration device uses high quality HEPA filters, capable of stopping debris as small as 0.3 microns.

New Equipment

Finally, you can buy new equipment that does a better job of removing contaminants from your indoor air. If you have only a simple air filter, consider getting a purifier as well to remove other contaminants like smoke and gas. If you have a smaller piece of equipment that works well but longer keeps up with the entire house, there are larger purifiers on the market that can handle a bigger space. Additionally, proper ventilation can help with your indoor air quality if you don’t currently have enough fresh air circulating through your home.

No matter what your problem, there is a solution you can work toward to keep the indoor air quality of your home high.

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Why Install a Ductless Air Conditioner? A Question From Bethel Park

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

As you explore your options in terms of a new home air conditioning system, you will probably have to decide whether you want a system that uses ducts to get the cooled air around your Bethel Park house or one that is considered ductless. Each type of air conditioning system is appropriate in certain situations, so it is important to understand the benefits of each before you can make a decision.

Duct air conditioning systems are the more traditional type on the market today. They generally consist of an outdoor compressor and condenser unit and an indoor air handler. The outdoor unit passes the cooled air through ducts to the air handler, which then takes over circulating the air through the house and back out to the condenser again.

It makes sense to install this type of air conditioning system if you have a large house or if you have ducts already in place. Duct air conditioners can cool a moderate to large sized house quite effectively and they can also be coupled with zone control systems to give you multiple climate zones within your house.

Ductless air conditioners, as their name suggests, do not rely on a system of air ducts to get cooled air distributed throughout your house. Instead, these types of systems use refrigerant lines to transfer coolant from the outdoor compressor to the indoor, wall mounted units. Each of these indoor units can take care of cooling one or two rooms, but in order to cool an entire house with one of these systems, you will need to install multiple indoor units.

However, these multiple indoor units can all be connected to the same outdoor compressor, and they can also be controlled independently. That gives you much greater control over which parts of your house are cooled and how much energy you are using to cool areas that may or may not be occupied.

Ductless air conditioners are generally more energy efficient than ducted ones, but their real advantage comes from the facts that they can be installed even in places where air ducts do not exist or cannot go. If you do not already have ductwork in your house, installing a duct system will add considerably to the price of installing a ducted air conditioning system. In a case like this, a ductless system is much easier and cheaper to install and certainly makes more sense.

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Energy Efficient Home Cooling Tips From Wexford

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Having an energy efficient air conditioning system in place is a great way to keep your Wexford house cool in the summer for less. But that is far from the only thing you can do to help reduce your energy bills throughout the hottest months of the year. In fact, there are several simple steps you can take to start cutting down on your cooling costs right now and lighten the cooling load that your air conditioning system has to bear.

One of the main things to remember when you are trying to keep your house cool is that every door and window is potentially letting in warmer air from outside and letting the cooler indoor air escape. You can cut down on this considerably if you simply take the time to seal up these access points and any others you are able to find.

Putting up plastic over unused doors and windows and checking all areas of the house for drafts and adequate insulation will dramatically reduce the cost of keeping your house cool in the summer. Also, you can keep the sun from warming up your indoor air by drawing the blinds, particularly on those windows that let in the hot afternoon sun.

Putting up light colored siding and reflective roofing will also do a great deal to keep your overall cooling costs down. That is because these materials are able to direct the heat of the sun away from your house rather than letting it be absorbed so that it can heat up the inside. The vast majority of the heat that your air conditioning system has to remove from your house comes in through your roof and walls, so blocking this access point is extremely helpful in keeping your overall cooling costs down.

All of these are steps you can take to reduce the total cooling load that your air conditioning system has to deal with. But if you want your system to continue to function at peak energy efficiency, you will have to take care of it as well.

This typically means having someone come in once a year to perform a thorough inspection and maintenance of your air conditioning system and to clean out any debris that may have accumulated over time. Having this done will make it possible for your air conditioner to continue to function at the highest possible levels of energy efficiency for years to come.

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