Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. Blog: Archive for October, 2013

Washington, DC Heat Pump Tip: Why Your Heat Pump Isn’t Heating

Monday, October 28th, 2013

If you have a heat pump installed in your home, you’ll expect it to fulfill both sides of its heating and cooling bargain: air conditioning during hot weather, heating during cold weather. With the chilly temperatures now crawling up on us in Washington, DC, you might find that your heat pump is failing on the “heat” promise. What might cause this, and what can you do to get the heat levels you need?

Polar Bear handles Washington, DC heat pump installation, repair, and maintenance—we know what sort of problems you may encounter with the heat pump in your home, and we are ready to help. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Why you might not get heat from your heat pump

Before investigating any possible serious malfunctions with your heat pump, make sure that you have it set correctly. Check the thermostat to see that the pump is in “heating” mode, not “cooling.” Make certain that the current programming in the thermostat (if you have a digital, programmable model—and you should) isn’t causing it to shut off at the wrong time.

There is the possibility that the thermostat has developed a fault and is sending the wrong instructions to your heat pump: this is a common occurrence, but one that technicians will have little trouble addressing.

If the heat pump is experiencing issues, the likely reasons are a malfunctioning reversing valve or compressor. A heat pump needs two compressors and the reversing valve to change from air conditioning to heating.

Another possibility to consider is the temperature outdoors. Heat pumps draw heat from outside to warm your home. Even when it’s cold outdoors, there is still some heat available. However, at extreme cold temperatures, heat pumps will struggle to operate efficiently. This will become noticeable when the outdoor temperature drops below 35°F. Then your auxiliary heat will turn on to keep your home comfortable. However, if there is an issue with your electric resistance coils, then your heat pump will not be able to heat your home.

Another issue can be the defrost cycle. When the heat pump is absorbing heat from the outdoor air, ice can form on the evaporator coils. Usually, your heat pump will have a defrost cycle that runs periodically to melt this ice and allow your heat pump to function. However, if there is a problem with your defrost cycle, the ice can build up on the coils and prevent them from absorbing the heat from the air.

Heat pumps won’t work for all homes and all weather conditions. If you discover that your heat pump isn’t malfunctioning and simply cannot cope with the extreme cold, you may need to get a replacement model, a larger heat pump, or a back-up system.

Heat pump repairs require service from professional HVAC technicians. If you can’t explain why your heat pump has stopped giving you heat, contact us right away. With more than a decade of experience, we can find out the source of the problem and devise a solution that will restore your warm indoors as quickly as possible. Give your Washington, DC heat pump the finest care— call Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating!

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Paying Too Much for Heating in Arlington, VA?

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

In terms of heating, Arlington, VA homeowners need to watch the bottom line. Our winters can get cold, and a good heating system is often the only way to keep your home warm and comfortable when temperatures drop. A lot of people simply accept high heating bills as the price they pay for a cozy home. But it doesn’t have to be the case. Are you paying too much for heating in Arlington, VA? If you are, you can take steps to alleviate the condition.

It can be tricky to spot high heating bills, especially in the winter. Obviously, you are not going to use your heater as much during the fall as you do in the dead of winter. One good method to determine whether you’re using too much energy is to schedule a maintenance session for your heating device. A trained technician can arrive at your home and examine the heater for any signs of wear or use. If a small part is worn out, he or she can replace it. If dirt or dust have built up, he or she can clean the unit. If larger repairs need to be made, he or she can pinpoint the problem and schedule a later service date. Ideally, this maintenance session should take place at the end of cooling season, before the winter settles in. It allows you to spot potential trouble areas and increases the heater efficiency, helping to cut down on heating costs.

If you’re able to consider something more radical, look into the possibility of upgrading your unit to a newer and more efficient one. Heating systems have their efficiency measured in Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings, measured as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the more energy is spent actually heating the home instead of being wasted. Newer units have a higher AFUE rating than older ones, and this can lead to significant savings on your utility bills each month.

If you’re paying too much for heating in Arlington, VA, Polar Bear can help. Whether you want to install a new unit or just give a little care to your old one, our staff has the training and experience to do the job right. Call us today to set up an appointment.

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3 Reasons to Consider a Furnace in McLean, VA

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Nothing can fight back a snowy day like a warm, cozy household, with heating provided by a reliable furnace. Furnaces aren’t the only form of reliable heating in this neck of the woods, however. You can also find boilers, heat pumps, and many others. So what are the benefits of a furnace? What makes them a better option for heating that other technologies?

Here are 3 reasons to consider a furnace in McLean, VA:

  1. Energy efficiency. Gas furnaces tend to operate at high levels of efficiency, costing less to install and run than other forms of heating. You can easily customize them to add energy-saving upgrades like zone control and programmable thermostats.
  2. Few breakdowns. Gas furnaces suffer from wear and tear like any other mechanical system. But they are known to be both reliable and durable. That means fewer repairs and fewer complete breakdowns.
  3. Versatility. Alternate forms of heating aren’t always practical for every home, and you may need to make big changes in your home in order to accommodate them. Gas furnaces, on the other hand, are extremely flexible, and modern models have a lot of installation options.  You do need ducts for a furnace to heat your home, but they can be the same ones that are used by your central air conditioning system.

If you need more reasons to consider a furnace in McLean, VA, contact Polar Bear for sound advice and expertise. We can install a new furnace in McLean, VA, as well as setting up a reliable maintenance schedule to keep it running smoothly. Our trained technicians are dedicated to your complete satisfaction and we will discuss your options with you so that you’re completely clear on what will happen. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

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Northern Virginia Boiler FAQ: How Do Boilers Work?

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Here at Polar Bear, we advise our customers to place boilers on their list of potential heating systems to install in their homes. Modern boilers provide some tremendous advantages: low cost installation, energy-efficient performance, even heating, quiet operation, improved air quality, durability, and longevity. In Northern Virginia, a boiler is one of your best options for a comfortable and cozy home all the way through to spring.

But how exactly does a boiler work? Here’s something you probably didn’t know: there are few boilers today that do any “boiling.” Older models operate from steam, but the modern ones use hot water to heat your home. We’ll give you a rundown on how these boilers work, and this information will help you understand better why boilers are good heating options.

Boilers can run off a variety of fuel sources: natural gas, electricity, and oil are the most common. We’re going to focus on the type we see the most often in homes, the gas-powered boiler, in this post.

A boiler uses a tank full of water that it heats up and then sends into your house to raise the temperature in your living space. A pilot light ignites gas jets in a combustion chamber located underneath the water tank. These jets raise the temperature of the water—although not to the point of boiling into steam the way old systems used to do. A pump them moves the hot water through pipes.

The hot water eventually reaches an end point, usually a radiator or a baseboard heater, where heat then radiates into your home. (This is why boilers won’t lower the air quality in your house: they use radiant heat instead of forced air moved through ducts that can become dirty.) The cooled-down water from the terminal point then returns to the tank, where the process of heating it starts again.

We recommend homeowners look into gas-powered boilers—especially if they already have a natural gas supply hooked to their house—because they are among the most efficient and energy-friendly heating options available today. Our heating experts at Polar Bear also perform oil-to-gas conversions to help you get the highest efficiency from your current boiler. When you need help with your boiler, the Northern Virginia specialists at Polar Bear are ready to give you the assistance you need.

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