Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc Blog : Posts Tagged ‘DC’

Causes of Common Boiler Sounds: Washington, DC Boiler Repair Guide

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Boilers are one of the most common heating systems in the country. They provide comfortable and efficient heat and only require regular maintenance to work reliably. At Polar Bear Air Conditioning and Heating, we offer complete boiler repairs and installation in Washington, DC. One of the most common calls for service that we get is boiler noises. All boiler repairs should be done by a professional contractor. We thought it would be helpful if we put together some of the most common causes of boiler noises so that our customers would know when to call us.

Boiler Knocking and What It Means

Perhaps the most common boiler noise that people in Washington, DC call us about is a knocking sound. There are several causes for this sound and you should always consult a professional plumber if you start to hear that noise.

  • Air in the pipes – Over time, air bubbles can start to build up in your boiler pipes. Unless your boiler lines get regularly bled, the air moving through your pipes can create a knocking sound. This is usually fixed by a heating technician who can open the pressure release vale to let the air out.
  • Oversized boiler – If your boiler is too large for your home it can cause boiling in your water lines which can cause a knocking.
  • Sediment – If you have hard water at your home the excess minerals can start to build up on the bottom of your boiler tank. When the burner kicks on to heat up the water, the sediment crust will block the heat and cause rapid heating of the water underneath the crust to heat up quickly and form steam.
  • Expansion tank – The expansion tank for your boiler allows for it to accommodate the physical properties of water that make it expand when heated. If your expansion tank isn’t working right it could cause the knocking sound as well.

If you need boiler repairs in Washington, DC, just call the experts at Polar Bear.

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A Question from DC: What’s the Difference Between a Furnace and a Boiler?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

When it comes time to choose a new heating system for your DC home, there is a good chance your choices are limited. Most homes already have either forced air or radiant heat equipment installed so choosing something different would be costly and unnecessary. But, if you have a choice or are moving into a new home, here are some things to consider regarding the difference between furnaces and boilers.

What a Furnace Does

A furnace uses a fuel like gas, oil or electricity to heat a series of coils in the device. The furnace then uses a blower to push air across the heated coil and into an air handler where it can be distributed throughout your home. This is called a forced air system and requires a combination of ducts and filters to keep air moving smoothly and cleanly throughout your home.

If you have access to gas, a gas furnace with an AFUE of 90% or higher is one of the most efficient and cost effective ways to heat your home. These furnaces can also last upwards of 20-25 years with proper maintenance.

What a Boiler Does

A boiler is different in that it uses water as the heat carrying medium, not air. Boilers still need gas, oil or electricity to heat up the water in the system, though they often use less of it than a traditional furnace – depending on the age of the furnace and the boiler. After water is heated in the boiler, your radiant heating system carries the water to baseboard heaters or radiators throughout your home. This form of heat is preferred by many because it doesn’t require ductwork (which requires extra maintenance) or extra air filtering and it is more humidity friendly in a large home.

In terms of efficiency, both boilers and furnaces are efficient if you’re buying a new model. Capacity is also evenly matched. Boilers take the edge in comfort level and if you have the budget, you can install radiant floor heating which allows you to pipe hot water directly into bathroom floors or your living space so that you never again need to walk on cold floors. Another benefit of radiant heating is that the system will hold heat much longer and then release it over time instead of turning on and off a lot as a furnace tends to do.

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Furnace vs. Heat Pump: A Tip From DC

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

If you’re preparing to replace your existing heating system in Washington DC, you may very well be struggling with the question of whether to go with a furnace or a heat pump for all of your future home heating needs. Each of these systems have their own advantages and drawbacks, and once you’ve narrowed it down to one type or the other, you’ll still have a pretty wide variety of products to choose from.

Furnaces are still the most popular type of home heating equipment on the market. You can get furnaces that run on gas, oil or electricity, although gas furnaces are by far the most common type of furnace around these days. The latest models are extremely energy efficient, with AFUE ratings reaching into the high 90%s.

Like heat pumps, furnaces use ducts to transfer heated air throughout your home. They typically require regular maintenance once every year or two depending on the type of furnace you have, and they can be expected to last anywhere from 15 to 25 years when properly maintained. Most modern furnaces are also made to be compatible with a central air conditioning or cooling system as well.

Heat pumps, on the other hand, don’t generate the heat that they circulate throughout your house. Instead they are able to extract the heat from the air outside and pump it inside. This means that they use much less energy than even the most energy efficient furnaces.

However, heat pumps are only capable of heating your house comfortably when the outside temperature is above freezing. If you live in an area with particularly long and frigid winters, you’ll probably find that you need to supplement your heat pump with another heat source. Because of this, it actually makes little sense to use a heat pump in more extreme climates.

On the other hand, if you live in an area with relatively mild winters, heat pumps can be a great option. They provide a constant flow of warm air to all parts of your home and can also keep you house cool during hot summer months. To cool your home, heat pumps simply reverse the process they use to warm it. They take the heat out of your indoor air and pump it outside. This is a very effective home cooling method and makes heat pumps a great solution for year round comfort.

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How to Reduce the Load on Your Central Air Conditioner: A Guide From Washington

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

The central air conditioner in your Washington house can handle a lot. It can keep your house cool and comfortable all summer long with only a minimum of maintenance. And if you have a newer, more energy efficient model, you probably are not even paying very much for this luxury. But no matter how good your air conditioning system is, it is always best if you can reduce its cooling load as much as possible.

Cutting down on the amount of work your central air conditioner has to do will save you money both in the short term and in the long term. You will be able to keep your house cool all summer while paying even less than you already do and you will help to extend the life of your system as well.

In general, reducing the cooling load that your air conditioner is responsible for involves keeping your house cooler by some other means. One great option when this is your goal is to have some ceiling fans installed. These help to circulate cool air and also create a breeze that can make it feel cooler even if the actual indoor temperature is the same.

With adequate ceiling fans in place, you will usually be able to turn up the thermostat on your central air conditioner and still be completely comfortable indoors. Turning up the temperature on the thermostat means that your air conditioning system will not have to work so hard because it will not have to get the indoor temperature down so low.

You can also reduce the indoor temperature in your house by blocking the sunlight that comes in and warms up the indoor air. Drawing the blinds, especially in those rooms that receive warmer afternoon sunlight will keep that sun from raising your indoor temperature. This, in turn, means that your air conditioning system will not have to work so hard to get the temperature back down.

You can also help to keep cool air inside and warmer air out by covering any doors and windows you are not likely to use with plastic. Also, check to make sure there are no cracks or drafts anywhere that may be letting in air from the outside or allowing cooler indoor air to escape. All of these things can make it possible for your air conditioner to keep your home cool without working so hard, and that will also mean that you will be paying less each month on your energy bills.

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What Is SEER? A Question From Washington DC

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

If you’ve been looking at air conditioners in Washington, you’ve probably noticed that they all seem to have a SEER rating. But what does this actually mean?

The SEER, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is a measure of how energy efficient a particular air conditioning model is. So when you’re shopping around for the best deal on an air conditioner for your home, this is something you’ll absolutely want to pay attention to.

Interpreting SEER Ratings

The SEER rating system is relatively simple – the higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the product. But because a higher price tag typically comes with a higher SEER rating, it’s important to know just how much more efficient a higher rated unit will be. It helps you decide whether paying significantly more for a higher rated unit is worth it in long term savings. Will it actually save you enough each month to make up for the difference in price?

Evaluating Your Energy Usage

A big factor here is how much you will use your air conditioner. If you live in a place with very hot and humid summers where the air conditioning runs constantly, you’re probably best off with the highest SEER you can find. When you consume that much energy to keep your home cool, you want to get as much as possible out of it, and that’s what a high SEER model can do for you.

On the other hand, if you live in an area that doesn’t have the harshest summers, you may be better off with a slightly less efficient (and therefore cheaper) model. Keep in mind, too, that the actual percentage increase in energy efficiency goes up by smaller and smaller increments the higher in SEER ratings you get. For instance, while a 10 SEER unit may be almost 20% more efficient than an 8 SEER model, a 12 SEER is only about 10% more efficient than that 10 SEER.

Finding the Right Balance

The best way to decide what SEER rating is best for you is to determine the annual cooling costs with your current unit and then calculate your savings in dollars based on the percentage each model would improve your efficiency. If you don’t currently have an air conditioner, this can be a bit tricky, but a professional contractor or air conditioning salesman can help you estimate your total monthly cooling costs with the various units.

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