Should My Heat Pump’s Outdoor Unit Run during Cold Weather?

March 4th, 2015

A heat pump is both a cold weather and warm weather indoor comfort system. During cool temperatures, a heat pump draws ambient warmth from the outside air using refrigerant and then moves it indoors. During warm temperatures, it removes the heat in the air from the indoors and shifts it outdoors. If a heat pump is well-matched to a home and receives professional installation and regular maintenance, it should keep a house at the right temperature no matter the weather outside.

For excellent installation, repairs, and regular maintenance for a heat pump in Westlake, OH that will provide your family with comfort all through the year, always look to the experts at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning.

HVAC technicians sometimes receive calls from new heat pump owners regarding what seems like a malfunction: the outdoor cabinet running during cold weather. If a homeowner has only used a standard air conditioner before, this may seem like odd behavior from the system. After all, an air conditioner isn’t supposed to run during cold weather, and if the outdoor cabinet starts running, it means there is something wrong.

However, a heat pump’s outdoor unit is supposed to operate during cold weather. Although a heat pump resembles an air conditioner in many ways, it has the important difference of being able to change the direction it circulates refrigerant, which causes the indoor and outdoor coils to swap functions. During cold weather, the heat pump’s compressor (which is housed in the outdoor unit) will still run in order to place the refrigerant under high pressure and high heat. The fans in the outdoor unit must also run in order to draw the outside air across the coils where the refrigerant absorbs its heat through evaporation and then takes it indoors. You should expect to hear the components in the outdoor cabinet working whenever you switch your heat pump over to heating mode: if you don’t, then something is definitely wrong.

Nonetheless, you should stay vigilant when it comes to the sounds your heat pump makes while it operates. Always call for repair technicians when you hear clanging, banging, clicking, or hissing noises from either cabinet. And if the outside unit of your heat pump is running, but you aren’t receiving heat, you should also call for technicians right away to investigate the problem.

No matter what your concern is regarding your heat pump’s operation, you can trust to the experts at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning to take care of it. When it comes to servicing a heat pump in Westlake, OH, we are the people to call.

When Furnace Replacement Is Your Best Option for Heating

February 25th, 2015

If you have an older furnace providing your home with heating in Rocky River, OH, you may have wondered at what point you should have it replaced. You don’t want to spend the money to replace a heater if it can still provide you with more years of efficient and effective heat. On the other hand, you shouldn’t continue to spend money to repair a heating system on the decline that will cost more and more each year to run—and which may even become unsafe. At a certain point, you need to know when to stop with furnace repairs and instead have a new furnace put in.

The best way to determine if you should replace your aging furnace is to call the heating experts at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning. Our technicians will analyze your furnace and give you honest answers about the best path to take. Whether furnace replacement or continued repairs are the answer, you can trust to our trained staff to deliver whatever work you need.

Here are some guidelines to get you started thinking about when furnace replacement is the right choice:

Your furnace’s age

The first factor you should use as a basis for judging if it is time to replace a furnace is how old the system is. Each furnace has a manufacturer’s estimated lifespan, and if your furnace is at or above it, then you should give serious consideration to replacing it.

Heating bills

Are your heating bills continually climbing, no matter how many repairs you have done on the furnace? Then you probably have an inefficient system. Replacing a furnace that is wasting money each month is a much more cost effective option than simply letting it rattle on until it breaks down entirely.

Repair costs

At what point are repairs for heating system too costly? A good benchmark is that if any single repair for your furnace would cost half the price of replacing it, then you should opt for the replacement. If you spend more than $500 per year on repairs to keep the furnace running, then you should also have it replaced.

Loud operation

Is your furnace simply much noisier than it was in the past? This is often a sign that the components have worn down so much that you should have it retired sooner rather than later.

Before you make any decision regarding your home’s furnace, call on the Rocky River, OH heating professionals at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning. We handle numerous services for furnaces, including repairs and replacements. If you need a replacement furnace, our team will take care of the job of seeing that you have the best new unit to take the place of the old one.

Why Radiant Heating Is Good for Allergy Sufferers

February 16th, 2015

One of the (few) benefits of winter is the end of allergies – but not for everyone. If you are someone who suffers from dust or pet dander allergies, controlling your allergies is a year-round challenge. Forced air heating systems can aggravate indoor allergies throughout the winter season, so if you are in the market for a new heating system, you may want to consider the benefits of radiant heat for your Bay Village home.

How Does Radiant Heat Work?

There are two types of radiant heating systems, and either one is a good choice for allergy sufferers. The two types are electric and hydronic, and choosing one option or the other will depend largely on your preferences. Electric radiant heating uses cables or cables in an electrically-conductive mat to generate heat; the cables or matting can be mounted directly to subflooring or set in cement to create a radiant slab. Hydronic radiant heating uses a boiler to create the hot water or steam, and flexible PEX tubing is installed directly onto subflooring or set in cement. Once the water or steam is at the correct temperature, it flows through the PEX tubing and heats.

Why It’s Good for Allergy Sufferers

The main problem with forced air systems is that they blow air around a space, which swirls dust around your living spaces. Even if you vacuum and dust regularly you can’t remove every speck of dust in your home, and each time a forced air system turns on, it kicks up any dust in your home. Additionally, if there is dust in your ductwork, it will be delivered directly to your living spaces and right to the allergy sufferers in your home.

Additional Reasons to Consider Radiant Heating

There are some other reasons to consider radiant heating for your home:

  • Comfortable, gentle heating – the nature of radiant heating is far gentler than forced air, resulting in a comfortable kind of heat.
  • More even heating – because forced air is somewhat blasted into your home, the feel can be uneven; this is not something that happens with radiant heating.
  • Easily zoned – because of the layout and structure of a radiant heating system, it is easier to create zones, which allows you to customize your home’s heating.

If you have allergy sufferers and need a new heating system, radiant heat may be the way to go. Call the experts at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning today and schedule an appointment for our radiant heating service.

Some of the Unusual Movies Released for Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2015

Hollywood has always tried to match movies up to the seasons to draw droves of viewers to the theaters: October is packed with fright-offerings, while the winter holidays skew toward warm and pleasing family films (as well as Oscar hopefuls). Valentine’s Day falls in an odd spot when it comes to the movie release calendar, however, since February tends to be a slower time for the film industry. The studios are as likely to slot strange movies that don’t fit anywhere else in their annual schedules into the Valentine’s Day weekend as they are films with powerful romantic appeal.

So, while the second weekend of February has featured hugely successful romantic comedies like Hitch, The Wedding Singer, and (of course) Valentine’s Day, some truly weird choices have debuted in this weekend as well. And a few have even gone on to tremendous success despite the bizarre match with the holiday. Here are a couple of the odder Valentine’s Day movie releases:

  • Dracula (1931): Yes, this Halloween perennial and the start of Universal Studio’s Classic Monsters actually came out on Valentine’s Day! But perhaps this makes some sense, as the Dracula legend has often received a “doomed lover” approach in the many years since Bela Lugosi made the aristocratic vampire a screen icon.
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991): Does any film seem less appropriate for Valentine’s Day than this unnerving and sometimes very violent psychological thriller? What’s even more astonishing than the film’s release date is that The Silence of the Lambs eventually nabbed the Oscar for Best Picture, an almost unheard of occurrence for a movie released so early in the year.
  • Daredevil (2003): This Marvel comic adaptation featuring Ben Affleck as a blind superhero does contain a romantic subplot, but the stronger connection to Valentine’s Day may just be that Daredevil wears a bright red costume.
  • A Good Day to Die Hard (2013): The least successful of the Die Hard film franchise, this is an excellent example of a studio dropping a film into a weekend where it doesn’t fit in the hopes that it works as counter-programming. (It didn’t.)
  • Wayne’s World (1992): Now here is an example of counter-programming that clicked with audiences. This comedy based on a Saturday Night Live sketch turned into one of that year’s biggest hits and spawned a sequel.

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with a trip to the movie theater, or you have your own special plans, everyone here at Westland Heating & Air Conditioning hopes you and your loved ones have a wonderful weekend.

How the Expansion Tank Helps Your Boiler

February 5th, 2015

There are a number of components in your boiler that help with both operation and safe functioning; one of these components is the expansion tank. The expansion tank is a small tank that extends off your boiler. While it may seem like a solitary object, the expansion tank works in conjunction with your boiler to help provide heat for your home. Understanding how an expansion tank works helps you understand how it helps your boiler.

This Inside of the Tank

The expansion tank isn’t an empty tank; inside, it is divided into two halves by a rubber diaphragm. The reason the tank divides the internal space into two halves is to allow pressurized air to reside in one half and excess water to flow into the other half. The tank attaches to your boiler via a valve located in the water half of the tank. The air side has to be correctly pressurized to counteract the pressure on the water half, so professional help is required for installation and repair.

How It Works

When your boiler starts a heating cycle, a great deal of pressure is created when heating the water, resulting in pushing the water up in the boiler’s water tank. This water has to go somewhere to keep the pressure from becoming too great inside the main water vessel, so it flows into the expansion tank. As the excess water flows into the expansion tank, the pressurized air on the other side helps keep the expansion tank balanced by providing a cushion of air. There is a relief valve on the expansion tank should there be an emergency and the pressure inside the expansion tank becomes too high.

How It Helps

Without the expansion tank, the excess pressure created at the start of a heating cycle would build inside the main water vessel. This can pose a series of problems, including pressure imbalances in your heating system, leaks and even ruptures, if the pressure is high enough. The expansion tank also offers added safety with its relief valve.

The expansion tank on your boiler is necessary for both function and safety. If you are seeing rust or leaking coming from your expansion tank, call the experts at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning and schedule an appointment for our professional boiler service in Avon.

Water Heater Components: The Dip Tube

January 30th, 2015

As you’ve certainly noticed before, your conventional water heater is quite large. And although these system may look like they contain a lot of complicated mechanisms that would be difficult to fix, many of the parts that are often responsible for water heater trouble can be somewhat simple to repair when the job is completed by a trained technician. One of these parts is the dip tube, a piece that is vital to water heater operation despite its simple design.

Storage tank water heaters, the most common type of water heater found in home, are still in such widespread use today despite the development of tankless water heaters that are much smaller. Much of the credit for the longevity of the storage tank goes to its simple but effective design. Water flows into the tank through the water supply pipe that feeds to the top of it. It moves into a long pipe that leads to the bottom of the tank known as the dip tube.

The cold water that first enters the tank must be pushed to the bottom of the tank for two reasons. First, this is where the burner is located, or it’s where one of two electric heating elements are positioned in an electric unit. Second, the heat rising principle establishes that the warm water will naturally rise over the denser cold water to the top of the tank. Hot water waits at the top of the tank and flows out through a smaller pipe at the top whenever you turn on a hot water tap.

So without a dip tube to force cold water to the bottom of the tank, water is not able to stay warm for very long. When you first turn on your hot water, it may be sufficient, but as your hot shower goes on, you’ll notice cooler water or patches of warm and cool. If the dip tube splits in half or cracks apart, cold water is able to stat at the top of the tank before it is heated. When this happens, a technician will usually replace the tube rather than attempting to seal the leak.

Call Westland Heating and Air Conditioning to learn more about our available water heater services in the Westlake area or to schedule an appointment today.

How Geothermal Heating Will Help You Save Money

January 22nd, 2015

Geothermal heating is somewhat of a new technology among heating systems, especially for private home use. As with any relatively new technology, not much is known about it among the general populace. What most people do know is that geothermal heating is supposed to be one of the most energy efficient heating systems available. Why is that, though? Let’s examine what a geothermal system actually is, how it works, and how it will help you save money.

What is Geothermal Heating?

Geothermal heating is a system that takes heat from the ground and uses it to warm the house. The system itself consists of a wide underground pipe loop, installed around 15 feet beneath the surface. This pipe loop can be either horizontal or vertical, depending on the space available for the system. The loop is often filled with water or some kind of refrigerant. Inside the house is the central heating unit, which is connected to this loop. The central unit is also connected to the home’s ductwork.

When the system is turned on, the central unit begins cycling the liquid from the underground loop through itself. The central unit leeches thermal energy from the liquid, which it uses to warm the air being circulated around the house. Then, the liquid will be returned to the loop.

How Does This Save Money?

The geothermal heating system is a type of heat pump, relying on thermal energy present in the environment to heat the home instead of burning fuel to create it. Most heat pumps utilize the outside air for this thermal energy, which is fine most of the time but becomes scarce during very cold weather.

A geothermal system, however, uses thermal energy from the ground. Below 10-15 feet, the temperature underground remains at a constant 50-60 degrees regardless of weather. This provides the geothermal system with a constant, renewable source of heat to draw from year-round. A geothermal system saves you money by utilizing preexisting heat to warm your home, instead of burning fuel. It also avoids the common heat pump problem of losing efficiency when the weather drops below freezing temperatures.

To schedule an appointment with us or if you’d like to know more about our geothermal heating service in the Rockey River area, call Westland Heating and Air Conditioning today.

Listen for These Repair Warning Sounds from a Heat Pump

January 14th, 2015

If you own a heat pump, you most likely know that you have one of the most efficient heating and cooling systems available on the market today. It may seem as though such a high-performance system will run into few problems over time, but in actuality, a heat pump can run into a number of difficulties that keep it from running as efficiently as it could. If you notice any of the following sounds from your heat pump, it may be time to call an expert for repairs.

  • Hissing: A hissing sound from a heat pump may indicate leaking refrigerant somewhere in the heat pump. This may be along the connections between the inside and outside components of your heat pump, at the compressor, or from the reversing valve.
  • Grinding: If your heat pump is making a grinding noise, it’s never a good sign. Grinding often indicates a problem with the motor, the component that operates both the compressor and the blower fans. It may be that there is debris caught in the motor, or you may need to have a professional replace the motor instead.
  • Buzzing: A buzzing noise may indicate an electrical problem, a repair which is never a job for an amateur. For your safety, be sure to only trust professionals with any electrical components.
  • Banging: A banging noise may indicate an issue with the compressor, one of the most important (and costly) parts of your unit. On the other hand, it could simply indicate a bent fan blade or that debris is caught somewhere in the system.

Any of these noises may occur in either heating or cooling mode. And even though the sound may seem like a minor annoyance to you, it can indicate a problem that will grow worse over time. As one component of your heat pump struggles, the other parts are likely to suffer as well since they’ll have to work overtime to keep up with the workload and could eventually fail.

The professionals at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning specialize in repairing heat pumps in Bay Village. Count on our team of experts for your next heating service. Give us a call today!

Safety Mechanisms on Furnaces

January 7th, 2015

Gas-powered furnaces once had a reputation as potentially dangerous installations because of the threat of carbon monoxide leaks and explosions. However, contemporary natural gas furnaces are much safer than older models, and as long as you make certain that your home’s furnace receives regular maintenance check-ups and prompt repair work, you shouldn’t expect to encounter serious dangers from it. Always leave repair work to HVAC professionals who are experienced with how the different models of furnaces operate. You can count on the NATE-certified technicians at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning to help you whenever you require repairs or maintenance for your furnace in Avon, OH.

Today’s furnaces have a number of safety mechanisms, which differ from model to model. Here are some of the more common ones:

  • Thermocouple: Standing pilot lights are only used now on water heaters, but if you still have an older furnace with a standing pilot, its main safety device is a component called a thermocouple. This pair of metallic strips detects the heat from the pilot light and sends a current to keep open the gas valve to the burners as long as it stays lit. Should the pilot light go out, the thermocouple closes the valve, preventing unburned combustion gas from flooding the chamber.
  • Electric flame sensor: Since standing pilot lights are now rare, electric flame sensors are used to determine if a heat source exists to burn the gas when it enters the burner. Computerized controls only ignite the gas when necessary, making newer furnaces far safer than older units.
  • Limit switch: The limit switch is located on the plenum inside the furnace and detects when the furnace’s temperature rises too high. When the temperature exceeds the limit switch’s upper level, it shuts off the gas and turns on a blower fan to reduce the temperature. When the temperature drops down to safe levels again, the limit switch permits the burner to come back on.
  • Solid state circuitry: Should the temperature in a furnace continue to rise due to constant overheating, the circuitry will shut off the entire system.

Modern furnaces have more safety controls then ever: some may have four different mechanisms. Although this makes furnaces safer, it also makes it even more important that you only allow experienced professionals to handle any repairs for the system. Technicians must be familiar with all the different controls in a furnace so they can determine why the furnace malfunctioned, and later restore the safety mechanisms to working order.

At Westland Heating and Air Conditioning, our heating repair and maintenance technicians are experienced and certified to see that you receive the best care possible for your furnace in Avon, OH. To keep your home warm and safe, rely on our services. Give us a call today.

12 Grapes for 12 Months: An Unusual New Year’s Tradition

January 1st, 2015

Across the world, many cultures have specific traditions to celebrate the transition from the old year to the new. In the U.S. and Canada, we associate New Year’s with the ball in Times Square, kissing at the stroke of midnight, resolutions, and singing “Old Lang Syne.” But for many Spanish-speaking countries, one of the key traditions has to do with eating grapes as fast as possible.

The “twelve grapes” tradition comes from Spain, where it is called las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). To ensure good luck for the next year, people eat one green grape for each of the upcoming twelve months. However, you cannot just eat the grapes during the first day of the new year any time you feel like it. You must eat the twelve grapes starting at the first stroke of midnight on Nochevieja (“Old Night,” New Year’s Eve) as one year changes to another. And you have to keep eating: with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you about twelve seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish all dozen grapes—you can’t still be chewing on them!—before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year.

Where did this tradition come from? No one is certain, although it appears to be more than a century old. One story about the Twelve Lucky Grapes is that a large crop of grapes in 1909 in Alicante, Spain led to the growers seeking out a creative way to eliminate their surplus. But recent research through old newspapers shows that perhaps the tradition goes back almost thirty years earlier to the 1880s, where eating grapes was meant to mock the upper classes who were imitating the French tradition of dining on grapes and drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve.

It can be difficult to consume grapes this fast, and the lucky grapes of New Year’s Eve have seeds in them, making the job even trickier. (Seedless grapes are not common in Spain the way they are over here.) For people to manage eating all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight requires swallowing the seeds as well and only taking a single bite of each grape.

Oh, there is one more twist to the tradition: you have to be wearing red undergarments, and they have to be given to you as a gift. The origins of this part of the tradition are even more mysterious, and it’s anybody’s guess why this started.

Whether you go for the grape challenge or find another way to ring in New Year’s, all of us at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning hope you have a great start to the year and a, uhm, fruitful 2015.