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.

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

December 25th, 2014

“No two snowflakes are alike.”

This is a statement nearly every schoolchild has heard at least once, either while crafting unique snowflakes with a sheet of folded paper and some scissors or while learning a lesson on the science of snow. While even most scientists don’t quite understand what causes a snowflake to form such complex and beautiful columns and points and branches, one thing is for certain, the composition of snowflakes guarantees that no two will ever be identical.  However, it is possible for two snowflakes to appear to be nearly exactly alike.

A snowflake begins to form when a piece of dust catches water vapor out of the air. Water is created when two hydrogen molecules attach to an oxygen molecule. The two hydrogen molecules are angled from one another in such a way that they form a hexagonal shape when they come together during the freezing process; thus, a snowflake begins as a simple hexagonal shape or as layers of hexagons called diamond dust. The emergent properties that follow from the original hexagon are what differentiate one snowflake from another, as the humidity, the temperature in the air, and many other factors (some of which remain unclear to scientists) allow each snowflake to form in an entirely unique way with a seemingly endless variety of shapes.

However, in 1988, a scientist named Nancy Knight claimed to have located two that were the same while studying snowflakes as part of an atmospheric research project. And it appeared to be so; when put under a microscope, the emergent properties looked nearly identical. But while it is feasible that two snowflakes can appear to be exactly alike on the outside, they are never identical on an atomic level. Deuterium is an atom that appears attached to about one in every 3000 hydrogen molecules in the air. Because there are millions of atoms that make up a snowflake, the random assortment of deuterium in any two snowflakes—even in two that so very closely resemble one another—simply cannot be the same.

Here at Westland Heating & Air Conditioning, we’d like to remind you to grab a cup of cocoa and relax with your family this holiday, perhaps by crafting some unique snowflake creations of your own. We wish you a very happy holiday season, from our family to yours!

Reasons Your Furnace Isn’t Turning On

December 17th, 2014

This is an ordeal that can happen for any homeowner. You wake up in the morning to discover your furnace has turned off. You run to the thermostat to switch it back on, only to find out it’s already set to a high temperature. You turn up the dial or press a few buttons and still get nothing. When your furnace stops working, you’re bound to feel a slight sense of panic over what steps to take next. Luckily, technicians recognize that this is a serious problem, and most will do their best to get out to your home and solve the problem as soon as possible.

Here are some of the most common reasons for a lack of heating which lead homeowners scrambling to find a qualified technician for repairs. When you need heating repair in Westlake, OH, trust the experts at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning.

  • Faulty Thermostat: One of the most common reasons a furnace will not turn on is if the thermostat, which communicates to the furnace when the temperature has dropped lower than the desired setting. If the thermostat is broken due to faulty wiring or even just a dirty sensor, your furnace simply cannot turn on. A replacement thermostat is generally your best option.
  • Defective Thermocouple: The thermocouple is a component in older standing gas pilot models that senses how much gas flow is let into the unit. When working properly, it should shut off the unit should the gas flow become too high or too low. This is a safety feature that generally must be replaced if it has stopped working. Alternatively, your furnace may have stopped working due to blockage in the gas line sensed by the thermocouple.
  • Broken Fan Switch: The fan switch basically controls when the blower fan turns on and off. When the fan switch is working correctly, the blower fan should start a couple of minutes after the burner lights turn off. A faulty thermostat will not allow the blower fan to come on, causing no heat to reach your home, and should generally just be replaced.

Call the heating professionals at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning to schedule a service appointment when you need quality heating repair in Westlake, OH.

Why Pool Heater Maintenance Is Necessary

December 10th, 2014

When you installed a heater in your swimming pool, you expected it to provide you with year-round fun and comfort for many years to come. But without proper maintenance, you may notice reduced heating, poor efficiency, or other sudden repair needs right when you wanted to use your swimming pool the most. At Westland Heating and Air Conditioning, we recommend scheduling maintenance every year for pool heaters in Bay Village, as they must remain tough in order to keep up with the sometimes harsh winter climate.

Can I Perform Maintenance on My Own?

There are a few things you can do on your own to maintain your pool heater. For example, purchasing a pool cover and utilizing it whenever you are not planning on using your pool can reduce up to 50% of standard heat loss. This means your pool heater won’t have to work quite as hard, which lets you pay less on your energy bills. Furthermore, the parts won’t wear down quite as quickly. You can also reduce some heat loss if you put up a cabana or a fence to eliminate some of the chill that may be caused by incoming wind.

You can ask a technician what the most efficient thermostat setting is for your model of heater. Many modern thermostats contain an efficiency setting or comfort setting that can help keep your pool at a reasonable temperature and prevent overheating or excessive energy use. If this is not the case with your unit, keep yours set at around 70 degrees when the pool will not be in use for several days, or turn it off if you’ll be gone for a couple of weeks (as long as freezing weather is not in the forecast).

But no matter what steps you take to keep your pool heater maintained on your own, annual professional maintenance is still a necessity. This is because pool heaters contain many mechanical parts that must be inspected, cleaned, and fine-tuned to ensure maximum efficiency and as little wear and tear as possible. Professional maintenance can help you to save on your utilities and possibly keep your unit free of repairs.

Call Westland Heating and Air Conditioning to contact professionals with experience in maintaining, installing, or repairing pool heaters in Bay Village. We follow the safest procedures to make sure you can enjoy your swimming pool throughout the year.

Can I Install a Pool Heater on My Own?

December 3rd, 2014

If you own a pool in Bay Village, OH, you may have gotten used to the fact that you might not be able to use it in the cooler months. But you put a lot of money into that pool when you installed it or bought your home; wouldn’t it be nice if you could take advantage of your pool heater year round?

These days, pool heaters are far more efficient than they once were, requiring as little energy to run as possible thanks to advancements in technology. This means you can make good use of your swimming pool throughout the year, get a little more exercise, and have way more fun with your family and friends. Of course, you’ll have to make a bit of an investment when you purchase your pool heater, but for many homeowners the extra months of enjoyment are worth it. If you’re looking to cut costs, you may wonder whether it’s possible to install your new pool heater on your own. Unfortunately, depending upon your level of expertise, this isn’t often possible. Let’s take a quick look at why.

Installing a pool heater is not as simple as draining the pool, drilling a few holes, and switching on the unit. Most pool heaters actually have two parts: the heating element that goes into the pool and the outside unit. Besides being large and complex, this outside unit actually takes a lot of work and heavy equipment to install. Most of the time, you’ll have to mount this outdoor unit on a concrete slab, and professionals have the right equipment and expertise to make sure this installation goes smoothly.

Besides, if you install your swimming pool heat pump or gas heater improperly, the consequences can be disastrous. You may simply never get enough heat in your pool, or you can run into frequent repair needs. You may spend a lot of money on unnecessary heating costs for an oversized heater, or you could even end up with some safety issues from an improper electrical hookup. And if you’re dealing with a gas-powered heater, a gas line should always be handled by an expert.

Installing pool heaters in Bay Village is much simpler when you contact the experienced technicians at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning. Give us a call today!

10 Facts You Should Know about Thanksgiving

November 26th, 2014

Thanksgiving has been celebrated as an official holiday in the United States for over 150 years, so you may think you understand all there is to know about this family feast. Most of us have heard the story of the pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving in 1621 after arriving in North America on the Mayflower. But did you know that only about half of the people on this ship were actually pilgrims? This fact is one of ten things that may actually surprise you about the Thanksgiving tradition!

  1. Although we often consider Thanksgiving a holiday unique to the United States, many other countries and cultures celebrate their own set of harvest-time and thanksgiving traditions. In Korea, Chu-Sok (or “fall evening”) is put on in remembrance of forefathers on August 15th of every year. Brazil celebrates a contemporary version of the U.S. holiday. Chinese, Roman, and Jewish cultures all have a history of harvest celebrations as well.
  2. President Harry S. Truman began the tradition of a ceremony held before Thanksgiving during which the president receives a turkey. George H.W. Bush was the first to pardon the turkey instead of eating it.
  3. In Minnesota alone, farmers raise over 40 million turkeys a year. In fact, U.S. farmers produce about one turkey for every one person in the country.
  4. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American will gain about one to two pounds every year during the holiday season.
  5. On the other hand, turkey is naturally high in protein and has been known to support and boost immune systems to protect against illness and speed up healing. So feast on!
  6. Abraham Lincoln issued a “Thanksgiving Proclamation” in 1863, but a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale can be credited with the idea. While Thanksgiving had been celebrated at different times of year in many areas of the U.S. for years, it was Hale, prominent magazine editor and author of the rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” who urged Lincoln to finally establish the national event.
  7. President Franklin D Roosevelt once tried to change the date of Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday of the month in order to extend the holiday shopping season and boost the economy.
  8. Only about half of the people on the Mayflower were what we would consider today as “Pilgrims.” The other (approximately) 50 people were simply trying to find a way over to the New World.
  9. Gobble, gobble! Click, click? While male turkeys make a gobbling noise, females (hens) do not; it’s often described as a clicking.
  10. Even though we celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, the month of June has been declared National Turkey Lovers’ Month by the National Turkey Federation so you can continue the celebration in the summer as well!

From our family here at Westland Heating and Air Conditioning, we’d like to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Some Benefits of Radiant Heating to Consider

November 19th, 2014

Radiant heating can conjure images of bare feet on warm floors, and this wouldn’t be incorrect. But there are a few options to choose from when it comes to radiant heating, including radiant panels for your walls and ceilings. While DIY shows make radiant heating installation look pretty easy, it takes skill and experience to install a radiant heating system. This is one of the reasons why it is important to hire trained professionals for quality heating installation service in Rocky River, OH. Westland Heating and Air Conditioning technicians have the training and expertise to install any heating system, including radiant systems, so call us today!

Types of Radiant Heating

Electric Radiant Floor Heating

Electric radiant floor heating uses electrified cables to generate heat for your home. These cables can be installed via a “wet” installation in which the cables are placed in wet cement to create a radiant slab when the cement hardens; the cables can also be laid directly onto subflooring in a specific pattern; or an electrically-conductive plastic mat embedded with electric cables can be installed onto subflooring. One type of installation isn’t better than another; choosing the method will depend more on your needs and preferences.

Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating

With hydronic radiant floor heating, hot water or steam is used to heat your home. Durable PEX tubing is installed onto subflooring and a boiler heats the water; once the water or steam reaches the correct temperature, the steam or water flows through the tubing and heats your home.

Radiant Panels

As mentioned above, radiant panels can heat both walls and ceilings. Electricity or hot water can be used with radiant panels, but electricity is preferred. Radiant panels heat quickly but also have low heat capacity.

Benefits of Radiant Heating

Here are some of the benefits radiant heating has to offer:

  • Good for allergy sufferers – there is no circulating dust with a radiant system as there can be with a forced air system, which can be particularly helpful for allergy sufferers.
  • Comfortable heating – the heat generated by a radiant system is gentle and gradual, which many people find more comfortable than forced air.
  • Easy to zone – it is very easy to zone radiant heating, giving you the ability to customize your comfort.

Radiant heating has become popular with homeowners, and for good reasons. If you think a radiant heating system may be right for you, call Westland Heating and Air Conditioning today to schedule an appointment!