Air Mechanical, Inc. Blog: Archive for October, 2013

What Is an Expansion Tank?

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Despite the name, an expansion tank isn’t a device you purchase when you want to add more water to your home boiler. (Unless you’ve lost water from a leak, you don’t want to add additional water to your boiler anyway.) You already have an expansion tank on your boiler: it’s one of the most crucial parts of your boiler’s regular operation.

Expansion tanks are an important part of any closed water heating system in use today. They serve the function of preventing a buildup of excessive pressure within the tank, mostly through using air to cushion the extra pressure. Without an expansion tank, your boiler would be less safe and more prone to leaks and breakdowns from mounting pressure. However, the sturdiest boiler ever constructed with an effective expansion tank can still require repairs. You will eventually have to call professionals to work on your boiler in Ham Lake, MN.

Air Mechanical Inc is available 24 hours a day to give you the service you need.

Here are a few things you should know about the operation of an expansion tank:

Older boilers were not built as well-sealed as current ones, so they had excess air within the tank itself that served to reduce the air pressure, although it was a crude system. The current model of expansion tank sits above the boiler tank, with a pipe running from the boiler into one side of the unit. The inside consists of two sections with a rubber diaphragm between them. The side connected to the tank is filled with water that comes in from the pipes. The other side contains pressurized air with a valve to check the pressure and add air to keep it balanced. If the pressure of the water increases, the water pushes against the diaphragm and compresses the air on the opposite side, and this relieves the pressure inside the boiler. When the water pressure drops, the diaphragm pushes back against the water as the valve regulates the air pressure to normal.

Older expansion tanks did not use a diaphragm, and instead had the water pressing directly against a pressurized air pocket. However, this allowed the introduction of too much oxygen into the water, which increased corrosion.

Trouble with an expansion tank, such as a rupture in the diaphragm or leaks in the air valve, can cause the boiler to overheat from increased pressure. Expansion tanks can be repaired or replaced if they malfunction, but because this is such a critical part of your boiler’s operation, you should only trust this job to professionals. Air Mechanical Inc has a quarter of a century of experience working with boilers, so if you have difficulties with the expansion tank on your boiler in Ham Lake, MN—or any kind of home heating trouble—we are one of your best resources.

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How Does a Boiler Work?

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Boilers have a lengthy history as popular home heating options. With continual advancements in their technology, they will likely provide many more decades of service to homeowners who want efficient and dependable heat for the winter. Our Air Mechanical Inc technicians perform numerous boiler installations, and we’re accustomed to advising clients about why installing a boiler in Ham Lake, MN is often an excellent idea. Our customers are usually curious during the process: they want to know how a boiler operates, since they often haven’t put much thought into it. We’re happy to give you a “Boiler 101” course to help you better understand this perennial home heating solution.

If you want more information, or if you need boiler installation or repair, give Air Mechanical Inc a call today.

Understanding How Boilers Work

Although boilers share similar operating principles, there are differences between the models. The most important difference is the boiler’s fuel source. Modern residential boilers tend to run off electricity, natural gas, or oil—with natural gas the most common.

Regardless of the fuel source, boilers all use heated water to warm homes. (The first boilers used steam created from boiling water, which was how they got their name; some boilers still use steam, but you rarely find these models in homes.) Water inside a tank is heated, and a pump then distributes the heated water through pipes around the home to an end point, such as a radiator or a baseboard. The heat from these objects moves into your living space. Because this process requires no forced air, boilers will not lower a home’s air quality. Their operation is also very quiet.

Gas- and oil-powered heaters use a pilot light to ignite jets inside a combustion chamber beneath the water tank, transferring the heat into the tank. Electric boilers have heating elements inside the tank itself, usually one at the top of the tank and one at the bottom, to raise the water’s temperature. Natural gas boilers are the most popular of the three types because of the lower cost of gas compared to oil and electricity. However, the choice of which boiler you have installed will depend on your available fuel source.

We think boilers should sit among the top picks on any homeowner’s list for heating installation options. We know a boiler in a Ham Lake, MN home can keep it cozy all winter with few repairs. But boilers aren’t the best choice for everyone. Make sure you call on professionals for advice and installation, because having the wrong heater in your home will mean poor comfort and higher bills. Contact Air Mechanical Inc for your installation needs, or any other work your heater requires. We are on duty 24 hours a day for you!

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Common Types of Boiler Leaks

Friday, October 11th, 2013

If you own a boiler in Andover, you understand the need to get it repaired quickly at the first sign of trouble. Our winters are as harsh as they come, and without reliable heating, your home will soon resemble an ice box.  A boiler that springs a leak won’t be able to do its job, and you need to contact a service professional to see about repairing the leak as soon as you notice one. Common types of boiler leaks can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Corrosion leaks. The introduction of minerals and/or excess oxygen into the water can cause corrosion and rust in the sides of the boiler.  Inclement weather might also cause rusting if the boiler is left exposed to it for any reason. With any kind of rusting, leasing become a possibility.
  • Pressure leaks. When the relief valves are worn or suffer from undue stress, they could spring a leak when the boiler is running. These are exceedingly dangerous because they can lead to a rupture or even an explosion in some cases.
  • Temperature leaks. Going hand-in-hand with pressure leaks, high temperatures inside the boiler can cause leaks at weak points. Water expands when it gets hot, creating pressure and seeking an egress wherever it can find one. That can spell real trouble, especially since it often happens when your boiler is running and you presumably need its heating power.
  • Fittings and links. The fittings between pipes and valves, soldered points in fittings, and similar points between fitted parts are prime candidates to spring a leak, especially when they get old or  worn out. They’re less catastrophic than other sorts of leaks, but still need to be treated in order to make your boiler functional again.

A boiler needs to function at its peak when the temperatures drop, and a leak is not something you can ignore. For common types of boiler leaks, as well as more substantive repair issues, contact Air Mechanical Inc. to help. Our trained staff of experts knows how to handle boiler installations and repairs, and can conduct operations with your complete satisfaction in mind. Call us today to set up an appointment.

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What’s So Special About Heat Pumps?

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

You may have heard about heat pumps as an option for retro-fitting the heating system in your home, or as an option for a new home. If you’ve spent most of your life getting warmth from furnaces or boilers during the winter, you may feel hesitant about making the heat pump a serious option. However, they are growing in popularity in modern homes, so if heater installation is on the horizon for you, you should definitely consider the advantages of installing a heat pump.

Air Mechanical Inc. can handle any of your concerns about heat pumps in Andover, MN, and we perform expert installation and maintenance on them as well.

So why do we recommend a heat pump?

The simplest reason is that a heat pump can act as both a heater and an air conditioner, packaged into one system. If you are familiar with the workings of central air conditioning, then you already know a great deal about how a heat pump operates. The unit moves refrigerant through tubes and coils to shift heat from one spot to another. In cooling mode, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoor evaporator coil, and releases it from the outdoor condensing coil. In heating mode, the direction of the refrigerant reverses and the two coils exchange jobs. Now the indoor coil is a condenser that releases heat, and the outdoor coil is an evaporator that absorbs heat. To achieve this double function, a heat pump uses a reversing valve and a second compressor.

If you already have an air conditioner or a forced air system like a furnace installed in your home, heat pumps can be hooked up to the existing ductwork, which makes installation easier.

Heat pump models 15 years ago were not terribly energy efficient, but the new models have improved: they must have a minimum AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating of 80% to receive the U.S. government’s Energy Star label—and many rate higher than this.

This all sounds fantastic—and it is! But heat pumps won’t work for every home. Their heating power is not as strong as their cooling power, so depending on the conditions in your house, a heat pump may not be ideal for keeping you warm. This is why you should get expert advice before making a choice. Trained HVAC technicians can perform a heat load calculation to determine the specific heating requirements of your house so you will get the best system to keep you cozy through the winter.

For heat pumps in Andover, MN, trust on the reliable name of Air Mechanical Inc. Installation, repairs, maintenance—when it comes to heat pumps, we do it all!

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