Switzerland Air Blog:
Archive for January, 2015

How the Expansion Tank Helps Protect Your Boiler

Friday, January 30th, 2015

All heating systems have to have a balance of pressure in order to work properly. In forced air systems, the air flow has to be balanced throughout the ductwork in order for the right volume of air to reach your living spaces; in a boiler, or hydronic, system, the water pressure has to be maintained in order for the system to work properly. Pressure imbalances can cause low heating, no heat or even a shutdown of the system. One way your boiler is able to balance its pressure is with the help of a component called the expansion tank.

What It Is

The expansion tank is a relatively small metal tank attached to your boiler system. It’s usually about head-high and is about 30% smaller than a gas grill fuel tank. The inside of the expansion tank is divided into two sections by a rubber diaphragm: the half attached to the boiler via a pipe is the water side and the other side is the air side. When the boilers starts a new cycle, a great deal of water pressure develops as a result of heating the water; the expansion tank helps balance this excess pressure by allowing water to enter the water side of the tank as it heats. Once the cycle is finished, most of the water forced into the expansion tank due to the heating process returns to the boiler for the next cycle.

How Does This Help?

Without the expansion tank, the water pressure in your boiler would not stay balanced, causing the pressure to go too high. Home boilers should not have an inner pressure higher than 15psi, and ensuring this is a large part of what the expansion tank does. Should the pressure increase to 30psi or higher, or the temperature of the water become hotter than 250 degrees, an additional safety mechanism called the expansion valve will open on an emergency basis and allow the excess water pressure to release.

Should problems develop with the expansion valve on your boiler, it will require an expert to first drain the tank and then re-fill the tank with the appropriate amount of air to regain system balance. If you are having pressure issues with your boiler, call the experts at Switzerland Air today. We provide expert boiler repair and maintenance services in the Freeport area.

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Help! My Boiler Isn’t Producing Heat

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

A boiler that isn’t producing heat is obviously a big problem, and should be dealt with immediately. There are a few different reasons that your boiler could be skimping on heat production. Some of them are fairly easy to fix, some not so much. Let’s go through each of the possible causes for your boiler failing to produce heat, organized by symptom.

Boiler Isn’t On

If your boiler isn’t turning on at all, no matter how high you set your thermostat, there are two main things you should check. First, have a look at your thermostat and make sure that everything is set correctly. Often, when the heater won’t turn on it’s a sign that the thermostat is either not set correctly or malfunctioning. If the thermostat appears to be operating correctly, check the pilot light under your boiler. If the pilot light is out, that’s probably the cause of your trouble. If you don’t have a standing pilot light, you’ll need to call a professional to further investigate the problem.

Boiler is On, But Not Heating

This is a more distressing problem, as it indicates an issue within the boiler itself. The first thing that a professional will often check in this instance is the hot water circulator. It is quite possible that your boiler is, in fact, producing hot water that simply isn’t being circulated throughout the house. We do not recommend that you check the circulator yourself, as it will be extremely hot.

It is also possible that you have a bad valve somewhere in the system, which is preventing the water from getting to where it needs to go. If you have terminal heaters, like baseboard heaters or iron radiators, they should be checked. A good way to isolate the cause of the problem is to check and see if all of these terminal heaters are cold or just one or two of them. If there is just one or two heaters that are malfunctioning, then it is possible that an air bubble in the system is preventing the water from circulating properly.

If your boiler is having issues, call Switzerland Air and schedule an appointment with us today. We provide professional boiler repair service in the Brazoria, TX area.

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Why Your Furnace Isn’t Providing Heat

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Furnaces are generally quite reliable, providing heat to every room or zone in the home using a centralized system connected to the ducts. If your furnace won’t seem to give you the heating power you need, it may come as a surprise. However, even top-of-the-line units can run into a number of different repair needs, especially if you haven’t had a technician look at your heating system at all this season. When your furnace isn’t providing enough heat or any heat at all, any of the following causes may lead you to call a technician for professional heating repair in Lake Jackson.

  • Faulty Ignition System: In order for your furnace to heat up, the ignition system must allow for combustion to take place. Modern furnace pilots don’t need a flame lit at all times. Instead, electronic ignition kicks in when heat is needed only, but this system can fail if the proper conditions are not met. For example, if the gas burner is clogged, it won’t be able to light. Or the flame sensor—a component that detects when there is no flame present and shuts off the gas to prevent leaks—may be dirty, causing it to believe the burner is not lighting and shutting off the system shortly after ignition.
  • Safety Controls Activated: It could be the case that a potential health or safety hazard was detected by your system, which has in turn shut off for your protection. The air pressure switch may shut down the unit because gases are not venting properly, for example. Alternatively, the limit stich may shut down the furnace if the chamber has overheated.
  • Electrical Trouble: A gas furnace can still run into electrical trouble since the control board and fans can eventually malfunction. You may not feel heat because of a broken sensor, or because the blower fan motor does not have enough power to operate.

You may be able to prevent heating repair by scheduling professional maintenance every year. All in all, it’s best to call on an expert when you’re your furnace does not run properly. Call the professionals at Switzerland Air for quality heating repair in Lake Jackson.

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Should I Go With a Ductless Mini Split System or a Boiler?

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Both boilers and ductless systems have long existed in the shadow of the more popular furnace heating systems. That time is fast drawing to a close, however. Both systems have experienced a dramatic rise in popularity over the past couple of decades, and for good reason. Each system has its own distinct advantages to recommend it. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each system, and how you can choose the one best-suited to your needs.

Ductless Mini Split System

A ductless mini split system is a type of heat pump that, as the name suggests, completely eschews ductwork in favor of only heating the room in which it is installed. There are two parts to a ductless system, one indoor unit and one outdoor unit. The indoor unit is installed directly into a room, usually on a wall or the ceiling, while the outdoor unit is installed on the outside of the house. The two units are then connected by a conduit containing power and refrigerant lines.

When the heat is turned on, the outdoor unit evaporates refrigerant using a coil inside its casing. This leeches thermal energy from the surrounding air, which is carried by the refrigerant gas to the indoor unit. The indoor unit then condenses the gas back into a liquid, releasing the thermal energy to heat the room.

Ductless systems are great for people who want to save money, as they are quite energy efficient. They are also convenient, in that installing multiple ductless systems offers finer control over the climate in each room of the house.


Boiler-based systems are often simply referred to as “radiant” systems, due to the method with which they distribute heat. A radiant heating system involves the installation of a network of water pipes in the floor of each room of the house. The boiler then heats and distributes water through these pipes, causing heat to radiate through them and up into the room.

Radiant heating systems are much more energy efficient than forced air systems. They also tend to heat rooms much more evenly, creating a more comfortable environment.

If you’d like to know more about which system to choose, call Switzerland Air. We provide quality heating services in the Angleton, TX area.

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The History of “Auld Lang Syne”

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

There are numerous different traditional songs associated with Christmas—but there is only one song that comes to mind immediately when people think of New Year’s Eve: “Auld Lang Syne.” It is hard to find a New Year’s Eve party where people won’t leap into singing “Should old acquaintance be forgot…” as the first stroke of midnight sounds. This tradition encompasses the globe, with almost every culture that celebrates New Year’s on January 1st breaking into song with the same set of lyrics.

Where did this song come from? And what do the words “auld lang syne” actually mean? The best place to ask these questions is Scotland. The Official Gateway to Scotland website calls the song “one of Scotland’s gifts to the world, recalling the love and kindness of days gone by, but in the communion of taking our neighbor’s hands, it also gives us a sense of belonging and fellowship to take us into the future.”

The melody of the piece originates from Lowland Scots folk song tradition. It was legendary Scottish Romantic poet Robert Burns (1759–1796) who created the words we know today, however. During the later years of his life, Burns dedicated much of his work to collecting Scottish folk tunes and giving them new life. The first mention Burns makes of “Auld Lang Syne” is in 1788, when he calls the song “a glorious fragment.” Burns wrote new lyrics to the old melody, and used the words “auld lang syne,” which is Scottish for “old long since,” and which can be translated into standard English as “long, long ago” or “days gone by.” The phrase was already known in earlier Scottish poems and folk songs, and appears to be the equivalent of “Once upon a time…” for Scots fairy tales.

Soon after Burns introduced the song to the public, it spread across Scotland as a New Year’s custom, and then to the rest of Great Britain. Scottish immigrants took the song with them as they moved across the globe, and by the middle of the 19th century it was a holiday tradition throughout the English-speaking world. By the close of the 20th century, it was a global phenomenon to ring in the New Year.

We imagine that you’ll end up singing or hearing “Auld Lang Syne” at some point this New Year’s (maybe you’ve already heard it while watching It’s a Wonderful Life).

All of us at Switzerland Air would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy coming year in the tradition of the song.

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