Energy Efficiency

10 Common Furnace Problems to Watch For

If you just turned on your furnace for the first time since last winter, there are some things you may want to watch for as the colder months roll in. We typically find that problems are likely to pop up right when we begin using our heating and cooling systems for the first time in a while.

Here are 10 common issues your furnace may face and what you’ll want to do about them.

1 – Air Filter Change

This is the bare minimum of furnace maintenance. We can’t stress highly enough how important it is to change your furnace’s air filter regularly. While it varies from home to home, we typically recommend checking your filter monthly and replacing it quarterly (at the least). Some homes can get away with more time on their filters, but many homes will actually require less.

Air filters are easy to diagnose and obtain. You can order them online or pick one up at the local hardware store. Not sure which size you need? Check the current filter to see if the size is listed or try searching for your furnace’s model number online to see what filter sizes are accepted by your system.

2 – Wear and Tear

Furnaces get old and need to be replaced. While many systems will last upwards of 15-20 years, there’s no guarantee that your furnace will perform well for that long. For instance, furnaces made just 10 or 15 years ago are noticeably less energy efficient than their present-day counterparts.

If your furnace requires regular repairs or is just getting up there in age, you may actually save a good deal on your monthly utilities by replacing the system before it goes out. Similarly, if you have an outage, it may be best to consider upgrading your system as opposed to a costly repair on an older model that may just go out soon anyhow.

3 – Thermostat Issues

Sometimes, the problem doesn’t lie with the furnace at all. We often get calls for furnaces not working properly, only to find the actual issue is that the thermostat was off. Ensure your thermostat is set correctly and has working batteries before attempting to diagnose your furnace.

Likewise, it could be that your thermostat just needs to be replaced. This is often a simple matter that can be a DIY job. If you’d like the team at Lion to help, we’d be happy to take care of it as well and check for other issues at the same time.

4 – Power Problems

Occasionally, clutter or activity around a furnace will lead to it getting unplugged. Many homeowners don’t actually even know their furnace plugs in at all, but they certainly do. 

Likewise, it is possible that you need to reset the breaker associated with your home’s furnace, which could especially be the issue after a power outage in your area. Before calling an HVAC specialist, it never hurts to check if your furnace is actually receiving power or not.

5 – Not Hot Enough

If you find that the air coming from the vents just doesn’t feel very warm or that you’re constantly adjusting the thermostat to get the house warm enough, there could be a few potential problems.

In most cases, it will require HVAC maintenance to ensure that there aren’t technical issues with the furnace. If you’re new to the home, it could just be that the furnace isn’t actually powerful enough to properly heat the entire home. Other common issues, such as a clogged air filter or blocked air intake vents, could also be the culprit.

6 – Not Hot At All

There’s a big difference between not very hot and not at all hot when it comes to your home’s heating system. If your furnace isn’t producing even warm air, you likely have an issue with the pilot light or ignition. This could be problematic, especially if the furnace is continually trying to create warm air and failing.

In this instance, we suggest you give our team a call right away to ensure that nothing dangerous is going on. It’s likely best to shut off the system while we work on troubleshooting or getting a service expert your way.

7 – Turning On & Off Frequently

If you’re noticing an on-again, off-again problem with your furnace, this likely has to do with improper air flow coming from or into the system. Since your furnace works on a forced air system that requires cycled air from within your home to push heated air through the vents, you should first check if air intake vents are blocked or otherwise obstructed.

It could be that you need to get your vents cleaned or a new thermostat, as well. The first place to check should be the thermostat, then air intake vents, and finally the furnace itself, likely with an HVAC service expert.

8 – Always Running

We occasionally get the call from folks that feel they have to manually control their furnace by turning the heat entirely off to get it to stop running. There are a couple of potential culprits here, but the root issue should not be left unaddressed any longer than necessary to avoid excess wear-and-tear on the other systems within your furnace.

For instance, if the limit switch is faulty, it could cause your heat exchangers to remain active longer than necessary, which can cause a far more expensive (and potentially dangerous) problem for your furnace.

9 – Heat Exchanger Issues

While not the most common issue to run into, problems with the heat exchanger are usually the end of a furnace’s life. There are a few reasons for this:

First of all, noticing something wrong with this system often comes after the problems have progressed to a serious level.

Next, a faulty heat exchanger system is the root cause of many carbon monoxide poisoning cases nationwide, so a DIY repair is certainly not recommended.

Finally, the heat exchanger system is built to last the life of your furnace. If it’s going out, your furnace may not be worth repairing anyway; this is doubly-true for the expensive heat exchanger system. For this reason alone, most serious heat exchanger issues lead to a furnace replacement being the best-case scenario.

10 – General Lack of Maintenance

It is no surprise to local homeowners that furnaces are not inexpensive purchases and should be taken care of as a future investment in the home. All too often, we meet homeowners who regret not having regular maintenance performed on their system over time, as a more costly repair or replacement looms over their head.

Nearly every issue listed here could be caught and prevented or repaired during a routine maintenance inspection of your furnace. Before the really chilly months hit Northern Colorado, it’s best to get your maintenance planned and scheduled to go into the winter with peace of mind.

Contact us today to get started!

Energy Efficiency

Indoor Air Quality Means More Now Than Ever

With the current state of affairs in the world, we tend to think of our homes as a safe haven away from the big bad coronavirus lurking just outside the door. While this may be true to an extent, the quality of the air inside your home matters now more than ever. We are only seeing the beginning effects of what has been labeled a pandemic in the US. 

 

In record numbers, sporting events and gatherings are being canceled, hand washing has become a hot button issue, and the threat of Covid -19 is looming large over all of us in Fort Collins. Even though we have not had a large number of cases locally, state and local officials are working to contain any exposure there may be.

 

Employers are having their employees work from home; Fort Collins area schools are preparing for the worst; and we can look forward to a world without professional sports this year. It is looking like this is no joke and we all need to take it seriously.   

 

This disruption does mean a big change in all of our lives over the next few months. Really, who knows how long we are going to be under the threat of this virus. This means you are probably going to be spending much more time at home, so wouldn’t you like to be sure of your indoor air quality?

 

At Lion Home Service, we are just as concerned about the possibility of this virus spreading as you are, and we do not want any of our employees or clients to become sick. While minimizing indoor pollutants is important at any time, it brings the concern of the air inside your home into much more focus.

 

Your home should be an oasis from the outside world, a safe haven where you can breathe easy and not have to worry about inhaling contaminants.   

 

The Air In Your Home May Be Dirtier Than You Think 

 

Indoor air pollution can contribute to respiratory illness and other short- or long- term health effects, but with a few simple maintenance items your indoor air quality can be improved. Of course, there are a few sources of indoor air pollution that are not going to be as easy to eradicate. 

 

Depending on how old your home may be, there are a wide variety of building materials that produce harmful substances. These can range from formaldehyde to asbestos, and when these are present, it is crucial to develop a plan of action to deal with these pollutants as they are very difficult to mitigate. 

 

As far as day-to-day pollutants, a properly functioning HVAC system will minimize the presence of indoor air pollutants and keep your family safe. At Lion Home Service we have some of the best service service experts in the industry, the local experts in ensuring that you have a safe heating and cooling system in your home. 

 

While it is impossible to prevent all forms of indoor air pollution, a properly functioning HVAC system can ensure that the air circulating in your home is as clean as possible. 

 

Carbon Monoxide

 

A product of combustion, carbon monoxide is a harmful gas that is very difficult to detect and could result in serious health problems. Carbon monoxide can be present in a poorly functioning heater or heater components. Thankfully many homes are now equipped with carbon monoxide detectors and modern furnaces include safeguards to prevent carbon monoxide issues. 

     

Duct Work

 

Duct work stretches throughout much of your home and sends cooled or heated air to the far reaches of your living space. Over time, these ducts become a resting place for bacteria, dust, and sometimes mold. While changing your filter will help, the majority of contaminants that find their way into your ducts enter through your vents and can be difficult to remove.     

 

Filters 

 

Your HVAC filter is the first line of defense for your indoor air quality. While filters may vary in terms of quality, the principle is the same — to catch particles from the air and prevent them from circulating in your home. A good filter can block particles all the way down to bacteria, but keep in mind that filtering out tiny particles like that would mean an air-tight system and your HVAC is not completely airtight so filter effectiveness is subjective.   

 

Through furnace maintenance, duct cleaning, and filter service, Lion Home Services specializes in creating an environment so that you can feel safe inside of your home. This is all the more critical when we are faced with a potentially terrible situation due to the coronavirus. 

 

If you need to schedule routine maintenance, a filter change, or duct cleaning, please contact us today and we will do our part to make you more comfortable in your home. We hope you stay safe during this period and please use our 24-hour call center if you need any assistance with your HVAC system.         

     

Energy Efficiency

How Does Insulation Affect a Home’s Energy Cost?

Are your home’s energy costs out of control? Your attic’s insulation might have something to do with that. If your home is not properly insulated, you could literally have money disappearing into mid-air. Why? Because insulation helps keep your conditioned air where it is supposed to be, in your home! Here’s why insulation, or lack thereof, has a direct impact on your home’s energy costs.

Cold Air Seeks out Warm Air and Vice-Versa

Attic insulation plays an important part in keeping your home comfortable. But it also is important to help you keep your home’s energy costs under control. During the winter, when the weather is cold, your attic should be, too. However, if your attic is not properly sealed and insulated, which is the case with many older homes, the heated air from your living space will seep into it. The opposite occurs during the summer when the air in your attic becomes very hot. The heat from your attic can radiate down into your cooled living space.

The result is that your air conditioner and heater need to work harder to keep your home comfortable. And this means they are using more energy in the process. But it is not just the added energy costs you need to worry about. You also need to be concerned about the added wear and tear on your system that will shorten its lifespan and increase the likelihood of a breakdown. Another concern is damage to your roof and the shortening of its lifespan from heat buildup and ice dams.

Out With the Old, in With the New

Today, upgrading the insulation in your attic is more cost-effective in the long run than paying expensive energy bills and repairing or replacing your HVAC system or roof. If your energy costs are skyrocketing, our blown insulation services can be the answer to your problem.

At Lion Home Service, our experts are ready to help make your home more energy efficient with services like heating and cooling repair, maintenance, and upgrades. Take the first step to saving money on your home’s energy costs by contacting Lion Home Service in Fort Collins to schedule your attic assessment today. We offer heating, cooling, electrical, septic sewer, and roofing services.

Energy Efficiency

What is Blown Insulation?

Insulation keeps your home’s temperature more comfortable during all seasons. It prevents hot air from entering your home in the summer while also stopping the cold air from your air conditioning from escaping. One option you have is blown insulation, which is a cost- and energy-efficient solution.

Definition of Blown Insulation

Sometimes referred to as loose-fill insulation, blown insulation consists of small particles that a service expert installs using a special machine. The tech installs it in attics or inside of a building’s walls.

Although some insulation consists of fiberglass fibers or Styrofoam pellets, an insulation company generally uses cellulose — a combination of wood-based particles like cardboard and recycled newspaper. During the manufacturing process, cellulose is treated with boric acid and other similar chemicals to make it resistant to fire and mold.

How It’s Installed

When a service expert from Lion Home Service arrives at your home, he or she will bring bags filled with the loose insulation. The service expert will use a blower with paddles inside of it to separate the particles and combine them with air. Finally, the machine blows the insulation into the designated area.

Benefits of Blown Insulation

The cellulose insulation process is highly energy efficient. Over time, you’ll save money on your energy bills. In fact, when you compare it to fiberglass bats, it’s more energy efficient. Additionally, cellulose is eco-friendly because it consists of recycled paper products.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take long for a professional to install blown insulation, so you’re minimally inconvenienced. Typically, Lion Home Service completes the project in a matter of hours.

Generally, the price to install blown insulation is low when compared to other options. According to Home Advisor, most homeowners spend under $2,000 to have their home insulated with this material. Once you have this insulation installed, you probably won’t need to have it done again. Blown insulation usually lasts for 100 years or longer.

Blown-in insulation has a number of benefits. You’ll even reap the reward for years to come. However, the only way to determine if it’s the best option for you is to contact a professional at Lion Home Service in Fort Collins. We provide a variety of services related to heating and cooling, water heaters, roofing and more.

Energy Efficiency

3 Real Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency

Many people tend to neglect all the many ways they are losing money on utility bills. While there are lots of tricks to improve your energy efficiency, some methods are only minimally effective. Here are the three top ways you can begin to really improve the energy efficiency of your home.

1. Reduce Your Water Heater Temperature

Many people have their water heater set far hotter than it needs to be. Reducing the temperature by a few degrees will save you a great deal of money throughout the year and result in lower energy usage overall. All it takes is a simple adjustment of the heater settings.

2. Use a Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats can save you a lot of money. If you don’t pay attention to your system, you can end up having your heater or AC working a lot harder much more often than necessary.

You also have to ask yourself, what is a comfortable level? Can you stretch a few degrees lower in winter and use an extra blanket? Can you stretch a little higher in summer and use fans instead? Can you use that programmable thermostat to set a more conservative temperature during off-peak hours? All of these will help you save money and raise your energy efficiency. Even a difference of just a few degrees can noticeably lower your monthly utility bill.

3. Insulate Your Home

Better insulation in your attic, for example, makes it harder for perfectly conditioned air to escape your house. Seal up cracks and add insulation where possible so that it will keep out the cold or hot weather. This will make things much easier on your HVAC unit.

All of these tips require a good HVAC unit that is properly maintained. This is where Lion Home Service can help. We operate throughout Fort Collins and the surrounding areas with a full range of services that cover heating, cooling, electrical, radon testing, and more. Call our office today for detailed information.

Energy Efficiency

How to Save Money on Energy Bills This Winter

If you’re like most modern consumers, you’ve noticed a distinct rise in energy costs during the past several years, and you probably want to find ways to keep them as low as possible this winter. Fortunately, strategies exist that allow homeowners in Fort Collins to cut household energy costs significantly.

Turn Your Thermostat Down at Night and When You’re at Work

Turning your thermostat down 10 degrees at night and when you’re out of the house during the workday can result in savings of 15 to 20 percent on your heating bill. Busy people sometimes struggle with remembering to turn the heat up or down on a regular schedule, so consider having a programmable thermostat installed that will perform this chore for you.

Have Your Furnace Maintained at the Start of Winter

A furnace that’s been properly maintained is going to be far more efficient than its counterpart that’s been neglected — and greater efficiency translates to savings. Scheduling a maintenance visit from a skilled HVAC professional ensures that your furnace is ready to go when temperatures plunge. Keep in mind that most furnace malfunctions occur during the first serious cold snap of the season, usually as a result of systems becoming overloaded because they haven’t been properly serviced.

Seal Off Vents in Rooms You Don’t Use

There’s no sense in heating parts of your home that aren’t in regular use during the winter, so close the vents in guest or storage rooms as soon as seasonal temperatures begin to fall. This directs the energy to the rooms you’re actually spending time in, and you can always open the heating vent for those times when you’ve got guests.

Don’t Leave Exhaust Fans Running

Exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms are essential for pulling unwanted humidity out of the air, but leaving them running longer than necessary also drains valuable heat from the air.

Use LED Lights for Your Holiday Decorating

Holiday lights are a huge energy drain for the average household, but you can cut utility costs substantially by using LED lights instead of traditional options. They also burn about 75 percent less hot, making them far less of a fire hazard.

Furnace Installation in Northern Colorado

Please feel free to contact us at Lion Home Services at your convenience for more information on keeping energy costs in Fort Collins low. We offer furnace repair, installation, and maintenance services!

Energy Efficiency

How to keep your water heater operating at peak efficiency

We’ve all been trained to take our cars in for oil changes every three months or 3,000 miles, but when’s the last time you thought about giving your water heater a tune up? Most homeowners don’t realize just how much they rely on hot water until it’s gone. Fortunately, a little preventative water heater maintenance can go a long way to prevent problems and keep you in ample supply at the turn of a faucet. But if you still notice problems with your water temperature, it’s best to call a professional company like Lion Home Service.

Types of water heaters

There are two main styles of water heaters on today’s market — models with tanks and newer tankless options. The traditional tank-style units include metal holding tanks of various sizes with a heating element that warms the water inside using electricity, propane or natural gas. These models work on the same basic principle as turning on your cooktop to heat a pot of water. In comparison, tankless water heaters operate by running water past a sensor and through a pipe where it’s spot-heated to deliver hot water on demand.

Each option offers its own unique pros and cons. For instance, tank models are cheaper to purchase than tankless models, but they only hold a finite amount of water. And once that tank of hot water has been depleted, you have to wait for the next batch to warm up to get more, which can take up to an hour. Because tankless models only heat the water when you need it, there’s an unlimited supply. Since they don’t require a holding tank, they’re often a good option for apartments, condominiums and small homes where space is more valuable. However, turning the hot water on and off can create pockets of cold water in the pipe between use.

Standard tank water heaters will usually last between 7 and 11 years and can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 depending on size, model features and whether any plumbing in your home needs to be brought up to code before the unit can be safely installed. Because they involve smart technology components, tankless water heaters are more expensive and can run $3,000 to $8,000 — about twice as much as traditional tank heaters. They’re not working constantly to keep heating, however, so they cost less to operate and can last twice as long as a tank heater— up to 15 or even 20 years if properly maintained.

Maintenance recommendations

Whether you decide to go with a tank or tankless model, maintaining your hot water heater shouldn’t require a lot of time or money. Each should be inspected and treated at regular intervals to keep them operating effectively; how often you’ll need to do this depends on the hardness of the water in your home.

Hard water can create sediment that collects in the bottom of a hot water heater tank over time, making it more difficult for the unit to heat the water and resulting in higher energy bills. Flushing this sediment a couple times a year can make a big difference in the heater’s overall efficiency. A home service professional can easily take care of the job for you, but it’s fairly easy to manage yourself after you’ve seen it done and received some instruction. Simply disconnect the electricity or turn off the gas/propane, release the pressure in the tank, drain it halfway and then turn the water back on to push any sediment out. (Of course, you’ll need to make sure the draining water has a place to go.) Another maintenance checklist item to keep in mind: Water heaters with tanks include a rod part that should be replaced every two or three years.

Likewise, tankless water heaters should be checked on a regular schedule to get rid of any scaling or calcification that can collect inside the unit and prevent optimal function.

If your hot water heater starts making odd noises or you simply notice it’s not heating properly, it’s always a good idea to call a professional who can evaluate the situation and make appropriate recommendations to remedy the problem.

Energy Efficiency

How Can I Save Money on Energy Bills in The Summer?

Energy BillsReducing your energy consumption in summer can be quite challenging since the temperatures can soar so high. However, there are several energy-saving techniques to help you manage your energy bills during the hot season. To save more, implement more than one technique.

Add Insulation to Your Walls and Attics

Air leakage occurs due to the cracks, openings, and spaces in between the walls of your home. Insulation is the best way to fill the gaps that allow air leakage. This can be done through caulking and weather-stripping. Unfortunately, if you are a renter, you may not have this option. But, you can still insulate your property by installing blinds on your windows, draught-proof your doors, and much more.

Spend Time Outdoors

Summertime offers the best weather for outdoor activities. Spending more time outdoors means that you can switch off the AC, lights, and electronics for some time. As you have fun in the park, at the movies, or at the beach, you’ll naturally reduce energy consumption. Before leaving the house, remember to not only switch off these devices, but also unplug them since some devices can still drain power even when they’re not on.

Use Fans

While AC units may be a necessity during summer, they consume a lot of energy; therefore, limit their use to extremely hot days. Using ceiling and widow fans gets the air circulating, which means that you can delay turning on the AC. Plus, they don’t consume much electricity. If your AC unit has internal fans, you can also turn the fans to auto, which helps to circulate the air without running the AC.

Maintain Your Cooling System

It’s normal for your cooling system to reduce its efficiency over time, which in turn increases the amount of energy required to run it. Some of the ways to maintain your cooling system include:

  • Cleaning the AC
  • Replacing or cleaning filters
  • Getting your cooling system regularly inspected and serviced by a professional
  • Replacing the AC with a more efficient model

Outstanding AC Service in Fort Collins

At Lion Home Services, we ensure that the residents of Fort Collins and its environs get the comfort and convenience they need all year round. We provide a wide range of installation, repair, and maintenance services in plumbing, electrical, heating, cooling, insulation, and duct cleaning. Our qualified service experts are highly dependable and can handle any HVAC issues you may have. Contact us today for trusted services.