Heating

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!

Heating

First Time Turning On the Furnace? Here Are 5 Things to Do

This week, Northern Colorado saw a very early first freeze. We set a record for most snow on September 10th only two days after record-high temperatures around 100-degrees on September 8th. Whether you joined many Northern Colorado families in turning on their heat for the first time or not, here are some things to watch for as we begin flipping on the furnace for the colder months.

1 – Change the Air Filter

If you haven’t been using your AC recently, or do not have central air conditioning that utilizes your furnace, you’ll want to change your air filter before turning on your furnace for the first time. 

Even if your forced air conditioning system has been engaged, it’s a good idea to check the filter before switching over to heat to ensure there’s no extra build-up.

An old, used-up air filter isn’t going to start your system off right and it’s important that you have a good, working air filter in your furnace to keep peak performance and avoid damages to your system.

2 – Check Your Thermostat Settings

Ah, the wonders of technology. Many homes today have smart or digital thermostats that can perform a number of functions ranging from a heating or cooling schedule to detecting when someone is home and automatically changing the temperature in the home accordingly.

Regardless of the complexity of your thermostat, be sure to check the following:

  1. Determine if you have an existing schedule in the thermostat for heat and ensure that still matches with your current lifestyle. After all, if you’re no longer commuting to work during the day, you may not want the system barely running during those hours. The last thing you want is last year’s schedule to kick in and not provide what you’re hoping for.
  2. Double-check that the system is set to heat. We know, this is an obvious one, but many folks each year panic when their furnace pushes out cool or cold air, only to realize that the system is set to Fan or Cool. You could save yourself an unneeded emergency HVAC call by double-checking the thermostat.
  3. Check the humidifier on your furnace and engage the system if it’s off. Many homes in Northern Colorado feature a digital humidifier, often with a thermostat-esque device on the furnace itself. Since humid air retains heat better than the dry air we see in Colorado winters, this can be a money-saving device. Many families turn theirs off during the winter, so ensure yours is turned back on and set to somewhere around 30-40% (or whatever was recommended for your home at the time of installation).
  4. Know your “smart” features. As mentioned above, many families in Northern Colorado have different habits this year, with the challenges of the coronavirus, that were not present last year. If your home has a smart thermostat that relies on a cell phone, ensure you have the right devices connected and that any other enabled functions still make sense for you.

3 – Monitor Smells and Noises

It’s tough to describe exactly what is normal for a first-time firing of the furnace system in your home without actually being there. Still, if you notice a rattling, rumbling, or other bizarre noise that isn’t typical for your system, you may want to monitor the situation closely and call our office for advice right away.

As far as smells go, a dusty smell coming from the vents for the first hour or so is pretty normal. This comes from dust settling on the burners within your furnace during months of use and shouldn’t be worried about too much. 

However, a smell of natural gas or potent or lasting foul odor would not be typical and should be looked at by a certified HVAC service expert right away.

4 – Not Feeling Hot Air? Check These First

If you’ve flipped the switch and haven’t seen hot air blowing, here are the first things you should try:

  1. Give it a minute. Your system has been off, likely for months, and it could take a minute to engage. Some HVAC systems, such as heat pumps, have a defrost cycle to run through before you’ll actually see a temperature change. Be a little patient before worrying.
  2. Triple-check the thermostat. Yes, we know, saying it again is probably overdoing it, but we really do get calls from folks that just didn’t set the thermostat correctly every year.
  3. Check the breaker for a disabled switch. Rarely, we’ll see a breaker disabled on the furnace upon checking a system that is unresponsive. If your system isn’t doing anything, this is an easy one to check off the list.
  4. Secure the furnace access door. If you took our advice on changing the air filter, a likely solution for nothing happening with your furnace is that the door was not properly resecured after removing it to change your filter (or that it was bumped, etc.). 
  5. Contact our offices for help in troubleshooting. After you’ve done the 4 above, the best thing for the uninitiated is to call in a professional for help. Don’t wait! If you’re turning on your furnace for the first time today, imagine that many other local families are doing the same and could also encounter problems. Get an appointment quickly before the rush.

5 – Keep Your Furnace Maintained

If you didn’t get service for your furnace last year, it’s time to get in a professional to check for any needed maintenance or repairs. Even if your system is working, the first time you turn on the system is a great time to make a future appointment to ensure everything is working properly.

You should expect that you will eventually need to replace your furnace, and that could be sooner than later if you have an older model. If it isn’t working on the first heating of the season, it could be time to schedule a replacement instead of a repair or maintenance service. Modern furnaces offer incredible energy-saving benefits that can actually allow for the system to pay for itself over time compared to an older model you’ve been holding onto.

Contact Lion for Help

If you’re not getting the heat you hope for on the first cold days this year, give Lion Home Services a call. Whether you need emergency assistance or a future appointment for maintenance, repairs, or a replacement furnace, our team can help.

Give us a call today for advice or to schedule the appointment you need to enjoy your home as the temperature in Northern Colorado begins to drop!

Heating

What Causes Heating Repairs?

You never made the mistake of tampering with your furnace, yet something went wrong. Confusion about furnace troubles makes paying for repair bills annoying. Once you understand some basics about furnace repairs, you will realize why fix-it jobs become unavoidable. Furnaces eventually experience a problem that only a skilled service expert can fix. Here are three reasons to consider:

1. Something Unexpected Happened

Although you take great steps to care for your furnace, things don’t always work the way they should. The pilot light, for some unexpected reason, keeps going out. That’s a collective problem heating systems experience even when you stay on top of maintenance: normal wear and tear cause problems for furnaces over time. Imagine what constantly pushing the pilot light on does. Fort Collins residents can access help from the heating and cooling experts at Lion Home Service. Heating, cooling, water heater and electrical work is available.

2. The System Ages

The average lifespan on a home gas furnace is about 20 years. Age catches up with the furnace, and repairs become unavoidable as parts require upgrades and replacements. Taking good care of the furnace and making sure all work gets done on time could lengthen life expectancy. You don’t need to ignore problems such as the furnace shutting on and off or making loud noises when Lion Home Service in Fort Collins can discover and fix the problem in a timely manner. Things could get worse as time marches forward, and fixing the problems might not be possible.

3. No Cleaning Work Done

Always clean the system. Allowing soot to build up in the system means you now have impurities collecting. Not changing the filter means dirt and dust amass so much that clogs occur. Airflow becomes restricted, which can cause tons of problems in the heater’s internal mechanisms. Routine annual cleaning may cut down on the chances that some issues will occur. Consider cleaning the system more than once per year, and always change filters as necessary.

Don’t keep worrying about heater repairs when Lion Home Service pros can perform installs and maintenance. Call the company’s front desk to schedule a house call appointment.

Heating

The Basics of Having a Boiler in Your Home

A boiler is different from a forced-air furnace in that it uses steam or hot water to heat a house. OurheatingOur and air conditioning company, Lion Home Service, is an expert source for maintaining and repairing boilers in the Fort Collins area. Read more to learn how boilers work and how to know if you have one in your home.

How Boilers Work

A steam boiler basically heats water to the boiling point. The resulting steam is then circulated around the house, and the steam’s heat is released through radiators. In a boiler that uses water, hot water is circulated around the house. Water is then returned to be reheated and sent out again. Both hot water and steam heating systems can use the same type of boilers and can be powered by gas or oil. However, there are differences:

  • Hot water boilers have an expansion tank full of air to keep the water from boiling
  • Steam boilers lack expansion tank but have a gauge glass that lets homeowners and heating specialists know water levels
  • Hot water boiler has combination gauge that shows the pressure, the minimum pressure, and the water temperature
  • Forced water system has a circulator, which is a pump that moves the water

How to Know If You Have a Boiler

A boiler looks very much like a hot water tank. It is attached to pipes, drains, shut-off and relief valves, try cocks and drain cocks. If you have such a unit in your home, it may be a boiler. Of course, you can also reach out to a heating system expert who can inspect your system.

Call Our Company in Fort Collins for Answers About Your Boiler

If you have questions about your boiler or need one repaired or installed, don’t hesitate to call Lion Home Service.

Heating

Importance of Duct Sealing During the Winter

If you’re like most Fort Collins homeowners, your family enjoys the summer sunshine. When chilly weather rolls around, however, you just want to stay cozy and warm indoors. Staying warm isn’t just about turning up the heat, though – it’s also about stopping heat loss and keeping your family safe. Here’s how duct sealing in the winter months offers benefits such as keeping your family comfortable while saving energy.

Increase Your Family’s Comfort

When your new ductwork system is first installed, it works seamlessly, moving warm air from your furnace or heat pump to every room in your home. However, after a few years of wear and tear, many duct systems develop holes, leaks, and cracks, allowing air to escape the ducts without reaching its destination. That means that warm air isn’t going to be getting where you wanted it to go, and you’ll be tempted to turn the thermostat up.

Lower Your Utility Costs

When your ductwork is constantly leaking air, you could end up throwing away as much as 20 percent of the energy produced by your system. That is money down the drain, In addition to decreasing your energy consumption, sealing your ductwork also helps to lower your energy bill. Duct sealing won’t just reduce heating costs in the Northern Colorado winters, you’ll see much lower cooling costs in the summer as well.

Lengthen Your HVAC System’s Life

With professional duct sealing, your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard to keep your indoor temperature levels where you want them while keeping your family comfortable. Not only will it last longer, but it will also run more efficiently and require fewer repairs.

Your Family’s Safety

A leaky duct system can vent harmful gases such as carbon monoxide through your living space, and provide a space for mold, mildew and other allergens to accumulate. Through duct system sealing and regular HVAC system maintenance, you can help keep your household free from dangerous airborne contaminants and combustion gases.

Call For a Duct Inspection Today

While you probably won’t be able to easily see these issues, our experienced team at Lion Home Service can spot potential problems and leaks during a duct inspection. Have you scheduled a duct sealing appointment for your home yet? Contact the duct experts at Lion Home Service today.

Heating

Tips to Combat a Cold, Colorado Winter

Colorado winters are infamous for brutal temps, blustery winds and tons of snow, but that doesn’t mean you and your family have to be miserable from October through April. With a little careful planning and some preventative maintenance, your heating system can be up and running like new before the first flake falls. Lion Home Service, in Fort Collins, has you covered.

Schedule an Annual Furnace Inspection

It’s much cheaper to maintain your furnace or boiler than it is to repair it. This means scheduling regular service inspections to spot issues before they become problems. At least once annually, you should have the following checks performed:

  • Check vents for leaks, blockages or mold formation
  • Remove dirt and debris from the blower
  • Check the burner and flame for proper ignition and operation
  • Calibrate the thermostat

Weather-Proof Doors and Windows

Long before the first snow falls, check your windows and doors for leaky seals, and add spray foam or weatherstripping where needed. Leaky doors and windows can cost big money in energy costs when it comes time to fire up your furnace. According to Energy Star, simply sealing up window and door frames can shave up to 15 percent off your utility bills this winter.

Make Sure Your Insulation Is Up to the Task
Brutal environments call for tough insulation, and if your R-Value, or heat-resistance, isn’t high enough, you’ll lose valuable indoor heat to the great outdoors. For Colorado homes, recommended R-values are as follows:

  • Exterior Wall: 18
  • Attic Space: 49
  • Basement: 11
  • Floors: 25

Boiler Installation in Fort Collins, CO

Using these basic recommendations, it’s easy to ensure your home is ready for everything a Colorado winter can dish up. When you’re ready to winterize your home for winter, contact Lion Home Service. From simple duct cleaning to installing new insulation, we’re your one-stop shop for comfort in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Heating

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!