little girl playing with teddy bear

During the hot summer months, most homeowners don’t expect to find ice on their air conditioning unit. Unfortunately, this issue is more common than you might think, and having ice on your AC is a sure sign that something’s not right. Reviewing the likely causes can help you get your equipment back to its normal working state.

 

Problems with AC Ice

Once you notice that there’s ice on your unit, you need to turn your AC off. This can help prevent the situation from getting worse. Assuming it’s warm outside, this will help get the ice to melt, too. Let your unit thaw completely, then work through these different scenarios to identify the underlying cause.

 

1. Poor Airflow

If you’re lucky, the ice on your AC is the result of a more minor issue. After the ice has thawed, the first thing to do is to check is your air filter. Sometimes ice can form on air conditioners when there is poor airflow, so replacing your old air filter with a new one might be all it takes to get your unit running smoothly again.

One of the problems with dirty filters is that they put more stress on your evaporator coil. Reducing airflow over your evaporator coil can then cause your equipment’s temperature to drop below freezing. Consequently, humidity will start to collect around your AC and turn into ice.

Hopefully a new air filter will be enough to remedy the situation. To test this, wait for the ice to melt and then turn your air conditioner on again to see if the ice returns. If it doesn’t—then you’re all set. But if the ice comes back, there might be another problem.

 

2. Dirty Evaporator Coil

 When ice forms even with a new air filter, you might be dealing with a dirty evaporator coil. This can happen with older units or AC equipment that hasn’t had regular maintenance.

In this case, you’ll want to turn the equipment off again and call on an expert to come clean the evaporator coil. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that homeowners can do on their own. The process requires a tech to fully removing the indoor coil to clean it, before re-installing.

Continuing to run your AC unit when this part isn’t working properly can cause a chain reaction of other issues. Rather than risk damage to your compressor or other AC parts, it’s best to call your local HVAC company to take a closer look. Odds are, they’ll be able to remedy the situation pretty quickly with by either cleaning your evaporator coil. Otherwise, they might have to take a look at your refrigerant levels.

 

3. Low Refrigerant

Systems that have low refrigerant aren’t able to keep the evaporator coil within the proper temperature ranges. If you have an issue with refrigerant—and not the coil itself—your AC unit probably has a leak.

Simply topping off the refrigerant isn’t usually enough to fix the issue. In fact, if you just add refrigerant without testing for a leak first, you might just be wasting money. Depending on the leak size, it could take several months of just a couple of days to have the problem come back. So, it’s a risk. (Plus, companies don’t provide a warranty on refrigerant, especially without a leak search and repair.)

For these reasons, it’s important for your HVAC technician to check for leaks whenever your refrigerant levels are low. If your tech can find the leak and repair it, you’ll be able to avoid other costly replacement parts. A detailed review of your system can help you figure out what’s wrong.

 

4. Broken Motors

The last reason you might have ice on your AC unit is if a blower motor or your fan motor is going out. These issues can also cause your system to freeze up due to restricted air flow. (Though this is different than poor air flow just from a dirty filter.) As with dirty evaporator coils and refrigerant leaks, if your motor has gone out, you’ll need an HVAC tech to come by for some repairs.

 

Time for AC Repair?

As soon as you realize that there’s ice on your AC unit, remember to turn your system off. Continuing to use your home’s air conditioning can just make matters worse. Replace your air filter as the ice thaws. That way, if the ice returns, you’ll know you need to call your local HVAC company to take a peek inside the unit.

If you’re located around the Indianapolis area, know that our team at LCS Heating and Cooling has got your back. We’re here to help you out whenever you notice issues with your AC in the summertime. Hopefully the ice on your AC is just the result of poor airflow from a dirty filter. But if the problem is more complicated, our team will make it right.

We know HVAC repairs can be annoying to deal with, but our expertise can get your home back to normal without too much downtime. For any questions about your air conditioner repairs and other function, just call LCS Heating and Cooling at (317) 238-3961. Summer is supposed to be enjoyable—we’ll help you keep it that way!

family sitting in living room

Check-ups for your kids, any pets, and the car all have their purpose. You want to make sure everything is working as it should, and your preventative HVAC maintenance isn’t much different. Scheduling regular, preventative maintenance for HVAC equipment helps homeowners stay “in the know” on their system.

Before the seasons switch, make an appointment with your local HVAC company to make sure everything is okay with your cooling system. No one wants to wake up to a broken AC unit right when the weather starts heating up! Make sure your technician reviews the following on your system (and with you) for a job well done.

 

What’s Covered in Your Cooling Tune-Up?

Your annual maintenance process should always include a detailed review of the inside and outside components of your cooling system. It’s important to get an AC tune-up done once a year to prevent unnecessary issues. Scheduling your service during the cooling season can help you get the best benefits!

There are many different technical parts to review in your unit. Testing each of these areas takes a little time, but going through them one-by-one will help your technician identify any air conditioner problems that may occur. If you can isolate errors to a single step in your system’s process, it will be easier to keep repair costs down and extend the lifespan of your AC unit. Your cooling tune-up should always include tests for:

  1. Check operating pressures and temperatures
  2. Superheat measurements
  3. Temperature drop at return and supply air
  4. Contactor condition and operation
  5. Proper operation of controls
  6. Wiring and electrical connections
  7. Fan and inducer motor voltage and amperage
  8. Function of capacitors and relays

If all of those tests are completed in good working order, your tech would then move on and perform steps for ongoing maintenance. Because dirty units won’t be able to run properly, these items are very important for every tune-up. A few more details can help keep your system running at peak efficiency:

  1. Lubricate blower motor, condenser fan, and other moving parts (if needed)
  2. Clear the condensate drain for overflow protection
  3. Clean outdoor condenser unit for proper airflow

The final steps on the check-list relate to customer care. Your technician should always be ready to review your key concerns about your AC’s operation and be able to address the following for a full-service review:

  1. Check thermostat and adjust (if needed)
  2. Evaluate air filters, and clean or replace (if requested)
  3. Review equipment condition and answer any questions

If your HVAC technician can complete the following, you will probably be all set for annual maintenance. As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of savings!”

 

HVAC Savings with Annual Maintenance

Scheduling annual maintenance is also smart for homeowners looking to save money. Some HVAC companies offer special discounts for their annual maintenance clients. At LCS Heating and Cooling, these HVAC discounts are included in with your LCS Gold Star Membership or LCS Platinum Star Membership. Each membership comes with a monthly payment option—and tons of great savings.

Available for both residential and commercial customers, these memberships work to give you maximum efficiency for your heating and cooling tune-ups at the minimum cost. Both Gold and Platinum Star Memberships offer 10% off repairs, 15% off indoor air quality products and services, and discounted after-hours rates. If anything does go wrong with your unit, it’s great to be a member.

Gold Star Membership automatically gives you $20 off service calls, and even waives the service call with a paid repair over $300 during regular business hours. Platinum Star Membership includes a year’s supply of filters, plus a waived service call for any paid repair during regular business hours. Platinum members also get to participate in our special loyalty program. The longer you stay on the maintenance plan, the more benefits you receive. You can even earn up to $700 towards a full system replacement!

 

Quality HVAC Service with LCS Heating and Cooling

Your HVAC preventative maintenance and other air quality upgrades help keep your home comfortable and energy-efficient. (And the savings aren’t bad, either!) If you’re ready to give your HVAC units the care they need for a great, long-term performance, give us a call at (317) 238-3961. We’d love to talk with you about our HVAC Membership benefits!

Being pro-active will help keep your systems operating smoothly for years to come. Don’t wait to face AC repairs later in the year. Preventative maintenance helps homeowners stay on the ball and plan for possible problems in advance. Contact the HVAC experts at LCS Heating and Cooling to tune-up your system and start saving today!

notebook and pen

Not sure who to call when the AC breaks down? You’re not alone! Deciding which HVAC company to go with can be a confusing process, but things get a lot simpler when you work in stages. If your AC isn’t working quite right, or you’re thinking about a system upgrade, take a look at these checklist items first. A little research can help you find an HVAC company you can trust.

 

Part I: Examining Your AC Unit

Whenever you can, try to check on a few things with your unit before making a service call. Sometimes a quick fix is all you need to solve the problem.

  • Check the thermostat. This is often the first place we go, but double-check to make sure it’s set correctly. If the thermostat screen is blank, that might mean you need to replace the batteries (if it takes any).
  • Replace your air filter. Hands down, the best way to keep your HVAC unit in good order is to regularly change your filter. Old filters restrict air flow and can even stop your system from working if they’re dirty enough.
  • Clear the area around your AC unit. Landscaping debris might be blocking the air flow around your system. Make sure the unit can run properly and efficiently by cleaning up, and then confirm that the breakers are turned on.

If nothing has changed after taking those steps, it might be time to call in a professional. Try to make a couple notes on your unit’s symptoms so you have all the information you need to schedule the visit. Strange noises with your HVAC unit, odd smells, and any new cold or hot zones in your home are all indicators that your system needs servicing.

 

Part II: Finding a Reputable HVAC Company

So you’re ready to bring in the professionals, but not sure who to call? You’ll be more likely to find a great HVAC company when you stick to a few guidelines.

  • Ask your contacts about recent service. Try posting a status update on social media to say you need service. Your friends and family will be happy to tell you about their last HVAC experience—whether good or bad, you should easily be able to get a few first-hand accounts about local companies.
  • Read online HVAC reviews. More and more people are using Yelp to review HVAC companies. If you have a company you’re thinking of calling, check out a few of their reports first. It’s a good sign if customers are praising their HVAC repairs, not just the system replacements. That usually means the company is honest (because they’re not trying to up-sell) and works with your best interests in mind.
  • Confirm that the company is bonded, insured, and licensed. The City of Indianapolis requires a permit for replacing an air conditioner. Visit your HVAC company’s website to make sure they are licensed in your area. Working with a company that’s bonded and insured will also protect you from any complications that might happen during a service call.

When it comes to HVAC repairs and new installations, a company’s experience matters a lot more than their location. Your best option may not always be the company that’s closest to you, so feel free to check credentials in a wider radius.

 

Part III: Reviewing Your AC Service Call

Once you’ve selected a company to try out, pay close attention to how they handle your service during their visit. Comparing etiquette is often just as important as comparing price!

  • Was the technician professional? Using shoe coverings in your home and cleaning up around the worksite are signs of good employee training.
  • Is the company’s pricing straight-forward? Having a flat-rate fee for service calls is standard practice, but it’s an added bonus if your HVAC company says they’ll waive the service fee if your system needs more expensive repairs.
  • Did your technician explain the next steps? A good tech will tell you exactly what they checked and be able to confidently answer all of your questions. If they said a certain part on your unit needs replacing, they should also tell you whether it’s covered under warranty.

Last but not least, be sure to trust your instincts when hiring a new home services company. Doing your research is definitely a plus, but sometimes you’ll just know a good thing when you see it. If you’ve already vetted your new HVAC company, the only other thing you can do is to go with your gut!

woman sitting on the couch

The last thing on anyone's mind right now is HVAC.  It's too warm to need the furnace and too cool to need the air conditioner.  We do live in Indiana though so that can change in just 24 hours!  We want to provide some tips for things you can do on your own to keep your furnace and air conditioner running at its best.  We present the LCS Top Ten of Homeowner DIY HVAC Tips:

10.  During cold or hot months, keep the programmable thermostat set within 3 degrees of each setting.  A furnace and air conditioner will have to run for a very long time to make up the temperature difference.  If you have an electric furnace

and heat pump, the electric furnace will come on as well to reach the set temperature.  Since an electric furnace runs at a higher cost, it counters the savings that you might have had with the lower initial temperature.

9.    Keep the weed eater and lawn mower away from the control wiring of the air conditioner.  The wiring should not be hanging down but if it is, be careful when mowing and weed eating.  It's not a high voltage wire but if it gets cut with a weed eater or mower, you can get shocked and it can take out the air conditioner.  If the wiring is loose or hanging down, tie it up with electrical tape or have a technician tie it back when they're out doing annual maintenance. 

8.    If you are experiencing high utility bills, call the gas or electric company first.  Ask the utility company if there's been an increase in the therm or electric rate.  Ask if your bill compares to the average of others in your neighborhood.  You can get great information about what your utility bill should be running.  If there isn't a good reason for the higher bill, then it might be time to have a technician out to make sure the system is operating properly.

7.    Move furniture away from registers.  It's not uncommon to see a couch over a register or a bookcase pushed up against a register.  Not only can the heat dry out your furniture but it also prevents the air from properly traveling throughout the rooms.

6.    Keep registers open.  A very common problem in two story homes is a temperature swing between the upstairs and downstairs.  Homeowners try to fix this problem by closing registers upstairs or in some rooms.  Keep the registers open.  Closing registers can restrict air flow and cause the furnace to run hot.  This can ultimately shorten the life of parts inside the furnace such as motors.  It can also make the air conditioner freeze up by reducing the volume of air that the system needs to expel throughout the house.  This is comparable to running the system with a dirty filter.

5.    If you notice a noise, smell or problem, call on it right away.  If you notice something unusual, don't ignore it.  It's rare that an HVAC issue will go away or resolve itself.  Noises and smells often mean that a part is getting weak or going out.  A little critter could also have gotten inside. Address these issues before your furnace or air conditioner goes completely out.  It's no fun being without heat on a cold day or without a/c when it's hot out!

4.    Keep dogs away from the air conditioner.  Animal urine will degrade the a/c fins.  There's not much that can be done to fix the fins once this happens so it's best to make sure the fur babies stay away.

3.    Replace the batteries in the thermostat.  If the thermostat goes blank, check to see if there are batteries that need changed.  Not all thermostats have batteries, but if it does, it's likely AA or AAA batteries that need changed.

2.    Pick up leaves that are around the air conditioner or heat pump.  Leaves, cottonwood, branches, etc can gather around the air conditioner.  Keep these things cleaned away so the outdoor unit can breathe.

1.    CHANGE THE FILTER!  This is the number one thing to do to keep your furnace and air conditioner running efficiently!  A dirty filter causes restricted air flow and can ultimately cause the system to stop working.  If you have a 1" filter, check it once a month.  If you have a 4-5" filter, check it every 3 months.  It may not need to be changed at that time but it's good to check it to make sure.  It's also a good idea to keep extra filters at the house.  That way, you always have one on hand when it's time for it to be changed.  

A couple of other tips are to caulk or re-caulk around windows and doors.  It's also a great idea to check the insulation in your home.  If you don't have at least 12-15" of insulation in the attic, you'll want to consider adding more!

Keeping up on these things can not only save you money but can save you from the inconvenience of being without heating or cooling during those hot and cold months.  HVAC equipment is definitely an investment.  Protect your investment by following our Top Ten tips!

Big news in 2015 for the HVAC industry! Have you heard!? There's a new Seer minimum in place! Okay, let's be honest, unless you're in the HVAC industry working with this every day, this is likely not very exciting news. There's a pretty good possibility that you haven't even heard about it! We're here to explain what the new minimum is, what it means and how it affects you.

A Seer rating is an energy efficiency rating on air conditioners and heat pumps. At the end of 2014, the minimum Seer rating was 13 seer. The new minimums affect some parts of the United States differently than others.  For these purposes, the U.S has been divided into a North Region, South Region and Southwest Region.  Since we're located in Indianapolis, we'll focus on the change in Indiana, which is in the North Region.

What is the new minimum?  Effective 01/01/2015, the new minimum seer rating for heat pumps has changed from 13 seer to 14 seer. For now, air conditioners are staying the same at 13 seer.

What does this mean?  13 seer heat pumps are no longer being manufactured.  When you are ready to replace your current heat pump, you'll likely be quoted at least a 14 seer.  A 14 seer heat pump will come at a higher initial cost than a 13 seer heat pump but there's also more energy savings  with a 14 seer.

Can I still get a 13 seer heat pump?  For awhile, there will be 13 seer heat pumps that were manufactured in 2014 or before that are still available.  The entire U.S. has moved to a minimum 14 seer heat pump rating, so once those 13 seers that were manufactured in previous years are gone, they're gone.

Does this affect me now?  We saw an advertisement recently in which the message was implying that everyone had to replace their heat pumps now to adhere to the new standards.  This is simply not true.  The new standards are for new equipment going forward.  The new standard does not say you have to upgrade right now!  It's not illegal to currently have a 13 seer heat pump installed in your home.  It just means that when it's time for new equipment, 14 seer is the minimum.

Does this affect me if I have an air conditioner?  No, it does not!  The new standard in Indiana is for heat pumps only.  Eventually, yes, air conditioners will also move to a minimum 14 seer rating but it's not happening this year in Indiana or any of the North Region.  In other states (the South and Southwest Regions), the minimum has already changed for both air conditioners and heat pumps.

We hope this helps to answer your questions about the new minimum seer ratings!

 

assorted Lennox units

We get lots of questions regarding HVAC maintenance.  This is a good thing!  It means people care about their HVAC investment.  Since we're entering air conditioner season, let's focus on questions relating to air conditioner maintenance:

  • What is air conditioner maintenance?  Preventative maintenance is completed on the a/c to ensure that it is running properly and as efficiently as possible.  The air conditioner is cleaned and there are many components that are checked.  If a reading is off or out of range, the homeowner will be made aware.  Keeping the air conditioner clean also ensures proper air flow.
  • Can I turn my air conditioner on before maintenance has been completed?  Yes!  The air conditioner can certainly run before maintenance is done.  Keep in mind that maintenance keeps it running as efficiently as possible.  
  • What months do you schedule maintenance?  We generally start scheduling maintenance mid-April, depending on the weather, and continue to schedule throughout the summer.  It's more important that maintenance is done each year rather than it being done a specific week or month.
  • Can the service be completed if it's raining?  We will reschedule your maintenance appointment if it's raining or below 60-65 degrees outside.  Although the techs do have raincoats, we don't want some of the tools and gauges out in the rain.  We also don't want your a/c exposed to the moisture.  The new R-410 refrigerant attracts moisture 10 times more than the old R-22 refrigerant.  We don't like to take chances, so we'll always reschedule if it's raining.  In addition to being dry outside, it also needs to be at least 60-65 degrees outside.  If it's colder than that, the temperature drop and readings could be inaccurate.  Accuracy is key, so we will reschedule if it's too chilly outside.
  • How will I know what the technician does during the service?  The technician will complete an invoice detailing everything that was completed during the maintenance service.  He will also let you know how everything looked and answer any questions you have about your system.
  • How much does an annual maintenance plan cost?  Our plan is $150 per year.  That includes the maintenance service on the a/c in the spring or summer and the maintenance service on the furnace in the fall/winter.  Other benefits included with the plan are:  No service call if a return visit is needed within 30 days, $10 off service call, 15% off repairs, 15% off indoor air quality (humidifiers, filters, thermostats, UV lights, etc) and no overtime rates if service is needed in an evening, weekend or holiday.
  • Does maintenance guarantee that my air conditioner will not break down?  Air conditioners are machines and can break down at any time.  That being said, there are issues that can be found during maintenance and either repaired at that time or at least brought to the homeowner's attention.  For example, the technician may see that a motor reading is in range, but on the high end.  While it doesn't necessarily need replaced at that time, the homeowner can be made aware that the motor is on it's way out.  It could last another week or it could last another 6 months.  In any case, the homeowner is now aware.
  • Will you change my filter while you're here doing maintenance?  Absolutely!  If you already have filters, we will gladly change it for you.  If you don't have filters, we can provide you with the price to bring one with us.  We also have an online filter program in which we can provide you with a code to order your filters online and have them delivered to your door.  Shipping is free and you'll always have your filters on hand.
  • What if I have two HVAC systems at my house?  We can put each system on the annual maintenance plan.  We'll schedule a longer period of time to be at your house to complete maintenance on both air conditioners (and same in the fall/winter for the furnaces).  The second system would be $10 off ($150/$140 for two plans).
  • Do I need to be home when you do the air conditioner maintenance?  Preferably, yes.  We will need access to the thermostat and furnace area so will need inside the house.  If you have a lockbox or garage code, we can enter that way but always prefer having someone home so the technician can answer any questions while he's there.

Hopefully, we answered some of your questions about air conditioner maintenance!  If not, feel free to contact us as we're happy to discuss.

woman cleaning counters

We've had one of the coldest winters on record here in Indianapolis so it seems everyone has spring fever!  With the arrival of spring comes a whole checklist of home maintenance items just waiting to be done.  Here's a list of items that you can do around your home

to tidy up and get ready for summer:

  • Schedule air conditioner maintenance (you knew this would be #1 on our list, right?)
  • Change the filter
  • Install new batteries in thermostat
  • Install new batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Test and dust all detectors
  • Check fire extinguishers
  • Inspect bathroom, kitchen, door and window caulk; re-caulk as needed
  • Clean and seal deck if needed
  • Inspect exterior paint and touch up as needed
  • Inspect siding/masonry for damage
  • Repair/replace damaged window screens
  • Inspect roof for damage
  • Inspect outdoor play equipment
  • Inspect attic for leaks
  • Inspect attic insulation
  • Clean gutters
  • Prune spring and summer- flowering shrubs after they bloom
  • Schedule yearly septic tank inspection
  • Schedule irrigation inspection
  • Inspect foundation for drainage problems
  • Inspect crawl space/basement for moisture issues

Preventive maintenance goes a long way.  Monitoring items such as these can prevent big problems in the future! Enjoy spring!

Investing in home upgrades can be fun....or not so fun!  Many homeowners are excited to add a sunroom, remodel a bathroom, finish a basement, pick out new flooring or granite tops.  How about picking out a new furnace though? HVAC is something we need but it's not always fun to invest in because it can't be seen.  HVAC is all about comfort. As homeowners consider their HVAC upgrades, we are often asked out rebates, incentives, and tax credits.  Being a new year, the money available to homeowners is different than what it was last year.  To keep things simple, we've listed below what's available now:

Lennox Equipment Rebates- The Lennox spring promotion is on from March 24 - June 13, 2014.  Rebates ranging in price from $75 - $1,300 are available on high efficient equipment.  Rebates are based on the installation of a single unit (air conditioner, heat pump or furnace) versus the installation of a full system (furnace, air conditioner or heat pump and thermostat).  Rebates also vary based on the efficiency of the system.  Also available are rebates ranging from $50 - $300 for PureAir filtration, zoning and solar panels.

Utility Rebates- A few of the utility companies are carrying their rebate programs into 2014.

Vectren- $150 for a 92-94% efficient gas furnace.  $250 for a 95%+ efficient gas furnace.  $300 for a 90%+ efficient natural gas boiler.  $20 for a programmable thermostat.

Citizens Gas- $150 rebate for a 92-94% efficient gas furnace.  $250 for a 95%+ efficient gas furnace.  $300 for a 90%+ efficient natural gas boiler.  $20 for a programmable thermostat.

Duke Energy- $200 for a 14+ seer heat pump with ECM fan on indoor unit.  $200 for a 14+ seer air conditioner with ECM fan on indoor unit.  $200 for 10.5+ EER geothermal heat pump.

Vectren and Citizens Gas also offer rebates for duct sealing, attic insulation and wall insulation.  See their websites for insulation specifications.  IPL's residential rebate program ended in 2013.

Federal Tax Credit- The federal tax credit available for 2014 is a 30% tax credit on the installation of solar panels, wind energy and geothermal heat pumps.  This tax credit will remain in effect until December 31, 2016.

If you are considering an upgrade to high efficient equipment, now is a great time to do so.  Why not save some $$$ that you'd otherwise be spending?  There are always options when it comes to HVAC systems, energy efficiency and comfort.  Contact us anytime for a free quote!

HVAC Repair or Replace: 5 Considerations

Heating and Air Conditioning is one of those necessary evils.  It's much more fun to spend money on a new TV rather than a new furnace!  At some point though, you may be faced with the ultimate HVAC decision:  Repair or Replace?  Here are a few things to consider when you are faced with this decision:

  • What is the age of your current system?  Most equipment comes with a 10 year manufacturer warranty on parts.  The average life expectancy of a furnace and air conditioner is 12-15 years.  That's not to say that it won't last longer than that...it's just an average.  If the part is under warranty, it's most often going to make more sense to have the repair done.  If the part is not under warranty, then you may want to factor in the age of the equipment with the repair cost.  For example, if you have a $200 repair on a 15 year old furnace, it may certainly make more sense to take your chances and make the repair.  Now, on the flip side of that example, say your furnace is 15 years old and you're looking at a $500 repair.  You could have that repair done and not have another problem for a few years.  You could also make that repair and a few months later, have another part go out.  Before you know it, you have $800 into a 15 year old furnace.  Since there is a risk of other parts failing on older equipment, it may be worth considering replacement.
  • Energy Efficiency:  Your HVAC system uses a considerable amount of energy as compared with other appliances in your home.  If you have an older system, it's very likely that new equipment will be more efficient, resulting in lower utility bills.  Let's use the example of a $500 repair on the a 15 year old furnace.  If you're considering replacement, factor in the savings if you go from an 80% efficient furnace to a 95% efficient furnace.  Think about it in this way:  For every $100 that you spend to heat your home with an 80% furnace, $80 is heating your home and $20 is going out the flue.  For every $100 that you spend to heat your home with a 95% furnace, $95 is being used to heat your home and only $5 is being lost.  Air conditioners and heat pumps also vary in efficiency.  This is definitely something to think about when considering repair versus replacement.
  • Financial Incentives:  Are there financial incentives to upgrade to a new, more efficient HVAC system?  Currently, there is a federal tax credit and various utility rebates available for the installation of high efficient furnaces, air conditioners and heat pumps.  The qualifications and dates do change so it's important to see what, if any, are available.
  • Length of Time in Home:  How long are you planning to live in your home?  If you are planning to stay in your home for awhile, you might have different factors to consider than if you are planning to sell in the near future.   If you are thinking about selling, definitely compare costs.  A repair might be the way to go simply because you don't want to spend money in a home that you are selling.  However, replacing the HVAC equipment might be a good investment because it will make the house more appealing to potential buyers.  If you are planning to stay for a while and are looking at a costly repair, it might make more sense to upgrade and get a new 10 year parts warranty.
  • Comfort:  HVAC equipment and technology have come a long way over the past several years!  Furnaces are now available with variable speed motors which are not only more efficient but also produce a more even and comfortable heat in the winter and coolness in the summer.  Programmable and/or WiFi thermostats are designed to reduce temperature swings, provide the ultimate control over your system and save on energy usage when you are not home.  Finally, there's the noise.  Maybe your HVAC equipment is loud because something is out of balance.  That could very well be an easy repair!  If not, consider replacing it with equipment that is quieter.  There are some systems that are so quiet, you cannot hear them run!

Repairing or replacing your furnace and/or air conditioner can be quite an investment.  Think about what's important to you when making the decision!


Is It Too Late for Air Conditioner Maintenance?

What a crazy summer it's been!  Mother Nature has given us a little bit of everything- cooler than average temperatures, rain, heat and humidity!  As we enter the last half of the summer, we are asked the question:  Is it too late to have preventative maintenance completed on my air conditioner?

The short answer is:  No!  It's definitely not too late.

Air conditioners run constantly so it's never too late to give them a good tune-up and cleaning.  Grass clippings, cottonwood, leaves and construction dust can all collect around and in the air conditioner.  If this happens, air will not flow through the air conditioner as it should.  This drops the efficiency of the air conditioner and causes pressures to change.

A tune-up not only checks the operation of different parts but also measures the temperatures and pressures too.  It may be seen that amp draws are a little off or pressures are a little low.  Finding these issues during a tune-up may very well prevent a service call and the inconvenience of being without air conditioning when it's hot out.  A repair may be made at the time of maintenance or the technician can inform you of a potential future repair.

Air conditioner maintenance also includes the drain clean out.  If debris gets into the drain, the drain may back up creating water to fill the drain pan.  Depending on the location of the furnace, you may find water around the furnace area or it will trip a switch causing the system to stop running so the water doesn't overflow.   Again, preventative maintenance can prevent this water problem.

As you can see, preventative maintenance is beneficial at any time that your system is running!

There are also a couple of things you can do on your own throughout the summer as well:

  • Keep grass, plants and weeds trimmed and away from the air conditioner.
  • Turn the air conditioner off at the thermostat and then use a hose to spray it out.
  • Check and change your filter regularly.

Keeping up on regular maintenance will keep your air conditioner running more efficiently than one that's not seen a tune-up in awhile!