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!

3 dogs and 2 cats

There's a common passion among all of us at LCS Heating and Cooling.  Well, in addition to home comfort and the mechanics of HVAC that is! The common passion is animals.  We love dogs, we love cats, one of our techs even has a rabbit! We're just animal people.  It never surprises me to get a random picture throughout the day of a dog or cat.  It's usually a customer's pet that Travis takes a picture of and says- check this little one out! katy aloneOne of our installers even sent a picture of a customer's pet turtle that hung out in the backyard with them while they changed the heat pump.  So, where are we going with this?

IMAG0146We were all talking a few weeks ago about wanting to have some "community projects." We're excited to tell you about our first one!  One of our customers is Freeland Animal Hospital (www.freelandanimalhospital.com). They are located at Pendleton Pike and Sunnyside in Indianapolis. They are fantastic people and care so well for their furry clients!  Each year, they have an Angel Tree in which they accept donations of dog and cat food, treats and supplies. All donations then go to a local rescue.  This year the local rescue is PAWS (http://www.pawshancock.org), located in Greenfield.

Now through the end of the year, LCS Heating and Cooling, LLC has the following "Promotion" going on:

**For each new customer that signs up for Annual Maintenance (our Energy Savings Plan), we will donate a bag of dog or cat treats. Here's the link for more information about our Energy Savings Plan for your HVAC equipment:  https://lcstempsite.dreamhosters.com/esp.html

**For each new furnace install, we will donate a 5lb bag of dog or cat food.

**For each new full system install (furnace & air conditioner), we will donate a 15lb bag of dog or cat food.

Will it be dog or cat food?  The choice is yours!!

We are so excited to help a local rescue that helps so many dogs and cats each year. Who do you know that's thinking about having some HVAC work done?  We greatly appreciate your referrals and personal business.  The animals will too!

 

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!

Furnace FAQ

Heating season is just beginning but the questions about furnaces are rolling in!  We thought it might be helpful to post and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about heating season and equipment.  Here we go!

1. Is it safe to turn my furnace on before maintenance has been completed?  The answer is YES!  A good cleaning and tune-up on the furance is needed to keep it running as efficiently as possible.  However, it's not necessary to have this service done before the furnace is turned on for the first time each year.  It's just important that it's done once a year.  We actually recommend turning the furnace on before it gets too cold outside.  That way, if there is a problem with the furnace and you are without heat, you can get it taken care of before it's really cold.

2. There was an odor when I turned my furnace on the first time.  Is this normal?  Dust will collect and settle in the furnace during the summer months when it is not being used.  When the furnace is fired off the first time, the dust will burn off the heat exchanger.  Some people describe it as a burning smell.  This is normal and will go away after the furnace has cycled a few times.  If an odor continues though, it's best to get it checked out.

3. How often do I need to change my filter?  Is it the same filter that I changed for the air conditioner?  An HVAC system consists of a furnace (either gas or electric) and either an air conditioner or heat pump.  Each system has a filter that needs to be changed regularly.  It's the same filter whether you are using the furnace or air conditioner.  If you have a 1" filter, it's recommended to check the filter once a month and change as needed (usually once a month or once every other month).  If you have a media filter- 4" or 5"- it is recommended to check the filter every 3 months and change as needed.  Changing the filter is very important!!  A dirty filter can restrict air flow enough to make the furnace or air conditioner stop working.

4. I have a heat pump and a furnace.  Do I need to turn the heat pump off and furnace on?  All you need to do is turn your thermostat to Heat.  Your heat pump will turn on in heating mode.  Your heat pump will heat the house until it reaches a certain temperature outside.  This is called a set point and is already set on your heat pump.  For example, if your set point is 32 degrees, than once the outdoor temperature gets that cold, your furnace will automatically turn on.  If you have a gas furnace, your system will automatically switch from using the heat pump to using the gas furnace.  If you have an electric furnace, the furnace will kick on at the same time to help the heat pump maintain the indoor temperature.  This is all done automatically so there's nothing you need to do to make this happen!

5. There seems to be something wrong with my furnace.  What do I do?  There are a couple of things that you can do on your own.  Check your filter.  If the filter is dirty, change the filter, then turn the furnace off and back on.  Also, check the batteries in your thermostat (if applicable).  If the thermostat screen has gone blank, it could just be batteries.  If you still have a problem, then give us a call and we'll be happy to set up an appointment.

If you still have a question about your furnace, please don't hesitate to ask!  We want you to stay warm and comfortable in your home.


HVAC Filters: Adding Simplicity and Convenience!

We talk about filters a lot.  We send out filter reminders.  We randomly ask if you've checked your filter.  One might say we are obsessed with filters!  There's a good reason though:!  Regularly checking and changing your filter is the easiest and most cost effective way to ensure that your system operates properly.  Here's an email we received from a customer this week:

"Hi Renee!  You guys installed our new furnace and air conditioner last year.  We just turned the air conditioner on for the first time and it's not working :(  I'm not sure what it could be since it's new.  Can you come over to take a look at it?"

So we get to their house that day and diagnosed the problem:  A dirty filter!  The filter was so dirty that it actually tripped the safety device causing the air conditioner to not run.  Once a clean filter was inserted, the system was fine.  The next email said:

"Hi Renee!  How embarrassing :)  Thanks for coming over so quickly!"

If a dirty filter is the culprit, you could very well spend $79 on a service call that could be fixed with a $5 filter.  We have an online filter program that makes checking and changing your filter simple and convenient.  There are two parts to the program:

Filter Reminder- You can elect to receive an email reminder to change your filter.  The type and size of filter that you have will determine the frequency of your reminders.  For example, if you have a pleated 1" filter, you would receive an email reminder every other month.  If you have a media filter, you might receive an email reminder every six months.  If you check your filter and find that it doesn't need changed yet, there is a snooze feature allows you to reset the reminder for a later date.

Filter Purchase- Rather than driving to the store and hoping the filter you need is in stock, you can order your filters online!  We will provide you with a code that is specifically for your filter.  You'll go to the website www.filterfetch.com and enter your code.  A picture and description of your filter will display.  Filters are sold in a case which is a year's supply.  So for example, if you purchase a 1" pleated filter, the case is likely six filters.  If you have a media filter, the case is likely 2 filters.  Once you enter your code, simply click Buy Now!  Pricing is competitive with home improvement stores and shipping is free.  Filters are delivered to your door in just a few days.

Another great benefit to this program is ensuring that you have the filter that is made for your filter cabinet.  Filters that are purchased at home improvement stores will work but they are often not the exact fit that is needed for optimum filtration.

It's that simple!  Participation in the program is completely free.  Feel free to contact us for more information or to obtain a code for your filter!