Why do I need a new Heating and Cooling System after only 9 years?

A good quality, well installed, HVAC system should last 25 or more years if properly maintained. The key to a lasting HVAC system is preventative and predictive maintenance. All mechanicals need regular maintenance. Take your car for example. You change the oil and filter as part of a preventative maintenance and you change the tires as part of a predictive program. Preventative maintenance does not take the place of predictive maintenance. Preventative maintenance keeps things working longer, but all things will eventually fail. Preventative maintenance directly affects when the failure occurs. The tire example above provides a little insight to the preventative realm of maintenance. In this case you know about how long the tires should last, how many miles they are warrantied if the preventative maintenance, balancing and alignment is done. You can also see the wear. So you replace them long before they are bald. By managing the prediction, you don’t end up stranded at the worst possible time!

You can do the same thing with your HVAC system by researching failures on the web or consulting a reputable service company. Many parts of an HVAC system can and should be replaced before complete failure.

Now let’s consider the one thing that contributes most to any mechanical failure! HEAT!! But one might say I need heat in my furnace so I can keep warm. It’s hard to argue with that, but you need to make sure the heat is distributed to where you live and play, not in the equipment itself. Let’s look at a furnace and how the heat is generated and distributed. First consider that all manufactures test their products for a predetermined length of time. Lesser quality units will typically have shorter life expectancies. The point here is manufactures want to have satisfied customers and want their products to outlive the warranty interval. But failure is inevitable and when it occurs the manufactures are happy to sell you a new system. Back to how the furnace works and why heat in the wrong place spells disaster.

Here are the major components of a furnace:

  • Thermostat
  • Gas valve
  • Control circuit board
  • Safety components
  • Inducer motor
  • Ignition devices and sensors
  • Fan motor
  • Heat exchanger/exchangers
  • Filter
  • Return and Supply ducting

First, the thermostat sends a signal to the furnace control circuit board, it’s like the computer in the furnace to turn the heat on. When that happens a number of safety devices are checked and if found to be good a signal is sent to the inducer motor, then additional safety devices are checked as the inducer runs for a predetermined time, once the control circuit validates everything the hot surface igniter (HSI), or other ignition source, is activated again for another predetermined interval, once the control board verifies the ignition source is ready, it turns on the gas valve and the flame lights, heats the flame sensor (FS) and a resistance value is sent from the FS to the control board that tells the control board we have fire or that no fire is present. If we have fire then with the help of sensors, located around the heat exchanger, tells the control board to turn on the blower motor. If we have no fire, the control board shuts everything down and goes through the process again. Normally this will happen 3 times and at that point the control will lock the furnace out for a number of hours before it retries. Now keep in mind this is how the vast majority of furnaces work that were manufactured in the past 20 years but some are slightly different.

Now we have heat emitting from our registers. All is good right? Well maybe! What is happening here is the furnace is trying to distribute the heat evenly throughout the house. If you have a clean filter and adequate ducting the furnace will do its job. However, if the filter is dirty the air flow will be reduced and some of the heat will be held by the furnace. Also, if either the supply air or return air ducts are blocked or inadequate to handle the air flow being generated by the furnace some additional heat will remain in the heat exchanger. A heat exchanger is a heat sink that collects the heat while the blower tries to distribute it. You may have heard the phrase cracked heat exchanger. This is the failure of the heat exchanger caused by lack of air flow across it. This gets us back to the main cause of mechanical failures HEAT!

Bottom line is reduced airflow in a furnace can be caused by any number of things, but no matter the cause it will run the gas and electric bill up, make the house hard to heat in certain areas and ultimately cause the system to prematurely fail!

Keep all registers and vents open and clear, change filter every 90 days minimum and have your system service yearly. Have you heard the saying “pay me now or pay me later?” Well I can tell you if you wait too long the bill will be much, much more. The cost of regular maintenance will be more than offset by your long term savings, not to mention a more comfortable house!

If you properly maintain your system, the manufactures warranty will remain in full force for its term! If you don’t you may find the warranty will not be honored. It’s in the fine print of your warranty! A well maintained system will far outlast the warranty period and you won’t be replacing equipment years before its time.

This was written by Larry Ferris of LRF Maintenance Heating and Cooling in Pickerington, OH. If you have questions or comments, send Larry an email, larry@lrfmaintenance.com.

Will not changing my furnace filter ruin my furnace or cause a fire?

In short, yes. Not changing your furnace filter can significantly reduce the efficiency with which your furnace runs, causing damage to the furnace and possibly creating a life-threatening situation in your home. Neglecting to change the furnace filter can result in a house fire or in deadly combustion gases (carbon monoxide) combining with the air in your home.

For a furnace to operate properly, optimal air flow is necessary. If you do not change the filter, it will eventually become clogged with dirt, dust, and air particulates. The first consequence of not changing your furnace filter will be decreased efficiency. When this happens, you may notice dust or dirt around the air vents in your home or that you smell a dusty odor when the furnace is operating. Family members with dust allergies may have increased symptoms. The furnace will also run more often than it usually does, as it needs to work simply to maintain the desired temperature in your home. This will result in an increase in your utility bill.
Not changing the furnace filter decreases the amount of air that flows over the heat exchanger of your furnace and, consequently, the operating temperature of the heat exchanger rises. As the operating temperature exceeds the range for which it was designed, increased expansion of the heat exchanger results. A greater degree of contraction also occurs as the unit cools. Excessive expansion and contraction during the on/off cycle can cause warping and cracking. When this happens, the furnace either will become damaged to the point that it completely fails or – even worse – will operate under dangerous conditions that cause a house fire or leakage of poisonous gases into the home.
Changing a furnace filter is simple and can help you avoid costly repairs or replacement of the furnace, as well as keep your family healthy and safe. How often the furnace filter needs to be changed depends on various factors, including the type of filter used, the age and general condition of your furnace, and other factors including the presence of pets in the home, whether anyone in the home smokes, and environmental conditions. Consult your furnace manual for recommended guidelines for replacing the filter for your furnace. If you have further questions or cannot locate the manual, consult a licensed HVAC professional for assistance.

Why LRF Maintenance is the Top Heating & Cooling Company in the city of Pickerington, Ohio?

When you are looking for a heating and cooling contractor, experience matters. LRF Maintenance has provided professional HVAC services to home and business owners in Pickerington, Canal Winchester and Reynoldsburg since 1974. Whether you need a routine tune-up or emergency service in the middle of the night, you can depend on LRF Maintenance.

As a reputable heating and cooling contractor, we are happy to provide you with several professional references to help you make your choice. Our regular office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, and 8:00 a.m. until noon on Saturday and Sunday. A member of our staff is always on call to respond to heating and cooling emergencies.

We Are Bonded and Insured

When you are researching heating and cooling providers, make sure that the company you choose is fully insured and that its employees are bonded. This ensures that you are protected financially if a worker accidentally damages your HVAC equipment or another area of your home. You also need to make sure that the company carries adequate workers’ compensation insurance for its technicians in the event that one of them is hurt on your property.

Our Technicians Are Highly Qualified

Before we hire a new service technician, we make sure that he or she has completed a post-secondary education program and has the proper credentials to serve you. Since we understand that safety is a major concern for most customers, we complete an extensive background check on all new hires. We want you to feel confident about allowing him or her access to your property.

We Encourage Energy Efficiency

Some heating and cooling contractors only complete the job at hand without educating you about how to lower your expenses. At LRF Maintenance, we check your entire home or business and let you know how you can become more energy efficient. Some of these suggestions may include changing your furnace or air conditioner filter frequently, scheduling an annual tune-up for each piece of equipment, caulking and weather-stripping your doors or windows and keeping your thermostat at an optimal setting. We always tailor our advice to your specific situation.

Free Estimates

We are happy to provide you with a free estimate for your heating and cooling needs. You may contact us by phone or email during regular business hours.

Can I save money by closing off registers in unused rooms?

Can I save money by closing off registers in unused rooms?

It’s not that simple. Closing off registers may in fact increase your fuel bill and at the same time shorten the life of your furnace and air conditioner. Here’s the rub, an HVAC system is designed to condition a certain volume of air. If you close off registers you restrict the amount of air that can travel through your system. What happens is the furnace and air conditioner produce more heat or in the summer remove more heat than the furnace or air conditioner can handle with reduced air flow. Air flow is measures in CFM (cubic feet per minute). A 2 ton system generally will require 800 CFM to operate as designed. If you close off one register you may be fine, but if you cut all of them back you may reduce the air flow causing the air conditioner coil to freeze up or the furnace to short cycle. Both of these things are very bad for both your fuel bill and the health of your system. For example if you furnace short cycles it put undue heat on the heat exchanger and could cause it to crack or otherwise fail. More noticeable is the increase in your fuel cost. Short cycling means you are heating the furnace area very hot but the heat isn’t getting distributed to the rest of the house including the thermostat which will turn it off. It’s like having a dirty filter, another cause of reduced air flow. A properly installed HVAC system will have volume dampers on each run off the main truck line. They should be balanced to provide conditioned air to each room based on the size of the room. If you want to remove rooms form the system you need to have an automatic damper system (zoning) installed with a bypass damper or other means of reducing the furnace output when some zones are closed. The idea of zoning is to be able to heat or cool different rooms in your house at different temperatures. So if you want to close off a room and turn the temperature way down, you can do it efficiently without worry of damaging your system. In addition you will save energy using this method. Zoning in residential homes is becoming more and more popular. Newer furnaces have modulating gas valves and variable speed blower motors allowing the ability of the home owner to change the capacity of the HVAC system on the fly. With new technology thermostats, damper motors and damper controls it is very affordable to add zoning to the typical house. If you have questions about zoning, how it works, what it cost or if it’s the right choice for you contact LRF Maintenance, LLC in Pickerington, OH or send me email Larry@lrfmaintenance.com and I will get right back to you.

This was written by Larry Ferris from LRF Maintenance, LLC, Pickerington, Ohio comments concerning the content here can be directed to him, Larry@lrfmaintenance.com.