Some tips to cut down on costs when trying to stay warm after Groundhog Day

As the winter snow gets ready to thaw in Ohio post-Groundhog Day, it’s a comfort for homeowners to recline in their toasty living rooms, safe from the cold thanks to their trusty heaters. Of course, this comfort is by no means free, and after a particularly frigid February some people find it’s chillingly expensive.

Fortunately, it’s surprisingly easy to minimize heating expenses. Several heat-saving techniques are basic practices that should be a part of any energy-conscious homeowner’s daily routine. Listed below are a few of the most effective ways to keep that late winter power bill from skyrocketing.

Turn Down the Thermostat

As obvious as this simple tip might seem, it’s easy to forget to do it before leaving the house for work or going to sleep, which are perfect times to save on heating costs without forfeiting comfort.

Upgrade the Thermostat

Smart thermostats can be programmed and operated remotely from any smartphone, saving people the trouble of having to remember to turn their thermostat down every time they leave the house or go to bed.

Schedule an Inspection

While it’s usually recommended to have a furnace inspected yearly in the summer, it’s never too late to pick up that phone and schedule a checkup. A comprehensive furnace tuning can dramatically increase its efficiency and identify any hidden issues that may lead to a costly breakdown.

Clean Those Vents

It goes without that saying that a heater is more efficient when air can flow freely through its vents. To prevent the buildup of heat-stealing obstructions like dust and dirt, vents should be cleaned regularly, and no furniture should be placed in front of them.

Bundle Up

In this age of reliance on machines and technology, it’s easy to forget the advantages of warm clothing during the chilly season. From thick wool sweaters to sleeved blankets, there are plenty of options for staying warm that don’t require keeping the thermostat on its highest setting.

Keep the Air Moving

Many modern ceiling fans have switches that can be flipped to change the direction the blades rotate, which is ideally counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter. By having the blades turn clockwise and setting the speed to low, a ceiling fan will generate an upward air current that lightly circulates warm air trapped at the top to the lower space of the room.

Mooch From the Windows

Free heat is almost always available, even when it’s cold outside. By simply rolling back the blinds and curtains on their windows during the day, anyone can harvest the sun’s natural light and free heat energy. However, they should be closed back at night to keep that borrowed warmth from escaping.

Whether the groundhog sees its shadow or not, Ohio residents can stay warm as spring approaches without sending their heating bills into orbit. These basic tricks will take some of the responsibility off the heater and add cash back into any savvy homeowner’s pocket.

Preparing your Furnace for Colder Weather: Tips and Tricks

Preparing your Furnace for Colder Weather: Tips and Tricks

There are always a lot of items to check off on your to-do list when you are planning for the winter season. You’ve planted the bulbs for spring, put away patio cushions, cleaned out the gutters and covered the pool. What is next? Checking the heat! In NW, many houses use a gas or oil-fired furnace to keep their home heated all winter long, so it is an important item to add to your to-do list when you are making it.

While you may have seen plenty of blogs and videos about checking your furnace yourself, is this something you really want to take a chance with? Hiring a heating professional to come out and double-check your furnace is important for your safety, as well as the safety of your family! They can make sure that there isn’t anything wrong with your furnace, such as a fuel leak or mechanical issue. They have been trained to spot problems in their beginning stages, which can save you hassle and money later. A gas leak is not only dangerous, it will cost more to fix it when it isn’t caught right away. For around $150, a professional can come out and do a basic service call on your furnace to make sure all is well.

You’ll also want to ensure that the filter is replaced on your furnace before you start it for the season. These should be changed out monthly to make sure you circulate good air quality in your home. Double-check the filter to see what type it is and how to install it properly. Some furnace filters are a polyester/cotton paper or disposable fiberglass; some are disposable and some are permanent.

Cleaning out your air ducts will also ensure that your furnace is running efficiently and safely throughout the winter. You may be able to vacuum the grilles and registers yourself by removing them, cleaning where you can reach, and replacing them. Use a flashlight and a mirror to examine the parts of the ducts you can see. They should be professionally cleaned if you can see a good amount of dirt and debris. Duct cleaning can be done only when necessary, but if you are not sure of when your ducts have been cleaned last it is best to call in a professional.

Some of LRF Maintenance’s customers are taking advantage of our HVAC Maintenance program. It is affordable and it allows us to come in and check the appropriate heating and cooling structures throughout the year. We service them appropriately to help you eliminate the stress of time of checking these functionalities yourself.

Lastly, consider automating your heating system. This can be done with a smart thermostat that hooks up to your wi-fi and is controlled through an app on your phone. It takes just 30 minutes to install and you can program it to control the temperature from your phone. The thermostat will sense when you are in the house and will adjust itself to your own comfort levels. It is easy to adjust from your phone and you won’t have to worry whether you left the furnace on high all day at work anymore. A Nest thermostat is one of the best quality smart thermostats on the market today and well-worth the energy savings you will experience after installation.

We welcome you to contact us today with any questions or concerns you may have!


Signs Your HVAC System Needs to be Replaced in Pickerington, Ohio

Signs Your Air Conditioner Needs to be Replaced in Pickerington, Ohio

No air conditioning system is designed to last forever. The day will come when the homeowner must face the fact that it’s time for a replacement. There are several signs that calling a contractor and going over options for a replacement should take place now. Here are some of the more common signs.

The Age of the Unit

It’s not unusual for a system to last up to 15 years. After that, the unit is living on borrowed time. Even if the air conditioner seems to be working fine, it wouldn’t hurt to have it inspected by a professional. Choosing to have an older unit assessed could be the difference between a complete failure on the hottest day of summer or being comfortable no matter what the weather is doing outside.

Repair Costs are Starting to Stack Up

In years past, the only expenses associated with the unit’s upkeep were simple ones. Over the last year or so, several expensive repairs become necessary. Unfortunately, there is a good chance of more frequent repairs in the years to come. Now is a good time to think about a replacement and avoid spending more money on a failing system.

Hot and Humid Spots in the House

The air conditioner used to keep the temperature and the humidity level inside at a comfortable level. That’s no longer the case. There are definite hot spots in various areas of the home and the overall humidity level is up. Replacing the unit rather than trying to resolve the current problem with repair work will be cheaper in the long run.

There’s More Dust

One of the things that air conditioning systems do is filter out the dust and prevent it from accumulating in the home. As a unit ages, more dust continues to circulate indoors. Replacing the system with a new one will reduce dust and other airborne contaminants by a significant margin.

Energy Consumption is Up

It’s taking more energy for the unit to keep the home at a comfortable temperature. That means the unit is running more and the power bill is higher each month. Instead of dealing with higher utility costs and wasting energy, it makes sense to replace the unit with something that’s newer and more energy efficient.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Over time, the air conditioning unit has developed several odd sounds. The different squeaks, bangs, and thumps occur when the unit cycles on or off. There’s also a rattle while the unit is operating. None of these signs bode well. After an inspection, a contractor is likely to recommend replacing the older unit rather than attempting to squeeze as few more years of use from it.

The bottom line is that the older air conditioner no longer provides the level of service it once did. Instead of spending money trying to restore a system that’s going to fail eventually, you may give us a call to discuss these concerns. The temperature and humidity level in the house will be better and the new unit will not keep family members up at night.



Signs You Need to Replace Your Furnace in Pickerington, Ohio

The furnace in our homes is one thing that we typically do not think about much until there is a problem. Then it is all that we think about until the issue is resolved. Therefore, it is important that you take the time to make sure that your furnace is in good working order on a regular basis.

If you have experienced trouble with your home’s heating system over the past few years, or your furnace is more than 20 years old, it may be time to replace it. Here are a few other signs that you need to replace your home’s furnace.

Your Furnace Starts to Make Odd Noises

Strange noises coming from your furnace are a clear sign that it may need to be repaired or replaced. You may hear a banging, popping, or squealing noise as the unit starts up or while it is heating your home. Older furnaces are more likely to make these noises when they are starting to go bad. Therefore, if you hear any type of noise coming from your heating system, it could be time to have it replaced to ensure that your home is always warm and comfortable.

Consistent Health Issues

Do you or other members of the household often complain of having headaches, disorientation, nausea, or a burning sensation in their nose or eyes? It could be your furnace causing these problems. If that is the case, then it needs to be replaced immediately. Older furnaces can develop cracks and holes in the heat exchanger, causing carbon monoxide to be released into the home. Even if you aren’t experiencing these problems now, if you have an older furnace in your home, you should invest in a good carbon monoxide monitor to keep you and your family safe.

Unusually High Heating Bills

Have you noticed a rise in your heating costs over the past few months? If your electric bill is higher than it usually is during the colder months, then you should think about having your furnace checked out by a professional in Pickerington, Ohio. They can let you know if a faulty furnace causes your higher-than-usual energy costs.

A Dry and Dusty Home

If there is more dust than usual inside your home and you are experiencing issues with dry skin, then the air in your home may not be as clean as it should be. This could be a sign that you need to replace the heating system. Dryness inside the home can have an effect on your furniture, walls, and house plants. It can also cause problems for your family members if they are allergic to pollen or dust. If you start to notice paint peeling from the walls or more dust on your furniture, it is time to consider having your furnace replaced.

Uneven Temperatures Throughout the Home

Have you noticed that there are some rooms in your home that are cooler than others? This is a sign that your furnace is no longer distributing heat as it should and that can make your home uncomfortable to live in. If your living room is warm and toasty while your bedroom is cold and frigid, you should consider having your furnace replaced as soon as possible.

If you have noticed any of these signs, please feel welcome to contact the heating professionals at LRF Maintenance. We can provide you with furnace repair or installation assistance so that you and your family will remain warm, comfortable, and healthy once winter comes around.


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,

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.