Top 5 Home Heating Problems To Avoid This Winter

Posted On January 3rd, 2019 by Lanz HVAC




Winter is here! With Illinois winters come frigid temperatures in the 20s and 30s, sometimes lower, and usually no small amount of snow. Winter around Champaign County means plenty of time spent indoors in the company of family, some favorite electronic devices and your trusty HVAC heating system.

But how do homeowners know if their home’s heater is really up to to the task? What could be wrong with your HVAC system this winter, and what can be done to prevent being left in the cold? Ignoring the signs of small issues could result in BIG problems later…

Symptoms of an HVAC unit or a heat pump that is NOT up to winter duty include:

  • frequent power-cycling of the furnace unit (turning on and off and on, and so on)
  • noises, such as loud clangs and whistles
  • noticeable loss of heat and uneven distribution of warm air within your home

To make sure our customers are as informed as possible, we have some great tips to share on some of our most frequently seen wintertime HVAC/home-heating problems around Central Illinois, so folks might know better whether their heater can beat the winter weather.

Issue No. 1: Frozen pipes, coils and valves.

When the outside temperature falls below the freezing point of water (32 degrees Fahrenheit at sea-level pressure), your HVAC system’s network of pipes, valves and coils freezes too. When water can’t flow, steam radiators and other hydronic systems fail, and heating stops. Ice can expand and burst pipes. To prevent, drain pipes of all water before the first freezing night, as well as other standard winterizing tasks.

Issue No. 2: Malfunctioning or underperforming heat pump.

If your home relies on an outdoor heat pump, that external apparatus sits exposed to winter’s worst elements. Heavy snow, ice and frost can block coils and bust mechanical parts. Take advantage of the heat pump’s automatic defrosting features, or make sure frost does not accumulate on the unit.

Issue No. 3: Dirty heater filters and restricted airflow.

In winter, people tend to run their heating systems full-blast. Extended usage causes buildup of dust, dirt and debris within vents and air ducts, and on fans and motors. Keep a clean HVAC filter by changing or cleaning it monthly, and don’t forget to have the system’s ductwork professionally cleaned.

Issue No. 4: Broken ignition system and extinguished or insufficient pilot light.

The pilot light is the small gas-powered flame in the center of your heating unit that essentially keeps your heater heating. If for any reason it goes out or weakens - due to a damaged sensor, for example - your home’s HVAC will suddenly put out far less heat.

Issue No. 5: Broken, miscalibrated or faulty thermostat.

Aging electronic circuitry has been known to cause HVAC systems to put out incorrect levels of heat. Loose wiring, rusted connections and other electrical problems should be repaired or replaced for best energy efficiency - as well as temperature certainty.

Special Bonus Pro Tip from the Life-Threatening Category: Carbon monoxide leakages.

To produce heat, many types of heaters make carbon monoxide (CO) as a byproduct. If a heating unit has cracks, rust or other defects, this deadly poisonous yet odorless and tasteless gas could waft undetected by the human nose and be a silent killer.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a rare but tragic occurrence, so keep obstructions from blocking airflow out of kitchens and basements, and always maintain a working CO monitor/detector, preferably on each level of your home.

One of the many amazing benefits of modern first-world living is air-conditioning technology that literally keeps people comfy and warm against the bracing harsh chill of a Midwestern winter. Make sure your HVAC system is up to snuff with a little homeowner care and regular checkups by our expert techs.

Before HVAC problems happen in your home this winter (or when they do) - call Lanz Heating & Cooling Inc. - a proud Illinois company serving Champaign, Piatt, Ford, Vermilion, Douglas, Iroquois and McLean counties - at 217-355-5512 or 1-800-AIR-REPAIR.

About Lanz Heating, Cooling & Plumbing: Founded by HVAC contracting veteran Troy Lanz of Illinois, in 2002, Lanz Inc. has grown in number of employees and in services offered to the homeowners and commercial businesses of Champaign County, Il. Lanz Inc. now employs more than 50 highly qualified professionals providing certified installations, repairs and maintenance of heating and cooling systems, heat pumps, air handlers, dehumidifiers, humidifiers, indoor air quality control systems, ductless split systems and geothermal solutions, plus cleaning of drains, vents and air ducts. Ask about our Comfort Club. Please call Lanz Inc. at 1-800-AIR-REPAIR or 217-355-5512 and connect with Lanz Inc. on the web at www.LanzInc.com.

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Wall-To-Wall Warm: Keeping Temps Constant Throughout Your Home This Winter

Posted On December 30th, 2018 by Lanz HVAC




Warm in one room… cold in another! It is a frustrating reality of winter. Hot air rises, cold air sinks so how can you maintain a nice, even, constant, reliable temperature - and enjoy consistent temps throughout your home, throughout the winter?

As experienced HVAC technicians, we are constantly asked by homeowners how they can keep the same temperature going all over their homes, from level to level and from wall to wall. Whether you have a large single-family home, townhouse, duplex, condo, or apartment, here are some tried and true tips to a wall-to-wall warm home.

Make sure your home’s heating, ventilation & air conditioning (HVAC) equipment - from heat pump to thermostat, valves to pipes - has been professionally inspected and winterized. This is not just a call for our service... it is entirely true. Professionals, whether it is us or another qualified HVAC company, can pinpoint inefficiencies which may result in your home’s HVAC not spreading the heat well enough. Pros use highly sensitive pressurization equipment to locate and seal leaks in ductwork joints and fittings.

Unless someone’s going through them, keep exterior doors closed. An open door is a one-way ticket for your warm air generated by your home’s electrically powered HVAC system to fly away. Plus, if outdoors is substantially colder than indoors, the temperature inside will drop even faster. Remind the kids of this common-sense habit.

Have your home’s exterior windows, panes and sills inspected for possible air leaks. In the winter, leaky windows mean lost energy, meaning higher energy costs. Rooms where windows are leaking can be significantly colder, too.

Install more or thicker insulation in attics and exterior walls. A building is only as warm as its walls will allow. If you live in an older home or are unsure when the home’s insulation was last inspected, it’s a good idea to check it out. Otherwise the heating system may need to go into overdrive to make up for the consistently lost heat.

Run ceiling fans at the lowest speed, with blades pushing the air down. Warm air rises and always will. Once it’s as warm as you like it, keep it down where you are and spread it around.

With the sorts of winters we have here Champaign County and Ford, Piatt, Douglas and Vermilion counties, it’s important to your family’s wintertime comfort that your home’s temps not vary too wildly from bedroom to basement.

One of the major functions of your home’s modern HVAC system - the heat pump, the thermostat, the entire complex apparatus - is to help keep a balanced, constant temperature…at your preferred level of comfort…throughout your home. However, Nature being what she is, it isn’t easy. You can help your HVAC system keep your family comfy. Try these tips and see how you and your heating unit can keep your home comfy and isothermic all winter long.

About Lanz Heating, Cooling & Plumbing: Founded by HVAC contracting veteran Troy Lanz of Illinois, in 2002, Lanz Inc. has grown in number of employees and in services offered to the homeowners and commercial businesses of Champaign County, Il. Lanz Inc. now employs more than 50 highly qualified professionals providing certified installations, repairs and maintenance of heating and cooling systems, heat pumps, air handlers, dehumidifiers, humidifiers, indoor air quality control systems, ductless split systems and geothermal solutions, plus cleaning of drains, vents and air ducts. Ask about our Comfort Club. Please call Lanz Inc. at 1-800-AIR-REPAIR or 217-355-5512 and connect with Lanz Inc. on the web at www.LanzInc.com.

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Contain the Fire: Winter Tips for Space Heater Safety & Efficiency

Posted On December 22nd, 2018 by Lanz HVAC



Come winter, it gets cold here in Central Illinois. When temperatures fall, it’s understandably tempting to simply plug in, turn on, and crank up an electric radiator or space heater.

On those long cold Midwest winter nights, it’s especially tempting to use portable space-heaters in out-of-the-way rooms in your home (nothing worse than stepping into a chilly bathroom!), or on the levels of the house that your heating system doesn’t reach very well.

Yes, a space heater is a great way to keep a room warm for a while and help your HVAC system out, or to keep toasty warm in your kitchen, home office or nursery,

BUT...

If you and your family are going to utilize plug-in space heaters in your home - especially while you’re away or asleep - there are some definite must-knows on how to safely and efficiently operate that small-but-mighty, flame-red hotbox of electronic fire that throws off powerful heat from one spot.

In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that about 25,000 residential fires annually are associated with faulty or incorrectly operated space heaters, with 6,000 ER-visit injuries and approximately 300 deaths by fire. So please be careful when running space heaters!


A cold winter is upon us. In addition to calling us for regular maintenance and winterizing of your home’s HVAC system and heat pumps, Lanz Heating & Cooling Inc. of Champaign-Urbana would like to share these best practices for smart space heater operation:

Top tips for space heater safety:

  • Newer is better (and newest is best). Modern space heaters with the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) insignia should be equipped with safety features like tilt-switch and burn-detection auto-shutoff, so the space heater turns itself off when it is not level or detects excessive heat.
  • Give your space heater space. Place it on a hard, level, stable, non-flammable surface. On the floor, away from foot traffic, is best. Maintain a clear buffer around the space heater with at least a three-foot radius to keep kids and pets from knocking it over. Avoid placing heater on fluffy carpeting or near loose bedding and textiles.
  • Don’t use an extension cord. Some space heaters draw more power than many power strips and cords can handle, plus it’s one more potential failure point.

Top tips for space heater efficiency:

  • Point the heat where you want it to go. Portable space heaters are meant to warm up a small area, so position the heater to push the heated air toward where it’s needed most. Remember, heat rises, so it makes perfect sense - from the standpoints of safety and of physics - to keep your space heater on the floor.
  • Keep it in a dry place. Obviously, space heaters and water don’t mix, but your space heater works most efficiently when the air and floor aren’t damp. Be cautious when using indoor radiators in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc.
  • A space heater is a frying pan, not the fire. The electric portable space heaters manufactured by reputable companies nowadays are great, but the math shows that you don’t want to try to heat your entire house with them. Fire your space heaters up only when and where they’re most needed and register with the radiator manufacturer to get any important product recalls.

Used wisely and with care, a space heater can help you conquer the Central Illinois cold this winter. For more top tips and professional indoor-air services to keep your home or office building toasty warm this winter (with or without space heaters), call your award-winning Champaign-based HVAC experts at 1-800-AIR-REPAIR or 217-355-5512.

This holiday season and into New Year, Lanz Heating & Cooling Inc. wishes our customers and all the good folks of Champaign, Douglas, Iroquois, McLean, Piatt, Ford and Vermillion counties a wonderful wintertime that’s happy, warm and safe.

About Lanz Heating, Cooling & Plumbing: Founded by HVAC contracting veteran Troy Lanz of Illinois, in 2002, Lanz Inc. has grown in number of employees and in services offered to the homeowners and commercial businesses of Champaign County, Il. Lanz Inc. now employs more than 50 highly qualified professionals providing certified installations, repairs and maintenance of heating and cooling systems, heat pumps, air handlers, dehumidifiers, humidifiers, indoor air quality control systems, ductless split systems and geothermal solutions, plus cleaning of drains, vents and air ducts. Ask about our Comfort Club. Please call Lanz Inc. at 1-800-AIR-REPAIR or 217-355-5512 and connect with Lanz Inc. on the web at www.LanzInc.com.


Posted in Latest News

Wintertime HVAC FAQs: Keeping Your Home Warm For the Holidays

Posted On December 19th, 2018 by Lanz HVAC




Remember last Winter? At Lanz Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we sure do. Bone-chilling cold all around our region with temps well below zero. Over the holiday season last year, we took many calls from customers, asking us about all things heat-related: Services like heating system inspections and repairs, new heat pumps, air duct cleanings, geothermal units, dehumidifiers, everything imaginable.

So, before winter truly sets in, we’re offering a few FAQs and top tips, so you can beat the freeze with a well-heated home:


Q: What’s the most efficient way to keep an Illinois home nice and warm in the winter? Electric heat pump? Natural gas furnace? Wood-burning fireplace? Warm thoughts?

A: Personally, we like a nice cup of hot cocoa, but the best answer is heat pumps. Heat pumps are generally the most efficient, but gas furnaces can be equally efficient as well. In fact, heat-pump technology is so advanced today compared to 30 years ago that producing the heat and distributing it throughout your home is not a problem. Even the issue of providing supplemental or auxiliary heat is solved most easily with modern heat pumps.

If your home is equipped with a furnace or fireplace, natural gas is cleaner and more energy-efficient than wood or pellets. The price of propane can often be prohibitive for new builds.


Q: How helpful are programmable thermostats in the winter? What temperature should they be programmed to?

A: Programmable thermostats keep your family warm in the wintertime without busting the household budget. Installing and programming an automatic thermostat is a high-tech, proven way to control your home’s temperature on an hourly basis, letting you save energy (therefore money) while everyone stays comfortable at peak times of the day.

A programmable thermostat is your best weapon against winter’s sky-high energy costs - if you know how to use it. The key is to program your home’s temperature 8 to 10 degrees below optimal comfort level during hours when everyone’s asleep or at work. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that consumers save 1% off their winter heating bill for every 1° the temp is lowered for 8 or more hours per day. Dropping 10° could mean as much as 10% savings. Used properly, a programmable thermostat is the Illinois homeowner’s best line of defense against our harsh Midwest winters and maintaining lower energy bills.


Q: How do we keep the house from being so stuffy in the winter?

A: It gets cold, it gets humid, and you often feel congested. Damp air means bacterial growth where it’s not wanted. Combat stuffiness by installing and operating dehumidifiers on every level and turn on your HVAC fan to keep air circulating. When showering, turn on bathroom fans to keep humidity low.


Q: There’s an Emergency Heat setting on the heat pump. When should we use that?

A: The emergency heat setting on the heat pump should only be used in emergency situations, when the home’s heat pump has failed (frozen, damaged or broken) and no other heating methods are available. Don’t switch to Emergency Heat just because it’s really cold outside - you’ll get a significantly increased energy bill. The “Em Heat” setting is there to keep the home heated while HVAC professionals perform emergency winter repairs on a non-functioning heat pump.

You can count on Central Illinois getting cold in the winter, but with these tips, the latest HVAC technology, and the experienced experts at Lanz Heating & Cooling, you can also count on staying nice and warm until spring.


About Lanz Heating, Cooling & Plumbing: Founded by HVAC contracting veteran Troy Lanz of Urbana, Illinois, in 2002, Lanz Inc. has grown in number of employees and in services offered to the homeowners and commercial businesses of Champaign County, Il. Lanz Inc. now employs more than 50 highly qualified professionals providing certified installations, repairs and maintenance of heating and cooling systems, heat pumps, air handlers, dehumidifiers, humidifiers, indoor air quality control systems, ductless split systems and geothermal solutions, plus cleaning of drains, vents and air ducts. Ask about our Comfort Club. Please call Lanz Inc. at 1-800-AIR-REPAIR or 217-355-5512 and connect with Lanz Inc. on the web at www.LanzInc.com.

Posted in Latest News