It’s that time of year when many people are planning for some fun in the sun. But it’s also a critical time to see to it that all of your home systems are ready to handle the extra workload that comes with rising weather.
Without a doubt, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one component of your home that does an awful a lot of work during the summer season. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven do’s and don’ts to consider when preparing your cooling system for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A twice annual HVAC tune-up can act as protection against future breakdowns. Even though anything can happen when a system is running a lot during extreme weather, getting your air conditioner, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before maintenance crews get busy during the scorching summer season can certainly help you ward off costly repairs later. Plus, it also offers a status check for how your system is currently operating. Routine maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty active, which helps you in case a key component breaks during the warranty period.
“Tightening electrical components, cleaning condensate lines, cleaning the outdoor and indoor coils, and lubricating necessary components, it’s all part of the annual checkup we do,” said the field operations manager at Service Experts, Mike Carson. “And, we’ll change your air filters and answer any questions you may have too. It’s the best small investment any homeowner can make this time of year.”
Don’t Put Off Repairs
When a specialist advises repairs during a tune-up or if they occur unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can stretch out the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This mindset, however, only leads to more pricey repairs later on.
“Clogged lines, dirty filters, low refrigerant (Freon), loose or broken parts, you name it, it all contributes to how efficiently your system runs. It’s always best to address problems when they arise to keep it operating to its full potential,” Carson said.
Do Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you haven’t already bought one, upgrading to a smart thermostat could43 reduce wear and tear on your HVAC system. Ponder this: Energy savings estimates can range from as low as 12% a year to more than 20%. Your best bet is to go with an Energy Star®-certified thermostat, Carson advised, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that align with your daily habits. In some areas, you also may have the ability to take advantage of lower electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Extremely Restrictive Air Filter
Regularly switching out your air filter is essential; however, there are many different filters to choose from. A few of these can be very restrictive, promising to remove all viruses and contaminants. While they may effectively remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also slow airflow and very well could make your unit work harder. When you set up your tune-up, it’s a good strategy to ask the HVAC professional for a recommendation, Carson added.
Do De-Clutter and Eliminate Obstructions
This is not only a tip about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstructions inside and outside of your home. First, in your home's interior, if air vents are blocked by furniture or household items, that can reduce ventilation into that room or area. That means your air conditioner will have to run longer to get the air temperature to the temperature set on your thermostat.
The other place where obstructions can cause trouble is close to your condenser coil outside the residence. Some residents see these as an eyesore and attempt to cover them up with shrubbery or even build structures or other landscaping. Bad idea!
“Obstructions to units and vents on the inside and outside of the home can be both an efficiency and safety concern,” Carson noted. “Covering up or blocking return air vents, where the system draws in the air inside the home is another common problem we see. These things can be like asking your system to work harder while wearing a very heavy face mask.”
Don’t Overlook Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are essential to the health of your property—and the people living in it. Pollen and airborne toxins from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all stay inside your air ducts and cause trouble for people who have asthma and allergies.
Here are a couple of signs your home could need an air duct cleaning:
- Mold is in the home or within the air conditioner.
- Dust blows out of vents when the blower is switched on.
- A renovation involving significant dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency Equipment Upgrade
If your heating and cooling unit is near the end of its life, replacing it with a new, high-efficiency system before summertime is here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” Although that has always been true, it’s more true today than ever before.