It’s that time of year when many homeowners are planning for summertime fun. But it’s also a great time to see to it that all of your home systems are ready to handle the additional workload that comes with rising temperatures.
Without a doubt, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one item that does an awful a lot of work during the summer. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven do’s and don’ts to take into account when preparing your cooling system for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A twice annual HVAC tune-up can act as a safety net against future problems. Even though anything can happen when a system is running a lot during extreme weather, getting your air conditioning, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before repair crews get busy during the sweltering summer season can certainly help you head off costly repairs in the future. Plus, it also offers a status check for how your system is currently operating. Regular maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty active, which supports you in case a key component fails 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 come up 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 expensive repairs down the line.
“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 emphasized.
Do Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you haven’t done it already, upgrading to a smart thermostat may43 minimize wear and tear on your air conditioner and furnace. Think about this: Energy savings estimates can vary from as low as 12% a year to greater than 20%. Your best choice is to go with an Energy Star®-certified thermostat, Carson advised, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that line up with your daily routine. In some locations, you also may have the option to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Extremely Restrictive Air Filter
Routinely changing your air filter is essential; however, there are a wide variety of different filters to choose from. Some can be extremely restrictive, promising to remove all viruses and contaminants. While they may efficiently remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also slow airflow and very well could make your unit work harder. When you arrange your tune-up, it’s a good strategy to ask the mechanic for a recommendation, Carson added.
Do De-Clutter and Remove Obstructions
This is not simply a recommendation about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstructions inside and outside of your home. First, indoors, if air vents are blocked by furniture or household items, that can limit the flow of air into that room or area. That means your air conditioning will have to run longer to get the air temperature to the level set on your thermostat.
The other place where obstructions can be a concern is around your condenser coil outside the house. Some homeowners see these as an eyesore and make an effort to cover them up with shrubbery or even build structures or other landscaping. Not a good idea!
“Obstructions to units and vents on the inside and outside of the home can be both an efficiency and safety concern,” Carson said. “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 Ignore Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are indispensable 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 problems for people suffering from asthma and allergies.
Here are a couple of signals your home might need an air duct cleaning:
- Mold has been discovered in the home or within the AC.
- Dust wafts from vents when the blower comes on.
- A renovation involving significant dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency Equipment Upgrade
If your HVAC equipment is near the end of its life, replacing it with a high-tech, high-efficiency system before the hot summer weather is here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” Though that has always been true, it’s more true today than ever before.