It’s that time of year when many people are planning for summer festivities. But it’s also a critical time to be sure all of your home systems are ready to handle the added workload that comes with hot temperatures.
Undoubtedly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one mechanism that does an awful a lot of work during the summer months. Here, a Service Experts specialist shares seven strategies to keep in mind when preparing your cooling system for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A twice-a-year HVAC tune-up can act as an insurance plan against future breakdowns. Although anything can happen when a system is being used quite a bit, getting your AC, 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 in the future. Plus, it also provides a status check for how your system is currently functioning. Annual maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty effective, which helps 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 Mike Carson, field operations manager at Service Experts. “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 Delay Repairs
When a specialist recommends 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 thinking, however, only leads to more expensive repairs down the road.
“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 explained.
Do Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you haven’t already done so, upgrading to a smart thermostat could43 minimize wear and tear on your HVAC system. Think about 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 said, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that line up with your daily routine. In some areas, you also may be able to take advantage of reduced electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Overly Restrictive Air Filter
Consistently changing your air filter is critical; however, there are a wide variety of different filters to choose from. Some can be extremely restrictive, promising to trap all viruses and contaminants. While they may successfully remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also significantly reduce airflow and possibly make your unit work harder. When you set up your tune-up, it’s a good idea to ask the technician for a recommendation, Carson added.
Do De-Clutter and Remove Obstructions
This is not only a tip about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstructions inside and outside of your home. First, indoors, if air vents are hindered by furniture or household items, that can limit airflow into that room or zone. That means your air conditioning will be forced to run longer to get the air temperature to the number set on your thermostat.
The other place where obstructions can be a problem is near your condenser coil outside the house. Some property owners 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 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 Neglect Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are essential to the well-being of your property—and the people who are living in it. Pollen and airborne toxins from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all get inside your air ducts and cause problems for people who have asthma and allergies.
Here are a couple of signs your home may be ready for an air duct cleaning:
- Mold is in the home or on the inside of the air conditioning unit.
- Dust blows out of vents when the blower is switched on.
- A renovation that caused considerable dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency Equipment Upgrade
If your system is close to the end of its life, replacing it with a modern, 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 the case, it’s more true now than ever before.