It’s that time of year when many families are preparing for summertime fun. But it’s also an important time to make sure all of your home systems are ready to handle the added workload that comes with rising temperatures.
Undoubtedly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one mechanism that does some hard work during the summer months. Here, a Service Experts specialist shares seven do’s and don’ts to take into account when preparing your HVAC system for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A biannual HVAC tune-up can act as protection against future problems. Even though anything can happen when a system is working hard, getting your air conditioning, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before crews get busy during the sweltering summer season can definitely help you avoid costly repairs down the road. Plus, it also provides a status check for how your system is currently operating. Regular maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty effective, which supports you in case a key component stops working 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 Delay Repairs
When a specialist suggests repairs during a tune-up or if they occur unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can prolong 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 explained.
Do Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you haven’t already bought one, upgrading to a smart thermostat can43 reduce wear and tear on your air conditioner and furnace. Ponder this: Energy savings estimates can run 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 line up with your daily schedule. In some areas, you also may be able to take advantage of lower electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Overly Restrictive Air Filter
Routinely 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 effectively remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also significantly reduce airflow and potentially 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 simply a hint about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstructions inside and outside of your home. First, on the inside, if air vents are blocked by furniture or household items, that can restrict airflow into that room or location. That means your air conditioner will have 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 close to your condenser coil outside the house. Some homeowners see these as an eyesore and try to cover them up with bushes 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 Neglect Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are crucial to the condition of your home—and the people living in it. Pollen and airborne pollutants from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all reside inside your air ducts and cause problems for people suffering from asthma and allergies.
Here are some signals your home may be ready for an air duct cleaning:
- Mold was found in the home or within the AC.
- Dust blows out of vents when the blower is switched on.
- A renovation involving 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 high-tech, high-efficiency system before high temperatures are here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” And while that has always been a good idea, it’s more true today than ever before.