It’s that time of year when many homeowners are planning for some fun in the sun. But it’s also a critical time to make sure all of your home systems are ready to handle the additional workload that comes with hot weather.
Without a doubt, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one component of your home that does some heavy lifting during the summer season. Here, a Service Experts professional 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 an insurance plan against future breakdowns. Even though anything can happen when a system is working hard, getting your air conditioning, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before repair crews get busy during the hot summer season can undoubtedly help you head off costly repairs later. Plus, it also provides a status check for how your system is currently performing. Annual maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty effective, 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 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 Postpone 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 pricey 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 said.
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. Consider this: Energy savings estimates can vary from as low as 12% a year to higher than 20%. Your best choice is to go with an Energy Star®-certified thermostat, Carson said, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that align with your daily routine. In some places, you also may be able to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Overly Restrictive Air Filter
Consistently changing your air filter is essential; however, there are a wide variety of different filters to choose from. A few of these can be very restrictive, promising to filter out all viruses and contaminants. While they may successfully 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 plan to ask the technician for a recommendation, Carson added.
Do De-Clutter and Remove Obstructions
This is not merely a tip about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstructions inside and outside of your home. First, indoors, if air vents are obstructed by furniture or household items, that can reduce ventilation into that room or zone. That means your air conditioner will have to run longer to get the air temperature to the level set on your thermostat.
The other location where obstructions can be a concern is close to your condenser coil outside the home. Some residents see these as an eyesore and try to cover them up with shrubs or even build structures or other landscaping. Think again!
“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 Ignore Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are indispensable to the health of your residence—and the people who are living in it. Pollen and airborne contaminants from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all stay inside your air ducts and cause problems for people who have asthma and allergies.
Here are a few signs your home could need an air duct cleaning:
- Mold has been discovered in the home or on the inside of the air conditioner.
- Dust wafts from 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 system is near the end of its life, replacing it with a modern, high-efficiency system before high temperatures are 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.