It’s that time of year when many people are planning for summer festivities. But it’s also an important time to be sure all of your home systems are ready to handle the added workload that comes with hot weather.
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 pro shares seven tips to keep in mind when preparing your HVAC system for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A twice-a-year HVAC tune-up can act as a safety net against future problems. Although anything can happen when a system is being used quite a bit, getting your air conditioner, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before maintenance crews get busy during the sweltering summer season can undoubtedly help you avoid costly repairs down the road. Plus, it also offers a status check for how your system is currently operating. Annual maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty active, which aids 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 happen unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can extend the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This thinking, 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 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. Consider this: Energy savings estimates can range from as low as 12% a year to more than 20%. Your best option 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 locations, you also may have the option to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use a Very Restrictive Air Filter
Consistently switching out your air filter is critical; however, there are many different filters to choose from. A few of these can be very restrictive, promising to catch or eliminate 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 plan to ask the mechanic for a recommendation, Carson added.
Do De-Clutter and Eliminate Obstructions
This is not only 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 obstructed by furniture or household items, that can restrict ventilation into that room or area. That means your air conditioning will need to run longer to get the air temperature to the number set on your thermostat.
The other place where obstructions can cause trouble is around your condenser coil outside the residence. Some residents see these as an eyesore and make an effort to cover them up with shrubs 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 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 crucial to the condition of your home—and the people who live in it. Pollen and airborne contaminants from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all reside inside your air ducts and cause trouble for people who have asthma and allergies.
Here are a few signals your home may be ready for an air duct cleaning:
- Mold is in the home or inside the AC.
- Dust comes from vents when the blower is turned on.
- A renovation that caused considerable 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 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 the case, it’s more true now than ever before.