It’s that time of year when many families are preparing for summer festivities. But it’s also a great time to see to it that all of your home systems are ready to handle the added workload that comes with rising weather.
Certainly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one component of your home that does an awful a lot of work during the summer months. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven strategies 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 working hard, getting your air conditioner, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before crews get busy during the hot summer season can certainly help you head off costly repairs later. Plus, it also offers a status check for how your system is currently functioning. Regular maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty effective, which helps you in case a key component goes bad 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 happen unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can prolong the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This thinking, however, only leads to more expensive repairs later on.
“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 done it already, upgrading to a smart thermostat can43 decrease wear and tear on your HVAC system. Ponder this: Energy savings estimates can range from as low as 12% a year to greater 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 match with your daily routine. In some areas, you also may be able to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Extremely Restrictive Air Filter
Consistently switching out your air filter is essential; however, there are a lot of different filters to choose from. Some can be very restrictive, promising to trap all viruses and contaminants. While they may effectively remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also choke airflow and possibly make your unit work harder. When you arrange your tune-up, it’s a good plan 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 barriers inside and outside of your home. First, in your home's interior, if air vents are blocked by furniture or household items, that can limit ventilation into that room or zone. That means your cooling system will be forced to run longer to get the air temperature to the number set on your thermostat.
The other location where obstructions can be a problem is near your condenser coil outside the home. Some residents see these as an eyesore and attempt 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 Overlook Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are indispensable to the well-being of your residence—and the people who live in it. Pollen and airborne toxins from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all stay inside your air ducts and cause issues for people suffering from asthma and allergies.
Here are some signs your home is due for an air duct cleaning:
- Mold is in the home or inside the AC.
- Dust wafts from vents when the blower is turned on.
- A renovation that generated significant dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency AC Upgrade
If your system is near the end of its life, replacing it with a new, high-efficiency system before high temperatures are here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” Although that has always been true, it’s more true these days than ever before.