It’s that time of year when many people are preparing for summer festivities. 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 rising temperatures.
Undoubtedly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one mechanism that does some heavy lifting during the summer months. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven tips to consider when preparing your cooling system for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A twice annual HVAC tune-up can act as an insurance plan against future failures. Even though anything can happen when a system is working hard, getting your air conditioning, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before maintenance crews get busy during the scorching summer season can definitely help you head off costly repairs down the road. Plus, it also provides a status check for how your system is currently functioning. Routine maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty effective, which helps you in case a key component breaks 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 recommends repairs during a tune-up or if they come up 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 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 emphasized.
Do Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you haven’t already done so, upgrading to a smart thermostat could43 reduce wear and tear on your HVAC system. Think about this: Energy savings estimates can vary from as low as 12% a year to higher than 20%. Your best option is to go with an Energy Star®-certified thermostat, Carson advised, 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 lower electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use a Very Restrictive Air Filter
Routinely switching out your air filter is essential; however, there are many different filters to choose from. A few of these can be tremendously restrictive, promising to trap all viruses and contaminants. While they may efficiently remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also slow airflow and possibly make your unit work harder. When you arrange 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 only a recommendation about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstacles inside and outside of your home. First, in your home's interior, if air vents are blocked by furniture or household items, that can reduce airflow 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 area where obstructions can be a concern is near your condenser coil outside the residence. Some property owners see these as an eyesore and attempt 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 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 Ignore Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are crucial to the condition of your home—and the people 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 issues for people suffering from asthma and allergies.
Here are some indicators your home is due for an air duct cleaning:
- Mold is in the home or within the AC.
- Dust wafts from vents when the blower is switched on.
- A renovation involving considerable dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency AC Upgrade
If your HVAC equipment 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 today than ever before.