It’s that time of year when many families are making plans for summertime fun. But it’s also an important time to be 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 component of your home that does some heavy lifting during the summer. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven do’s and don’ts to consider when preparing your cooling 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 AC, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before crews get busy during the sweltering 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 operating. Routine maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty active, which helps 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 Service Experts Field Operations Manager 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 Postpone Repairs
When a specialist advises 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 reasoning, however, only leads to more expensive repairs down the road.
“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 done so, upgrading to a smart thermostat can43 reduce wear and tear on your heating and cooling equipment. Think about this: Energy savings estimates can run from as low as 12% a year to higher than 20%. Your best option is to go with an Energy Star®-certified thermostat, Carson recommended, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that line up with your daily schedule. In some places, you also may be able to take advantage of reduced electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Overly Restrictive Air Filter
Consistently replacing your air filter is crucial; however, there are a lot of different filters to choose from. Certain types can be extremely restrictive, promising to trap all viruses and contaminants. While they may successfully remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also choke 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 Eliminate Obstructions
This is not only a hint about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow barriers inside and outside of your home. First, on the inside, if air vents are blocked by furniture or household items, that can limit the flow of air into that room or location. That means your air conditioning will need to run longer to get the air temperature to the temperature set on your thermostat.
The other place where obstructions can cause trouble is around your condenser coil outside the home. Some property owners see these as an eyesore and try to cover them up with bushes 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 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 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 get inside your air ducts and cause issues for people living with asthma and allergies.
Here are a couple of signals your home might need an air duct cleaning:
- Mold has been discovered in the home or inside the air conditioner.
- Dust wafts from vents when the blower comes on.
- A renovation that caused extensive dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency AC Upgrade
If your HVAC equipment is close to the end of its life, replacing it with a new, high-efficiency system before the hot summer weather is 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.