It’s that time of year when many homeowners are planning for summer festivities. But it’s also an important time to see to it that all of your home systems are ready to handle the extra workload that comes with soaring temps.
Certainly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one component of your home that does some heavy lifting during the summer months. Here, a Service Experts professional shares seven tips to keep in mind when preparing your air conditioner for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A twice annual HVAC tune-up can act as a safety net against future breakdowns. While anything can happen when a system is being used quite a bit, getting your air conditioning, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before repair crews get busy during the hot summer season can definitely help you ward off costly repairs later. 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 active, which helps 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 Put Off Repairs
When a specialist advises 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 reasoning, however, only leads to more expensive repairs in the future.
“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 may43 minimize wear and tear on your heating and cooling equipment. Ponder this: Energy savings estimates can vary from as low as 12% a year to greater than 20%. Your best bet 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 habits. In some areas, you also may be able to take advantage of reduced electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Extremely Restrictive Air Filter
Routinely replacing your air filter is crucial; however, there are a lot of different filters to choose from. Certain types can be tremendously restrictive, promising to filter out 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 strategy to ask the mechanic 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, on the inside, if air vents are hindered by furniture or household items, that can limit airflow into that room or zone. That means your air conditioning will be forced to run longer to get the air temperature to the number set on your thermostat.
The other place where obstructions can cause trouble is near your condenser coil outside the house. Some property owners 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 Ignore Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are vital to the condition of your home—and the people who are living in it. Pollen and airborne pollutants 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 signs your home may be ready for an air duct cleaning:
- Mold was found in the home or on the inside of the air conditioning unit.
- Dust blows out of vents when the blower comes on.
- A renovation that generated significant dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency AC Upgrade
If your heating and cooling unit is near the end of its life, replacing it with a modern, 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 the case, it’s more true these days than ever before.