HVAC Do's and Dont's Before Summer Hits
It’s that time of year when many people are planning for summertime fun. 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 hot temperatures.
Certainly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one component of your home that does some hard work during the summer months. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven strategies to take into account when preparing your air conditioner for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A twice-a-year HVAC tune-up can act as protection against future problems. While anything can happen when a system is working hard, getting your AC, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before maintenance crews get busy during the hot summer season can certainly help you ward off costly repairs in the future. 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 valid, 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 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 prolong the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This mindset, however, only leads to more costly 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 done it already, upgrading to a smart thermostat could43 minimize wear and tear on your HVAC system. Think about this: Energy savings estimates can vary from as low as 12% a year to greater than 20%. Your best choice is to go with an Energy Star®-certified thermostat, Carson recommended, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that match with your daily schedule. In some places, you also may have the ability to take advantage of lower electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Extremely Restrictive Air Filter
Consistently replacing your air filter is essential; however, there are a wide variety of different filters to choose from. A few of these 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 potentially 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 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 obstructed by furniture or household items, that can restrict 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 number set on your thermostat.
The other area where obstructions can cause trouble is around your condenser coil outside the residence. Some homeowners see these as an eyesore and attempt to cover them up with shrubs or even build structures or other landscaping. Bad idea!
“Obstructions to units and vents on the inside and outside of the home can be both an efficiency and safety concern,” Carson remarked. “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 indispensable to the health of your residence—and the people who live in it. Pollen and airborne pollutants 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 a few signals 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 turned on.
- A renovation that caused considerable dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency AC Upgrade
If your HVAC equipment is nearing the end of its life, replacing it with a modern, high-efficiency system before high temperatures are here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” Though that has always been true, it’s more true today than ever before.