It’s that time of year when many homeowners are preparing for summertime fun. But it’s also a critical time to see to it that all of your home systems are ready to handle the added workload that comes with soaring temps.
Certainly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one mechanism that does some heavy lifting during the summer. Here, a Service Experts professional shares seven strategies to consider when preparing your cooling system for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A biannual HVAC tune-up can act as a safety net against future failures. Even though anything can happen when a system is working hard, getting your AC, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before repair crews get busy during the scorching summer season can undoubtedly help you head off costly repairs in the future. Plus, it also provides a status check for how your system is currently performing. Annual maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty valid, which supports 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 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 costly 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 explained.
Do Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you haven’t done it already, upgrading to a smart thermostat may43 decrease wear and tear on your heating and cooling equipment. Ponder this: Energy savings estimates can range from as low as 12% a year to more 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 schedule. In some areas, you also may have the option to take advantage of reduced electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Extremely Restrictive Air Filter
Consistently changing your air filter is essential; however, there are many different filters to choose from. Some can be extremely restrictive, promising to catch or eliminate all viruses and contaminants. While they may efficiently remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also choke airflow and potentially make your unit work harder. When you arrange your tune-up, it’s a good strategy to ask the HVAC professional for a recommendation, Carson added.
Do De-Clutter and Remove Obstructions
This is not simply a recommendation about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstacles inside and outside of your home. First, on the inside, if air vents are hindered by furniture or household items, that can limit ventilation into that room or location. That means your cooling system will be forced to run longer to get the air temperature to the temperature set on your thermostat.
The other place where obstructions can cause trouble is near your condenser coil outside the home. Some homeowners see these as an eyesore and try to cover them up with bushes 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 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 Neglect Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are vital to the health of your home—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 problems for people who have asthma and allergies.
Here are some signals your home might need an air duct cleaning:
- Mold was found in the home or inside the AC.
- Dust blows out of vents when the blower is switched on.
- A renovation that caused considerable dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency HVAC Upgrade
If your system is close to 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.” Although that has always been a good idea, it’s more true now than ever before.