It’s that time of year when many homeowners are planning for summer festivities. 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 hot temperatures.
Without a doubt, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one mechanism that does some hard work during the summer months. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven do’s and don’ts to keep in mind 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 failures. Even though anything can happen when a system is working hard, getting your air conditioner, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before repair crews get busy during the scorching summer season can certainly help you head off costly repairs in the future. Plus, it also provides a status check for how your system is currently performing. Routine maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty active, which supports 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 Postpone Repairs
When a specialist suggests repairs during a tune-up or if they occur unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can extend the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This thinking, however, only leads to more expensive repairs down the line.
“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 reduce wear and tear on your air conditioner and furnace. Think about this: Energy savings estimates can vary 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 match with your daily schedule. In some places, you also may be able to take advantage of lower electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Overly Restrictive Air Filter
Routinely switching out your air filter is critical; however, there are a lot of different filters to choose from. Some can be tremendously restrictive, promising to catch or eliminate all viruses and contaminants. While they may effectively 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 merely a hint 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 hindered by furniture or household items, that can reduce the flow of air into that room or location. That means your air conditioner will need to run longer to get the air temperature to the temperature set on your thermostat.
The other location where obstructions can be a problem is around your condenser coil outside the house. Some homeowners see these as an eyesore and attempt to cover them up with bushes 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 noted. “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 Overlook Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are essential to the condition of your property—and the people living in it. Pollen and airborne toxins from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all reside inside your air ducts and cause trouble for people who have 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 within the air conditioning unit.
- Dust blows out of vents when the blower comes on.
- A renovation involving considerable dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency Equipment Upgrade
If your HVAC equipment is close to the end of its life, replacing it with a high-tech, high-efficiency system before summertime is 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.