It’s that time of year when many homeowners are preparing for some fun in the sun. 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 hot temps.
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. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven strategies to consider when preparing your cooling system for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A twice annual HVAC tune-up can act as an insurance plan 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 sweltering summer season can certainly help you ward off costly repairs down the road. Plus, it also includes a status check for how your system is currently functioning. Regular maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty active, which supports you in case a key component breaks 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 Put Off Repairs
When a specialist recommends repairs during a tune-up or if they occur unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can stretch out the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This thinking, however, only leads to more expensive repairs later on.
“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 emphasized.
Do Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you haven’t already bought one, upgrading to a smart thermostat may43 minimize wear and tear on your air conditioner and furnace. Think about this: Energy savings estimates can range from as low as 12% a year to higher 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 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
Regularly changing your air filter is critical; however, there are many different filters to choose from. Some can be extremely restrictive, promising to trap all viruses and contaminants. While they may successfully remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also slow airflow and possibly make your unit work harder. When you arrange 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 tip about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstructions inside and outside of your home. First, indoors, if air vents are obstructed by furniture or household items, that can reduce ventilation into that room or location. That means your air conditioning will need to run longer to get the air temperature to the level set on your thermostat.
The other area where obstructions can cause trouble is around your condenser coil outside the home. Some property owners see these as an eyesore and make an effort 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 Ignore Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are essential to the well-being of your property—and the people who live in it. Pollen and airborne toxins 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 may be ready for an air duct cleaning:
- Mold is in the home or inside the AC.
- Dust wafts from vents when the blower is switched on.
- A renovation that generated considerable 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 high-tech, high-efficiency system before summertime is here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” Although that has always been the case, it’s more true today than ever before.