It’s that time of year when many people are preparing for summer festivities. But it’s also a critical time to see to it that all of your home systems are ready to handle the extra workload that comes with rising weather.
Without a doubt, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one item that does some heavy lifting during the summer months. Here, a Service Experts professional shares seven strategies to consider when preparing your air conditioner for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A biannual HVAC tune-up can act as an insurance plan against future failures. Although anything can happen when a system is running a lot during extreme weather, getting your air conditioning, 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 later. 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 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 Postpone Repairs
When a specialist recommends 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 reasoning, however, only leads to more expensive 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 said.
Do Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you haven’t done it already, upgrading to a smart thermostat could43 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 ability to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Overly Restrictive Air Filter
Consistently switching out your air filter is essential; however, there are a wide variety 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 slow airflow and possibly make your unit work harder. When you schedule your tune-up, it’s a good idea to ask the mechanic for a recommendation, Carson added.
Do De-Clutter and Remove Obstructions
This is not simply a hint about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstacles inside and outside of your home. First, indoors, if air vents are obstructed by furniture or household items, that can restrict ventilation into that room or zone. That means your air conditioner will need to run longer to get the air temperature to the number set on your thermostat.
The other location where obstructions can be a concern is close to your condenser coil outside the home. Some residents 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 Overlook Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are indispensable to the well-being of your home—and the people who are living in it. Pollen and airborne contaminants from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all get inside your air ducts and cause trouble 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 AC.
- Dust comes from vents when the blower comes on.
- A renovation that generated extensive dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency HVAC Upgrade
If your system is near the end of its life, replacing it with a modern, high-efficiency system before summertime is here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” Although that has always been true, it’s more true today than ever before.