HVAC Do's and Dont's Before Summer Hits
It’s that time of year when many families 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 rising weather.
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 keep in mind when preparing your air conditioner for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A twice annual HVAC tune-up can act as an insurance plan against future breakdowns. While anything can happen when a system is working hard, getting your air conditioner, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before crews get busy during the sweltering summer season can definitely help you avoid 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 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 Postpone Repairs
When a specialist recommends 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 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 emphasized.
Do Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you haven’t already done so, upgrading to a smart thermostat can43 minimize wear and tear on your HVAC system. Ponder this: Energy savings estimates can vary from as low as 12% a year to higher 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 line up with your daily routine. In some areas, you also may be able to take advantage of lower electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Overly Restrictive Air Filter
Regularly switching out your air filter is critical; however, there are a lot of different filters to choose from. Some can be very restrictive, promising to catch or eliminate all viruses and contaminants. While they may successfully 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 only a tip about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstructions inside and outside of your home. First, on the inside, if air vents are obstructed by furniture or household items, that can restrict airflow into that room or zone. That means your air conditioning will have to run longer to get the air temperature to the level set on your thermostat.
The other location where obstructions can cause trouble is around your condenser coil outside the residence. Some residents see these as an eyesore and make an effort to cover them up with shrubbery 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 Neglect Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are vital to the well-being of your property—and the people who are living 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 suffering from asthma and allergies.
Here are a few indications your home could need an air duct cleaning:
- Mold is in the home or inside the AC.
- Dust comes from vents when the blower comes on.
- A renovation that caused extensive dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency AC Upgrade
If your system is near the end of its life, replacing it with a new, high-efficiency system before high temperatures are here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” And while that has always been the case, it’s more true now than ever before.