It’s that time of year when many people are making plans for some fun in the sun. But it’s also a critical time to make sure all of your home systems are ready to handle the additional workload that comes with rising temps.
Without a doubt, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one item that does some heavy lifting during the summer. Here, a Service Experts professional shares seven do’s and don’ts to take into account when preparing your air conditioner for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A twice-a-year HVAC tune-up can act as a safety net 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 maintenance crews get busy during the sweltering summer season can certainly help you head off costly repairs down the road. Plus, it also includes a status check for how your system is currently performing. Regular maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty active, which helps 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 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 happen unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can stretch out the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This mindset, 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 explained.
Do Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you haven’t done it already, upgrading to a smart thermostat could43 decrease wear and tear on your HVAC system. Ponder this: Energy savings estimates can run from as low as 12% a year to greater than 20%. Your best option 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 routine. In some areas, you also may have the option to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Extremely Restrictive Air Filter
Routinely changing your air filter is critical; however, there are a lot of different filters to choose from. A few of these can be very restrictive, promising to trap all viruses and contaminants. While they may efficiently remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also significantly reduce airflow and very well could make your unit work harder. When you schedule your tune-up, it’s a good idea 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 barriers inside and outside of your home. First, on the inside, if air vents are blocked by furniture or household items, that can limit ventilation into that room or area. That means your air conditioning will have to run longer to get the air temperature to the number set on your thermostat.
The other place where obstructions can cause trouble is around your condenser coil outside the house. Some residents see these as an eyesore and attempt to cover them up with shrubbery or even build structures or other landscaping. Think again!
“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 Ignore Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are vital to the well-being of your home—and the people living in it. Pollen and airborne pollutants from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all reside inside your air ducts and cause problems for people who have asthma and allergies.
Here are a couple of indications your home may be ready for an air duct cleaning:
- Mold was found in the home or on the inside of the air conditioning unit.
- Dust blows out of vents when the blower comes on.
- A renovation that caused significant dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency AC Upgrade
If your heating and cooling unit is close to the end of its life, replacing it with a high-tech, high-efficiency system before the hot summer weather is here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” Though that has always been the case, it’s more true today than ever before.