It’s that time of year when many people are making plans for some fun in the sun. But it’s also a great time to see to it that all of your home systems are ready to handle the extra workload that comes with soaring temps.
Without a doubt, 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 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 protection against future problems. Even though 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 scorching summer season can certainly help you avoid costly repairs down the road. Plus, it also provides a status check for how your system is currently functioning. Annual maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty valid, 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 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 Delay Repairs
When a specialist suggests repairs during a tune-up or if they come up 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 costly repairs in the future.
“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 reduce wear and tear on your air conditioner and furnace. Consider this: Energy savings estimates can vary from as low as 12% a year to higher 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 line up with your daily routine. In some locations, you also may have the option to take advantage of reduced electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use a Very Restrictive Air Filter
Routinely changing your air filter is essential; however, there are many different filters to choose from. A few of these can be tremendously restrictive, promising to remove all viruses and contaminants. While they may effectively remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also slow airflow and potentially make your unit work harder. When you arrange your tune-up, it’s a good strategy to ask the technician for a recommendation, Carson added.
Do De-Clutter and Eliminate Obstructions
This is not only a recommendation 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 cooling system will have to run longer to get the air temperature to the level set on your thermostat.
The other location where obstructions can be a concern is close to your condenser coil outside the house. Some property owners see these as an eyesore and try to cover them up with shrubs 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 vital to the condition of your residence—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 problems for people suffering from asthma and allergies.
Here are a couple of signals your home is due for an air duct cleaning:
- Mold has been discovered in the home or within the air conditioner.
- Dust wafts from vents when the blower is turned on.
- A renovation involving considerable dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency AC Upgrade
If your HVAC equipment is near the end of its life, replacing it with a high-tech, high-efficiency system before high temperatures are here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” Though that has always been a good idea, it’s more true these days than ever before.