HVAC Do's and Dont's Before Summer Hits
It’s that time of year when many people are preparing for summertime fun. But it’s also a critical time to see to it that all of your home systems are ready to handle the additional workload that comes with soaring weather.
Certainly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one component of your home that does some heavy lifting during the summer months. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven do’s and don’ts to consider 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 failures. While anything can happen when a system is being used quite a bit, getting your air conditioning, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before maintenance crews get busy during the scorching summer season can undoubtedly help you avoid costly repairs in the future. Plus, it also provides a status check for how your system is currently functioning. Routine 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 Mike Carson, field operations manager at Service Experts. “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 come up unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can extend the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This thinking, however, only leads to more expensive 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 done it already, upgrading to a smart thermostat could43 minimize wear and tear on your heating and cooling equipment. Ponder 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 match with your daily routine. In some areas, 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
Consistently switching out your air filter is crucial; however, there are many different filters to choose from. Certain types can be extremely restrictive, promising to trap all viruses and contaminants. While they may efficiently remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also slow airflow and possibly make your unit work harder. When you set up 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 tip about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstructions inside and outside of your home. First, in your home's interior, if air vents are hindered by furniture or household items, that can limit ventilation into that room or area. That means your air conditioner will have 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 residence. Some residents see these as an eyesore and attempt 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 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 Neglect Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are indispensable to the health of your residence—and the people who are 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 trouble for people living with asthma and allergies.
Here are some signals your home may be ready for an air duct cleaning:
- Mold has been discovered in the home or within the air conditioner.
- Dust comes from vents when the blower is turned on.
- A renovation that generated considerable dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency HVAC Upgrade
If your system is close to the end of its life, replacing it with a new, 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 these days than ever before.