HVAC Do’s and Don’ts Before Summer Hits

It’s that time of year when many people are preparing for summertime fun. But it’s also an important time to see to it that all of your home systems are ready to handle the additional workload that comes with hot weather.

Without a doubt, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one component of your home that does some heavy lifting during the summer. Here, a Service Experts professional shares seven strategies to consider when preparing your HVAC system for summer.

Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up

A biannual HVAC tune-up can act as protection against future failures. While anything can happen when a system is working hard, getting your air conditioner, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before repair 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 functioning. Regular maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty active, which supports you in case a key component goes bad during the warranty period.

African American man adjusting the temperature on the thermostat of his house - home automation concepts

“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 Delay 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 reasoning, however, only leads to more expensive repairs down the line.

Man replacing a filter on a home air conditioning system.

“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 may reduce wear and tear on your air conditioner and furnace. Ponder this: Energy savings estimates can range from as low as 12% a year to greater than 20%. Your best choice 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 places, you also may be able to take advantage of lower electricity rates during off-peak hours.

Don’t Use a Very Restrictive Air Filter

Consistently replacing your air filter is crucial; however, there are a lot of different filters to choose from. Certain types can be extremely restrictive, promising to trap all viruses and contaminants. While they may successfully 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 idea to ask the mechanic for a recommendation, Carson added.

Do De-Clutter and Eliminate Obstructions

This is not merely a recommendation 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 blocked by furniture or household items, that can limit airflow into that room or zone. 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 be a concern is around your condenser coil outside the residence. Some residents see these as an eyesore and try to cover them up with bushes or even build structures or other landscaping. Bad idea!

Bag of repairman's work tools, gloves on top of air conditioner units outside a brick home.  Service industry, working class.

“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 crucial to the condition of your residence—and the people who live 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 who have asthma and allergies.

Here are some indications your home is due for an air duct cleaning:

  • Mold was found in the home or inside the air conditioner.
  • Dust wafts from vents when the blower is turned on.
  • A renovation that generated extensive dust has recently been done.

Do Consider a High-Efficiency Equipment 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.” Though that has always been the case, it’s more true today than ever before.

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