HVAC Do's and Dont's Before Summer Hits
It’s that time of year when many people are making plans for summer festivities. But it’s also a critical time to be sure all of your home systems are ready to handle the extra 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 tips to take into account when preparing your HVAC system for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A twice annual HVAC tune-up can act as protection against future failures. Although 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 hot 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 operating. Annual maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty active, which aids 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 Delay Repairs
When a specialist suggests 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 costly 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 minimize wear and tear on your heating and cooling equipment. 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 said, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that match 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 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 filter out all viruses and contaminants. While they may efficiently remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also slow airflow and very well could make your unit work harder. When you arrange your tune-up, it’s a good idea to ask the technician 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 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 ventilation into that room or location. That means your air conditioning will need to run longer to get the air temperature to the temperature set on your thermostat.
The other area where obstructions can be a problem is close to your condenser coil outside the residence. Some homeowners see these as an eyesore and try 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 Overlook Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are crucial to the well-being of your home—and the people who are living in it. Pollen and airborne contaminants from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all get inside your air ducts and cause issues for people living with asthma and allergies.
Here are a couple of signs your home is due for an air duct cleaning:
- Mold has been discovered in the home or on the inside of the air conditioning unit.
- Dust blows out of 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 HVAC equipment 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.” And while that has always been a good idea, it’s more true these days than ever before.