HVAC Do’s and Don’ts Before Summer Hits
It’s that time of year when many people are making plans for summer festivities. But it’s also an important time to be sure all of your home systems are ready to handle the added workload that comes with soaring temperatures.
Undoubtedly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one mechanism that does an awful a lot of work} during the summer. Here, a Service Experts specialist shares seven do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when preparing your air conditioner for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A biannual HVAC tune-up can act as an insurance plan against future breakdowns. 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 offers a status check for how your system is currently performing. 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 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 Postpone Repairs
When a specialist recommends repairs during a tune-up or if they occur unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can prolong 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 already done so, upgrading to a smart thermostat could 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 more 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 match with your daily routine. In some places, you also may be able to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use a Very Restrictive Air Filter
Routinely changing your air filter is essential; however, there are a wide variety of different filters to choose from. Certain types can be extremely restrictive, promising to remove all viruses and contaminants. While they may efficiently remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also choke airflow and potentially make your unit work harder. When you set up your tune-up, it’s a good strategy to ask the HVAC professional 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 obstacles inside and outside of your home. First, on the inside, if air vents are obstructed by furniture or household items, that can restrict ventilation into that room or area. That means your cooling system will need to run longer to get the air temperature to the level set on your thermostat.
The other place where obstructions can be a problem is near your condenser coil outside the residence. Some property owners see these as an eyesore and make an effort to cover them up with bushes 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 said. “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 crucial to the health of your home—and the people living in it. Pollen and airborne toxins from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all reside inside your air ducts and cause issues for people suffering from asthma and allergies.
Here are some signs your home is due for an air duct cleaning:
- Mold is in the home or within the air conditioning unit.
- Dust blows out of vents when the blower is switched on.
- A renovation that generated extensive dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency AC 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.” Although that has always been the case, it’s more true now than ever before.