HVAC Do's and Dont's Before Summer Hits
It’s that time of year when many people are preparing for some fun in the sun. But it’s also an important time to make sure all of your home systems are ready to handle the additional workload that comes with rising temps.
Certainly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one component of your home that does some hard work during the summer season. Here, a Service Experts specialist shares seven do’s and don’ts to take into account when preparing your cooling system for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A twice annual HVAC tune-up can act as protection against future breakdowns. While anything can happen when a system is being used quite a bit, getting your air conditioner, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before maintenance crews get busy during the hot summer season can certainly help you avoid costly repairs down the road. Plus, it also offers a status check for how your system is currently functioning. Routine maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty effective, 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 advises repairs during a tune-up or if they come up unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can prolong the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This reasoning, however, only leads to more costly 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 explained.
Do Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you haven’t already done so, upgrading to a smart thermostat could43 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 option is to go with an Energy Star®-certified thermostat, Carson advised, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that align with your daily routine. In some locations, you also may have the option to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use a Very Restrictive Air Filter
Consistently changing your air filter is essential; 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 successfully remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also slow airflow and possibly make your unit work harder. When you arrange your tune-up, it’s a good plan to ask the mechanic for a recommendation, Carson added.
Do De-Clutter and Remove Obstructions
This is not simply a tip about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow barriers inside and outside of your home. First, in your home's interior, if air vents are obstructed by furniture or household items, that can reduce ventilation into that room or location. That means your air conditioner will have to run longer to get the air temperature to the level set on your thermostat.
The other place where obstructions can cause trouble is around your condenser coil outside the residence. Some homeowners see these as an eyesore and attempt 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 Overlook Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are crucial to the condition of your home—and the people who are living in it. Pollen and airborne toxins from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all get inside your air ducts and cause problems for people suffering from asthma and allergies.
Here are some indicators your home is due for an air duct cleaning:
- Mold has been discovered in the home or inside the AC.
- Dust wafts 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 HVAC equipment 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 true, it’s more true today than ever before.