HVAC Do’s and Don’ts Before Summer Hits
It’s that time of year when many homeowners are preparing 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 weather.
Certainly, 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 pro shares seven do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when preparing your cooling system for summer.
Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up
A twice-a-year HVAC tune-up can act as an insurance plan against future breakdowns. While anything can happen when a system is working hard, getting your air conditioning, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before crews get busy during the sweltering summer season can undoubtedly help you ward off costly repairs in the future. Plus, it also includes a status check for how your system is currently operating. Regular maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty effective, which supports you in case a key component stops working 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 Service Experts Field Operations Manager 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 suggests 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 thinking, however, only leads to more expensive repairs in the future.
“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 bought one, upgrading to a smart thermostat could minimize wear and tear on your HVAC system. Consider this: Energy savings estimates can range from as low as 12% a year to greater 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 align with your daily schedule. In some areas, you also may have the option to take advantage of reduced electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Don’t Use an Overly Restrictive Air Filter
Routinely switching out your air filter is essential; 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 effectively remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also significantly reduce airflow and possibly make your unit work harder. When you schedule your tune-up, it’s a good strategy to ask the mechanic for a recommendation, Carson added.
Do De-Clutter and Eliminate Obstructions
This is not merely a tip about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow barriers inside and outside of your home. First, on the inside, if air vents are obstructed by furniture or household items, that can limit airflow into that room or zone. That means your air conditioning will be forced to run longer to get the air temperature to the number set on your thermostat.
The other location where obstructions can be a problem is near your condenser coil outside the home. Some residents see these as an eyesore and attempt to cover them up with shrubbery 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 Neglect Your Air Ducts
Clean air ducts are vital to the condition of your home—and the people who live in it. Pollen and airborne toxins from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all stay inside your air ducts and cause trouble for people who have asthma and allergies.
Here are some 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 comes on.
- A renovation that generated significant dust has recently been done.
Do Consider a High-Efficiency Equipment Upgrade
If your HVAC equipment is nearing 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 these days than ever before.
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