It’s that time of year when many homeowners are making plans for summertime fun. 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 temperatures.
Certainly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one mechanism that does some heavy lifting} 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.
A twice annual HVAC tune-up can act as a safety net 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 sweltering summer season can definitely help you head off costly repairs down the road. Plus, it also includes a status check for how your system is currently performing. Annual maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty valid, which helps you in case a key component goes bad 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.”
When a specialist recommends 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 expensive 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.
If you haven’t already done so, upgrading to a smart thermostat can minimize wear and tear on your air conditioner and furnace. Consider this: Energy savings estimates can run from as low as 12% a year to greater than 20%. Your best bet is to go with an Energy Star®-certified thermostat, Carson advised, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that match with your daily routine. In some locations, you also may have the option to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Regularly replacing your air filter is essential; however, there are many different filters to choose from. Certain types 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 very well could make your unit work harder. When you schedule your tune-up, it’s a good idea to ask the HVAC professional for a recommendation, Carson added.
This is not merely a hint 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 restrict ventilation into that room or area. That means your air conditioning will need to run longer to get the air temperature to the number set on your thermostat.
The other area where obstructions can be a concern is near your condenser coil outside the residence. Some homeowners see these as an eyesore and attempt to cover them up with bushes 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 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.”
Clean air ducts are essential to the health of your home—and the people who live in it. Pollen and airborne pollutants from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all get inside your air ducts and cause trouble for people suffering from asthma and allergies.
Here are some signals your home may be ready for an air duct cleaning:
If your system is nearing the end of its life, replacing it with a new high-efficiency system before the hot summer weather is here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” Although that has always been a good idea, it’s more true these days than ever before.
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