It’s that time of year when many families are preparing for summer festivities. But it’s also a great time to see to it that all of your home systems are ready to handle the added workload that comes with rising temps.
Without a doubt, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one item that does some hard work} during the summer season. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven strategies to take into account when preparing your air conditioner for summer.
A twice annual HVAC tune-up can act as an insurance plan against future problems. 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 scorching summer season can certainly help you ward off costly repairs down the road. Plus, it also provides a status check for how your system is currently functioning. Annual maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty active, which aids 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 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.”
When a specialist recommends repairs during a tune-up or if they occur unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can extend the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This mindset, however, only leads to more expensive repairs down the road.
“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.
If you haven’t already bought one, upgrading to a smart thermostat can minimize wear and tear on your air conditioner and furnace. Think about this: Energy savings estimates can range from as low as 12% a year to higher than 20%. Your best choice 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 schedule. In some areas, you also may have the option to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Consistently replacing your air filter is critical; however, there are many different filters to choose from. Some can be tremendously restrictive, promising to remove 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 strategy to ask the technician for a recommendation, Carson added.
This is not only a hint about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstructions inside and outside of your home. First, indoors, if air vents are blocked by furniture or household items, that can restrict the flow of air into that room or location. That means your air conditioning will have to run longer to get the air temperature to the number set on your thermostat.
The other location where obstructions can cause trouble is around your condenser coil outside the home. Some homeowners see these as an eyesore and make an effort to cover them up with shrubs 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.”
Clean air ducts are indispensable to the condition of your residence—and the people living in it. Pollen and airborne pollutants from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all stay inside your air ducts and cause problems for people living with asthma and allergies.
Here are some indications your home might need an air duct cleaning:
If your system is near the end of its life, replacing it with a high-tech 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 now than ever before.
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