It’s that time of year when many homeowners are making plans for summertime fun. But it’s also a critical time to make 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 component of your home that does some heavy lifting} during the summer months. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven tips to keep in mind when preparing your HVAC system for summer.
A biannual HVAC tune-up can act as an insurance plan against future failures. Even though anything can happen when a system is being used quite a bit, getting your air conditioning, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before repair crews get busy during the sweltering summer season can definitely help you avoid costly repairs later. Plus, it also offers a status check for how your system is currently operating. Regular maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty valid, which helps 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 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 come up unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can stretch out the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This mindset, however, only leads to more costly 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 explained.
If you haven’t already done so, upgrading to a smart thermostat may minimize wear and tear on your heating and cooling equipment. Think about this: Energy savings estimates can vary from as low as 12% a year to more than 20%. Your best option is to go with an Energy Star®-certified thermostat, Carson said, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that align with your daily habits. In some locations, you also may have the ability to take advantage of reduced electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Regularly changing your air filter is critical; however, there are a wide variety of different filters to choose from. Some can be tremendously restrictive, promising to remove all viruses and contaminants. While they may successfully remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also significantly reduce airflow and very well could make your unit work harder. When you set up your tune-up, it’s a good idea to ask the HVAC professional for a recommendation, Carson added.
This is not simply a recommendation about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow barriers inside and outside of your home. First, indoors, if air vents are hindered by furniture or household items, that can restrict the flow of air into that room or area. 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 residence. Some residents see these as an eyesore and make an effort to cover them up with bushes or even build structures or other landscaping. Think again!
“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 crucial to the condition of your residence—and the people who are living in it. Pollen and airborne pollutants from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all get inside your air ducts and cause issues for people suffering from asthma and allergies.
Here are a couple of signs your home is due for an air duct cleaning:
If your heating and cooling unit is near the end of its life, replacing it with a modern, high-efficiency system before summertime is here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” And while that has always been true, it’s more true these days than ever before.
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