HVAC Do’s and Don’ts Before Summer Hits

It’s that time of year when many homeowners are preparing for some fun in the sun. But it’s also a critical time to be sure all of your home systems are ready to handle the additional 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 heavy lifting during the summer. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven tips 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 a safety net 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 repair crews get busy during the hot summer season can undoubtedly help you head off costly repairs later. 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 supports you in case a key component breaks during the warranty period.

African American man adjusting the temperature on the thermostat of his house - home automation concepts

“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 Postpone Repairs

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 mindset, however, only leads to more expensive repairs down the road.

Man replacing a filter on a home air conditioning system.

“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 said.

Do Upgrade Your Thermostat

If you haven’t done it already, upgrading to a smart thermostat may decrease wear and tear on your HVAC system. Think about this: Energy savings estimates can run from as low as 12% a year to higher than 20%. Your best choice 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 schedule. In some places, you also may be able to take advantage of reduced electricity rates during off-peak hours.

Don’t Use an Overly Restrictive Air Filter

Regularly replacing your air filter is crucial; however, there are a wide variety of different filters to choose from. Certain types can be extremely restrictive, promising to filter out 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.

Do De-Clutter and Remove Obstructions

This is not merely a recommendation about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstructions inside and outside of your home. First, indoors, if air vents are hindered by furniture or household items, that can limit airflow into that room or location. That means your cooling system will have to run longer to get the air temperature to the temperature set on your thermostat.

The other location where obstructions can be a concern is near your condenser coil outside the house. Some residents see these as an eyesore and attempt to cover them up with shrubbery or even build structures or other landscaping. Bad idea!

Bag of repairman's work tools, gloves on top of air conditioner units outside a brick home.  Service industry, working class.

“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.”

Don’t Neglect Your Air Ducts

Clean air ducts are indispensable to the condition of your home—and the people living in it. Pollen and airborne toxins from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all stay inside your air ducts and cause issues for people suffering from asthma and allergies.

Here are some signs your home might need an air duct cleaning:

  • Mold was found in the home or inside the air conditioning unit.
  • Dust blows out of vents when the blower is turned on.
  • A renovation involving extensive dust has recently been done.

Do Consider a High-Efficiency AC Upgrade

If your HVAC equipment is close to 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.” Although that has always been a good idea, it’s more true now than ever before.

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