It’s that time of year when many homeowners are preparing for some fun in the sun. But it’s also an important time to see to it that all of your home systems are ready to handle the added workload that comes with hot weather.
Undoubtedly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one item that does an awful a lot of work} during the summer months. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven tips to consider when preparing your HVAC system for summer.
A twice annual HVAC tune-up can act as an insurance plan against future problems. Although anything can happen when a system is running a lot during extreme weather, getting your air conditioner, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before crews get busy during the sweltering summer season can certainly help you head off costly repairs later. 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 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 advises 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 reasoning, 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 bought one, upgrading to a smart thermostat can reduce wear and tear on your heating and cooling equipment. Consider this: Energy savings estimates can vary from as low as 12% a year to more 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 line up with your daily routine. In some places, you also may have the option to take advantage of reduced electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Regularly switching out your air filter is critical; however, there are a wide variety of different filters to choose from. Certain types can be extremely restrictive, promising to trap all viruses and contaminants. While they may successfully 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 HVAC professional for a recommendation, Carson added.
This is not only a recommendation about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstructions inside and outside of your home. First, indoors, if air vents are obstructed by furniture or household items, that can reduce ventilation into that room or location. That means your air conditioning will be forced 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 residence. Some homeowners see these as an eyesore and make an effort to cover them up with shrubbery 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 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.”
Clean air ducts are vital to the health of your residence—and the people 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 who have asthma and allergies.
Here are a couple of signs your home might need an air duct cleaning:
If your HVAC equipment is near the end of its life, replacing it with a modern, 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 the case, it’s more true today than ever before.
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