HVAC Do’s and Don’ts Before Summer Hits

It’s that time of year when many families are planning for summertime fun. But it’s also a critical time to make sure all of your home systems are ready to handle the additional workload that comes with rising weather.

Certainly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one item that does an awful a lot of work during the summer season. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven do’s and don’ts to take into account when preparing your HVAC system for summer.

Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up

A twice-a-year HVAC tune-up can act as a safety net against future breakdowns. While anything can happen when a system is being used quite a bit, getting your air conditioning, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before crews get busy during the scorching summer season can certainly help you head off costly repairs in the future. Plus, it also includes a status check for how your system is currently operating. Routine maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty active, which helps 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 Put Off Repairs

When a specialist suggests 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.

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 already done so, upgrading to a smart thermostat may decrease wear and tear on your air conditioner and furnace. Think about this: Energy savings estimates can run from as low as 12% a year to more than 20%. Your best bet is to go with an Energy Star®-certified thermostat, Carson said, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that match with your daily habits. In some areas, you also may have the option to take advantage of reduced electricity rates during off-peak hours.

Don’t Use an Extremely Restrictive Air Filter

Regularly replacing your air filter is critical; however, there are a lot of different filters to choose from. A few of these can be very restrictive, promising to catch or eliminate all viruses and contaminants. While they may efficiently remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also slow airflow and possibly make your unit work harder. When you schedule your tune-up, it’s a good plan to ask the HVAC professional for a recommendation, Carson added.

Do De-Clutter and Clear Away Obstructions

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

The other location where obstructions can cause trouble is around your condenser coil outside the house. Some property owners see these as an eyesore and try to cover them up with bushes or even build structures or other landscaping. Not a good 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 vital to the well-being of your property—and the people who live in it. Pollen and airborne contaminants from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all stay inside your air ducts and cause trouble for people living with asthma and allergies.

Here are a couple of indications your home could need an air duct cleaning:

  • Mold was found in the home or inside the air conditioning unit.
  • Dust comes from vents when the blower comes on.
  • A renovation that caused extensive dust has recently been done.

Do Consider a High-Efficiency AC Upgrade

If your system is nearing 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 the case, it’s more true these days than ever before.

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