It’s that time of year when many families are making plans for summer festivities. But it’s also an important time to see to it that all of your home systems are ready to handle the extra workload that comes with rising temperatures.
Without a doubt, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one mechanism that does some hard work} during the summer. Here, a Service Experts specialist shares seven strategies to consider when preparing your HVAC system for summer.
A twice annual HVAC tune-up can act as a safety net against future problems. Even though anything can happen when a system is working hard, getting your air conditioning, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before maintenance crews get busy during the sweltering summer season can definitely help you head off costly repairs later. Plus, it also offers a status check for how your system is currently functioning. Regular maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty effective, which aids you in case a key component fails 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 happen 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 down the line.
“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 done it already, upgrading to a smart thermostat can minimize wear and tear on your heating and cooling equipment. Ponder this: Energy savings estimates can vary from as low as 12% a year to higher 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 routine. In some places, you also may have the option to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Regularly switching out 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 trap 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 plan to ask the mechanic for a recommendation, Carson added.
This is not only a hint about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstacles inside and outside of your home. First, on the inside, if air vents are blocked by furniture or household items, that can restrict ventilation into that room or zone. That means your air conditioner will be forced to run longer to get the air temperature to the temperature set on your thermostat.
The other location where obstructions can cause trouble is around your condenser coil outside the residence. Some homeowners see these as an eyesore and attempt to cover them up with shrubs or even build structures or other landscaping. Not a good idea!
“Obstructions to units and vents on the inside and outside of the home can be both an efficiency and safety concern,” Carson said. “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 home—and the people who are living in it. Pollen and airborne toxins from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all reside inside your air ducts and cause issues for people suffering from asthma and allergies.
Here are a couple of signals your home could need an air duct cleaning:
If your HVAC equipment is nearing 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.” And while that has always been a good idea, it’s more true now than ever before.
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