HVAC Do’s and Don’ts Before Summer Hits

It’s that time of year when many homeowners are making plans 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 soaring weather.

Certainly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one mechanism that does some heavy lifting during the summer. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven tips to consider when preparing your HVAC system for summer.

Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up

A twice annual 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 maintenance crews get busy during the sweltering summer season can undoubtedly help you head off costly repairs in the future. Plus, it also includes a status check for how your system is currently operating. Regular maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty effective, which helps you in case a key component goes bad 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 stretch out the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This thinking, however, only leads to more pricey repairs later on.

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 could decrease wear and tear on your HVAC system. Consider this: Energy savings estimates can run from as low as 12% a year to greater 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 schedule. In some locations, you also may have the ability to take advantage of reduced electricity rates during off-peak hours.

Don’t Use a Very Restrictive Air Filter

Consistently replacing your air filter is crucial; however, there are a lot of different filters to choose from. A few of these can be tremendously restrictive, promising to remove 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 idea to ask the HVAC professional for a recommendation, Carson added.

Do De-Clutter and Clear Away Obstructions

This is not only a hint about household clutter, but more about removing the airflow obstructions inside and outside of your home. First, in your home’s interior, if air vents are blocked by furniture or household items, that can restrict ventilation into that room or area. That means your air conditioner will have to run longer to get the air temperature to the level set on your thermostat.

The other area where obstructions can be a problem is around your condenser coil outside the house. Some homeowners see these as an eyesore and try to cover them up with shrubs 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 Ignore Your Air Ducts

Clean air ducts are crucial to the health 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 get inside your air ducts and cause problems for people living with asthma and allergies.

Here are a few indications your home may be ready for an air duct cleaning:

  • Mold is in the home or within the AC.
  • Dust comes from vents when the blower is turned on.
  • A renovation that caused considerable dust has recently been done.

Do Consider a High-Efficiency AC Upgrade

If your heating and cooling unit is near the end of its life, replacing it with a new high-efficiency system before summertime is here can be better than waiting for “just one more summer.” And while that has always been a good idea, it’s more true these days than ever before.

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