HVAC Do’s and Don’ts Before Summer Hits

It’s that time of year when many homeowners are planning 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 weather.

Certainly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one item that does some heavy lifting during the summer months. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven do’s and don’ts 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 problems. While anything can happen when a system is running a lot during extreme weather, getting your air conditioning, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before repair crews get busy during the scorching summer season can definitely help you avoid costly repairs down the road. 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 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 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.”

Don’t Postpone Repairs

When a specialist advises 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 pricey 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 explained.

Do Upgrade Your Thermostat

If you haven’t already bought one, upgrading to a smart thermostat could decrease wear and tear on your HVAC system. Ponder this: Energy savings estimates can range from as low as 12% a year to higher than 20%. Your best bet is to go with an Energy Star®-certified thermostat, Carson recommended, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that line up with your daily habits. In some locations, you also may have the option to take advantage of cheaper electricity rates during off-peak hours.

Don’t Use an Extremely Restrictive Air Filter

Regularly changing your air filter is essential; however, there are a lot of different filters to choose from. Some can be tremendously restrictive, promising to trap all viruses and contaminants. While they may effectively remove many contaminants, these highly restrictive filters might also slow airflow and very well could make your unit work harder. When you schedule your tune-up, it’s a good strategy to ask the mechanic 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, in your home’s interior, if air vents are obstructed by furniture or household items, that can restrict airflow into that room or location. That means your air conditioner will need to run longer to get the air temperature to the temperature set on your thermostat.

The other location where obstructions can be a problem is near your condenser coil outside the house. Some homeowners see these as an eyesore and attempt to cover them up with shrubs or even build structures or other landscaping. Think again!

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 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 stay inside your air ducts and cause problems for people living with asthma and allergies.

Here are a couple of signs your home may be ready for an air duct cleaning:

  • Mold is in the home or on the inside of the AC.
  • Dust blows out of vents when the blower is switched on.
  • A renovation that caused extensive dust has recently been done.

Do Consider a High-Efficiency Equipment Upgrade

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

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