HVAC Do’s and Don’ts Before Summer Hits

It’s that time of year when many families are preparing for summer festivities. But it’s also an important time to make sure all of your home systems are ready to handle the additional workload that comes with soaring weather.

Undoubtedly, a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is one mechanism that does some hard work during the summer months. Here, a Service Experts pro shares seven tips to take into account when preparing your air conditioner for summer.

Do Get an HVAC Tune-Up

A biannual HVAC tune-up can act as a safety net against future problems. While anything can happen when a system is being used quite a bit, getting your AC, furnace and other HVAC components tuned up before repair crews get busy during the hot summer season can undoubtedly help you head off costly repairs down the road. Plus, it also provides a status check for how your system is currently operating. Annual maintenance also may help keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty effective, which aids 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 recommends repairs during a tune-up or if they come up unexpectedly, some homeowners think they can extend the use of the part or component for “just one more summer.” This reasoning, however, only leads to more expensive repairs down the road.

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 may minimize wear and tear on your air conditioner and furnace. Consider this: Energy savings estimates can range from as low as 12% a year to greater than 20%. Your best choice is to go with an Energy Star®-certified thermostat, Carson recommended, and ask an HVAC pro about how to set cooling times that match with your daily routine. In some places, you also may be able to take advantage of reduced electricity rates during off-peak hours.

Don’t Use an Extremely Restrictive Air Filter

Regularly switching out your air filter is crucial; however, there are a wide variety of different filters to choose from. A few of these can be extremely 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 set up your tune-up, it’s a good plan to ask the technician for a recommendation, Carson added.

Do De-Clutter and Eliminate Obstructions

This is not only a recommendation 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 the flow of air into that room or zone. That means your cooling system will be forced to run longer to get the air temperature to the number set on your thermostat.

The other area where obstructions can cause trouble is close to your condenser coil outside the house. Some residents see these as an eyesore and make an effort 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 crucial to the well-being of your residence—and the people living in it. Pollen and airborne toxins from sprays, cooking, candles, fireplaces and off-gassing items can all get inside your air ducts and cause trouble for people living with asthma and allergies.

Here are some indicators your home could need an air duct cleaning:

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

Do Consider a High-Efficiency HVAC 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.” And while that has always been the case, it’s more true today than ever before.

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