Getting Your HVAC Ready for Summer

Getting Your HVAC Ready for Summer
  • Opening Intro -

    Summer is fast approaching with its blistering heat and mugginess that makes even indoors uncomfortable.

    Luckily, we have heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units to keep us cool.

    Is your unit ready?

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HVAC units should be checked now — before it has a chance to get hot — to prepare for the summer season. You don’t want to be suffering through a summer day without a functioning air conditioner. Here are a few tips for making sure your HVAC unit is in working order so you can avoid a sweltering summer.

Maintenance Tips

First, make sure your HVAC unit is off with the thermostat at a high setting — around 80 degrees. Now check the thermostat and any exposed ductwork for wear and tear. Look at air vents to ensure nothing is blocking airflow. Clean the vents, too. Check the drain line and change your filter. Filters should be changed every three months.

If you have pets or smoke at home, it might be necessary to clean or replace your filter more often than every three months. Routine filter changes are necessary to keep dust or dirt from blocking or restricting the flow of cool air. Also, make sure the electrical connections are functioning and not visibly damaged.

Next, go outside to inspect the condenser unit. Clean the area up around it and clear any blockage near the equipment. This form of maintenance should be performed all year round.

It’s best to have an open area of two feet around the unit to keep debris from getting into it or interfering with its performance.

Check for missing panels and make sure the refrigerant lines are insulated. Look at the electrical wiring to see if it has any wear and tear.

Then go back inside and turn on the thermostat. Return outside to listen to the condenser for any irregular sounds. Remember that the air emitted by the unit should be warm, as the unit pulls warm air from your home.

Finally, go back inside and feel the temperature. Let the system run for at least 10 to 15 minutes to see how well it’s working.

Repairs or Buying a New Model

Any work required on electrical wiring or refrigerant lines should be performed by a professional. It’s a good idea to have a professional service an HVAC unit at least once a year to ensure it’s in proper mechanical order. HVAC unit tends to sit idle for quite a while throughout the year, so it’s best to have regular maintenance and repairs to keep it in working order.

If your unit is ten years or older, you might want to consider investing in a new one. Newer models tend to be more energy efficient, and Energy.gov estimates that you might save 20 to 40 percent of cooling costs with an updated system.  It might make more sense financially to invest in a newer model, especially if your older unit requires costly repairs. You may also want to seek a professional’s advice on which model to choose, to pick a well-functioning unit suitable for your home size and needs. 

Ways to Save Money

Even if your HVAC unit is working fine, you can do a few things to save some cash. For one, consider using a programmable thermostat. With it, you can customize your air conditioning to work a certain way, even when you’re not home. You can set the unit to adjust or even turn off or on at certain intervals. This way, your unit doesn’t always have to be running, causing undue wear and tear. There are other ways to help the temperature of your home without the constant use of an HVAC unit.

Ceiling fans, tabletop fans, and floor fans can help maximize airflow. Have your ceiling fans rotating clockwise during the summer so that air flows downward. This prevents excess heat from rising into the upper levels of your home and forcing your air conditioning to work harder. When it begins to cool off, then you can reverse the direction of your ceiling fans.

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Specialized window treatments, such as blinds or drapes, can cover larger, sun-exposed areas to avoid a buildup of heat.

You should also consider not using larger appliances, such as an oven or dryer, during the hottest hours of the day, as they can contribute to a buildup of heat in your home.

You might even save a few dollars by simply raising your thermostat by only a few degrees.

In Case of Emergency

If something happens to your HVAC unit and a repairman is not able to come out right away, you might consider using a temporary fan or spot cooler as to not suffer during the summer heat. These temporary solutions are valuable for homes with infants or elderly, whose health may be harmed by high temperatures. Temporary cooling solutions can cool a home until you have your unit fixed or replaced. It’s not a bad idea to have one on hand should you need it. You certainly don’t want to be caught unprepared for the heat.

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