Theme parks, beach days, and barbecues — who doesn’t love summer? For many people, it’s the most beautiful time of the year. Of course, nothing can kill the summer vibes faster than a broken air conditioner. When temperatures are skyrocketing, the last thing you need is a faulty HVAC system. Thankfully, there are steps you can take now to ensure your system runs as efficiently and effectively as possible this summer.
Preventative maintenance can often keep the need for repairs at bay. A little effort now can pay off in spades. Of course, the reverse is true, too; fail to do your due diligence, and your system may break down when you least expect it. Take excellent care of your HVAC system throughout the year with these tips to ensure you have a comfortable, cool space to come home to after a fun day in the sun!
Clean or Replace Air Filters
Air filters keep debris and dust out of your HVAC system. It’s incredible how much can build up over a short period of time. Unfortunately, our air filters are often out of sight and out of mind. That doesn’t jive with the recommendations of most HVAC manufacturers. It’s a good idea to change these filters at least every 90 days. If you can’t remember when you last swapped out your air filters, you’re likely overdue.
Thankfully, changing your air filters is a fairly painless chore. Start by locating the air filter on your unit. In some systems, they’re located in the return air duct. This is the duct that pulls air from your home back into the HVAC’s air handler system. If you have an oversized system with multiple return ducts and air handlers, locating the filters can be challenging. A quick Google search can often help you locate them faster.
To change your filter, turn off the power. Slide out the old filter and check its condition by holding it up to the light. If it’s covered in dust and dirt, you can attempt to clean it using a vacuum cleaner. You can also just swap it out for a new one. Insert the new filter, and you’ll be good to go for several months!
Clean Condenser Coils
Air conditioner coils also fall into that “out of sight, out of mind” category. The odds are good that you’ve never given yours a second thought. Unfortunately, your condenser coils can make or break your summer electric bill. As dirt and dust accumulate on the coils, your system will have to work harder to cool your space. To keep energy costs to a minimum, clean your condenser coils at least twice yearly.
To do so, turn off your HVAC system and shut off power to the condensing unit. Remove the outer case and caging, taking care to avoid the bolts that hold the fan to the lid. Use a small hand brush or broom to remove dust, dirt, leaves, or dead insects that have gotten inside. Then, use a hose to spray down the unit from the inside out. Be careful to avoid soaking the disconnect or electrical components.
Spray down the coils with an all-purpose cleaner and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse away the cleanser and then wipe down the unit with a soft cloth. Once your coils are clean, you can reassemble your air conditioner and reconnect to the power source.
Clear Debris from the HVAC Unit
Outdoor air conditioning units are exposed to the elements. Even without a ton of landscaping nearby, dirt and debris can quickly build up around your HVAC system. This can begin to impact efficiency. Removing the side panel of your unit can give you insight into whether debris has accumulated. Check this every few months and after big storms to ensure air can flow freely.
If you notice a lot of debris has built up within your HVAC system, consider covering it with a tarp or hail guard. Remember, this cover should only be used when the system is turned off. There are also leaf guards on the market to help filter out leaves and lawn clippings while the system is in use.
Program Your Thermostat
Thermostat technology has come a long way in recent years. Programmable thermostats are the ideal addition to any home. They allow you to save energy while ensuring your home is always comfortable. You can truly set and forget your thermostat for the entire summer season. This is especially important if you work at the office all day or plan on traveling a lot this summer. With a programmable thermostat, you can adjust your home’s temperature while you’re away for the day. It can help save you significant money and energy around the house.
To prepare for the warm summer months, try setting the maximum indoor temperature to 78 degrees. After that point, your air conditioner will kick on automatically to bring the indoor air back down to a reasonable temperature. While 78 degrees might seem high, this setting can keep your space comfortable and ensure a relatively low monthly energy bill.
Solicit Help from an HVAC Service
If the aforementioned tips seem a little outside of your wheelhouse, there’s zero shame in asking for help. Whether you’re intimidated by the DIY approach or just don’t have enough time in the day to maintain your HVAC system, calling in the professionals is definitely a good option. HVAC service professionals are incredibly efficient in their work. In a single appointment, they can resolve an issue that might take you weeks to fix. Their services are often more affordable than expected, too.
Don’t shrug off HVAC maintenance requirements. If you’re prone to procrastinate, just outsource these tasks to the professionals. If you fail to address these chores ahead of the summer months, you may find yourself in need of an emergency appointment. Don’t wait until the first heat wave of the season to check out your air conditioner. By taking a proactive approach, you can spot issues in advance and have them repaired well before the heat of summer really sets in.
Consulting with a professional will also let you know if you need to replace your air conditioner. If you do, that brings up technical questions like, “how many tons of AC do I need?” A professional can guide you through all the information necessary to make a wise investment and stay cool in the hottest months.
Lane Dixon has nearly 20 years of experience in the residential HVAC and home services industry, currently serving as the Vice President of Operations for Aire Serv Heating & Air Conditioning, a Neighborly company.
Lane specializes in operations and residential replacement sales. He has extensive public speaking experience, teaching and inspiring business owners to achieve greater levels of success in their companies and lives.
Lane earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Middle Tennessee State University and an MBA from Cumberland University.