The arrival of spring heralds more than just warmer weather. It also brings with it an opportunity to ready your HVAC system for the summer ahead. With summer temperatures just on the horizon, it's a good idea to commit some of the following preparation tips into memory:
Check and Change the Air Filter
This is one of the simplest, yet most important tasks you can perform to ensure your HVAC system is ready for summer duty. Dirty air filters can easily cripple your cooling system's efficiency by restricting available airflow, which in turn causes the blower fan and other components to run harder and wear down faster.
Most experts recommend that you replace your unit's air filter on a monthly basis for the best efficiency and performance. Also, make sure your filter offers the correct minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating required for optimal filtration.
Inspect Ducts and Vents for Leakage and/or Damage
Did you know that as much as 30 percent of the air that moves through your home's ductwork could be lost due to cracks, gaps and tears? Checking the ducts responsible for delivering the conditioned air your HVAC system provides can help boost overall efficiency and lower your summertime utility bills.
In addition to inspecting the ducts, now is as good a time as any to clean them, too. Dust and debris accumulation throughout the ducts not only affects overall performance, but it can also trigger allergies and other respiratory ailments.
Check the Refrigerant Levels
Running your air conditioner or heat pump with low refrigerant levels not only reduces its cooling performance, but it can also damage the compressor and other components. Low refrigerant levels are also a leading cause of frost and ice formation on the evaporator coil, which also negatively impacts performance.
It's recommended that a trained professional measure, get more info, and, if necessary, recharge your HVAC system's refrigerant. Your contractor will also be able to detect and repair any leaks found while checking the refrigerant levels.
Clean the Evaporator and Condenser Coils
Air conditioners and heat pumps rely on the evaporator and condenser coils to move heat from inside your home to the outdoors. As dirt, debris and fungi find their way between the thin aluminum fins lining the coils, it blocks air from flowing between the coils. This prevents the coils from properly absorbing and dispelling heat, thus impacting the unit's performance.
Carefully cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils will help prevent dirt and fungus growth from accumulating throughout the summer months. Care should also be taken to keep the condensate drain pan and its drain line clear of any potential blockages.
An Ounce of Prevention
Preventative maintenance plays a crucial role in keeping your air conditioning system in top shape. Having your HVAC contractor check up on your system on a semi-annual basis can help catch minor issues before they snowball into bigger problems.
As a part of a service agreement, your contractor may perform many of the above tasks on your behalf, giving you greater peace of mind when it comes to your air conditioner or heat pump. Your HVAC contractor can also help you maintain critical components, such as your blower fan motor, compressor and thermostat.
Evaluating Your HVAC System's Longevity
If it's been over a decade since you've last replaced your air conditioning system, it might be time to consider a brand-new replacement. Today's air conditioners offer greater efficiency and performance than those produced during the previous decade. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that upgrading your HVAC system can reduce your cooling costs by as much as 40 percent.