Summer is here; this means that we will be relying on our AC system to keep our homes comfortable during the hot months to come. Many people deal with the summer months by simply cranking up their AC and leaving it to run. This is a poor approach to take because it overworks the equipment; it’s inefficient, and it will drive up your energy bills. In an ideal scenario, we want to get the best cooling performance, protect our AC equipment investment, and avoid breaking the bank to stay cool. In this article, we will look at ten steps that you can take to get the most out of your AC system this summer.
- Examine the Thermostat
The humble thermostat is underrated by many people, but it’s a good idea to think of this unit as the brain for your entire HVAC system. Any changes you make here will have a dramatic effect on the indoor comfort levels for the entire year. Some people set their thermostat and leave it alone for the entire summer, but this is a bad idea. Make a point of checking the thermostat every few days and adjusting as required to suit the current weather conditions. If you only have a single temperature setting available, it’s likely that you have an outdated thermostat model. Consider an upgrade to the latest smart thermostats, and you can track your home temperature remotely via your smartphone and make adjustments on the fly. This is a great way to stay on top of your temperature needs and save money at the same time.
- Evaluate Your Ductwork
Take some time to evaluate the condition of your ductwork to see if it’s ready for the summer months. Look for any signs of cracks, holes, and general wear and tear on the surface of exposed ductwork. Air leaks make your HVAC system less efficient because treated air escapes and the system will work harder to compensate. Seal up any cracks or holes that you find with sealant and consider contacting an HVAC specialist. If you have older ductwork, it’s usually cheaper to simply replace the system entirely.
- Examine Air Vents
Check the air vents in your home; they may be located on the floors, in the ceiling, or along the walls. Vacuum them to clear any dust and debris and ensure that they are clear and slightly open. Blocking air vents with furniture, wall hangings, and other items will reduce the efficiency of your AC system. It is tempting to shut-off air vents in rooms that are not in use to save money, but the opposite is true. Reducing the air flow in your home can overwork your equipment and drive up your energy bills. If you want less cooling in unoccupied areas, it’s a better idea to invest in a system with zoning.
- Check the Drain Line
The drain line is typically mounted somewhere near the air conditioning unit. There should be a piece of clear PVC or a short length of drain pipe running from the AC unit into a pan and then the drain. This area is prone to clogging because dust and other materials in the air can be trapped in the condensate, and this blocks the drain pipe. Check the drain line for any signs of kinks, cracks, and holes and give it a flush to make sure it’s clean.
- Changing the Filter
The filter in your AC system should be changed every three months. The best way to remember is to change the filter at the start of each season and set a reminder. If your filter has not been changed in a while or you cannot remember when you last changed it, it’s good idea to change it now. This will optimize the airflow to make the treated air distribution more effective and protect your equipment from overheating.
- Examine the Circuits
Most of us are not electrical contractors, so it’s important to be safe and avoid dealing with electrical systems if your not sure what you’re doing. Always turn off the power before you take a look at anything powered with electricity, and you can avoid a shock that could be fatal. Look at every electrical connections; make sure it’s tight and take note of any evidence of scorching that could indicate a short. If you find something that looks wrong, contact your local HVAC specialist for expert help.
- Inspect the Outdoors Unit
Over the course of the winter, many people stack garden furniture and other items around their exterior AC unit. This area needs to be kept clear so that the system can draw fresh air into your home and efficiently remove the heat. Cut back any vines and tree branches and clear away any other debris in and around the unit. If you have any panels that protect the internal components missing, contact an HVAC specialist to check the unit out before you use it.
- Examine the Coolant Lines
Make a general inspection of the coolant lines and check for any signs of cracking or leaks. A lack of refrigerant can impede the removal of heat, making your AC system inefficient. If you do notice a problem, do not attempt to “top-off” the refrigerant yourself. The coolant lines must be repaired, and the system must be recharged professionally to ensure that everything is working as intended.
- Check Over the Wiring
Never touch a live wire. Shut-off the power, and take a look at the wiring for signs of burning, scorching or other damage. If you locate anything that looks wrong or you can smell a burning odor, contact your HVAC specialist for expert help.
- Is the AC Turned On?
This may seem strange, but you may be surprised to learn that HVAC specialists are often called out to fix an AC unit, and it hasn’t been turned on!
If you’re not sure about working on your HVAC system, it’s a great idea to call a local specialist. All of the above steps are covered as part of an annual tune-up to get your AC system ready for summer.