Taking care of your home’s cooling system should be thought of as an investment. A well-maintained HVAC system is going to keep your family comfortable no matter what the weather is like outside, and you won’t have to worry about catastrophic breakdowns during the hottest months of the year. Here is a quick look at five tips and tricks that you can use to improve the efficiency of your cooling system and prevent unnecessary damage.
1- Clean or Replace All Air Filters
The lifespan of an air filter depends on many different factors including how often you use the HVAC system, the age of the system, and the local air quality. As a general rule, you should plan on replacing your filters at least once every two or three months. During the hottest and coldest months of the year when you are using your HVAC system every day, you might need to change the filters as often as once a month. A sudden spike in your energy bills could be a sign that your air filters are clogged or damaged. Most air filters can easily be replaced in just a few minutes with absolutely no tools.
2- Clean Around the Condenser
Working on the interior of your condenser should be left to the pros, but you can easily clean around the outside on your own. Two or three times a year, you need to clear away any bushes, branches, or leaves that are within a few feet of the condenser. While you are cleaning the area, you should double-check above the condenser to make sure that nothing will fall into the fan. Crumbling roof shingles, tree branches, and old satellite dishes could destroy your condenser’s fan in a matter of moments. Once the debris is gone, you can then spray down the outside of the condenser with a hose.
3- Open the Vents and Inspect the Ducts
Many homeowners are surprised to hear that completely closing vents can actually increase their energy bills. HVAC systems are designed to push out a specific amount of air at any given time, and closing the vents will increase the air pressure inside the ducts. As a result, the air conditioner’s blower must work much harder. Increasing the pressure inside the air ducts will also result in more leakage throughout the system. After the weather starts to warm up, you should go through your home and open all of the vents. You can also check just inside the ducts for any potential issues such as piles of dust or debris from pests.
4- Test the Thermostat
Most modern thermostats are designed to last for well over a decade, but those electronic devices can still become damaged at any time. Well before the first heat wave of the year, you should turn your thermostat on and let the system blow out any lingering dust. You can also use an external thermometer to see if the thermostat is relatively accurate. If your thermostat is more than a decade or two old, then you should consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. In addition to being much easier to use, one of those devices can also save you a tremendous amount of money. A smart thermostat can be controlled from anywhere as long as you have your smartphone on you. That means you will be able to turn the system on just before you get home instead of leaving it on all day.
5- Call for Professional Maintenance
There are some maintenance tasks that need to be left to the professionals, and that is why you should schedule service calls at least twice a year. An experienced HVAC contractor can thoroughly clean the condenser coils, inspect the system for damage, and add fluids as necessary. They will also use specialty equipment to test how hot the system runs. Cooling systems that are nearing the end of their service life tend to run much hotter. Depending on what company made your cooling system, you might have to schedule regular service calls if you want to keep the warranty active.