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With summer in full swing and historic heatwaves occurring across the nation, more than a few homeowners have likely cast some nervous glances towards their air conditioning units. Are they really ready to stand up to the heat and humidity as we approach the hottest summer months? For your own peace of mind — and to avoid sudden and unpleasant breakdowns that will leave you sweating — it might be time to make and run down a summer HVAC checklist.

What should you look out for, and what actions should you take to ensure that your air conditioning hardware is ready to help you beat the heat? Here are some helpful ideas for where to start.

 

Make Sure Your Outdoor Unit is Clean and Free of Yard Debris

The exterior unit of your air conditioner is where a large portion of the refrigeration cycle takes place, and your unit must be able to release the heat it absorbs from inside your home. It can’t do that effectively if the outdoor unit is covered up with yard clippings, dirt, and branches. As the summer starts, do outdoor housekeeping around the unit to ensure it is ready for heavy-duty operation.

 

Change Your Filter and Stock Up On Fresh Replacements

Changing your air filter is one of the most common pieces of HVAC advice, and with good reason. Not only does it help keep allergens from circulating through your home, but it also protects the equipment inside your air conditioner. The start of summer is an excellent time to change your filter, which you should swap out every one to two months. Consider purchasing more than one replacement filter now so you can easily make changes as needed.

 

Test Your System by Turning the Thermostat Lower

Put your system through its paces by turning it on and trying to drop the home’s temperature by a few degrees. Do you feel cool air blowing from the vents? Does the temperature actually drop, or does the unit struggle? Testing your AC early on as part of your summer HVAC checklist ensures that you can easily spot signs of trouble when you aren’t relying on it to keep you cool during the day. It can also help you find the right temperature setting.

 

Clean Around Your Indoor Unit and Keep it Free From Dust

Just like you should keep your outdoor unit clean, the indoor air handler should be kept in a dust-free environment. Because it is often located near a return duct, dust and debris can accumulate in this area. If your air handler is behind a louvred door, you’ll often find a visible accumulation of dust. Make things easier on your filter and your unit by dusting this area frequently, especially at the start of summer.

 

Consider Whether You May Need Duct Cleaning

When was the last time you had your aircon’s ducts cleaned? Using special cleaning equipment such as negative pressure HEPA filtration and spinning cleaning brushes, HVAC contractors can scrub down your ductwork so it is practically as good as new. Although not necessary for adequate summer cooling, you may breathe easier if you know for sure no dust particles or mold spores are lingering in your ducts.

 

Request a Preventative Maintenance Inspection From a Trusted Contractor

Even if you didn’t spot any trouble signs during your initial AC test, it’s a good idea to bring in a contractor for a complete system tune-up. During this visit, the professional you select will engage in tasks such as:

  • Examining all the HVAC equipment for signs of damage or defect
  • Checking the refrigerant level in your system and topping it off if necessary
  • Locating and stopping refrigerant line leaks
  • Cleaning the interior portions of the unit in a safe and effective manner

Without this pre-summer checkup, you might find yourself with a broken AC when you least expect it.

 

Make Sure Your Home Has a Tight Indoor Air Seal

Finally, check for air leaks around windows and doors which can cause your system to work harder than it should. Improving the thermal qualities of your home will save on your monthly power bill while also making it easier for your unit to cool the space appropriately. Ask your contractor for help with this process if necessary.

 

Choosing a Contractor for Help With Your Summer HVAC Checklist Made Simple

A professional’s help may only be one item on the above summer HVAC checklist, but it is one of the most important. Not only can the right contractor help tune-up your system for the hottest weeks of the year, but they’ll be able to provide you with suggestions that can help you maximize your energy efficiency, too. Select a contractor based on their local reputation, their experience, and of course, their capability for working within your budget. By ticking off all these checklist items, you can enjoy a cooler summer with confidence.