The weather is a little warmer every day, and that means air conditioning season is practically here. Before it gets in full swing, do yourself and your AC system a favor and get your home ready.
You don't have to try anything mechanical, and it's better off if you leave that to your HVAC technician. There are plenty of other ways to prepare your home for summer, and here are 6 of them.
You probably know how insulation helps contain your heat in winter, but it can also help preserve air conditioning in the summer months. A good layer of insulation helps keep heat from infiltrating your home.
In Massachusetts, we need a minimum of R-37 in attics, R-19 in floors and R-13 in walls. If your insulation levels fall at or below those standards, adding more can help keep summer's heat outside. Think about insulation your ductwork, too. That keeps cooled air cooler as it travels from the air handler to the registers in your home. And that means less wasted energy.
Air leaks are the enemy of conditioned spaces. In winter, cold drafts filter in. And in summer, heat can do the same. Older houses can be worse than new, but any house is susceptible.
A little caulk can seal along baseboards, windows, and door trim, all of which are classic draft spots. For larger air leaks, such as openings around plumbing pipes, use a can of expanding spray foam insulation.
It's hard to imagine how something as inexpensive and easy as an air conditioning filter can make such a difference in the performance of your air conditioner. Check your filter every month and replace it when it's dirty. You'll probably only need to change it every 60 to 90 days. But better safe than sorry.
The filter is so important because it traps small particles and keeps them from entering you air conditioner. If it's clean, air passes through just fine. If it's dirty, your system starves for air the same as if it was suffocating. It's the least expensive thing that you can do for your air conditioner and it has the most dramatic effect.
Air conditioners typically have two units, one inside and one outside. The air handler is inside, and it's often found in a utility closet. But because air is drawn into the system, the closet might also have dust, pet hair and all sort of debris inside. Vacuum around the air handler to help it breathe better.
The AC condenser unit is outdoors. Keep weeds trimmed or pulled and mow the grass to help the system get plenty of airflow. If there are leaves or other debris around the unit, remove them. Use caution around the fins on the condenser unit. They're soft and flexible, which means they're easy to dent. If yours are already dented, your HVAC technician can probably repair them with a special straightening comb tool.
Maintenance is vital to a healthy air conditioning system. If you haven't called for your appointment yet, you should do so as soon as possible. The most important function of regular maintenance is spotting problems before they have a chance to grow. Your technician will clean inside the units, check wiring connections, replace the air filter, and look for issues that need further attention.
Putting off maintenance is like waiting to visit the dentist until you have a toothache. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And when it comes to your AC system, the difference could be an inexpensive checkup versus a full air conditioning system replacement because a problem was left unchecked.
The sun can undo the hard work of your air conditioning in no time. When heat from outdoors comes through the windows, the temperature inside goes up, the air conditioner switches on again, and the cycle repeats itself over and over. But there's no reason for it when you can cover the window with UV-blocking drapes or blinds.
You don't have to keep windows covered all day. Just block the glass when the sun shines straight through. And if you can't bear to cover your windows, look into low-emissivity glass. It's crystal clear, you'll never know it's there, but reflects UV rays away from the windows more effectively than the old fashioned high-mirror tint once did.
The key to anything is good preparation, and the key to a cool and comfortable summer is no different. The more you prepare your home for the coming months, the more you'll support the health of your AC system.
If you haven't called Rodenhiser for your seasonal maintenance yet, there's no better time than now. Contact us today and we'll ensure everything is in good working order so you can relax and enjoy the season.
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