How to keep your HVAC running smoothly during summer

How to keep your HVAC running smoothly during summer

Summer is here, and with it comes vacations from work, beach trips, 4th of July parties, and lots of fun. What is there not to like about summer? Just one thing–the heat. Here in Middle Tennessee, our summers get hot and stay hot. With high temps in the 90s and lows in the 70s, there just doesn’t seem to be a break.

Being outside in the heat is one thing, but having that kind of heat inside your house can be unbearable. This is why we rely so heavily on our HVAC systems for cooling our homes in the summer. If an AC unit is broken or working at half efficiency, you’ll end up with a greenhouse for a home, or you’ll need to pay massive energy bills. How do you prevent this? It’s simple–maintain your HVAC system throughout the summer so that it runs smoothly.

Let’s look at some ways you can do this.

Insulate and Seal Your Home

Firstly, one of the most important things you can do to keep your home cool in the summer is to insulate and seal your house. Keeping hot air out and cold air in your home will mean less strain on your HVAC system and a more comfortable living environment.

To do this, start by keeping all windows and doors closed during the summer months. If you see sunlight coming through cracks in doors and windows, apply a weatherstrip or caulking to seal those up. Even a tiny gap underneath a door will allow a significant amount of cold air in the room to escape.

Additionally, if a particular area of your house gets ridiculously hot during the summer or freezing in winter, check to see if it is adequately insulated. If not, consider installing insulation or hiring a pro to do so.

Change Air Filters

All HVAC units rely on air filters to purify the air before cooling your home. If these filters become dirty, clogged with pet fur, or stained with smoke, your HVAC unit will have to work twice as hard to pump in the cool air into your house. While the system might be working all right with a dirty filter, the dirt will cause a blockage of airflow, meaning you’ll either notice your home is warmer than usual or your utility bills are higher than average.

Preventing this is easy. Simply replace disposable air filters once a month, and try to find varieties made from thinner fabric, which will help increase airflow. Permanent filters should also be cleaned every month.

Clean Around the Unit

As with the air filters, another essential maintenance tip for keeping your HVAC unit running efficiently in the summer is to ensure the outside of it is clean.

Check the unit outside, and if you see any debris, dirt, leaves, branches, or weeds around it, pick them up. You don’t want anything touching the unit, but it is equally as important not to have anything within a two-foot radius of it. If there are plants or trees close to the unit, you’ll end up having to clean it often but preventing debris from getting to it will mean less work for you in the long run.

Clean All Vents

We have another cleaning tip for you. As any blockages at all will cause your AC unit to work less efficiently, the final places you should clean are all the vents in your home. Examine each vent, and using a vacuum cleaner, duster, or wet rag, clean off the vents. Also, make sure no furniture is blocking the vents.

For a deep clean, you can hire a professional to come out and clean your duct system and vents. This should be done every few years. By keeping the vents clean, your HVAC won’t have to work as hard to pump in all that cool air.

Use Window Treatments

In the blazing heat of summer, the sun is not your home’s friend. If your house has a lot of windows, the vast majority of the heat coming into your house will be through them, thanks to the sun. If you want your HVAC to run smoothly and your energy bills to be lower, it is vital to use window treatments to block out the heat.

You can use black-out curtains and drapes or install blinds. Just make sure to close them when the sun is facing those windows, and preferably always in the afternoon. If you do this, you will notice a significant change in the temperature of your house because your air conditioning unit isn’t having to fight the sun.

Turn on Fans

Another way to help your HVAC system and make your home even more comfortable is to utilize the power of fans. If you have ceiling fans, turn them on and ensure the blades are rotating clockwise, which will force air downwards and prevent hot air from rising into the next levels of your house.

You can also use tabletop or floor fans to circulate air, which will help your AC unit out and cool you directly. Likewise, window fans can be used at night when the air is slightly cooler–just make sure to take them out and close the windows and drapes during the day.

Reduce the Use of Heat-Creating Appliances

As with most of these tips, keeping your HVAC unit running efficiently is all about prevention. If you can prevent excess heat from being created or coming in, you will have a happier AC unit and a more pleasant living environment.

One additional way to prevent excess heat is to reduce the use of heat-creating appliances. Instead of using an oven, consider cooking with an outdoor grill. Rather than using a clothes dryer, try hanging your clothes on a line outside. If you must use these appliances, run them less frequently than usual and only during cooler hours of the day.

Install a Smart Thermostat

Running an AC unit at peak capacity all the time can cause it to become overworked and less powerful and will result in high energy bills. For this reason, if you want your home to be comfortably cooled by the HVAC system when you need it, consider installing a smart thermostat.

When you leave your home, whether for work for a day or a week-long vacation, set the thermostat several degrees higher. A smart thermostat can be set to automatically cool down your home before you arrive, so you never have to worry about coming home to a hot house or remembering to turn down the thermostat.

Schedule Regular Professional Maintenance

Finally, to keep your HVAC working at peak performance, you need to perform regular maintenance. Hiring a professional HVAC team to do this is the best way to guarantee all parts of the machine are working properly. If you are in the Middle Tennessee area and are interested in ensuring your unit will run smoothly this summer, get in touch with the pros at TMC.