Notice we didn’t ask if your air conditioner is ready for summer! That’s because your HVAC system is a lot more than just your air conditioning unit. It also encompasses your heating system, not to mention air filtration, ductwork, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, and even thermostats.
Even the newest, top-notch air conditioning unit can still leave you feeling uncomfortable this summer if other components of your HVAC system aren’t doing their jobs – or don’t exist at all!
These are some questions you can ask yourself as we prepare for the inevitable dog days. They’ll help you determine whether your HVAC is A-OK or could use some TLC.
Is Your Air Conditioner 10 Years Old Or More?
If you said “yes” then you could be in for an unpleasant surprise if it kicks the bucket unexpectedly. The problem with air conditioners of that age – manufactured before 2010, in fact – is that they use a coolant called R22, often commonly known by its brand name Freon.
And Freon is about to become illegal. By 2020 it will be phased out of use completely and you will no longer be able to repair an R22-using unit. If a hot summer catches you off guard, that could put you under a lot of pressure to invest in a new system on the spur of the moment.
Even if planning for 2020 isn’t your thing, you might still have trouble repairing your unit this summer. R22 is in significantly short supply. And that means even if you can get it, it’s going to cost you dearly.
So if your unit is past its due date, consider taking advantage of tax breaks (and even tax refunds!) and financing options to replace your unit before it becomes a problem.
Do You Live Near The Shore?
Let’s face it. If you live in New Jersey, you live near the shore – at least when it comes to humidity. And if you do happen to have a home near the water, you know exactly how that humidity can make everything in your home feel soggy at best. At worst, it can damage hardwood floors, furniture finishes, artwork, and even cause mold and mildew.
Humidity isn’t just bad for your home, either. It can adversely affect your health, too. Pollutants like dust, dander and odors cling to moisture in the air. So if you have allergies, asthma or some other respiratory illness, excess humidity can make you feel worse.
And then there’s the comfort factor. Humid air just feels worse. It makes you clammy and sticky, inhibits sleep, and makes even cool air feel warmer than it is. That means your air conditioner has to work overtime to help you feel cool, which is bad for its longevity and bad for energy bills.
Don’t keep turning the AC down to compensate. A whole house dehumidifier is a lot more effective and a whole lot less expensive to run. If you’re thinking of replacing your AC anyway, bundling it with a dehumidifier can be even more cost-effective.
Have You Had Your System Serviced?
We know, anything with the word “contract” sounds a bit scary. But if you don’t have a maintenance contract then you probably aren’t having your system serviced regularly. And that can lead to all sorts of problems.
For example, did you know that an air conditioner loses 5-15% of its efficiency each year if it’s not properly maintained? That means less cooling power and higher energy bills.
Without maintenance, you won’t be aware when parts are wearing down and need repair or replacement. That can lead to unexpected breakdowns, and yes, higher repair bills.
Failing to service your system means you’re probably not swapping out those filters regularly, either. You know you’re supposed to, but the to-do list is already about a mile long, and filters are typically out of sight and out of mind.
Dirty filters comes with a host of problems, from poor air quality, increased chance of illness, worse allergy symptoms and an air conditioner that has to work harder to get through all that gunk. And by now you probably know that if your AC is working harder, your wallet is, too.
The solution is simple. If you haven’t had your system professionally cleaned and maintained, start now. Better yet, instead of fearing the contract, understand it. A good HVAC contractor will be glad to explain how everything works so you can sign confidently.
Do You Suffer From Seasonal Allergies?
Trees, grass, pollen. All signs of the season – and the sniffles. You may stay indoors during peak allergy times but what you may not know is that your indoor air could be making you feel worse.
The problem could be dirty filters, dirty ducts, or just a modern, energy-efficient home. Newer homes are sealed well against the outdoors, which is great for maximizing energy use of your HVAC system, but not so great for your health.
When your home is sealed against the outdoors, the indoors is sealed against fresh, clean air. Allergens and pollutants stick around, getting recirculated room by room.
As anyone who lives with a tissue box wedged under their arm knows, you’d do just about anything for a peaceful day free of the itching, watering, running, sneezing torture.
Turns out you CAN do something. Start with the low hanging fruit and change those filters! Consider having your ducts cleaned if it’s been a while, if you have pets, or if you’ve recently done any home improvement projects. Then look into an air filtration system that can work in tandem with your HVAC system.
Whole house air purification systems are far better than those single-room ionizers and portable filters you may be familiar with. Not only do they tackle the air quality in your whole house and not just a single room, but they’re far more effective at getting rid of irritants.
A good brand can eliminate up to 99% of allergens, mold, and even bacteria and viruses from the air. Through a combination of filters, UV light right within your ductwork, and harmless hydrogen peroxide and water particles, pollutants and even surface germs are trapped and killed.
That means easier breathing and better health for everyone all summer (and all year!) long.
Have You Seen Your Condenser Lately?
Not just a glimpse from your living room window… have you actually been outside and seen your condenser wherever it’s sitting in your yard? More importantly, CAN you see it? All of it? Or is it surrounded by old fallen leaves, debris and whatever blew there from the last storm?
All that debris is preventing the unit from doing its job properly, so help it out by cleaning up the mess. In fact, avoid mulching or gardening around it. It may not be the prettiest sight during your back yard barbecues, but packing mulch around the base or blocking the coils with tall grasses and plants can restrict airflow and prevent proper transfer of heat.
Keep your system functioning properly for many summers to come by giving it a nice berth when it comes to landscaping.
The Time To Prepare Your HVAC System Is Now!
Don’t wait for the last second or the hottest day of summer when something finally gives. You’ll only end up suffering the heat and making repair-or-replace decisions under duress.
Plus, you’ll probably pay a premium for service and parts that are in high demand.
And if you suffer from allergies or the effects of high summer humidity, don’t go another season feeling uncomfortable and miserable when the solution is right in sight.
Whether you suspect there’s something wrong with your system, haven’t had it checked out in a while, want to breathe better air, or you’re simply thinking ahead to the inevitable R22 ban, you can start planning now by getting an estimate for a repair or replacement.
The only thing it will cost you is a few minutes of your time to have a contractor come out and look at your home and listen to your concerns. If you’re interested in a free estimate, contact us and we’ll schedule one at your earliest convenience to explore how we can keep you more comfortable this summer.