Prepare Your Home and HVAC System For Warmer Days
Correcting any issues in the HVAC system well in advance of the arrival of warm weather can help ensure comfort when air conditioning is needed.
The arrival of a new season can be an exciting time. Homeowners may have renewed vigor to start home renovations projects, or even tackle some cleaning and organization tasks.
It won’t be long now. The cold winter winds will give way to warm spring breezes, you’ll need to switch your HVAC system to cooling mode.
For the best indoor air quality this summer, give your home through a good spring cleaning before you switch your HVAC to cooling mode by following this brief guide:
Wipe Walls and Ceilings: Use a vacuum with HEPA filter to remove dust. Tackle stubborn surface grime, especially prevalent in kitchens, with a solvent-free degreaser (test it first in an inconspicuous area to ensure it won’t mar the surface).
Reseal Grout Lines: The cement-based material between wall, floor, and countertop tiles is extremely porous and stains easily. Protect it with a penetrating grout sealer; it’s best to apply it with a small foam brush.
Vacuum and Shampoo Rugs: Synthetic carpets and rugs with waterproof backings can be deep-cleaned with a rotary shampoo machine and a hot-water extraction machine. Rugs without backings, including Orientals, require professional cleaning.
Dust Books and Shelves: Take everything off the Shelves, and brush shelves and books with a feather duster. Use the dust-brush or crevice tool on a vacuum to reach into tight spots. Wipe the spines of leather-bound books with a clean, soft cloth.
Clean Upholstered Furnishings: Take cushions outside and gently beat them by hand to remove dust. If there are stains, check the pieces for care labels. Use a vacuum’s upholstery and crevice tools to clean under seat cushions.
Polish Metal Door and Window Hardware: Liquid polishes and polish-impregnated cloths work well for medium-tarnished surfaces; pastes and creams are for heavier work. If tarnish doesn’t come off, try a stronger product.
Dust Your Home Thoroughly: This includes hard-to-reach places, such as the tops of ceiling fans and window casings. Always work from the top of a room down, vacuuming the dust that settles on the floor. Avoid using dusting sprays.
Wax Wooden Furniture: Wipe surfaces with a soft cloth dampened with water and mild dishwashing liquid. Apply paste wax, such as Butcher’s wax, a few feet at a time with a cotton rag folded into a square pad. Let wax dry; buff with a clean cloth.
Ensure Fire Safety: Change batteries in smoke detectors (this should be done twice a year), and make sure units are free of dust. Teach everyone in your household how to use a fire extinguisher, and review escape plans.
Wash Window Screens: Using warm water and a mild dishwashing liquid, scrub each screen with a brush; rinse thoroughly.
Clean Window Treatments: Many draperies and curtains are machine washable; check labels. Dry-clean fabric shades. Wipe wooden blinds with a damp cloth; warm water mixed with a mild dishwashing liquid is safe for metal and vinyl blinds.
Wax Non-Wood Floors: Vinyl and linoleum floors that have lost their shine should be waxed with a polish designed for these surfaces. Most stone and tile floors can be treated with either a paste or a liquid wax designed for the material.
Preparing Your HVAC System to Keep You Cool This Summer
Your HVAC system has worked hard all winter, keeping you and your home warm. And after several months of non-stop running, it’s probably developed a little dust and debris of its own. This is exactly why you should take a little time to make sure it’s ready to run at maximum performance once the hot, humid days of summer roll in.
Before the weather starts to warm up too much, you may want to evaluate your home cooling needs and ensure that all equipment is in good working order.
Spring air conditioning inspections and tuneups are essential steps in system performance. Don’t take for granted that a system that performed optimally last year will do so this year when temperatures climb.
Various factors, including weather damage, dust and grime, mechanical wear and tear, and even rodent or insect infestations, can compromise HVAC systems.
Since HVAC systems have so many moving parts, a thorough inspections of such systems can save you headaches and money down the road.
Extreme weather conditions that come along with fall and winter can be especially taxing on homes and the systems that keep them comfortable. During a spring visit, an HVAC technician will perform maintenance on the air conditioner and make sure it is ready for the heat of summertime. This maintenance may include cleaning the unit, checking controls, calibrating the thermostat, lubricating moving parts, checking refrigerant levels, tightening electrical connections, and clearing any clogs.
You should also change the filter at the start of the cooling season. Chances are, you don’t swap filters each month (even though that’s recommended). But changing filters is one of the easiest ways to prevent damaged equipment. Make a note to inspect, clean, and replace air filters (if necessary) at the start of each season.
After all, your furnace has been running all winter and its filter has been trapping harmful pollutants like:
- Pet dander
HVAC Spring Maintenance Checklist
Keep your cool with simple A/C maintenance
- Clear leaves, brush and dirt from inside your air conditioner’s top grille.
- Trim nearby shrubs and bushes to allow at least two feet of clearance around the unit.
- Set the thermostat to cooling mode and run your air conditioner a few minutes to make sure it’s working.
- Schedule an annual checkup of your air conditioning system.
- Replace your air conditioner filter once a month. Dirty filters restrict air flow and can waste energy.
- If you use a room air conditioner, install it on a north-facing wall to keep it out of the sun.
- If it’s time to replace your air conditioner, now is the time!
Don’t let April showers bring May mildew
- Clear leaves, pine needles and other debris from gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage. Check that they’re stable to avoid flying debris during storms.
- Be sure downspouts slope away from your house. They should carry water at least 5′ from foundation walls.
- Position lawn sprinklers so they don’t spray your home’s walls.
- Examine window and door seals and weather-stripping. Reseal if needed.
- Move furniture a few inches away from the inside of exterior walls to increase air circulation.
- Check windows for condensation and walls for water stains, which are signs of too much humidity.
- Keep your home’s relative humidity between 30 – 50%.
Take control of home energy costs
- Reduce air leaks in your home by caulking, sealing and weather-stripping around doors and windows.
- Use exhaust fans to reduce moisture in the kitchen or bath, but turn them off when they’re no longer needed.
- Make sure your refrigerator’s seals are airtight. Test by closing the door over a dollar bill. If you can pull the dollar out easily, the seal may need to be adjusted.
- Wash only full loads in your dishwasher and clothes washer.
- Turn off lights you don’t need to save energy and reduce extra heat in your home.
- If it’s time to replace your air conditioner, choose an energy-efficient model with two-stage cooling. Two levels of operation allow you to rely on the low setting most of the time.
- Prepare dinner on your outdoor grill to help reduce your air conditioner’s load.
- Check ducts for air leaks, including holes or separated sections.
Correcting any issues in the HVAC system well in advance of the arrival of warm weather can help ensure comfort when air conditioning is needed. As an added advantage, you could also install programmable thermostats if you don’t already have them, to keep cooling as cost- and energy-efficient as possible.
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I hope this article provided you some practical information on getting your home and HVAC ready summer.
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