Avoid unwelcome summer breakdowns

By Abby Berry

Ah, summer. Cookouts, swimming pools, camping—it’s the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. When coming back indoors, there’s nothing better than that cool blast you feel from your home’s air conditioning unit.

Your heating, ventilating and air conditioning system is essential to keeping your home comfortable during summer months. If it breaks down, it’s also the most expensive equipment to repair or replace. Luckily, you can take simple steps to lengthen the life of your HVAC system.

  • Change or clean filters. Dirty filters block airflow, which can greatly decrease the efficiency of your system. The Department of Energy recommends changing or cleaning filters every month or two during the cooling season. If your unit is in constant use or is subjected to dusty conditions or pet hair, check filters more frequently.
  • Clean the HVAC unit. Outdoor condenser coils can become clogged with pollen, dirt and small debris. Use a hose to spray the HVAC unit once each season to ensure maximum airflow. Warning: Do not use a pressure washer, which can damage equipment.
  • Clear space around the HVAC unit. Dryer vents, falling leaves and grass left behind from the lawnmower can create buildup. Remove any debris around the HVAC unit. If you have foliage near the unit, trim it back at least 2 feet around the condenser to increase airflow.

You should have your HVAC system periodically inspected by a licensed professional. The frequency of inspections depends on the age of your unit, but the U.S. Department of Energy recommends scheduling tuneups during the spring and fall, when contractors aren’t as busy.

When HVAC equipment fails, it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable—especially during the dog days of summer.

Your HVAC system runs best when it’s regularly cleaned and serviced. With a little maintenance along the way, you can add years to your system’s lifespan.