It’s that time of year again. Here in the Triangle, Raleigh area homeowners can head to the beach early on Friday afternoons. Or if you are lucky enough to get a week or 2 worth of vacation, you can head to the beach or head to the mountains. Ah yes the beauty of the 2 sides of North Carolina. Of course if you live in Jacksonville or Wilmington you have the luxury feeling like you are on vacation most of the year.
But whether you are leaving the Crystal Coast or heading to it, check out the few things you need to do regarding your HVAC system to make sure its in good shape when you return. So go down your checklist; board the pets – check, ask the neighbors to get the mail – check, but before you turn off the lights, flush the toilet, and unplug appliances (not the fridge, oh the horror) take a few simple precautions before leaving on your trip to check on your air conditioner.
The last thing you want to do is return to a hot, sweltering home and a big contractor bill so use these 11 tips to check on your HVAC unit.
It’s one of the biggest consumers of energy, accounting for about 48% of energy use in the typical home in America, and likely even more in hot and humid areas like the Raleigh NC. Properly maintaining it during periods of dormancy such as vacation will help preserve the longevity of your unit and help you keep your energy costs down.
11 Pre-Vacation tips for your HVAC
1) Turn it down, don’t turn it off
Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t completely shut down your HVAC unit while you’re gone. HVAC units are designed for regular usage, and when they are inactive for long periods, important components can deteriorate and when you put your air conditioner back in use they could break down and then you’ll have to repair your air conditioner.
Also, with North Carolina humidity moisture can build up in your home when the Air Conditioner is shut off which can create a breeding ground for mold.
When preparing to leave your home for a vacation, turn your thermostat up by about five degrees. Your unit won’t run as often as it does when you’re there, and the need for a comfortable temperature is important. The HVAC unit will run enough to prevent moisture buildup and to provide sufficient activity for the system. The experts at Island Breeze HVAC suggest the ideal temperature is around 80 degrees when you aren’t there.
2) Change the air filters
Normally you want to change your air filters about once a month to prevent them from becoming clogged. However, while you are gone, your air conditioner unit won’t be running as much, so dirt and dust won’t have as much of an opportunity to build up on the filters.
If you pop in a new fresh air filter before you leave the HVAC unit with have the best protection from dirt and dust while you are gone. pop a fresh one in the unit before you leave to ensure the unit has the best possible protection from dirt and dust while you’re away.
If you are leaving for an extended period of time, such as several months, you may want to ask a friend or neighbor to change the filter a few times during your absence. Even call Island Breeze HVAC and we will do this type of HVAC maintenance for you!
3) Prepare for the worst weather
Living here we know Raleigh is prime for storms during the summer! Just be careful because these storms can cause damage to an HVAC unit. Down trees or limbs are the most likely problems you would have with damaging an HVAC unit. Before leaving on vacation, inspect the area around your unit to see if there are any limbs hanging over it. If there are, remove them. Also, clear the area of underbrush and other objects a storm could cause to collide with your unit.
4) Vacuum the House
Dust and other contaminants will accumulate while you’re gone and will circulate through your HVAC system. Reduce the amount of dust and allergens available to accumulate by giving your home a thorough vacuuming and cleaning before you leave for vacation.
5) Check the Air Conditioner Air Flow
A strong working HVAC is dependent upon good air flow. When the outdoor unit’s air intake is clogged, it has to work harder to perform, consuming more energy and putting more wear and tear on the device. Before you are set to leave, take a look at the intake on your air conditioning unit clear away any leaves, limbs, or grass clippings from it.
6) Close those Windows
It sounds simple, but making sure your windows are closed will ensure that the amount of hot air entering your Raleigh home will be decreased allowing the HVAC unit to run less often. It’s also common sense from a security point of view, you want to have belongings to come home to!
7) Close all your blinds and curtains
Along with closing your windows, by closing the curtains and blinds it will block any sunlight from entering your home thus reducing the heat inside your home. Make sure that there’s no direct sun shining on the thermostat. It will make the house seem warmer than it actually is, resulting in increased usage of your air conditioner.
8) Make sure the unit isn’t leaking
If the HVAC is leaking, you may have a larger problem and should call or schedule service with Island Breeze HVAC to come out and check before you leave on your vacation. You will want to get this resolved and an AC technician can quickly diagnose the problem and make a fix, averting the likelihood that the leak will result in the system failing. Replacing a system is much more expensive than fixing one, in most cases, so you’ll need to take care of this problem ASAP.
9) Open the Vents
Make sure the vents of your Raleigh area home are open to ensure that air flows throughout the system and your house. HVAC systems are designed to operate with maximum airflow, so opening the vents will allow the system to operate in optimal conditions while you are away.
10) Clean your system’s condenser coils
Your outdoor condenser coils are a vital part of your Air Conditioning Unit. Condenser coils take heat collected from your home and release it into the outdoor air. When condenser coils are dirty, they won’t function at peak efficiency.
You can easily clean your condenser coils with water and coil cleaner but, if you’re not comfortable with doing this, you can call us.
If you clean the coils yourself, be sure to turn off the power to the unit before beginning work.
Keeping your coils clean is one of the most helpful things you can do to reduce energy consumption. According to the Department of Energy, dirty coils can increase the amount of energy needed to run your unit by about 30 percent. Giving the coils a good cleaning before you leave can make sure dirt doesn’t accumulate and hinder the efficiency
11) Use a smart thermostat
If you haven’t invested in a smart thermostat yet, you may want to do some more research into them. The Smart thermostats which are powered by a Wi-Fi signal, allow you to program your thermostat to run at certain times or maintain certain temperatures. You can even control it from your vacation by your smart phone!
These are great for people who own multiple properties, because they can adjust those other properties’ remotely which will help reduce energy if no one is there.
For vacationers, a smart thermostat can ensure that they don’t return to an uncomfortably hot home by adjusting the temperatures from their phone and turning the AC on so by the time you return home your house is comfy and cool again!
Giving these steps a quick once over may help you avoid any untimely bills upon your return. If you need any help in Raleigh, Wilmington, Jacksonville or any of the surrounding areas or just have questions at all, don’t hesitate to contact one of the experience technicians at Island Breeze HVAC.