Common Summer Household Problems and What to Do About Them
Summer has arrived, and even though you’re probably spending more time outside, it doesn’t mean your home will be problem-free. Summertime can present its own set of issues that you’re likely to face as a homeowner, when the temperatures rise and summer storms come rolling through. Here are some things to look out for, and a few tips on what to do if you’re faced with the issues.
Part of that increased time outside is often BBQ-focused. After all, it’s the season for cookouts and sharing good food with great people while soaking up that Rocky Mountain sunshine. If you find yourself frequently the host of these food-centric gatherings, you may want to keep a close eye on your home’s garbage disposal and kitchen drain. If more food scraps than normal are making their way down the disposal, your chances of a clog or malfunction increase significantly. The best way to avoid this gunky, gross mess is to limit what you’re placing in the disposal. Consider composting if that’s feasible for your home. Routine drain treatment with a non-harsh drain product is another good way to keep the worst from happening.
Sometimes your air conditioning just isn’t doing the job. There can be a number of reasons for this, but first things first, it’s important to identify how your system is falling short. Is it blowing air that’s less than cool throughout your home? Is the volume of air coming from the registers less than it should be? Or is it keeping some spots perfectly cooled while others are still uncomfortably hot? Let’s take a closer look at some of the more common issues that a homeowner might face, and how to proceed if they become a concern.
Not Performing As Expected
If your central AC performance in general drops off (and as a result your cooling bills begin to rise), there are a number of things that a savvy homeowner can check first, before calling the service company. First, make sure that the filter in the furnace or air handler for the system is not clogged or in need of replacement. If you don’t know how to do this, call your HVAC contractor for advise. Keep in mind that in most cases, replacing the filter once per season is not often enough. This can be crucial, and ignoring this simple routine task could end up costing you!
You can also take a look at the AC condensing unit that sits outside on the ground, and is connected to the indoor part of the system with refrigerant piping. Make sure the aluminum fins that surround the outdoor unit are not clogged with dust or other debris such as leaves (think cottonwoods!). If it needs cleaning, turning off power to the system and hosing down the aluminum fins will help the system keep running at peak efficiency. If you are not sure how to perform this procedure, call your HVAC service company first to discuss what you see and how the system is acting, to determine if a service visit makes more sense. [Worth noting for evaporative cooler owners, the same debris that gets pulled into the AC condensing coil can get stuck in your cooler pads.]
Remember, your AC system contains refrigerant and requires special tools and training in order to properly and safely diagnose and repair it. If the simple checks above, along with making sure the thermostat is set properly and the system is turned on don’t do the trick, call your service company sooner than later.
Unbalanced cooling is another issue entirely, and is often the fault of a central ducting system that does not supply balanced airflow to the different levels and rooms in the home. In some cases, this can be significantly improved by upgrading to a two-stage or modulating furnace and central AC system, which provide longer system run times at lower output levels, allowing areas around the house a better chance to equalize temperatures. Attempts can also be made to improve the return-air ducting from the problem areas, but this approach often yields limited results.
The Ductless Option
A great option to consider for solving uneven cooling (or heating) around your home is the addition of a ductless AC or heat pump system to supplement an existing central system – or even provide a comfort system where one never existed before. Ductless air conditioners and heat pumps allow you to accurately and quietly dial in the comfort level in any room they’re installed. If you’ve read some of our previous cooling blogs, it comes as no surprise to hear that we’re big ‘ductless fans.’
Other Plumbing Issues To Keep In Mind
Along with making sure your kitchen drains and disposal are kept functioning and happy, keep a close eye on your sump pump as those summer monsoon rains coming rolling thru. Make sure it’s working as expected, and if not, call your local plumbing pro for assistance before it becomes a messy, wet issue.
In addition, keep an eye on the water pressure coming from your faucets and hoses as we finish making the transition to summertime. Remember, household water pressure that’s too high can wreck havoc with a wide variety of costly home appliances.
Lastly, if it’s outdoors and carries water or gas, and you’re concerned about possible leaks – call your trusted plumber today.
Look out for Lightning!
Though they may not last long around here, summer thunderstorms are still a very real danger and lightning strikes can cause some serious damage to your home, your electronic gadgets, and also your HVAC systems. Making sure you stay safe, even in the face of the fiercest afternoon storm, requires a little forethought.
The truth is, lightning doesn’t have to strike directly to cause a surge that damages your AC and other electrical systems. If a strike hits a nearby power line, it can create a surge that travels through to your wall outlets and damage appliances that are plugged in at the time of the surge. While your AC system is wired to its own circuit in your main breaker panel, it is not exempt from this risk. Turning off the system during a big storm may help protect it, but because it’s still ‘plugged in,’ the risk has not vanished. Turning off the unit at the outdoor disconnect switch (not a great option during a lightining storm!) and in the breaker panel provides another level of protection – which may or may not be adequate, depending on the circumstances.
If you want a more comprehensive solution to keep your AC and other appliances safe from a lightning-induced power surge, consider having a whole-house surge protector installed. Whole house surge protectors are wired to your electrical box and provide much greater protection for the electrical devices in your home.
Summer is great for getting outside, exploring all that the Rocky Mountains have to offer, and enjoying the weather we so missed this winter. As you prepare to relax and soak up the sunshine, remember to keep an eye peeled for special issues that are more likely to rear their heads this time of year, or for projects that make sense to do during warm weather. Addressing them now can go a long way toward keeping your home happy and comfortable all year round. In the Denver-Boulder area, Save Home Heat Company is ready to help you with any heating, cooling, plumbing, or electrical projects that land on your to-do list.