The heat is getting ready to start pounding us. How will your house hold up?
Here's a look at what can take a beating, and one thing that surprisingly won't...
With hot weather in the forecast we need to take a look around the house and see what works well when it gets hot and what won't.
I've broken the house into three areas, your hvac system, your plumbing, and your electrical system. Let's look at each one and how they handle this hot weather…
Your HVAC system:
Obviously the hot weather makes your air conditioner run more, but is that necessarily bad for it? Consider this - is running your car at 80 mph harder on your engine than running it at 55 mph?
It all comes down to a question of maintenance.
If you have taken the time (and spent the money) to keep your system tuned up, then you should be reaping the benefits of that right now.
- Note - I mentioned money. I am talking about $175 per year per system. A small price to pay for hvac maintenance.
This is the kind of weather that your air conditioner was made for and you are in essence taking it out on the freeway and opening it up.
(Remember though - a typical, well adjusted system is only designed to cool your house to 15 degrees of the outside temperature.)
If you have been neglecting the annual a/c check-up and tune up, you are paying the price both in inefficient operation and quite possibly a shortened life span.
Good news - it's not too late to get your system tuned and ready for the hot weather that is still to come. Get on it!
One other quick note - your a/c can pull out as much as 5 gallons of water out of your home's air each day during the summer. Make sure all the condensate lines on your system are free of algae and are draining properly.
Your Electrical system:
During this hot weather your home's a/c system is working harder (and even harder still with an inefficient unit) to keep your home cool. Thus, it is placing more demand on your electrical system.
If you have any weak links in your electrical, now is the time they will be exposed.
Possible weak links include faulty circuit breakers, main circuit breakers, and breaker/fuse panels.
Connections become loose due to expansion and contraction of wires as they heat up and cool down. If you are noticing flickering or dimming lights, this could be the cause.
Like your air conditioning system, a whole house electrical examination is also recommended this time of year (every year).
This is also a bad time for experiencing voltage fluctuations due to high demands placed on the power grid. Couple that with pop-up thunderstorms which and you have all the fixings for major power surges.
A power surge can wipe out everything you have plugged in at your house in a flash. (Think everything from 50' HDTV to your air conditioner - how bad would losing your air conditioning AND your HDTV in one fell swoop be…)
Even if you think you are protected with a power-surge power-strip you are vulnerable.
A whole house surge protector installed by a professional electrician is your only safe haven here. They are relatively inexpensive and a must-have for summers in the south.
Most of your plumbing goes through the summer unaffected by Mother Nature's heat. In fact, some of it runs better.
Yes - since the water entering your house runs through pipes in the ground, the hot, hot ground, your water heater receives warmer water than it does in the winter.
Warmer water in, means your water heater doesn't have to work as hard to heat the water, which means it works less, which is actually kind of nice.
There are a couple of things to watch out for in the summer with your plumbing.
One, go easy tugging on your hoses outside. Too much abuse can loosen the outdoor faucet anchors which will cause leaking behind them and into the wall of your home.
The other is beware of water puddles down by your water heater. These puddles don't necessarily mean a leaky water heater. Often, this time of year, you are seeing condensation from your hvac system dripping.
Since the two units are usually located nearby to each other, the water heater gets blamed for the a/c's puddle.