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The dog days of summer are here. That often means hot, humid weather and the ever-present threat of extreme weather. How is your home holding up? A mid-season checkup will help ensure that your home is operating as efficiently as possible. It also presents a great opportunity to improve the comfort of your family and other occupants.

Cooling system maintenance

Annual cleaning and inspections are important, but ongoing preventive maintenance is necessary to keep your system operating at peak efficiency.

  • Keep filters clean. Check air filters regularly and replace according to manufacturer's guidelines.
  • Strike the right balance. Adjust dampers and vents to make sure the system is balanced properly.
  • Confirm compressor performance. Check for unusual compressor operation, including continuous running or frequent stopping and starting.
  • Look for leaks. Check for and repair refrigerant and oil leaks around equipment seals, pipe joints, valves and other instrumentation. Examine refrigerant levels and adjust if necessary.

It's also important to lend an ear. Follow up on comfort complaints from your family. It could be a sign of trouble with your cooling or air-handling system. Take the time to listen to the system operate for a few minutes and determine the cause of any unusual sounds.

Finding hidden energy costs

Look beyond your air conditioning system and you may find undetected sources of energy waste that are adding to your summer energy bills.

  • Controls out of control. Poorly tuned thermostats, sensors and other controls can waste energy. Check control settings and adjust to current space conditioning needs and occupancy schedules.
  • Heat gain. Solar heat gain through windows can make your air conditioning system work harder to keep things comfortable. Inspect window treatments to make sure they're being used correctly to block out solar heat gain, especially in areas with limited occupancy.
  • Air leaks. Air leaks through windows and exterior doors waste energy and decrease comfort. Check for leaks and seal them with caulk or weatherstripping.

Storm readiness

Summer storms can hit at any time. Preparation should begin before storm season hits, but it shouldn't end there. Stay prepared by taking these actions:

  • Update your emergency plan. Check your emergency action plan. Make sure that contact information for local first responders are accurate and up to date.
  • Refresh your preparedness kit. Supplies should include water bottles, non-perishable food, blankets, first-aid supplies, flashlights and radio, if appropriate. Ensure that your kit is fully-supplied and operational.
  • Maintain your grounds. Make sure the grounds around your home are free of heavy debris that could cause damage during high winds, and trim trees to prevent limbs from falling on buildings.
  • Test your backup power. Inspect and test-run backup generators to ensure that they are operating correctly. This should be done regularly according to manufacturer's guidelines.

With these measures, your facility will be ready no matter what the rest of the season brings.