Preparing Your HVAC System For Vacation

You have scheduled a house sitter, boarded the dogs, put the mail on hold, and packed your bags. You might think you are ready to go; but are you? If you have not done anything to prepare your HVAC system, then you are not quite ready to go. What should you do with your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system when you go on vacation?

Should you turn off your HVAC when you go on a vacation or trip? Is there are particular temperature that you should set your thermostat to when away?

Let’s look at the ways you can prep your HVAC system before a vacation, so you can truly relax while you’re away.


Vacation Preparation Tips

We all need a getaway now and then. Make yours more enjoyable by following these ways to prep your HVAC system before a vacation.


  • Schedule an HVAC Tune-Up Before You Leave

An important aspect of HVAC maintenance that many homeowners overlook is a biannual tune-up. Typically recommended right before the cooling and heating seasons, professional preventative maintenance ensures your system is working properly while preparing it to run efficiently for the change in weather. Having one of our skilled HVAC technicians perform a thorough maintenance check is beneficial before you leave on vacation. Tightening connections, changing the air filter, and cleaning the blower fan is just a sampling of the tasks a technician completes during a maintenance check.

Other tasks completed during a maintenance check include:

  • Cleaning and calibrating thermostat
  • Inspect wiring for damage
  • Inspect ventilation system
  • Inspect belts for damage
  • Flush condensate drain line
  • Lubricate moving components


  • Set Your Thermostat

If you have pets or plants staying in the home when you are away, you will want to keep your thermostat settings similar to those of your normal routine. If your home will be empty while you are gone, you can significantly adjust the temperature to save money and energy. Keep in mind, though, that turning the system completely off while you are away does not increase efficiency and will cause the HVAC system to use large amounts of energy when you get home.

HVAC systems work best when they run routinely and maintain the desired temperature in your home. When turned off, the house becomes either very cold in the winter or too hot in the summer. Once turned back on, it must expend a lot of energy to get the temperature where it belongs.

Set the thermostat about four degrees higher than usual in the warm months when going away, and four degrees lower during cold months.

There are many factors to consider when deciding what temperature to set your home on while you are away on vacation. Here are a few questions to evaluate before making your decision:

1.     Will pets be home while you are away?

2.     Will you have a house sitter?

3.     Do you have indoor plants?

4.     What are the humidity levels for your area?

A smart thermostat can adjust your home’s heating and cooling temperature settings for optimal performance. This thermostat can be adjusted from your phone while you are on vacation and may be a smart investment before your trip. Additionally, you can turn on your cool temperatures before arriving home.


  • Check and Change Your Air Filter

One of the most important things you can do to prepare your AC for vacation is to change the air filter. A clean air filter will help your system run more efficiently and prevent it from overworking while you’re gone. It’s also a good idea to leave the HVAC system on while you’re away. This will help keep your home at a comfortable temperature and prevent mold and mildew from growing.

Before you head out of town, make sure your HVAC system is equipped with a fresh, clean filter. Otherwise, it might clog up with dirt and debris before you return home. The air filter catches contaminants that you do not want circulating throughout your house. Changing it every one to three months protects you against allergens, pollutants, and other irritants.


  • Check and Clean All the Vents

Before leaving for vacation, open all of the vents in your home. This includes the adjustable ones on your floors, walls, and ceilings. Another way to prepare an HVAC system is to This allows all of your rooms to receive warm or cool air in a balanced way. You should never close the vents in an unused room, whether you are going on a trip or not. This stresses and damages the system because those blocked outlets force pressure to build up and push against the ductwork, causing leaks. Blocked air vents also decrease efficiency and cause your utility bill to rise and your system to work harder.

If you notice a lot of dust and dirt accumulating on your air vents, your air ducts may need cleaning. Including this check as a regular part of your vacation planning is a great way to preemptively alleviate more serious air quality issues. One of our HVAC technicians can inspect your ductwork to determine whether professional cleaning is necessary. Dust, pet hair and dirt inside your air ducts can blow through your vents when your HVAC kicks on. Duct cleaning collects and removes this debris, leaving you with a better quality of indoor air. Family members with respiratory issues are certainly likely to notice the difference.


  • Close the Windows, Blinds and Curtains

This may seem obvious, but it is easy to forget during the hustle and bustle of getting ready to leave for a trip. Closing the windows keeps the inside air in and the outside air out, and locking the windows keeps the home secure and adds another layer of protection to prevent air from escaping. In addition, closing your curtains and blinds can help keep the heat from entering your home. Sunlight beaming indoors can alter the temperature and cause your system to continuously run.


  • Check for Leaks

A small leak can quickly become a significant problem, causing water damage and expensive repairs. Furthermore, a leaking HVAC system is often the cause of mold growth, which can create health problems for you and your family. Fortunately, checking leaks is relatively easy and only takes a few minutes. Inspect the visible piping for any signs of water damage or leaking.

Next, check the condensate line. This is the line that drains water away from the unit. Make sure that it is clear and free of any obstructions. Finally, take a look at the evaporator coil. There may be a leak if there is water pooling around it. If you find any leaks, have a technician repair them before you leave on vacation.


  • Install a Surge Protector

Power surges can happen depending on your type of power grid. If you’re on a public grid, surges are more likely to occur during thunderstorms or when high-powered equipment is turned on or off nearby. If you have your own private generator, surges can still occur but are less likely.

If you are wondering how a power surge can damage your HVAC system, it all depends on the electrical components. When a voltage spike or transient surge occurs, the electrical components in your system are subjected to a sudden increase in voltage. This can cause the electrical components to overheat, and this can damage the system or cause it to fail. In some cases, the damage caused by a power surge can be irreparable.

When you install your new thermostat, you should add a surge protector to your HVAC system. A surge protector prevents power surges that might damage your air conditioner’s delicate inner components. It works similarly to a surge protector on your television, computer, or other household electronics. So, when the power goes out or lightning strikes, your equipment is safe.


  • Clear the Area Around Your Outdoor Unit

Clearing up the surrounding area of your outdoor HVAC system will help your unit perform efficiently while you are away. Debris such as tree limbs, leaves, and grass clippings can cause your unit to work harder. The outdoor unit of an HVAC system needs at least 2 feet of space around it to ensure proper airflow. Check outside around your unit to clear out twigs, leaves, and dirt before you head out for vacation. The last thing you need is for the unit to stop working while you’re away because it’s clogged up with debris. You want to come home to a perfectly cool or warm house, not an uncomfortable one.


What Should I Set My Thermostat on While on Vacation?

So, should you turn off your HVAC when you go on vacation or not? When considering the ideal temperature to set your thermostat at while traveling, there are several factors to think about:

  • Will pets be home while you are away?
  • Will anyone be coming to watch the house?
  • Do you have plants?
  • Is there a high level of heat and humidity in your area?

If there will be pets remaining in the home or if someone will be coming over to watch your house, be sure to set the temperature on your thermostat to one that will be comfortable for them.

Additionally, if you have indoor plants, you will want to make sure the temperature is not too extreme for them to handle, or you could return home to dead foliage.

Depending on the weather, you can increase or decrease your temperature by 3 – 5 degrees to save energy and save money, but we would not recommend going above 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer or below 50 degrees in the winter.


Final Thoughts

As the weather begins to warm up and winter starts to die away, it is important to take a few preventative measures to protect your home through the warmer months when windows start to open and birds begin to sing. Air conditioner tune-ups can seem like a frivolous thing to have done for someone who is unaware of their benefits and the importance. But the truth is, you will be stopping problems before they get out of hand. And while it may seem like you’re paying extra money for the tune-up, you’re actually saving on repairs, replacements, and energy costs by having it done.

If your system needs repair or inspection before winter, call Aire-Tech on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.