Here in the Tennessee Valley, we get all four seasons…sometimes in the same week! When it’s 25F on Monday and 80F on Wednesday and back in the thirties by Friday, it may seem like you’re doomed to either freeze or sweat, depending on whether your system is currently set to heating or cooling. But the truth is, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for the sake of protecting your HVAC. As long as you follow a few common-sense precautions, you can safely switch back and forth between heating and air conditioning just as often as the weather changes.
To begin with, when you want to switch your system from heating to cooling, or vice versa, you need to give it a little time. First, let the unit completely finish its current cycle. Once it has stopped, shut it off completely and wait at least five minutes. Then you can switch it back on in the new mode.
This is important because you need to give the refrigerant time to go back to its starting pressure. If you force the unit to start running while the pressure is still high, it can cause the compressor to lock up. That will increase the electricity the unit is drawing, which can blow a fuse or trip a breaker. Giving the unit time to “rest” before switching over will prevent those problems.
Also, when you switch between heating and cooling, make sure that you don’t set the temperature to something drastically different right away. Raise or lower the temperature by just a couple of degrees at a time. That will keep the system from overworking, and it will prevent the less-efficient emergency or supplementary heat from kicking on.
Switching frequently between heating and cooling does slightly increase the workload on your system, so it’s extra important to remember to have your semi-annual preventive maintenance performed to keep everything running at its best. But there’s no need to sweat through 80 degree days just because it’s still cold at night. Stay comfortable and enjoy all the seasons, whenever they decide to show up!