If you have an air conditioner, it’s important to get it inspected, cleaned, and maintained at least annually. You might hear this described as a “clean and check,” a “tune-up,” or even just regular “maintenance,” but it typically refers to the same collection of tasks. You can try to accomplish these tasks yourself, but it’s usually better to hire a professional to take care of these air conditioning repairs on your behalf; if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up doing damage to your system, and costing yourself more time and money in the long run.
So what exactly is an air conditioning tune-up, and why is it so important?
The Benefits of Regular Tune-Ups
If you get your air conditioning unit inspected and maintained at least once per year, you’ll see a number of distinct benefits, including:
- Better cooling potential. Your air conditioner’s job is to cool the house. If it can’t do that effectively, what do you really have? A tune-up will make sure your air conditioner is working the way it’s supposed to, and that it cools your home as quickly and fully as possible.
- Higher efficiency. A regular inspection can also make sure your air conditioner is operating at the highest possible efficiency, saving you money on your utility bills. Air conditioners use electricity to dissipate heat, creating a cooling effect, but when condenser coils are dirty, when your filter is clogged, or when components are missing or poorly lubricated, it won’t be able to do that job effectively. Instead, it will work harder to cool your home, resulting in the consumption of more electricity. You can also increase the efficiency of your unit by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.
- Cleaner air. Depending on the extent of the tune-up, you may be able to improve the quality of your air. A central air conditioner is responsible for circulating air throughout your home. Generally, there will be a few different filters responsible for collecting dust and debris, so it isn’t recirculated into the air you breathe. Changing these filters and cleaning the connection points can ensure your air remains as clean as possible; it’s also important to clean out your ductwork, which can also contaminate your air.
- A longer appliance lifespan. Like with any machine with moving components, air conditioners can wear out over time. Properly lubricating these components, replacing filters when appropriate, and taking proactive action when something is wrong can extend the lifespan of your unit. Assuming you get tune-ups on a regular basis, you could easily add many years to the functionality of your system, ultimately giving it a higher return on investment (ROI).
- Proactive options for repairs. Air conditioning inspections are also an opportunity to identify things that might be wrong. Generally speaking, small problems can snowball to become bigger problems over time. If you catch these problems early and manage to correct them, you can complete the repair for a much lower cost (and do it much faster).
What Does an Air Conditioning Tune-Up Include?
Different AC tune-up services vary, but most include a collection of different services, such as:
- Condenser coil cleaning. The condenser coils are a component of air conditioners and refrigerators responsible for creating the cooling effect you need. They function by dissipating heat, so keeping them clean and free of debris is vital to maintaining efficiency.
- Coolant and lubrication attendance. Additionally, any good tune-up will check the levels of coolant in your system, and the lubrication of all moving parts. Again, these are important for maintaining the efficiency of the unit.
- Thermostat calibration. You’ll also want to calibrate the thermostat, to make sure it’s sending the right signals to your unit and ensure it’s reading an accurate temperature.
- Electrical checks. Most inspectors will spend time tightening and checking electrical connections; if anything is out of place, worn, or loose, this is a good chance to repair it.
- Performance evaluation. Finally, your AC professional will run the air conditioner for a period of time to ensure it’s able to cool the home effectively.
In addition to cleaning and inspecting your air conditioning unit, you may want to periodically check and clean the ductwork throughout your home. Over time, a buildup of dust and debris can interfere with your ducts functioning correctly and lower the efficiency of your cooling unit.
In any case, if you need to get your annual tune-up or if there’s something wrong with your unit, it’s important to work with an HVAC professional—especially if you don’t feel comfortable inspecting your system on your own. The cost is relatively low, and it could save you a lot of heartache later.