When a heatwave arrives, the last thing that anyone would want is for their AC system to fail. It should come as no surprise that an air conditioner will work much harder during the hotter parts of the year. Of course, you can call your local HVAC specialist for an emergency repair, but the heat will not diminish in the meantime and this can lead to considerable discomfort. Another major problem is that the HVAC technician is likely to be in high demand because many other homeowners will be in the exact same position as you. For this reason, it’s recommended that you get your AC system service regularly, but what is the optimal maintenance frequency?
Regular AC System Maintenance is Important
The key to preventing a lot of problems is the adoption of a proactive approach. All heating and cooling systems are complex. They have electrical, mechanical, and electronic components. When one part fails, it will affect the others leading to a loss of performance, poor energy efficiency, and further component failures. If you have a newer HVAC system, you may be required to get the equipment regularly serviced to stay in compliance with the warranty.
These systems represent a significant investment in your indoor comfort levels and it’s a great idea to protect that investment. The early identification of potential issues is important because many problems are less expensive to fix at earlier stages. Well maintained equipment tends to last longer too and the useful lifespan of the system can be extended.
How Often Should I Get the Equipment Serviced?
Most HVAC experts agree that annual preventative maintenance is the best way to keep the system working at optimal energy efficiency. Ideally, this should happen before the start of the cooling season to minimize the risk of disruption when the weather turns warmer. Some people leave their maintenance to the last minute which is a bad idea. Why? Well, the HVAC technicians will be in demand when other people have their AC systems fail when they turn them on for the first time in months. So, it may be difficult to schedule HVAC maintenance when the warmer weather has arrived.
The best time to schedule preventative maintenance is towards the end of spring and at least a month before summer starts. But, if spring is over it’s a better time to schedule some maintenance rather than wait a whole extra year to get the equipment inspected and tuned up. In this scenario, it is better late than never.
What is Included in an AC Service Visit?
Air conditioning maintenance is a complete process that follows clearly defined steps to ensure that the entire system is inspected and maintained to a high standard. For this reason, DIY maintenance is not recommended, it’s all too easy to mix something or cause damage that can be expensive to fix. Let’s take a look at the key steps in AC system maintenance in more detail:
1. The Inspection
The first thing that the HVAC technician will perform is a thorough visual examination of the AC unit. This will reveal the key areas that need extra attention and any obvious repairs or replacements that may be needed.
The technician has specialized cleaning techniques, tools, and cleaning supplies to clean the evaporator coil, condenser coil, condensate drain line, and more. Removing dirt and debris will ensure that the AC system runs smoothly and efficiently.
3. Connections and Lubrication
There are moving parts in the AC system that can be a source of friction and wear if they are not tight and lubricated. There are also electrical connections that can become loose and degrade performance and efficiency.
4. Air Filter Replacement
The indoor air passes through the air filter multiple times each day and this air contains a lot of airborne particulates. This dirt, dust, pet dander, and other contaminants can clog the filter and lower the airflow. The AC system needs to maintain adequate airflow to run properly and if it’s diminished the equipment will work harder to compensate.
This can lead to component damage and higher energy consumption. It’s easy to change the air filter with no special skills, tools, and equipment and the full instructions are detailed in the owner’s manual for your AC system. The technician will usually change the air filter as part of the service, but this inexpensive part should be replaced monthly or more often if you have pets in your home.
5. The AC System Test
When the maintenance is concluded the technician will restore power to the AC system and run a test cycle. This is necessary to ensure that the system will start, operate as intended, and is shut down correctly.
What are the Benefits of Regular Preventative AC Maintenance?
Many people run their AC systems until something goes wrong and then call a local HVAC specialist to fix the problem. This is a flawed approach and it will cost more in the long term to fix larger problems and to replace the AC system earlier than expected.
When you consider the cost of an air conditioner it’s a good idea to protect that investment against damage. It’s important to keep the system working at optimal efficiency for longer to maximize the value.
To recap, here are the main benefits of regular preventative AC maintenance:
- Improved Energy Efficiency: When the AC system is well maintained it will use less energy without compromising on performance.
- Better Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): The primary purpose of the air filter is to remove airborne particulates that could damage sensitive components. But, some contaminants are removed from the air and this will improve the IAQ. If you want major improvement in IAQ ask your HVAC specialist about HEPA filters or air purification systems.
- Lower Repair Bills: The early identification of air conditioning issues and an early repair will help you to avoid more extensive repair bills.
- Extended Equipment Lifespan: Regular maintenance will keep the AC system running at optimal efficiency for longer which can save you a lot of money.
If you want to schedule some essential maintenance for your AC system, contact your local heating and cooling specialist.