I like to treat my air conditioning unit like my car. I pay a little each year to have them serviced and well maintained, and I avoid having to fork over a large amount of cash for a major repair. Plus I don’t have to deal with the hassle of them completely breaking down (something that is a nightmare in the middle of the summer). Most people don’t know that it’s advised to have your AC serviced once per year, typically in the spring. Keeping your AC running in tip-top shape helps you avoid paying for a major repair, but also keeps it running smoothly which lowers monthly electric bills.
Even though air conditioning units are engineered and constructed to take a lot of abuse, they do operate with a lot of moving parts and are exposed to some extreme elements. Like a car, they too need regular tune-ups to run properly. According to Sustainable Sources, without regular maintenance AC units lose about 5% of their efficiency each year. Just think how long your unit has been running without servicing. The positive news is that through regular maintenance this lost efficiency can be recovered to about 95% of its original value. The cost of an annual tune-up is easily recovered in savings on your electric bill and reduced repair costs, plus a properly working unit will also be more efficient at dehumidifying your home. These preventative maintenance services will likely cost you around $70 – $100.
Watch for local specials in the spring and fall where servicing companies will have reduced prices. Some even offer annual service programs that will remind you to service the unit at the most opportune times. Basic services should include the following:
- Cleaning and straightening of the condenser coil fins
- Checking the amp draw of the processor
- Oiling the fan motors
- Checking the belts
- Comparing the operating pressures and temperatures against manufacturers’ specifications
- Inspecting coolant levels
Be warned that new laws govern the use of adding Freon to AC units. If a system is leaking and is low on coolant, it is a requirement that the leak be fixed before Freon can be added. Violation of this law could lead to a loss of their license.
In addition to annual servicing there are some things you can do to help ensure your unit runs properly. Purchase high-quality filters and change them regularly, and remove any bushes or materials from the immediate vicinity of the unit. An air conditioner needs properly filtered and unobstructed airflow to function at high efficiency levels. All in all routine yearly maintenance on your unit will not only increase its lifespan, but increase your comfort and operate for less money.