Advantages of regular AC maintenance
You probably don’t spend much time thinking about your home’s air conditioner—until there’s a problem. By that point, you’re stuck in a hot home, waiting for an AC repair pro to arrive and get your system working again. Here’s something long-time homeowners know that can really change all of this: regular AC maintenance is well-worth the cost.
If you’ve been putting off scheduling your spring AC tune-up, now’s the time to act. Just like oil changes for your vehicles, AC maintenance isn’t something that’s optional or extra. Your air conditioner needs care and attention from a professional.
In this article, we’ll review what you need to know about AC maintenance and what you stand to gain from scheduling a tune-up.
Schedule your spring tune-up
The heat and humidity of summer arrives fast here in Chicagoland. Is your air conditioner ready for what lies ahead?
Our team is ready to help. Our 40-point AC tune-up will ensure your system is ready for whatever temps our summer brings.
How regular AC maintenance can benefit you
AC maintenance is more important than you might think. Here are a few reasons why you should strongly consider calling a local professional and getting your system looked at this spring.
Avoid needing repairs
It’s called “preventative maintenance” for a reason. An AC tune-up can drastically reduce your risk of an in-season breakdown. In fact, most HVAC techs estimate that 80% of all the repairs they encounter could have been avoided with regular AC maintenance.
Even if your spring tune-up prevents one major problem throughout the course of your air conditioner’s life, you’ve probably already met the threshold for your return-on-investment.
There’s no way to avoid saying it: AC repairs are inconvenient, and—due to their typical causes—tend to happen at the worst possible times. There’s a reason our team is busiest on the hottest and most humid nights of the year!
An AC tune-up isn’t just about avoiding problems with your system. It can also help you dodge a whole lot of hassle. That alone is worth the cost, in our book.
Boost your AC performance
Without regular AC maintenance, your air conditioner just won’t run as well as it should. If you’re feeling spotty cooling throughout your home—where one room feels like an icebox and the other feels like an oven—it might mean you’re overdue for maintenance.
As parts experience routine wear-and-tear and dust builds up inside of the system, your air conditioner tends to become less effective at cooling. All-in-all, that adds up to a less comfortable home for you and your family.
Improve your energy-efficiency
Have you noticed that your electricity bills this summer have been similar to the temperatures outside: climbing up-and-up, with no relief in sight? There’s probably a correlation between skipping your AC tune-up and your higher bills.
Without annual maintenance, your air conditioner will continually become less efficient and effective.
Even a slight dropoff in efficiency can really spike your energy bills. Stop and think about it: your AC runs nearly continuously on the hottest and most humid days of the year. Every hour it’s running at 5-10% less efficiency, you’re paying more money for less cooling.
Your AC tune-up might just end up paying for itself when it’s all said and done!
Extend the life of your system
Yes, an AC tune-up costs money. You know what costs a lot more money? Buying a new air conditioner. As a homeowner, your goal should be to get as many years as possible out of your air conditioner before you have to replace it.
Most air conditioners last between 12-20 years. Why the wide range? Well, part of that certainly has to do with maintenance. A system with years of dust and grime buildup has to work harder, which results in even greater wear-and-tear on the system.
Plus, not replacing failing parts puts the entire air conditioner at risk of being damaged. An AC tune-up won’t make your system last forever (after all, nothing really does!), but it will give it better odds at a longer life.
Let’s return to our car analogy from earlier: how many years do you think your car will last without a tune-up or oil change? Probably not very many.
Yet, many homeowners are surprised when their air conditioner kicks the proverbial bucket after a decade, even though they never scheduled preventative maintenance. Tune-ups really matter.
It’s not just preventative maintenance that’s important. Every year your air conditioner goes without a tune-up, it’s having to work harder and harder to cool your home. That means more runtime, more wear-and-tear, and more energy used. All of that adds up to what’s effectively “mileage” on your air conditioner.
Maintain your warranty
Here’s something you probably didn’t know: your new air conditioner comes with a manufacturer’s warranty.
While the exact fine print varies from system-to-system, most of these warranties provide coverage for essential AC components—like the compressor—for years after installation. This protects you from the risk of a faulty or malfunctioning component that, in effect, bricks the system.
As you might imagine, there’s an important catch: most of these manufacturer’s warranties require you to get an annual, professional tune-up in order to keep the coverage active. If you skip a year, you could void your otherwise free warranty coverage.
From the manufacturer’s point-of-view, they only want to cover systems that are being properly cared for by the homeowner (via a professional HVAC technician). From your perspective, you should do everything within your power to maintain your warranty coverage—it could end up saving you thousands of dollars down the road!
So far, we’ve talked mostly about the financial side of things. But, your comfort matters, too. It’s the entire reason you run your air conditioner in the first place. Without regular maintenance, your air conditioner is more likely to run inconsistently, cool your home slowly, or even run into problems like short-cycling, which is when your air conditioner is constantly turning itself off-and-on because it can’t maintain the current temperature in your home.
For many of us, there’s no price you can put on the feeling of cool air coming out of the vents on a hot and humid summer night.
Given the relatively low cost of an AC tune-up, having a professional out to ensure your system is working at its best is essential.
Improve your indoor air quality
We’ve already discussed how the buildup of dust inside of your system can negatively impact your comfort and energy bills. Here’s another impact: your indoor air quality. Over time, dust, dirt, and pollutants can clog your air filter, build up in your air ducts, and really make the spring allergy season last through the entire summer.
Indoor air quality—or “IAQ”—is important. Many experts agree that the air quality inside of our homes is often far worse than that outside. Part of that comes down to time: we all spend far more time indoors than outdoors, so problems with your indoor air quality tend to be felt more.
If you have allergies or you’re sensitive to dust, an AC tune-up can play a part in improving your indoor air quality. Of course, you should also consider bringing in experts to improve your overall IAQ. Air duct cleaning is probably also a great idea.
When to get your AC serviced
You should schedule your regular AC maintenance once-per-year, in the early spring. There are several benefits to targeting the earlier months of spring.
First, there’s a high demand for AC tune-ups, so getting on the schedule earlier helps ensure you’ll get your system looked at before things heat up.
Second, you never know when we’re going to get that first hot weekend, seemingly out of nowhere. You want your tune-up done before you turn on your air conditioner for the first time.
What’s done during AC maintenance?
Every HVAC company has a different process for maintenance. Not all AC tune-ups are created equal: if you’re evaluating different companies, ask them what exactly they’ll do during your checkup. While it’s useful to have a technician look at your system—and certainly better than nothing—it doesn’t really do much for your system, your comfort, or your energy-efficiency.
You can do better. Look for companies that offer more comprehensive tune-ups. A professional tune-up should include tasks like checking refrigerant levels, evaluating performance, looking at mechanical components—capacitors, motors, etc.—and lubricating moving parts. More than that, the technician should be looking at the system more holistically.
If your tech never comes in your home to look at your thermostat, air ducts, or returns, you’re probably not getting as robust of a tune-up as you expected.
Our maintenance tips for the start of summer
Summer is nearly here. Now’s the time to be zeroing in on your air conditioner and making sure it’s ready for what’s ahead. Here’s some essential things your tune-up should include:
Inspecting and replacing the filter
The filter is one of the most important components of the air conditioner. A dirty filter can result in accelerated wear-and-tear on the cooling device. At the start of the summer, you should inspect the filter.
In case the filter is dirty, you should clean or replace it. A clean filter will ensure efficient flow of air. This will result in increased air conditioner efficiency. An efficient air conditioner will not draw excess power to operate resulting in reduced energy bills.
Examining the coils
Another important component of the air conditioner are the coils. The air conditioner’s condenser coil is responsible for releasing heat energy captured from inside the house.
The condenser unit is what makes the air conditioner work, essentially. Dirty coils will not be able to efficiently dissipate heat. As a result, the system will heat up quickly.
Ultimately, the system will break down due to overheating. You should have a professional air conditioner technician inspect the coils and clean or replace them if required. Of all our AC maintenance tips, this could make the most difference in preventing a system breakdown.
Check the AC drain line
Over time, your air conditioner drain line can develop a leak. This line is an essential part of your system: the condensate drains help remove condensation from the system and bring it outside of your home.
If the drain line is clogged, you’ll have water accumulating around the unit. If the water gets inside the system, it can result in system failure.
In order to avoid this fate, it’s important that you check the drain line regularly. In case of a leak or clogged drain line, you should have a technician perform the necessary repairs.
Work with a professional HVAC company
Not every HVAC or home services company is cut from the same cloth. Finding a professional HVAC company you can trust can be difficult—in large cities, there are literally hundreds of companies competing for your business, but only a handful that can actually be trusted to get the job done.
First, look at their track record of service. If they’ve been in business for decades (our company has been around since 1968!), they’re probably more reputable than a contractor who just got started and is figuring out the finer points of running a business.
Next, look at their reviews. Do customers like them and trust them? If you read through a dozen or so reviews, you’ll get a good grasp on what the company’s strengths and weaknesses are. From there, you can decide if they’re the right fit to work in your home.
Finally, consider the cost. On average, your AC tune-up should cost about $75 – $110. If you’re paying a lot more than that, you might not be getting the best deal you could be. Many companies—including ours!—offer seasonal tune-up specials and incentives. It’s worth checking out, since you could save a good deal of money on your tune-up.