How Often Should I Service My Air Conditioner?
Even the best air conditioners require service from time to time. If they don’t receive it, they’ll struggle to function, resulting in energy efficiency and durability issues.
The question is: just how often should I service my air conditioner? Yearly? Every 6 months? Every 2 years? We’ll reveal the answer and much more below!
How Often Is AC Service Needed?
Though there can be a bit of wiggle room, generally speaking, you should have your air conditioner serviced twice yearly: once in the fall and once in the spring. This is to ensure that it’s clean, that its parts are in good shape and that it’s operating as optimally as possible.
In the fall, HVAC contractors concentrate on your heater or furnace, so it’s as ready as it can be for the cold. In the spring after the weather has warmed, HVAC technicians schedule tune-ups for air conditioners, so it’s ready for the humidity and heat.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you yourself shouldn’t do anything to maintain your air conditioner. In fact, you should. But when it comes to professional AC maintenance, twice a year will do just fine.
The Benefits of AC Maintenance Contracts
These days, many HVAC companies offer maintenance contracts. These are essentially agreements in which the customer agrees to pay a set amount of money in exchange for specialized services. Not only do service contracts buy customers a twice yearly maintenance inspection but reduced rates on many parts and accessories as well.
Some of the benefits of AC maintenance contracts include the following:
Dealing with an emergency breakdown? If you’re signed up for a maintenance contract, you won’t have to wait long for your AC specialist to show up and fix the problem.
See, many maintenance contracts provide customers with priority service. So, when it comes time for services to be rendered, these customers jump immediately to the top of the scheduling list.
The reason companies can do this is because regularly maintained HVAC systems breakdown much less often than a system that is not properly maintained.
Discounts on Most Parts and Accessories
Air conditioner repairs aren’t always the cheapest. In fact, some repairs can run upwards of thousands of dollars. For example, if your compressor goes out, it’s a high dollar repair and you can’t run an air conditioner without it.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have preferred pricing? With our Peace of Mind Protection Plan, a pre-paid HVAC maintenance agreement, you can. Yes, you’ll need to pay for scheduled maintenance in advance, but with discounts on your side, you’re bound to save money over time.
If you want to invest in a whole home dehumidifier or whole home air purification system, signing on to a scheduled maintenance agreement can also be a savings to you.
Regular HVAC Maintenance Checkups
The core of the maintenance contract is the regular HVAC maintenance checkup. This is a twice-yearly inspection and tune-up of your HVAC system which ensures that it’s running right and is being maintained properly.
Twice yearly inspections are important not only for the energy efficiency of your air conditioner and heating system but for their lifespans as well. Put simply, yearly inspections save you money in both the short-term and long-run.
What Does AC Service Include?
Now, you might be wondering: what exactly happens when your AC is serviced? A number of different things, all of which contribute to the efficiency and lifespan of your AC.
For instance, your AC specialist will lubricate the parts in your AC to ensure that they’re operating as smoothly as possible. In addition, he or she will clean parts to ensure that they’re fully functional.
Electricity and airflow will be gauged as well. If something is amiss, the AC specialist will call it to your attention.
All of the air conditioner’s parts will be inspected, from the blower to the condenser to the ductwork. Refrigerant levels will be checked as well. (For minor repairs we may be able to make those without a labor charge.)
Your condensate drain is another spot that frequently clogs in the spring and fall because ACs typically aren’t running as often and it’s easy for mold and gunk to build up faster than you’d think. All of the HVAC systems we install have ceiling saver switches that turn off the system if the condensate drain is clogged. The reason we install these is to save costly, water leaks on your ceiling and walls.
Your AC technician will also take a look at your thermostat to ensure that it’s accurate and communicating well with your AC unit. If necessary, he or she will take measures to recalibrate or re-program it.
In short, you can expect a deep examination of your AC, one that includes a great deal of maintenance. The whole point of AC servicing is to ensure that the AC is operating as efficiently as possible.
Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips
Apart from your yearly AC maintenance appointment, you should be furnishing your air conditioner with additional maintenance throughout the year. Some of the maintenance you’re advised to perform includes the following:
Changing the HVAC Filter
Air conditioners and furnaces take in all sorts of dust and dirt that naturally floats in the air. As such, to reduce the amount of residue they take in, they’re equipped with HVAC filters. These filters stop residue in its tracks but the filters get absolutely inundated with it in the process.
For this reason, air filters need to be changed on a regular basis. If you want your air conditioner to operate at its max capacity, you need to replace its HVAC filter every three months. If you have cats or dogs in your home, you should replace this filter more often because of the hair and dander.
If you have a media filter which is located inside your ductwork next to your furnace or air handler, those require replacement every 9-12 months.
Your HVAC filter could be located in your return air vents or it could be located within your furnace. If you’re not sure, your HVAC technician would be happy to show you where they are.
Keeping the Condenser Area Clean
Your air conditioner’s condenser is located on the outside of your home. As such, it’s exposed to falling branches, kicked-up stones and dirt, and bushes and all sorts of overgrowth. In rare cases, overhanging greenery can fall into condensers, causing jams and general mechanical damage.
There are times when critters, such as squirrels, ants, and mice can chew on the electrical wirings or are attracted by the water. It can be hazardous to them and they can damage your outside unit. Professional maintenance will spot this, but you can also spot check for any signs of pests.
To minimize the chance of collateral damage, you should make sure to keep the area around your condenser clear. Keep 5 feet of clearance on each of its sides and ensure that the trees and hedges in its proximity are properly trimmed. That will also make it less attractive to critters.
Poor Vinegar Down Your Condensate Drain
Condensate drains tend to clog up in the spring and fall, when air conditioners are working less often. When they are running at full speed during a hot day, they are constantly removing water in the air. When they are operating less often when the temperature outside is mild, it means that your condensate drain can start to accumulate algae, mold, and gunk. It builds up faster than you might think, and a clogged drain means a water problem!
Keep this drain clear by pouring a cup of plain vinegar down your condensate drain every time the season changes. If this is a problem or you can’t remember, ask your HVAC technician at your next maintenance appointment. They have some longer-lasting solutions to prevent these clogs.
Keep an Eye on Your Vent Covers
Most central AC systems also have a duct system to distribute the air. The air produced by the AC passes through these ducts to get to different rooms within your home. It then blows through vents that are mounted on walls or positioned in ceilings or floors.
Keep an eye on your vents and watch for any build up of mold. This could be caused by excess humidity, and you’ll want to take care of that because mold can grow quickly. If you’re not sure what to do, an HVAC technician can troubleshoot it for you.
If you have a mini split system, you won’t have ducts but you will have a blower unit. You’ll need to remove the cover and take out the filters which you can wash or vacuum.
Need Air Conditioner Service in Katy, Texas?
Now that you have an answer to “how often should I service my air conditioner,” you might see that you require air conditioner servicing currently. If so, and if you’re looking for an air conditioner company in Katy, Texas and the surrounding area, our family-owned company Terry’s A/C & Heating has you covered.
We’re well-versed in the maintenance of residential and light commercial ACs and will ensure that yours is operating optimally. Learn more about what makes us different and see our reviews. We look forward to helping you. Contact us now to schedule an appointment!