As with maintaining your car, regular air conditioner maintenance helps to keep your residential HVAC system functionally optimally, addressing problems before they appear and reducing the risk of the unit simply shutting down. A well-maintained air conditioner and furnace also run more efficiently, reducing energy consumption and keeping your electric bills to a minimum.
Regular air conditioner maintenance ensures that the unit’s fans, coils, belts, and housing are in good repair and replaced before breakdown. Professional HVAC maintenance keeps the unit functioning optimally, ensuring it cools your home properly.
Air conditioner maintenance is not a DIY job. Even a small residential air conditioner has many moving parts that need regular maintenance and A/C repairs, and low-quality work often results in an air conditioner consuming more energy than it should and wearing out sooner rather than later! To ensure you’re keeping your residential air conditioner in good repair, note a few vital details about proper HVAC maintenance, including what steps are involved in air conditioning repair and why you want to leave this job to the pros.
What Is Regular Maintenance on an A/C Unit?
If you were to open the top panel of your central air conditioner or the front panel of your home’s furnace, you might note all the many moving parts inside. Those parts need consistent inspection, cleaning, oiling, and replacing to ensure they function properly and efficiently, and can move freely. Note some steps involved in regular maintenance on an A/C unit so you know what an air conditioning repair technician might do when called to your home:
The filter or grille of an air conditioner needs gentle but effective cleaning. The filter outside the central unit’s compressor is made of lightweight aluminum and bends easily, which is why an air conditioning repair technician will use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment for general cleanup.
Very dirty air conditioning units will need scrubbing with a soft-bristled brush and a mild or foamy detergent.
Bent fins and other areas of the grille are pushed back into place, to keep them from blocking air circulation around the unit.
If the central unit or compressor is sinking, its concrete pad needs bracing or stabilizing, to ensure the internal parts of the unit don’t press against each other.
An air conditioner’s condenser has a drain tube that often clogs or collects dirt, dust, and other debris. A thorough cleaning ensures proper drainage and less wear and tear on the unit.
Your air conditioner’s compressor has lines that run from the unit to the home. These lines must be covered with insulating materials, to protect them from outside elements. An air conditioning repair technician will typically replace rotted insulating materials around these lines, as needed.
An air conditioning repair contractor will check for proper levels of refrigerant in your unit. A leak detector also notes any refrigerant leaks so they can be patched or plugged as needed.
An air conditioning technician checks for airflow levels around the air conditioner’s compressor and notes any blockages.
Motors and other moving parts are oiled as needed.
Belts are checked for excessive wear and then tightened or replaced.
An air conditioning repair contractor will also typically check the accuracy of your home’s thermostat and then recalibrate it if necessary.
Because these tasks require some skill and precision, it’s best to leave regular maintenance on an A/C unit to the pros and to ensure this work is done regularly. The more often you have your air conditioner maintained, the less work it will require during each visit.
How to Maintain Your Home’s Air Conditioner
While regular, professional air conditioning maintenance is the best way to ensure your home’s A/C unit runs efficiently and is always in good repair, there are a few simple steps every homeowner can take to ensure they are not putting undue wear and tear on their home’s air conditioner. There are also a few things you can do to improve the performance of your residential A/C so that your home’s interior is cooler and more comfortable overall.
An in-line duct booster is a fan that sits inside the ductwork, in front of a register or vent. When the air conditioner kicks on, the fan starts to operate, pushing more cool air into the room. This booster keeps a room cooler without having to crank up the A/C, saving you money and reducing wear and tear on your home’s HVAC system.
Another option for reducing wear and tear on your home’s air conditioner is to install a programmable thermostat! You can then set the thermostat to raise the temperature automatically while you’re away during the day so the air conditioner will cycle on less often.
Some homeowners don’t realize that cooled air from their air conditioner circulates through the furnace before it’s pushed through the home’s ductwork. To ensure the air conditioner doesn’t get overworked, change the furnace filter often throughout the summer months as well as in wintertime.
Be sure the condenser has space for proper air circulation around the unit, in both summer and winter! Avoid wrapping it tightly with a tarp even during the off-season, as this traps damaging humidity and other debris. Building a blind or enclosure around the condenser unit is a much better option for protecting its grilles from damage when not in use.
It’s also vital that you call for residential air conditioner repair as soon as you hear any odd noises, smells, temperature fluctuations, or other issues with your home’s central air system. Damage to an air conditioner compressor, its hoses, or other such parts will usually just get worse over time so that repairs become more involved and more expensive.
Much of this information was given to us by our friends over in Boca Raton. They specialize in the ac repair Boca Raton residents constantly need.
How Much Does It Cost to Have Your Air Conditioner Serviced?
As with any other home repair, your air conditioner repair costs will vary according to the work needed and the cost of replacement parts. Prices also vary from company to company, but remember that it’s good to invest in quality parts and the services of an air conditioning repair company you can trust! Note some average air conditioner repair costs, so you know what you might expect in your estimate.
Fixing a refrigerant leak and recharging the air conditioner might be a bit costly, averaging between $200 and $1500 per service call.
Smaller fixes, such as replacing insulating materials around wiring or a bent fan inside the air conditioner compressor, might start at $50 per visit.
New thermostats typically begin at less than $100, although models with zone control and other such features might cost upwards of $300.
Note, too, that the time of your call or the schedule you choose for maintenance might also add to the price. For example, waiting until just before summertime in your area before you schedule air conditioning maintenance might mean facing some added costs for wanting service during the most popular time of the year! Visits scheduled before holidays, right before school lets out for the summer, and at other peak times might also mean some added charges in your bill.
Why Avoid A/C Maintenance DIY Work!
A/C maintenance DIY can be a mistake! Many repairs and maintenance jobs might seem like simple tasks, but there are several good reasons to always rely on a professional air conditioning contractor for any work you need to have done on your HVAC system. Note a few of those reasons here, so you always make the best decisions when it comes to maintaining your home’s major appliances.
Residential air conditioners consume quite a bit of electricity; improper electrical repairs or installing the wrong wiring might then increase the risk of an overload and even an electrical fire!
The wrong wiring can also cause your air conditioner system to work harder than it should as it tries to draw enough power through those wires. In turn, certain parts might wear out more quickly and need replacing sooner rather than later.
It’s very easy to damage the parts inside an air conditioner during repairs, including the housing or grille, the inside fan, and the belts that connect various parts. An air conditioning repair contractor will ensure they make repairs carefully and with precision, to avoid this damage.
A/C maintenance DIY or repairs you handle yourself might void the warranty on your home’s air conditioner and many of its parts. Using the wrong part, off-brand parts, or another brand name than your air conditioner manufacturer might also void any warranties or guarantees on the unit’s installation.
How Often Should You Get an Air Conditioner Serviced?
Annual service calls for a residential air conditioner will ensure all the moving parts and items like belts and wiring are in good working order. An annual service call might also include plugging dangerous refrigerant leaks, as needed, and will ensure the home’s thermostat is operating properly.
For units that are more than a decade old, you might consider two or three air conditioner maintenance service calls throughout the year. Older belts, wiring, bearings, and other such parts tend to wear out more quickly than newer parts; while an older air conditioner might have passed inspection in the spring, it might be due for service by the time autumn arrives. Check with your contractor about reduced rates for a service plan or schedule, to save as much as possible on maintaining an old air conditioner.
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