How Often Should Air Conditioning Units Be Serviced?
Learn about HVAC & Home Performance in Houston.
Nothing is worse than an air conditioner going out on a hot day. Although air conditioners are certain to break down occasionally, if you maintain them properly, they should last a long time and you will have few problems with them. You should have your heating system and air conditioner serviced at least once a year. If you live in a place that is hot year-round, you will need to have it done more often because you will use your air conditioner all year.
Home AC Maintenance
There are a few things you can do to maintain your air conditioner in between service visits.
One of the most important things you can do is to clean your filters regularly and get a filter with the MERV rating that is recommended by your air conditioner manufacturer.
Air Conditioning filters have MERV ratings. This stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. An air conditioner’s MERV rating is determined by the size of the particles it can filter out. The smaller the particles, the higher the MERV rating will be. The higher the MERV rating, the better the quality of the filter. It might seem like you should just get a filter with the highest MERV rating to get the best performance from your air conditioner, but this is not true.
You should always use the filter with the highest MERV rating recommended by the manufacturer. If you use a filter of a higher quality than is recommended by the manufacturer, you will decrease the system’s airflow. This can overwork your HVAC system.
The frequency of changing your filter will depend on the type of filter you have and the needs of the occupants in the house. If you live alone with no pets and only lightly use your air conditioner, you may only have to change the filter once every six months. If you have allergies and pets, you may have to change the air filter once every 30 days.
What Time of Year Should I Schedule AC Service?
Many people are tempted to get their air conditioning repaired in winter when they know they will not use it. However, most AC repair experts will tell you that spring is the best time to get your air conditioner worked on. An AC unit has oil in it and it may freeze during the winter months. An HVAC technician will have to turn your AC on to do maintenance on it and if you do it in winter, it may damage the system. Houston tends to have very mild winters but it is still best to schedule service for spring. The summer months are a popular time to get AC repairs done and you may have trouble getting an appointment.
What Does Annual Maintenance Entail?
A trained HVAC technician will look at every component of your HVAC system to make sure that it is running the way it should. The inspection will also include cleaning.
Check Electrical Connections
A technician will always make sure that the electrical connections of your HVAC system are secured properly. A loose connection can mean that your air conditioner will not run as well as it could. It can also be a safety hazard. If the repair person finds a loose connection, they will tighten it. They will also replace any nuts or bolts that have worn out.
The thermostat is a very important part of your AC inspection. The technician will make sure that the unit is calibrated correctly. They will also look at where the thermostat is installed in your home. The thermostat must not be near any heat-producing sources such as light bulbs or electric units.
Moving Parts Test
The fans and belts in an HVAC system are what make it work. A technician will check to make sure that all of the moving parts in an AC unit are working properly. They will also lubricate these parts so that they can continue to run smoothly. When the air conditioning system is not lubricated properly, it can cause friction. Friction will run down your air conditioning system in a hurry.
Checking the Controls
One of the first things the technician will check is the controls of the AC system. If your system does not turn on and off properly, these controls may have to be replaced. The technician may be able to fix the controls with a simple repair.
Condensate lines drain moisture from your HVAC system so it will not get built up. Whenever you turn on the air conditioning or heat in your home, humidity is produced. Humidity creates condensation. The moisture goes into a condensate pan. You will normally find this pan under an indoor unit in your attic.
The HVAC tech will clear the condensation line so it does not become clogged. When a drain line clogs, it can cause moisture to leak. In some cases, it may even cause cracks in the condensation line itself. A technician will inspect the condensation line for cracks as part of routine maintenance.
The coils in your HVAC system each have a special job to do. The evaporator coil cools the refrigerant enough to absorb the heat. When the AC’s fan blows air over the coil, the refrigerant cools eventually turning into vapor. The heat is absorbed by the refrigerant. It then flows to the outside unit. The heat then becomes compressed and pressurized until it is a hot gas. When your HVAC system is dirty, the evaporator coil can freeze. When this happens, the blower fan will fail to pull air through the evaporator coil, and this will cause the unit to overheat.
The compressor coil turns the cold refrigerant into gas. That gas travels into the condenser coil. The coil forces the hot air outside. The refrigerant goes back into the unit that is located inside the home. The refrigerant will get cold again and absorb heat again. The heat will be sent outside. This process will continue as long as the AC unit is on.
If a compressor coil does not engage, your air conditioner will not be able to cool your home properly. In some cases, it may cause your air conditioner to break down altogether.
A maintenance worker will clean each indoor coil. They can also replace coils if necessary.
Change The Filter
Your service technician should always change your filter before they leave. If you have a reusable filter, they should clean it for you.
The average air conditioner lasts around 10 years. If you have regular maintenance on your HVAC system, it may last longer than that. The style of air conditioner you have will also factor in.
How Much Does Air Conditioner Maintenance Cost?
The exact cost of air conditioner maintenance will depend upon the type of system you have, its age, and whether or not the unit needs any repairs or the units needs a complete upgrading. If you call the HVAC professionals at House Pro they will give you a free estimate no matter the situation.
Maintenance Is Worth the Expense
HVAC system breakdowns are frustrating. If the weather is very hot, a broken air conditioner can cause injury or death to the elderly or people with certain medical conditions.
HVAC maintenance is very important to the life of your system. It is also necessary to avoid the need for repair. In the long run, annual maintenance will save you money and keep you comfortable all year long.