If you’ve got an aging air conditioner, you’re probably not looking forward to the hot and humid summer days ahead. If you sweated your way through last summer and shelled out a lot of cash for repairs, you may be wondering what you can do to prevent breakdowns this summer.
The truth is, there is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to prevent many repair issues: have AC preventative maintenance done before you start up your system this spring.
Is AC preventative maintenance really worth it?
You’ve probably heard that regular AC preventative maintenance keeps your air conditioner running efficiently and can save you money on your energy bills. But is it really worth the cost? And how can those service technicians really prevent breakdowns without a crystal ball?
Think about it this way: if you had a car that was sitting unused all winter, would you feel comfortable taking it out on a long road trip without getting it checked out first? If you did, you would be risking a breakdown and a major headache. By abruptly starting up your air conditioning system on the first warm day, without any AC preventative maintenance, you’re taking the same risk.
Getting your equipment tuned up and ready for the hot days ahead with AC preventative maintenance is imperative not only for your comfort and peace of mind, but also for the reliability and longevity of your system.
8 ways AC preventative maintenance prevents breakdowns
These are some of the problems that a skilled AC service technician can prevent with a thorough inspection and AC preventative maintenance. One service call in the spring can save you from those dreaded breakdowns on the hottest days of the season.
1. Electrical issues
Your technician will inspect all wiring and electrical connections, and find and fix loose connections and worn wires before they cause a power loss that takes out your air conditioner.
Related Article: A Guide to the Top 3 Power Related Air Conditioner Problems.
2. Worn parts
When a worn belt or pulley suddenly snaps, you’ll find yourself without cooling in a hurry. But your service technician can see that the belt is worn and replace it before it causes your system to shut down.
3. Dirty coils
Your air conditioner has evaporator coils that remove the heat from the air in your space, and condenser coils that release the heat outside the building. When the coil gets coated with dirt and grime, it can’t effectively transfer heat. That makes your system work harder and run longer to cool the space. The increased load on the fan motor and compressor can cause them to fail.
Cleaning the coils as part of AC preventative maintenance before the start of the season, and sometimes more often depending on the air quality where your air conditioner is located, takes care of this issue and prevents system failure.
Related Article: Clean HVAC System Condenser Coils = Lower Energy Bills.
4. Faulty or improperly set controls
Those new electronic controls are handy and save money on your energy bills, but if the battery dies you’ll find yourself with an air conditioner that won’t turn on (or won’t turn off!). Your service technician will test thermostats and other controls to ensure that the correct temperatures are maintained, timer functions are set properly, and batteries are changed.
5. Low refrigerant charge
Refrigerant is the substance running through your AC’s coils that removes the heat and humidity from the air. Sometimes small holes or cracks in the refrigerant lines can develop, causing the system to leak refrigerant. When that happens, your system gradually loses cooling power until it can’t cool your space at all. As part of your AC preventative maintenance, your service technician will test the refrigerant charge. If he finds a reduced level of refrigerant, he can find and fix the leak before you even realize you have a problem.
6. Filthy fan blades
The New York City air can be rough on air conditioning equipment, especially the fan in your outdoor unit that is continuously exposed to smog and pollution. When the blades get coated with grime, the fan speed can slow down, putting a strain on the motor and eventually causing it to fail. Cleaning the blades during AC preventative maintenance easily prevents this problem.
7. Air flow problems
Faulty fan motors, blocked ducts, clogged filters and other air flow issues can cause your system to cool ineffectively, and can lead to frozen coils and even a burned out compressor. When that happens, you might need to start shopping for a new air conditioner. Finding and fixing airflow issues can prevent a much more expensive problem.
8. Clogged drain lines and drain pan
Accumulating debris in drains and condensate lines can cause them to clog and overflow. When that happens, not only will your system go down, but you’ll have water damage to deal with. If it’s a slow water leak that’s been going on for some time before you notice it, you could end up with dangerous mold growth. Clearing the lines and drains is a simple process that prevents a big mess.
Your AC service technician is a friend you only want to see once or twice a year
This is a case where absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder. You’ll love your air conditioning service guy when he only needs to come once in the spring and once in the fall for regular AC preventative maintenance. If you have to keep calling him to make repairs all summer long, you’ll get tired of him in a hurry. You’ll certainly get tired of shelling out all that cash.
Poor maintenance is much more expensive in the long run (and even in the short run) than the cost of a service contract for AC preventative maintenance. Learn more by a grabbing a copy of our helpful guide to Calculating the Hidden Costs of Poor HVAC Maintenance.