Air conditioning has grown into a luxury that we simply cannot live without. But making sure that you have cold air when you need it will take a little air conditioner maintenance planning on your part. The last thing that you want is for your AC to not kick on the first time you hit the switch this summer.

What's the Best Way to Take Care of It?

The best way to make sure that your air conditioner is in tip-top shape is by having an HVAC inspection every year. Your HVAC system should operate efficiently for many years if it's maintained properly. You'd want your furnace inspected in the fall before it gets cold enough to actually need it, and your AC inspection and tune-up would happen in the spring.

What Would the Inspection Involve?

A qualified HVAC inspector will be looking at both the exterior of your air conditioner components as well as focusing on all of the moving parts inside of it. The exterior will be thoroughly inspected for any cracks or dents that could have appeared during the winter. They'll also be looking for any other signs of exterior wear that could potentially hamper the performance of the unit. They'll also be looking at the area around the outside of the AC unit. There should at least be two to three feet of clearance around the unit for it to get the right amount of air flow. Weeds, leaves, twigs, and other lawn debris can often accumulate around it.

Your air conditioning unit should be on level ground to maintain its efficiency. If the unit has started to tilt, the maintenance technician can advise you of the best methods to either straighten it or move it. Your home's thermostat will then be inspected, making sure that it's both adequately gauging the temperature and correctly communicating with the air conditioner.

The air filters should be changed every couple of months to keep them clean. They will be checked, making sure that they are not only clean but that they also aren't accumulating dirt and debris quicker than they should. Your ducts will be checked for any damage. Over time, the seals can be compromised, dents and other damage can occur, duct tape can begin to peel, and dirt can accumulate inside of them. If the ducts aren't in great shape, the overall performance of your air conditioner will be affected. All of the air vents and registers will also be checked, making sure that they are clean and that there aren't any blockages. It's vital to your HVAC's performance that your home has enough air flow.

The fan blades should be operating smoothly. They'll be inspected and lubricated as needed as well as any other moving parts. The condensation drain will be checked for blockages. All electrical connections will be tested. The blower components would be inspected for any undue signs of wear. The AC unit will also be checked for any refrigerant leaks.

What if I Pass on an AC Tune-Up?

You always have that option. A quality air conditioner might last for a while, but there are a few reasons why it's better to have it inspected annually. The main reason is the overall cost. The cost of an annual inspection is minimal, usually around a couple hundred dollars. And the inspection could give you a heads-up on an internal issue with your air conditioner that could be easily repaired. Fixing it early could be fairly inexpensive. Repairing an AC unit after it has failed can be costly, depending on what actually causes it to fail. Without proper maintenance, you might need to replace the AC unit completely and that can be expensive.

You don't want to have to deal with those really hot and humid days without an air conditioner. Even just a few hours of that stifling heat can seem like an eternity. If the issue takes days to repair, you could find yourself suffering almost unbearable heat. So, get your AC inspected to avoid this problem. Also, keep in mind that your air conditioner's warranty could be voided if you don't have it inspected on a yearly basis.

How Can I Find Someone I Can Trust for an AC Tune-Up?

There are a lot of HVAC repair and maintenance companies out there. Choosing the right one can seem a little daunting. Here are some tips for finding a company that you can trust not only for your air conditioner but for all of your HVAC needs:

  • Ask the people that you know. There might be someone in your family that lives in your area that knows of a reputable, trusted company. You can also ask friends, coworkers, and even your neighbors for recommendations.
  • Look online for a local HVAC professional. You could search “AC tune up near me" and go from there. Check out their web pages. Look for how long they've been in business, how professional their website looks, whether or not they're licensed and bonded, and if they're locally owned and operated.
  • Look for customer reviews. They can be great resources if you are blindly searching for someone that you can trust.
  • The Better Business Bureau is also a very valuable resource. It's a free online publication that keeps track of complaints filed against companies. They also keep track of how well the companies respond when complaints are filed against them. The BBB has a lot of helpful information if you are seeking any new service company.

The cost of having an annual inspection on your air conditioning system is pretty minimal, especially if you factor in what it could cost if you avoided it. That's not even taking into consideration the inconvenience and discomfort that you'll go through if your air conditioner goes down. It just makes sense to have an AC tune-up every year.