Air Conditioning Tune-Ups – Keeping your unit in tip-top shape

An air conditioner is a well engineered appliance, designed to perform under tough circumstances. Like any piece of mechanical equipment, an air conditioner needs regular maintenance to insure it runs efficiently and safely. In fact, if your AC unit is still under warranty, regular maintenance is likely required to maintain the warranty. This is a positive, because servicing the unit usually pays for itself in lower electric bills and fewer needed repairs.

When to Schedule Air Conditioning Maintenance

Any time works, but spring is the ideal time to budget for an air conditioning tune-up. A check-up and maintenance call early in the season can prevent small problems from becoming more expensive problems later on. Scheduling for spring can also avoid emergency service calls or long waits during peak season.

Reasons to Schedule an Air Conditioner Check Up

For starters, you greatly increase the chances that your AC technician will catch small problems before they become big ones. Repairing a small refrigerant leak cost much less than buying a new compressor after low refrigerant levels cause your current compressor to break down. However, buying a new compressor after low refrigerant levels cause your current compressor to break down can be very costly.

Operating your A/C unit at optimal efficiency saves money. When your unit is running well it takes less energy to cool your house, which means lower utility bills.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

The Basics of an Air Conditioner Check Up

An annual air conditioner check-up/tune-up is the easiest way to keep your air conditioner in top condition so it can operate efficiently long-term. Your service technician can provide the following during a maintenance call:

  • Check refrigerant levels. Low levels usually indicate a leak, and leaks need to be located and repaired quickly. Low refrigerant levels are the primary cause of damage to the unit’s compressor.
  • Check, clean or replace filters.
  • Clean evaporator and condenser coils and fins. This boosts the energy efficiency and cooling ability of your unit.
  • Check electrical components and controls to insure they are working properly.
  • Check the condenser to make sure it’s operating properly.
  • Calibrate thermostat to make sure your unit isn’t working needlessly.
  • Check drain channels.
  • Oil motors as needed.
  • Check seals around the unit’s installation

[sws_green_box box_size=”593″]How Air Conditioners Work

Air conditioners employ the same operating principles and basic components as your home refrigerator. An air conditioner cools your home with a cold indoor coil called the evaporator. The condenser, a hot outdoor coil, releases the collected heat outside. The evaporator and condenser coils are serpentine tubing surrounded by aluminum fins. This tubing is usually made of copper. A pump, called the compressor, moves a heat transfer fluid (or refrigerant) between the evaporator and the condenser. The pump forces the refrigerant through the circuit of tubing and fins in the coils. The liquid refrigerant evaporates in the indoor evaporator coil, pulling heat out of indoor air and thereby cooling the home. The hot refrigerant gas is pumped outdoors into the condenser where it reverts back to a liquid giving up its heat to the air flowing over the condenser’s metal tubing and fins. [/sws_green_box]


Lisa Shara
About Lisa Shara

Writer Lisa Shara lives in upper Northern California where she is involved in a variety of community projects.

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