The #1 emergency call we get in summer comes from people who turn on their air conditioners for the first time on the first brutally hot day of the season without even changing the air filter from last summer.
Ouch! To make a comparison, it’d be like you jumping out of bed after hibernating all winter and sprinting for 24 hours. Can you see why those machines might break down?
The best way to determine the health of your air conditioner is to look at its performance.
Even top-rated, energy-efficient central air conditioning systems made by leading manufacturers lose 5% of their efficiency every year regular maintenance is skipped, according to ConsumersAdvocate.org.
If scheduled maintenance continues to be ignored, a 5-year-old A/C system will be running at only 75% efficiency. Energy costs related to heating and cooling accounting for more than 40% of the average household budget, according to ENERGY STAR, so a 25% drop in performance can really balloon a household budget.
In contrast, HVAC equipment, including air conditioners, receiving proper maintenance can retain 95% efficiency for the life of the unit, ConsumersAdvocate.org reports.
Pro Maintenance Plan vs. DIY
It’s easy to see how performing scheduled maintenance on your cooling system can save you in energy costs. Now, do you call a nearby HVAC contractor and buy into an annual service plan or take care of the maintenance yourself?
Before you dive into a playlist of YouTube “DIY air conditioner tune-up” videos, consider the risks, rewards, and convenience of both options and whether you’re saving money or not.
Think About: How can I maximize my investment in the cooling system?
Whether you buy a ductless mini-split or central A/C system, even affordable energy-efficient cooling equipment is a major household expense. The climate control technology today is sophisticated in order to be precise and convenient. Even filters to improve indoor air quality have improved thanks to advances in engineering and scientific innovation.
Equipment can be slightly different from manufacturer to manufacturer, which is why finding a trusted HVAC contractor who knows how to service your specific air conditioner is so important.
Along with inspecting the electrical wiring, plumbing, and other condenser-related systems, a highly recommended HVAC technician will consider the ductwork when inspecting a unit. The best air conditioners still use up to 40% more energy if the ductwork leaks, according to American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Not necessarily holes (but it happens) but also thermal leaks that occur when ducts running along exterior walls are under-insulated or cheap insulation was used.
Think About: What can I realistically do?
If you’re someone who can remodel any basement into the envy of the neighborhood, you still need to take a thorough look at what you can do in good conscience.
For 1: Most manufacturer’s warranties have a clause that voids the warranty if scheduled inspections and repairs are not performed by a manufacturer-certified HVAC technician. Other clauses may include exclusive use of replacement parts made by the original manufacturer.
And 2: You need a Section 608 Technician Certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to handle refrigerant. Technology is advancing to use safer alternatives so to be certain check your owner’s manual.
Today’s commonly used refrigerants contain such compounds as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and halons, all of which destroy ozone in the stratosphere, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Refrigerants (such as Freon) are hazardous in limited to moderate exposure and may cause chemical burns to the skin, eye irritation, nausea, vomiting, and many other symptoms, according to Healthline.
Think About: Is this the best way to spend my time?
There’s a learning curve to everything. Watching a handful of YouTube videos showing such DIY HVAC projects as how to check amp draws, how to clear a clogged condensate drain line, and how to clean the condenser coils with a garden hose won’t make you proficient right away.
Only through factory training and hands-on experience specific to commercial or residential equipment can an HVAC technician provide quality service on the latest make and model air conditioners.
On the topic of learning curves—Did you think about turning off the condenser at the circuit box before spraying it with water?
Contact a nearby HVAC contractor to quickly and easily protect your investment and optimize its performance. Homeowners can check the filter once a month, cut away plant growth around the condenser, and make visual inspections of all the equipment between regular service appointments.
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Plus, you’re always welcome to contact the trusted heating, cooling, and air quality experts at Total Temperature Control.