With the start of summer around the corner, annual AC maintenance should certainly be on top of your to-do list. This is especially if you desire to maintain the right environment in your house throughout this hot season and beyond.
The hard fact is, nothing is as refreshing as a cool environment during the peak of summertime. And, a well-maintained AC system will help you achieve just that. You have to ensure that the system’s filters, fins, coils, and other components are regularly checked to guarantee the AC’s optimal performance and efficiency.
But, how much does it cost to do the annual AC maintenance? Is it even worth the cost? And, what does it entail? Well, this piece tries to explain in detail exactly what is needed, no matter the type of AC system.
Let’s dive in:
- Cleaning Your Air Conditioner Filters
This is the first and the most important task during your AC systems maintenance. To ensure efficiency, you should clean or replace the AC filters regularly. This will help to remove the accumulated dirt and dust, thus unclogging the system.
You should note that clogged or dirty filters will hinder normal airflow, which subsequently reduces the system’s efficiency. Some dirty air might also bypass the filters and reach the evaporator coil if there’s no proper airflow. As a result, the dirt might reduce the coils’ capacity to absorb heat.
During the maintenance, the technician should clean or replace the clogged air filters with new ones. Having a clean filter lowers your AC system’s energy usage by even up to 15%.
If it’s DIY maintenance, here is what you should know:
- In central air conditioners, you’ll find the filters somewhere along its return ducts
- For a room air conditioner, the filters are fixed inside the grill facing the room
- Other common filter locations include the walls, furnaces, ceilings, or inside the AC.
Also, filters are different. Some are reusable, requiring just a thorough cleaning, while others are one-time-use and need replacing.
- Air Conditioner Coils Cleaning
This step includes cleaning both the evaporator and condenser coils. As mentioned earlier, if dirt particles reach these coils, it may affect their cooling ability, causing overheating problems.
While a clean AC filter prevents the rapid accumulation of dust and dirt on these coils, some particles might still pass through, leading to some serious issues over time. For this reason, it’s paramount to check the evaporator coil during the annual AC maintenance and clean it as required.
For outdoor condenser coils, dirt and dust might easily accumulate on them, especially in dusty areas or those with vegetation. The good thing with condenser coils is that you can see them, and easily determine whether it has collected dust.
You can prevent too much dirt accumulation on these condenser coils by ensuring that there’s dirt or debris-free environment close to the condenser unit.
- AC Coil Fins Cleaning
AC coil fins are also some important AC components that one should check during the annual AC maintenance. The aluminum fins, located on both the condenser and evaporator coils, are quite pliant. This means that they can easily bend, blocking the normal airflow through the coils.
For this reason, properly checking them during maintenance will help ascertain their condition. If they are bent, you might need a tool known as the “fin comb” to help you bring them back to the desired condition.
You can buy the fin comb from any air conditioner shop or wholesaler near you.
- Cleaning of the Condenser and Evaporator Fan
Like other parts of the air conditioning system, the condenser and evaporator fan also accumulates dust. You might also find some molds growing on the fan blades.
During your annual AC maintenance, you should clean these blades thoroughly. This will help them to operate optimally and also reduce your system’s energy intake.
It’s good to note that the condenser fan on a split AC is located within the outdoor unit. And, to make the cleaning process easier, you need to have a quality water spray gun. You can purchase one at any air conditioner wholesaler near you or consider making an online purchase.
- Lubricating Moving Parts
For the proper functioning of your AC system, ensuring that moving parts are well lubricated is crucial. This will help reduce parts breakdown and damage, which subsequently leads to frequent and costly repairs.
Poorly lubricated parts rub against each other, causing too much friction and heat. If not properly checked, this might increase your annual AC maintenance cost significantly.
Therefore, the technician handling your AC maintenance should ensure that every moving part is lubricated. Also, they ought to replace any broken parts to make operations smooth and efficient.
- Check & Clear Condensate Drains
Checking and clearing your air conditioner’s drain lines is also quite important. You should regularly insert a firm wire into the AC’s drain lines to ensure they are not clogged.
Clogged condensate drains impairs the unit’s ability to drain liquid condensate and reduce humidity, leading to excess moisture. The excess moisture might result in discolored walls and carpets and the growth of bacteria and mold along the drain line. Cleaning these drains is an excellent way to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
An annual AC maintenance gives you a chance to check for these clogging issues and identify any damaged or cracked drain lines, which might lead to leakages.
- AC’S Coolant Level Check
The technician should also check the coolant level of your AC. Is it at the optimal level? The check is done on the cooling and evaporator coils.
If the coolant level falls below the required amount, the cooling coil’s temperature falls below the minimum. This hinders the normal functioning of the cooling or evaporator coil, ultimately making the AC cooling to stop.
For this reason, you must always maintain the coolant level at the optimal amounts.
How Much Does Annual AC Maintenance Cost?
Two factors mainly influence your annual AC maintenance cost. These include the type of AC and the level of service needed.
While some people possess the necessary knowledge for a DIY service, a professional technician will often be required. On average, the annual AC maintenance cost ranges between $100 and $150. With these estimates, an average home can incur around $125 for services, including:
- Tune-up (inspecting, testing, and tightening parts)
- Minor parts replacement or cleaning (filters, coils, etc.)
Servicing the air conditioner unit might be simple or lengthy & complicated depending on the level of service needed, plus several other factors. For instance, if there is substantial dirt buildup, it might take longer to clean. Also, if it’s a large unit or not easily accessible, the technician might take several hours to service it.
Usually, routine maintenance is charged at a flat rate of $70 to $195. But, for major repairs, an hourly charge of between $60 and $75 per hour applies. These rates are exclusive of parts, in case a replacement is necessary.
One more thing to note here is that when your AC unit warranty is expired, purchasing an annual AC maintenance plan is advisable. Look for a plan that includes priority service, discounted cleaning, and services, winter checks, inspections, refrigerant recharges, and tune-ups. This might cost you anything between $175 and $450 annually, based on the contract’s length or type.
Is annual AC maintenance worth it? Certainly Yes! If you want to enjoy the cool refreshing home environment during this hot season, a well-functioning AC system is a must-have.
The routine check-up and maintenance of your air conditioning not only gives you peace of mind and comfort but also saves you money. It ensures that you won’t have to undertake costly repairs after major breakdowns.