Why Is Air Conditioner Maintenance Essential?
What if, for a reasonably minor investment, you could save money, breathe unpolluted air, experience an increase in safety and comfort in your home, and help the environment while enhancing your overall peace of mind? This is just a brief summary of the many paybacks of getting regular air conditioning maintenance.

As we are well aware, the heat and humidity of summer arrives rather quickly here in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region.Is your air conditioner ready for what lies ahead in the coming weeks?

AC maintenance is really a bit more important than you might think. Let’s take a closer look at why AC preventive maintenance is such a smart and valuable investment.

Regular maintenance prolongs the life of your air conditioner

Yes, an AC tune-up costs money. You know what costs even more money? Purchasing and installing a new air conditioner. As a homeowner, your objective should be to get as many years as feasible out of your air conditioner before you find yourself in the situation of having to replace it.

Lacking routine maintenance, an air conditioner loses approximately 5 percent of its efficiency each year. That means every year that you fail to have your AC unit serviced, you’re paying out more money to have your unit operate less efficiently.

Regular maintenance will let technicians uncover and fix a number of minor issues swiftly, keeping your AC unit running at its ideal performance level. When small issues are discovered early on, they are more likely not to turn into gigantic issues, which leads to a more reliable working system that will last much longer.

It’s not just preventative maintenance that’s important, however. Every year your air conditioner runs lacking a tune-up, it’s having to work harder and harder to cool your home. That translates to more runtime, added wear-and-tear and more energy used. To put it in terms of your vehicle, all that adds up to what’s essentially “mileage” on your air conditioner.

Energy savings can add up quickly

Okay, preventative maintenance keeps air conditioners working at optimum capacity, but by doing so, it also helps to conserve energy. Regular AC “checkups” involve detailed cleaning of blades, cooling systems, and other such mechanisms. This makes the best use of energy which saves you money on utility bills in the long run.

Maintenance also reduces the unnecessary stress on air conditioners. When air ducts are stopped up and filters are dirty, AC units have to work harder to keep up air output. This causes increased stress on the motor and cooling units and can lead to a breakdown sooner than expected.

An air conditioner tune-up will consist of numerous crucial checkpoints including duct cleaning, keeping an eye on replacement of coolant, in-depth inspection of seals, thermostat check, and much more.

Hint: In addition to scheduled maintenance, you can help ensure a longer life of your unit by changing your air filter every couple of months. During times of heavy use, you might have to change the filter every month. Filters are available in most home improvement stores and installation is quick and easy.

Tune-ups help support efficiency

In order for an AC to sustain its maximum efficiency, yearly tune-ups are critical. Otherwise, the efficiency of your unit can go downhill, as noted above, by as much as 5 percent each year.

There are any number of concerns that can impact the efficiency of an air conditioner. One of them is particle accumulation surrounding the coils. No matter where your air conditioning system is to be found in your home, everything from dirt to soil to dust can enter through the holes. When these particles gather, the coils that allow heat transfer aren’t able to do so as effectively. These particles obstruct air flow, and your air conditioner becomes less proficient at cooling.

Another issue would be a clog in your AC, which could produce water damage and unwelcome humidity. Your motor might also fail or need lubrication. The blowers require routine cleaning or else the air will not flow as intended. If all these issues can be prevented from building up, you will save a bundle of money.

Repairing an AC unit is usually more expensive than maintaining it

It’s called “preventative maintenance” for a good reason. An AC tune-up can dramatically cut the possibility of an in-season breakdown. In fact, many HVAC techs approximate that around 50 percent of all the air conditioner repairs they contend with could have been prevented with regular AC maintenance.

Even if your tune-up averts only one major concern during the course of your air conditioner’s life, you’ve most likely already met the ceiling for your return-on-investment.

Let’s use a vehicle analogy. If you’ve ever had your car repaired after it broke down, then you know just how much it can cost. Compare that to a yearly check-up or a simple tune-up. The thinking is the same for an air conditioner. It’s one of those appliances that, if it breaks, it might be less costly to simply purchase a new air conditioning unit.

But this is a worst-case consequence. As air conditioner contractors, the best counsel we can provide you when it comes to taking care of your air conditioner, is to have it inspected and maintained often enough to make sure no breakdowns take place.

As noted above, in our experience repairing air conditioners, around half of the repairs could be prevented if the unit had simply been tuned-up each year. This means that arranging yearly maintenance of your AC system can slash the likelihood of a cooling issue by fifty percent.

Your next concern might be that the warranty may cover the repairs. That’s not entirely true.

Your warranty depends on regular maintenance of your unit

It’s no secret that most appliances can be tied in with some form of warranty. But for a number of air conditioner brands out there, their warranty insists on you having regular maintenance.

From the manufacturer’s point of view, they just want to cover systems that are being appropriately cared for by the homeowner, by way of a professional HVAC technician. From a homeowner’s perspective, you should do everything within your power to keep up your warranty coverage. It could result in saving you thousands of dollars down the road.

A number of top-notch brands state this in their guidelines. They plainly assert that replacement parts can only be provided if the air conditioner unit was provided routine maintenance by an HVAC professional. It can usually be found under the header of “Exclusions” or Eligibility Requirements.”

This course of action may seem excessive, but it makes sure that the unit is cared for and that breakdowns are offered the most prevention available. It’s also best for you to remember it since, to repeat and re-emphasize, maintenance is cheaper than repairs.

Put simply, by scheduling regular AC maintenance, you won’t have to pay out of pocket for any repairs covered by your manufacturer’s warranty.

You remain comfortable in your home

So far, we’ve talked generally about the financial side of things. But, importantly, your comfort matters, too. It’s the absolute motive behind your running your air conditioner in the first place. Without routine maintenance, your air conditioner is more apt to run erratically, cool your home bit by bit or run into problems such as short cycling, which occurs when your AC is continuously turning itself on and off since it can’t sustain the current temperature in your home.

Let’s face it, for most of us, you just can’t put a price on the sensation of cool air coming out of vents on a hot, humid summer night.

Given the reasonably low amount of dollars for an AC tune-up, having an expert out to your home to make sure your system is working at its best is indispensable.

Maintenance helps to improve indoor air quality

It’s crucial that you and your family remain healthy in your home. If your air conditioner is clogged with bacteria, dirt and dust, it can result in assorted health concerns.

The EPA informs us that indoor amounts of airborne pollutants may be 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels. This is particularly important if you or any family member experience respiratory issues such as asthma.

Though we are not mindful of it day to day, we share our homes with various elements that we would rather not be breathing. These everyday indoor allergens vary from common household dust that can include loads of respiratory concerns to pet dander, dust mites, pollen and mold.

If a musty odor worries you about mold, it might be time to think about having the air ducts cleaned by a professional. As a rule, preventative maintenance helps make sure that the cold air (or warm air in the winter) flowing through your vents is as hygienic and well-filtered as possible.

Maintenance helps improve your green footprint

If you’re concerned about your green footprint, bear in mind that a well-maintained air conditioner guzzles less fuel – and that’s good news for the planet.

Such homeowners will also want to understand what type of refrigerant is used in their system as the EPA has been working to eliminate substances that hurt the environment. HVAC technicians dealing with controlled refrigerant are obliged to have EPA Section 608 Certification and they can help you recognize what type of refrigerant you’re utilizing, its effect on the environment, and your choices.

Your HVAC contractor can also talk to you concerning the benefits of installing a programmable thermostat if you don’t already have one.

But what if I get maintenance and find out I need repairs?

At times, during maintenance, your technician may come across issues with your AC system that necessitate repairs. If that happens, he/she will talk over the nature of any such repairs. Some familiar repairs could include replacement of belts, fans or motors, repairing refrigerant leaks, recharging the refrigerant, and cleaning a condensate drain.

Sometimes, the air conditioner repairs are more costly, such as when the unit needs a compressor repair or replacement. In these cases, your technician will walk you through the best course of action. If your system is simply old and out of warranty, it could be time to consider a replacement. The older your AC system is, the more probable it’s no longer energy efficient, will require numerous repairs, may employ an outdated (and very costly) type of refrigerant, and just can’t maintain your home as cool as you want.

If you determine you have to replace your AC system, your technician will discuss with you the various types of system on the market, including better technology such as heat pumps and ductless systems. They will then help you select the best possible system for your home and lifestyle and help you locate any existing incentives and financing options.

Some final thoughts

Many homeowners make the mistake of taking for granted that their air conditioning unit is good to go, immediately after installation. They regard their units with an “out of sight, out of mind” outlook until there is a problem, and then they contact an air conditioning expert to fix the issue, not appreciating that many AC issues are avoidable.

Be a shrewd homeowner. If you reside in Pittsburgh or the surrounding region, you can’t do better than contacting the air conditioning experts at Schultheis Brothers for all your maintenance and repair needs.