Keeping Your Cool
Investing in your air conditioner’s tune-up is the best prevention for a maintenance-free summer.
Before Oklahoma’s hot, steamy summer sends you indoors to cool off, make sure your air conditioner is ready for the job. Since air conditioning units are engineered to perform for years, it is easy to become complacent about investing in regular tune-ups.
“Think of it as a preventative measure, like changing the oil in your car,” says Jason White, VP of Sales for Air Comfort Solutions.
White says an annual tune-up, typically around $75 or less, provides lower utility bills, a longer life for the unit and, ultimately, fewer repairs. “For instance, a belt might still be working but could be rotten,” says White. “If it’s not replaced then it could fail during the high stress of summer causing even additional damage.”
“An annual maintenance plan for servicing cooling equipment is the homeowner’s lowest cost of ownership,” adds Austin Boyce of Airco Service, Inc. In fact, some cooling equipment manufacturers are now requiring an annual maintenance tune-up as a part of their warranties.
The technician will check the air flow, clean the condensing unit coils, replace air filters, adjust the belts, oil fan motors and verify the system operating pressures and temperatures using the manufacturers’ specifications. The coolant level is also important to check because a system that is only 10 percent low on coolant can cost up to 20 percent more to operate. And a small refrigerant leak is easily fixed, but replacing the compressor when low coolant levels burn the unit out is expensive.
Be aware that the cost of Freon, or R-22, the refrigerant most used in systems that were manufactured before 2010, is becoming more expensive since its use is being phased out by 2020. A reputable air conditioning company can assist homeowners when considering the long-term costs versus benefits of repairing an older unit or replacing it with a newer efficient system utilizing new coolant technologies.
“Often homeowners are unaware of the age of their equipment, so a tune-up allows them to plan ahead if it looks like they might need to replace their unit,” says Boyce.
Other benefits of investing in an annual maintenance tune-up include discounts offered by most companies on any necessary repairs, including parts and even overtime labor.
Plus, those customers are also on a priority list reducing the uncomfortably warm wait time in case a service call is required.
In addition to seasonal tune-ups, ideas to help homeowners keep their system operating properly include buying quality filters and changing them regularly. Also keep bushes, vines and leaves away from the unit and if possible provide some shade for your A/C compressor.
According to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), your cooling unit doesn’t just control temperature. “It has an impact on the air that you breathe, on moisture and mold growth, the amount of energy that you use and money that you spend, and most importantly, on you and your family’s health.”