5 Ways Air Conditioning Maintenance Saves Your Wallet
Your air conditioner is a substantial appliance that can consume your money if you’re not careful. From constantly fluctuating energy costs to repairs and eventually to a replacement, these air conditioner needs can come with a hefty price tag. That’s why you want to take advantage of every opportunity you can to reign in your costs while running your unit. Discover how getting annual AC maintenance will help reduce those costs over the life of your system and what happens during maintenance that controls them.
1. Less Lost Energy
Your energy costs are going to fluctuate from day to day, month to month, and year to year based on the weather and the current cost of electricity. While you can’t control every aspect of the cost of power, you can try to normalize the amount of power your air conditioner consumes throughout its life.
When you purchased and installed your air conditioner, it was rated for a specific efficiency, known as SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. This rating assumes a certain operating environment, including no airflow restrictions and that every part of your AC is operating optimally.
However, as your system runs, it naturally begins losing some of that efficiency for a variety of reasons. The goal of air conditioner maintenance is to keep your system running at its peak efficiency. Neglecting maintenance only causes that efficiency to slowly degrade over the life of your system, driving up your energy consumption and your utility costs.
2. Fewer and Less Expensive Repairs
Aside from energy costs, your system’s efficiency is also directly tied to system breakdowns and the severity of those problems. By keeping your air conditioner maintained properly each year, you reduce the wear on the system, which lowers the number of repairs you’ll need.
It also helps reduce the severity of those repairs by catching them early. Your technician performs a whole list of tests during maintenance. This testing is designed to identify problems early, before they cause substantial strain on the entire system, which is usually before you’d notice a difference in how your unit operates. When a component does wear out, you end up replacing a minor component rather than replacing something more expensive, like the compressor.
3. Longer Service Life
Nationally, the average air conditioner will last roughly 10 to 15 years. In Florida, we have excess salt in the air, especially in coastal regions like Jacksonville. This excess salt accelerates wear on the outside condensing unit, usually shortening the life to around 8-12 years.
That expected service life is dependent on the unit receiving proper maintenance. As we’ve previously discussed, your system will lose efficiency over time, which causes individual components to wear more quickly. The condensing coil may develop a leak due to the wear from the salt. All of this adds up and leads to the need for more frequent replacements.
Even if your system hasn’t reached its intended age, there are two ways to determine when it’s time. The first is if any one repair or set of repairs is more than 50% of the cost of a new system. The second is looking at all of the repairs over the last two years and multiplying those costs by the age of the unit. If that equals or exceeds the cost of a new system, it’s time for a replacement. You can see how having more repairs due to neglected maintenance will accelerate both of these equations.
4. Less Risk of Emergency Repair Fees
Air conditioners tend to have the most problems during the hottest weather when we depend on them the most. This happens because the hotter and more humid the weather is outside, the more the compressor has to work to vent the heat the refrigerant absorbed from inside your home.
When you have a breakdown when it’s oppressively hot and humid, getting your system back up and running is a matter of not only comfort but also safety. When these repairs happen during off-business hours, you end up paying extra for the emergency service, which can significantly increase the cost of your repairs.
5. Protects Your Factory Warranty
You want to make sure that if your system breaks down during its warranty period that the manufacturer is going to cover the costs. However, most people don’t take the time to read the details of the warranty, which often include a term that stipulates you’ll have your system maintained.
Manufacturers include this term because they understand how important routine maintenance is to keep the system operating efficiently. As the efficiency wanes, the wear increases, and parts fail prematurely. By getting routine maintenance, you protect that warranty and ensure you don’t end up paying for repairs due to manufacturing defects.
Understanding AC Maintenance
Now that you’ve seen the ways annual AC maintenance reduces costs, let’s explore how it does that. Like any mechanical system, your air conditioner will wear over time. Some of that wear happens because of airflow restrictions in the system. Other wear happens because of increased electrical resistance due to loose electrical connections. There’s also the wear from excessive vibration caused by loose mounting hardware. Finally, there’s wear when any part of the system doesn’t operate within optimal parameters.
The first thing your maintenance technician does is inspect and clean your system. The visual inspection is looking for signs of corrosion and wear, which indicate there may be internal problems that need attention. Then they’ll move on to cleaning the system. They’ll inspect your air filter to see if it’s time for a replacement. Then, they clean the parts where airborne contaminants settle while it runs, which eventually causes airflow restrictions. In particular, this includes the evaporator coil inside, the circulating fan wheel, and the condensing coil outside.
Next, they look for any connections that have come loose. As your system runs and vibrates, it will loosen electrical connections and mounting hardware. A loose electrical connection causes increased resistance, which increases heat and then wears on connected components. Loose mounting hardware allows components like the compressor, blower motor, and condensing fan motor to move while running, potentially causing damage. Your technician will check and tighten these connections and hardware throughout your system to reduce wear.
Finally, they’ll run a series of tests. Some individual components get special testing, like your condensing capacitor, to check the resistance moving through the component. The technician will check the level of refrigerant in your system to make sure that it’s not low and causing excess strain on your compressor. Then, they’ll test the entire system to ensure that it cycles on appropriately, that all parts of the system are engaging at the right time, and that it produces the proper temperature drop in the air coming from your vents.
People around Jacksonville know and trust the experts at Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling to keep their homes comfortable throughout the year. Our technicians proudly provide heating and AC maintenance, repair, and installation together with indoor air quality solutions and duct cleaning. Call to schedule your air conditioning maintenance appointment with one of our friendly technicians today.