Maintaining your home's HVAC system is a more challenging task than you might expect. While even a neglected modern air conditioner will run just fine for many years, a poorly maintained system will eventually experience expensive repairs and premature failures. Taking proper care of your system will help extend its life, keep it running efficiently, and minimize your cost of ownership.
However, it may be hard to understand which services are necessary, especially if you don't have much experience with HVAC systems. This guide will discuss whether or not you should treat three common air conditioning services as a routine part of your HVAC maintenance plan.
1. Refrigerant Recharges
Do You Need It? No! Your air conditioning system uses a closed refrigerant loop, which means that the system never loses or "uses up" refrigerant during normal operation. Air conditioners rely on precise refrigerant pressure to function correctly, so the system should never need a routine recharge. Likewise, checking your refrigerant is never necessary unless you suspect a problem.
What Should You Do? Your system will typically only require new refrigerant if there's a leak or a restriction. These problems create noticeable symptoms, such as frozen evaporator coils and short cycling. If you notice these problems, schedule a check with an HVAC professional. Do not attempt to check the refrigerant level yourself since you may lose refrigerant or introduce contaminants.
2. Annual AC Maintenance
Do You Need It? Yes! There are a handful of maintenance tasks you can handle on your own, such as changing your air filter or cleaning your condenser coils. However, more thorough annual inspections and maintenance checks are still critical. These visits help ensure that your system is running at maximum efficiency while also helping you catch problems as early as possible.
What Should You Do? Choose a reliable and experienced HVAC contractor in your area and schedule a routine AC service visit at least once yearly. You can schedule this visit almost any time during the year, although you'll want to avoid doing so during the coldest winter months since your technician can't run your system below about 60 degrees F.
3. Ductwork Cleaning
Do You Need It? Maybe. The EPA generally does not recommend routine ductwork cleaning. However, that doesn't mean indoor air quality can't benefit from this service. Instead, many homes' ductwork isn't dirty enough to require annual or bi-annual cleaning. Still, mold and dust can accumulate to the point where they can create an unhealthy or uncomfortable indoor environment.
What Should You Do? If your allergies worsen indoors or you have unusual smells in your home, you may want to consider a ductwork inspection. An inspection will reveal any substantial build-up in your ducts. So although you don't necessarily need routine duct cleaning, it's a service that may be helpful in some situations.