Houston Heating, Cooling, and Electrical

Why Preseason Checkups Keep You Cool When You Need It Most

Preseason checkups ensure your A/C is ready for the summer

Summer is near, and that means air conditioners around Houston will soon be working overtime. A preseason checkup ensures your A/C is up to the task and ready to keep you cool when you need it most.

According to the Department of Energy’s data, peak electricity usage during the summer is about 22 percent higher than peak winter usage. Much of that can be attributed to air conditioner usage, and the number is higher in coastal regions like the one Houston inhabits. In short, we ask a lot of our air conditioners during the summer, but dirty coils, loose electrical contacts, low refrigerant levels and many other common issues can bring the system down when the heat is on.

A preseason checkup fixes these problems before the dangerously hot days of summer set in, ensuring you and your family are safe and comfortable.

Why you shouldn’t skip a preseason checkup

Air conditioners are rugged pieces of equipment, designed to withstand the elements year after year. As durable as they are, though, they still require regular maintenance. This is especially true before the summer months, when the system will be pushed to its limits. Here’s how a preseason checkup will benefit your A/C technology:

1. It will spot minor problems before they become major problems – If your air conditioner hasn’t been maintained in some time, there’s a chance that the system could fail without warning. When that happens, a technician may not be available until the next day, and everyone will have to sweat it out until the technician arrives. This may be a matter of inconvenience to most people, but to those vulnerable to heat, it can be much more serious.

Going without maintenance is risking the system going down when you need it most, especially if the air conditioner is on the older side.

2. It will extend the air conditioner’s longevity – Air conditioners are expected to last between 10 and 15 years in hot coastal areas. Regular maintenance doesn’t guarantee that the system will last 15 years or longer, but it certainly makes it more likely.

Air conditioners, and particularly the outdoor part of the system, must be tuned up frequently to keep wear and tear down. In this way, an A/C unit is much like a car. When a vehicle needs maintenance, it may ride rough or suffer a drop in fuel efficiency. An air conditioner also runs rougher when it hasn’t been maintained in a while, and this can cause damage to components or vibrate them loose.

By resolving these issues early on, technicians can keep the system running longer and more smoothly.

3. It will boost system efficiency – Dirt, debris, low refrigerant and excessive wear can all cause a drop in energy efficiency. Clogged filters can reduce air flow while dirty coils may produce a total compressor failure if not addressed.

There are many ways to get a bit more efficiency out of an air conditioner, and an experienced technician is aware of them all. Cleaning out the compressor, checking for refrigerant or air leaks, inspecting ductwork for debris and leaks and recalibrating the thermostat are just a few ways to get better efficiency out of the system, and this can add up to hundreds of dollars every year in savings on the energy bill.

4. It will preserve manufacturer warranties – Most air conditioner manufacturers offer a 10-year warranty on the compressor and its components. However, some manufacturers will only honor a warranty if the unit has received frequent maintenance. Scheduling a preseason checkup ensures the warranty remains valid.

What does a preseason checkup consist of?

Some HVAC companies offer maintenance plans to residential and commercial clients. These plans are a simple way for property owners to get the service they need, without having to wait until something goes wrong. During a preventative maintenance visit, the technician will perform a comprehensive inspection of the unit to verify that it’s ready for the summer. In addition, the technician will also do the following:

1. Clean the condenser coils and the compressor unit – Dirt, grass and other debris will eventually find its way into the compressor, causing clogs if not addressed. The technician will remove this debris and change out any soiled filters, taking some of the load off of the system and helping it run more efficiently.

2. Inspect and clean the condensate drain line, if needed – Drain lines transport captured moisture from inside the home to the outdoors. In Houston, removing humidity from the home is just as important as keeping it cool, for comfort and for home maintenance reasons. If the drain line is clogged, moisture cannot be removed, which is why the technician will clean it out if necessary.

3. Tighten all electrical contacts and hardware – Air conditioners steadily vibrate during operation, and though manufacturers are getting better at reducing vibration, it’s still an issue. Constant vibration will shake hardware and electrical contacts loose over time, and this can lead to electrical issues or damage. The technician will check for any components that appear loose and tighten them, ensuring they do not cause further problems.

4. Inspect moving components for wear and lubricate them – A/C systems have many moving parts, and proper lubrication ensures they aren’t worn down by constant abrasion. Compressors contain bearings, seals and gears, and without lubrication, they will need to be replaced frequently.

5. Calibrate the thermostat – It’s always a good idea to calibrate the thermostat before summer. This ensures the thermostat is controlling the system properly and hitting the right temperature consistently.

6. Diagnose any ongoing problems with the system – If the air conditioner is having issues cooling the home before the summer, those issues will only get worse once the temperature climbs. If electrical damage is suspected, or if the system is short-cycling, these are problems that only a technician can correct.

By the time the technician is done servicing the A/C, it will be ready for the rigors of summer. No matter how hot it gets, a preseason checkup will keep you and your family cool, comfortable and safe from Houston’s heat.

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