wet air filterIf you’re not using your AC yet, you soon will be, and as we leave winter behind in the Valley, we’re seeing more and more Sacramentans starting to think about their air conditioning. Now is a great time to be thinking about an air conditioner tune-upjust as you should get your furnace checked in the fall in preparation for winter, it’s time to tune up your AC before summer hits us in May and June. Today, we walk through what a typical inspection looks like and discuss some of the repair and replacement options that are available depending on your system’s needs.

A Typical AC Inspection

It’s best to give yourself some leeway on AC inspection. In case a tune-up isn’t enough, you’ll want some time to schedule a repair. If you’ve already turned on your AC this year, it’s really important to get it tuned up before you use it too often. If there’s something wrong, continued use may cause further issues. From our end, we try to get to everything as fast as possible, but spring is when AC work really starts to pick up for us (along with plumbing and window replacement). Setting up your AC tune-up early is a great way to make sure we can get to it in a timely manner and suggest repairs before we’re in the dog days of summer.

A basic inspection will cover all the points of the AC system. Our guys will take a look at your thermostat and your ducts, check your vents, clean the blower, and change the filter—making note of any issues along the way. After they clean your condensate drain line, they’ll head outside to the condenser and do a solid visual inspection—does there appear to be damage or debris? Would you benefit from a condenser cover? They’ll often remove debris or plant growth from the unit and then move on to your refrigerant lines. If everything checks out they may still have some advice to give so be sure to pick their brain before they leave.

When You Need a Repair

If it’s bad news and you need a system repair, you’ll want to pay very close attention. AC repair can get tricky and is sometimes costly—but it only gets more expensive the longer you wait.

We see a lot of issues in spring when people first fire up their systems. Often repair calls are prefaced with “Well, it sat all winter, and now it’s doing ‘X.’” Usually that means there were problems in the system last summer that didn’t get addressed and have lingered through the winter because the homeowners haven’t been using the air conditioning. That’s not always the case—winter can be cruel to certain parts of your AC system, especially the condenser—but typically, just sitting unused isn’t detrimental to an AC system unless there was something already wrong with it. We also see many AC problems stemming from lack of winter HVAC maintenance. For example, furnaces and AC systems use the same ductwork—if the filters haven’t been changed, that will affect the air conditioner too.

A Great Time to Upgrade

Repairs can be expensive. Nothing is more frustrating than paying to fix a system you haven’t used in four months (or longer). Especially if the system is older and doesn’t work that great to begin with. When you have your AC tune-up this year, ask the technician about upgrading to a newer model. Our guys won’t try to sell you on anything you don’t need, but they will give you straight talk about your system. They’ll tell you how it’s doing, estimate how many years it has left if maintained correctly, and address any concerns about repairs.

They may tell you it’s time to start thinking about a new system, hopefully while you still have some time left on your current one. If that’s the case, don’t be too alarmed—most air conditioners on the market today last much longer than the ones sold ten years ago, and the performance is much better to boot. And to help with costs, financing and rebate options exist to make the bill more manageable. If you have doubts about your system’s ability to make it this summer, call a contractor you trust and see what a new system might look like for you.