Do It Yourself AC – Pros and Cons of Maintaining Your Own Air Conditioning System

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Many Americans take great pride in handling simple repair jobs and performing routine maintenance tasks on their homes. Do-it-yourselfers put the “own” in home ownership. There’s tremendous satisfaction in fixing a leaky faucet, sanding and refinishing the back deck or installing replacement gutters after a bad storm. And let’s be honest, there’s nothing wrong with saving a few bucks in the process.

Air Conditioning Filters

Replacing air conditioning filters is one example of a relatively easy, weekend task that can be performed without too much difficulty. However, with a complex, multi-part major appliance like home air conditioning systems, the question becomes how long can you go on replacing air filters before a professional tune-up is needed? How far can you push your home repairs before a service call is required? Most air conditioning systems are manufactured to high standards and built to last for years. The unfortunate fact is, for many homeowners with a to-do list a mile long, air conditioner maintenance often slips between the cracks. Out of sight, out of mind. Unfortunately, HVAC inspections and repairs are not always performed in a timely manner.

I’m Going to Drive My Car Really Hard Until It Breaks Down

Automobiles provide an interesting insight into consumer repair habits because the majority of car owners neither have the skills, the inclination, nor the tools and equipment required to do repair work on newer models with intricate systems and onboard computers. Of course, many people still change the oil and do minor repairs, such as replace brake light bulbs or replenish the fluids. The point is, people accept the fact that complicated automobile repair jobs need to be handled by a dealership or qualified mechanic. You rarely hear a motorist brag that he’s going to drive his car relentlessly for years at a time until it breaks down – and then call a mechanic. Yet, that is precisely what happens with many air conditioning systems, especially in Arizona where air conditioners are absolutely pushed to their limits. We have often heard customers say, “I can’t understand why there’s a problem with my AC, I change my filters religiously three to four times per year.” But changing the filters is only one small part of an overall comprehensive maintenance approach. When was the last time your air conditioner was serviced?

AC Repair Jobs Requiring an Experienced Air Conditioning Professional

We recently read a DIY blog that suggested using a leaf blower to blast out any dust or debris which may be lodged in your AC coils. Really? How about a fire hose to wash down the dust inside the vents? Let’s be honest, we’re all do-it-yourselfers at our own homes but we know enough to stay within our limitations and call in the pros when necessary. Here’s a list of items which are best left to professionals either because the repair needs special equipment or requires the judgment of an experienced technician:

  • Thermostat – checked and calibrated (special equipment required)
  • Refrigerant – checked and charged (special equipment required)
  • Electrical – controls and safeties, relays and contactors, capacitors and unit wiring – inspected, cleaned and adjusted as needed (electrical glitches and potential problems can be detected by experienced technicians)
  • Voltage and amp of compressor, blower motor, condenser fan motors – checked and monitored
  • Condenser coils – checked and cleaned
  • Motors and bearings – checked and lubricated

The actual inspection list is longer. These bullet points highlight the fact that typical do-it-yourselfers simply aren’t equipped to perform many air conditioning repairs. Electrical problems are not to be treated lightly. Worn wires and bad connections can short circuit and cause damage to your unit or worse.

How Often Do I Need a Professional HVAC Checkup?

Due to the extreme nature of the heat and elements in the Arizona desert, air conditioning systems should be checked by a professional at least once a year. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to schedule an AC checkup in the spring and a follow up for heat in the fall. At Chandler Air, we pride ourselves on providing the best service and expert advice for keeping your HVAC running smoothly all year long.