Do I really need to get my air conditioning unit cleaned and checked every year?

Many people feel that if their air conditioning unit is new, they may not need to get it looked at only a year after its installation. Others believe the weather in their area is mild enough that the air conditioning unit hasn’t been “working hard enough” to warrant a clean. This is not the case.

Let me tell you why.

There are two types of coils in an air conditioner: evaporator and condenser coils. Condenser coils live on the outside of the unit and can sometimes be seen collecting ice. The condenser coil transfers heat from inside your home to the outside using refrigerant. The evaporator coil is located inside the air conditioning unit and removes the humidity and heat from the air in your living space.

Since condenser coils are on the outside of a unit, they are particularly vulnerable to grime and dirt. When dirt and other buildup collect on the coils, they can’t efficiently exchange heat. This can cause the system to overheat and eventually break down. Not to mention, the additional energy use will cause monthly energy bills to go way up.

Once a year is the minimum that your air conditioning unit should be cleaned. If you live in areas with more extreme season changes or higher air pollution levels, twice a year may be necessary. Getting maintenance checks two times a year is also beneficial when the unit is older.

While it is easy to call and get help having your unit cleaned, there is a lot you can do yourself to prevent the damage, energy use, and higher bills that an uncleaned system can cause. Taking the time to check your coils and brush off extra debris every couple of months can make all the difference and save you money in the long run.

Now, these coil cleanings and yearly (or more) maintenance checks are not to be confused with filter changes. Air conditioning filters should be changed about every 90 days, or every three months. Ice forming on the outside of your unit is a good sign that the filters need changing. Without changing the air filters, extra dust and debris will get into your machine and cause the parts to stop working, also resulting in damage and the use of costly energy.

So, whether your air conditioning unit is new, old, working hard, or hardly working, get your unit cleaned and checked at least once a year and change your filters regularly. This care will save money, keep your unit running smoothly, and prevent expensive and potentially dangerous problems.