As we plunge deeper into the summer months, the time to start caring about your air conditioning unit was yesterday.

With the blistering heat, your AC unit may begin to start working overtime, leading to more wear and tear.

AC repair can be a costly affair, with service calls costing between $150 to $650, depending on the issue, labor, and the AC unit’s warranty. Replacement of valuable components in the unit could cost upwards of $2,000, and replacing whole units can easily double that.  

Due to the high cost of professional service, and the general lack of available HVAC professionals currently working, maintenance has become more critical than ever.

According to Ron Head, owner of Head’s Heating & Air Conditioning, unchanged filters are the number one cause of AC breakdowns and service calls in his decades of experience.

“Change your dang filter regularly,” Head said. “That’s the number one issue.”

The air filter’s job is to keep dust and debris out of your HVAC equipment. It can also prevent the circulation of specific viruses. Failure to change the filter can lead to a litany of costly issues.

“There are several things that can happen,” Head said. “With the older fiberglass filters, it loads up and starts restricting airflow, then it starts sucking air from places it shouldn’t, and you get a dirtier coil, faster; then you have to pay money for someone to come out there, pull it out and clean it.”

Pleated filters, which are found in most modern heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units come with their own list of possible issues. Since pleated filters collect more dust and debris, they can cause the entire unit to stop functioning just by being clogged. If left unaddressed, you could be charged for an expensive service call, all due to a dirty filter.

A clogged filter could also cause higher energy costs to your home, making cooling your home even more expensive than it already is.

Maintenance of your home’s cooling system involves more than just indoor components.

Your outdoor unit contains all the valuable moving parts and systems that keep your home cool during the summer months. Since they are outside, they are exposed to the elements, as well as debris that can fall into the unit and impede function

According to Head, any vegetation surrounding the unit should be trimmed back at least 18 inches.

“Keep your vines and grass from growing up in it,” Head said. “If you don’t have bushes or anything around the unit, when you’re cutting grass, you blow grass into your coil. You need to rinse your coil out every once in a while.”

Rinsing the coils on your outdoor unit will wash away any debris, prolonging the life of your unit. Head recommends regularly rinsing your unit with a water hose when the unit is turned off. He also recommends cleaning your drainage pipes with hot water, a vacuum, or both.

Costs of HVAC repair have increased recently due to the state of the economy combined with a lack of HVAC labor.

According to Contracting Business, the HVAC technician workforce numbers around 260,000 people. The number of unfilled HVAC technician jobs is about 80,000, or 39% of technicians currently employed. On top of that, the industry is suffering a net technician loss of about 8% or 20,000 per year.

Higher prices are not the only cost of a depleted workforce.

The HVAC workforce is stretched thin in many areas, meaning longer wait times for service calls.

Consistent cleaning and maintenance, combined with regularly scheduled professional servicing, can prevent customers from being trapped without AC for days.

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