air conditioning unit check

Hello:
Our two central a/c units are 10years old (as old as the house). We are the second owners -- for three years.
The a/c units are not cooling as well as we think they should. We are planning on getting them inspected. What are the things which are checked as part of an annual inspection? How much does it cost?
Thanks.
Atlanta, GA
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Simple check, AC should have about a 20 degree drop across the evaporator. Just measure an inlet vent vs outlet vent temperature. Usually a steady stream of water should be coming from the drain pipe.

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Also check the condenser (outside unit) coil for dirt and obstructions. Don't bend the fins cleaning it. Check the filter also.
As for the cooling, if you get the 20 degree drop in air temperature that is about all you can expect. Remember, in most parts of the country it is 10 or 50 degrees hotter than normal and the AC sometimes just won't keep up as well with that added heat load.
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John Smith wrote:

First determine whether you want just an "inspection" or an annual "preventive maintenance service"
Second, do your homework, ask family, friends and co-workers to recommend a competent A/C contractor, this field is full of shady characters.
Don't get in the way or be a total pest BUT do observe the work being done and don't be afraid to ask questions.
If the first thing they suggest is a total replacement of the units for a whole bunch of money "because these units are old and very inefficient" request that they leave your property and never return.......10 years IS getting up there but if the units have had regular maintenence they should last for several more years with out any major problems.
Now I'll assume from your post that these units have not been serviced in three years.
An annual "service" should at least include: The condenser and evaporator coils should be cleaned and checked, that is: The outside unit should be opened up and any accumulated debris (leaves,dirt etc.) should be removed. The inside unit should be opened and the coils and drain pan cleaned. The condensate drain line flushed. All fans checked for proper operation and current draw. Compressor current draw. Proper refrigerant level/pressures. All duct work inspected for damage or leaks and connections/joints checked.
I would expect to pay around $200.00 - $250.00 for my home with a single unit and that is just a ballpark guess, every home is different.
Good Luck George
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I'm in Atlanta also.

This is the hottest we've had in 3 years. If your system cools okay during the late evening (when the sun goes down) and keeps the house comfortable until 10AM-12 Noon, you should be okay.
The thing I tell customers is to sure the air filters are okay and the condenser coils are clear. Don't do a hard set back (78 or higher) on your thermostats because the house won't recover to comfortable temps until late at night.
Do you have regular service on your systems? I have many customers that have me out in the spring for the annual service and I've only been called back by one during this heat wave and that was for a blown capacitor after a lightning storm.
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