Does A/C need maintenance?

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I replaced my 20 year old HVAC two years ago; and got a 10 year extended warranty. Since then I have had the furnace cleaned each winter.
Today I got a post card from the installer recommending that I get maintenance on the A/C. I have always thought that A/C didn't need anything as long as it was working okay. Is preventive maintenance necessary?
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Toller
EVERY extended parts warranty and Parts and Labor warranty that I have ever seen or sold REQUIRES regular PM to remain in force. If you have a major failure of your car and you have no PM records the warranty may be voided. Same thing with heat pumps and ACs. You probably need to check it at least once per year. Every other year would be better than nothing. Your heat & AC probably runs more than your car, you should take as much care of it as you do of your car.
Stretch
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With my contract they clean the coil , change air filter, oil motor, check freon , amp draw, condensate drain, safety shutoff and coil air temp drop. [ If I am there ]
It saved my unit once the Capacitor just failed on spring startup, labor was then free, capacitor 35$ ? and out of warranty by 10 yrs . Worth it if they do everything, be there when they do it. Being low on freon you loose efficiency , amp draw showes compressor life left , clean drains prevent backup and mold, temp drop shows if it is working 100% , saftey shutoff prevents flooding attic if drain is clogged .
Good to know while in warranty and to be prepared if there is a leak or compressor going bad before the 10 years are up. I get a check list of amp draw, temps, freon pressure etc.
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My deal is a 5 yr contract for apx 60$ a year not a service call. This way they come in spring and it is cheaper.
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This is Turtle.
Well the Answer come in the form of a question.
If you have your car or truck serviced by the dealer where you bought it from. Yes you should have your hvac system serviced by the dealer that sold it to you.
If you service your car or truck yourself and do all the service need to your car or truck your self. You need to learn to do your service work to your hvac system yourself also for you can learn to service your hvac system just like your car. Now you can't just not let thing do as to doing them on a timely manner. It will take some time and effort but you can do it your self.
Now 90% of the people will not take the time to do it right and just let too much go that should be done like on your car or truck.
Now as to your question of maintainance of your hvac system really needed. If your car or truck need maintainance so does your hvac system.
TURTLE
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Turtle so people that want to do an anual check up to their stuff should go buy gauges and amp meters etc and take a class-classes to learn!
Wake up Turtle
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PM usually consists of cleaning the evaporator coil, cleaning the drip pan and its drain, and replacing air filters. Other types of deterioration can also be spotted early when it is easy to fix (like damage to insulation or caulking).
Its like a car, you can change your own oil and air filter or pay somebody $100 to do it for you.
An extended warranty is easier to enforce when you can show it was properly/professionally maintained yearly but is probably not required. You may do a better job yourself but a stack of reciepts is hard proof if they try to say that a warranty repair is not because it was not maintained properly (for example: frozen coil jams up fan and causes motor to overheat because filter was clogged with dirt)
TIP: A whole house warranty may be lots cheaper than individual warranties for each appliance. Many of these warranties cover plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems for the same low deductable and plan and you only have to deal with one company.

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This is Turtle.
I am awake , but the answer to his question come in the form of a question. The ideal of buying the tools is nothing but going to classes to learn how to do this service is something. Well when a person checks on this. that is the end of it.
TURTLE
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Just my opinion. I would pay them to come in and do the maintenance, but I would be sure to be loking over their shoulder so I can do it myself the next time. Don't be afraid to ask questions about DIY. Sometimes you get a repair/maintenance person that is more than willing to share his/her knowledge with you. If they talk over your head as udarrell did, ask them to explain it in simpler terms. Some will, Some can't.

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I would like to know how to check out my stuff but I know gauges are not cheap for freon. Keeping an eye on equipment can save on repairs if you know what to look for and keep equipment from dying early, and save on electriciy
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Doing it yourself depends on what you are doing yourself. I carry about $7,000 in tools om my truck I also have 25 years experience using them. Checking freon requires EPA certification. Doing it right requires gauges, accurate thermometer and sling psychrometer as well as manufacturer supplied charging charts for each brand of equipment. You can't get that watching the tech unless he is a dope and doing it wrong. Then you will learn how to do it wrong. GOOD DEAL!! Get a competant tech to do it right. You will spend a lot more to do it right yourself than it will cost to hire someone to do it right. Of course if you hardly ever use it, you will not need to check it as often. Improper charge uses more electricity and produces less cooling. The money you save will be spent with the power company. Better you do whatever you do well (accounting or whatever) and pay HVAC contractor to do what he does well.
Stretch
PS I spend a lot of money on an accountant to do my company taxes. He pays me to do his AC & Heat work. He does taxes better, I do heating & AC better. We are BOTH better off!
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m Ransley wrote:

Wouldn't make any difference if they were expensive. Two or three visits would pay for them. OTOH, the is about home units, so what's to maintain? you keep the outdoor unit clean, you oil the motor, and you clean the indoor unit. Doesn't require any guages or any extensive knowledge. You know or suspect something is screwy when cooling capacity diminishes. Up to that point, there is no need to check the freon. We had our A/C unit for 15 + years before it was ever checked (free). He oiled the compressor motor, told us the relay (about $200) needed to be replaced, the motor was wearing out (amp draw was low) and cleaned the inside unit. Four years later, my wife heard a funny noise and insisted we call a guy. He oiled the motor, added about 1/2 pound of gas (note that is all that was ever replaced in 25 years) and didn't mention any other problem.
Admittedly the unit receives light duty compared to units in the south. We think it is terrible if the unit needs to on at night (3-10 days a year) and if the unit is on for more than 6 hours a day for possibly 50 days total a year.
What I don't understand about checking gas pressures, is that if the unit if functioning well, why have any concerns? One doesn't do that for other electrical equipment.
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This is Turtle.
Here in Louisiana we don't run our cooling units but maybe about 50 days or less out of the year. i have done No Cooling Calls on Christmas Day and New Years.
One can check the charge of freon after you do the regular stuff on the service. Take the wall therometer and get the temperature of the air coming out of the discharge grills and the get the temperature of the return air grills. Then subtract one from the other and you should get atleast 15F to 20F differencial or more. anything less than 15F differencial which this show a problem. Anything less than 10F shows really a problem. Now ambiant of outdoor temp must be above 75F.
TURTLE
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stretch wrote:

I'm not advocating that I will do anything with the closed gas system, the tech can to that. But there is no reason I can't maintain the rest of the system, especially if doesn't require much maintenance. I just don't see a need to have the system checked every year when there is no indication of any kind of problem. When there is an indication, that's the time to have the system checked. Does anybody every have the pressure checked in the refrigerator or freezer? The A/C on all the cars I have owned always worked fine without doing anything to the closed system or they didn't work well and trying to make them work well just wasted money. The only exception to that was when a line leaked and it was pretty evident that the A/C stopped working.
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One thing to note. The compressor is cooled two ways. One is the refrigerant flow through the compressor. Second is the air flow. the refrigerant flow is the major one.
When the freon is low, there isn't enough cooling power, and the compressor burns out prematurely.
Actually, I can think of one or two other reasons why the compressor would run hot. I'm sure Stretch (and a few other HVAC techs on this board) can also.
Maint helps machines last longer. AC, cars, trucks, whatever. Maint prolongs life of the unit.
--

Christopher A. Young
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And contributes to premature failure....
--

Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
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I'm not arguing that you shouldn't do maintenance. But do you climb up on your roof and pull up a shingle to see how the roof is doing?
As long as the A/c is cooling, there will be refrigerant flow. So, cooling-- no need to check refrigerant, not cooling-- check the refrigerant.
Stormin Mormon wrote:

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Efficiency and damage is the issue for maintaining proper freon , it runs alot so what I pay for the call would be made back quickly if I was running say at 70% efficiency, the only way I can find out is have it checked. If you wait till it is out of freon damage has likely occured to the system and you may have been running for years paying alot more with reduced efficiency. You dont wait till your car radiator or oil is empty or you motor seizes, right, well catching any problem early can save problems from getting out of hand.
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The same thing applies to the electrical side. I was on a tuneup yesterday with a new customer. It was cooling, but they just wanted checked, it had been a few years. I found a dirty blower wheel & cleaned it. (Customer could have done that himself) I also found a weak, but not dead blower capacitor. The blower motor was still below nameplate amps. When I replaced the capacitor, the blower amps dropped from 2.0 to 1.6, at 240 volts, a savings of over 90 watts (Power Factor of .95 on motor). In addition, if the capacitor had gotten any weaker, the motor might have burned up. It certainly wouldn't run any more, energency calls are often more expensive than tuneups. Also I had to add about 1-1/2 pounds of freon. But the system was still cooling some, even though efficiency & capacity was low. If you wait till it is dead to have it checked, it can get very expensive. A service agreement or anual check is cheaper than a new blower motor and new compressor. A good tuneup will find weaknesses before the system is dead. If they just check pressure of freon, they are not doing it right. They need to check suction superheat and liquid subcooling and approach temperatures, depending on system. You need training for that. It looks simple, but doing it right is NOT simple, and doing it wrong can get expensive. Some things are DIY, servicing ac is not one of them. Cleaning outdoor coil and replacing filters is the limit of what consumers should do to their system. Remember: "A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing".
Stretch
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On initial startup one season I noticed the compressor didnt kick in I tried again it did. The service guy was comming out anyway for the yearly. He checked the capacitor and found it bad, fixed it for part cost. Now if I had waited till it blew and let it continue I would have lost the compressor at 11 years I would of just bought a new compressor so that 65 $ service agreement more than paid for all the calls to date and more as a new unit would have been thousands. It is still fine at 16 yrs now-nock on wood..
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