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What Should an A/C Tune-Up and Cleaning Include?

Every spring, HVAC companies begin advertising their air conditioning maintenance specials, and for good reason. Spring is the best time to ensure your air conditioning system will operate at its peak through the summer months. Preventative maintenance—including a cleaning, inspection and tune-up—can help you avoid an inconvenient breakdown or uncomfortable summer day with no cold air.

Not all A/C maintenance packages are created equal, though—and not just in terms of price. As you shop around for an air conditioning tune-up, consider the following questions.

What should be included in an A/C maintenance visit?

An air conditioning maintenance visit should include a complete inspection of your unit, an air conditioner cleaning, an air filter change, and recommendations for any needed maintenance or repairs.

Filter changes are pretty straightforward and most bargain A/C tune-up companies will be more than happy to recommend further maintenance. That means that the determining factors in what makes a good A/C tune-up are the thoroughness of the inspection and cleaning.

Does the tune-up include an air condenser cleaning, or just a rinsing?

Most bargain HVAC spring tune-ups include a “condenser cleaning,” but often what you’re really getting is a condenser rinsing. The technician will take a hose to the outdoor unit and spray water into it in an effort to remove debris and dirt. This just pushes the dirt and debris further into the unit’s coil.

The right way to clean the condenser involves removing the panels and the top of the unit so the coils can be cleaned from the inside out. This also allows for a more thorough visual inspection of the unit’s fan blades, electrical connections and coil fins. Moving parts should be lubricated as well. The Trane website has a helpful explanation of what you should expect from your yearly air conditioner coil maintenance.

When considering an HVAC company for your air conditioner maintenance, always ask about how they perform a condenser cleaning. When A/C coils are cleaned the right way, you can expect your air conditioner to keep your home cooler more efficiently.

Is the tune-up a good value or just a good price?

“You get what you pay for” definitely applies to A/C tune-ups.

Some companies that advertise $39 and $49 tune-ups treat them more as a lead generator than as the valuable stand-alone service they should be. The goal in these cases is to get in the door with a bargain tune-up, then try to upsell additional maintenance, services and repairs.

Technicians should always bring potential issues to your attention if they notice them during the tune-up. However, the purpose of a tune-up is to make sure your unit is thoroughly cleaned, serviced and operating efficiently—not as an opportunity to upsell.

Your HVAC system is one of your home’s largest and most expensive mechanical systems. A properly and professionally done tune-up is well worth the investment to keep your unit running safely and efficiently.

If you want the peace of mind of thorough air conditioning maintenance, contact Althoff Industries. We offer 24-point air conditioner tune-ups in Chicago and the Northwest suburbs. Call (815) 455-7000 to schedule now.

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