Airconditioners and servicing: what you need to know

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Airconditioners and servicing what you need to know

The importance of servicing your air conditioner cannot be emphasised enough. Your HVAC system is a considerable investment, and like other items you own with moving parts like your vehicle, they need to be kept tuned and clean to prevent breaking down.

Not sure about the importance of servicing and maintenance? We’ve covered some common questions to set you right.

1. How long do air conditioners typically last?

With air conditioners, life expectancy is about 15 to 20 years, but some factors can reduce this. Those on rooftops or outdoors can be prematurely damaged by corrosion or the buildup of debris. These lead to damage to the parts and reduce efficiency, and put a strain on the system. If the units are placed in an industrial setting, they can also be exposed to damaging corrosive chemicals.

However, environmental factors are nowhere near as common as simple neglect regarding the damage we see with airconditioners. A system should regularly be cleaned and maintained if you want to achieve maximum life expectancy. It’s recommended that the unit is serviced by a qualified technician twice a year. It’s useful to time these visits at the start of spring and again before winter.

Many air conditioner installers and service providers offer a yearly maintenance contract. The benefits are two-fold. You get a reminder that you are due to book a service, and you are usually offered a better deal for your ongoing loyalty.

2. Is regular maintenance really going to save me money over time?

Neglecting cleaning, tuneups, and replacing worn parts is not a good idea. Service providers will confirm that having preventative maintenance contracts or ensuring your HVAC system is maintained is beneficial. You won’t experience breakdowns or be faced with costly repairs caused by metal corrosion, refrigerant leaks, and system failures. Plus, preventative maintenance will help your equipment last longer.

Something worth looking at is your energy bill. Have you noticed it creeping up over time? This could be caused by your aircon losing efficiency due to the debris and deposits that have built up on the air conditioner’s coils, fan blades, and other parts. By cleaning the unit, you will enable the system to work more efficiently so it won’t have to use as much power to run.

3. Can HVAC cleaning be DIY?

There are some parts of basic maintenance you could do on your own. Dusting the coils and removing debris is easy and essential – make it part of your regular maintenance schedule at home. However, never use water around the electrical components.

It’s recommended that the system be cleaned properly, and a professional should be called in twice a year. They use chemical cleaners designed to get rid of scale and buildup and clean parts that are potentially dangerous to handle, such as the fan blade. Other tasks they are trained to do and are skilled at include keeping drain lines clear and emptying drip pans to prevent mould growth. They have the necessary certification to check electrical connections, refrigerant charge, and have experience in checking for worn parts and any signs of wear and tear that need to be addressed.

4. How do I know when I should repair or replace my aircon?

There are multiple factors to consider. If you have had the system for over a decade, and it regularly breaks down, the cost-effective option will be to replace it. If you have consistent servicing and maintenance with regular cleaning and tuning, you could keep it functioning with occasional repairs, even if it breaks down a lot. There are some costly parts such as the compressor and coils. If you discover issues with these parts, it’s probably too expensive to repair them. Do you know what type of refrigerant it uses? If it is the old R22 refrigerant, this has been phased out, and you will need to call in an installer for a new system. There’s no getting around this.

5. My power bills are too high.

If your power bills hit new highs in summer, it’s probably your air conditioner to blame. You may not need to replace it as you can improve the energy efficiency of your air conditioner by changing the filters, cleaning the coils and fan blades, and using a programmable thermostat. Another hack is to adjust the temperature by just a couple of degrees. However, you could look into replacing an older system with a new energy-efficient model. The energy savings you will experience will go towards the investment. A model with a SEER rating of 18 can save you as much as 50% on your energy bills. In the past 10 to 15 years, a SEER rating of 8 to 10 was considered efficient, but more recent energy-saving models are also better for the planet.

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