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Do I need an AC inspection this spring?

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How long would you drive your car without changing the oil? You should think about heating and air conditioning the same way. Your HVAC system works harder than nearly any other system in your house. It often runs daily, working hard to heat or cool your home in response to the temperature outside. That’s a lot of wear and tear on an expensive system.

Regular HVAC maintenance keeps your system in tip-top shape, lubricates the gears (literally), and minimizes wear-and-tear damage. HVAC pros recommend getting your system inspected twice a year: once in spring before AC season begins and once in fall before you start using your heating.

A typical AC inspection costs between $50 and $200 and takes about an hour — but this quick inspection can save you thousands in the long run. If you have a service contract with your HVAC provider, this often includes twice-yearly checkups.

Consider this work to be a valuable investment in your future. Sooner or later, problems always develop in HVAC systems. With regular maintenance, you both minimize the wear and tear and catch minor issues before they become major ones.

Regular inspection benefits you in more ways than just preventing AC repairs. They’ll also lower your energy bills by helping your system run more efficiently. A well-maintained AC doesn’t have to work as hard to generate the same amount of cold air. Plus, keeping your AC in good shape increases your air quality.

Here’s what you can expect from a professional AC inspection:

- Inspect the motor, blower, drain line and coils
- Check operating pressures and temperatures
- Verify refrigerant levels
- Lubricate where needed
- Check ducts for potential air leaks
- Test electrical components

DIY ways to care for your HVAC

Pros should handle most HVAC cleaning and maintenance. However, you can improve efficiency in between inspections with these three simple DIY steps:

1. Change the filters as recommended by the manufacturer

Some filters last several months, while others must be changed every month depending on size. Better filters are worth the money. You don’t want a filter you can easily see through. Some pros call those “bowling ball catchers” because they only filter out big particles.

2. Clean your outdoor unit

Clear at least a few feet around your outdoor AC unit and ensure plants don’t invade its space during the growing season. When plants or debris block the outdoor unit, it takes more energy to transfer heat into the air and needlessly runs the system longer and harder.

3. Keep an eye on your system

Every so often, take a look at your central HVAC system. It doesn’t need to be a thorough inspection; a quick peek will do. You’re looking for frozen or dirty coils or water leaks. If you catch these problems early, they’ll be easier (and less costly) to repair.

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