Air Conditioning Service, Repair, and Maintenance – All You Need to Know

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Last updated: 
March 25, 2024

Choosing the Right Air Conditioning Service: Comfort or Misery

The air conditioner is a vital part of our homely existence. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it has multiple functions that keep us happy and comfortable, which include cooling, heating, dehumidifying, and cleaning the air of possibly dangerous particles. Therefore, when it breaks down, immediate action must be taken to ensure it's back on track in no time. But how do you do it? Do you do it yourself or do you use the proverbial 'call a guy' method? If you're not quite sure what to do, this article will help you make an informed decision.

What Can Go Wrong with an AC Unit?

AC units are complex pieces of equipment that require a whole array of conditions to work properly. For example, they need to have the correct size to efficiently cool the space, a certain volume of refrigerant (also known as the 'charge'), and a specific amount of air flow through the coils. When one of these criteria is not met, the entire system will suffer. Here are some examples of things that may go wrong with your AC and what causes them:

  • If you generate more heat indoors than normal (e.g., having a party with many people or plugging in a high number of appliances), the AC may not be able to keep up.
  • If the refrigerant leaks out, the AC will not have the same power to cool the air.
  • If airflow across the condenser reduces, the AC's ability to reject heat outdoors will diminish, especially when confronted with high outdoor temperatures.
  • In dry climates, low airflow can hurt the indoor (evaporator) coil. In humid climates, high airflow will lead to less dehumidification and high indoor humidity, while low airflow can cause the evaporator coil to freeze, drastically decreasing performance and potentially causing compressor failure.

DIY Air Conditioning Repair and Service

If you've decided to tackle the AC repair yourself, it's best to start by doing some research. Here are some DIY AC repair and service projects you can try at home:

Cleaning the AC in the Spring

Cleaning your AC in the spring will not only make you more comfortable but also help you save on cooling bills. There are three methods for cleaning your AC, depending on the type of unit you have:

Method 1 - Cleaning the Indoor Unit of an AC

  1. Turn off the power to your furnace or blower.
  2. Replace the air filter according to the manual specifications.
  3. Vacuum all visible dust, hair, and debris in the blower compartment.
  4. If the motor has lubrication ports, add a few drops of oil as per the manual.
  5. Check for algae growth in the condensation tube and clean if necessary.
  6. Clean the drain tube using a small-bristled brush.
  7. Reconnect the drain line and carefully restart the unit.

Method 2 - Cleaning the Outdoor Unit of an AC

  1. Shut down the power at the exterior shutoff box or circuit breaker.
  2. Vacuum the condenser fins using a soft-bristle brush attachment and remove any trapped debris.
  3. Unscrew and remove the top grille, being careful not to damage electrical wires.
  4. Clean the fan with a damp cloth and lubricate if it has lubrication ports.
  5. Clean the empty unit from the inside out by lightly spraying with a water hose.
  6. Reassemble the unit and allow it to dry for 24 hours before restarting.

Method 3 - Cleaning a Room AC

  1. Unplug the room AC or turn off the breaker.
  2. Clean the fins and coils on the rear exhaust panel with a soft-bristled brush.
  3. Check and clean the drain channels at the bottom of the AC.
  4. Remove the front grill, clean the filter, and allow it to dry completely before reattaching.
  5. Power the unit back up.

Maintaining Your AC

Regular maintenance is key to keeping your AC running smoothly and efficiently. Here are some important tasks to perform:

  • Clean or replace the filters every 1-2 months, or more often if you have an infant or pet in the house.
  • Clean the evaporator and condenser coils annually to remove dirt and debris.
  • Use a 'fin comb' to straighten bent coil fins and ensure proper airflow.
  • Clean the unit's drains periodically to prevent clogs and condensation issues.
  • Cover the outdoor unit during winter to protect it from weather and debris.

Hiring a Professional for Central Air Conditioning Repair Service

If you prefer not to handle AC maintenance and repair yourself, hiring a professional is a wise choice. According to our research, a qualified technician should perform the following tasks:

  • Check refrigerant levels and test for leaks.
  • Capture any escaping refrigerant in accordance with environmental regulations.
  • Inspect the central system for seal duct leakages.
  • Measure airflow through the evaporator coil.
  • Inspect, clean, and tighten electrical connections.
  • Check oil motors and belts for wear and tension.
  • Verify thermostat accuracy.

Checking, maintaining, and repairing your AC unit may seem like a daunting task, but it is crucial for ensuring your comfort, saving money, and conserving energy. By following the tips and guidelines provided in this article, you can keep your AC running smoothly for years to come.


  1. U.S. Department of Energy. (n.d.). Air Conditioning. Retrieved from
  2. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. (2016). ASHRAE Handbook—HVAC Systems and Equipment. Atlanta, GA: ASHRAE.
  3. Proctor, J., Chitwood, R., & Wilcox, B. A. (2011). Efficiency Characteristics and Opportunities for New California Homes (ECO) (No. CEC-500-2011-024). California Energy Commission.

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