[Explanation] Is Air Conditioner Maintenance Really Necessary???

Every year for the past seven years, I have received a letter in the mail from my landlord informing me that they have scheduled a local air conditioner company to come to my house and service my AC unit. I have the same reaction every time – I roll my eyes, think to myself, “Is this really necessary?” and then start clearing out my tiny laundry room so that the poor man that has to do the work can actually get to the air conditioner around my pile of junk. Although I question it every time, especially since the air conditioner seems to be the only thing that my landlord ever pays any attention to in my thirty-year old house that is desperately in need of repair, I have never really concerned myself with it. However, after listening to the complaints of several friends whose air conditioning units have recently been out in the midst of a not-so-rare southern winter heat wave, I began to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t be grumbling every time that they send someone out to service my AC unit.

Since I am by no means an expert on anything to do with air conditioners, I decided to do some of my own research about their maintenance. Turns out, that yearly service call actually serves more of a purpose than just forcing me to throw away some of the junk in my closet. Most experts recommend that homeowners get their AC units serviced once a year, typically in the spring, to catch any problems before it gets heavily used in the summer. While I have always thought that once a year seemed a little excessive, it turns out that there is actually a lot that can happen to your AC in a year’s time (which I should have probably already known since just last year, my AC serviceman found some algae buildup in my unit that had to be cleaned out). Throughout the year, essential AC parts such as coils and filters build up dust and dirt, which, if left unchecked, can lead to the unit being inefficient, struggling to cool, and eventually in need of major repairs. Proper maintenance can help extend the life of a unit and lower the cost of using it. Since I’m always looking for ways to save money, I enjoyed reading this – I need all the help I can get with lowering my electric bill, especially during the summer months!

In addition to keeping costs down, I found that servicing your AC unit every year actually has some health benefits, as well! A poorly maintained air conditioner can lead to buildup of dust, algae, mold, and other contaminants that can be harmful to your health. Even though most of us know that it is important to change our air filters frequently (apparently, once a month is the recommended amount of time for keeping an air filter, as opposed to the once-every-few-months-or-whenever-I-think-about-it timeframe that I am bad about keeping….oops!), the majority of homeowners never think about the consequences of not maintaining the rest of the unit. Some seemingly normal problems like congestion, headaches, skin irritation, drowsiness or fatigue, and difficulty breathing could stem from poor air conditioner maintenance. An AC maintenance person will be able to make sure that the moisture and condensation caused by the unit is being properly routed away so that it does not lead to the buildup of contaminants that can lead to these potentially serious health problems.

After studying the benefits of proper air conditioner maintenance, I can finally answer my own question – yes, it really is necessary! For homeowners looking to extend the life of their AC units, proper maintenance once a year should be as essential as changing the oil in your car. Even tenants such as myself shouldn’t complain about their annoying, paranoid landlords (not that I would ever do such a thing!) when they get letters about maintenance appointments in the mail; if letting someone in my house for about 30 minutes once a year will save me money in electricity and also keep my skin from breaking out into hives, I think it’s well worth the time (also, it really is a good reminder to throw out some of the junk that’s accumulated in my storage room in the past year). So this year, when I get that letter in the mail about my upcoming maintenance appointment, I promise to try to refrain from rolling my eyes and instead, thank my lucky stars that my landlord actually cares enough to ensure that I have a working AC unit, especially in the middle of a hot south Georgia summer!