How Often Should I Service My AC Unit?

Liza Cruz

Your air conditioning (AC) unit is a vital component of your home’s comfort system, especially during the sweltering summer months. Regular maintenance is key to ensuring it operates efficiently and has a long lifespan. But how often should you service your AC unit? Let’s dive into the details to help you maintain your cooling system effectively.

Why Regular AC Service is Important

Regular servicing of your AC unit is crucial for several reasons:

  • Efficiency: A well-maintained AC unit runs more efficiently, using less energy and reducing utility bills.
  • Longevity: Regular maintenance can extend the longevity of your unit, delaying the need for a costly replacement.
  • Performance: Regular service ensures your unit cools effectively, maintaining a comfortable indoor environment.
  • Prevention: Early detection of potential issues can prevent costly repairs and breakdowns during peak usage times.
  • Air Quality: Clean filters and coils improve indoor air quality by removing dust, allergens, and pollutants.

Annual Professional Maintenance

Ideal: Once a Year

Most HVAC experts recommend having your AC unit professionally serviced at least once a year. The ideal time for this maintenance is in the spring, before the peak cooling season begins. This timing ensures your unit is in optimal condition to handle the increased demand during the hotter months.

Bi-Annual Service for Older Units

Ideal: Twice a Year

If your AC unit is more than 10 years old or has been experiencing frequent issues, consider scheduling maintenance twice a year. This additional check can help catch and address wear-and-tear issues before they escalate into significant problems.

What Professional Maintenance Includes

During a professional service visit, technicians typically perform the following tasks:

  • Inspection: Checking the entire system for signs of wear, damage, or potential problems.
  • Cleaning: Cleaning the condenser and evaporator coils, removing debris from the unit, and replacing or cleaning the air filters.
  • Refrigerant Check: Ensuring the refrigerant levels are adequate and there are no leaks.
  • System Testing: Testing the thermostat, controls, and overall system performance to ensure everything is functioning correctly.
  • Lubrication: Lubricating moving parts to reduce friction and wear.
  • Duct Inspection: Checking for leaks or obstructions in the ductwork.

Monthly and Seasonal Maintenance Tasks

Monthly Tasks

Filter Checks

Checking and replacing your AC filters is a simple task that can have a significant impact on your unit’s efficiency and air quality. During peak usage months, inspect your filters every month and have them replaced if they appear dirty or clogged.

Seasonal Tasks

Spring and Fall Checks

Aside from the annual professional maintenance, homeowners should perform some basic checks and tasks at the start of the cooling and heating seasons. These include:

  • Inspecting the Outdoor Unit: Ensure the outdoor unit is clear of debris, leaves, and vegetation.
  • Testing the Thermostat: Make sure the thermostat is functioning properly, then adjust it to a temperature you prefer.
  • Inspecting Insulation: Check the insulation on refrigerant lines leading into your home.

Signs Your AC Unit Needs Immediate Attention

Even with regular maintenance, issues can arise. Be on the lookout for these signs that indicate your AC unit needs immediate servicing:

  • Strange Noises: Unusual sounds such as grinding, squealing, or banging.
  • Weak Airflow: Reduced airflow from vents, indicating a blockage or system issue.
  • Warm Air: The unit is blowing warm air instead of cool.
  • Frequent Cycling: The unit turns on and off frequently, which can signal a problem with the thermostat or the system itself.
  • High Energy Bills: A sudden increase in energy bills can indicate your unit is working harder than it should.

DIY Maintenance Tips

While professional servicing is crucial, there are several tasks you can do yourself to keep your AC unit running smoothly:

  • Regularly Replace Filters: Change filters every 1-3 months depending on usage and filter type.
  • Clean the Unit: Remove debris from around the outdoor unit and clean the coils gently.
  • Check the Thermostat: Ensure it is set correctly and replace batteries if needed.
  • Inspect Ductwork: Check for visible leaks or damage in accessible ductwork.


Regular servicing of your AC unit is essential for maintaining its efficiency, performance, and longevity. Aim for at least one professional maintenance visit each year, preferably in the spring. Supplement this with bi-annual checks for older units and regular DIY maintenance tasks to ensure your cooling system runs smoothly and keeps your home comfortable. By staying proactive, you can avoid unexpected breakdowns and enjoy a cool, refreshing indoor environment all year long.

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