In most parts of the U.S. homes are cooled with air conditioners. How they are heated changes by region. The majority of the country uses combustion of some sort (gas, oil, kerosene, wood, pellets, etc) for heat. In central Florida and south most homes are heated with heat pump systems or simple electric heat. In the larger part of the country cooling season may only be 3-4 months using one machine and heating season may also be 3-4 months using a different machine. It is usually advisable to have each unit (air conditioner and furnace) serviced or “tuned-up” before each respective season, so twice a year would be the answer. In central Florida, where the AC is run the better part of 10 months and a little of all 12 months and the heat only a little bit each year, once a year will normally suffice for normal residential applications.
There are some other things besides the calendar that can let you know you need a tune-up, here are a few signs to look for which indicate that the unit is ready for some professional TLC or worse, ready to fail.
The most common sign that an AC unit needs a tune up is noise. The machine screeches loudly as the mechanisms work harder to cool down the home. If the unit were functioning normally, the noise would be at a minimum; it would not be working hard enough to produce angry or wounded animal sounds. The annoying clatter usually happens because the machine is not performing properly, so it has to work harder to make up for the performance deficit.
Another clear sign that the unit needs improvement is its poor performance. The home can take a long time, to cool down, or never reach the desired temperature. Although AC units usually take a little longer to maintain optimum temperatures in bigger homes or at the hottest times of the year, if the difference in cooling time is drastic enough for the homeowner to notice, the AC unit is probably in need of a tune up.
When performance goes down, costs go up. High utility bills are usually a sign that an air conditioning unit is struggling. This is because the unit must use more power to compensate for the issue causing it to malfunction. It takes longer to cool down the house, which means it is running at the same or higher power output for an extended period of time. That’s not good for you, but great for the electric company, maybe you have stock :). If the utility costs are higher than usual, it is likely that the air conditioning unit is working harder, which means it probably needs a tune up.
Although there are other signs of declining AC performance, the most noticeable indicators are loud noise, longer duration of operation and increased utility bills.
If you are overdue for a tune-up, seeing signs of problems, or are simply just proactive call The Comfort Authority at (813) 575-6996 and schedule a tune-up today!