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Conflicts of interest working in the HVAC Industry. Twice a year A/C maintenance, is it worth it?

I’m gonna give you a real short answer then some details to think about. As long as you are able to change the air filter every 1-3 months, spray off the outside air conditioner condensing unit with water, and suck out the drain line with a shop-vac the answer is no I don’t think it's worth it to have a company come out twice a year. I recommend having a senior tech come out

once every 4 years on average to check the HVAC unit or when you are experiencing a problem. Most companies offer a Bi annual Maintenance program. Coming out once in the Fall/ Winter to check out the heater and in the Spring/ Summer to check out the Air Conditioner. So let's break it down and I’ll give you a few things to think about.

95% of the Annual Maintenance can be performed by 95% of homeowners

Check my page on do it yourself maintenance. If you feel comfortable changing a light bulb then you got this! I recommend having a senior technician out once every 4 years to service both the Furnace and A/C April-May Or when you notice your system has a problem.

HVAC units are more like Electric cars Than Gas cars as far as maintenance requirements

My philosophy on maintenance in general is we want to catch a small problem before it leads to a big problem. For most modern furnaces built in the past 30 years if you have a small problem they will just turn off and you’ll be fine servicing it at that point. Get a good carbon monoxide detector for peace of mind. For the A/C the maintenance is more important. However It's not like a gas car where the oil needs to be changed every so many miles. If the a/c is dialed in very little changes from year to year.

Spring and Fall are so slow for Air Conditioning Companies Maintenance programs are often used to turn Tune Ups into installs to keep the installers busy

It's so slow in the spring and fall. Since I work by myself I will often just work one day a week October-November and March-April. I have no problem with this. But imagine you are running a bigger company with technicians, installers, and office staff that needs a 40 hr. work week to pay the bills. If the technicians can’t turn scheduled tune ups into air conditioner / furnace replacements to keep the installers busy then they’ll quit and you won’t have them when you really need them during the coldest and hottest month when most HVAC units get replaced. So there is a pressure to replace older equipment that may have 5-10+ more years of life just for the sake of keeping everyone at the company busy when it’s slow. Remember my A/C / Heater combo unit is 40 years old and works great!

You might get the new guy or the salesman, but rarely the senior technician who really knows what they're doing.

You want the senior tech that wants your system to last as long as possible but when you're getting a tune up you rarely get that guy. The senior tech is usually sent out to do repairs. He is also pressured often to turn over jobs to the salesman and often gets a commission for doing so. When I first started in the HVAC field I was doing maintenance. The new guys are the ones you will commonly see for routine service. Once a tech has experience they want them out troubleshooting bigger problems. New guys are far more likely than senior techs to miss concerns or to mess things up. For example In the summer at least once a week I will come across an air conditioner that is Overcharged. As an example I was at a unit the other day that should have about 5lbs of r-22 and was almost 3 lbs. over filled, amateur move. It happens to the best of us at some point but this causes an air conditioner to run under higher pressures and the result was it was using more power when it was running. The temperature split should be 16-22 degrees and was only cooling at 12 degrees. After recovering the refrigerant the system was running cooler and the temperature split went up to 17 degrees. And I'm sure the customer had to pay for that extra refrigerant that was put in. Bottom line is I would not want to get the new guy working on my system. You’re rolling the dice but looking back on it as the new guy thanks for the practice :)

If you are in need of service or repair please call 916-671-5542

Also if your unit is less than 30 years old and you're being told to replace it give check out our page on second opinions and red flags. If your Spidey senses start tingling feel free to give us a call.


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