Central Air Conditioner Inspection Checklist

People ignore heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems—when they’re working. But when extreme temperatures come around, broken systems take center stage. Frying an egg on a sidewalk may provide great entertainment, but a malfunctioning AC unit is no joke. Besides health risks, busted HVACs are expensive to replace.

Which begs the question: Why do we let HVAC equipment break down in the first place?  The answer is nearly always delayed or improper preventive maintenance (PM).

In places where air conditioning runs all year round, manufacturers recommend that equipment owners schedule licensed HVAC technicians to run PM once or twice a year, depending on climate. Homeowners, landlords, and property managers who prioritize recommended upkeep rarely experience inconvenient breakdowns.

This article will cover everything you need to know about standard HVAC inspections

What Is a Central Air Conditioner Check? 

AC Service In South Tampa

Nearly 90 percent of U.S. homes use either a centralized or individual air-conditioning unit.

Most folks have a basic understanding of HVAC checks, but what do the inspections include?

An HVAC check is a maintenance procedure that involves inspecting heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to identify and resolve potential equipment issues. Routine maintenance helps heating and cooling systems run efficiently.

Routine Central Air Conditioner Inspection 

  • Cleaning, testing, and tightening electrical components.
  • Adjusting and removing dust from blower components.
  • Cleaning cabinets that house HVAC units.
  • Lubricating motors and adjusting belts.
  • Recalibrating thermostats.
  • Testing temperature drops.
  • Replacing air filters.

No matter how experienced the HVAC technician, they can benefit from consulting an HVAC PM Checklist to ensure they don’t miss a thing. Now that we’re clear on the essential components of HVAC maintenance, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of conducting HVAC inspections.

 Reasons A Central Air Conditioner Inspections

HVAC system checks are essential because they:

 Improve Central Air Conditioner Efficiency

Efficiency depends on the amount of energy an HVAC machine uses to function. Regular inspections ensure systems are using optimal amounts of energy, as intended by equipment manufacturers.

The less energy required, the smaller your electricity bill. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average U.S. household pays more than energy bills each year. Nearly half of the expense stems from heating and cooling costs.

In addition, HVAC preventative maintenance helps the environment. The machine’s energy usage accounts for 6 percent of all electricity produced in the United States. The result? A whopping 117 million metric tons of carbon dioxide are released into the Earth’s atmosphere each year!

 Prevent Expensive Central Air Conditioner Breakdowns

HVAC parts can be expensive. As reported by Home Advisor, the average cost of HVAC repair is $750, but specific components can run up to $3,000.

If certain equipment issues remain undetected for too long, they may need total replacement. Depending on the area to be cooled, new air conditioning systems can cost around $7,500.

Regular HVAC checkups identify problems early enough so technicians can extend the system’s useful life and help keep more money in your bank account! Put simply, it’s cheaper to perform regular checkups than to invest in a new unit every few years.

Prevent Central Air Conditioner Hazards

Faulty HVAC units pose several threats to building occupants. For instance, an electricity-related problem such as motor overheating can result in a fire.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment causes about 14 percent of home fires. Sadly, this makes it the leading cause of fires in U.S. homes.

During colder months, significant amounts of moisture can also build up inside the machines. Not only does this cause poor indoor air quality, but it can also pose health risks for those with respiratory sensitivities.

Of course, as previously mentioned, the health benefits of using HVAC units with proper preventive maintenance outweigh the risks!

Promote Peace, Quiet, and Restful Sleep

It’s not unusual for homeowners to install HVAC systems near kitchen and bedroom windows. While it’s impossible to maintain an utterly silent unit, HVAC preventive maintenance helps keep machines on the quieter side.

Malfunctioning parts can cause loud noises as they struggle to continue working. For light sleepers, these distractions can be problematic. Alternatively, regular maintenance promotes cool and comfortable sleeping environments.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, most doctors recommend setting the thermostat between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius) for a good night’s sleep.

How Often Should Your HVAC System Be Inspected? 

Condenser install

New Condenser

Experts typically recommend enlisting the services of an HVAC company twice a year. HVAC manufacturers usually recommend performing maintenance on the heating and air conditioning components separately. Comprehensive HVAC inspections should include both servicing and cleaning.

With that said, the ideal time to perform maintenance on your heating system is during the fall. Alternatively, spring is the most suitable time for working on cooling systems. The idea is to prepare your machine for the extreme temperatures of the upcoming seasons.

Can You Do It Yourself? 

You can perform some basic tasks in between professional inspections to promote efficiency, safety controls, and asset longevity.

DIY Central Air Conditioner Maintenance

  • Trimming shrubs, weeds, and grass around outdoor units.
  • Performing visual checks for damaged insulation.
  • Cleaning indoor ventilation systems.
  • Changing unit filters (monthly) if you use the system all year.

It’s better to leave the majority of HVAC maintenance to a licensed professional. Besides the risk of voiding your warranty, you could get electrocuted or damage the machine without proper knowledge. However, if you do attempt a DIY inspection, always turn off the power first! for some common hazards, you’ll face if you undertake HVAC repair yourself.

Types of Central Air Conditioner Inspections

Every HVAC service company has different names for the types of HVAC inspection services it offers. Generally, services fall into three categories:

  • HVAC Inspection: HVAC inspections are best suited to homeowners looking for a second opinion or selling and buying a house. This check assesses the health and longevity of your HVAC system. Notably, this option doesn’t include maintenance services. Service providers perform detailed audits of units before providing inspection reports.
  • HVAC Tune-ups: HVAC tune-ups refer to a multi-point inspection of both heating and air conditioning components. This is the annual preventive maintenance you need!
  • HVAC Repair: HVAC repairs are exactly what they sound like. The goal is to inspect the system, identify any problems, and resolve them.

Regardless of the type of inspection, it’s good to know what to expect.

How to Prepare for an HVAC Inspection

If you’re a property owner, here are a few tips to prepare for your next HVAC inspection:

  • Request a quote beforehand.
  • Clear external HVAC unit debris so it’s easily accessible.
  • Clean HVAC vents and internal unit parameters.

Expect the technician to take 1-2 hours to complete the inspection, depending on what they find. If you’re curious to learn what your HVAC specialist will be doing while serving your equipment, keep reading.

What Happens During a Central Air Inspection? 

During a routine HVAC tune-up, your technician will:

  • Check HVAC controls, refrigerant levels, electrical connections, and thermostats.
  • Clean condensation drains and drip pans.
  • Clean, adjust, and replace HVAC coils.
  • Check surge protectors and failsafes.
  • Lubricate and adjust moving parts.
  • Evaluate HVAC system airflow.
  • Adjust belts and blower motors.
  • Replace air filters.
  • Straighten fins.

At the end of the inspection, your technician will advise whether you need to repair or replace any parts. They may also provide tips for performing essential maintenance on your HVAC system.