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Air Conditioners, Maintenance

What Does an AC Tune Up Include?

Every hot summer, when the temperatures soar, there is no greater joy than to head inside for some cool, comfortable air conditioning. More than just a box that sits outside your home, a central air conditioner system typically includes indoor and outdoor units and a lot of internal components. And just like your car, it can operate more efficiently and reliably with regular maintenance. That’s why AC tune ups, also known as air conditioner repair is such an important part of your home maintenance regimen.

a family plays in living room after ac tune up

While air conditioners are developed and tested to run reliably for years, an annual AC tune up can be the key to keeping your HVAC system running at peak performance and helps to improve its life expectancy. Ignoring routine air conditioner maintenance can cause higher utility bills and reduced comfort. Even worse, it can make system components work harder, leading to reduced life expectancy, and in some cases a total shutdown or system failure.


Here’s why... During normal cooling system operation, dust, dirt, moisture from humidity or condensation, and microbial growths can build up on critical components like the evaporator coil or condenser coil. Left unchecked, these issues can lead to loss of efficiency and worse, breakdown of component materials and a shorter life.

In addition to regular AC tune ups, it is also recommended to schedule an annual tune up for heating systems too. Properly maintaining both units of your heating and cooling system can help prolong the life of your entire system.

While most average homeowners can handle simple air filter cleaning or replacing, calling a qualified HVAC technician for regular air conditioning system tune-up can help ensure reliability, longevity, and in some cases prevent larger issues from developing. Your local dealer will open up the outdoor and indoor units, do a more extensive cleaning of vital components, check cooling temperatures, and look for other signs of potential issues that could lead to trouble down the road.

Scheduling an annual AC preventive maintenance service is relatively inexpensive compared to a more serious issue that requires a more extensive air conditioner service. And in the long run, you could end up saving money by preventing serious repairs.

AC tune up costs are relatively low considering the benefits. Not only can this annual AC maintenance help with optimizing the energy efficiency of your system but it can help prevent bigger, more expensive issues down the road.


a carrier air conditioner sits outside after air conditioner tune up

To help keep your AC unit and all of its moving parts running as they should, we recommend scheduling a minimum of one annual tune up. Sometimes described as a “clean and check”, this service is best performed every spring season, before the cooling season heats up. If you live in a warmer climate or use your system extensively, consider scheduling a second regular maintenance visit during the height of the season to promote continued system performance at a high level for the remainder of the year. If it’s been longer than usual between annual tune-ups, your system might start showing signs that it’s time to call your local Carrier dealer.

  • Energy bill is higher than expected
  • Air flow from cooling registers (vents) is less than normal
  • Indoor temperatures higher than normal/AC not keeping up
  • AC constantly running or turning on and off frequently
  • Higher than normal humidity inside

If you are experiencing any of the above, it’s time to call a professional HVAC technician.


When you call your local Carrier dealer to schedule an air conditioner maintenance service, they can give you a good estimate of how long the appointment should last. Depending on the dealer and how detailed their service routine is, expect a typical clean and check to last about an hour. If the service tech finds an issue that needs to be addressed, it may take longer, especially if they need to order a replacement part that’s not already on the truck.

During a routine maintenance service call, your dealer will likely evaluate air conditioner system performance in various modes of operation to determine its condition and evaluate whether repairs or adjustments are needed. Then they will shut off electrical power to execute a number of cleaning and inspection tasks. Maintenance services will vary from contractor to contractor, but most HVAC dealers will perform similar tasks as part of a standard “clean and check” appointment, including:

  1. Check refrigerant charge levels and air flow, check for refrigerant leaks
  2. Make sure all electrical connections are sound and components are working properly
  3. Check for secure physical connections of individual parts
  4. Check the run capacitor for bulging and/or unusual markings or color
  5. Check and clean outdoor condenser coil
  6. Check indoor evaporator coil for blockage and apply self-rinsing cleaner when possible
  7. Check and clean the condensate drainage system
  8. Clean and adjust blower components
  9. Check the air filter, and replace or clean, if needed

When the service is complete, many contractors will provide a written summary of the inspections and tests completed along with results and recommendations. In some cases, needed repairs may be able to be provided on the spot.


Air conditioner tune up costs for HVAC systems will vary widely from dealer to dealer. Some HVAC companies will provide a more in-depth service with stated performance guarantees, while others might do a more basic service at a special rate to generate new business. Both approaches can yield the desired result of preparing your air conditioner to operate at its best during hot summer months, as long as the service is provided by a reputable HVAC contractor.

If summer is near and your AC hasn’t been serviced recently, a Carrier HVAC dealer can quickly and easily give you a quote for AC service cost and get you scheduled for your annual maintenance.

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