Q: I just moved here last year from the Bay Area. In the spring, my air conditioning unit had gone on the fritz, and I thought, “Oh, well,” not at all aware of the three-month inferno that would follow. I’m not taking any chances this year, which is why I’m seeking your advice. I usually like to fix things myself, but I don’t know the first thing about fixing an AC unit. Would hiring someone be the better choice?
A: Having your HVAC unit properly serviced is important. It can get clogged with dust and dirt, lowering the quality of air distributed through your house, and even cause health problems. On the topic of whether you would want to hire an HVAC technician or to fix your unit yourself, that choice is entirely up to you.
Most experts in the industry would agree that HVAC units need to be serviced at least once a year, or sooner if you have certain types of allergies or live with pets. If you don’t know where to find a good technician, you should consider using bbb.org’s online business directory. It’s there that you can find businesses in your area that provide HVAC services, as well as past reviews or complaints that the businesses might have received. When hiring a technician, you should make sure they have an active C-20 Warm-Air Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning license from the Contractors State Licensing Board. That said, this certification is only required for a job if the total cost of labor and materials exceeds $500.
Even if you do choose to hire a technician, you can still clean your own system through some simple gestures. Every so often, check your unit and make sure it’s free of dirt, leaves or other debris to keep the outdoor system’s coil clean. You should also rinse your coil with water as well. You should never use soap or a pressure sprayer to clean your coil.
On a final note, I recommend that you go to go.bbb.org/hvac for more information regarding HVAC units and their maintenance.