How Often Should You Service Your Air Conditioner

Coby McKinley Profile image

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Updated February 3, 2023

Maintaining the best air conditioners can seem daunting. After all, identifying a unit’s condensate drain or evaporator coil is something for which people go to specialized trade schools. Luckily the average AC owner can call in professionals for annual service. In between these yearly appointments, it’s a good idea to do minor upkeep regularly. Knowing how often should you service your air conditioner can maintain a machine’s energy efficiency and keep energy bills low in the hot summer months. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to perform some upkeep on your unit yourself:

STEP 1 Clean The Filter

Look in the user manual to determine what types of filters your unit uses and how they go into the unit. Then check your air conditioner filter to ensure that it is clean. If it is not, replace it. You should do this every few months but more often if you have a pet, smoke, or have a family member with allergies.

STEP 2 Clean Off Any Debris

If you have an outdoor or window unit, perform a visual inspection and make sure there is no debris on or in it. Clean dirt and dust from the exterior and make sure the unit has a roughly two-foot clearance area around it.

STEP 3 Check For Mold And Mildew

Check the condensate drain for any mold or mildew, especially if the machine has sat unused through the winter months. Specialists should clean molding air conditioning units to ensure they do not spread mold spores.

STEP 4 Clean Vents

Clean any indoor vents your unit may have, being careful not to bend any exposed aluminum fins. If the fins are bent, mention this when you call for professional maintenance.

STEP 5 Schedule Annual Servicing

Use your phone to research highly-rated air conditioning maintenance companies in your area. Write down their name and number using the pen and paper, then tape this paper to the AC unit so you can reference it when calling to schedule annual servicing each spring.


  • Schedule regular professional maintenance once a year in the spring.
  • Replace the air filters regularly as part of home-based routine maintenance.
  • Ensure your AC unit has at least two feet of clearance around it, so debris does not get into the machine.

When you bought your air conditioner unit, you probably asked yourself important questions, like how many watts does a portable air conditioner use. And if you purchased a portable model, you may have worried about how often you should drain a portable air conditioner.

Insider Tip

Keep your owner’s manual handy, so you know whether you can fix a problem yourself or need to call the professionals.

You probably didn’t save the numbers of local air conditioner services, however. And unless your energy bills have gone through the roof, or if you haven’t noticed your air conditioner not fully cooling your house, you probably haven’t thought of checking things like refrigerant levels or the state of the evaporator coil. Well, it’s about time you did.


Don’t neglect your air conditioning filters. Dirty filters can aggravate allergies and other conditions. Look in your user manual for the replacement or cleaning process and become familiar with it as part of your regular AC maintenance.

STAT: Air conditioners use about 6% of all the electricity produced in the United States, at an annual cost of about $29 billion to homeowners. (source)


Should you get an HVAC service plan?

An HVAC service plan may reduce the cost of air conditioner maintenance. These service plans can include yearly inspections, energy consumption audits, and repairs to expensive parts like condensate pumps and electrical wiring.

What do HVAC technicians service?

It depends on your unit’s type. If you have a central air conditioner, HVAC technicians may do full yearly inspections to ensure all parts and wiring are in proper functioning order. Portable and window units may receive more limited maintenance services.

How long does HVAC maintenance take?

An annual maintenance appointment can take an hour or more, depending on the condition of your unit. This is part of why experts recommend scheduling your annual maintenance in the spring instead of through the hottest months of summer.

How can I lower my HVAC bill?

Insulation and proper use of fans can lower HVAC energy costs, while annual air conditioner maintenance ensures your machine runs efficiently, further reducing operating costs.

Coby McKinley Profile image