Rogelio Alvarez

By: Rogelio Alvarez on April 9th, 2024

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AC Maintenance in Los Angeles: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional


Without air conditioners, homes in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas will feel like a tub of ice cream left outside in the summer, melting. The worst-case scenario is when an AC breaks in the middle of a heatwave, leaving homeowners drenched in sweat. One way to avoid early AC breakdowns is with routine maintenance, but can homeowners do this on their own, or should it be left to the pros?

Whether it’s a simple air filter swap or a multi-point inspection, we at Monkey Wrench understand the value of routine air conditioner care. We’ve serviced hundreds of central cooling systems and have seen how neglecting AC maintenance may sometimes lead to random emergency repairs.

Homeowners can perform AC maintenance on their own, but a professional technician specializes in central AC care and upkeep for preventative maintenance. Here are the factors to consider when deciding on DIY or professional maintenance.

  • Tools and expertise
  • Cost
  • Time 

In this article, we’ll review how these conditions highlight the differences and similarities between AC maintenance completed by a homeowner or professional. With this information, you’ll be able to ensure your AC can keep your home cool during hot weather for years to come. 


What’s the Difference Between DIY and Professional AC Maintenance?

At first glance, there are some obvious differences between DIY and professional AC maintenance. For starters, do-it-yourself maintenance for an air conditioner costs way less than hiring a technician. However, a technician has plenty of experience and resources to perform maintenance and identify potential problems homeowners may not catch during a DIY AC check-up. 

To help clarify the differences further, we’ll review what’s included in DIY maintenance and its pros and cons. 


What’s Included in DIY AC Maintenance?

Homeowners can complete maintenance on their central air conditioning systems to ensure their system is running efficiently. In fact, DIY maintenance on AC is mostly cleaning and dusting the visible parts of the AC to ensure there’s no debris accidentally getting sucked in by the return vents. 

Here’s a closer look at what homeowners can do to complete simple AC maintenance. 

  • Replace the air filter: Air filter replacement is one of the most impactful maintenance care homeowners can complete on their AC. It’s highly recommended that the filters be changed every three months. Neglecting air filter changes can lead to long-term problems with the AC, such as early breakdowns and a drop in air quality. 
  • Wipe off surfaces: With a wet old cloth, homeowners can wipe dirt and dust off the AC unit and thermostat surfaces. Dusting off an air conditioner can give it a cleaner appearance and prevent dust from being sucked in by the return vents.
  • Visually inspect the AC: While dusting off the surfaces of their air conditioners, homeowners should also look for damaged connections or strange smells and noises from the unit.
  • Clean the outdoor unit: For packaged or split systems with outdoor units, homeowners should clean around the area to prevent old leaves or debris from getting into the fan. 

DIY air conditioner maintenance is simple enough for most homeowners to complete and has some benefits, too.


Benefits of DIY AC Maintenance

Homeowners who perform maintenance on their central AC can save money and time and do not need access to specialized tools. The only investment homeowners will have to make is buying a single or pack of air filters, which range from under $25 to a little over $100. With a screwdriver, homeowners can unscrew the covers of air filters to replace them. 

They can also save money on labor costs from hiring a professional. Instead of scheduling professional AC care, homeowners have the freedom to complete maintenance on their system when they choose to. 

Still, as beneficial and easy as DIY AC maintenance is, it has some drawbacks.


Cons of DIY AC Maintenance

DIY AC maintenance can save homeowners money and time but lacks the expertise and resources to identify hidden issues or complete system inspections. Another reason DIY AC care is limited to basic cleaning is that homeowners risk accidentally voiding or damaging their systems.

Although DIY maintenance can be easily completed, there are more benefits to hiring a technician, and in the next section, we’ll review what is included in professional AC care. 


What’s Included in Professional AC Maintenance?

Professional AC maintenance includes everything a homeowner can do on their own, plus more expert care and full inspections. Because technicians specialize in everything heating and cooling, they offer a broader range of care and upkeep for air conditioners than simple DIY care. 

Here’s a list of what most certified professionals include in air conditioner maintenance. 

  • Replace filters
  • Check refrigerant levels
  • Test airflow
  • Inspect ductwork
  • Check wiring 
  • Tighten connections
  • Apply lubricant to bearings
  • Energy efficiency check
  • Full inspection to find potential problems like leaks

The technician can also perform a tune-up to prep and ensure the air conditioner is ready to run before the start of the hot season. It’s generally recommended to have maintenance done once to twice a year before the beginning of the summer and winter to help keep the system running efficiently during days of high usage. 

Thanks to all the services offered by professional AC maintenance, homeowners can reap its benefits.


Benefits of Professional AC Maintenance

Hiring a certified professional to come and perform maintenance on an air conditioner provides peace of mind. Thanks to their expertise and available resources, technicians can perform maintenance to ensure the system runs smoothly and identify areas where repairs may be needed. 

Technicians also don’t have an issue getting into attics and other locations to work on the AC unit. Because of the electrical components, technicians can perform maintenance on sensitive parts of an AC that may pose a danger. With steady hands, professionals can perform maintenance without the risk of damaging parts that can void warranties. 

With all the benefits available with professional maintenance, there are also a few cons worth noting. 


Cons of Professional AC Maintenance

As extensive and beneficial as professional air conditioner maintenance is, it’s also far more expensive than DIY care. Hiring a technician for maintenance also means working around any schedule homeowners have to accommodate a visit.

Heating and cooling companies offer maintenance services at various prices, ranging from around $50 to over $100. Despite the higher costs, investing in annual professional maintenance can be cheaper than neglecting it and being forced to pay for expensive emergency repairs. 


Should I Do DIY AC Maintenance or Hire a Professional?

For the best care and quality service, hiring a professional for annual routine AC maintenance is best. Still, homeowners can do a few things to ensure they’re taking care of their air conditioner. Combining DIY and professional central AC upkeep, homeowners can increase the chances of having a smoothly functioning air conditioner for years to come. 

Since 2007, Monkey Wrench has helped maintain air conditioners in hundreds of homes from Oxnard to cities within Orange County. Our technicians understand the importance of AC maintenance, so we help share our knowledge so homeowners can take advantage of it and keep their cooling systems running efficiently.

If you’re interested in air conditioner maintenance, contact us using one of the buttons below. You can also book an appointment directly through our online scheduler.