COLUMBIA, Mo. - Many people are starting to turn on their air conditioning units as weather moved to warmer temperatures. However, if people haven't had their units checked in a while, it could cost them money and be a safety risk.
ABC 17 News crews met with heating and cooling professionals who have been getting twice as many calls for maintenance since the weather warmed up.
They said a little maintenance can go a long way. Just like getting an oil change keeps people's cars working, getting air conditioning units cleaned and maintained makes them last longer.
"Have you checked your filter? That's probably the No. 1 thing to check," said Phil Figueiredo who co-owns Chapman's Heating and Air Conditioning. He suggests that if there's any dust then it is time to change the filter.
If the air conditioning stops working altogether, professionals said the next step is seeing if the breaker switched off. "It's been off all year and when it comes on it kind of creates a bit of a surge and it will trip that breaker, and sometimes it does this on a hot day as well," said Figueiredo.
Another step people can take is making sure the AC unit's coils are clean. "Even though it doesn't look too dirty, there are all kinds of particles and dust and cotton blossoms that get stuck in there," said Figueiredo.
People can simply hose off the unit. Even if dirt is not visible, the cleaning will help the unit to act more efficiently.
"If it's not maintained properly and it's running really dirty, it makes the head pressure run really hot and the refrigerant part, and yeah you could prematurely damage your equipment," said Figueiredo.
If equipment is prematurely damaged, a replacement could cost thousands, plus an unchecked unit always has a risk for fire. "There are safeties built in, breakers there are pressure switchers that are built into the equipment to prevent danger," said Figueiredo.
Most importantly no AC means a dangerously hot house. A simple service to prevent that generally costs between $80 and $90.