AC Tune-Up: Here’s What You Need to Know

Key takeaways:

  • A/C units are crucial for summer comfort, but their optimal functioning requires regular maintenance, making A/C tune-ups essential.
  • Scheduling an annual A/C tune-up, ideally in spring, ensures readiness for the impending summer heat while capitalizing on slower HVAC service times.
  • Despite varying prices, A/C tune-ups are relatively affordable investments, potentially yielding significant savings on energy bills and preventing costly repairs.
  • While some maintenance tasks are suitable for DIY, tasks involving electrical components, refrigerant, and coil cleaning are best left to trained technicians for safety and effectiveness.


According to the 2020 Residential Energy Consumption Survey, 88% of all U.S. homes have A/C units. What was once a luxury is now a component of almost every home in the country. However, while A/C units are widespread, understanding how they work is far from common knowledge. 

In the scorching summer heat, A/C units become extremely important to help keep your home cool and comfortable. However, it takes some maintenance to keep these units working in top-notch condition. 

This is where an air conditioner tune up comes into play. Join us as we discuss the importance of A/C tune-ups and review what you need to know to keep your A/C running in optimal condition all year.  


What's an A/C tune-up?

Have you ever treated yourself to a luxurious spa day? If so, you probably felt rejuvenated after. Now, imagine treating your A/C unit to something that gives it a boost minus the pricey spa bill. In essence, this is what an A/C tune-up does. 

During an A/C tune-up,  trained technicians meticulously inspect, clean and fine-tune every component of your A/C system. It's preventative maintenance to help catch minor issues before they spiral into major breakdowns.

With A/C tune-ups, you can potentially help your A/C run stronger for longer. 


How often should you get an A/C tune-up?

Here's the golden rule: schedule an A/C tune-up once a year—yes, just once! The best time to plan it is in the spring months before the summer heat kicks in full blast. This ensures your A/C is primed and ready to tackle the sweltering temperatures ahead.

Additionally, spring is usually a slower time for HVAC technicians, so you can schedule your tune-up easily and score a reasonable price. 


How long should an A/C tune-up take?

According to, an A/C tune-up typically takes 1-2 hours. That's just a fraction of your day for a whole season of worry-free cooling.

However, although this is the average estimate, this may not be the case if something is wrong with your unit. Although it should only take a couple of hours, it’s probably best to schedule at least half a day so technicians can tackle any issues that might arise during the tune-up.


How much does an A/C tune-up cost?

While the cost of an A/C tune-up can vary depending on factors like your location, the company you hire and the specific services, this is typically not an overly expensive home maintenance project.

HomeAdvisor predicts that you can expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $200 for an A/C tune-up. This is a small investment compared to the potential savings on energy bills and costly repairs.

According to, A/C units account for 6% of all energy usage in the United States. Thankfully, correctly maintaining your A/C can reduce your energy usage by up to 15%, so you can help the environment and your budget by practicing regular A/C maintenance.


What's included in an A/C tune-up?

During an A/C tune-up, your technician will perform a thorough checklist of tasks to ensure your system is in tip-top shape. Here's what's typically included:

Cleaning or replacing the air filter: One of the first things the technician will check is something most of us may be aware of. A clean filter means better airflow and efficiency for your unit.

Checking and tightening electrical connections: Loose connections can lead to system failures or even safety hazards. Trained professionals can quickly and safely diagnose electrical connection issues before they become a real problem.

Lubricating moving parts: helps keep things running smoothly and reduces wear and tear. It also reduces friction and decreases the odds that the components of your A/C unit will falter. 

Inspecting the condensate drain: prevents clogs that can cause water damage or mold growth. Mold and clogs make your A/C unit work harder, decreasing its longevity.

Checking refrigerant levels: A trained technician will ensure proper refrigerant levels for optimal cooling performance. Here, the technician will top off levels to ensure your A/C unit has the right coolant level.

Testing the thermostat: Your thermostat should be calibrated correctly for accurate temperature control. This is a piece that is often not thought of by homeowners. If your thermostat isn’t working correctly, you could put extra stress on your unit without knowing it.

Inspecting the evaporator and condenser coils: Clean coils mean efficient heat transfer and better cooling for your home.


Indicators that you need an A/C tune-up

So, we have covered what a tune-up is and how often you should get one. But how do you know if your A/C is due for a tune-up? Keep an eye out for these telltale signs:

  • Weak airflow: If your vents aren't blowing as strongly as they used to, it could indicate a problem.
  • Unusual noises: Clanking, banging, or squealing noises could signal mechanical issues.
  • Strange odors: Foul or musty odors emanating from your vents might mean mold or other contaminants.
  • Higher energy bills than usual: An inefficient AC will have to work harder, increasing energy consumption.
  • Uneven cooling throughout your home: Hot and cold spots indicate an imbalance in your system.

If you notice any of these signs, do yourself a favor and schedule an A/C tune-up. The best policy is to not wait for a tune-up but to have a regular time each year that you have one scheduled to keep your A/C unit working well.


DIY vs. calling an expert

If you’re tempted to roll up your sleeves and tackle some A/C maintenance tasks, you may want to think again. While some DIY-friendly tasks exist, perhaps others are best left to the pros. Here’s a quick breakdown to help you decipher between the two. 



Whether you are handy or not, messing with your A/C unit can be tricky. One of the easiest ways to extend its lifespan is to change the filter regularly. 

Another DIY that is a must for your A/C unit is clearing debris around the outdoor unit. The more things that are blocking the vents of your unit, the harder your unit will have to work to push out cool air. By looking for blockages and debris and clearing them regularly, you can significantly extend the life of your unit.

Additionally, checking for noticeable signs of damage is safe to perform yourself. Look for leaks, rust, or loose parts that might indicate a problem. However, if you find these problems, it may be best to call an expert to fix them.


Call an expert

Anything involving electrical components should be left to the professionals. Electrical components are notoriously tricky and dangerous when it comes to home improvement. Trying to handle these jobs by yourself can put your unit and your body at risk.

Refrigerant checks and refills are another A/C need for which you should call a technician. Handling refrigerants requires specialized knowledge and equipment; having a more practiced hand is ideal for this work.

Coil cleaning is another component of A/C unit maintenance that may be best left to a repair technician. Coil cleaning is delicate work that is best left to trained technicians to avoid damaging the coils. Although you can look for signs of a cleaning being required, you can easily damage your unit if you try to clean the coils yourself.


Give yourself peace of mind 

An A/C tune-up is a small investment that can pay off big time in comfort, efficiency and peace of mind. Schedule one annually to keep your A/C running smoothly and your home comfortable. 

If you’re looking for other ways to take care of your home, consider a home protection plan from Cinch Home Services. With a home warranty*, you’ll know who to call when your appliances and home systems stop working. This may include your HVAC, washer and dryer, microwave, dishwasher and more. A home warranty is an excellent way to avoid hefty repair bills and minimize stress. 


Click here to learn more about Cinch and explore your home warranty options. 

*The product being offered is a service contract and is separate and distinct from any product or service warranty which may be provided by the home builder or manufacturer.

*The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.

*Our blogs and articles may link to third-party sites that offer products, services, coaches, consultants, and/or experts. Any such link is provided for reference only and not intended as an endorsement or statement that the information provided by the other party is accurate. We are not compensated for any products or services purchased from these third-party links.