What to Expect From a Comprehensive AC Inspection

Jenna Jonaitis
Written by Jenna Jonaitis
Updated November 23, 2021
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Highlights

  • You should inspect your AC once per year, ideally in the spring

  • An AC inspection includes checks for safety and cooling efficiency

  • HVAC technicians typically charge $50 to $200 for inspections

  • AC inspections can save you hundreds or thousands in energy bills and repairs

  • Inspections take up to an hour but could take 45 minutes longer if you need refrigerant

  • Yearly inspections extend your AC's lifespan, boost efficiency, and improve air quality

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On a sweltering summer day, the last thing you want is your AC system to quit. You may have to wait a while for a handyperson to come by to repair it, leaving you to endure a stifling, stuffy home for days. Getting an annual AC inspection in the spring can save you from that scenario by ensuring your system is tuned up and free of dirt and damage. Your AC system will run more efficiently, too, lowering your energy bills all season long. 

Here’s what’s included in an AC inspection, along with how much it costs and how long it takes.

Comprehensive AC Inspection Checklist

With an AC inspection, your local HVAC technician checks for safety, efficiency, and cleanliness. They'll also recommend any critical repairs or upgrades. Here's a complete checklist of everything an AC inspection includes.

Safety Components

  • Check surge protectors and fail-safes

  • Inspect safety devices and ensure proper operation

  • Test for all limit and safety controls

  • Ensure system is clean of debris or dirt that could pose hazards

  • Check for carbon monoxide leaks

Cooling Efficiency

  • Check coolant levels

  • Inspect evaporator coil and the temperature drop across the coil

  • Clean evaporator coil, if needed

  • Check that air temperature differential between supply and return is within range

  • Check refrigerant levels and operating pressure of refrigerant

  • Check and clean condensate drain and drip pans

  • Assess the compressor and air handler

  • Inspect and test relays and pressure controls

  • Inspect and clean condenser coil

  • Inspect condenser fan blade

  • Check the blower motor

  • Assess all lines and coils, paying attention to disconnects within 10 feet of the unit and the integrity of suction line insulation

Electrical Components

  • Check thermostat calibration and run a thermostat test

  • Inspect fuses and wiring

  • Ensure access panel is in place

  • Check supply voltage and amperage to all motors

  • Inspect and test capacitors and contactors, noting rust, corrosion, or burned contacts

  • Tighten electrical connections

  • Inspect disconnect box

  • Test the compressor amp draw, condenser fan motor amp draw, and blower motor amp draw

  • Clean and inspect outdoor disconnect, fan motor, and blades

  • Perform integrity tests for your thermostat, AC shut off, blower shut off, and wiring

Full-System Services

  • Inspect air filters, clean and replace as needed

  • Evaluate proper airflow

  • Lubricate AC system

  • Assess equipment condition

  • Look for pest infestations

  • Inspect line set and connections for leaks

  • Evaluate duct seal at unit and secure panels

  • Inspect ductwork for air leaks and energy loss

  • Inspect service valves

  • Check out supply registers and return vents, cleaning blockages as needed

  • Flush drain line and inspect drain pan and switch

  • Clean and inspect condensate pump, if your system has one

  • Write a thorough diagnostic with recommendations and findings

8 Key Benefits of a Home AC Inspection

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Beyond ensuring your AC system doesn't break down on the hottest day of the year, an annual AC inspection has other advantages. Here are all the major benefits. 

  • Extends the lifespan of your AC system

  • Helps your AC system run at optimal efficiency, saving you money on energy bills

  • Prevents issues and breaks during peak season

  • Catches repair issues early before they become larger expenses

  • Allows you to get a pulse on when you might need to replace your AC unit, based on performance, age, condition, and potential repairs

  • Increases safety, such as preventing carbon monoxide leaks

  • Improves air quality in your home

  • Offers you peace of mind

FAQs About AC Inspections

How often should you have your air conditioner serviced?

You should service your AC at least once per year, in the spring, and twice per year if your unit is 10 years or older. As your unit ages, more maintenance can catch problems early and help the system reach its full lifespan potential, usually 15 years.

Get on your HVAC technician’s schedule in early spring so your unit is ready to go for the season. If you’re doing two inspections per year, aim for one in the spring and one in the fall. You should also service your furnace once per year in the fall.

How long does the inspection take?

An inspection can take up to an hour, depending on the type of AC system you have. If you need to add more refrigerant, expect an extra 30 to 45 minutes.

How much does an AC inspection cost?

An AC inspection costs anywhere from $50 to $200, while a full HVAC system inspection that includes your furnace ranges from $200 to $450. While there's a cost to a home AC inspection, it can save you hundreds or thousands in the long run by catching problems, avoiding breaks, and saving you money on your utility bills. 

Can I do an HVAC inspection myself?

While you can change an air filter yourself, you should have a licensed HVAC technician conduct your inspection. HVAC professionals have the knowledge, tools, and experience to investigate each part of your system, tune it up as needed, and offer you expert recommendations. 

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