For a long time, I neglected the annual maintenance of my central air conditioner. I never considered scheduling professional service. However, when the cooling system operates, the components experience wear and tear. The inner workings are warm, damp and dark, which creates the ideal environment to grow mold, mildew, algae and other pathogens. Even when the system sits idle, there is the potential for dust, dander, bugs and other pollutants to find their way inside. The air filter is designed to protect the equipment but it’s not enough. Gradually, air conditioner performance diminishes. The system needs to run more often and longer to achieve the thermostat setting, which adds to the potential for malfunction. It uses more energy and energy bills steadily increase. There’s the possibility of issues with indoor air quality, diminished comfort and musty smells. I didn’t start taking proper care of the air conditioner until after the system quit and required an expensive repair. The technician told me that the problem could have been prevented with less-expensive upkeep scheduled in the spring. He recommended enrolling in a maintenance plan that includes a service call for both the air conditioner and the furnace. With seasonal tune-ups, the HVAC contractor provides a thorough inspection. He identifies any concerns and resolves them before they lead to a malfunction at the worst possible times. He meticulously cleans all components, tests operation, tightens electrical connections and lubricates the motor. He verifies the operation of the thermostat, checks out the ductwork and makes sure everything is working as it should. I’ve noticed an improvement in the comfort, smell and cleanliness of my home. Plus, I’m spending less on utility bills.