The 3 Major Issues with A/C Service in Tucson

For the last sixty years, homeowners in Tucson (and people in Arizona in general) have struggled with the same three major A/C issues.

  • Lack of maintenance
  • Frequent and costly repairs
  • Nickel-and-diming by failing systems

Now, let’s just say immediately that in the vast majority of cases, these issues are not the fault of the homeowners: non-technicians don’t know what problems they face when their A/C goes out of warranty. When their air conditioner warranty expires, they are not presented with an option to switch over to a proper maintenance agreement, or they are not warned of the problems that they will face down the road if they don’t get their system properly maintained.

So if you are in these bad situations where your air conditioner starts giving you trouble a bit too often, or starts costing you a bit too much money, we can safely assume that you have not been properly informed. We have seen this situation thousands of times, maybe even tens of thousands of times, over the 60-year lifespan of our business (D&H AC was founded in Tucson in 1959).

Here is a video shot by Brett Wright, President of D&H AC, a few years ago. Please take a listen, and we’ll give you a bit more information below the video:

A/C Warranty & Maintenance

Air Conditioning Service in TucsonAs Brett describes it briefly in this video, the first problem is a lack of maintenance.

Today, good air conditioning units come with a standard manufacturer warranty of 6 to 12 years. In some cases, manufacturers warranty their systems up to 15 years.

The manufacturer warranty is usually tied to a maintenance obligation made to the homeowners. Your warranty contract usually states that your A/C unit must be properly maintained by professional, certified HVAC technicians to continue benefiting from the warranty. If you try to do the maintenance yourself (outside of changing your home filter), you are at risk of seeing your warranty become void. That’s a big issue because the cost of the parts in an air conditioner are far from being cheap.

Additionally, when a unit is only warrantied for 6 years, there is a reason for it: this A/C is not the most sophisticated, the most high-end system. The manufacturer knows that it’s very likely this system won’t give any issue during the first six years of its life if properly maintained. So their warranty expresses their confidence in the reliability of the system for this duration.

This is not at all reflecting badly on manufacturers: 6 years is a great deal of time for an electric motor and an electronic system that will run continuously, day and night, under the most challenging weather conditions. Heat, rain, ice, thunderstorms, dust, wind… everything the weather can throw at them. Is your car warrantied for more than 6 years? No it’s not. It’s usually 5 years or 100,000 miles. And your car does not run 24/7.  So a 6-year manufacturer warranty on an A/C system is absolutely more than fair.

But the obligation borne by the manufacturer of warrantying parts & labor in case the system fails, also comes with the obligation for the homeowner to keep it properly serviced twice a year by a competent HVAC technician. What are the most major issues your A/C service technician must deal with and why?


Air conditioning service: What are the issues?

In Tucson, the most challenging weather elements that ruin an air conditioner over time are heat, dust, and power spikes.

When we enter in the summer season and the temperatures climb rapidly into the 100-degree territory, all the parts of an air conditioner are subject to heat stress:  the electric motor runs in a hot environment, and it also produces its own heat. The metal parts of the unit expand. The rubber parts (seals, for instance) dry out and tend to crack. The electronic components are also heating up in the dry air.  Over time, this stress produces wear and tear. If not detected as it happens, wear and tear of parts will eventually lead to whole-system failure.

Dust is also a problem. With our low humidity rate, any wind carries desert dust. This dust finds its way into the air conditioner casing, and comes to stick to the inner coils. These coils are designed to disperse heat and enable the cooling system to work efficiently. But when dust accumulates on the coils, it is baked on the coils by the high temperatures and prevents the coil from dispersing heat normally. In turn, the A/C unit is forced to work harder to cool off your home. Dust is an enemy that must be removed from the casing of your A/C on a regular basis.

Lastly, thunderstorms are frequent during the monsoons. Most air conditioners are not factory-equipped with surge protectors. During thunderstorms, power can be subjected to brutal spikes. These will burn electronic components and electric circuitry. A good HVAC technician immediately checks the presence or the absence of a surge protector on your A/C, and will present you with a solution to mount one on the unit if there is none. A great harm can be prevented for a little money.

Excellent HVAC technicians are NATE-certified. They go through training on a continuous basis to update their knowledge. In turn, they apply their knowledge to the prevention and detection of failure causes. At D&H AC, we get our technicians through NATE Certification because it’s the fundamental level of service we want to give our customers. More than that, we also re-train our technicians on a regular basis, whether in-house or through manufacturers’ training. This is because even though a technician is well-trained in the fundamentals of air conditioning service, the systems themselves evolve in sophistication and require additional HVAC training to be well understood by the specialist.

When the D&H HVAC technicians come to your home, they are able to make an accurate diagnostic on any A/C system, any make and model, any age, and repair it fully if (a) the parts are available, and (b) the system is not so broken that it would be silly to throw more money at it. When a system is too old, it’s better to just replace it.

Regular air conditioning service: What’s really in it?

Here is to show you what D&H’s HVAC technicians will look at when coming to your home for a routine A/C maintenance inspection. These 8 steps are the basics we cover:

  • Verify refrigerant charge
  • Inspect belts/pulleys
  • Check contactor
  • Check capacitors
  • Check relay
  • Blow out condensate line
  • Measure/record temperature differentials
  • Clean/replace customer-supplied filters

When these basics are covered, this is what you get:

  • Your air conditioner “breathes” better
  • It cools off your home faster
  • It saves on energy
  • Potential failures and issues are identified
  • You get more peace of mind.

Wear and tear will happen: however, it can be partially prevented and slowed down by replacing the parts as they wear down, and keeping the system clean and operating as close as possible to factory specifications. This is the goal of this routine air conditioning service, the regular performance tune-up our technicians do for our clients.

Properly trained Certified HVAC technicians will not stop there, though. They will trace anything abnormal to its cause. For instance, we routinely receive calls from people complaining that their A/C is not blowing cold enough. When our technician starts inspecting their system a few hours later (we usually schedule you for service within the same day), they can find out that the refrigerant charge in the system is abnormally low. This is not just remedied by recharging the A/C with refrigerant. There is a cause to this loss of charge. Most usually, it’s a very small leak. Sometimes, several small leaks. Our HVAC technician will follow the problem to its cause. If the leak is too small to be detected on the first inspection, we will charge the system with a product that leaves a color around the problem area and enable us to see the leak on second inspection. If the leak is small, the same product will also plug the hole. We will see the color around the problem area, but the hole will have already been plugged and the system will not leak anymore.

But this is not all: a leak is the result of a corrosion. Corrosion is usually the product of exposure to weather elements (water), chemicals (in some cases the A/C unit is located too close to a source of chemicals — such as a water spiggot used to spray a lawn with chemicals), and the rotening of residues/debris carried by the wind and left accumulating on sensitive parts (e.g. coils) inside the system casing. The trained technician will note the presence of any of these causes, and will take appropriate measures to remedy the root cause (e.g. clear the debris) or warn the homeowners of the problem and its consequences.

Frequent repairs: why and how to avoid them?

air conditioning repair tucsonThe second problem mentioned by Brett in his video is frequent and costly repairs.

When an A/C unit starts requiring frequent repairs, service visit after service visit, it is safe to assume that age can be the fundamental issue.

But sometimes, age does not really explain unusual wear and tear observed on a system. Premature aging has at least one cause. Usually, the lack of a proper maintenance schedule left a space for a bad condition to settle in and cause damage.

The older the damage, the more likely it will cause a very costly repair. Changing a motor, for instance, is really expensive. HVAC motors are built like tanks, they are made to last 12-15 years while functioning 24/7, 365 days a year. When a motor fails, the root cause is very rarely the motor itself. Much more often, it’s the result of some other part of the A/C overworking the motor. If, for instance, an evaporative coil is loaded with debris that has been baked by high temperatures, the system can’t operate under normal conditions to cool off the home at the desired temperature. The motor will ahve to work extra-time to reach the set temperature. This overworking cause unusual wear and tear.

It would have been much easier to clean up the evaporative coil during the regular air conditioning service inspection.

Frequent and costly repairs indicate a lack of proper maintenance.


What about nickel-and-diming?

When an A/C unit starts nickel-and-diming you, that is also an indication of defective maintenance. Your system has not been inspected often enough, or not deep enough to detect small failures. For instance, the current controller of the system has been slowly drifting out of specifications. On a regular inspection & maintenance schedule, any HVAC technician worth his salt will test the current controller and notice the degradation in performance. A good current controller costs a couple hundred dollars. That’s not cheap, but that’s better than having to replace a system because of a failure in the current controller.

The number of small failures increases as a system ages. Wear and tear is inevitable, even when an A/C is built like a tank. We have seen A/C units still cooling off after 18 years of service. But their operation had become costly in parts, and costly in power. As a system ages, its loss in efficiency increases its power usage because it requires to work longer to cool off the same volume.

Power in Tucson is not free, to say the least (unless you have a solar system, in which case, it’s not as expensive). When your air conditioner needs twice as much time to bring your home to the temperature you like, your power bill starts giving you a cold sweat. That’s nickel-and-diming.


What can you do to help yourself?

Believe it or not, you are probably the best technician for your home. You are so familiar with your home that you can be alerted of any unfamiliar noise, clunk, cling, brrrrr and thud when it happens. Most air conditioners in a state of failure will make loud noises: a sudden big “clunk!” for instant. Very often, the noise is not so obvious but still present. For instance, you hear that your A/C starts, then stops. Then starts, and stops. And restarts, and stops again.

These noises are sure signs that your air conditioner is experiencing some kind of failure.

Another example is your A/C seems to run much longer than usual when it’s the same temperature outside (no big difference, no big jump from the 90s into the 100s). Or it does not cool off as fast. You notice it because you go to your thermostat more often just to see if it is still set right, or if a member of your family has turned it up because he or she was too cold. As you go to your thermostat for the second time in the same day, check out the temperature displayed. If this is abnormally high and yet your system is running, your thermostat is telling you that your A/C is not performing optimally.

Don’t wait! Waiting is a surefire way to see cascading failures happen. A small problem is not taken care of right away. This stresses another part in the system. Then a second small issue starts appearing. Then a third. That’s a series of cascading events that result in bigger and bigger damages to your A/C, and ultimately, catastrophic failures. So don’t wait: when you hear an unusual noise or you observe an unusual power usage, call D&H AC at [phone] without delay. It’s the right time to act.

We’ll come out fast, fix the problem and guarantee our work.


What if it becomes necessary to replace an air conditioner?

air conditioning installation

Let’s say that you called D&H for air conditioning repair service because your A/C just stopped working altogether. Our HVAC technician comes to your home a few hours later, and find out that there is a series of repairs that have to be performed, and that the cost of the repairs really make no sense considering the age of your system.

At this time, it is usually much more economical to install a new air conditioner.

What happens then? Our HVAC technician will tell you exactly what the problems are, the cost of repairing them, and how long you can expect your A/C to continue functioning properly after repair. If you are open to the idea of receiving one of our highly trained Comfort Pros into your home, D&H AC will call you to schedule an appointment.

D & H AC is a Daikin Comfort Pro The role of the Comfort Pro is to advise you to the best of the knowledge he was trained on by manufacturers and by D&H, in your selection of a new air conditioner. To this end, our Comfort Pro will take measurements of your residence, and will ask you a number of questions related to how your future air conditioner must help your lifestyle.

Outdoorsy people don’t have the same needs, for instance, as people who prefer to shell inside. Families do not have the same A/C needs as “empty nesters”.  These questions will help refine the profile of the A/C system you will feel good with. They will also determine the price range that is affordable for your household, and your financing options.

Selecting an air conditioning system is not a light decision. This unit will stay with your home for at least 12 years, and probably more like 20 years. It will have a resale value when you list your home. It may also have “curb appeal” when people visit your home with a realtor. Not all brands and not all models have the same curb appeal.

The role of the Comfort Pro is to help you make the right selection that blends all the criteria you cover with D&H AC.

New air conditioner installation: what to expect?

Replacing your air conditioning will produce several positive effects in your life.

  • Financing is likely to be less expensive than running a high power bill
  • A new system gives you a new manufacturer warranty, with most parts and labor fully covered for years
  • Modern A/C systems are much more efficient at keeping an even temperature in all the rooms of your home
  • Modern air conditioners are set with an inverter that enables an even delivery of cool air, rather than “bursts of air”
  • Modern air conditioners work at a much lower level of noise than the older generation
  • If you plan to move within 5-7 years, your new air conditioning system will still add value to your home
  • Overall, a newer air conditioning increases your level of comfort and your quality of life.


D&H AC carries the Daikin brand systems, without a doubt the most sophisticated air conditioners on the planet today. To earn the right to carry Daikin products, an HVAC contractor has to pass a large number of stringent tests related to reliability of service, training of staff, financial solidity, years in existence, etc. In Tucson, there are only a couple of Daikin Comfort Pros, and D&H is the biggest one.

All the selection criteria used by Daikin to pick the Comfort Pros that will represent their brand will also benefit you. If Daikin picks only the most reputable and the most financially established HVAC contractors of an area, that’s because they want their users (you) to be very happy and extremely well served for the couple of decades to come.

So you can expect a smooth process from the time of our first advisory visit, to the delivery of your new system at your home, to its installation, to the clean-up of the construction area,… all the way to when our Comfort Pro will show you how your new air conditioner works.

That smooth process will continue with your maintenance experience as D&H AC will propose you to enroll directly into our Family Plan program, which gives use very useful benefits in terms of priority service and other aspects.

Our excellence in service has been confirmed by the Angie’s List Super Service Award given to our company in 2015, 2017, and 2019, and the Arizona Daily Star Reader’s Choice 2021 Finalist Award.


AZ Daily Star 2021 - Angies List 2019


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