The scene: Memorial Day 2014. The site: My house in suburban Detroit. The problem: No air conditioning.

I recently learned an important lesson. When your 60-something in-laws are coming over on the hottest day of the year, you better make sure your air conditioning works.

With the thermostat reading 82 inside our house, the wife and I finally decided to give in and fire up the air conditioning unit for the first time in 2014. Or should I say, we tried to turn on the air conditioning for the first time in 2014. The thermostat clicked, the fan came on, but nothing happened outside the house. So I go outside and give the unit a small kick (hey, that method worked many a time when I was a teenager with other things!) and still nothing.

It was at that exact moment when I truly realized the importance of semi-annual tuneups. Despite writing about the HVAC industry on a daily basis and talking to contractors from all over the country, I didn’t practice what so many of my stories had been preaching, so when the in-laws come over and it was stifling in my house, well, let’s just say the message was received.

The next day I called out a quality local contractor to take a look at the system. Turns out someone put a panel on incorrectly on the outside unit and the electronics panel had built up with all sorts of leaves and other items that were causing it to not connect. He cleaned that out, and viola! the unit worked again. And not only did it work, it started cooling our small home ridiculously more efficiently than it was last summer.

For that, I’m thankful (and a lot more cool).