Tips to know when it’s time to replace your air conditioner
When it comes to comfort, not many systems come close to getting the job done as well for your home or office as does an AC system. This is especially true during the blistering hot summer months, when walking into a cool, refreshing environment is almost heavenly.
But perhaps your AC hasn’t been running as well as it used to, or you notice funny noises every time it fires up. Regardless, you’ve probably been putting off an inspection (tisk, tisk). But we get it. AC systems aren’t cheap, and in today’s economy every dollar needs to count.
And figuring out if you should repair or replace your AC can be a difficult decision to make. That’s why we’ve written this handy guide for you. Our goal is to help you become a better informed consumer, and lead you down the path to making the right decision for you and your family.
That said, our expert inspectors are honest and transparent. We always work to find the most cost-effective solution for our customers, so if you’re unsure, just give us a call and we’d be happy to swing by and take a look at what’s going on with your AC and to see if a simple air conditioning repair job will suffice.
When to fix it or when to ditch it: that is the million dollar question
With the world of air conditioning systems evolving into higher performing, energy efficient options, any significant damage or breakdown is often worth repairing with parts that are improved and designed to get the job done better and safer.
If your air conditioning system is newer (less than 8 years old), air conditioner repair is often the best route to take (financially speaking).
Newer air conditioners can develop simple problems that are both quick and easy to fix. A few of the common issues we run into with newer units include:
- Clogging or debris buildup around the condenser
- Worn out fan belts
- Clogged air filters
- Moisture build up
- Lubrication issues
- And other simple fixes
While this guide will serve to educate and inform, inspections are best left to the professionals. Our technicians are highly trained and can spot early signs of wear and breakdown before they turn into a higher cost repair job.
How to assess the efficiency of your AC system
Assessing the overall efficiency of your air conditioning system can help you understand if it is in need of repair or maintenance. Poorly maintained systems or those in need of repairing can use up to two times the electricity of a properly operating AC unit.
When it comes to energy efficiency ratings, SEER is the golden standard. From 2006 and prior, a SEER rating of 10 was common, but the minimum you’ll encounter now days is a rating of 13 SEER. Wondering what that difference would be in electricity consumption? The higher SEER rating of 13 would result in a 30% reduction in utility bills.
But hey, you’re not a pro, and until you have someone come out to test the system, you won’t be able to accurately access the operational efficiency of your air conditioning unit. But what you can do is compare your bills this season to those of last season and use that information, taking into consideration the temperatures at those times, to get an idea of if your bills are going up, down or sideways.
Depending on the outcome of these tests, and the age of your system, you may be in need of air conditioning replacement or repair. Generally, if your system is 8-10 years or older, replacement is often the best route to take.
Our professionals can help run the numbers for you to see what makes the most sense in your situation.
Don’t forget to inspect the ductwork!
Remember, the mechanicals are only part of your HVAC system. But without properly optimized and installed ductwork, all that cool air will go to waste, failing to appropriately make its way into the rooms of your home or office.
Curious what kind of an impact we’re talking about here? On average, your standard home ductwork leaks around 10-30% of its cooled air before it can reach your room vents. Before deciding to repair or replace your AC system, make sure you hire a pro to check out the ductwork.
Sometimes simple air conditioning repairs like sealing or replacing sections of ductwork can make all the difference.
Consider the age of your AC / HVAC system
Nothing lasts forever. And the same holds true for your air conditioning unit. There will come a point where the cost of continual repair outweighs the benefits of AC replacement.
Generally speaking, if your system or unit is 10+ years old, or is in need of multiple or frequent repairs, it may be time to start looking at an upgrade or replacement AC unit.
If your air conditioning repair bills add up
If you find yourself having to frequently repair your AC, or if the cost of repairs is mounting, it may be a better investment to get an AC replacement than to continue throwing money at a deteriorating system.
But when do you know if the cost isn’t worth the repair? We’re glad you asked. Many HVAC and AC professionals use a simple formula (and you can too).
Repair Your Air Conditioner If:
- (Cost of Repair) X (Age of Old AC Unit in Years) < (Cost of Your New AC)
- To put that in lay terms, multiple the price of the repair estimate by the age of your AC system (in years). If the resulting number is LESS than what you would pay for an AC replacement, then repairing is often the best option.
Consider AC Replacement if:
- (Cost of Repair) X (Age of Old AC Unit in Years) > (Cost of Your New AC)
- To explain, if multiplying the estimated price of repairing your air conditioning system is GREATER than the price for AC replacement, then often it is best to go with the replacement.
AC replacement is a big decision
Deciding whether to repair or replace your AC or HVAC system is a big decision. But with the helpful tips in this guide we hope that you feel more confident in making the right choice. As always, it’s best to have a professional evaluate your system before making a final decision. Give us a call today, we’d love to discuss what’s going on with your AC and help you figure out the best and most cost effective resolution.