When your air conditioner stops working, you often need to decide between repairs and replacement. This decision can have major consequences because, although repairs are generally cheaper than a replacement in the short term, constant repairs over time can easily add up to more than the cost of a new unit. You will only make so much money over the course of your life, and spending that money wisely is essential to making sure you will have enough for big expenses down the line. What are the warning signs that it is time to replace rather than merely repair your air conditioner unit? This guide will highlight some of the most common symptoms of an AC unit that needs a full replacement.
Age of the Unit
If your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, it is probably time to replace it. As time goes on, air conditioner units are becoming more environmentally friendly and more energy efficient. If your unit is more than ten years old then you are likely paying more for heating and cooling your home than you have to. While the replacement of such a unit in place of repair might seem expensive, your savings will be realized in reduced energy costs. If you can save even $500 per year in energy bills over the next ten years, then would that not be worth the price of a new unit?
Another factor pertaining to the age of the unit is the use of refrigerant. Old air conditioner units may still be using a type of refrigerant called R-22, which is a type of Freon that is being phased out due to environmental regulations. Expect the costs of this type of coolant to increase over the years and don’t be surprised if soon your most trusted AC technicians simply cannot source it anymore.
Excessive Noise or Dust
A well-maintained air conditioning unit should be capable of filtering dust out of the ductwork and generally not produce a lot of noise. Too much dust in the duct work can indicate a filtration problem – which is an easy fix – or leaks in the duct-work which is a more complex issue. Leaks in the ductwork compromise the energy efficiency of your AC unit and increases your cooling costs. Patching or outright replacement of damaged ducts is necessary to help keep your energy costs down.
Even more important to the question of AC replacement though, is how much noise your current unit is making. If your unit is too small for the square-footage of the home, it may struggle to keep everybody cool. This struggle can be heard as excessive noise and the unit will seem to be operating at all hours of the day. Not only does this potentially damage the unit, but also raises your cooling costs and reduces the efficiency of your air conditioning system.
Excessive Humidity in the Home
One of the benefits of an air conditioning unit is the ability to remove humidity from the air. This helps make the home feel less muggy and less uncomfortable than it otherwise would. Excessive humidity makes it difficult to cool the home and generally isn’t good for living in. As such, if the part of the AC responsible for dehumidifying the home breaks down, it is a high priority fix.
The cooling system should take care of dehumidifying the space automatically, and if it does not that can indicate a problem requiring costly repairs. At this point it is a question of whether the repairs are worth it or not.
Increasing Energy Costs
As a unit ages, its ability to efficiently cool your home is hampered. If running your air conditioner is becoming more expensive over time, you ought to consider outright replacement of the device. While routine maintenance may help to keep energy costs down, in the long run it is better to replace the unit than it is to keep investing in repairs. Note that an increase in energy costs over summer or during a heatwave is common, but if a year by year comparison shows a significant increase in energy costs over time then you may want to consider replacing the unit.
The 5,000 Rule of Repairs
The first sign that most people have that their AC may need replacement is when they call in a technician for repairs. When weighing the costs of replacement versus the cost of repair, a handy metric to use is the 5,000 rule. If none of the other factors listed in this guide so far apply, then the rule is simple! Just take the cost of repairs and multiply by the age of the unit, if the result is more than 5,000 it is time for a replacement. For example: if repairs cost $750 and the unit is nine years old, then replace the unit. However, if repairs are only $300 then go for the repairs since 9 times 300 equals 2700.
This rule should not override other rules listed in this guide. If a unit is more than ten years old or still uses the old R-22 coolant, then go ahead and replace it anyway. This will save yourself costly maintenance costs down the line. For all other units, however, this is a good rule to go by.
Your air conditioner is an essential part of keeping your home comfortable. As a Florida resident, it is safe to say that you probably couldn’t live in your home without it. When the summer heat comes along, a broken air conditioner can easily drive you out of your home. Do not let this happen to you. While replacing a broken unit may be daunting, a new unit is guaranteed to provide efficient cooling for you and your family for years to come. If you are looking to repair or replace an existing unit, get in touch with local air conditioning professionals such as those at Air Temp for an inspection and consultation!