5 Tips to Determine Whether You Should Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioner
When an air conditioner has reached a certain age and needs service more frequently, it makes sense to question whether to repair or replace it. Here are five factors to consider that will help you determine the best course of action for your situation.
1. Age of the air conditioner.
Age is just one factor, but it is an important one. The typical lifespan of an air conditioner is 10-15 years. As your system approaches the upper end of that range, it is probably losing efficiency and incurring higher operating costs. How do you determine the age of your air conditioner if you didn’t purchase it yourself (or don’t remember when you purchased it)? Look at the inspection sticker on the front or side of the unit. If you can’t find the information there, try calling the local building department to find out when the mechanical inspection was issued. Or, often your HVAC technician can get the age from the serial number which includes a code for the date it was made.
2. Frequency and cost of repairs.
How often the air conditioner needs repairs and how much those repairs cost is another important factor. The $5,000 Rule is a general rule of thumb for determining if repair or replacement makes sense. Multiply the cost of the needed repairs by the age of your A/C system. If the number is more than $5,000, investing in the repair is not worth it. Looking at this in conjunction with the air conditioner’s age, however, gives you a pretty complete picture.
3. Increase in utility bills.
Advances in air conditioner efficiency happen quickly these days. If your system is more than 10 years old, chances are you are spending much more than necessary on energy costs because your air conditioner is inefficient. With a new, energy-efficient system, you can realize substantial savings in the form of lower utility bills. When calculating the cost of a new unit, be sure to include the energy savings you’ll see with a higher-efficiency air conditioner.
4. Level of comfort in your home.
A 10-year-old (or older) air conditioner is not going to perform as well as a new one. If you are paying the same or more to cool your home than you were a few years ago, but the comfort level has decreased (some rooms are consistently too hot or too cold), it may be time for a replacement.
5. The air conditioner uses R22 freon.
Does your air conditioner use R22 freon? If your air conditioner has major problems, particularly ones that require adding refrigerant, replacing your current A/C is most likely your best option. Because the federal government is phasing out this coolant in favor of the new refrigerant, R410A, the price of R22 has increased dramatically. In addition, needing to replace refrigerant is a sign that more expensive repairs are on the way.
Have an HVAC expert inspect your air conditioner and discuss all these factors to help you determine whether you should repair or replace the system.