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Knowing when to replace or repair your air conditioner (AC) is a common problem that many homeowners face. It’s also vital to know when to contact an AC repair company. Faulty air conditioner coils negatively affect your whole HVAC system. So, let’s learn more about coils, what they do, and when to repair them or replace the entire air conditioner unit.
The Evaporator and Condenser Coil
What exactly is an evaporator coil? This coil, also known as an indoor coil or coil, is the part of your air conditioner that regulates the temperature in your house all year long. The coil does this by absorbing the moisture and heat in your home. There can be no cold air without the evaporator coil. It works with the condenser coil that removes the heat from the refrigerant.
Evaporator coils are filled with cold refrigerant. The HVAC blower pulls air from inside your house across these coils allowing the coolant to evaporate as it absorbs the moisture and heat. Essentially, the evaporator coil is a heat exchanger providing cold or hot air depending on the season of the year. These coils work harder in the summer because they dehumidify the air in your home and give you cool air.
Reasons for AC Coil Failure
There are a couple of reasons to replace your evaporator or condenser coil. The primary reason for malfunctioning evaporator coils is erosion. Over time the refrigerant wears down the inside lining of the coils causing them to weaken. This is why the age of your AC unit is a critical factor in deciding whether to replace your whole unit or just the coils.
The average lifetime of an AC is approximately 10 to 15 years. After 15 years, your AC unit will break down more often. If you just serviced your unit a few months ago and something broke afterward, it may be time to replace it.
Some coil cleaners can also weaken and disintegrate the outer lining of evaporator coils. They can become corroded over time with repeated use. Weaker coils are more prone to leak refrigerant. Once you have a leak, replacing the coil or entire AC is the most cost-effective solution.
Should You Replace the Coil or the Entire Air Conditioning Unit?
Sometimes replacing only the coil is possible. Often, it’s better to purchase a new AC because there are two AC coils in each unit. There is the evaporator coil or inside coil, and then there is an outside coil or the condenser coil. They are separate components but work together to regulate the temperature in your home. Often replacing the AC is much more cost-effective for several reasons.
Replacing only one coil can cause significant issues with your AC. Just replacing the evaporator coil can make it an incompatible match with the condenser coil. If they mismatch in refrigerant, SEER, or age, problems could occur such as inefficient temperature regulation, high electric bills, frequent repairs, or a decrease in the lifetime of your AC unit. SEER refers to the efficiency rating of your AC.
Even if your air conditioning unit is only 8 or 9 years old, it’s more efficient to replace the entire AC for several reasons. First, the coil you need is probably obsolete. At this age, changing just the coil is like replacing the engine in your dying car. Also, the new coil would not have a healthy functioning partner in the other old coil, even if it still works. This pairing would significantly affect the SEER.
You should also replace the whole AC unit if your old one uses R-22. R-22 is an old refrigerant that is no longer being manufactured in North America because it harms the environment. Most countries are slowing phasing out the use of R-22. Replacing the whole unit is also better when the repair bill to fix the coils is too expensive.
There are some instances where repairing your air conditioner is the better choice. Often if your unit is under ten years old, you can get away with just replacing the coils. However, keep in mind the compatibility problems and inefficiencies that your system may face.
It’s best to contact an AC expert, like Art Plumbing, AC & Electric, who can evaluate what is wrong with your HVAC system. If it’s the coils, then they can advise you if replacing the coils or the whole unit is the best solution.