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When to Repair and When to Replace

AC replacement

Things to Know About AC Replacement

One of the toughest decisions a homeowner will have to make is when to replace their home’s AC unit; not only is this a big financial decision but it is a lifestyle investment. AC replacement can improve the air flow in a household, and will contribute to better air quality. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell whether a small part of the AC unit can be repaired, or the entire system needs to be replaced. Although a new AC unit is a large investment, the costs of running and maintaining an old, or malfunctioning unit can also become very high. Luckily, there are several things to look out for which can help you to decide whether your home needs an AC repairman or a full AC replacement.

How old is the AC unit?
Most high quality AC units are designed to last for about 15 years. If you have had your AC for over 15 years, it is recommended you replace it; not only are newer AC units more energy efficient they contribute far fewer pollutants into the air. The cost of repairing an AC unit which is over 10 years old is frequently far higher than the cost of replacing it with a modern, high efficiency model. There is a general rule of thumb to determine whether you should repair your old AC unit, or replace it entirely: multiply the cost of the repairs by the age of the unit, e.g. $350 X 10 years = $3500. If the cost is greater than $5000 dollars then it’s a good idea to replace the AC unit.

What type of gas does the AC unit use?
AC units sold in the United States a few years ago used a gas called R-22 Freon, which has recently been discovered to be an inefficient refrigerant, and also contributes to global carbon emissions. Freon is currently being phased out by the federal government: a new refrigerant (R410A) is used by most new AC units and the cost of Freon has risen dramatically. So, if you have an older AC unit that uses Freon, it is probably a good idea to consider replacing your unit. Not only will these old units continue to use more electricity, the cost of repairing them is going to increase each year.

Is my home really comfortable?
There’s an old saying about optimum AC performance: the temperature is perfect if you don’t notice it at all. That is, your AC unit is working properly and running at an appropriate temperature if you do not experience any discomfort, be it from cold drafts or from still, warm areas in the house. If your family has been complaining about being uncomfortable, and there has been no adjustments or repairs to the AC unit, it may be a sign that you need to call a professional contractor to assess your options. An AC unit which isn’t effectively keep your house comfortable is a sign of an aging system, or an incorrectly sized system. Similarly, if your AC unit frequently breaks down, or leaks, this is a sign that it is either too old or not appropriate for your household needs and size. Before repairing your AC check your energy bills; if there has been a steady rise in costs it’s probably a sign that the AC unit should be replaced.