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7 Things to Consider Before You Replace Your AC Unit

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

If your AC breaks down, you might just need a simple repair—even if your unit isn’t the newest model

When deciding whether to repair or replace an AC unit, there are a few factors to consider, including the age of the unit, its performance and efficiency, and the cost of any required repair.

Learning about replacing an AC unit will help you make a less-panicked plan of action if your system breaks down. Sometimes a simple repair and regular servicing can be enough to keep an older unit ticking over for a good few more years.

Should You Repair or Replace Your AC Unit?

A quality and efficient new air conditioner is a big investment. So, unless your existing unit is not performing well and you can’t remedy this without significant expense, it often makes more sense to repair it.

Some factors to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace your existing air conditioning unit include:

1. The AC Unit’s Age

A typical air conditioning unit has a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. If it’s well-maintained, your unit can continue performing well for even longer.

As a guide: If your unit is over 10 years old, the warranty has expired, you’re experiencing more frequent problems, or the quotes you’ve received for repairs are high, purchasing a new unit may be the better choice. If your AC is less than 10 years old, is well-maintained, and has not experienced a major failure, it might be better to repair the unit.

2. The Cost of the Repair

If you have a relatively new AC unit, unless the cost of repairs runs into thousands of dollars, it rarely makes financial sense to replace it with a new one.

Many HVAC pros use the “5,000 rule” as a general guide. Here, you multiply the age of the unit by the repair cost, and if that exceeds $5,000, then it may be better to replace the unit. If it’s less, repair it.

It’s no secret that getting your AC unit serviced annually can help save on air conditioning costs. Maintaining the system by clearing away debris, changing the filters regularly, and eliminating air leaks can preserve the life of your AC system as well.

4. Refrigerant Environmental Impact and Availability

Many air conditioning units over ten years old use R-22 Refrigerant As of 2020, it’s no longer possible to produce this legally in the U.S. Consequently, any remaining supplies cost considerably more than the readily available R-410a refrigerant used in modern units. Not only will this make refrigerant repairs more expensive and potentially even more challenging to carry out, but the product harms the environment. This is why your technician must have the required certifications to perform this service.

* you can no longer purchase this chemical without a pro*

5. The Cost of Your Energy Bills

woman adjusting AC thermostat
woman adjusting AC thermostat

Regardless of how well you maintain an older AC unit, it will always be less efficient than a modern system. All air conditioning units have a seer rating to measure their energy efficiency. AC units from the 1990s required a SEER rating of at least 10. In 2006, this changed to 13, and then 14 in 2015. Modern, efficient systems typically have a SEER rating above 20.

An improperly-sized unit, an incorrect amount of refrigerant, or worn electrical parts can also impact energy efficiency. If you see the cost of your energy bills creeping up, purchasing a new, more efficient unit could be a worthwhile long-term investment.

6. How Long You Plan to Continue Living in Your Home

Even if you have an older unit, unless there has been a catastrophic failure or repairs are excessive, replacing it might not be a good investment if you plan to move in the next few years. Be aware, however, that if the AC unit is old or has not been well-maintained when you come to sell, a buyer may ask for a reduction on the home sale price to account for this.

If you don’t plan on selling soon, having the peace of mind a new unit and an extended warranty will bring may be motivation enough to replace it.

7. Mismatched AC System

Indoor and outdoor AC units should operate as a set, working together to heat and cool your home. The interior components of each unit need to be compatible with the other in order to operate efficiently. So if you have a mismatched system, it won’t run as smoothly and is more likely to break down.

If you continually experience issues stemming from your mismatched system, it’s worth upgrading one or both units so they can work in tandem.

Contact T&C Appliance/HVAC Repair for Installation-Service-Maintenance & Repair

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