Air conditioners can last up to 20 years if they are properly cared for and receive routine maintenance. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with homes having various owners over the years and air conditioners reaping the effects of different caretakers.
There comes a point when calling a service technician for yet another problem becomes tiring and you have to question if it’s worth it to spend money on another repair or if it’s time to replace your AC.
Considering investing in a new air conditioner? Many homeowners struggle with the decision of whether to replace their old, outdated air conditioner or pay for pricey repairs.
Even if your system isn’t frequently breaking down, replacing it may still be more economical, as newer systems run more efficiently. If you’re unsure whether an AC replacement is necessary, allow us to offer some assistance.
Here’s what you should consider when deciding whether to have a new system installed.
6 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your AC
If you’re on the fence about replacing your air conditioner, follow this guide.
A simple “yes” to any of these signs means that it may be time for a new air conditioner.
1. Frequent or Expensive Repairs
Does your system need frequent repairs? If you find yourself calling an AC technician to repair your air conditioner more often than you call your mother, it’s definitely time to consider a replacement. You may be able to simply replace the part of your system that is giving you trouble, provided that everything else is running smoothly.
If the cost of a repair job ever exceeds more than half of what an entirely new air conditioner would cost, choosing to replace your system will likely be more cost-efficient.
Your air conditioner will likely last up to 15 years if it has had routine maintenance, but after 15 years air conditioners typically begin to cause problems that are too costly to fix.
How do you know if your air conditioner has reached the age of no repairs? AC experts have developed an equation to act as a guideline for homeowners who are facing this dilemma, it’s called the 5,000 rule. Here’s how it works:
- Multiply the age of your AC unit by the cost of repairs
- If the result is less than $5,000 then it can be repaired
- If the result is more than $5,000 then it should be replaced
For example, if your unit is 10 years old and the repair will cost $300 then multiply 10 x 300 to equal $3,000, so you should consider a repair instead of a replacement.
On the other hand, if your air conditioner is 12 years old and the repair will cost $500 then 12 x 500 equates to $6,000 and exceeds the ‘$5,000’ guideline. So you should consider replacing your air conditioner.
2. It Still Requires R-22 Refrigerant
In an effort to conserve and protect the ozone layer, the Montreal Protocol demanded the phasing out of R-22. By 2020, R-22 (Freon) will yield production completely. This means that the costs of repairing a refrigerant leak are only becoming more costly as prices of R-22 are on a steady incline while supplies become limited.
If your air conditioner needs additional refrigerant it means that there is a leak that needs to be fixed. If the leak is not fixed in time, the compressor will eventually go out which is not a cheap fix. If your air conditioner is still using R-22 it’s time to look into a new AC unit that uses an environmentally friendly refrigerant to save you money in the long run.
3. Higher Than Normal Utility Bills
Is your electric bill is unusually high? If your electric bill has increased unexplainably over the years or you find yourself paying far more than your neighbors for your monthly energy use, the problem likely lies in your air conditioner. Fortunately, newer air conditioners are designed to run more efficiently, meaning a replacement will be well worth the investment.
If you are tired of your neighbor bragging about their low utility bills and wondering why yours doesn’t match up with theirs it may be the result of your inefficient air conditioner. New air conditioners are built to function more efficiently with higher SEER ratings to save you money on utilities. As of 2006, a law passed requiring all AC units to have a minimum SEER rating of 13. Units sold prior to 2006 have SEER ratings as low as 6.
4. Your Home Isn’t Comfortable
Is your home always too hot or too cold? If your air conditioner just never seems to be able to keep up with the thermostat setting, it may just be too old or worn down to do its job anymore. A maintenance visit from a professional AC technician may help, but if the issue persists after a tuneup, it’s time to replace!
5. AC Keeps Turning Off and On or Never Stops Running
Does your system constantly switch on and off or never seem to stop running? Either one of these things means your AC lacks the efficiency to properly cool your home. This may be from age, but could also mean your system was never big enough to keep up with the size of your house to begin with.
6. AC Is Too Old
Is your air conditioner more than 10 years old? The average lifespan for an air conditioner is about 15 years, but that only applies when the unit has been well maintained. If your AC is giving you trouble and it is already nearing the end of its life, it’s best to go ahead and replace it. Any money you spend on repairs may end up going to waste, as older systems are prone to repeat breakdowns.