Picture this. It’s 85 degrees outside. You’re working from home and sweating bullets because your A/C unit went out. Ughh!
Naturally, you want to get relief as soon as possible. But whether it’s best to repair or replace the system is not always a cut-and-dry answer. That said, here’s a look at some of the factors that can help you make an informed decision when push comes to shove.
Just like taking care of your vehicle can mean it runs longer without issues, the same can be said of HVAC maintenance. In fact, about half of all costly AC problems could be avoided by following a schedule. At the very least you should:
- Change the filter every 1-3 months
- Keep your outdoor unit free of plant growth and debris
- Call your local HVAC company for annual tune-ups
If you’ve been lax in this area, the problems you’re experiencing with your system can be manifestations of this inattention or inexperience. You may even need to replace the system sooner than would have been necessary had you been more proactive.
So much has changed with respect to technology in recent years, that if your system has a serious and complex issue, it’s probably not worth the time and expense to repair it if it’s more than 8 years old. And if your air conditioner was manufactured 15 or more years ago, it may not meet minimum federal standards and could be costing you extra money in the form of higher bills.
On that note, it also helps to think in terms of energy savings when putting in the time to research. Consider the fact that newer AC units can save you about $200 per year on energy costs. Plus, newer models usually come with bells and whistles like smart thermostat compatibility, dehumidifiers, variable speed motors, and scroll technology. There are other perks to soften the blow. For instance, current manufacturer rebates and tax incentives for energy-efficient heating units can make a new unit more affordable. Who wouldn’t want to save some green, after all?
However, no two situations are the same, so ask your HVAC contractor to evaluate not just the condition of your existing equipment, but also the infrastructure. That includes the ductwork and the overall quality of the insulation in your house. An air leak could be the culprit of an under-performing unit and getting to the root of the issue will likely be less costly than replacing it.
Addressing these issues can sometimes result in increased efficiency, meaning your unit performs better. For instance, you might notice more dust, debris, dirt and dander in your home if your unit isn’t up to snuff. This can be problematic for people with allergies, asthma and compromised immune systems. Odors and strange noises can be other tell-tale signs that something is amiss, and the unit needs attention.
It helps to compare apples to apples to get a handle on the potential cost of a repair or upgrade. A new air conditioner will cost around $5,000 to $7,000 to replace, based on your geographic location, and the brand or unit chosen. This doesn’t include labor like ductwork, which comes with an extra cost.
If you’re on the fence about whether it makes financial sense to go with one option over the other, you can always look to the $5,000-rule for guidance. Per this advice, if the age of the AC unit multiplied by the cost to repair it amounts to more than $5,000, the unit should be replaced. If it adds up to less, the unit should be repaired, generally speaking.
Your energy bills are another indication of the health and potential longevity of your HVAC unit. Although it’s natural and expected to experience energy cost fluctuations during different seasons, overall, your bill should be relatively consistent each month, year to year. Unexplained skyrocketing electric bills can be a common indication that your system needs servicing or replacing.
Use of R022 Freon
As a rule, the federal government is calling for an end to the practice of using Freon in air conditioners, in order to conserve energy across the nation. As such, Freon costs are increasing exponentially.
If your AC unit uses Freon, you’ll find yourself with a decision: replace the unit or make the switch to the new R410A refrigerant. It’s probably the better choice to replace your unit if it’s failing or has problems related to needing more Freon.
Speaking of glitches, if you find that the AC system is continually having issues, it may be time to reevaluate your options. The cost of your time and energy, not to mention the financial strain from the repairs, can add up fast. That means investing resources into an older unit just doesn’t make sense at some point. You’re throwing good money after bad if you don’t break the cycle.
Taking these factors into account can guide your decision, but also know that a trusted HVAC contractor can offer expert insight. Depending on the nature of the issue, the technician may be able to salvage it, so you won’t have to invest in a new unit. However, if the scope is beyond fixing, costs too much, or the unit is too old or inefficient, replacement might be the smartest choice.
An experienced technician knows that each and every homeowner has different needs and concerns. That’s why he or she will factor in unit size, efficiency, and cost into consideration when making suggestions. HVAC professionals can also perform home energy assessments to identify energy leaks and determine the efficiency of your cooling system.
If, after weighing your options, you decide it’s best to replace the unit, don’t leave anything to chance. Our technicians’ expertise will be critical. That’s because improper installation can reduce system efficiency and even reduce the life of the unit.
If you need help with selecting the right air conditioner for your home and budget, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our knowledgeable technicians will guide you in this important decision so you can stay cool all summer long!