As expensive and massive as air conditioners are, you’d think they’d be able to last forever, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Eventually, your AC will kick the bucket and you will need air conditioner replacement, even if you’ve been diligent about getting all the AC tune ups, inspections and repairs you need. Many people make the mistake of trying to save a lost air conditioner, not because they think they have to, but usually just because they don’t know that it’s busted. But frequent repairs can end up costing you a lot more money in the long run – how do you know if you need AC repair or full air conditioner replacement?
Air Conditioner Replacement Warning Signs
Unless your air conditioner suddenly explodes, it will most likely provide a lot of warning signs to let you know it’s time to think about air conditioner repair. The three biggest things to look for are:
Your air conditioner is 10 years old or older – the simplest and most common reason that many people need air conditioner replacement is that their air conditioners are just too old. Air conditioners are not designed to last for more than about 10 – 12 years. If your system is older than that, air conditioner replacement is your best bet – a new system will require far fewer repairs and will run much more efficiently. In fact, replacing an aging and worn out air conditioner can actually have a number of benefits, including:
- Increased energy efficiency, resulting in lower electric bills
- Improved indoor air quality
- Reduced carbon emissions
- Eligibility for the 2011 energy tax credit
You need frequent air conditioner repairs – needing frequent AC repairs is a surefire way of knowing you need air conditioner replacement. Your air conditioner should last you the whole season (especially if you perform regular seasonal maintenance). If it breaks down once during the summer, that’s normal. If it breaks down twice, it’s worth talking to your HVAC contractor about.
If it breaks down a third time, you can pretty much tell it’s reached the end of its life. In fact, if your need for air conditioner repair gets really bad, air conditioner replacement can actually save you a lot of money – both by making you AC more efficient and eliminating the need for constant repairs.
You experience severe temperature inconsistencies – severe temperature inconsistencies in your home are another sign that you need air conditioner replacement (or at least air handler repair). If you have certain rooms with vents that blow too much air, rooms that never get or stay cool or rooms that get humid, you probably have one of three problems. Either:
- Your air conditioner is malfunctioning
- You have poor insulation
- You have a malfunction in your ducts
If the temperature inconsistency problem is minor, air conditioner repair may be all you need. But if it gets really bad, air conditioner replacement could be the best option (air conditioner replacement could also save your house from mold if your humidity problem is bad).
Why Air Conditioner Replacement is a Good Thing
If you’re still on the fence about getting air conditioner replacement, think about this: in many cases, savings on repair costs as well as increased efficiency could actually pay you back! To figure out how long this will take, first you need to determine the amount of energy you could save with a new air conditioner.
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If your air conditioner was installed 10 years ago, it probably has an SEER of 7. Today, the minimum SEER is 13, meaning that almost no matter what, a new air conditioner will save you about 50% on your air conditioning costs. If your air conditioner accounts for 30% of your monthly energy bills, air conditioner replacement will save about 15% on your monthly energy bills.
Once you’ve gotten that figured out, figure out how much you spend each season on air conditioner repair bills. Once you’ve got these numbers, do the math to determine how much money a new air conditioner will save you every summer and compare it to the cost of a new air conditioner. If the payback period is anywhere between three and five years, air conditioner replacement is a stellar investment. If it will take you eight to ten years to see the payback, it’s still a good idea, but you might want to go for a less expensive model.
If you live in Baltimore, Maryland and have an old air conditioner that’s on its last legs, call All Seasons Heating & Cooling. We can inspect your air conditioner and determine how much money you would save if you had air conditioner replacement.