Nothing lasts forever, but in most cases maintenance and occasional repairs are all it takes to keep a good system going. Unfortunately, a time will come where you need to replace the air conditioner in your home. For many people, this happens once in their lifetime (a well-maintained HVAC system can last 10 years or more) as most people move between houses and it’s unlikely you’ll be in a home when it’s time to replace the A/C unit. Even so, what should you be on the lookout for when it comes to deciding if now is the time to replace your existing unit?
Age: Consider how old the unit is. If the unit is more than 10 years old you may need to replace it depending on how well maintained it’s been over the years. For units that are more than 15 years old, a replacement is likely.
Energy Efficiency: While ENERGY STAR recommends replacing air conditioners that are older than 10 years, you may not need to. Watch your energy bill during the spring and summer, if you’re noticing drastic increases when the rates for energy haven’t gone up, it’s likely that your unit is to blame. Age and number of repairs per season should be factored in before upgrading to a more efficient unit. Then again, energy-efficient units often come with energy credits that can offset costs.
Repair Frequency: This is usually why people replace their system. If you face constant repairs and regular breakdowns, the cost of repairing the unit will exceed the cost of a replacement. If you’re seeing weekly breakdowns or monthly breaks with low energy-efficiency results, it’s time to replace the system.
R-22 Refrigerant: Refrigerant replacements used to be simple, but with the phasing out of R-22 (HCFC-22), prices have escalated. Now, along with the cost of leak repair, you’ll find yourself paying more for R-22 than you would on refrigerant for a newer model. It’s better to upgrade now before prices get out of control.