Has your home’s central air conditioner quit working, and you think you need a replacement? Are some rooms in your home too hot or too cold? Does your home have humidity problems? Are you looking to upgrade to a more energy-efficient or environmentally friendly system?
Air conditioners are generally replaced for one of two reasons – (1.) the unit breaks down, and a replacement is a better option than repairing, or (2.) the unit is older and functioning, but the owner would like more efficient equipment.
If the system is more than 10 years old, it is likely to be out of warranty, and any repair over a few hundred dollars would be a flag to consider replacement. If a compressor goes bad or a coil is leaking refrigerant, those repairs easily can run more than a thousand dollars. It would be better to use that money toward a new system.
Units that are 15-20 years old usually are about half as efficient as most new cooling systems, which means you’re paying twice as much in electricity usage with your old unit than you would with a new system.
Planned replacement of a functioning unit is an ideal situation because it can be scheduled at your convenience. You are not in a rush to make a decision, which gives you time to research and educate yourself about the equipment options. Also, many times, you can get a better price if it’s installed during the off-season.
Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to have your air conditioning unit repaired or replaced:
- Multiple repairs are needed on the system
- Age of the unit
- Signs of rust or deterioration
- The system just doesn’t work as well as it did before
- Cost of future repairs that could crop up
Here are some easy things that a homeowner can check before calling in a professional:
- Make sure the batteries are good in the thermostat.
- If the unit isn’t working, check the electric breaker to see if it was tripped.
- Check the air temperature coming from the vents – if it doesn’t feel cool, there may be a problem.
One of the primary things that an HVAC professional has to do is check the refrigerant level of your cooling system. Each system is designed to hold a precise amount of refrigerant, and when the refrigerant "charge" is off – either too much or too little – the unit will not work efficiently. Checking and handling refrigerant is something that has to be done by an EPA-certified technician.
Whatever the reason you’re considering a new air conditioner or furnace, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions –
- How much time do I have to replace my system?
- Do I really need to replace my entire system, or can it be repaired?
- How much space am I trying to cool, and do I want more than cold air?