Let’s face it, no one wants to buy a new air conditioner. If our AC would keep running and cooling effectively, we’d never even have to think about it.
But that’s not reality. In the real world, your air conditioner is a machine with moving parts that wear out and technology that gets old.
Is It Time to Put the Old Girl Out to Pasture?
The average lifespan of an air conditioner is about 15 -20 years. But the big question is how do you know when it’s time to replace it?
The AC pros at Home Comfort Experts put together this list to help you determine if it makes sense to repair your AC unit, or if you’re just throwing good money after bad, and sacrificing comfort.
Check out these signs of AC retirement and decide:
- High Energy Bills – Today’s air conditioners are built to be much more energy efficient. In fact, Energy Star estimates a new AC will save you 20% on cooling costs.
- Your AC Is Over a Decade Old – Ten years is the mark at which homeowners should start paying attention to their air conditioner. Look for the signs on this list in the next few years, so you’re ready to pull the trigger when it’s time. New air conditioners are required by law to have a SEER rating of at least 13. Chances are, your old unit is below 13 SEER, and not nearly as efficient as a new one will be.
- More Than Three Repairs in the Last Three Years – Repairs tend to get more and more expensive as your AC ages. If the cost of the repair would cover a large part of a new system, it usually makes more financial sense to replace it.
Use the $5,000 Rule – take the age of the equipment and multiply that by the last repair cost. If the total is more than $5,000, you should consider replacing your AC. For example, a 10-year-old unit with a $350 repair equals $3,500. It’s OK to repair.
Related Read: AC Troubleshooting Tips
- More Freon Is Required Each Year – If you need to add Freon, you have a leak. It’s that simple. The design is a closed system, so if your Freon level is low, the liquid is escaping somewhere where it shouldn’t. Old systems used R-22 refrigerant (known as Freon). Freon is being phased out by the government for environmental reasons, so prices have soared in recent years. Topping off a system with Freon can cost as much as $175 per pound, which means that fixing the leak and putting in several pounds of refrigerant can cost $550 to $1,000.
- A Repairman Said You Have a Freon Leak – Once you get a leak, the compressor (which can cost up to $2,000) will usually go out eventually. You’re on borrowed time.
- Your Home Feels Humid – Poor equipment operation can cause the air to be too dry in the winter or too humid in the summer. Older systems have difficulty regulating humidity in the home.
- Your AC Can’t Cool Certain Rooms – No matter how long your AC runs, certain rooms, like upstairs and over the garage, just won’t feel comfortable on hot days.
- Your Air Conditioner Runs Nonstop – This is a sign that your AC can’t keep up with the demand from the thermostat. It’s on its last leg.
If your AC is exhibiting three or more of these signs, it’s time to replace your air conditioner.