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How Often Should I Replace My Air Conditioner?

April 05, 2017

Central air conditioners are built to last 15–20 years. So in a perfect world, you should only have to replace your A/C once every couple of decades.

But, as with all mechanical equipment, A/Cs can wear out sooner than their expected lifespan. A worn-out A/C could be the result of a system that was installed or sized incorrectly, or because it wasn’t maintained annually.

So is it time to replace or repair your current A/C? You’ll know if you see any of these 4 signs:

  1. Your A/C has frequent breakdowns

  2. You have high energy bills

  3. Your home has fluctuating humidity

  4. Your home’s size has changed

Let’s go into more detail about each of these signs, and if you should repair or replace your air conditioner.

4 signs it’s time to replace your air conditioner now

#1: Your A/C has frequent breakdowns

Does it seem like your air conditioner is constantly breaking down?

If so, your A/C’s probably on its last leg. Instead of shelling out money for every little repair, it may be more cost effective to simply replace the air conditioner—especially if your unit is 10+ years old. We’ll go into more detail about repairing or replacing later in this article.

#2: You have high energy bills

Older A/C units lose efficiency as they age and break down. This means that they consume more power to cool your home, which raises your monthly utility bill.

Additionally, if your air conditioner is over 10 years old, it will have a relatively low SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) rating. SEER tells you how energy-efficient your air conditioner is.

The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the air conditioner.

If your air conditioner has a SEER rating less than 13 (like many older units do), you’re paying too much in energy bills and you should consider a newer, more efficient unit.

#3: Your home has fluctuating humidity

Air conditioners are built to cool and dehumidify your home’s air. So if your home feels humid, it could point to a faulty A/C that may need replacement.

These signs point to a problem with your A/C regulating humidity:

  • Your home feels muggy

  • You notice moisture around your windows

  • You have mold growth (and no visible water leaks)

Contact an A/C contractor if you notice any of those symptoms.

#4: Your home’s size has changed

Did you add or take out a room? Or did you do any extensive remodeling?

These affect your home’s layout, which also affects what size air conditioner you need. An air conditioner that’s too small won’t cool your home well and it won’t last long. An A/C that’s too big will short cycle, which also shortens the A/C unit’s lifespan.

An air conditioner expert can perform the necessary calculations to determine what size unit best fits your home.

Repair or replace? That is the question...

If you’ve noticed some problems with your air conditioner, you may be wondering if you should repair or replace the unit.

The answer really depends on…

  1. The age of your unit

  2. The cost of the repair

As a general estimate, you can follow the 5,000 rule: multiply the age of your A/C by the quoted repair cost. If the number is greater than 5,000, or you know you’re going to need more repairs in the near future that will exceed 5,000, you should consider replacement over repair.

For example, if you have an A/C that’s 8 years old, and your repair is $500, it may be OK to repair because it totals 4,000.

Another factor to consider is the type of refrigerant your A/C requires. Older air conditioners use R-22 (also known as Freon), which is very expensive. If your unit is leaking refrigerant, you may be better off installing a new one that takes the newer (and less expensive) refrigerant, R410A.

A trustworthy contractor can give you new A/C recommendations based on your budget and home cooling needs.

Want an expert to take a look at your A/C?

Contact Plumbline to schedule an A/C replacement or repair appointment. We’ll have one of our certified technicians visit your home and provide an honest project estimate. That way, you’ll know if you should replace or repair your air conditioner.

We’ve been serving Colorado families since 1998.

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