The following is a guest post written by Zoe Price
Should You Invest in a New AC Unit?
Your air conditioner has broken down, and now you find yourself facing that dilemma that comes up every time this happens – should you repair the unit or replace the unit entirely? Obviously the answer to the question would come down to whether or not replacing the unit would be more expensive than continuing repairs and associated energy costs, but predicting that is difficult. While a unit you only bought a year ago is likely fine to just repair, something that is older might enter something of a grey area.
The following guidelines should help you to determine if you should invest in a new AC unit or not.
Age of Unit
The first metric to go by when deciding whether to opt for repairs or replacement is the age of the unit itself. As a general rule, an air conditioner has a lifespan of about 10 to 15 years, with the exact number varying by unit. If your air conditioner is getting close to that mark you may consider replacing it when you can afford it rather than waiting until you might be without the funds to do so.
If it is more than 15 years old, you will want to replace it outright. It’s worth noting that some units still use an older style of refrigerant that is being phased out due to environmental regulations. If your air conditioner still uses the old R22 refrigerant then replace the unit as soon as you can rather than waiting only to find out your local HVAC technician has none on hand and has to special order it.
Cost of Repairs
When you get right down to it – a skilled HVAC technician can repair 90% of the problems your air conditioner is likely to have. They can’t rebuild a unit that has been obliterated, but they can replace parts as often as needed. It is just a question of how much is it going to cost. Eventually the cost of repairs will be so high that replacement just makes more sense. As a general rule of thumb, use the following formula:
(cost of repairs) * (age of the AC unit)
If that number exceeds the price of a new AC unit, then go ahead and replace your existing unit. Using $5,000 is a good general number to compare to if you are unsure of the costs of new air conditioners in your area.
Energy Costs are Spiking
While the cost of energy is likely to continue to increase in general, the rate at which energy costs increase will be fairly manageable. If you see your own energy costs spiking greatly, going as far as to increase by half or even double from year to year, you should be alarmed. Such energy spikes can be the consequence of your air conditioner starting to give out. At this point, replacing the air conditioner comes down to energy cost savings.
Note that since newer air conditioners are often more efficient than older models as a rule, you not only get the benefit of a unit in better condition but it may end up burning less energy than older units would over the course of its lifetime. This is not a guarantee but it should be something to keep in mind.
Consult a Professional if All Else Fails
If after consulting these guidelines you still cannot decide, consult a professional. Honest HVAC experts such as Adams AC will give you the most economical answer when deciding between repair or replacement of a unit. As such, if you still cannot decide, consult with your local HVAC technician and see what they have to say.