As summer begins to heat up, you will probably start to run your air conditioner regularly. Obviously if it stops working you will need to have some work done on the system. Other warning signs of impending issues may include odd noises, an uncomfortable temperature, or a high energy bill. If you notice any of these, it is probably time to call in the professionals. Sometimes a repair can solve the problem and sometimes it can be better to cut your losses and buy a new a/c unit. Here are a few thoughts to consider when determining if you should repair or replace your air conditioner:
- Age and Warranty – One of the biggest factors to think about is the age for your air conditioning unit. Generally, a/c units live anywhere from 10 to 15 years, while units that are well-maintained can last longer. If your unit is over 10 years old, it might be worth it to purchase a replacement, depending on what the repair costs. Another thing to consider is your warranty – if it has expired, a new unit might be the way to go. If you still are under warranty, do some research. Most warranties are good for anywhere from 5 to 10 years and many cover the compressor. They often also include labor warranties. Discussing this with a certified HVAC specialist will help you make a more informed decision.
- Repair Cost – Knowing the age of your a/c unit is important when thinking about repair costs. If your unit is relatively new, it is usually a good idea to pay for a repair, rather than a replacement. However, keep in mind that repairs for a newer system should not be thousands of dollars. The rule of thumb that many HVAC specialists follow is known as the “5,000 rule”. To figure the math out, you take the age of the unit and multiply it by the cost of the repair. If your number comes out to be greater than $5,000 then it is time to purchase a new air conditioner. For example, if you have a unit that is 6 years old and the repair is going to cost $600, your number would be $3,600 so you should go with a repair. A 6 year old unit with a $900 repair would work out to be $5,400 so in that case you should look into getting a new a/c unit. Talk to your HVAC specialist and they can give you a better idea of the overall condition of the system and help you stay informed.
- Energy Bill – If you notice increases in your energy bills it may be time to think about replacing your a/c unit. Compare your bills to what they were last year and see if there is a big increase. A higher bill could be caused by an older system that is unable to run as efficiently. Even though it is cooling your home, it may be struggling to do so. Older systems are also just less efficient in general. A/Cs are rated on the SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) scale and that number has increased over the years. The number in 1990 had to be at least a 10 but in 2006 it changed to a 13. These days, a good SEER rating is 20 and up. It is similar to a car and its miles per gallon. The higher the MPG, the more efficient the car is and the less you spend on gas. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the A/C is and the less you spend on your energy bill.
- Moving or Staying – Another thing to think about is if you are planning to stay in your home for a while, or if you will be moving in the next year or two. A repair that might help your a/c continue to work for a few years might be the better option, rather than paying for an entire new air conditioner that you will only use for a year. However, if an a/c unit is older, the buyer may ask for a lower price because of it. So there are different ways to think about repairs and replacements, depending on your long term plans.
The best way to know if you should repair or replace your air conditioner is to call in a professional from the Reliance Home Comfort team. We will determine what the issue is and help you to make the most informed decision, one that will be the best choice for you, your budget, and your long term plans.