Deciding Whether You Should Repair or Replace Your AC Unit

A Comprehensive Analysis 

Determining the most practical solution for a malfunctioning air conditioner can be tricky. Factoring in all the components and facts, as well as energy costs, can help you move forward with confidence and coolness. 

Consideration # 1 How old is your AC unit?

When deciding whether to invest in AC repairs or start from scratch, don’t forget to factor in your unit’s age. The average lifespan of any AC unit is between ten and fifteen years. Keep in mind that the older the unit, the more frequent and various it’s breakdowns will be. There’s a big difference between spending $1000 towards a five-year-old unit versus one you purchased in 2007. Furthermore, older air conditioning units run on a refrigerant called R-22. This has since been switched to R-410a refrigerant, due to environmental efforts. While demand for R-22 is still somewhat high, it has become an uncommon refrigerant, and now costs between $700-$1000 dollars to refill. If you have an outdated unit, do not forget to factor this amount into your decision.

Consideration # 2 How high are your monthly energy bills?

While saving on monthly energy bills is not a quick way to accrue funds, the long-term investment can make a huge impact on your bank account. If the unit you previously installed (or inherited) is not energy efficient, it will show up in your energy bill every month. Furthermore, if you have noticed an increase in your energy bills over time, it could be due to a worn-out unit. Energy efficiency has become a high priority for air conditioning manufacturers in the past decade. Investing in a newer model designed for greater efficiency could end up saving you money now, and later. 

Consideration #3 What’s wrong with your AC Unit?

Often, the problem with your unit is fixable, and more cost-effective than a replacement. The professionals at Climate Control offer free in-home estimates to help you determine the best solution for your home. While repairing your unit late into its aging process often ends up costing more money than the amount saved, investing in repairs during your unit’s first several years can provide an excellent return on your spending.

Consideration #4 The cost of electricity over time

The cost of electricity has risen dramatically in the past several decades. Running an air conditioner during hours the house is vacant is no longer impractical, but expensive as well. This was not such a large concern when electricity was relatively inexpensive; however, costs have increased. Modern homes often need larger units to receive the full benefit of cooled air. It is possible your original unit was not built into your home’s design and is now unable to keep up with your needs. The extra strain will cause it to malfunction or break down more quickly. On top of this, air conditioning installation is an involved process and should be left to an experienced professional. Factors such as correct sizing, duct leaks, sealing of all windows and doors, the differences between different AC brands, and familiarity with new smart thermometer technology require skill and knowledgeability. 

Consideration # 5 What is a SEER Score?

Air conditioning units now have an efficiency rating system referred to as Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or “SEER scores”. This score determines how well your unit performs in different seasons regarding energy usage. A higher score means a more efficient unit. The scoring is proportional, therefore a unit with a SEER score of 14 can produce the same benefits using half the energy of a unit scoring 7. As of 2017, all units must have a score ranging from 13 to 25 (or higher). This standard has been raised over time. Prior to 1980, the average score was a 6. 

Consideration #6 The list of highly expensive repairs is short

Most components within an AC unit can be easily replaced or fixed. Problems as simple as a dirty unit or a small leak may be the reason behind a malfunction. These problems can also be avoided in the future with proper maintenance. After repairs and tune-ups, many units have several more years of cooling capability. While components such as the compressor may cost between one and two thousand dollars, it is among only a small handful of breakdowns within that price range. There is a simple formula to estimate whether it is more economical to replace or repair your air conditioner. Take the age of the unit (for instance 8 years) and multiply it by the repair cost (let’s say $300). Now, compare that number ($2400) to the cost of installing a new unit. A new unit costs approximately five to seven thousand dollars. Therefore, a repair is the most cost-effective choice. 


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