If your air conditioner is on the fritz, you know you need to do something. But the question is what? Generally speaking, it’s possible to repair an air conditioner, but should you?
How can you tell whether it makes sense to have it repaired or when should you just go ahead and replace it?
Question #1: Is your air conditioner more than ten years old?
Air conditioners, like any piece of equipment, have a natural lifespan. If you keep your air conditioner clean and well maintained, it can last for a decade or more without too many problems. But at that point, you’re probably reaching diminishing returns. You might be able to make a repair, only to find that there’s another necessary fix right around the corner. And then another. And another. Or you might spend a few hundred dollars on a fix that will hold, only to have the entire thing fail shortly thereafter.
If you’ve had the same AC for more than a decade, a new air conditioner is probably the better investment. A good rule of thumb is to multiply the cost of the repair by the age of the air conditioner. If the resulting number is more than the cost of replacing it, it’s probably time for an update.
Question #2: Is your electric bill becoming outrageous?
Air conditioners that are on the market right now are considerably more energy efficient than many of their older counterparts. While your electric bill can rise for a number of reasons (increasing rates, more usage, new additions to your home), an increasingly inefficient air conditioner can also be the culprit.
22% of the average American household’s energy bill is a result of air conditioning, meaning that an aging unit can seriously cut into your monthly budget. Looking at the Energy Star ratings of various newer options can give you a sense of whether replacing your air conditioning now can mean significant savings over time.
Question #3: Does your air conditioner use R-22?
If your response is somewhere between “What’s that?” and “How would I know?” you’re not alone, but an HVAC professional should be able to tell you this fairly easily. R-22 used to be a common refrigerant, but it was also discovered to be a contributor to ozone depletion. Under the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer which was universally ratified in 1987, the United States agreed to phase out R-22 use by 2020.
Additionally, the European Union banned the use of R-22 in 2010. All of this means that R-22 is becoming increasingly rare, and thus increasingly expensive. If your air conditioner still uses R-22, buying enough to keep it operable will only become more of a hassle over time, so it’s worth looking into a modern option that uses less damaging refrigerants.
Pro Tip: There’s no shame in getting a second opinion.
A new air conditioner can be a significant chunk of cash, especially if you haven’t been budgeting for it. Asking for a second opinion about replacement vs. repair can do wonders for your peace of mind, and potentially your wallet as well.
You understand your circumstances and needs better than anyone, and at Air Tech, we understand air conditioners. Working together, we’ll figure out the solution that makes the most sense for your home and your life. Contact us to talk with an expert today.