To repair or replace your air conditioner, that’s the question. The clock’s been ticking since the first time you turned it on, literally — the service life of A/C components is usually measured in cumulative hours. Fortunately, most units have expected service hours in the tens of thousands of hours, starting at an average of approximately 10-12 years. However, you may be running on borrowed time even before then. A second factor is the age of technology incorporated in the unit. A functional 8-year-old air conditioner may be so outmoded in terms of A/C efficiency and features that it’s already fulfilled its useful service life.
Here are a few more things to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace your air conditioner:
- Inconsistent comfort level: Hot spots, cold spots and increased humidity in the home are signs of system-wide wear and tear that probably won’t be corrected by replacing a single component. In some cases, these problems may also be evidence of system-wide problems or deficiencies in the construction of the home and it is wise the have a home performance assessment conducted.
- Increasing utility costs: Everybody’s paying more these days. But if your increases are out of proportion to annual utility rate hikes, your system is sapping excess energy. Upgrading from a 10-year-old unit with a SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) of 10 to a current minimum standard SEER 13 unit will increase energy efficiency by more than 25 percent.
- A major repair: Sinking big bucks into fixing an A/C system from the 1990s is false economy. After the bill is paid, you’re still stuck with obsolete technology, poor efficiency — and probably another major component failure just around the corner.
- Extinct refrigerant: If your air conditioner's old enough that you are considering replacing it, it probably uses R-22 refrigerant. Now in the process of being phased out by environmental regulations, future R-22 supplies are uncertain and prices may be prohibitive. Upgrading to a new unit that uses R-410A refrigerant, the approved replacement, will ensure continued operation without paying overinflated prices if your A/C needs a refrigerant charge.
Paul Wadsworth is the President and Owner of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling. For 37 years, Paul has been providing heating and cooling services to the Greater Cleveland area. P.K. Wadsworth has been a trusted Cleveland HVAC service company for 75 years. The company understand the area's construction and local heating and air conditioning needs. Paul has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a B.S., Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. He's been President of the Cleveland Air Conditioning Contractors of America and a founding member of the local chapter. Paul was born and raised in Cleveland and has been active in the local community. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two sons.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.