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Common Signs Your Air Conditioner Needs to Be Replaced

HVAC Logo IconBy Tom MoorApril 9, 2024
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Man trying to stay cool with fan

Anyone who has experienced an air conditioner breakdown on a scorching hot day knows just how frustrating and uncomfortable it can be. With HVAC contractors often overwhelmed with service requests during peak seasons, the wait for AC repair or replacement can stretch for several days.

However, by recognizing the clear signs your air conditioner needs to be replaced, you can proactively address issues before they escalate into complete system failures. HVAC.com discusses the impact of an air conditioner’s age on the need for replacement and explores other factors that homeowners should consider when determining whether it’s time to upgrade to a new air conditioning system.

When you choose a new air conditioner that fits your preferences, HVAC.com can provide a comprehensive HVAC quote within 24 hours so you can move forward with confidence.

How an Air Conditioner’s Age Impacts Replacement

Although we like to consider ourselves getting better with age, the truth can’t be said about mechanical systems such as air conditioners. As the years tick by, cooling systems become less efficient, are more prone to breaking down, and struggle to maintain humidity levels.

Central air conditioning systems typically last about 15-20 years with factors such as the climate, maintenance history, usage patterns, and make and model all affecting the overall lifespan. If your air conditioner is within this age range, consider replacing it preemptively, especially if it’s operating inefficiently or requiring frequent repairs.

Signs Your AC Unit May Need Replacement

Being aware of common signs your AC may need to be replaced can help guide your decision about repair or replacement options. Aside from the age of the system, consider AC replacement if you notice any of the following signs.

Insufficient Airflow

As air conditioners age, they become less efficient and take longer to reach the set temperature, leading to higher energy bills and increased wear and tear on system components. If your system is under 15 years old, a clogged air filter or leaky ductwork could be causing inadequate airflow; however, if those aren’t the issue, consider upgrading to a new system which can lower utility bills and increase comfort.

High Humidity

Did you know that aside from cooling homes, air conditioners are also tasked with balancing indoor humidity levels? As warm, moist air passes over the AC’s evaporator coil, excess water vapor is pulled from the air and drained away from the home. If your home is excessively humid, you may benefit from buying a new air conditioner.

Frequent Breakdowns

If your HVAC contractor is on speed dial because of frequent repairs, highly consider AC replacement. Instead of pouring your hard-earned money into expensive repairs, put it toward the purchase of a new, more efficient system.

When determining whether to repair or replace your HVAC system, consider the “5,000 rule.” Multiply the system’s age by the cost of the repair. If the number is under 5,000, consider repairing the system; if it’s over $5,000, replacement may be the better option.

High Energy Bills

Insufficient airflow and high energy bills typically work hand in hand. If your monthly energy costs are significantly higher than they were a year or two ago – without any corresponding weather event – speak with a qualified HVAC contractor about your options. Although the cost of a new air conditioner is a significant financial commitment, you’ll reduce the chance of an untimely breakdown while lowering your energy bills.

Warranty Status

Central air conditioners are typically covered under warranty for about 5-10 years. If your system isn’t covered anymore, you’ll be responsible for expensive repairs, making AC replacement a viable option.

Are You Considering Moving?

If you’re planning on moving in the next year or two, repairing your air conditioner may make more financial sense. However, if you plan to stay in your current home for the foreseeable future, you’ll gain more value from upgrading to a new system with improved efficiency.

Unpleasant Odors, Loud Noises, and Short Cycling

Any of these issues are concerning and should be inspected by a heating and cooling specialist to determine whether AC repair or replacement is the most appropriate option. The age of the system and its efficiency level will likely play the largest role in guiding your decision.

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