You should always consult with a trusted HVAC contractor to determine whether your AC unit can be repaired or if it should be replaced. Depending on the issue, the technician may be able to fix it and save you from having to install a new unit. Some factors to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace your existing air conditioning unit include:
1. The AC Unit’s Age
A typical air conditioning unit has a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. If it’s well-maintained, your unit can continue performing well for even longer.
General Guidelines: If your unit is over 10 years old, the warranty has expired, you’re experiencing more frequent problems, or the quotes you’ve received for repairs are high, purchasing a new unit may be the better choice. If your AC is less than 10 years old, is well-maintained, and has not experienced a major failure, then it might be better to have the unit repaired.
2. The Cost of the Repair
If you have a relatively new AC unit, unless the cost of repairs runs into thousands of dollars, it rarely makes financial sense to replace it with a new one.
Many pros use the “5,000 rule” as a general guide. You multiply the age of the unit by the repair cost, and if that exceeds $5,000, then it may be better to replace the unit. If it’s less, repair it.
3. Refrigerant Environmental Impact and Availability
Many air conditioning units over ten years old use R-22 Freon refrigerant. As of 2020, it’s no longer possible to produce this legally in Canada or the U.S. Consequently, any remaining supplies cost considerably more than the readily available R-410a refrigerant used in modern units. Not only will this make any refrigerant repairs needed way more expensive and potentially even challenging to carry out, but the product harms the environment.
4. The Cost of Your Energy Bills
Regardless of how well you maintain an older AC unit, it will always be less efficient than a modern system. All air conditioning units have a SEER rating to measure their energy efficiency. AC units from the 1990s required a SEER rating of at least 10. In 2006, this changed to 13, and then 14 in 2015. Modern, efficient systems typically have a SEER rating above 20.
It’s worth noting that a unit that isn’t the right size for your home, the use of an incorrect amount of refrigerant, or electrical parts in poor condition can also impact energy efficiency. If you see the cost of your energy bills creeping up, purchasing a new, more efficient unit could be a worthwhile long-term investment.
5. How Long You Plan to Continue Living in Your Home
Even if you have an older unit, unless there has been a catastrophic failure or repairs are excessive, replacing it might not be a good investment if you plan to move in the next few years. Be aware, however, that if the AC unit is old or has not been well-maintained when you come to sell, a buyer may ask for a reduction on the home sale price to account for this.
If you don’t plan on selling up soon, having the peace of mind a new unit and a Worry-Free Warranty will bring may be motivation enough to replace it.
6. Aesthetic Considerations
If you’re having your home redecorated, you might have decided that an old, rusty-looking unit is too much of an eye-sore to keep it—regardless of how well it might still be operating.
If you decide to go for a new unit, it’s worth knowing that any significant alterations to the ductwork or ventilation could require a permit, and a license is necessary to handle the refrigerant chemicals. We do not recommend that you attempt to install new central air conditioning on your own.
Ready to Get Started?