Air Conditioning Diagnosis (Is it Just Old or is it a Problem?)

Is your air conditioning sputtering? Is it blowing just cool and normal air intermittently while at full blast? Hint: it should be blowing cold air at full capacity. Is it struggling to cool the room or house? Is it functioning less efficiently and breaking down often?

Do you often have to wait 20-30 minutes for the house to start cooling? Is your air conditioning unit leaking water, making noise or refusing to go off when you try to turn it off? There could be many reasons for these issues.

It’s possible that it’s just a problem that can be fixed, or the AC is just old and needs replacement. So, when do you determine that your air conditioner just needs fixing, and when do you replace?

Adopt the Age Multiplied by Repair Cost Method

This is a tested and tried method for determining if you should fix the unit or simply get a new one. Get an estimate from an HVAC professional for the cost of the repairs and then multiply it by how old the AC unit is.

If the total figure comes to over $5,000, you should seriously consider just buying and installing a new unit. For example, if your unit is just seven years old and the cost of repair is $300, that’ll bring the figure to just $3,500.

This is still a good number to work with. In this instance, just go with the repairs. But if it’s a 12-year-old unit with repair costs of $500, you need to have it replaced simply due to age. The reality is that older air conditioners tend to break down more frequently, usually as a result of the prolonged wear and tear. Continually fixing and repairing it is bound to cost you way a lot more than it should.

Consider Energy Efficiency

Older air conditioning units typically have poor efficiency ratings. Therefore, people who use them will experience higher energy bills, particularly during the winter and summer. This is why you should opt for air conditioning units with higher seasonal energy efficiency ratings (SEER) of 16 and above.

The higher the SEER, the better your chances of saving as much as 20-40 percent on your energy bills. We generally recommend that you replace units that are older the 15 years. Most of these aren’t as energy efficient as the modern versions.

The AC’s Coolant is Leaking

All air conditioning units require refrigerants to cool properly. So, when your coolant starts leaking, it might signal even bigger, long-term expenses. This is even more so when you have to top off your Freon.

Ultimately, any Freon-based system requiring coolant top-offs will eventually suffer a compressor breakdown. Considering that it costs about $2,000 to replace a compressor plus other associated costs of sealing the compressor or periodically adding new coolant, it’s best to just eliminate the problem by simply buying a new unit instead of constantly repairing and topping it off.

Frequency of Repairs

There are two reasons why your HVAC unit might need frequent repairs: a sneaky scrupulous technician who keeps doing a piss-poor job or your unit is just plain tired and needs to be replaced. This is why we recommend that you try other technicians first if your unit breaks down frequently.

This will help eliminate any doubts about the technicians’ capabilities. If the first doesn’t fix the frequent issues, you need to prepare to get a new unit. Otherwise, you’ll just keep spending money on repairs, when you can easily get a new system and be done with it.

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