Repair or Replace Your AC Unit?
When should I start thinking about air conditioning repair or replace?
The average service life of a central air conditioner is 10 to 15 years, and older air conditioners generally have a low, 8 SEER rating. So, if your home’s system is nearing, within, or beyond that range, now is the best time to start investigating your options. Planning ahead for air conditioning installation allows you to start looking into new equipment so you find the best system for your needs and budget.
What is a SEER rating? Why should I chose a higher SEER rating to repair or replace my AC unit?
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, and ranges from 13 – 25. The higher the rating, the more efficient the system is. A 16-SEER system will save about 13% over a 13-SEER system.
Many 16-SEER air conditioners come with more advanced technology than 13-SEER units, which allows for better indoor comfort.
For example, most 16-SEER ACs come with a two-stage compressor. The compressor is a major component that circulates refrigerant, the liquid substance that cools your home’s air, throughout the system. The main benefit of a two-stage compressor is that it can run at two speeds: HIGH and LOW. The LOW setting allows the AC to run longer at a slower speed during mild summer days. Longer run-times ultimately lead to more even temperatures and reduced indoor humidity.
On the other hand, many 13-SEER ACs have standard, single-stage compressors, which only have one speed. Because the compressor only runs at one, fixed speed (full blast), a standard 13-SEER AC offers slightly reduced indoor comfort compared to a 16-SEER unit.
That’s not to say that a 13-SEER AC won’t keep you comfortable on a hot day—it just means you may notice some hot/cold spots and slightly higher humidity than you would with a 16-SEER air conditioner.
The bottom line: If better indoor comfort is important to you, you may consider choosing a 16-SEER air conditioner over a 13-SEER unit.
How much does air conditioning repair or replace installation cost?
There is no definite price tag on air conditioner installation. The fact is, the price varies greatly, due to factors related to the equipment you select and your home.
Now, what makes the price vary for repair or replace installations?
- The capacity of the system – smaller homes need smaller air conditioners, while larger homes need bigger ones. The bigger the system, the more it costs
- The energy efficiency of the system – in general, more energy efficient systems cost more versus their lower efficiency counterparts. They utilize advanced technology to keep your home cool with less energy consumption. While their upfront cost is more, their operating cost is less when installed correctly.
- Your home – does your home have what it needs for your new air conditioner to operate properly? Duct repairs or new duct installation may be necessary, depending on the condition of your existing ducts. Upgrading thermostats and adding a zoning system will also increase the cost of air conditioning installation.
Can I just install, repair or replace my new air conditioner myself?
A new cooling system is a significant investment. Air conditioners are also very complex systems. Attempting to install your new air conditioner on your own can lead to a number of problems if you don’t know what you’re doing – not only can poor installation damage the system and hinder home comfort, attempting this complicated task yourself could put you in danger.
Instead of air conditioning installation, can I just repair or replace my old one?
Repair or replace is the big question homeowners face when it’s time for air conditioning installation. No one wants to spend thousands on a new unit when their old one is in good shape – but what if it’s not? Do you put money into repairing a system that could fail again, or invest in a new air conditioner that has a warranty?
Air conditioning repairs don’t necessarily come cheap. The cost really depends on the exact problem your unit faces. When deciding whether to repair or replace, consider cost and current system age:
- If the cost of repairs to your existing system is 50 percent or more of the cost of air conditioning installation, it’s best to invest in replacement.
- If your current air conditioner is 10 to 15 years old, it’s near time to replace anyhow. Air conditioners experience more breakdowns in their last two years of service – have you been spending more on repairs over the last few summers? Time to consider if your money is best spent on air conditioning installation instead of repairs.
Repair or Replace: What benefits will I gain from air conditioning installation?
Air conditioning installation offers many valuable benefits for homeowners. You’ll gain comfort, savings, and peace of mind:
- When installed correctly, a new air conditioner delivers the reliable comfort your failing unit couldn’t.
- Aging systems lose efficiency each year – a new or upgraded air conditioning installation gives you a new unit with much higher efficiency, which equates to lower energy bills.
- New air conditioners are backed by warranty coverage, which will save you money should repair needs arise during the warranty term vs. an older unit where coverage has expired.