Before you run out to replace an old air conditioner, read up on these decision-making factors to decide. With highs in the 90s through our Chino summers having access to a good AC unit ready makes sense. We’ll be able to use less energy over the next few months with temperatures only gracing the upper 60s on average, but let’s take a look to plan ahead on replacements by checking this list.
If you’ve been a homeowner for a while, you may have heard this common rule of thumb for deciding whether you should repair or replace an air conditioner:
Take the age in years of your AC and multiply it by the repair estimate cost. If that cost exceeds $5,000, replace it. If it’s less, go ahead with repairs, although, know there’s not a guarantee a problem won’t happen again so act conservatively. For example, if you were quoted $275 to repair a 10 year old unit that would be $2,750, so okay to repair.
Coolant leaks can really add up. R-22 refrigerant, called Freon, costs between $50 and $175 per pound, not including a service call fee. Estimate between $600 and $1,000 for a coolant refill. Also, keep in mind adding refrigerant doesn’t fix the leak, and usually means the compressor will be out the door next, costing $2,000 to replace. Adding these two costs together is about the same as buying a lower-powered new unit, so it might be worth spending a little extra to get something better than adding up these expenses on an older system.
Over the last few years, technology has made central air units and ductless systems more efficient than ever before. Look at Energy Star ratings to compare your current unit to what’s on the market today. Most contractors recommend a replacement every 14-15 years, but Energy Star recommends replacement at the 10 year mark to get higher efficiency models into homes.
Besides a unit’s age, look at how often you make repairs and how long you plan to live in the home. Also consider if your home feels too hot in the summer with your current AC or if your utility bills are on the rise.
If your unit is working fine, your bills are staying reasonable, and your system isn’t showing any signs of leaks, keep it! No need to replace something that’s working just fine. If you do decide to replace a system, expect about a 20% decrease in utility bills with the new Energy Star systems on the market.