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When to Replace an Aging Air Conditioner

Knowing when to replace an aging air conditioner unit or whole system can potentially save you a lot of money, stress and inconvenience by averting a malfunction during hot weather.

This is of course when you most need it to be working at its best!

It makes good sense then to be able to spot the tell-tale signs that your cooling equipment is getting well past its prime and in need of a replacement.

What stops many homeowners from taking action is being faced with a major expense. After all, what was in all likelihood a major investment when first installed is not something many people want to have to replace, so the expense is inevitably delayed for as long as possible.

Recognizing the AC is Getting Old

aging air conditioningThe unfortunate yet inevitable fact that this past major investment is getting old is also not something many people want to acknowledge. The years slip by faster than are often noticed and what was initially a gleaming new state-of-the-art system may have seen more years of great service than you realize!

There are a number of signs of excessive aging along with wear and tear to look out for. If you are aware of the age of your system, especially if it is ten or more years old, this can be the first indicator that it's time to do some investigating to make sure all is still well.

On average, an air conditioner will last up to 10 years before things start needing more serious attention. At this point, even a well-maintained system can perform less reliably and become less efficient than it was when new. A number of years of dust and grime buildup can reduce indoor air quality.

Let's take a look at some of the easier-to-spot signs that your air conditioning equipment may be feeling its age.

Does the AC Break Down Frequently?

It can be perfectly normal for an air conditioner to need to undergo minor repairs every few years along with regular maintenance. However, if breakdowns are occurring more frequently, perhaps it is time to reassess your options.

Don't put off making a serious decision if this is the case. To ignore the warning signs and hope you can go another week with what is now an unpredictable AC with unreliable performance could land you in big trouble if it abandons you during the hottest time of the year.

Consider replacing the air conditioning unit or system before that happens. It could save you days or even weeks of misery as your home heats up unbearably without a working cooling system.

Are AC Repair Costs Increasing?

AC breakdowns aren't just an inconvenience. They can be an expensive inconvenience!

If you find you're having to call out the local HVAC engineer more frequently than ever to fix things when they go wrong, it's a loud and clear warning that the system is not going to last too much longer.

The money you may be spending on more frequent repairs could be put toward a brand-new system.

Are the Energy Bills Rising Alarmingly?

It's well known that older air conditioners are less efficient than new ones to begin with. However, as they age they tend to lose more of their ability to effectively cool the space.

A great tip is to carefully watch your utility bills. Are they rising faster than you expect them to?

It may be helpful to consult with a neighbor with a similar size property to your own and compare their electricity usage to yours. Is their usage a lot less than yours?

Older air conditioners are generally rated 10 SEER or less. That may have been great when new, but as they age, they will likely performs below that original efficiency rating.

When you upgrade to a new, more efficient AC unit with a higher SEER rating, it is fair to expect your electricity bills to be reduced. Higher efficiency cooling units naturally yield greater savings in the long term, especially the newer breed of self evaporating portable air conditioners that you can buy now if you are running old portable units.

Does the AC Keep Your Home Comfortably Cool?

If you're experiencing less comfort in your home through ineffective cooling despite cranking the thermostat to a lower temperature setting, it is a sure sign your system is coping with the heat as well as it used to. Aging air conditioners tend to struggle with maintaining adequate air circulation, resulting in less effective cooling and air management.

This can cause some rooms in the home to feel too warm, while others are too cold.

Another feature of air conditioners is to regulate the humidity as well as keeping your home cool. Older AC units tend to make a home feel muggy with excess humidity. This is especially problematic in areas with a humid climate.

If you find that you're continually adjusting the thermostat because you're feeling cool but clammy, it's another sign your AC could be on the way out.

Is Your Air Conditioning System Running on R-22 Refrigerant?

You may be aware of the Clean Air Act of 1990. In response to this, the EPA has phased out R-22 refrigerant (Freon gas), to be replaced with cleaner R-410A (Puron gas). Since Freon is not in production any more, existing supplies have risen in cost substantially in recent years.

If your AC was installed before 2010, there is a good chance it uses R-22 refrigerant, which depletes ozone. Its production and import was made illegal in the US from Jan. 1, 2020.

Your regular HVAC repair or maintenance company should be able to tell you about that and offer advice on what you should do, especially if they believe your equipment has aged to a point where replacement is a better option than continued repairing and replacing worn out parts.

That leaves owners of older systems that use Freon with a decision to make.

Is it Time to Replace Your Air Conditioning?

Have you noticed any of the above warning signs that your equipment has become too old to keep working efficiently and reliably? Has it come time to replace it?

It will be a smart move to start browsing for replacement cooling options well before you experience an emergency breakdown. The best advice is to explore brands, learn about the different efficiency ratings and watch for special deals on offer that can save you money.

That way you'll be in a position to upgrade your air conditioning equipment as a routine home improvement project, instead of it being a stressful emergency replacement situation.


Posted on Sun, March 1 2020 in Air Conditioning | 0 Comments

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