So You Think You Need a New AC Unit – Repair Versus Replacement
Atlanta, Georgia – Atlanta residents want to get the most out of their air conditioning units, but sometimes it might be more economical to replace the unit than continue to repair it. Much has changed in the air conditioning world in recent years, so it’s important for homeowners to understand when it might be time to look into installing a new unit, rather than continuing to pour money into their current system.
“New systems have many benefits,” says Phil Montgomery, owner of Atlanta Heating and Air Conditioning, an Atlanta air conditioning installation company. “A new kind of refrigerant that doesn’t use chlorofluorocarbons was mandated for use in 2010, so new units are better for the environment. Many new systems also use less electricity and are more efficient, so they can keep homeowners more comfortable and lower their energy bills.”
There are a few questions homeowners should ask when debating repair versus replacement.
How old is your unit? In homes with units that are more than 8 to 10 years old, it may be time to replace the unit. Over time, cooling units will lose some of their efficiency. Upgrading your system could save you as much as 20 percent per year in energy costs.
Does your air conditioning unit require frequent AC repair? Continuously reaching for the phone to call the repairman can be a sign your unit is losing efficiency.
Is your unit noisier than usual? Noise doesn’t always mean the unit isn’t working properly, but it can be an indication the unit is beginning to fail. The current condition of your unit can tell you whether or not you should repair your unit or simply replace it.
“Older units can become expensive to repair as they age, and they will begin to break down more often,” says Montgomery. “Parts for older units can be hard to track down, and if we can find them, they can often be expensive.”
If older units haven’t been properly serviced over the years, their life expectancy might be shorter. Proper maintenance over the years can extend an air conditioning unit’s life by four or more years.
In homes where the energy bills keep rising, it might be time to consider installing a new unit. Because technology continues to advance, even units that are just a few years old have been replaced by air conditioners that are more energy efficient.
Cooling units are rated by Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratings. A S.E.E.R. rating of 10 gets 10 cooling units for a certain amount of electricity, while a S.E.E.R. of 14 gets 14 units for that same amount of electricity. That means the unit with the higher S.E.E.R. rating is 40 percent more effective. Installing a unit with a better efficiency rating can save homeowners money each month on their utility bills, and often pay for themselves within a short time.
When looking at the current condition of a cooling unit, there are a few things to take into account. The quality of the equipment, for instance whether it is a reputable brand, is important when determining its life span. How many times has the unit broken down since its installation? Has it been properly maintained? If your unit has not been properly maintenanced, is an inferior quality, or breaks down regularly, it might be time to consider replacement. Even the best licensed technicians cannot help a unit that is already in poor condition, without restoring the unit completely.
Another important factor in determining whether a home can get by with air conditioning repair instead of replacement is to ask a reputable company. It’s important to find an HVAC company you can trust. Establish a relationship with a company who employs licensed technicians. Over time, your trusted technicians will know the ins and outs of your AC unit and can tell you honestly whether a unit has reached the end of its life. Using the same company year after year allows you to not only establish that relationship, but also keep records of when your units were serviced and what was done. This can help the homeowner and repair company make an educated decision when choosing between repair or replacement.
In the short term, repair may look like the best option because it is less expensive. However, it’s important to consider the long term effects of that decision. Simply putting a Band-Aid over a bigger problem may lead to added expenses over the years. So while a total air conditioning unit replacement may result in more out of pocket expenses up front, it may save the homeowner dollars in the long term.
Whether a homeowner decides to simply repair the problem or completely replace the unit, it’s important to remember that regular maintenance is essential to keep an air conditioning unit functioning properly. If you can’t remember the last time your unit was serviced, call your local HVAC company today to schedule a maintenance appointment.