Should I Repair or Replace My AC Unit?

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When something breaks down, it's tempting to go the quick route and pay for air conditioning repair to get it up and running again.  That quick-fix may seem the least expensive route now, but it may not offer the most value in the long run. Instead of repairing your old unit, it may be more beneficial to invest in a new AC unit. There’s a lot to consider:

Age of your equipment.  Most equipment is designed for a life-expectancy of 15-20 years.  Older equipment is prone to the following:

  • More expensive repairs, such as compressors or heat exchangers
  • Much lower energy efficiency vs. today’s standards
  • Reduced performance due to clogged or corroding coils

Cost of repair.  Repairing existing equipment can be a good decision as long as:

  • The cost of the repair is less than 30% of the cost of new equipment
  • The rest of the system is in excellent operating condition

Otherwise, the cost of repair would be better invested in a new AC installation.

Energy efficiency.  The average homeowner spends about $1,900 annually on energy bills. Heating and cooling accounts for as much as half of a home's energy use.

Repair history and warranty.  Knowing what repairs have been done to your equipment in the past and whether or not your equipment is still under warranty greatly affects the decision to repair versus replace.  Ask yourself:

  • Is the equipment still under warranty?
  • Has the air conditioner compressor been replaced recently?
  • Has the heat exchanger been replaced recently

Equipment performance.  If your current equipment is not providing a comfortable environment, repairing an underperforming system may not make sense.

  • Is your house too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter?
  • Does your equipment turn on and off repeatedly during the day?
  • Do you have problem rooms that seem to never get warm or cool?
  • Is the turning on of your equipment noticeable, disturbing or causing annoying vibrations in your home?

Moving soon?  If you are moving within the next year or two and believe investing in a new home comfort system will improve the value of your home, you should consider making the investment.  If, however, you are planning to live in your current residence for many years, it may be wise to invest in your future comfort.