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Fix Or Ditch Central Air Conditioning? AC Replacement FAQ

by Daniel Estevao on June 17, 2016

repair or replace central air conditioning (HVAC)

Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether or not to fix or ditch an expensive appliance, like an window or central air conditioning unit. The higher the price tag, the more difficult the decision.

The decision to repair or replace your air conditioning unit is mostly an economic one, but other factors such as comfort also play a role.

AIR CONDITIONING: FIX-OR-DITCH?

Window A/C

Window air conditioning units are frequently disposed of because it is often cheaper to upgrade to a more energy-efficient system than to hire a professional HVAC contractor to do a repair.

Fix your window unit if the cooling power has gradually been diminished. This often requires a simple coolant recharge, which will cost you a lot less than a new unit.

Ditch your window unit if there are any significant problems. Government mandated SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rise every year, making A/C units more and more efficient. If any significant problem develops, you’ll save more money and increase your comfort by replacing rather than trying to repair your window unit.

Central Air Conditioning

Since central air conditioning units are much more expensive to purchase, the decision to repair or replace the unit becomes harder to make. Several factors should be taken into consideration:

Age:

The average lifespan of a central air conditioner is about 15 to 20 years. Still, sometimes it makes more financial sense to replace a unit after 10 years, than to keep paying for repairs.

In addition to expensive repairs, an older unit will also be less energy efficient, which means higher energy bills. Considering that heating and cooling makes up around half of your total utility bill, this is an important factor to consider.

Fix your central A/C unit if it is less than 10 years old and has a minimum SEER rating of 12. Use this Home Energy Yardstick Calculator from ENERGY STAR to determine if you are spending more than you need to on your cooling energy bills. If you score 5 or higher on the scale, it probably makes more sense to fix your unit than to replace. Call Pacific Air Systems and one of our experienced technicians will be happy to come to your home for a free evaluation of your current system and discuss options to move forward.

Ditch your central A/C unit if your heat pump or air conditioner is over 10 years old and requires an expensive repair. If your system is over 10 years old, it is already past middle age. Replacing a unit that is over 10 years old could save you 20 to 40 percent on your cooling costs (U.S. DOE). Ask your trusted HVAC contractor if you would save more money by replacing rather than repairing your central A/C unit.

When you are shopping around for a replacement, choose an A/C unit with a minimum SEER rating of 15 and thermal expansion valve. Click here for an A/C buying guide to learn how to get the most out of your new system. And be sure to screen your HVAC contractor to make sure the unit is installed properly. Use this ENERGY STAR Bid Comparison Checklist when hiring an HVAC company.

Repairs:

Many times, people will continue to pour money into a car or expensive appliance due to loss aversion, the tendency to prefer avoiding a loss rather than acquiring a gain.

Whenever confronted with a significant HVAC repair, compare the costs of repair with new system options and benefits.

Fix your central A/C unit if the cost of the repair is less than half of the unit’s value and the system is under 10 years old; however, it’s smarter to replace if this is the second or third major repair.

Ditch your central A/C unit if your unit is 10 years old or older and requires frequent repairs, cycles on and off, fails to cool certain areas of the home, or produces unusually high energy bills. When repairs start to exceed 50% of the total value of the unit, consider replacement options.

Energy Efficiency:

Modern air conditioning units are extremely energy efficient and use 30-50% less energy to produce the same amount of cool air as air conditioners made 30-40 years ago.

The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient your unit will be. See the efficiency standards for central air conditioners for details.

Fix your central A/C unit if your AC equipment has a SEER rating over 10 and repairs have not exceeded 50% of its total value.

Ditch your central A/C unit if your HVAC equipment requires frequent repairs exceeding 50% of the total value of your system. If your energy bills are going up, use this Lennox energy calculator to see how much you could save by switching to a more energy-efficient model.

Your air conditioner will not meet manufacturer’s energy efficiency claims if it is not sized and installed properly. Make sure you hire the right contractor.

To properly size an HVAC system, you will need to have a complete engineered analysis of your home performed. Pacific Air Systems performs this service for FREE. Call (253) 292-3995 or fill out our online scheduler for your FREE no-obligation, in-home estimate today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Find the answers to frequently asked HVAC questions on our blog. If you have a question that doesn’t appear on the page, simply give us a call at (253) 292-3995.

FREE A/C Replacement Consultation

We can send a home comfort specialist to your home for a FREE consultation to examine your home inside and out to determine the right system for your needs. Many homeowners assume that a new HVAC system will solve their problems, and sometimes that is the case, but frequently there are underlying issues that need to be addressed simultaneously to achieve full efficiency with a new unit.

Can you give me a price without an in-home consultation?

No, we cannot provide a quote over the phone, as pricing varies based on your needs and the unique conditions in your home. In order to properly size your system, a detailed load calculation must be performed by a qualified technician.

Did you know that over half of all new HVAC systems are improperly installed, resulting in efficiency levels below that of the claims from the manufacturer? Installing an oversize or undersized unit may result in higher utility bills, lower lifespans, and uneven heating/cooling. If an HVAC contractor simply replaces the existing unit with a similar one (without measuring your home), they don’t know what they are doing and you should look elsewhere.

We’re happy to answer all of your questions by phone or in person.

Air Conditioning Coupons

Pacific Air Systems is offering a new central air conditioning system for as low as $68 a month. Schedule your free, no-obligation visit from one of our Comfort Specialists to learn more. If you decide to choose us to install your new AC unit, you’ll receive next-day installation and a 100% money back guarantee.

Learn more about how your central air conditioning system works and the potential problems you can encounter:

Additional A/C Tips for Summer


Call Pacific Air Systems for an experience technician to come service or replace your equipment today!

Since 1984, we’ve proudly served homeowners throughout Federal Way, Graham, Spanaway, University Place, Steilacoom, Sumner, Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma, and Gig Harbor.

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