Just because the official end of summer is near doesn’t mean our temperatures will suddenly cool down. In fact, you can expect to need your cooling system for quite a bit longer.
However, this winding-down time of the season is a good point to assess your air conditioner’s needs and whether you want to keep using it after you fix it up a bit, or if you’re ready for replacement.
The bottom line is you don’t want to wait for your AC system to completely break down before you get it replaced—this can leave you in a stifling home in the middle of summer. If possible, we advise you to get ahead of the problem and replace your system before it starts giving you any issues such as increased electrical bills and unreliable operation. But, how do you know when replacement is the better option over repair?
Consider Your System’s Age
How old is your air conditioning system? You might not know for sure—but you can find out. Go to the outdoor cabinet of your cooling system (the condenser cabinet) and find the metal nameplate on the unit—this is typically attached to the back of the cabinet.
The nameplate should have the manufacturer’s date on it. If it doesn’t, take a digital snapshot of the nameplate, and then give our office a call. Using the model and serial number on the plate, we can give you the manufacturer’s date.
Once you do know the age of your system, answer this—is it 15 years old or older? This is typically the longest an air conditioner will last, so long as its properly cared for.
Old Age and Your Air Conditioner
If your air conditioner is over 15 years old, chances are that it’s well past its warranty period. That alone is a good reason to start considering replacement—otherwise you could be paying for costly repairs that won’t extend the system’s lifespan by all that much. Even if your air conditioner is working “just fine” it does not mean it’s working well, and the risk of a cooling system becoming inefficient increases past this point (as does the risk of a total system breakdown).
Generally speaking, repairs become less cost-effective the older an air conditioner gets. A very general rule of thumb is that if your next AC repair or set of repairs is going to cost over half of what the system is worth, it makes more financial sense to upgrade the system now rather than waiting.
Consider Your System’s Refrigerant!
Modern air conditioners today use a refrigerant known as R-410A. This replaces the ozone-depleting R-22. In fact, by this January, R-22 will no longer be available at all. This means that if you have a repair need involving a refrigerant leak, you won’t even be able to have the system repaired—you’ll have to replace the system.
Isn’t it far better to get ahead of the problem and upgrade now? Besides, if you choose to replace your system today, you’ll be getting a system with better energy efficiency as today’s systems are built with better ratings anyway.