If your air conditioner makes more trouble than cool air these days, you may be on the fence about whether of not it needs to be repaired (yet again) or replaced altogether. While an all-new air conditioner installation is no small investment, it could pale next to the amount of money you have to keep pumping into an ailing one. Here are five things to ask yourself when evaluating this major home ownership decision.
1. "How Old Is My Air Conditioner?"
Deciding whether or not to replace your air conditioning system could be as simple as calculating its age. You can expect a typical air conditioner to last a good 10 years or more, and you may be able to push the unit for up to 15 years. After the 15-year mark, however, your air conditioner is due for a catastrophic failure at any time, and at that point you'll have no choice but to replace it.
Check the documentation on your air conditioner to determine just how old the thing is. If you bought your home new, then the age of the air conditioner will be obvious -- but it you're the second or third owner, you may have to do some detective work. Your service tech should be able to identify the model and let you know whether it's living on borrowed time.
2. "Am I Giving My AC Unit Proper Care?"
If your air conditioner is prone to frequent minor issues, you might not be giving it the TLC it needs to function effectively. Implement the following best practices to reduce stress on the components:
- Adjust the thermostat instead of shutting the AC off (since it will have to work that much harder when you turn it on again)
- Remove dust, dirt, pet dander, lint, and other debris from around the outdoor unit of your HVAC system
- Clean the air filters and other user-serviceable components regularly
- Schedule annual maintenance inspections so little problems can be nipped in the bud
3. "How Long Can I Go Between Repairs?"
The occasional mechanical problem in your air conditioning system is no cause for alarm -- "gremlins" can find their way into anything with moving parts. But if you notice that the intervals between repair jobs are getting shorter and shorter, that's a red flag that you're ready for a major breakdown.
Another indicator will be evident on the repair bills you're starting to collect. Are the issues getting more and more critical, with increasingly higher expenses attached? If so, then you're practicing false economy by continuing to sink money into a failing system.
4. "Is It Getting Harder to Regulate Indoor Temperatures?"
If you've lived in your current home for a while, then you've probably figured out the "rhythm" of your thermostat -- you come to recognize and anticipate its normal cycles and temperature ranges, and you've gotten used to turning the thermostat up or down in a predictable way. But if parts of your home are no longer responding as they once did, then you might be looking at an air conditioner failure of some sort.
Some issues, such as blocked duct work or low freon levels, can be fixed without replacing large parts of your system. But if your air conditioner is losing mechanical power, then you may be feeling it in the parts of your home more vulnerable to the sun's rays.
5. "Am I Missing Out on More Efficient Technologies?"
Many old air conditioners have fallen behind the curve of technological advances, especially where energy efficiency is concerned. A modern Energy STAR compliant unit can run much more efficiently than its ancient ancestors -- and that translates into savings of up to 20 percent on your utility bills. If you feel you're paying too much to control the climate in your home, ask your local air conditioning installation service about the wisdom and costs of putting in a new, energy-efficient model.
Think hard about whether it's finally time to thank your air conditioning system for its years of yeoman service and then send it on its final journey. You may find that a brand-new air conditioner is a very cool addition to your home indeed! For more information, contact local air conditioning services.