Is it Time to Replace Your Air Conditioner?

Triple digit temperatures and the unrelenting summer sun make cool air an Arizonan’s best friend. The last thing you want is an unreliable air conditioner letting you down when you need it the most. If your air conditioner is several years old, or is starting to show signs of wear and tear, you may be left wondering if it’s time for a replacement. Here are five signs that you should consider replacing your air conditioner.

1.      Age

It’s no secret that Arizona summers are tough on your air conditioning unit. Even with regular maintenance, the average air conditioner has a lifespan of 9–12 years in our harsh desert climate. If your unit is approaching this age range, it’s about time to start the replacement process.

2.      Sudden increase in energy bills

Are you suddenly paying a lot more on your energy bills? This could be a sign that your air conditioner isn’t working as well as it used to. An air conditioner that’s past its prime has to work harder in order to cool your home effectively. This uses more energy, which leads to higher monthly charges.

3.      Poor air quality

If you’ve noticed an increasing amount of dust in your home, or higher-than-normal humidity levels, your air conditioner may no longer be able to ventilate properly. This can lead to pollen and other pollutants entering your home. If anyone in your home suffers from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions, it’s especially important to make sure your air conditioner isn’t making the air quality in your home worse.

4.      Strange noises

Air conditioners aren’t always quiet. A pop or whistle here and there is normal when the cooling cycle starts and ends. However, new or strange noises are your air conditioner’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Problematic noises can include:

  • Squealing
  • Grinding
  • Buzzing
  • Hissing
  • Scraping
  • Continuous loud pops or bangs

These noises can all indicate a problem with key components of your air conditioner, including the compressor, condenser coil, or blower. These are vital mechanics and, in some cases, it’s more cost-effective to replace the entire system than to replace the one broken component. Low refrigerant levels or debris in the unit can also cause loud and recurring noises. As a general rule, if it doesn’t sound normal, it probably isn’t.

Frequent costly repairs

More often than not, throwing money at an old air conditioner is less cost effective than replacing it with a new one. When vital components start to fail, repairs can be more of a band-aid than actual long-term fixes. The best way to fix structural problems, such as the compressor, is to replace the entire air conditioner. If your air conditioner is older than 10 years, and you find yourself scheduling repair after repair when parts fail, or performance doesn’t measure up, it’s time to consider upgrading.

On the fence about repairing versus replacing? Consider the $5,000 rule, which gets its name from the national average cost of a new air conditioner. Take the age of your air conditioner and multiply it by the quoted repair cost. If the number is more than $5,000, you should consider replacement instead of a repair. For example, a 12-year-old unit with an $500 repair comes out to $6,000, showing that replacement is more cost effective.

The benefits of investing in a new air conditioner

While the upfront costs are significant, the benefits—and lifetime cost savings—of a new air conditioner greatly outweigh sticking with your old system. These benefits include:

Money-saving efficiency

Newer air conditioning units are exceptionally energy efficient, particularly those with high seasonal energy efficiency ratios, or SEER. Many utility companies and government agencies offer tax credits and rebates that serve as incentives for homeowners to switch to more energy-efficient air conditioners. Replacing your old air conditioner with an energy-efficient unit is a great way to save money on your energy bills while also helping the environment.

Newer and more reliable technology

While the upfront costs of a new air conditioner may give you pause, the fact is, you can’t put a price on reliability. Air conditioning technology has come a long way in the last decade or so, and newer systems are less prone to breakdowns when you need them the most. Instead of holding your breath and hoping for the best every time your unit kicks on, enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your air conditioner can handle whatever trials the sweltering summers put it through.

A right-sized system for your home

It’s a myth that a bigger air conditioner is always better. In fact, a system that’s too large will cost more money to operate and have a shorter lifespan overall because it will work too hard to heat or cool your home. On the other hand, a system that’s too small will run constantly and fail to meet demand, driving up your energy bills and leaving your home frustratingly warm.

Most homes have air conditioners that are too large, or too small, without homeowners even realizing it. Some HVAC professionals report that as many as 80% of the homes they service have oversized air conditioning units. It’s likely that your current air conditioner is the wrong size—which is why replacing it with a properly sized one is a smart choice.

When it comes to air conditioner sizing, it’s not enough to simply look at the square footage of your home. An HVAC technical uses what’s called a Manual J calculation to determine how many tons, or BTUs, of cooling is necessary. This calculation includes the following factors:

  • The age of your home
  • Existing ductwork
  • Natural shade and sunlight
  • Your local climate
  • The direction your home faces
  • The age of your windows and doors
  • The number of people that live in your home

By taking all of the above factors into account, a technician can ensure that your air conditioner is not too big, or too small, but just right for your home.

Air conditioning questions? Trust the experts

From repairs and maintenance to installation and more, there’s nothing in the world of air conditioning that we can’t handle. Contact us to get started.