An air conditioner plays an essential role in keeping your household comfortable. With the help of routine maintenance and annual tune-ups, most ACs can demonstrate a solid life expectancy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the estimated lifespan of a well-maintained air conditioner is 15-20 years. Let’s take a look at the top indications that it is time to replace your AC unit to help you make an informed decision about whether it’s time to invest in a new one.

1. Air Conditioner Age

Regular maintenance can help your air conditioner live up to its full potential. However, even the best AC unit won’t last forever. If your air conditioner is under 10 years old and has not given you much trouble, it is usually best to repair the unit if you notice problems. If the age of your unit is well into the double digits, the warranty has expired, and you start to notice frequent issues, it is time to begin exploring replacement options.

2. Unreasonable Repair Costs

If your air conditioner is relatively new and the repair cost is within your budget, it usually makes more sense to troubleshoot and repair any problems. When the cost of repairs veers into the thousands, replacing the air conditioner with an upgraded unit is a smart move.

Most industry professionals subscribe to the “$5,000 rule” to determine whether to replace HVAC equipment. To follow this rule, multiply the age of the HVAC equipment by the proposed repair cost. If the result exceeds $5,000, it is time to replace the unit. Similarly, you can also use the 50% rule. If the estimated repair cost adds up to 50% or more of the price of a new system, then it makes more sense to upgrade to newer and more energy-efficient equipment instead.

3. Outdated Refrigerant

Air conditioning units over 10 years old may still use outdated refrigerant. On January 1, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the production and import of R-22 refrigerant due to its detrimental effects on the atmosphere. This makes it considerably more difficult to obtain the dwindling supplies of R-22, and continuing to use it may increase your household’s carbon footprint and contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. If you continue to use R-22 refrigerant, repairs will become more complicated due to the limited supply and harsh regulations against this product. It is better to replace your old unit with equipment that uses refrigerant approved by the EPA.

4. Higher Utility Costs

Older air conditioners tend to draw more power to complete cooling cycles. This excess energy usage can raise utility bills. A faulty AC unit may also turn on and off more frequently to maintain consistent temperatures within the home. Also known as short cycling, this constant restarting uses considerable power and results in pricey energy bills.

Older units are typically less efficient than newer ones. In the HVAC industry, all air conditioner units have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). This rating measures the unit’s cooling output compared to its energy consumption during a typical AC season. The higher the SEER number, the more efficient the unit. Modern models often have SEER ratings over 20. If the SEER rating of your current unit is considerably lower, it is time to consider upgrading the equipment for improved performance.

5. Improper Unit Size

Air conditioners that are too small for a home can waste power since they tend to operate for extensive periods to keep the indoor temperature cool. On the other hand, air conditioners that are too large may fail to circulate air properly due to incompatibility with the rest of the HVAC system, resulting in insufficient cooling and overall discomfort. An HVAC professional can perform tests such as the Manual J load calculation to determine the proper sizing for a new air conditioner in your home.

6. Unusual Sounds or Smells From the Unit

If you hear strange noises like grinding or squealing, it is time to call an HVAC technician to assess the unit. Sometimes these sounds are simply the result of loose components that need repair. However, these noises can also occur before motor failure and an inevitable system replacement. Likewise, smoky smells can indicate problems with wiring. If the issue is extensive, you may need to replace the unit to prevent hazards like home fires.

Contact Us Today

Replacing an air conditioner is an important investment in your home. Fortunately, the experts at Fire 'n' Ice Heating & Cooling, Inc. are here to help. We provide AC servicing for homes in Downers Grove, IL and the surrounding areas. We install new HVAC systems and provide maintenance or repairs for existing units. Our technicians can also install ductless mini-splits and heat pumps. Need help with indoor air quality? We install purifiers and filters. Contact Fire 'n' Ice Heating & Cooling, Inc. today for all HVAC needs.

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