Timing is important, particularly when it comes to deciding whether to repair or replace your central air conditioner. You want to get every bit of return out of your existing unit before investing in a new system. On the other hand, there’s definitely a point where keeping the old energy hog running is costing you money that would be better spent upgrading.
Here are some considerations to help you decide whether to repair or replace your aging air conditioner:
- The age of your unit alone might tip the repair or replace balance. The federal minimum SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) of all central air conditioners manufactured between 1993 and 2006 was 10. Today it’s 13. For every SEER number you advance, efficiency increases up to 10 percent. Therefore, simply upgrading to today’s minimum standard could potentially reduce electrical consumption to 25 percent below your SEER 10 unit.
- Facing a major repair bill on an existing unit, are you throwing good money after bad to have it fixed? Consider that all components in the system have the same accumulated hours of wear and tear. They’re also engineered to have equivalent MTBF (mean time between failure). If a major item like the compressor has reached the end of its design life, you may assume that other parts of the system—coils, blower, fans—may soon require replacement, too.
- The older your existing unit is, the greater the likelihood it utilizes R22A refrigerant. Now being phased out, R22A supplies are questionable and prices may be steep. All central air units manufactured after January 1, 2010 use R410A refrigerant.
- Chronic, system-wide symptoms like inconsistent cooling of rooms, excessive humidity in the air and frequent cycling on and off may be signs of an outdated air conditioner that can’t handle the cooling load of North Carolina summers anymore. Advanced technology not available when your A/C was manufactured offers more effective cooling and greater comfort levels.