If your aging air conditioner is acting up, a technician may weigh whether to repair or replace it. Air conditioning repairs can have many benefits. They can restore cooling performance, improve efficiency, and extend the lifespan of your AC. But to decide if more repairs are worth it, consider the following:
Different formulas help determine if an AC repair is worth it. Some experts say to move forward with repairs if the estimate is less than 50% of the cost of replacement. If the estimate is close, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. Another method is to multiply the age of the unit by the repair cost; replace the AC if the total exceeds $5,000. Multiple repairs in one year can strain your budget. However, if the system only needs occasional repair, it’s worth it.
The age of your AC unit is a major factor in deciding whether to repair or replace it. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a central air conditioner has a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.¹ In harsher climates, it may last only 10 to 12 years. But AC longevity is affected by many factors, including quality of installation and how well it’s been maintained. If it’s over 10 years old and needs major repairs, consider whether replacement is more affordable.
Annual maintenance and tune-ups can prevent many AC problems. Just by changing the filter every 1 to 3 months, keeping plants and debris away from the outdoor unit, and scheduling minor repairs when necessary, your system can last longer. But if you’ve neglected maintenance, multiple problems may be too expensive to fix.
An air conditioner’s energy efficiency has a significant impact on operating costs. In the Southern U.S., all new ACs must be rated at least 15 SEER (as of January 2023), so having a unit with a 14 to 25 SEER rating aligns with current standards. That means your 12 SEER unit that’s 15 years old costs you more money than necessary (also, consider that operating efficiency declines with age). That means upgrading to a newer, more efficient unit will reduce energy costs.
With the phase-out of R-22, Freon and the systems that run on it are becoming scarcer. Recharging an R-22 system is becoming prohibitively expensive. So is finding replacement parts for one. Therefore, you’re likely better off replacing the system with one that uses R-410A refrigerant, a more environmentally friendly option that can’t be used in older units.
If an outdoor or indoor unit was once replaced separately, the system may have kept working. But an equipment mismatch can shorten its lifespan. At the very least, it will reduce efficiency. Replacing your HVAC with a matched system will improve efficiency and have a wide range of other benefits for years to come.
Think about how comfortable you were before needing an air conditioning repair. Has your home not been cool enough? Have you noticed hot and cool spots at home? Are there humidity issues or are your energy bills getting more expensive? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to consider replacing the system or updating it to one that supports variable speed technology or zoning.
Even if you could afford another AC repair, what if rebates, tax credits, or other financial incentives can save you more? Manufacturers, utility companies, and local government agencies across the U.S. offer financial incentives for installing high-efficiency equipment. The amount you can save on an air conditioner varies from company to company and region to region. You may save a few hundred or thousands of dollars by replacing your AC.
Whether you base your decision on cost calculations or how your AC is performing, the decision to repair or replace it comes down to your unique situation (unless the system has completely failed). We believe in providing the knowledge to make informed decisions. Air conditioner repairs are worth it for a younger, well-maintained system. But they get more costly as a unit ages along with the overall cost of ownership.
Our experienced technicians provide air conditioning repair services in Southern California. They’re able to fix common issues and ensure your system is more efficient and reliable. But we know sometimes AC repair is not enough. If you’ve had numerous air conditioner repairs and your AC is nearing 20 years old, let’s talk about replacing it. We’re ready to evaluate your system and answer your questions. To get started, call (833) 729-9735 today.