Air Conditioner Replacement: When it’s Time to Update Your HVAC System

At Wyckoff Heating & Cooling, we offer honest, reliable feedback for each of our customers to make the right decision for their home. We are often asked for input on whether homeowners should repair or replace their air conditioner or furnace – but the answer depends on several factors. Here are the considerations you should take into account to determine whether to repair or replace your cooling (air conditioner) system:

Air Conditioner Age: The average lifespan of an air conditioner ranges between 15 and 20 years. If your cooling system is more than 10 years old, it’s time to consider replacement. Determine the age of the air conditioner based on the inspection sticker or serial number. The first 4 digits of the serial number typically represent the year and week or the week and the year, depending on the manufacturer.

Poor Condition of the Air Conditioner: The condition of HVAC systems can vary greatly from home to home, depending on the level of maintenance the current or previous homeowner invested in the air conditioner. Installation quality and ductwork can also have a tremendous impact on the operation of your cooling system. If your air conditioner is in poor condition, now may be the time for replacement.

Cost of Air Conditioner Repairs: Wyckoff typically recommends a new air conditioner if the repair is more than $800 for systems over 10 years old. We encourage customers to follow our rule of 50 – if an air conditioner repair costs 50 percent or more of what a new cooling system would cost, get a new system. If you have an expensive repair, for example an out of warranty compressor that has failed in your air conditioner, Wyckoff would recommend replacement.

Air Conditioner Efficiency: There are many benefits that come along with a new air conditioner, including increased efficiency and decreased utility bills. But why? In 2006, a new standard was put in place, requiring residential cooling systems to have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 13 or higher. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the air conditioner. For example, by replacing a 10 year-old air conditioner, you can save 20 to 40 percent on energy costs, according to Energy.gov. You may also wish to gather several 12-month billing summaries from your electric company and compare your utility bills during the summer months from the last few years.

Frequency of Air Conditioner Repairs: Are you constantly replacing parts or experiencing repair issues with your air conditioner? HVAC systems that require frequent repairs or have a major component failures, end up costing you in the long run. An extra couple hundred here and there can add up over time. Similar to your car, there comes a time when an air conditioner update is cost effective, convenient and sensible.

R-22 Phase Out: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated the phase out of R-22 as the result of growing environmental concerns approximately 25 years ago. Production of new air conditioning units charged with R-22 ended in 2010, and by 2020 the servicing of R-22-based cooling systems will rely solely on recycled or reclaimed refrigerants. This means, if your air conditioner was manufactured before 2010, it probably utilizes R-22.

More than likely, your cooling unit will have sufficient R-22 for the system’s lifetime, unless a leak occurs. Since production is limited, costs to charge existing cooling units leaking R-22 refrigerant have gone up and are expected to rise. Wyckoff Heating & Cooling urges our customers to take the necessary steps, including routine maintenance, to protect yourself from the rising cost of refrigerant. However, if your air conditioner utilizes R-22 and you are experiencing other issues, it may be time for replacement.

Air Conditioner Inability to Cool: As your air conditioner ages, efficiency declines, and it takes longer for your HVAC system to cool your home. Longer air conditioner run times equate to higher electric bills. If your cooling system is struggling to achieve a comfortable indoor air temperature, or if you notice a spike in electric bills, contact a Wyckoff professional for details on replacement.

Air Conditioner Replacement: If you’re considering replacing your air conditioner, it may be a good time to update your furnace as well. Connecting an older furnace to an energy-efficient cooling system or vice versa may actually prevent both from achieving maximum efficiency.