As an Iowan, spring is one of the most welcome seasons of the year. Warmer weather and longer days are finally upon us. This season also serves as a reminder to test your air conditioner and if necessary, repair – or even replace it – before the heat of summer hits. At Wyckoff Heating & Cooling, there are several factors we consider before advising our customers whether to repair or replace their cooling system:
- Age: The average lifespan of an air conditioner ranges between 15 and 20 years. If your system is more than 10 years old, now may be the time to consider replacing it with a more efficient unit. You should be able to determine the age of your 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. Contact Wyckoff today with questions regarding the age of your cooling system. Keep in mind, the older the air conditioner, the less tolerant you should be of costly repairs.
- Condition: The condition of HVAC systems can vary greatly from home to home, depending on the level of maintenance the current or previous homeowner invested. Installation quality and ductwork can also have a tremendous impact on the operation of your air conditioner and furnace. Be sure to consider a combination of age and condition of the system before making your final decision on whether to invest in a costly repair or replace altogether.
- Cost of Repairs: The cost of repairs also goes hand-in-hand with the age of your furnace. Wyckoff typically recommends a new furnace or air conditioner if the repair is more than $800 for systems over 10 years old. Keep in mind, you should always weigh both age and cost, as $800 may be worthwhile to spend on a furnace less than 5 years old. We encourage customers to follow our rule of 50 – if a repair costs 50 percent or more of what a new system would cost, get a new system.
- Energy 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 air conditioners to have a Seasonal
Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 13 or higher. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the product. 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 Repairs: Are you constantly replacing parts or experiencing repair issues? Air conditioners 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 update is cost effective, convenient and sensible.
- Refrigerant 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 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 heating and cooling units will have sufficient R-22 for the system’s lifetime, unless a leak occurs. Since production is limited, costs to charge existing 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 system utilizes R-22 and you are experiencing other issues, it may be time for replacement.
- Inability to Cool: As your air conditioner ages, efficiency declines, and it takes longer for the system to cool your home. Longer run times equate to higher electric bills. If your air conditioner is struggling to cool your home, or if you notice a spike in electric bills, contact a Wyckoff professional for details on replacing your system this spring.
- Furnace Replacement: If you’re considering replacing your furnace, it may be a good time to update your air conditioner as well. Connecting an older furnace to an energy-efficient cooling system or vice versa may actually prevent both from achieving maximum efficiency.
There are numerous benefits to replacing your HVAC system, including improved indoor air quality, available warranties and peace of mind. Contact Wyckoff Heating & Cooling for your free estimate today.