Air conditioners represent an investment, but one that many homeowners deem a necessity. As a homeowner, you've probably accepted that you'll have to budget for repairs around the house, including for the air conditioner. After all, you want to protect your investment.
How do you know when you're throwing good money away, though? At a certain point, you should replace rather than repair your AC unit. Below are some signs that signify that time is upon you.
Your AC Is Over 10 Years Old
If you can baby your air conditioner to the ripe old age of 14 or 15, you've gotten more than a good return on your investment. The average lifespan of an AC unit is 10 years, with 15 being an outlier. Technology changes through the years, so new air conditioners are bound to be lighter, quieter, and more energy-efficient. Indeed, you can probably save money with a new air conditioner.
Your Unit Isn't Energy Efficient
Energy efficiency continues to be the buzzword for homeowners, including in air conditioners. Not only will energy-efficient models save you in utility costs, but they'll also reduce your carbon footprint. They'll also put less strain on the electrical grid, which is an important factor in some locales.
You can tell a new air conditioner's energy efficiency based on its SEER rating, which is located on a yellow sticker on the box. The higher the number, the more energy-efficient the unit will be. Most states require a minimum rating of 13, though you can find units rated as high as 22.
Your Repair Costs Are High
A major factor that prevents homeowners from replacing their AC unit is cost — they're usually looking at a few thousand dollars. However, at a certain point repair costs will add up. What's more, the repairs might not even work if your unit is old or broken enough. Multiply the cost of repair by the age of the unit. If it's over $5,000, you're better off replacing it.
Your AC Unit Is Leaking R-22
A repair that can add up quickly is the need to replace refrigerant, especially R-22. The R-22 refrigerant has been in use for decades, but the EPA ordered manufacturers to start phasing out its use because it depletes the ozone. What's more, it can be harmful to your health.
An R-22 leak can be harmful to your budget, too. Prices have risen as the production of R-22 has dropped. As of 2020, the refrigerant is no longer manufactured. So, if you have an R-22 leak, you should invest in a new unit.
Use the above signs to determine if you need an AC unit replacement.