With Florida’s summer heat, one question weighs on the minds of homeowners:
Should you repair or replace your air conditioner? This dilemma does not
offer an easy answer. In your quest to decide, you need to consider a
variety of factors.
At Del-Air Heating and Air Conditioning, we sympathize with the tough choice
you’re facing. To aid your deliberation, we’ve put together
the ultimate guide to simplify the main factors. This will help you ask
yourself the right questions about your AC unit.
Where should you start in your AC unit judgments? We’ll cover a variety
of important topics, including:
- Main areas to consider
- Benefits of replacing an air conditioning unit
- Easy repairs to do yourself
- When to call a professional
To get you thinking about your AC unit, we’ll cover some questions
to ask yourself about your unit in general.
The 10th Birthday Cutoff
AC units don’t last forever. If your system has reached the 10-year
mark, it’s time to consider replacing the unit. As your older units
begins to break down, you need to know when to call it quits. After a
decade, the costs of repairing become impractical. Use this rough guideline
when thinking about the air conditioning replacement or repair question.
Maintenance and the 50% Rule
You can use simple math to assess the cost of whether to replace an air
conditioner. We will cover additional cost benefits to getting a new unit
later, but consider the 50% rule. If the total cost of repairs is under
50% of the price of a replacement unit, then opt for the repairs. When
it exceeds 50%, then it makes sense to choose to replace. Even though
it may seem more expensive now, you can expect more repairs in the future.
Benefits of Replacing Your AC Unit
In most circumstances, the choice to ditch an AC comes down to three main areas:
- Cost to replace an air conditioner vs. cost of repairs
- Your heath and comfort
- Environmental considerations
In this section, we’ll elaborate on these main air conditioning concerns.
Saving Money by Replacing
Feel like your old AC just eats up your finances? You pour endless resources
into repairs but nothing seems to work. You fix one problem and two crop
up. One small issue doesn’t seem so bad, so you decide to commit
some funds to solving the dilemma. Next, more parts malfunction or break.
You think, “I’m sure it’s just a coincidence,”
but then more goes wrong. Before you know it, you’re sliding down
this slippery slope. Soon you’ve spent more money on your old unit
than the cost of buying a new one!
Air conditioners follow their own rules. Occasionally, only one part needs
replacing. Following the repair, an AC may continue to thrive for several
years. However, more commonly, several components will rupture at once.
This makes sense considering that all the parts in a unit age at the same rate.
Replacing Saves Money on Electricity
Old units require more energy. This thirst for power will rack up your
electrical bill. Even when functioning perfectly, an old machine likely
consumes more energy than its newer counterpart. Like with all technology,
AC unit research has improved the quality of recent systems. These new
units consume less energy than their precursors. Additional strain on
old units increases their power inefficiency. An old machine, which breaks
down, makes noise and functions poorly, doubtlessly consumes even more
Replacing your AC unit often becomes much easier if there’s a monetary
incentive. In certain cases, you might qualify for a tax credit. In this
scenario you get a double bonus: a new AC and a possible tax break. In
some instances, you might also receive a discount on your new unit. This
draws customers towards higher-functioning, more environmentally-friendly
systems. The tax incentive pushes people in a greener direction.
Back in the 1990s, everybody talked about the ozone layer. Ozone-harming
gases like Freon became taboo and companies began removing them from products.
Unfortunately, old AC units often contain these chemicals. The U.S. Government
and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently state that all
R-22 refrigerant chemicals must be under disposal by 2020. As R-22 occasionally
pops up in old AC units, you can help the environment by replacing your
unit if it contains this chemical. Newer R-410A air conditioners don’t
damage the ozone. Consider doing your part in protecting the planet. Moreover,
your decision to upgrade might already be sealed. The restrictions on
R-22 will prevent you from properly repairing your unit in the future.
Is the loud drone of your dying machine wearing your eardrums down? As
they gain in the years, AC units start to make noise. Older AC units tend
to develop a trademark rumble. Many AC units plague their owners by filling
an otherwise quiet home with their cacophonous whirring.
This type of constant noise usually draws the most attention at night.
Just when you’re settling down, the AC kicks on. You writhe in bed,
pressing the pillow to your ears in a futile mission to cushion the maddening
sound. You consider shutting off the source of your torment but resign
yourself to the noise — the heat would be even worse. Loud AC units
will ruin your sleep. Consider getting a newer, quieter unit.
Maintaining an old unit costs a lot. If your previous unit seems like it’s
draining your funds, consider an upgrade. Many people hang on to old units
long after the product’s warranty’s expired. They continue
pumping cash into a bad investment, guaranteed to inevitably fail. Get
a new unit, get a new warranty. Your recent purchase and its accompanying
warranty will save you tons of money on any future repair cost.
Cherish the warranty of a new AC.
No Waiting for the Repairman
Find yourself wondering when the repairman’s coming? Your time doesn’t
come free, so don’t waste it by waiting. Don’t take time out
of your schedule to sit around in a hot room anticipating the knock of
a repairman. Simply buy a new AC unit. This easy solution to the problem
of a late repairman rewards your lack of patience. Whoever said “good
things come to those who wait” didn’t have to sit in hot room.
A new machine blasts out that cold air with youthful vigor. Nothing beats
the power and increased functionality of a freshly unpackaged air conditioner.
Not only does a new AC run better, but new technological features also
permit greater climate control and customization.
The latest AC units increase your ability to manage temperature and humidity.
Don’t settle for anything less than absolute power. If you permit
an AC unit to run amok, your comfort and health will suffer. If you can’t
control the temperature, you’re going to sweat, and if your humidity
lets loose, your house will begin to get mildew.
As AC units age, they become possible health risks. Over the course of
their lifetime, AC units begin to accumulate unwanted contaminants in
the air filters. If not properly cleaned and replaced, these irritants
flood into your air. Dust particles and other allergens can pollute your
house and lungs. Even putting the time and money into cleaning or buying
new filters may not fix the problem. Corrosion and other unavoidable issues
lead to situations where replacing the unit seems the best, and healthiest, option.
It’s sad, but over time everything wears out. Your old AC unit just
can’t compete with a new champion. We know you’ve come to
consider your previous unit as part of the family. It’s helped you
through many hot summers. When you needed its cold air on your face, it
was there for you. But it’s time to move on.
If you’re not so nostalgic about your AC unit, then you’re
in luck. For the rest of us, it’s a somber day setting an old AC
out to pasture. With letting go comes the chance for growth. You’ll
move on and grow to depend on a new AC unit. Don’t worry, you’ll
love it just as much.
Should You Replace?
The decision to replace your unit ultimately depends on you. You need to
weigh your priorities and the seriousness of your AC issues. Most minor
hiccups don’t need a full replacement, but eventually you’ll
need to accept the inevitable.
In the meantime, there are many affordable ways to prolong the life of
your AC unit. In this section, we’ll explore some common ways you
can fix an AC unit yourself. Most of the following issues relate to central
air conditioning units. This type of AC unit contains more complicated
elements than simple AC units, also occasionally called split-minis or
forced air conditioners.
Easy DIY Repairs
Don’t get apocalyptic if you hear a strange noise one day —
it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s always a good
idea to investigate the cause of a sudden issue first. You can perform
many simple investigations yourself. Once you discover the source of the
problem, you might even remedy the problem yourself.
Of course, you should call a professional before attempting any major repair.
Experts exist for a reason. If you suspect a larger issue lies at the
heart of the trouble, don’t hesitate to call for help. However,
many smaller chores don’t require hired pros.
Clean Your AC Unit’s Filters
Don’t let your AC unit’s filters get dirty. The nasty gunk
stuck on your filters will pollute your air and damage your health. Thankfully,
this essential task doesn’t require much expertise. Simply open
up the system and take out the filter. Inspect the filter and determine
whether it needs replacing or just cleaning.
If there’s a tear in the filter, get a new one. Otherwise, proceed to vacuum out all the debris using the hose attachment.
Next, let the filter soak in an equal part water and common vinegar emulsion.
This helps to kill any lingering bacteria. Let the filters soak in their
bath for several hours. After they’re ready, remove them and lay
them to air dry on a towel. Return them to the AC unit, and pat yourself
on the back. Job well done.
Avoid Duct Leakage
If you’re noticing a drop-off in your central AC unit’s productivity,
you might suffer from leaky ducts. Central air conditioners use a network
of ducts to pipe cold air into each room. As time wears on, these ducts
begins to leak. The worst part of faulty ducts involves their location.
As ducts run through parts of your house like the attic, they leak cold
air into unwanted areas.
To check that your ducts aren’t leaking air, just perform an investigation
of the exterior of the accessible ducts. Take a trusty roll of duct tape
along and patch up any crack you encounter. No one wants an nice cold
attic, especially since it costs money to cool any part of your house.
Before You Look: Kill The Power
Diagnosing the root cause of an AC symptom first involves necessitates
turning off the power. Any unusual issue, especially a total shut-down,
likely concerns a power issue. To test the possibility of power failure,
switch off the system’s electricity completely. Of course, tinkering
around with fuses constitutes a significant risk of electrocution, so
ensure the power is off. Any further investigation, such as removing your
outdoor system’s access panel, requires a safe absence of electricity.
Test the Tubes
Time to break out your multimeter and see if there are any blown fuses.
Problems often result from simple things like a blown fuse. Rule out the
obvious causes before proceeding to speculate on the real culprit. Take
your multimeter and set it to the lowest detection on the Ohms scale.
Touch the black and red ends to the corresponding ends of each fuse. If
you get a minus sign or zero, then congratulations — your fuse is
blown. Unfortunately, a blown fuse likely indicates a much larger problem.
After all, what blew the fuse? Replace the fuse and try it out. If it
blows out again, phone a repairman — there’s something else going on.
Occasionally rats and mice make homes in your outdoor condenser. The outdoor
condenser sits next to the exterior of your house and sucks air into a
condensing coil which cools the air. This part’s location outdoors
attracts small animals hoping to construct a nest. Once infested, the
unwanted guests proceed to chew through wires and damage the condenser.
Before you peer into condenser, make sure the power’s shut off. Then
remove the access panel. Remove the screws and detach the panel. Look
around and assess for chewed wires and other possible damage.
If you discover any evidence of rodent habitation, simply clean up the
nest and proceed to assess the problem. If any wires bear evidence of
fracture, you might need to replace the capacitor.
Replacing a Capacitor
The capacitor houses the electrical charge before allocating the voltage
to both the compressor and condenser fan.
If any wires bear wear or tear, then your capacitor might be incapacitated.
Capacitors act as the heart of the outdoor compressor. If the heart doesn’t
kick-start the other parts of the machine, then your AC won’t work.
Don’t worry about performing a “heart” transplant though
— capacitors don’t cost much and aren’t difficult to
To replace a capacitor, simply take a cell phone picture of the wire configuration
before detaching anything. If you forget how it looks when you hook up
the new capacitor, just peek at the picture. Next, take an insulated screwdriver
and use the shaft to complete a circuit on the terminals of the capacitor.
This discharges any stored power remaining in the capacitor. Touch the
shaft from the H-terminal to the C-terminal, and the F-terminal to the
C-terminal. Now you’re ready to unplug the capacitor.
Use the picture you took as a guide and secure the new capacitor. Ensure
all the wires fit in their sockets securely and jiggle each to check their
firm adhesion. Once you’re satisfied, return the access panel to
its place, screwing it back into position. Return power to the outdoor
compressor and you’re done!
Unfortunately, many AC unit problems don’t offer an easy fix. There’s
a number of issues for which replacement represents the only option. For
instance, if your system has irreparable corrosion damage, then you will
need to replace the entire system. If such damage is merely cosmetic,
then your unit may survive, but if the damage has led to functional impairment
— say goodbye.
Damage can affect the coils in your outdoor compressor. You might get air
pumped through your house, but it’s just not cold. Problems like
this point the blame at faulty compressor coils. The list of irreplaceable
parts and impractical repairs includes a huge number of possible causes
and combinations of problems. The outcome of most complex issues usually
ends with replacement.
If you’re not sure whether your AC unit is doomed, contact a professional
to get a proper assessment. Experts also offer the best solution to repairing
Consult a Repair Professional
Unless you’re handy and brave enough to tackle repairs on your own,
call a pro. Get an expert to come and investigate for you. They’ll
tell you whether it’s prudent to repair or replace. If your AC unit
keeps malfunctioning, you’ll have little option but to enlist help.
Learn all you can about the parts, and decide whether repairing or replacing
the air conditioner seems the better option. Weigh the seriousness of
the problem and the likelihood of further long-term issues. If a series
of band-aid solutions suits your style, then go ahead.
In many cases, you’ll discover that replacement offers the better
option. You don’t want to continually prop up a broken unit. If
you stay on the repair track, you’ll end up replacing every part.
Unless you’re performing all the repairs yourself, then you’ll
need to pay the repairman as well. This fee, combined with cost of parts,
will pretty soon amass to a higher cost than just buying a new unit.
Ask Del-Air Heating and Air Conditioning
At Del-Air Heating and Air Conditioning, we know the difficulty of deciding
to proceed with a new air conditioner. But we offer our customer more
than empathy — we provide the best service and knowledge of HVAC
(air conditioner) service in Florida.
We take in pride in our reputation as the only Florida HVAC dealer that
sells and services every major brand and manufacturer of HVAC systems.
We command a fleet of over 400 fully equipped customer service vans to
assist your HVAC needs. We will provide a quote in 10 minutes flat and
Visit our website for more information about Del-Air Heating and Air Conditioning, air conditioners
and our services. Whether you decide to repair or replace your air conditioner,
we’re here to help you make the right choice.