Is it Time to Repair or Replace Your AC? Here’s What to Consider

digital.teamGeneral, Heating & Cooling

Should I Repair or Replace my Air Conditioning System?

When deciding whether to repair or replace your AC system, there are really three things you need to consider:

  1. Which is the most Cost-Effective route?
  2. What is my family’s Comfort level?
  3. What are my Convenience needs?

At some point in the life of an AC system, repair costs outweigh the long-term cost savings of replacement, and it depends upon the unique circumstances of each homeowner as to when that tipping point is designated.

But Cost, though a huge consideration, is not the only one; Comfort and Convenience can be the deciding factors if you are trying to avoid the time and headaches associated with routine repairs on older equipment, or if you have family members in your household who cannot tolerate stretches without comfortable conditioned air.


At some point replacing your AC system will be more effective in the long run, and there are several factors to consider when pulling the trigger to replace.  The experienced Comfort Advisors at Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling are best equipped to help homeowners through this decision-making process, and homeowners are encouraged to take advantage of the free consultations we provide.
There are two instance, however, when replacement is almost always recommended:

  • When your system uses R-22 refrigerant
  • When your system uses R-410A 
  • When your system is 15 years or older

If Your AC System Uses R-22, Plan your Replacement Strategy Nowold air conditioning unit

If your cooling system uses the refrigerant known as R-22, then it is time to replace.  Refrigerant doesn’t get used up – the only time you must add refrigerant is if you have a leak.  And if you have a leak, you will have to add more and more refrigerant over time. R-22 refrigerant contains chlorine, which eats away the ozone layer when leaked into the atmosphere.  Because of this, R-22, also known as HCFC-22, will be illegal to produce starting in 2020, and the only way to acquire it will be through recycled or stockpiled supplies which will be prohibitively expensive to purchase. 

The last AC systems using R-22 were manufactured in 2010.  Because of this, your system is already old enough to be replaced.  Refrigerant leaks happen to systems as they age. Refrigerant circulates under high pressure and wears down the inside of the tubing.  Because AC systems last only 10-15 years on average, it is time for your R-22 unit to be replaced, especially if it is leaking refrigerant. 

How Do I Know if My AC System uses R-22?

It is recommended that homeowners have an HVAC technician inspect their system to determine what kind of refrigerant it uses. It is possible to determine what type of refrigerant your system uses by locating its manufacturer’s data plate. These are labels found either on the side of the condenser (outside unit) or air handler (inside unit). Some manufacturers make it easy for you by putting a separate sticker on the condenser with the refrigerant spelled out in tall letters.  

If you want to wait it out one more year and try to save money by repairing your old unit, you may end up spending more next year than you would save this year. Waiting will also put you in the same boat as all of the others who waited until the last minute when demand is high. Even if you are lucky to get a reasonably priced replacement system, the wait for available technicians to install it might be longer. The last thing you want to do is be faced with a prolonged period without air conditioning during the summer heat. 

Another Refrigerant to Be Aware Of: R-410 

If you thought R-22 was the only refrigerant with a rapidly increasing price, think again. The price of R410-A has increased each year and is expected to keep increasing. If your system has a refrigerant leak, it is time to consider replacement. Refrigerant leaks don’t go away, they get worse over time. With the cost of refrigerant ever-climbing, keep in mind that you will be paying more as the leak gets larger. 

What if I Can’t Afford to Replace Right Now?

Replacing your AC system can be costly, but financing options are available for most credit scores. The initial expense is offset by reduced energy costs with a new, more efficient system.

If Your AC System is More than 10 Years Old, Consider a More Efficient Model

Cooling systems wear out just like any other household appliance. A well-maintained AC system will last 10-15 years, according to the National Association of Home Builders. If your system is older than 15 years, replacement is recommended. But even if it is only 10 years old, replacing can save you money and peace of mind. 

It is important to know that even AC units younger than 10 years old can fail if they have not been maintained properly over their lifespan. It is recommended your cooling system is tuned-up by a professional HVAC technician annually to keep your system in good working order. The technician inspects the unit’s components, identifies and fixes any issues, and cleans the indoor and outdoor coils. This will increase your system’s efficiency. If you have just purchased your home, try to obtain maintenance records, as they will inform you on the system’s potential either to fail soon or last another several years. 

Rising Energy Bills are a Red Flag that Your AC Could be Failing

Before you blame global warming for your rising energy costs, consider whether your high energy bills could be the result of a faulty, failing or inefficient AC system. An AC system that is working inefficiently will run more frequently, using up more electricity while not adequately cooling your home. Once an AC system reaches this point, its chance of failing completely increases rapidly.

Many utility companies provide comparison charts of how your bill has changed year over year. They also provide an average temperature for each day of the month, information that can help you identify whether higher utility costs are associated with outdoor temperature or something else.

Repeat Breakdowns – Another Indicator to Cut Your Losses and Replace

Whether your AC system has reached the end of its lifespan or not, having multiple serious repair jobs in a row could indicate it is close. Systems last longer when they’re maintained well, and some simply don’t last as long as others. If you’ve already fixed one issue and more are popping up, it might be best to cut your losses and replace. 



For some families, no amount of cost savings is worth putting their family at risk of being without adequate air conditioning. 

Heat Can Harm Kids, Pets, Pregnant Women and Elderly

The temperature inside your home rises at an alarming rate when your cooling system stops working. It is no secret how miserable it is to be inside a 90-degree home, but to some it can be dangerous. Pregnant women are understandably susceptible to overheating during pregnancy, but it is worth noting that the unborn child is at a higher risk of experiencing low weight and birth defects when subjected to extreme heatIndividuals with breathing problems and heart conditions experience a great deal of distress when subjected to heated air, especially when coupled with humidity. The younger the child and the older the adult, the more susceptible they are to heat stroke and heat exhaustion and dehydration. These populations, like pets, cannot always discern or verbalize their discomfort until it is too late


Replacing your cooling system will do more than save money, it will save worry as well. Even if you are a healthy adult who can easily take the heat, chances are you live a busy life and cannot afford to take a day off work to deal with a hot house. Nor do you want to return from a trip to a failed AC unit.  

AC Systems Only Break Down in the Heat

As obvious as this sounds, this is worth remembering. Whether your cooling system quits working because a simple repair is needed or because it has reached the end of its lifespan, NO time is a good time to be without air conditioning during a heat wave. It is important to remember that HVAC technicians are their busiest during heat waves, so you might be facing more than the usual 24-48 hours during the busy season. 

Plan Your Replacement in Advance

By scheduling your AC replacement well in advance, you can plan your installation for a time when it is convenient for you. 

It is often best to purchase a new cooling system during the off season, when demand is less and installation technicians have more time.  Look for AC clearance sales and have financing paperwork completed to take advantage of the deals. Don’t make a heatwave-related AC emergency dictate the cost and timing of your AC replacement.  Furnace replacement should be considered anytime cooling systems are replaced to get optimum efficiency on your HVAC system.  

Need Help Deciding?

For expert guidance on whether to repair or replace your AC, contact Anthony Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, & Electric. Their experienced Comfort Advisors offer free consultations and make the decision-making process hassle-free. Don’t wait until your AC fails during a heatwave; make an informed decision that ensures your comfort and convenience throughout the year. Schedule your appointment online and preserve your comfort today.