Air-conditioning systems are one of those appliances you rarely think about until something goes wrong. And if you are caught without AC in the middle of summer when the HVAC technicians are at their busiest, you could face some miserable days of heat at home.
Fortunately, there are some telltale signs homeowners can usually identify before their AC system breaks down completely. If you are seeing any of the following, better get your air conditioner replaced sooner rather than later.
1. Your AC is More than 10 Years Old
Air conditioners wear out just like any other household appliance. A well-maintained AC system (one that has regular annual maintenance) will last 10 to 15 years, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
Yearly Tune-Ups Can Help AC Systems Last Longer
However, systems that have not been maintained over their lifespan will not last the full 10 years. Angie’s List recommends yearly AC tune-ups by a professional HVAC technician to keep your system in good working order. The technician can inspect the unit’s components, identify, and fix any issues and clean the indoor and outdoor coils. Also, did you know that annual professional maintenance is required by the manufacturer to ensure warranty compliance on air conditioners?
2. Your Electricity Bills are Rising
Before you blame global warming for your rising electricity costs, consider whether your high electricity bills could be the result of faulty, failing or an inefficient AC system. An air conditioner that is working inefficiently will run more frequently and use up more electricity while still not adequately cooling your house.
Many utility companies provide comparison charts of how your bill has changed month over month and year over year. They also often provide average daily temperatures for each month. Information that can help you identify whether higher utility costs are associated with outdoor temperature or something else.
Newer cooling systems are more energy-efficient, cool better and run quieter than older systems. Investing in an energy-efficient AC system will lower your electricity bills and provide you with more comfort.
A New Furnace Can Further Increase Cooling Efficiency
You can lower your electricity bills even more by choosing to replace your furnace and AC system at the same time. The fan in your furnace is responsible for circulating the cooled air from your AC throughout your house. Older furnaces have permanent split capacitor (PSC) fan motors which are much less efficient than newer motors. On July 3, 2019, all residential furnaces sold were required to have electronically commutated motor (ECM) fan motors, which are a great deal more energy efficient.
3. Your System uses Ozone-Depleting Refrigerant (R22)
On January 1, 2020, manufacturing of ozone-depleting refrigerant, R22 was discontinued. Used as a coolant for air conditioners beginning with the first models produced in the 1950s, R22 has been found by researchers to be contributing to the thinning of the earth’s ozone.
Homeowners can have an HVAC technician inspect their system to determine what kind of refrigerant it uses. More recently produced models use ozone-friendly refrigerant, such as 410A. If an air conditioner was installed before 2010 it probably uses R22.
If your AC system uses ozone-depleting refrigerant and it needs repairs, the cost of adding repairs and/or adding refrigerant can be cost prohibitive.
4. Your System has Repeated Breakdowns
Whether your AC system has reached the end of its average lifespan or not, having multiple repair jobs in a row could indicate it is near wearing out. If you have already fixed one issue and more are popping up, it might be best to cut your losses and replace.
Older air conditioners will also have more aesthetic issues. Rust is a problem, along with being noisier than newer models.
What if I Cannot Afford to Replace Right Now?
Replacing a central AC unit is more affordable as fall approaches. End of season clearances, and attractive financing options make the fall an ideal time of the year for replacement. With a new system, comes the energy cost saving that you will receive when a new unit is doing the cooling. New AC units outperform old units significantly, no matter the Energy Star rating.
Can I Get Away with Purchasing a Lower Cost AC Unit?
The cost of AC units depends upon size and SEER rating. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures how much cooling a system puts out for each unit of energy it consumes. In theory, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficiently the air conditioner operates.
Size matters – if an HVAC company says you can get away with the same size unit as you currently have, be skeptical. If you just purchased your home, do not assume the AC unit installed was necessarily the best size for your home. New homeowners should consider having an inspection by a professional HVAC technician, as some builders will undersize systems to save money when the home is built. Also, size requirements can change when changes to your home are made such as additions or insulation changes. Changes in climate matter, too! The climate zone you live in informs the size of unit you need.
If you install an AC unit that is too small, it will run constantly which will cause you more money in energy and in repair costs. Alternately, if you install one that is too big, it will turn on and off constantly, never running a full cycle. It is most cost-effective to purchase a unit that is the correct size for your home.
Homeowners should use the assistance of well-trained experts like those at Anthony Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric to choose the most cost-effective AC system over the long run. For more information on how to recognize when your cooling system needs replacing, contact us at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y, 268-4669 (913) or (816).