Every homeowner dreads the day when their AC goes out. You’re sweating or freezing; who do you call, how long will it take, will they be able to fix it? The issue could be simple, and easily repaired. Or, it could be an expensive waste of your money. What should you do?
First, ask, are you happy with the comfort? Are the temperatures even, humidity comfortable, air clean? How are your utility bills? Those are minimum criteria.
Next, how old is your system? Energy Star says any system’s over 10-years old is a candidate for upgrade. Average life of an A/C is 10-12 years, even less in FL!
Repair vs Replace
This can be a difficult decision, requiring an investment into your home to keep life humming along uninterrupted. Anything can be repaired, and 80% of the time a repair is all that’s needed. It’s the other 20% that’s tricky. How do you make a smart decision? Here are a few factors to guide you:
12-years is the magic number. Breakdowns get more frequent on older systems, and costs start piling up to the point where you might actually be “paying for a new system” but just not getting one! Over 15-years, you’ve entered the Danger-Zone.
Extent of Problems
Minor issues should be repaired; clogged drains, minor electrical problems, simple control upgrades, capacitors, topping off refrigerant charge, etc. Major issues should raise a flag to consider replacement as the smarter alternative; coil replacements, blower or condenser fan motors, compressors, refrigerant leaks, etc. You want to avoid throwing good money after bad.
Cost of the Repairs
There is a simple formula to help make the initial determination of whether it makes more sense to repair or replace. If you make the following calculation, and it is more than the average cost of replacement, typically $5000-7000 for a basic system, replacement is recommended.
Repair Cost X Age of System > $5000 (replace)
Repair Cost X Age of System < $5000 (repair)
Anything with an efficiency rating less than 13-SEER is a good candidate for upgrade, depending on the other factors. Your AC is a mechanical system, and over time it starts to wear down. As is wears down, efficiency starts to decrease a little more every season. New systems can operate at almost TWICE as efficient as old ones!
Typical HVAC systems require some type of repair every 3-years+/-. If your system has experienced more than three repairs in 10-years, it could be time to consider an upgrade. As your system ages, the frequency of repairs (and repair costs) are only going to increase.
If your system doesn’t work as well as it once did, it might be time for a replacement. Similar to efficiency, as your system wears down, capacity will decrease a little every year, so it’s just not able to keep up anymore. Additionally, if your system is UNDER or OVER sized, upgrading is smart decision.
A Little Perspective
If your AC were a car, you could potentially drive 8760-hours annually. Cut that in half, that’s still 4380-hours of run time. At 55-mph, you’d drive (“run”) over 240,000 miles a year! That’s 10-trips AROUND THE WORLD every year.
We upgrade our cars every 4-5 years, and I’m guessing it’s way before anywhere close to a QUARTER OF A MILLION miles. Even at the 10-year mark, your HVAC system has gone enough “miles” to go to moon and back five times!
Planned Replacement is smarter than emergency replacement every time!
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