There are situations in which air conditioning replacement is “cheaper” in the long run than having your unit undergo another repair. While today’s air conditioners last an average of 15-20 years, several factors such as usage and regular maintenance, or lack thereof, affect their lifespan.
Telltale signs that your AC is ready to retire.
The AC is more than 10 years old.
Older air conditioners last an average of 10-12 years, while modern units last 15-20 years. However, the lifespan will vary depending on how frequently you use it, the climate in your region, and whether or not its HP is appropriate for the room size.
Incorrect HP (relative to the size of the room), infrequent maintenance, and incessant use can reduce the lifespan of your AC unit.
Your energy bill is skyrocketing.
If you notice an uptick in your electric bill even though there is no or very little change in your energy consumption, the culprit may be your inefficient run-down AC.
According to a 2018 report published by ARPN Journal, a modern inverter air conditioner could slash energy consumption by 50% or even up to 65% if it features smart technologies such as sunlight sensors, human activity sensors, and temperature waves.
Your AC runs out of R-22 freon.
Since January 1, 2020, R-22 is no longer available in the US in compliance with the law that bans this refrigerant known to harm the environment. This means that if your old AC needs a Freon refill, there won’t be any available.
R-22 Freon is being replaced by R-410A, a material that has less effect on the environment and is currently the compliant standard refrigerant in air condition units.
(Note: The US will eventually phase out R-410A as part of its continued effort to reduce compounds that harm the environment. One possible replacement is R-32 due to its zero ozone-depleting property and proven performance.)
It needs frequent repair.
If your AC experiences frequent breakdowns despite regular maintenance, it might be telling you that it is ready for retirement.
While the upfront cost of buying a new air conditioner is higher than having it repaired, in the long run, it might be a “cheaper” and more cost-effective decision than having frequent maintenance work.
You also have to keep in mind that some AC units that are more than 10 years old can’t be repaired because their parts are no longer available.
Your AC is no longer cool.
While several factors can determine how long it will take for your AC to cool down your house, you should expect a more comfortable temperature after 20 minutes–longer than this might be a sign that you need to repair or replace your HVAC system.
But What If You Just Need Maintenance Work?
If your AC is less than 10 years old, repair and maintenance might be a better option. A good rule of thumb is to have yours checked every year, ideally during spring, by a professional central air conditioner repairman. Of course, you should also do your part to ensure that your unit is working efficiently.
Replace your AC filters.
The general recommendation is to replace your AC filters every 1-3 months, depending on your use and the indoor air quality. The same rule also applies to reusable filters that you can wash.
Remember, a clogged filter can force your AC to work extra, resulting in 5-15% more energy consumption. Also, a dirty filter affects your indoor air quality and prevents the unit from cooling down your home quickly.
For central air conditioning units, filters are usually found along the return duct’s length, while for common filters, they are often within the walls, furnaces, ceilings, and the AC itself.
Unclog the drain channels.
You can unclog the AC’s drain channel bypassing a stiff wire. Make sure that the drain is always clean so the unit can reduce the humidity level in your home.
“Comb” the coil fins.
You can find the aluminum fins on the back of your AC. These thin metal slats that run along the outline of the exterior unit can be easily bent, blocking the airflow and preventing the unit from working efficiently.
You can “comb” the coil fins back into their near original condition with a small tool called “fin comb.”
Caulk or seal your window.
Always make sure that the area between your AC and window is tightly sealed to prevent the cool air from escaping.
Clean your outdoor condenser coil.
Because the outdoor condenser coil is visible, you can easily see if it needs cleaning. Also, make sure that you remove any foliage or garden equipment that sits close to it. The general rule of thumb is to leave at least 2 feet of space around the unit for adequate airflow.
Hire an AC technician.
Having regular tune-ups can prolong the lifespan of your AC and prevent it from wasting energy. A professional AC repairman can detect and fix the following issues:
- leaking refrigerant
- insufficient refrigerant
- duct leak
- blocked airflow in the evaporator coils
- broken thermostat
- loose electric terminals and connections
- wear and tear in the check belts and oil motors
If you need air conditioning replacement, maintenance, repair, and inspection, contact Sacramento-based HVAC specialist All Year, Inc. which serves towns and cities like Elk Grove, Antelope, Folsom, Fair Oaks, Granite Bay, Gold River, Lincoln, Grass Valley, and other nearby areas.