When should I replace my home cooling system?

A central air conditioning unit is a significant investment for any homeowner – but it’s not designed to last forever.

In fact, while the average lifespan of a central air conditioner is typically about 10-15 years (assuming it is professionally serviced by a qualified HVAC contractor), the last few of those years is a period where replacing your A/C might actually make more financial sense (given the improvement in efficiency for a new system) than repairing any issues that arise.

How do you know when it’s time to replace your central air conditioning system? Start with these three questions:

  1. How old is your system? An air conditioner can lose five percent efficiency or more every year it’s not professionally maintained – and toward the end of its life cycle, it will lose efficiency even if you maintain it. If you’re having problems with a system that’s more than 10 years old, more often than not replacing is the smarter choice; at less than that age, you will have a tougher decision…but here’s a rule of thumb: if a repair costs 50 percent or more of the replacement cost, it’s generally worth it to upgrade.Another factor to consider in the repair/replace discussion is refrigerant: older home cooling systems used Freon (known in the industry as R22), which will be illegal in the U.S. after January 1, 2020. Sources of R22 are becoming scarce, and as they do the refrigerant becomes more expensive. New central air conditioning units feature safer, EPA-compliant R410A refrigerant.
  2. How is my current system performing? Have you noticed that your cooling bills are rising even though your usage has remained relatively constant? Are there pockets of warmer and cooler air in your home? Does your home not feel as cool as it used to, or cool as quickly as it once did? These are all signs that your central A/C could be on the decline.Two other signs to look out for are excessive noise and dust. If you’re constantly seeing dust in your home – even after cleaning – there’s a good chance you have leaky ductwork. Those leaks compromise the performance of your air conditioning system, which means your bills will rise; a new A/C installation will address this problem.If your air conditioner is excessively noisy, there is a chance your duct system isn’t large enough for the square footage of your home, or that you have a problem with the unit’s indoor coil – both reasons to consider an upgrade.
  3. Have my cooling needs changed? If you’ve added space to your house without changing your home cooling system, the next breakdown you have could be caused by pushing your furnace or A/C beyond its comfort zone to meet the demands of a new cooling load – a problem that is likely to recur if you keep your old, undersized system in place.

The bottom line

You may have noticed that when it comes to home cooling equipment, there are often significant advantages to replacing an older system. So is repair ever a viable option?

Yes, if:

A central air conditioner is an investment – and like any investment, you need to do your research to find the best way to spend your money. When it comes time to make your choice, be sure to call the pros at Bottini.

Not sure if you should repair or replace your A/C? We can help! Contact us today and we will help you find a solution that meets your needs and budget.