Do You Need a New Air Conditioner? Find Out How We Decide Whether to Repair or Replace Your System

inside HVAC systemFinally!  Summer is here… flowers in full bloom, outdoor barbeques, the kids are out of school.

Oh, and the hot, humid, sweltering days.

We have emerged from the dark, cold winter.  We have enjoyed the cool spring.  The heat of summer has arrived, so you go to turn on your air conditioning for the first time all year, and… nothing.

It is 90 degrees and humid, and you have no air conditioning!  Can it be repaired?  Should it be replaced?

What went wrong?

There are certain things that can go wrong with your AC unit that are pretty much automatic signs that it should be replaced.

If the compressor has failed and it’s not under warranty, it is probably time to replace the unit.  The compressor is the central organ of the unit, and in most cases the cost of repairing it is nearly the cost of replacing the entire unit.

Also, if your AC unit was subject to a power surge, it may be irreparable and will need to be replaced.

Many other problems that are truly mechanical in nature and can be fixed by simply replacing a part or two cost significantly less, and repairing the unit is a good option.

But what if your AC unit is still working, it is just not performing at its best?  Perhaps it keeps an inconsistent temperature.  Perhaps it breaks down during peak use.  Perhaps it has to work too hard running non-stop in order to maintain a decent temperature in your home.

In any of these situations, it is really a function of age and cost that should determine whether to repair or replace.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DoE) recommend replacing any unit that is older than 10 years.  Newer units are more energy efficient, and if you purchase a new unit with the ENERGY STAR label on it, you may be eligible for tax incentives.

Newer systems not under warranty that experience minor problems are worth spending a bit more to fix.  They likely have several years of fairly efficient operation left once the repair is made.

Older systems—say, more than eight to ten years—are not worth spending more than a couple hundred bucks to repair.

Comfort, convenience and efficiency

It is most often the case that, although replacing an older unit carries a greater cost up-front, it ends up saving you money in the long run.  Spending the extra few hundred dollars to replace a unit is offset by lower energy bills for years to come.  A new unit that only has to run a couple of times each day uses far less energy than a unit that has to run pretty much continuously.

And it’s better for the environment.

Then there are the benefits of comfort and convenience.  It’s nice to walk into your home or to be able to go to sleep at night knowing that you can depend on having a cool, consistent temperature.  You eliminate the guessing game of whether or not your AC is going to work that day.

Finally, don’t forget about seasonal maintenance.  Service Specialties. will visit your house for fall and spring inspections to ensure your systems are operating safely and efficiently, and that they last as long as possible.


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