Have you been experiencing a lot of problems with your air conditioning system? Does it run all day but with little or no cooling of your home? Has it broken down multiple times on the hottest of days? If you sense that something is wrong with your system, your instincts might be right.
Air conditioners are a necessity for our homes in the Sonoran Desert. A heat wave in the middle of the summer or a humid day during monsoon season can be unforgiving to any home without air conditioning. Unfortunately, all air conditioning systems – even the most-well maintained ones – eventually run their course.
When your air conditioner starts to break down repeatedly it can interrupt your home comfort and cost you hundreds of dollars in repairs and increased utility bills. Replacing your old air conditioning unit with a new system once your old one has reached the end of its lifespan can protect you and your family from headaches and prevent you from having to deal with a broken system when you need it most.
Below are five questions to help you assess the condition of your HVAC system and whether you should consider repairing it or replacing it. Knowing key signs of a unit that needs replacement can help you determine if it is time to replace your air conditioner or if it is better to repair it. If your air conditioner is showing any of the signs discussed below, it might be time to consider investing in your new air conditioner today.
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1. How old is my air conditioner? How well has it been maintained?
On average, an air conditioning system can be expected to last between 15-25 years. Like any mechanical system, all air conditioners will slowly wear down through normal use and will eventually break. When a system stops working, a technician can diagnose what is causing the failure. In many cases, a small electrical component, such as a fuse or capacitor, that has gone bad can be replaced and your system fixed at a low cost. However, as systems get older, more important components such as the compressor or the coils can start to fail. These parts are more costly and labor intensive to replace or repair.
A system that is 12 – 15 years or older and is showing problems is generally where we recommend our customers to consider upgrading to a new air conditioning system instead of putting a lot of money into repairs. A new air conditioning system will be more efficient and will carry new system warranties to make sure your house will be cool and comfortable for many years to come.
Maintenance will also impact your air conditioning system’s life expectancy. If a system has not been properly maintained, it can begin breaking down and losing efficiency much sooner. This is why performing annual maintenance is important to keep systems running smoothly and problems under control. A system that has gone unchecked for many years may have accumulated problems that can be very costly or even impossible to repair.
2. Does my system take long periods of time to cool? Have my energy bills increased?
If an older unit is no longer cooling your home quickly and effectively, then this can also be a sign that it might be time to get a replacement. The older a system gets, the more its central parts have worn down over time and the harder and longer they need to work to cool down your home. This extra work puts more stress on the system and contributes to efficiency loss and system failure.
You might have a system whose key components are starting to go bad if you notice your system starts running for extended periods of time but does not bring the temperature down by many degrees. In some cases, an air conditioning unit can run all day without cooling your home at all. These longer cycles require more electricity to run, which can result in very high electric bills.
If you notice that your HVAC system is not cooling your home, first try checking the electrical panel of your home to see if the breaker for the system has turned off – this could be an easy and cost free way of getting your system back up and running. However, if this is not the issue, a licensed HVAC technician can help you identify and solve the problem.
3. Is my air conditioning system making loud or unusual noises?
It is not uncommon for air conditioners to become louder with age. Some noises can be a result of a loose part or a part that needs to be replaced. In these situations, your HVAC technician can also help you identify the problem and provide solutions. However, certain noises in older units can signal that the end of your unit’s lifespan is near.
If you notice the following:
- The compressor or fan motor humming loudly, or louder than in the past
- The indoor or outdoor system making groaning, creaking or banging noises
- The air conditioner making loud noises before or during starts up
then consider planning for a replacement in the near future. Loud noises can be a sign that key components are approaching the end of their life. Investing in a new system also means investing in a quieter one. Because system loudness due to age builds up over time, families are often surprised by how much quieter a new system is compared to their older one.
4. How often does my system break down? Are repairs starting to add up?
An older system that breaks down often or requires consistent repairs can also signal that it is time to replace it. If your system has been regularly serviced, it should not be breaking down constantly. If your system breaks down multiple times in a season, this can mean that there are bigger issues causing problems in the system.
When certain components, such as the compressor, motor, or coils fail, they can be very expensive to replace and it can be more beneficial to you and your family to invest in a new system instead.
5. Has my air conditioning system had problems from the start?
Has your home always had problems with the air conditioning system from the first day your got it, or moved into your home? If that is the case, there could be issues relating to the installation of the air conditioning system that can be a big pain in your family’s comfort. If your home has experienced any of the following:
- Problems with the air conditioning system since the day you bought it
- One or more rooms not getting enough cooling from the central air conditioning system
- Problems with humidity or mold in your home
- Poor air conditioning and heating performance from the start
Then you should consider seeking the help of a licensed air conditioning company to find a solution to your problems. AC systems that show any of the problems listed above means that there is likely a problem with the design and installation of your air conditioning and duct systems. A quality HVAC company can help diagnose what is causing the problems your home is experiencing and offer you solutions to your problems.