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A-1 Mechanical Blog

Air Conditioning Systems: When to Repair vs. Replace?

Air Conditioning

Determining whether to repair or replace your air conditioning unit is not always an easy call. While repairs are generally lower in cost, this choice isn’t always preferred. Replacing an air conditioner is a major investment, but the benefits may be just what your family needs.

How do Greater Lansing area homeowners decide whether to repair or replace air conditioner equipment? A-1 Mechanical shares the factors you need to consider when faced with cooling system issues so you are able to make an informed choice that best fits your family, both now and in the future.

When Is It Better to Repair or Replace Air Conditioning Units?

From one home to another, every situation is different. Air conditioner repairs may be a wise option for one family, while replacement is the better choice for another. There’s no set list of criteria we can use that tells us when it’s best to repair or replace air conditioner equipment, but there are some guidelines that help guide this important decision. Your technician is able to advise you regarding specific issues and factors that pertain to your AC unit and how each may affect these general guidelines.

Air Conditioner Repair Is Typically the Best Option If…

The unit is still under warranty

The manufacturer’s warranty pays the cost of parts, while a labor warranty provided by the original HVAC installer covers labor required for repairs. If your manufacturer’s warranty is still valid, the repair it needs may be covered. If your labor warranty is still valid, the repair may come at no cost to you! In situations where a valid manufacturer’s warranty covers parts but the labor warranty has expired, the cost of the repair is still greatly reduced as you only need to pay labor costs, which makes the repair less of a financial burden.

The unit has been in service less than 8 to 10 years

An AC unit typically lasts 10 to 15 years. If your air conditioner is just a few years old and requires simple repairs, it doesn’t make financial sense to replace it yet.

The repair will improve system performance

If the required repair will boost air conditioner performance and energy efficiency for several years, repairing the system is the more affordable option.

The unit has been well maintained

Well-maintained AC units typically last longer and have fewer breakdowns. If the system has been properly cared for over the years, repair needs are often isolated while the overall system is in good shape.

The unit’s age multiplied by the cost of repairs is less than the cost of replacing the system

Cost is a major factor when homeowners have to choose to repair or replace air conditioner units. This formula can be used to help you determine if a repair is a wise financial investment or if your money is better spent when used for a new air conditioner.

Air Conditioner Replacement Is Often Preferred When…

The unit has been in service 10 or more years

When it comes to replacing your AC, system age should always be considered. As air conditioners only last an average of 10 to 15 years, replacement is typically the better option when an older unit is in need of repairs. Replacement is already on the horizon, and taking care of it now helps prevent surprise failures that leave the home without much needed cooling. Upgrading to an energy-efficient system will also reduce monthly energy bills.

The system uses R-22 Freon refrigerant

The type of refrigerant used has become an important consideration in the decision to repair or replace air conditioners. As of January 1, 2020, no new R-22 (Freon) refrigerant can be produced or imported, leaving only recycled refrigerant available for system repairs. With a limited supply of refrigerant on the market, costs for recycled refrigerant are quite high. When needed repairs involve recharging the air conditioner’s refrigerant levels, you should strongly consider replacing the system with a unit that uses R-410A refrigerant to avoid high prices. Plus, if your AC unit uses R-22, then it was built before 2010 and is already aging.

The required repairs cost more than half the price of a new air conditioner

If the cost of repairs totals more than half the cost of a new cooling system, most homeowners feel their money is better spent investing in a new unit.

The unit requires frequent repairs

More frequent repairs are typically required when air conditioners hit the final two or so years of their service life. If multiple repairs have been made over the last year or two, this is a sign that system failure is on the horizon, so go ahead and replace the unit now.

The unit is undersized or oversized for the home

When repair issues stem from improperly sized air conditioners, unfortunately there is no repair solution. In the decision to repair or replace air conditioner units, replacement is the only option to deliver an accurately sized unit that is able to deliver efficient performance and accurate temperature control.

Can’t Decide? Call A-1 Mechanical for Professional Guidance!

Knowing when it’s time to replace air conditioner equipment can be a tough decision to make, but you don’t have to decide blindly! Consult our NATE-certified air conditioning technicians for thorough diagnostics to pinpoint system issues and receive professional advice to help you decide whether to repair or replace the AC unit in your Lansing area home. Contact us today to schedule service with a Star HVAC technician.

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