When Should You Replace Your Central Air Conditioning System?
It’s the middle of summer in Aurora, Oswego, Plainfield, Naperville and Lisle (IL), and you’re relaxing at home. It’s over 90° outside, but inside it’s a comfy 72°.
All of a sudden, you start hearing banging noises from the vents. They eventually die down, and you can forget about them – for the moment. Then the noises return the next day and the day after that. The airflow starts getting erratic as well, and come to think of it, the previous month’s electric bill was a little higher than usual too.
A few things could be going on, but you’re not sure exactly what. You contact your Beery HVAC professionals to let us know what’s going on and schedule an inspection.
You have a growing instinct that your AC may require repair. There’s even a chance you might have to replace it, especially if it’s an older system.
In the time between your call and the scheduled service visit, you can make yourself even better prepared to decide whether to proceed with an air conditioner repair or replacement if needed.
Is It Time to Buy a New Air Conditioner? / Things to Consider
The signs of a malfunctioning air conditioner can vary. They might include:
- limited flow or no cool air from the vents
- strange odors or noises
- imbalanced indoor humidity
- rising utility bills
- increasing dust in the home
- more-frequent need for repair
Another problem sign can be varying temperatures through the house – some rooms are cooler than others even though the thermostat is at one setting. In some cases, this can indicate either the AC unit is incorrectly sized for the house or the ducts have developed clogs or leaks.
Once you’re aware that your AC requires attention, and you’re anticipating an inspection, you can begin considering a few big-picture questions.
How old is my air conditioner? The system’s age can be a notable factor behind increasing or more-noticeable problems. If the air conditioner is around 10 years old, it is well into middle age. If it is closer to 15 to 20 years old, it is in its advanced age.
The system’s age may also determine the coolant it uses. Many units made before 2010 used R-22 refrigerant, which was banned for environmental reasons in January 2020. It is now much more difficult to source and expensive to acquire should the system need a refrigerant charge or a leak repair. Whether you need R-22 in addition to other fixes may influence your decision between paying for expensive repairs and replacing the system.
Today’s air conditioners now use either Puron or R410A as the refrigerant. These alternatives are better for the environment in keeping you cool and comfortable.
What is my cost comparison? If the repair cost will be more than 50% of the cost of an air conditioner replacement, the replacement can often provide greater return in the long run.
Another approach is to multiply the repair cost by the system’s age. If the total is greater than $5,000 – around the average cost to replace a central air conditioner – you may be better served with a replacement.
For example, if your system is 12 years old, the compressor goes out, and it will cost $1,200 to replace it, multiply 12 x $1,200 = $14,400. That amount will usually well exceed the cost of central air conditioner replacement in Aurora, Oswego, Plainfield, Naperville and Lisle.
How efficient is my current system? Advancing technology has made air conditioners more productive. If your unit is older, an air conditioner replacement will almost certainly boost your AC performance and make better use of your energy dollars during the next decade. New air conditioners can often be from 20% to 40% more efficient than units older than 10 years.
U.S. manufacturers are required to identify an air conditioner’s numerical Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the number is, the more efficient the system’s operation will be. American air conditioners must have at least a SEER 14, and the rating can go as high as 26.
Current air conditioners also offer features such as variable speed, two-stage technology, smart thermostats and interactive controls. In other words, they just keep getting better at what they do for us.
With an air conditioner replacement, you further may benefit from any available ComEd rebates and manufacturer discounts or promotions. You can also check the online Energy Star® rebate finder as well as the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency®.
Is my current warranty expired? Today’s warranties for an air conditioner replacement often range between 10 and 15 years if the product is registered within 60 days of being installed. Coverage for specific parts may vary from five to 20 years. (Note that standard warranties cover equipment issues but usually not labor.)
Should I Repair or Replace My Air Conditioner?
Once your Beery technician arrives for a look, you and the tech may determine there’s still some kick left in the system’s horse. If the AC needs just a small fix and the cost will be reasonable, a repair may be the way to go for you.
Whether you opt for a repair or an air conditioner replacement, the goal is to be cool, safe, and comfortable with the greatest efficiency according to your budget and timeframe (short- or long-term).
Here for Answers and Service
Here at Beery Heating and Cooling, we look forward to every opportunity to serve and inform our customers in Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield, Oswego, and Lisle. If you have any questions or concerns about your AC, or you’d like to know more about replacement of a central air conditioner, just give us a call at (630) 585-6444!
We also provide air conditioner replacement and repair for nearby communities such as Montgomery, Plano, Batavia, North Aurora and Sugar Grove (IL).