Replacing your air conditioner is not an easy decision. An HVAC system breakdown is often unexpected and the cost of replacement is significant. Even if you’ve kept up with maintenance, an old A/C will eventually become unreliable, inefficient, and a source of poor indoor air quality due to age. If your local HVAC contractor has given you only two options—continue paying for repairs or replace it with something new—here are five signs it’s time for a new air conditioner:

Your A/C System Was Installed Over a Decade Ago

Air conditioners last, on average, 10 to 15 years, and HVAC systems can last up to 20 years. The older your system is, the more likely it is to experience breakdowns. There are several considerations here, as just because your HVAC system reaches a certain age, doesn’t mean it’s operating life is over. Here are some factors to note:

  • Deterioration of A/C components may happen over time, until damage you didn’t notice before adds up.
  • Older systems, which use R-22 refrigerant (freon), have been phased out by the federal government; repairing them is expensive, if at all possible.
  • Repairs tend to become more costly over time as your system ages. Ultimately, the more cost-effective solution is to replace the unit.

Frequent Need for Repairs

How often does your system break down? If it needs repairs every few months, keeping it going can get quite expensive. There’s no standard for the cost of repairs. Your HVAC company will charge based on its own calculations. But as a general rule, if repairing an A/C unit exceeds half the cost of getting a new one, replacement is a better long-term investment. Likewise, if you’re facing an expensive repair bill, weight the costs of each option, as you could potentially save money in the long run.

No Cool Air/Uneven Cooling

If the HVAC system is blowing hot air, and you set the thermostat to cool, the cause may be a broken compressor, a freon leak, or other major issue. Perhaps the A/C is not the right size or ductwork was poorly installed. The wrong temperature or uneven heating or cooling can be caused by bad filters, damaged motors, or a problem with a vent that could also impede air flow. This can lead to much discomfort in your home, especially when the temperature is inconsistent and unpredictable.

Strange Noises

All air conditioners make some sound but should be relatively quiet. When odd and unusual sounds occur, assume there is a reason. Contact a professional immediately if you hear squealing, banging, rattling, or grinding, which can indicate damaged parts such as a slipped belt or broken motor bearing. A technician can oftentimes replace a damaged component, depending on the system’s age and condition.

Higher Energy Bills

Energy costs are determined by utility companies and change seasonally. If your monthly energy bill has been consistently rising, your A/C may be losing efficiency. That’s where newer systems offer the most savings. You can determine the energy efficiency of a particular system, and use it to compare with others, by looking at its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER. The higher SEER rating, the less energy the air conditioner consumes. Newer A/Cs have better SEER ratings compared to older units and are also better for the environment.

Contact Cardinal Plumbing

Cardinal Plumbing continues to serve your air, heating, and plumbing installation, repair, and replacement needs in Northern Virginia. We’re taking steps to protect our employees and customers during the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, following social distancing guidelines, disinfecting equipment, and using hand sanitizer. Book same-day, no-contact service online or call 703-686-5918 to address all your HVAC system needs.