It’s not a secret that air conditioning systems that are 15 years old are approaching their maximum lifespan. If your system is over 20 years old, you should not expect it to last much longer. Newer systems can be expected to have a longer lifespan than the older systems they are replacing. With regular preventative maintenance, newer systems should continue to keep you cool and comfortable for decades. Older systems are also no match for newer systems in terms of operational efficiency.
Is your system approaching or beyond the time that it needs to be replaced? Here are seven indicators that replacement may be the best option for your air conditioning system:
- Service History
Has your air conditioner required expensive repairs over the past few years? If it has, you should expect repair expense to continue to increase in the future. Consider replacing it entirely. Furnaces generally last longer than air conditioners, but seriously consider replacing your furnace at the same time. Newer furnaces are more efficient, and you will save on utility costs. If you are replacing both the furnace and air conditioner at the same time, you should expect a better price than replacing them separately.
- Home Additions and Remodeling
Have you added living space or made major renovations since your heating and air conditioning system was installed? Perhaps you are planning to make a new addition. Your system may not be properly sized for your home. Even without major renovations, you may have rooms that are not heating and cooling as well as they should. If your system is not sized properly for your home and it is more than 15 years old, it is definitely time to consider a replacement.
- Lack of Routine Maintenance
Has your system had regular maintenance over the years? If not, arrange for a service check soon. Like the vehicle you drive, your system needs regular maintenance to keep it operating properly. Unlike the vehicle you drive, your heating and cooling system cycles off and on day and night almost every day of the year. Small problems can lead to bigger issues, and those system issues lead to total system failure. You really don’t want your system going down on a 98-degree heat alert day.
Is your system heating and cooling as it should? Is your home comfortable on the hottest days? Is it producing cold air as it should? How about the on/off cycles? Are they occurring more frequently than usual? Have your utility bills gone up more than expected? Your system should be cooling as well as it did immediately after it was installed. If it isn’t performing as it should, then maintenance is needed. Easy service repairs may not be enough. It may be time for a replacement.
In addition to keeping your home cool, regulating indoor humidity is an important function of an air conditioner. If indoor humidity is high when it is dry outside, you may have evaporator coil problems. That may require a simple repair, or it may be a serious problem that would be better solved with a replacement.
- Noise and Ice
Check the outside unit. Is it visibly frozen? Is it making loud grinding noises? What about the sound you hear inside? Has it become louder than usual? If it is noisy or icy, it needs attention quickly.
Some older air conditioners use R-22 refrigerant, sometimes known as Freon. R-22 is no longer produced in the United States. It is still available in limited quantities, but it is very expensive. If your air conditioner requires R-22, it may be best to replace the entire system instead of paying for repairs and R-22 refrigerant.