Summit Heating and Air Conditioning answers your questions about replacing your air conditioner.

Today air conditioners have all sorts of bells and whistles that help them run cleaner and more efficient. This also make units more expensive, which can make the choice between buying a new one or paying the bill for a major breakdown difficult. Here are some questions to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace your air conditioner as you gear up for Denver’s hottest months.

How do I know if it’s time to fix or ditch my air conditioner?

There are several factors to consider in the decision to repair or replace your air conditioner.

First, how old is it? The average lifespan of an A/C unit is 10-15 years, so if yours is older and not working as well as it once did, then it might be time to ditch it.

Second, are you spending tons of money on repairs? There’s a point in every system where the cost of repairing the unit is more than the cost of a new air conditioner. If you’re reaching that point and your system is more than 10 years old, then it makes sense to buy a new system. A good rule of thumb is to only make repairs if the unit is less than 10 years old and the cost is under half of the unit’s value.

Finally, can your system be more energy efficient? According to the Department of Energy, air conditioners today use 30%-50% less energy than their predecessors due to higher efficiency standards measured by SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit. We recommend repairing your air conditioner if your system is less than 20 years old and has a SEER rating of at least 12. If not, then consider replacing. Keep in mind that over time you may offset the cost of a new system with monthly energy savings.

How often does my air conditioner need to be replaced?

An air conditioner generally lasts 10 to 15 years if you are performing regular maintenance. That means hiring a professional HVAC technician to come out once a year to clean and inspect the indoor and outdoor units as well as your ductwork. They look for things like excessive wear and tear, and identify small problems that could turn into expensive repairs.

You should also hire someone to clean your ductwork yearly to get rid of any dust buildup. This combined with changing or cleaning your air filter every 30 to 60 days (depending on manufacturer) will keep your unit in better condition for the life of the system. Plus, it will raise your indoor air quality and keep you healthier.

If you work with an HVAC company to tune up your air conditioner regularly, the same unit may keep you cool for up to 20 years.

If I’m replacing my AC, should I buy a bigger unit?

Not necessarily. A unit that’s too big will run in short, frequent cycles and may not achieve the level of comfort you want, while a unit that’s undersized may not have the power to effectively cool all the rooms in your home. Professional HVAC technicians will look at the size and layout of your home, whether you have or want more than one unit, your home cooling needs, and desired energy efficiency to determine the best size and model of air conditioner.

Do I have to replace both the indoor and outdoor unit?

If you’re ready to install a new air conditioner, we recommend you replace both your indoor and outdoor units. Units work together to keep your home cool, so it’s important that they are sized and matched properly so you can beat the heat in the summer months.

A mismatched system can also spike your monthly electric bill because one part may work harder to keep up with the other lowering the overall productivity. In addition, companies have been using new coolant in recent years due to environmental concerns and regulations, so the new unit may not use the same type as the old one.

A professional HVAC technician can evaluate your home to determine the best indoor and outdoor setup and ensure your ductwork can handle the new system.

Summit Heating and Air Conditioning can help you decide whether to fix or ditch your existing air conditioner. Don’t wait for a major breakdown, schedule an appointment today!

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