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Should I Repair or Replace My Air Conditioner?

If your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, if it keeps breaking down, or your power bill keeps increasing year after year, it is time to get a new air conditioner.

With temperatures in the 90's and the family indoors more often, a properly working air conditioner has never been more important; we need cool indoor air to stay comfortable from the Florida heat. So it's no wonder that strange sounds coming from your AC and an increasing temperature inside your home might be unnerving.

If you're worried about the noises or performance of your AC, call Austen Enterprises at (305) 805-8166 to schedule an appointment for one of our technicians to come out and inspect your system.


Signs There's Something Wrong with the AC

Does your AC need to be repaired or will it require a new AC installation? There are two possibilities when your AC stops keeping the house cool: First, there might be a slight malfunction that can be easily repaired. Second, it's possible that your AC has finally given up the ghost and needs to be replaced. Our HVAC technician will tell you after an inspection, but start by investigating the symptoms of your failing AC. Look for these clues to tell you that something is definitely wrong with the AC.

Unresponsive Thermostat

  • The thermostat has stopped displaying numbers and does not respond to buttons.
  • The thermostat display is on but does not respond to buttons
  • The thermostat display is on and can be changed, but the AC does not switch on

Warm Air Instead of Cold

Hold your hand up to a vent. If it's blowing warm air when it should be cooling, that's a problem.

Continuous Off-On Cycling

Listen. Is the AC turning itself off and on again in quick sequence? This is a very common indicator that something is wrong.

Banging and Scraping Sounds

  • Loud bangs are associated with ice on dirty condenser coils that need to be cleaned.
  • Scraping or clicking usually means a part has broken off and is caught in a fan. Or the fan itself is broken.

Monumental Power Bills

Your AC is losing energy efficiency and it shows in the bills. Every month the bill keeps going up, sometimes quite dramatically.

Unexplained Burning Smell

  • Something inside your HVAC system is burning, like a loose wire or a piece of plastic.
  • This is an emergency. Turn off the AC and call for service.

Signs Your AC Needs Replacing

You've done the investigation and recognized one or more symptoms of a faulty AC. But does it mean your AC needs to be replaced or repaired? The answer depends on the overall condition of the unit and whether replacement would actually cost less than any needed repairs.

The AC is Older than 10 Years

HVAC systems are designed to last about a decade, and sometimes make it two decades before giving out. Some are in place from 30 or more years ago. However, if you have an AC unit that's over 10 years old and is giving you trouble, chances are that it's preparing to fail for good. Older ACs are generally better to replace than repair because of the next point:

Repairs Don't Stick - It Keeps Breaking Down

Often when an HVAC system is dying, it will experience multiple system failures over time. If you are having to call for more than one repair/maintenance service per year, then your AC is going to continue failing at increasing frequency. It may be better to replace then keep paying for repairs and risking being AC-free at the wrong moment.

Year-on-Year Increase in Summer Power Bills

As air conditioners age, they become less energy-efficient. They need more power to accomplish less cooling, and very high power consumption to achieve the cooling you need. Check your summer power bills from the last 2-5 years. If it costs more per month this year than last year or previous years, you can ROI a new AC through power bill savings more affordably than using an old inefficient system.

Repairs Cost More than Replacement (R22)

Finally, there are repairs that are more expensive than a new, energy-efficient AC. Coolant leaks, for example, are currently not a cost-effective repair. Common coolants like Freon R22 are quite expensive by the liter, and some have been discontinued so you may need a complete new coolant infusion. This can stack up in price, and often makes a new AC more financially savvy than repairing the old one.

Signs Your AC Needs Repairs

The good news is that most AC troubles can be solved with a lower cost in both time and money. If your AC is relatively new and the symptoms have not been so bad, a quick repair might be all you need to get your AC back on track.

First AC Trouble in a Long Time

ACs that have never had problems before, or not within your experience of the house, are less likely to be candidates for replacement. If this is the first time your AC has struggled or become noisy, then the problem could easily be a single piece that needs repair, not a system-wide failure. For well-behaved and relatively new ACs, replacement is rarely necessary.

You Caught the Problem Early

Being attentive can make the difference between a repair and a replacement. Perhaps you noticed the cycle-clicking or rattling sound as soon as it started. Or you took note the moment the AC stopped keeping up with the heat. If you call for HVAC service when you first notice a problem, it won't have time to damage other parts the AC unit.

An Inspector Says Repairs are Sufficient

Trust an inspector. If you're not sure whether to replace or repair your AC, call for service and listen to what the technician has to say. Technicians tend to be straight-forward about what's wrong with the AC and what you'll need to fix it, if you know how to listen. Don't be afraid to ask questions until you understand approximately what's wrong with the AC, your options for repair, and estimated costs of repair vs replacement.

The Symptoms are Not Serious

Lastly, consider how bad the symptoms of your AC problems have been. If the house is just a little warm and the newly loud noises are not yet a cacophony, then you may have caught the problem in time. Less-severe symptoms indicate an AC that is struggling, but is not yet broken.

Is Your AC on the Fritz?

We can help. No Florida resident wants to spend time at home without air conditioning. That is why the Austen Enterprises team is dedicated to helping families stay cool and stay safe during hot weather with fast, expert AC repairs.

Call (305) 805-8166 to ask how we can help.

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