Repair Versus Replace: How to Tell When Your Air Conditioner Is Calling It Quits

Thinking Face

If you are living with an older HVAC system, you may be aware of its unsubtle hints about retirement.

Perhaps you have started to hear the occasional odd noise coming from the general direction of your HVAC components.

Maybe it seems like you have to turn your thermostat down more than in past years to stay comfy inside your home.

But these warning signs are easy to write off – “well, routine maintenance should take care of that,” or “the summers sure are getting hotter.”

There comes a time in every air conditioner’s life when routine maintenance or even major repairs may not be sufficient to keep your unit above ground. So how do you know when it’s time to replace your A/C before it quits for good?

Learn the signs in this timely spring post!

Know Your HVAC Life Expectancy

The first challenge many of us face when deciding whether or not to repair or replace a furnace or air conditioner is that these components typically age at different rates.

For example, according to Energy Star, heat pumps and air conditioning units have about 10 years of useful life in them.

Furnaces or boilers, on the other hand, can last a full 15 years (when well maintained) before they may need to be switched out.

Just figuring out how old your current components are may be challenging if you bought your home with an existing HVAC system that the prior homeowner knew little about. The home inspector may also be unsure. For this, contacting the manufacturer with serial numbers and model numbers in hand may shed light on the mystery.

Understand the Potential Benefits of Each Option

It is true there are up-front investment costs associated with replacing some or all of your HVAC components. We have yet to meet any homeowner who is truly jazzed about spending hard-earned cash on a new air conditioner, heat pump, furnace or boiler.

But what can be kind of exciting to contemplate is the potential energy savings for the useful life of your new components!

Here, you often receive additional measurable perks beyond just the simple comfort of more efficient, comfy, economical, humidity-balanced, even whole-home airflow.

The average Ontarian spends $2,358 per year on energy. Cooling accounts for approximately 3 percent of this bill. Heating accounts for a whopping 61 percent.

So let’s take a look now at the potential cost savings with this data in hand.

Heat pump or air conditioner

Energy Star tells us that replacing a 10-year-old heat pump or air conditioning unit can trim up to 20 percent off of your cooling and heating bills.

For an air conditioner alone, the savings may be minimal. But if you install a heat pump that you plan to use for both cooling and heating, the savings can be substantial – $300 or more in energy savings per year is not uncommon.

Furnace or boiler

Energy Star reports that replacing a 15-year-old furnace or boiler can shave 5 to 15 percent off of your heating bills.

Here, your savings can range from $71 to $215 or more annually from your choice to replace instead of repair your existing unit.

Calculate the Cost Trade-Off

Chances are good your mind won’t be turning to thoughts of replacement until your air conditioner, furnace or other HVAC component needs major repairs.

According to the latest report from Home Advisor, repair costs can range from $75 to $1,350, with a typical average of $348.

Major repairs usually occur outside of the cost of annual preventative maintenance and safety inspection, which in itself can range from $80 to $100. So here, you can see that you may easily face costs of $500 or more for service calls to keep your HVAC unit running.

The key here is the type of major repair being done. Some types of major repairs to replace a critical part that has worn out can keep a unit running for additional months or years to come.

But some such repairs can be so costly in their own right that you might as well spring for a new unit – compressors, evaporator coils and refrigerant leaks can often run into the thousands of dollars to repair and may not be worth it for an elderly unit.

Doing Some Basic Math to Break the Tie

In the HVAC industry, there is something called the “$5,000 Rule.”

This rule states that if you multiply the unit’s age by the cost of its repair and that number works out to be more than $5,000, it is definitely a strong candidate for replacement.

Here is an example: let’s say your air conditioner is 8 years old and the compressor fails. You have two years left of useful life (at least according to Energy Star). A new compressor costs $1,500 on average (according to Home Advisor).

When you multiply 8 years by $1,500 you get $12,000 – clearly this is a unit that is ripe for replacement!

But to contrast that, let’s take an example of a unit that is 5 years old. The condensing fan motor fails – a repair of $200 on average. Multiply 5 years by $200 and you get $1,000. This unit is likely a much better candidate for repair than replacement.

Shipton’s Prevention Plans Stave Off Major Repairs

If you have a brand-new unit, your warranty may require you to schedule annual preventative maintenance to receive benefits. But if your unit is midlife or older, optional preventative maintenance can keep minor issues from becoming major repairs.

Find out how you can save: Shipton’s has carefully designed three tiers of Protection Savings Plans to serve HVAC systems in all stages of life.

Get in Touch

Now through May 31, 2019, purchase any air conditioner, furnace or combo system and pay absolutely nothing for six months! To reserve your coupon, simply complete this online form.

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-549-4616.

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