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Making the Choice to Replace an AC: Some Tips

question-mark-badgeWhat is the eternal question? Is it “To be or not to be”? Maybe. But here in the HVAC world, the eternal question is “To repair or to replace?” It’s a question most homeowners have to face at some point with their air conditioning systems. When is it best to scrap the repair and instead replace the entire air conditioning system for a new one?

Here in the second half of the summer, you may be facing a malfunctioning air conditioner that just isn’t doing the job you need from it—or perhaps it has failed entirely. We have some tips to help you start thinking about what to do with your Haddon Heights, NJ air conditioning system in the immediate future: the screwdriver or the scrapheap?

Check the age of the air conditioner

This always comes first: although the number of years an AC has been in service isn’t an absolute determiner of whether it needs to be replaced, it’s the best place to start. The average central air conditioner will last between 10–15 years, with warranties covering 10–12 years. If an air conditioner is malfunctioning and it’s older than 15 years, replacement is the better option. The system will soon break down for good, which is something you want to get ahead of, and it will cost more to run. A new unit will have better features and higher energy efficiency than the current unit ever had.

The Rule of 5,000

Here’s a good way to weigh the cost of a repair against the age of the system. Multiply the cost of repair by the number of years the AC has been in service. If the amount is over 5000, then replacing is the better choice. For example, an air conditioner that’s 10 years old may be okay with a $400 repair (400 x 10 = 4,000) but once the repair amount goes over $500, better to replace it. But that 5-year-old system will be good with a repair under $1,000. (This is not an absolute rule, but a rule-of-thumb. Be sure you work with pros to make an accurate choice.)

Frequency of repairs

How often do you call for repair services to get your AC back up in shape? It shouldn’t be more often than once a year. And keep in mind that the Rule of 5,000 is cumulative. If you have more than one repair done during a year, add those costs together before multiplying them. You may have an AC draining your account because of repairs.

Cost of running the AC

Keep all your utility bills so you can compare them from year to year. This allows you to see where increases have occurred. A short spike in electrical bills during the summer can mean an AC that needs a repair. But if the cost is gradually climbing and no repairs or maintenance corrects it, that’s the air conditioning system sending a warning that it is on the way out—and it would like your help out the door.

Now that you’ve got some idea about what path to take for “repair vs. replace,” call for our AC experts to help you make the correct decision for your comfort and budget.

Gibson Heating & Cooling serves the Cherry Hill, NJ area. Look to us to help you with the repair or replace question.

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