When Should I Replace My AC Unit And How Long Should It Last?

November 16, 2019

A lot of people put off replacing their AC unit because of the cost. However, by delaying replacement you could pay more in the long run through repairs and high energy bills.

There can be a few good reasons to ditch your old air conditioning unit and get a new one installed. Here are just a few of those reasons as well as some information on how long you can expect your new air conditioner unit to last.

When Should I Replace My AC Unit?

Not all faults require an immediate replacement – it’s possible that your AC unit may just need to be repaired. However, there can be some instances where repairs are unlikely to fix the problem. Here are some great examples of instances where you’re best off replacing your AC unit rather than repairing.

Your AC unit keeps breaking down

Does your AC unit keep breaking down? This can be very irritating – especially in the summer when you need the cool air. It could also be a sign that your unit is on its last legs.

Constant failures are most common with older air conditioning units. Once a unit reaches a certain age (usually around 10 years) parts start to naturally wear out. You could find yourself calling out a technician on a regular basis to replace each failed part. These constant repairs will soon add up and become costly.

Getting a new air conditioner unit installed could be a sensible option if you find that it’s breaking down often. Even if your unit isn’t old, it’s possible you may have got stuck with a dodgy unit – cheap air conditioning units are often less reliable and are likely to fail more quickly.

You may be able to count up the cost of previous repairs from past breakdowns. If the overall cost is more than a replacement, you could be better off replacing, which leads to the next point…

The cost of repairs is more than a replacement

If you’ve received a repair quote and it’s looking like it could be more expensive than getting a replacement, this could be a clear sign that you’re better off disposing of your current unit and getting a new one.

Even if the repair cost if over half the value of your air conditioning unit, you may want to think twice about keeping onto it. This is especially the case if your unit is fairly new as there could be more costs around the corner.

Some people use the 5000 rule as a basis to determine whether a replacement is needed. This involves multiplying the age of your air conditioning unit by the quoted cost of repairs – if the resulting value is over 5000, you’re better off replacement.

For example, if your unit is 8 years old and repairs are going to cost you $500, you may be able to get away with repairs as the total value comes to 4000. However, if your unit is 8 years old and the repair bill is $650, the total value is then 5200, which means a replacement could be a much better option.

Your energy bills are high

Nobody likes high energy bills. If you’ve noticed your bills spiking every time your air con is on, it could be a sign that you need to upgrade to a new air conditioner unit that’s more energy-efficient.

Air conditioning units over 10 years old can be some of the biggest offenders. These units tend to have a low SEER (which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficient Rating).

Generally speaking, the SEER rating should always be more than 13 – if your unit scores less than this, you’re likely paying very high energy bills and you could benefit from upgrading to a newer greener model.

The refrigerant that your new AC unit uses is also worth considering as this can affect the cost. R-22 (also known as Freon) is a refrigerant used in many older air conditioning units that is generally much more expensive to run on. Most modern AC units use R410A as a refrigerant, which is much more economical.

Some air conditioning units can start their life fairly energy-efficient but may start to demand more energy as they get older. This is because parts get worn and have to work harder to reach the desired temperature. In such instances, it could also be a good idea to upgrade.

Before getting a replacement, always make sure that it’s definitely your unit that’s to blame for your high bills. Electrical problems can sometimes be to blame and may have nothing to do with your unit.

Your home’s size has changed

If you’ve just had a massive extension built on your home, it’s possible that your air conditioning unit may not be able to cool your whole home efficiently any more. A new air conditioner unit could be needed to provide your home with the cooling it needs. This is rare – but it does happen.

You may want to ask a technician what kind of unit they recommend if you’ve found that your current one is no longer efficient. There are guides online on air conditioners suited to bigger homes.

How Long Should My AC Unit Last?

The industry standard life expectancy of an air conditioning unit tends to be 10 – 15 years. It’s after this period that parts tend to wear out one by one.

Cheaper units may not even last this long and you may find recurring faults at around the 5 year mark, whilst some of the highest quality air conditioning units can last up to 20 years providing they are well maintained. For this reason, when choosing a new air conditioner unit, you should think carefully about the price and what it’s going to get you.

AC units should be serviced on an annual basis to check that they’re running at their full capacity. If problems go undetected, they may get worse and have a knock-on effect on other parts. What could start as a cheap repair may eventually transform into an expensive repair.

The best time to get your annual service is generally Spring before the summer heat arrives. It’s in summer that most people use their units on a consistent basis and it’s during this period that you want your air conditioning to be working at full capacity. It’s also good to get your unit checked int spring, as AC units can often develop problems over winter when they’re not regularly used and may even get dangerous build-ups of dust and mould.

Obviously, location can make a big difference too. If you live somewhere that’s warm all year round, you could be using your air conditioning around the clock, which could put more strain on various parts. This can cause units to wear out more quickly and have a shorter life expectancy.

All in all, it’s best to ask an air conditioning technician if you’re unsure of how much life your AC unit has left in it.