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Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioner (AC)
Determining if you should Replace or Repair your Air Conditioner (AC)
It's a hot summer morning and you wake up to a house that feels like you left the furnace running all night. This is odd because you set the air conditioner to run before you went to bed. If your air conditioner is running hot air, you know you have a problem!
Your first instinct is to call for a quick repair job. Repair seems to be the least expensive way to go but it may not be at all. In the long run, replacing your broken unit might be the best way to go. How do you decide?
Making that decision to replace or repair can be a difficult one to determine when you are sweating buckets and just need to get the job done now!
When deciding take into consideration the following:
Age of the system - Typically speaking an air conditioner is expected to last 12-18 years although there are numerous examples of air coonditioners that have been running much longer. (Your location, maintenance, and typical use of the A/C unit will impact this quite a bit.) If your air conditioner is coming up on the seventh year mark and simple repairs don't seem frugal, then you are likely going to want to opt for replacement. On the flip side, if your air conditioner has been operating for less than five years, you might want to consider repairing it since it likely has a number of good service years left.
Overall satisfaction of the system - If your air conditioner has been running well up until this time, you have reason to believe that it will continue to run well with a few repairs. At the same time, if your system has caused you any kind of headaches up until this time, you might feel now would be a good time to replace it.
Cost of operation - Many A/C units 15-20 years old could have a SEER rating that is 1/2 of current high efficiency units. That is essentially a 50% savings in energy which will impact your yearly cooling bills in a large way.
Cost to repair - If you are looking at spending $500 - $750 just to repair your old system now may be the time to replace it.
Cost to replace - When assessing whether or not to repair, always try to get a free estimate. Some repairs are just too costly to even consider and so in this case replacing will be the best way to go. Once you have your estimate this can guide your decision to repair or replace smartly. Remember that you want to make the best decision, not the cheapest one.
How often is the system used - A system that gets infrequent use due to your local climate may make repair seem a more fiscally responsible option.
You can also take a look at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR Program http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_hvac
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