Nobody wants to risk their AC unit going out in the middle of a hot Central Texas summer, but the purchase and installation of a brand-new AC unit is expensive. So, as a property owner, you want to avoid replacing your AC unit(s) for as long as possible. However, every electronic appliance has a shelf life (including AC units) and they will eventually stop working and need to be replaced – especially if the unit was not regularly inspected and serviced.
As a trusted HVAC service provider in the greater Austin area, we promote and provide regular maintenance and servicing of AC units to maintain the health of your AC unit(s) for a long time. Since AC units don’t last forever, though, how do you know if your AC unit can be repaired or if you need to start researching replacement options?
With the summer season almost here in Central Texas, here are a few signs for you to be looking for when evaluating the health of your AC unit and determining if this is the year you might need a new unit:
- AC Unit Over 10 Years Old
- Consistent Rise in Energy Bills
- Moisture and Humidity Build-up
- Loud Noise and a Weird Smell Coming out From the Unit
Sign #1 – AC Unit is Over 10 Years Old
A common sign your AC may need to be replaced is its age. If your HVAC unit is over 10 years old and beginning to experience any of the problems listed below with more frequency, it could mean a replacement might be needed soon:
- Constant need for repairs and part replacements
- Sudden spike in the energy bills
- Low quality in performance and cooling
- Poor energy efficiency
Another consideration for older HVAC units is the type of refrigerant it uses. Newer models use R410A refrigerant while older models use a more toxic R22 version.
Sign #2 – Consistent Rise in Energy Bills
If you observe a noticeable increase in your energy bills despite your AC consumption remaining constant, this is a definite sign that your AC is not running efficiently and needs to be troubleshooted. Sometimes, a repair can provide a short-term solution to the problem, although rarely does it improve efficiency over the long run.
There are two key reasons why an old AC unit may lead to soaring energy consumption and higher bills. They are:
- More energy is required to keep a unit functioning close to optimum levels as, as wear and tear over time creates additional load on the unit. The older a unit gets, the more energy it needs to keep functioning as parts lose their overall efficiency with age.
- A decrease in the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), a rating that monitors maximum efficiency, caused by dirty condensers and other factors. New models in the market have the SEER rating with a minimum of 13 SEER. This translates to 30% less consumption of energy and a 30% improvement in cooling efficiency.
Sign #3 – Moisture and Humidity Build-up
The mark of an efficient AC is an optimum cooling ability and how it manages moisture build-up. If your AC unit is unable to prevent moisture build-up it could escalate into other issues in your home, like:
- Mold build-up inside the AC that can lead to rancid smells, mustiness, and air contamination potentially leading to a variety of health issues
- Moisture inside the unit can affect the electrical systems and lead to short circuits and the possibility of fire. If wires, circuitry, and the other critical components get wet it will lead to corrosion of the wires and parts of the AC. As the parts and wires get corroded, the AC unit will eventually stop running entirely.
Sign #4 – Loud Noises and Weird Smells Coming from the Unit
Weird smells and/or loud noises coming from an AC unit(s) are a sure sign that the health of the unit(s) is deteriorating. Noises and smells can include:
- Loud, grating noises emanating from the unit, which indicate a breakdown of the components or corrosion of the metal parts
- Rancid and stale air blowing from the AC duct
- Hot air coming out of the unit instead of cool air
- Poor, intermittent air flow (if the filters are clean)
How to Decide if Getting a New AC Unit is Better than Repairing Your Old One?
When you are faced with the question of whether to repair or replace your AC unit(s), a few simple facts can help guide your decision. The table below provides information on determining the health of your AC unit and clarity around when you should repair or replace your AC.
|Factors||AC Repair||AC Replacement|
|System Age||Repair is a good option if the AC is less than 10-12 years old, is under warranty, and has a high-efficiency rating.||Replacement should be considered if the AC is more than 10-12 years, as it is old, less efficient, and uses toxic refrigerants.|
|Extent of Issues||Minor issues like faulty ductwork, a clogged drain line, and/or electrical problems.||More extensive issues like blower motor, compressor, and condenser coils. AC replacement is the right course of action.|
|Frequency of Breakdowns||An AC that has undergone less than 2 repairs in the past 10 years needs a repair.||An AC that has undergone more than 2 repairs in the past 10 years needs a replacement.|
|Energy Efficiency||An AC with more than 13 SEERS or 10 EER rating is highly energy-efficient and so it is worth repairing.||A unit with lower than a 13 SEERS or 10 EER rating is not energy-efficient and so requires replacement.|
|Repair Cost||If the cost of repair is less than half (50%) of the price of a new AC unit, it’s better to have it repaired and fixed.||If the cost of repair is more than half (50%) of the price of a new AC unit, it’s better to buy a more advanced model.|
|Size||If the size of the AC is appropriate for the home, go for repairs.||If the size of the AC is smaller or bigger for the home, go for a replacement.|
Here is a visual guide to help you gauge the health of your AC unit(s).
Whether you need a simple fix on your AC unit or a complete replacement or new installation, Lantz’s Lakeside Plumbing & AC will be there to walk you through the entire process from decision to installation.
Our goal at Lantz’s Lakeside Plumbing & AC is to repair the AC unit and prolong its life while not compromising on the quality of its performance.
Sometimes, after a comprehensive evaluation, our service technicians may recommend a replacement when they feel a repair would only be a quick fix and not a solution.
Whether you decide to go with a regular maintenance and service schedule or buy and install a new HVAC unit, we will assist you from start to finish. We serve the greater Austin area, including Lago Vista, Leander, Liberty Hills, Cedar Park, Marble Falls, and Jonestown.