The 5,000 rule
Multiply the age of the equipment by the repair cost, and if that exceeds $5,000, then replace the unit. If less, go ahead and get an ac repair.
Consider the age of your A/C
The age of the unit plays a critical factor, highly rated HVAC technicians say.
Energy Star recommends upgrading to an energy-efficient unit if your current A/C is 10 or more years old. Many ac repair technicians say they typically recommend replacing units if they are 15 years or older, while others say the average lifespan of an A/C unit is about 14 years.
R-22 can influence your options
If an A/C unit requires additional refrigerant it signals there’s a coolant leak.
Topping off a system with R-22 refrigerant, known as Freon, costs as much as $40 to more than $175 per pound — which may also include the cost of the service call. Fixing the leak and putting in several pounds of refrigerant can cost $550 to $1,000, HVAC pros say.
Repairing a leak, adding refrigerant and replacing a compressor can cost about the same as buying a new, low-end unit.
R-22 prices, meanwhile, have soared in recent years due to the EPA’s eventual phaseout. AC repair professional manufacturers stopped making units “charged” with R-22 in 2010. Production of R-22 will end 2020.
R-410A, a more environmentally friendly refrigerant, will replace it.
Other factors affecting the ac repair/replace decision
Aside from the unit’s age, a few other signs can signal it’s time for an ac repair, according to Energy Star. Consider how frequently you make ac repair, whether your energy bills are rising or if your home is too hot in the summer.
If you do buy a new, energy-efficient A/C unit – which costs $3,600 to $7,200 – Energy Star estimates a 20 percent savings on heating and cooling costs.
On the other hand, some HVAC technicians say if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. If your system shows no leaks and your energy bills are low, Hamlin sees no reason to replace it.
To gauge the condition of your existing A/C, schedule an inspection with an ac repair technician. – Tom Moor, angieslist.com
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