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When your air conditioning unit breaks yet again, you will be faced with a big decision. Should you repair it, or should you have it replaced?

Ideally, you’ll connect with an AC repair company that offers the full spectrum of services, including maintenance and replacement. Even better, you’ll hopefully find one that is honest and trustworthy enough to earn your business.

Sometimes, you may only need a simple repair to set things right. Other times, it might be better to replace your AC unit, allowing you to enjoy more worry-free years of a comfortable living space.

 Keeping Up with Regular AC Maintenance

Having your AC unit serviced by professionals at regular intervals is an important step for keeping it running well during Houston’s hottest weather. If you have been vigilant about scheduling maintenance with your HVAC company, they will likely catch small problems before they become costly.

However, even the most well-kept air conditioning unit will need to be replaced eventually. If your unit is at that 10-year mark, it’s time to look for a replacement before it breaks down.

Signs That Something Is Wrong with Your Air Conditioning

Your air conditioning will usually show signs of something wrong. Often, it can start with loud noises such as grinding, squealing, or grating. Other times, you may feel as though the humidity levels in your home are too high, or you’ll feel hot air blowing out of the vents.

When your AC breaks down more frequently, or you notice a significant increase in your energy bills, these may prompt you to consider AC replacement rather than repair.

Repair or Replace: How to Decide What to Do with Your AC Unit

Buying a new air conditioner is a huge investment, which is why you’ll want to figure out if your unit needs replacement or repair first. As a general rule of thumb, repairs are best if your unit isn’t too old or it has a small problem that needs to be fixed.

Consider all of these factors when making your decision to repair or replace your AC.

The Age of Your HVAC Unit

Air conditioning units last for ten years, so if it is getting up there in age, it may be time to discuss a replacement with your AC company. The older it gets, the less efficient it will be. It will also break down more frequently, and the costs of those repairs will add up. It will be a better investment to replace it. Plus, the warranty will likely have long expired.

If your unit is newer and hasn’t had a catastrophic failure, it may be best to simply have it repaired.

The Efficiency of Your Current System

Regardless of age, your AC should be efficient. The SEER rating should also factor into your decision on replacement or repair. These days, newer air conditioning systems have a higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating, which can save you more money on your energy consumption. Newer models are far more efficient and capable of cooling your spaces to comfortable temperatures while keeping your energy costs down.

The higher the rating it has, the greater your savings will be. You may also qualify for a federal tax credit if you replace your AC unit with a super-efficient new one with a high SEER rating.

Costs of the Repair

Generally speaking, when an AC unit is newer, it is less likely to give you grief. Most of the time, the cost of repairs you’ll need will be on the low end. However, it makes little sense to try to repair the unit if you’re facing potential repairs that are thousands of dollars.

Older units are the ones that typically fetch higher repair costs. If your HVAC system is closing in on ten years of age and the repairs are as costly as buying a new unit, it is a far better idea to go for the replacement instead. You’ll also have greater peace of mind since the new unit should function without incident for years with proper and regular maintenance.

Refrigerant Considerations

Something else to think about with an aging AC unit is the refrigerant. Older units use R-22 Freon. In 2020, the rules changed and it is no longer possible to legally produce this type of refrigerant in the U.S. While there are remaining supplies, they are dwindling, and what is left is available at a considerable cost compared to the new R-410a refrigerant that is used in newer units.

If your AC is older and experiences a refrigerant problem, it will be far more expensive. As such, a replacement in this case is greatly advised.

Your Energy Bills

As mentioned, even with proper maintenance through the years, your older AC unit will become less and less efficient. A modern system will run more efficiently and keep your energy bills lower. Additionally, your unit may not be the adequate size for your space, which can affect energy costs.

Other things that will affect your energy bills are worn electrical parts or dwindling refrigerant levels. The investment in a new AC unit will be well worth it if you have any issues with your current system.

How Long You’ll Live in Your Home

If you just bought your house, you’re likely planning to be there for a while. When buying a home, if the AC unit is old or the previous owners did not give it proper maintenance, you may be looking at replacing it soon.

But if you’re thinking of moving to another home, you should be prepared that potential buyers may ask for a reduction in the asking price if your AC is old. It’s always smart to make this investment at the right time.

Mismatched Parts

Your HVAC system needs to operate as a whole to cool and heat your home. All the components need to be compatible with one another to ensure efficient operation. If anything is mismatched, it could lead to more frequent breakdowns and hence, more frequent repairs. Those repair costs will add up, making it wise to consider a new unit.

Aesthetics

If you’ve decided you’re going to stay in your home for many years, perhaps you’ve started some remodeling or redecorating. When doing these things, it may be a good idea to replace your AC unit if it is getting old. Older units may appear rusty and unsightly, which could affect your home’s aesthetic.

Incentives for AC Replacement

It is certainly a big investment to replace your AC unit. It’s not advisable to go for a replacement after a couple of years, but when the unit is approaching ten years, you can sweeten the deal by using the available incentives. That federal tax credit is one of them, though there may be other rebates available depending on the manufacturer of the unit.

If you’re interested in learning more, you should ask your HVAC company for quotes on replacing your AC. You can then inquire about the available rebates and incentives that may apply when you make the switch.