If your AC unit is a bit older, you may need to start budgeting for repairs. A better idea, though, would be to budget for a replacement.
Air conditioning systems tend to last 10 years on average. While replacement is a significant investment, it may be more intelligent than constantly spending your hard-earned money on AC repairs.
When repairs start becoming more frequent, the age of your unit will depend on how well you’ve maintained the unit, its size, and its efficiency. Since those factors vary between AC unit models and brands, here are a few things to remember about making repairs as your air conditioning system improves over the years.
Older Unit with Often-Neglected Maintenance
You’ll start having problems sooner rather than later if you don’t keep up with air conditioning maintenance. This proactive step as a homeowner helps keep the system clean. Additionally, your HVAC technician can fix minor issues during maintenance visits, preventing them from causing more costly damages down the road.
However, even homeowners who maintain their HVAC systems will eventually need to replace them. Once you start needing several yearly repairs, it’s a good idea to talk to your HVAC company about installing a new unit.
Clammy Air Inside Your Home
As an air conditioning system ages, the evaporator coil becomes less efficient at extracting humidity. When this happens, your system won’t make your home feel fantastic. It won’t feel hot either, but you’ll notice that it doesn’t feel like it should. A telltale sign that you may want to start saving up for a new unit is if you keep having the coils freeze up.
Huge Jump in Energy Costs
The evaporator coil isn’t the only thing that loses its pep as it ages. All units are rated with SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio), and the older units aren’t as efficient. Your system loses SEER increments each year, resulting in roughly 5% efficiency loss. You may notice that your energy costs are getting higher. If you haven’t added anything else to your home that could be spiking your usage and aren’t changing how you use your air conditioning, the system’s age is likely showing.
Systems with R-22 Freon
As of the beginning of 2020, freon production in the U.S. has been halted. This refrigerant was found to have harmful environmental effects and was phased out. Homeowners with older units that still use this type of refrigerant should be prepared to make a system replacement in the not-too-distant future. As more time passes since the phasing out of production of R-22, it will be harder to find, hence more expensive. You won’t want to be stuck with an air conditioner you can’t run.
Strange Smells Permeate Your Home
The older an air conditioner gets, the more prone it can be to mould and mildew growth. You may notice a musty smell, which can indicate these growths are impacting the functionality of your HVAC system.
It would be best if you also were vigilant for any burning smells from the unit. This tends to indicate that wire insulation is degrading, a surefire sign that your AC is getting old.
Regarding air conditioning units, it’s essential to remember that they naturally produce operational sounds due to their intricate machinery. These sounds should generally be consistent background noise, not disruptive grinding, banging, shrieking, or squealing. If you hear such alarming noises, acting promptly and calling for repairs is crucial. Ignoring the issue may exacerbate it, resulting in more substantial and costly repairs. Regular maintenance can also help prevent such problems, so consider scheduling professional inspections for peace of mind.
Something Is Leaking
Another common problem with ageing air conditioning units is leaking. Sometimes, this is caused by refrigerant leaks, which can be hazardous if your unit uses R-22 freon. Other times, the leak comes from the condensate line. A faulty component is usually the reason, but this only tends to happen as your unit gets close to that 10-year lifespan.
If you have maintenance performed regularly, your HVAC company can check for these issues and use preventative techniques to keep your system up and running. However, sometimes, things pop up between service visits. If you ever notice something leaking from your air conditioner, you should call for repairs immediately.