There are plenty of items that it's common to replace as they get older. For example, many people choose to upgrade their vehicles as they pack on the years and mileage, even if they're still managing to limp from point A to point B. Likewise, an aging air conditioner may still manage (perhaps with some difficulty) to keep your home cool, but that doesn't mean it isn't time for a replacement.
For many homeowners, this question arises when a part fails in their existing system. Any failure that brings your system down, even temporarily, raises the question of whether it's worthwhile to pour more money into an already old air conditioner. While no answer will work for every situation, these three questions will help you decide what's right for you.
1. Does Your System Use Outdated Refrigerant?
Refrigerant chemicals have a long, storied, and somewhat controversial history. These chemicals have potentially frightening environmental impacts, including severely outdated refrigerants such as R-12. These older refrigerants fall into a category known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), while newer refrigerants are either hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) or hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
Older chemicals were causing severe damage to the ozone layer, but newer chemicals may have equally dangerous climate implications. As a result, regulations continue to phase out harmful refrigerants. If you have an older system that uses one of these refrigerants, you may want to consider replacement instead of retrofitting the system to use a newer, less harmful chemical.
2. Are You Experiencing Repeated Failures?
You've probably heard the adage, "when it rains, it pours." Parts in your air conditioning system see relatively similar amounts of wear and tear, so you'll rarely see only one failure at a time. Instead, you might start experiencing increased service visits as your system ages. Years of trouble-free service may give way to several repairs over a few years.
Once you notice this increasing failure, it's time to decide whether you want to continue maintaining a failing system. Although you can certainly repair these failures one at a time, upgrading to a newer, more energy-efficient system is often a cheaper alternative. At a minimum, consult with an HVAC contractor to discuss your options.
3. Is Your System Struggling to Keep Up?
There are many reasons why an older system that once worked well may struggle to maintain comfortable temperatures. Sometimes, it may indicate an ongoing failure, so you can choose to repair the problem rather than replace it. In other cases, it can be due to parts wearing down, increased cooling load in your home, or even a system that was undersized from the start.
The bottom line is that your air conditioning system should be able to keep you cool without running all day or failing to meet your thermostat setpoint. If your system can't keep up, contact an HVAC contractor to evaluate your current air conditioner and determine if you may need a replacement to get your home cool again.
Reach out to a company like Steve Patrick Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Inc. for more details.