5 Signs It's Time to Replace Your AC Unit
Americans don't enjoy the heat, at least not inside of buildings. One strong indicator is that annual cooling costs in the US run into the tens of billions.
That's a serious commitment to keeping the hot air outside.
Of course, an AC unit is a machine. Sure, you can maintain them and even extend their lives. There will come a point when you must replace your AC unit.
The worst time for that is when your AC unit dies in the middle of a heat wave. If you pay just a little bit of attention, though, you will get some warning. So you know what to watch for, we'll walk you through the signs it's time to replace your AC unit.
1. Constant Repairs
Does it seem like you have the AC repair people out every week?
"Wait," you think, "it doesn't seem that. I really do have them here all the time!"
Even the best heating and cooling professionals can only do so much. Parts will keep wearing out more and more often as the unit ages. The compressor will grow less efficient.
Constant repairs are a symptom of that breakdown.
Think of it like a human body. As a body ages, the person gets an increasing number of minor and then major problems.
Your average 20-year-old can probably sneak by on one doctor visit a year for a checkup. Your average 70-year-old probably sees a doctor a lot more often.
If you programmed your AC repair team's number into your phone because you use it so much, it's a sign you need a new unit
2. Your Unit Uses R22
Every AC unit needs some kind of refrigerant to cool the air it pumps into the house. For a long time, units used a gas called R22 or HCFC 22.
Unfortunately, R22 and other hydrofluorocarbons deplete the ozone layer. In light of that information, every country in the world signed on to the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol set out a timetable for eliminating HCFC use and production.
As part of that agreement, the EPA set 2020 as the main phaseout date for R22. Anyone with AC units that still use R22 will find it very difficult to top off their refrigerant supply.
If your unit is an R22 unit, it's time you plan for a replacement. You'll avoid a rush for non-R22 units when the phaseout goes into full effect,
3. You Get Poor Humidity Control
A properly working AC unit does more than control the temperature in your house. It also helps keeps the humidity level stable and comfortable.
As your unit gets less efficient over time, that benefit gets less certain.
You'll probably notice that your house feels muggy in the summertime. You might also see a little mildew growing in places you never saw it before. In more extreme cases, you may find yourself peeling your shirt away from your skin.
The drop off in humidity control is one of the less obvious signs.
Most people find it easy to dismiss the humidity as a byproduct of the weather. On one day, that's probably true. An extremely humid day outside can make even an air-conditioned home a little muggy.
Don't ignore it when it's muggy inside on a regular basis. That's your AC unit's way of saying it's getting old and tired. Heed that warning and look into new units.
4. You Don't Get Good Cooling
It probably sounds like this sign should be obvious. Except, it often isn't.
Think it over for a second or two. When it's not cool enough in your place, what's your first thought?
It's probably not, "I bet that AC unit is about ready for retirement."
It's probably, "I should turn the temperature down on the thermostat."
Noticing a fall-off in cooling quality proves tough when you live with AC day-in and day-out. It shows up in more subtle ways.
For example, your utility bills go up and may keep going up. You might brush it off at first as a byproduct of more hot weather. If you do a year-by-year comparison, though, you'll see a marked increase.
Something that's more likely to draw your attention is how long the unit runs. Ideally, an AC unit should only kick on for short periods of time. A little more cool air periodically maintains the temperature.
If yours runs for long stretches to do the same thing, it's high time for a new unit.
5. The Unit Is Over 10 Years Old
10 years old is a big milestone for your kids. It starts the runup to puberty, dating, and all those other things that give parents grey hair.
It's a little different for your AC unit. Even if everything goes right, the majority of AC units still only last 10-15 years.
After 10 years, your AC unit is in the AC equivalent of late middle age. Every year you get after that is just a reprieve. It might not happen this year or next year, but very soon you'll send that unit off for recycling.
That means the 10-year mark is the time you should start planning. Look at your options and compare the new AC unit cost from different companies.
Similar models run in similar price categories. If you plan ahead, though, you can keep an eye out for deals on your preferred unit. Otherwise, you end buying fast out of necessity.
Parting Thoughts on Signs You Replace Your AC Unit
Your AC unit might run for a full 15 years. Your car might also run for 350,000 miles, but it's not likely. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches if you plan to replace your AC unit every so often.
Assuming nothing else tips your hand, you can use the 10-year mark as your deadline for researching replacements.
Of course, some machines break down sooner than others. If you find your unit struggles with maintaining temperature or humidity, start the search early.
Constant repairs should also trigger a replacement search. At some point, the repairs will cost as much as a new unit.
Of course, any unit that still uses R22 should go away as soon as possible. R22 will become all but impossible to get in the very near future.
Comfortec Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing specializes in HVAC services for Northwest Iowa homes. For more information or to set up an appointment, contact us today.
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