Reading the Signs for When It’s Time to Replace the A/C

The decision to replace the A/C requires considering several factors. It’s a not-too-soon/not-too-late scenario: Ideally, you want to upgrade after you’ve gotten the maximum service life out of your existing unit but before it begins costing you lots of money in high-priced repairs and overall outmoded efficiency.  Here are some guidelines to help you make the best call about when to replace the A/C.

How old is it?
If the unit was already in place when you moved in, you may not even know this basic information. Copy down the model and serial number from the metal identification plate affixed to the outdoor unit and contact the maker to get the manufacture date. The average life span of a central air conditioner that’s professionally installed and regularly maintained is 15 years. Average means just that: Some units may become marginal before then, while others are still performing satisfactorily after 20 years.

How efficient is it?
If your A/C was built before 2006, it has a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) of 10 or lower. Simply by upgrading to today’s Federal minimum SEER of 13, you’ll realize up to 30 percent lower operating costs. Higher efficiency units deliver even greater savings but come with a steeper upfront purchase price and a longer payback time.

How much is it costing?
If you’re paying frequent costly repair bills, you’re probably in for even more expenses in the future. Components in an A/C are engineered for similar service life and the failure of one major part often portends the failure of others soon to follow. If your unit’s 10 years old already and you’re facing a major fix-it expense, replacement rather than repair may be the best option.

How’s the rest of the house?
If your home’s construction doesn’t meet today’s energy-efficiency standards, measures like repairing leaky ductwork, sealing structural cracks and gaps and upgrading insulation may provide greater savings and improve comfort more than opting to replace the A/C.

For guidance on when to replace the A/C in your home, contact Balance Point Heating & Air Conditioning, serving the greater Fort Collins area.

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