AC repair vs replace – which one do you need right now?

In the life of your HVAC system, you have called for AC maintenance and repairs. That is normal with air conditioning or just any other machine.

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However, over time, you will discover that the repairs and maintenance needs are becoming pricier and pricier. Or, one day, your HVAC contractor tells you the repair service your system needs is major.

So, at this point, do you do the expensive repairs?

Or are you better off getting a new HVAC unit?

Yes, there are times that all you need is HVAC repair. However, sometimes it is just time to get a new system.

Not sure what step to take for your air conditioning unit yet?

Read ahead as we take you through.


How Long Do Air Conditioners Last?

Your system may break down just two years after AC installation, or even 30 years! It will depend on many things, AC maintenance practices being top of them.

You, however, must know your AC system’s average lifespan.

Many air conditioning systems will serve you for 15 – 20 years.

Note: A well-maintained HVAC system can serve you for 20+ years. Conversely, a poorly maintained system will develop all sorts of issues from as early as 12 years.

First, your air conditioner may have broken down just a few years after it was installed or 30 years after. Knowing not just the unit’s age but the average lifespan of a system is essential.

Remember that an air conditioning unit does not just fail as a whole. In many cases, significant parts of the system will fail. Your HVAC contractor should tell you what part of the system is malfunctioning. And if the damage is too bad or is manageable.

What to Consider When Deciding Whether to Replace or Repair Your AC Unit

It is no secret; that getting a new HVAC system can be expensive. Many homeowners have to consider all factors before going this route.

On the other hand, AC repair can seem like a cheaper way to fix your air conditioner. However, the big question here is:

  • After how long will you need another significant repair?
  • How much are the repairs costing you?
  • Would you instead get a permanent solution or stick with a temporary one for the time being?

These factors will help you know which is the best way to go.

The AC Unit’s Age

How old is your AC unit?

As we have already stated, your air conditioner should last approximately 15 years. And longer if you maintain it well.

If your system is less than a decade old, you may want to repair it.

However, if it is older, you may want to highly consider a replacement. After 10 years, your HVAC warranty is most likely expired. And, the quotations you will receive for AC repair will e higher and higher.

And, the repair will not last you long.

If you notice this pattern, you are better off with a new HVAC system.

A typical air conditioning unit has a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. If it’s well-maintained, your unit can continue performing well for even longer.

If you have not had significant repairs and your system is less than 10 years old, a repair may be good for you.

The Cost of the Repair

If repairing your system costs thousands of dollars, you are better off replacing this.

Imagine using, let’s say, $3000 to repair your AC today and have it breakdown again after a week or two.

So, how do you know that the cost of repairing your HVAC AC is not worth it anymore?

Many HVAC contractors recommend using the $5000 general rule. For any time you have to repair your old HVAC system, multiply the repair quotation with the age of the HVAC system. If it exceeds $5000 and is over 10 years old, start considering replacing it.

Refrigerant Environmental Impact and Availability

What refrigerant does your AC unit use?

Is it readily available, and how readily available is it?

One of the primary reasons your HVAC is breaking down or malfunctioning is refrigerant leaks.

Many air conditioners older than 10 years use R-22 freon(1). However, as of 2020, its production was abolished in the United States. Therefore, any available stock of R-22 is pricey.

If your system still uses the R-22 system, we recommend you upgrade to a system that uses the readily available and affordable R-410a refrigerant. This way, you will not only save your pocket but also show the environment some love.

Replacing your AC system with one that uses R-410a will:

  • save you repairing complications,
  • help you in your quest to go greener for the environment,
  • save you money in the long run.

The Cost of Your Energy Bills

First, it is not always about maintaining your HVAC system Older systems will always have a lower seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) compared to newer systems.

Systems bought in the 90s have a SEER rating of 8-10. Those bought in 2015 have a rating of at least 13-14.

You can now buy HVAC systems with a SEER rating of over 20. If you have a system with a rating of below 15, you need to upgrade it. AC units with such low SEER ratings are energy inefficient.

Also, an old air conditioning unit may have incorrect refrigerant amounts and worn-out electrical parts. This may lead to a rise in your energy bills.

If you have increased yet unexplained heating and cooling costs, you may want to look at the possibility of buying a new system.

How Long You Plan to Continue Living in Your Home

If you plan to move out of your home in the next few years, getting a new air conditioning system is not worth it. The investment will not be worth it.

If you move in a year to three, you are better off getting AC repairs.

Note: If you plan on selling your current house, a poorly maintained or an old AC may lower the house’s value. A buyer or real estate agent will likely ask for a reduction to compensate for an old or malfunctioning HVAC system.

If you plan to sell it, a new HVAC system will be excellent value addition.

Aesthetic Considerations

Some homeowners would not care about aesthetics if their air conditioning system is cooling the house.

However, if you are like us, or many of the homeowners we have worked with, you want to keep aesthetics in mind if you are caught between the AC repair or replace dilemma.

Many of the ancient systems are enormous and an eyesore. If it is malfunctioning, take that chance to get a new system that matches your aesthetics.

Safety above all else

Your safety is paramount when you are in your house.

An old air conditioning unit may pose different dangers, such as carbon monoxide poisoning and sometimes a fire hazard.

If your current air conditioner poses any danger, you have no option but to replace it. You do not want to repair a system that could potentially cause harm at a later stage.

One way to know if the AC unit is a potential hazard is if it has a cracked heat exchanger. Your HVAC technician will tell you if your system is hazardous.

Some damages are minor and can be fixed with simple repairs. However, you do not want to take risks with damages such as cracked heat exchangers.

Advancements over time

The HVAC industry keeps evolving day in and day out.

A decade ago, the best HVAC systems had lower SEER ratings. This means that you could not go any higher with energy savings.

Today, the HVAC systems come with all sorts of advancements, such as:

  • incredibly high SEER ratings,
  • programmable and smart thermostat compatibility
  • variable speed fans,
  • zoning technology
  • advanced indoor air quality innovations,
  • sensors to help troubleshoot any issues.

If your system lacks these features, you are missing out. You may want to upgrade to a system that gives you much comfort.

Cost of Repairing or Replacing Air Conditioning

Understanding the cost implication of repairing or replacing AC units will help you make the final decision.

We discuss the costs of the two below.

The Cost of AC Repairs

The cost of repairing your HVAC system will depend on the issue. However, making minor repairs will typically cost you a few hundred dollars.

Bigger parts are complex and labor-intensive to repair. It is not uncommon for such repairs to cost you thousands of dollars.

However, you must contact your HVAC technician to get cost estimates. This is because the total cost will always vary. For instance, AC repair Santa Clarita to fix a refrigerant leak can be anything from $200 to an excess of $1000.

Repairing and replacing more significant parts such as the condenser, compressor and evaporator coil will cost you an excess of $1500.

If your system is older, replacing your compressor can cost $2000 or more. If your system is older, you may want to think if this is the right decision.

Typical AC Unit Replacement Costs

The cost of acquiring a new cooling will depend on several factors, such as:

  • energy efficiency,
  • size,
  • AC brand,
  • and the complexity of ductwork.

Many homeowners typically spend between $5000 and $10000 to get a new HVAC system.

It may look like an expensive option to go with at first sight. It will, however, solve the need to keep repairing a system that keeps breaking down.

When to get HVAC repair

An AC repair is a good option if:

  • your system is less than 10 years old,
  • you have not suffered significant breakdowns or repairs,
  • the repair cost is reasonable,
  • the energy bills are not questionable or are within range,
  • you are comfortable with the air quality and operation of your current system,

When to get AC replacement

When should I replace my central air conditioner?  If you check into any of these, you are ready for an AC replacement:

  • your system is older than ten years,
  • you have already performed some major AC repairs,
  • the repairs or breakdowns are becoming more frequent,
  • an air conditioner operates for longer but does not cool the house well,
  • the repair costs are getting higher and higher,
  • if the system is a safety hazard, for instance, through carbon monoxide leakages,
  • the energy costs are getting higher,
  • HVAC equipment uses R22 Freon.

Repair or Replace Air Conditioner Frequently Asked Questions

It is no lie; choosing between AC replacement or repair can be difficult. We answer so e FAQs on the same to help you make an informed decision.

Should I Repair or Replace My Air Conditioner?

There is no single answer that suits everyone for this. You will have to analyze the cost implications, the AC unit’s age and the systems’ energy efficiency.

When should you repair or replace your Cooling system?

Typically, your HVAC technician can advise you when to replace your AC unit.

However, if your system is more than a decade old and gives you many significant issues, it is time to replace it. On the other hand, if you have not had significant repairs yet, and it is less than 10 years, it is not a bad idea to replace it

Is AC worth fixing?

Depending on your AC’s situation, it may be worth fixing it. If the issues it is giving you are only minor, and the energy efficiency is still top, it is worth giving it an AC repair.

How often do AC units need to be replaced?

The lifespan of an air conditioner is 15-20 years. However, if the system is over 10 years old, we recommend you start getting ready to replace it anytime. From 10 years on, it is common for homeowners to keep catering for major, pricey and repetitive AC repairs. And even worse, you may keep needing emergency AC repair now and then. 

How Much Should a New HVAC System cost?

On average, homeowners spend at least $5500 to get a new air conditioner.

However, going up to $10,000 or even more for an air conditioner is not uncommon. It will all come down to what air conditioner suits your pocket, cooling needs and house.

Repair or Replace AC Unit: Which Decision have you made?

We are calling it a wrap now. But before we go, we understand that some of you have had no time to go through the entire AC repair or replace piece; we have covered you below.

If your cooling system is more than a decade old and is giving you frequent significant issues, highly consider an AC replacement.

If you have not had any serious repairs, and the energy efficiency is still within a great range, you can hold on and repair your system.

The rule of thumb is to not keep spending so much on repairs. If the repair cost could add up to the cost of a new system, get a new one.

For any HVAC questions, AC repair and replacement, feel free to reach out to us HVAC Santa Clarita. 

call 661-888-0248

Contact us 24/7 for HVAC services!


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