If you stay in your home long enough, you’ll inevitably have to replace your air conditioner. Whether you were there when your old AC was installed or not, knowing when it needs to be replaced can sometimes feel like a mystery. After all, you aren’t a heating and cooling expert. Luckily, your old AC will most likely tell you when it’s at the end of its life — if you know what signs to look for.
The first indicator that your AC is nearing the end of its life is its age. As a good rule of thumb, air conditioners need to be replaced after 10-15 years. A well-maintained AC system should last at least 10 years in most cases. Once your AC is 10 years old, start monitoring it more closely for other signs that it needs to be replaced.
R-22 Freon Use
If you’re not sure how old your AC is, the next best indicator that it needs to be replaced is the use of R-22 refrigerant, or Freon. For the last 10 years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been phasing out the production and use of R-22 due to its harmful effects on the environment, specifically the ozone layer. If your AC still uses R-22, it was installed before January 1, 2010, meaning it’s already over 10 years old.
In addition, the use of R-22 was completely phased out as of January 1, 2020, making your AC somewhat of a ticking time bomb. If you have a refrigerant-related issue with your air conditioner, you’ll be caught in a bind fitting your AC to use the newer 410-A refrigerant or replacing the unit altogether, both of which are expensive. If your AC still uses R-22, it’s better to plan to replace it as soon as possible rather than being hit unexpectedly with the cost of air conditioner replacement.
Rising Energy Bills
If you’ve been in your home for more than a year, you’re familiar with the seasonal fluctuation of your energy bills. But if your utility bills are rising unusually high, your aging AC could be the cause. As air conditioners get older, they become less efficient, costing you more and more on a monthly basis. New AC units are not only working in top condition upon installation but they also have a higher efficiency rating than your current air conditioner.
Frequent and Expensive Repairs
If your AC is getting older, it may feel like it constantly needs repairs. If your AC experiences frequent breakdowns and needs expensive repairs, it’s likely not worth fixing anymore. In some cases, it’s more cost-effective to replace the unit than continue to pour money into repairing it. The next time your AC needs a major repair, weigh the cost and consider investing in AC installation instead.
Whether you’ve added space to your home or your air conditioner is just getting too old, one of the most important reasons to replace your AC is if it’s just not cooling well enough anymore. When your AC doesn’t adequately cool your home, you’re paying for something that’s not working as it should. If this is the case, it’s time to replace your air conditioner with one that will better meet your needs.