It’s one of those realities of homeownership that gets glossed over. People tend to overlook their HVAC system when it comes to maintenance. It’s not malicious. In most cases, your furnace and AC unit remain out of sight. It’s easy to overlook things you don’t see all the time. Still, that means you must remain vigilant for signs that your air conditioner needs to be replaced. Keep reading for five signs to watch out for.
1. Unit Age
One of the first things you must keep in mind when it comes to your AC unit is its age. On average, an AC unit will last somewhere in the 12 to 17 years range. Once your start rolling up on that 12-year mark, it’s time to start thinking about replacement. If nothing else, you should at least start looking at replacement options around then.
Once you get to the 15-year mark, your unit is likely on borrowed time. You should start making serious plans to replace it. For example, you can start putting away money to pay for the replacement. You can have HVAC specialists come out and get a professional opinion about the size of the replacement. You can also look at reviews for units that are on the market and make plans for which one you’ll go with when you do buy.
2. Constant Repairs
If you’re prudent and get yearly maintenance on your AC unit, you shouldn’t have any real trouble with your unit over the summer. That yearly maintenance lets the service techs alert you about problems and get them fixed before they swell into a full-blown unit breakdown. For example, they can clean the evaporator coil and drain to keep things working smoothly. This type of home air conditioner repair and maintenance is essential.
If you get the annual maintenance and carry out the recommended repairs but your AC unit still breaks down repeatedly, that’s a sign that your unit is likely on its last legs. Those kinds of persistent problems mean that multiple parts are simply at their end of useful life.
3. Higher Utility Costs
Yes, utility costs fluctuate over time. Even so, you should have a sense of how much your utilities average and how much electricity you use on average. When an AC unit starts developing serious problems, it almost always results in a sharp increase in your electricity bill. The problem makes the unit work harder or longer for the same results, so it soaks up more electricity.
If your electricity bill goes up and unit repairs don’t solve the problem, it likely means you need a new unit sooner than later.
4. Strange Noises
Every AC unit makes some noise, but that noise should remain consistent over time. It should fade into the background like white noise once you get accustomed to it. If your unit starts making noises that you don’t recognize and that draw your attention, it’s a bad sign.
That almost always means that something has gone seriously wrong inside the unit somewhere. While you may want a professional to take a look at it, the most likely outcome will be a replacement of the unit.
5. Limited Cool Air
Anytime you turn on the AC unit, you should get a noticeable flow of cool air from the vents in your home. If you don’t, it can signal several problems. It can mean that there is a problem in your ductwork or with the blower in your HVAC system.
The more likely problem is a leak or an issue with your condenser or compressor. Unfortunately, replacing these components, particularly after the unit leaves its warranty coverage, is often nearly as expensive as a new unit. In most cases, it’s more cost-effective to simply replace the unit than repair it with new parts.
AC Replacement and You
Replacing a major piece of equipment in your home is seldom a homeowner’s first choice. It’s routinely expensive. Plus, it almost always means a disruption to your normal household activities. Yet, problems like aging equipment, strange noises, constant repairs, skyrocketing electricity costs, or a lack of cold air are almost signs that your AC unit isn’t long for this world.
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