Recently, a person called our office frustrated with her current air conditioner repair person. Early in the spring, she paid to have her refrigerant “topped off” but a few short months later she is having problems again. Her question was, “Should I repair or replace? How do I know if it is time for a new central air conditioner?” Today’s article will hopefully help those in a similar situation.
Firstly, your central air conditioner should never need refrigerant added. An AC unit does not consume refrigerant like a fuel. Moreover, the refrigerant exists in a closed system, cycling from a liquid to a gas as it moves heat energy from your home to the outdoors. So, if the unit’s refrigerant level is low, this is a telltale sign that there is a leak, and that leak needs repairing. Adding refrigerant is only temporary.
That said, determining whether or not to repair or replace your central air condition, much like your automobile, will depend on the age. While the U.S. Department of Energy recommends replacing a unit older than 10 years old, because it can save up to 20 percent in cooling costs, this is not the best rule to follow. A better practice is what is sometimes called “The 5000 Rule.” Take the age of your central air conditioner and multiply it by the cost of the repair. If that number exceeds $5,000 then replacing is the better option.
In the case of a refrigerant leak, the expense to repair and refill can cost up to $1,000. Also, it is often the case that once you experience a refrigerant leak, you will eventually need to replace the compressor, which can be another $2,000. So, since the person’s central air conditioner was older than 10 years old, there is a confident recommendation to replace it with a new, energy-efficient air conditioner.
Do you have questions? What haven’t we covered yet that is important to you? If you would like to talk about a new central air conditioner, or a related topic, please contact us.