6 Signs You May Need a New Air Conditioner
Having a functional air conditioner in North Texas is essential. Modern cooling equipment won’t just create comfortable, livable temperatures indoors; it will also regulate excessive humidity. On the hottest and most humid days of the year, AC systems can keep everything from heat rash to heatstroke at bay.
Unfortunately, old and outdated cooling systems and cooling equipment that’s poorly maintained can fail outright at the worst possible times. The good news is that there are several tell-tale signs that an air conditioner has reached the end of its lifespan or is nearing it.
1. Your Air Conditioner Is Advanced in Age
The easiest way to tell whether your home is on deck for an air conditioner replacement is by checking its age. All home cooling systems have expected lifespans. Moreover, as they grow closer to the end of their lifespans, air conditioners invariably become less efficient. Repair issues routinely crop up, and the costs of fixing these systems quickly mount. The average air conditioner will last between 12 and 15 years. With regular and diligent maintenance, some systems will continue performing at acceptable levels for slightly longer.
Even though your current air conditioner may be functioning just fine, if it’s an older model, you’re probably paying far more to cool your home than you actually have to. Older air conditioners lack many important upgrades that improve their overall efficacy, limit the costs of using them and provide far higher levels of functionality. Replacing a dated AC system that’s reached or passed the end of its lifespan can result in significant savings, better indoor humidity regulation and even improved indoor air quality (IAQ).
2. Your Repair Bills No Longer Make Sense
Homeowners are generally advised to place a firm cap on the amount of money that they’re willing to spend on repairing existing equipment before deciding to replace it. One way to determine whether replacing your AC will ultimately prove cheaper than repairing it is by totaling up all of your repair bills for the past five years. Air conditioners with regular problems have a higher likelihood of experiencing additional issues going forward. What you’ve spent before is a good indication of what you’ll have to spend in the future. If you’ve spent over $3,000 on AC repairs over the last five years, it’s definitely time to take a different approach.
It’s also important to note that aging and general wear aren’t always the cause of repeated repair bills or other forms of excessive spending in this area. If you’ve had AC equipment installed that’s either undersized or oversized for your home, it will never work efficiently, and it will always have problems. Having an air conditioner put in that’s right for the dimensions and layout of your home will prove far more cost-effective overall.
3. Your Air Conditioner Uses R-22 Refrigerant
Due to its toll on the natural environment, R-22 refrigerant has been phased out throughout the United States, and it is now no longer legally produced. For a time, homeowners could have their existing equipment recharged at a relatively reasonable cost, even though no new air conditioners using R-22 were being made. If you’re still eking the hot summer months out with a truly outdated air conditioner, the equipment you’re using is no longer a feasible or sustainable solution to high indoor temperatures.
Paying money to have any issues repaired on an air conditioner that uses R-22 is a waste. As soon as refrigerant-related problems arise, you’ll need to replace your system anyway. The remaining supplies of R-22 are finite, and the costs of this refrigerant are currently very high and continuing to rise.
4. Your Home Energy Bill Has Skyrocketed
There are many air conditioner problems that can create an increase in your home energy bills. This is especially true for equipment that hasn’t been regularly serviced or maintained. However, if you’ve been good about scheduling annual tune-ups and performing filter changes and other forms of self-managed AC maintenance, it may be that your system has simply become too old to keep up with your cooling needs in an affordable way.
Upgrading to a new cooling system is a decision that can actually pay for itself. Modern cooling equipment with cutting-edge features, functions and capabilities can add significant value to your home. If you intend to sell within the next several years, it can also increase the marketability of your property. More importantly, a new system can be used for ongoing temperature regulation and indoor humidity control without breaking the bank.
5. Foul, Pervasive Odors
Not all air conditioner problems indicate a need for replacement, but most require professional inspection and diagnosis. Although foul odors can seem like a relatively minor problem in terms of AC functioning, they usually have very serious causes. In some instances, smelling strange odors when the AC is on means that there’s an electrical problem. This could be the result of frayed or burned wires or a malfunctioning motor within either the condenser or compressor units. Some smells could be the result of fast-growing mold within the HVAC ductwork or within the unit itself. Pungent, overwhelming odors often indicate a trapped and decaying animal that has wandered into the HVAC system and died. No matter what the cause, finding and dealing with the problem right away can keep a variety of health issues at bay.
When dealing with foul odors requires extensive electrical repairs or major parts replacements, having new cooling equipment installed may be the most cost-effective choice. When mold or decomposition of trapped pests is the culprit, system replacement could be a necessity for protecting human health. Licensed HVAC technicians can determine how extensive and serious underlying problems are, and they can also explain the benefits and drawbacks of both repairing or replacing equipment when these problems exist.
6. Loud Rattling or Squealing Sounds
Much like foul, pervasive odors, loud rattling and squealing sounds can have both major and minor underlying causes. Your air conditioner may be producing an abundance of noise due to trapped debris in the outside condenser. During times of heavy winds, grit, rocks, twigs and other elements can get blown into this component. Until the condenser is cleaned, these things will bang around and cause undue wear. Scheduling a tune-up and cleaning service is the best way to make sure that the condenser is absolutely free and clear of noisy and potentially harmful debris. Ignoring these sounds and putting these repairs off could result in progressive damage that eventually makes total replacement essential.
Noisy heating and cooling equipment is also a sign of aging. Much like noisy heaters, noisy air conditioners are often nearing the end of their lifespans. This may be a tell-tale sign to watch out for if you have recently purchased an existing property and are having a hard time calculating an air conditioner’s age. Relatively new equipment should be efficient and quiet in performance, and it shouldn’t emit any strange smells.
At Air Patrol Air Conditioning, Heating & Fireplaces, we offer heating and AC repair, installation and maintenance services all throughout the greater Dallas and Fort Worth areas. We also provide heating and indoor air quality services and perform whole-house audits. With our help, you can find the perfect AC replacement for your home, and you can keep it working optimally. Call us today to schedule an appointment.