Air conditioning systems endure considerable wear and tear during the long, hot months of the year. With such heavy usage, you can expect to deal with at least a few air conditioner repair issues from time to time. However, if your air conditioner is getting older, you may be wondering if the latest trouble with the system is a sign that a replacement is imminent.
The typical lifespan of an air conditioning unit is 12 years, but this is not a hard and fast rule. The actual life of your air conditioning system will be based on the make and model, how heavily it has been used, how well it has been maintained, your climate and other factors. If you want to know if the time has come to replace an older model, simply ask yourself how comfortable you are inside your home.
Some people delay getting a bothersome repair issue fixed by a professional because of the fear that the cost would be significant or that a replacement would be needed. The good news is that many repair issues are simple and easy fixes, so you should not be timid about setting up a service call at the first sign of an issue. These are some of the more common signs that indicate the need for attention and potentially repair service.
1. The Air Conditioner Will Not Turn On
This is most commonly caused by a thermostat issue. Check to see if the setting on the thermostat is correct and that the unit is turned onto the “Cool” setting. You should also ensure that the thermostat is receiving electrical power. Take a quick look at the circuit breaker to ensure that the fuse has not been tripped. There is no cost associated with these simple steps.
2. The Air Conditioner Does Not Seem to Work as Well as Last Year
A common cause of this issue is limited airflow. Before you schedule repair service for your AC system, change the air filter. This is an affordable fix that may resolve the issue. Remember to change the air filter every one to two months. You can also check the outdoor unit. Ensure that there are at least two feet of clearance around the perimeter of the unit and five feet of clearance above the unit. These steps are affordable, costing only the amount of your air filter.
3. Your Utility Bills Are Much Higher This Year
Assuming that you have accounted for any temperature changes between this year and the same time last year, there may be a problem with your HVAC system. After you have ensured that the air filter is clean, you can check out the condensing coil that is inside the outdoor equipment. If it is dirty or dusty, you should call an HVAC technician for annual maintenance service. Maintenance service usually costs less than $100, but it may vary based on the type of equipment that you have.
4. The AC System Is Making Unusual Sounds
If you have noticed that your AC system is making a ticking, rattling or whizzing sound when it turns on and off or for the entire time that it is running, there may be numerous causes. Something as simple as a loose screw may be causing the issue, and your HVAC technician can find and fix this issue quickly. Some of the other possible causes are a worn-out blower motor in the indoor equipment or a damaged fan blade in the outdoor equipment. The cost to address this issue may range from under $100 to more than $700 depending in the problem.
5. The AC System Shuts Off Too Soon or Too Late
When the thermostat is not properly controlling the temperature in your home, you may easily feel too warm or too cold. In some cases, the problem is related to the location of the thermostat. For example, the thermostat may have cold air from the vent blowing directly at it, or it may be located in direct sunlight. Otherwise, the thermostat may need to be replaced. If you can change the location of the thermostat or install a new one yourself, this is a very easy and affordable problem to fix.
6. The Equipment Appears to Be Leaking
The most common cause of moisture around the indoor equipment is condensation. This occurs from normal operation, and the moisture is supposed to be collected and removed from the home through a pan and a drain line. In many cases, an issue with water accumulation from condensation stems from a clog in the drain line. You may be able to clean out the tube yourself for free. If the tube needs to be replaced, the cost is nominal. In some cases, there may be a problem with the sump basin, and this equipment may need to be repaired or replaced.
7. The Air Is Not Cool Enough
If you hold your hand up to the air vent or register, you may notice that it is only moderately chilled. The primary case of this problem is poorly insulated refrigerant lights. These are the two lines leading from the outdoor equipment into the home. They should be covered with fully-intact insulation. If the insulation appears to be in good condition, your refrigerant probably needs to be recharged. The cost for this is approximately $100 to $200.
8. The AC System Will Not Turn On
If your AC system is completely non-responsive to your thermostat settings and controls, the compressor may be burnt out. The only way to address this issue is to replace the compressor. This replacement includes the need for new Freon and various other small parts as well as labor costs. Because the cost of a new compressor may range from $600 to $,1900 or more, it may be wise to consider a full system replacement if your unit is getting older. A good rule of thumb is to replace the AC unit if the air conditioner repair cost is more than half of the replacement cost and if the equipment is eight years old or older.