It’s the Shakespearean proposition in our industry: “To repair or replace? That is the question!” And before summer arrives, many homeowners need to make this important decision regarding their air conditioning units.
In order to make a final decision, there are several questions that homeowners should ask themselves:
1. How old is the air conditioning unit? If the unit is more than 15 years old, we advise—as most licensed technicians in the industry would—that it’s time to replace the unit. If the unit is less than 10 years old, though, it could just be in need of a repair. Even more, “The 5,000 Rule” can provide a benchmark of whether to repair or replace your system. To calculate, multiply the age of the AC unit by the repair cost. If the total exceeds $5,000, then it may make the most financial sense to replace it. For example: Let’s say your unit is 8 years old and it will cost $400 to repair it. That equals $3,200, so you may opt for an AC repair.
2. Does the AC unit make strange noises? AC units can make a variety of sounds, some of which are more disconcerting than others.
- A “chirping” could simply mean that the unit is starting up for the first time after being dormant for a season or two.
- A “rattling” could indicate that the AC unit is starting to wear down and parts are loose. It could also mean that debris or even objects from your backyard, like toys or twigs, could be stuck in the system.
- A “squealing” could mean that there’s a problem with a fan belt; unfortunately, it won’t stop until it’s fixed.
- A “hissing” could indicate that refrigerant is leaking out of your system. Your AC unit needs this liquid to operate, so you should schedule a repair immediately.
3. Are certain rooms in your home hotter or colder than others? The good news is that you’re likely in a repair or maintenance situation—not replacement. It may seem obvious, but first, make sure that the vent is open or try to open it further. If the problem doesn’t resolve itself, there could be a problem with the ductwork. It may not be sized properly, or it could have separated. If it’s separated, cool air could be leaking into spaces like the attic. In another scenario, the system may need to be balanced by adjusting the airflow dampers in the grills.
4. Is there excessive dust in your home? When was the last time that you changed your AC unit’s air filter? Most of the dust in your home originates inside, from human skin to pet dander. If your air filter is free of dust, the filter may not be effective in catching the airborne dust in your home. It may be time to upgrade your filter from a cheaper fiberglass variety to a thick, pleated version. However, excessive dust could also indicate that your air ducts are leaky. Dusty air could be getting sucked into the home’s air duct system and pushed throughout the home. Rely on a professional get to the root of the problem.
To Call or Not to Call a Technician
The aforementioned tips are intended to educate homeowners on common problems that are associated with AC units. After taking some simple do-it-yourself measures, you may find that it’s unnecessary to replace the unit, let alone repair it. But, don’t wait too long to find out—especially as a resident of the Greater Houston area, where temperatures soar during the summer months.
Feel confident about the operation of one of your home’s most important appliances. Whether it’s a repair or replacement question, or you want to schedule an annual tune-up in anticipation of the warmer season ahead, Clear the Air is here to help. Our licensed technicians will offer the best advice for keeping your home cool this summer.
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