No home comfort appliance or heavy piece of equipment lasts forever, no matter how well it’s built or cared for. Your household air conditioner is no exception! It has a limited lifespan, and when it’s approaching that time, it’s a good idea to upgrade to a newer system before you find yourself dealing with a sudden, total breakdown.
The last thing you need is to be trapped on a hot day—this is the most likely time for a system to fail and break down—with no immediate relief in sight as you make a mad dash to try to schedule new AC installation.
We may be nearing the end of summer, but if you’ve lived in the Irvine area for even just a year, you know our warmer weather can extend well into fall and potentially even winter. This means that if you have an air conditioning problem now, you want to deal with it ASAP. But how do you know if your AC is about to call it quits? By following these tips:
Consider the System’s Age
The manufacturer of your cooling system sets an estimate for the service life of your system—usually this is the period that the warranty covers. Generally speaking, a central air conditioner that undergoes moderate use (typical for our summers!) will last from 10-15 years. Any system over this age is a good candidate for replacement.
Listen to Your System
When manufacturing and designing and air conditioning system, one of the goals is to make it operate as quietly as possible. No air conditioner is completely silent of course, but you should be able to expect fairly non-disruptive operation. So, if you hear things like banging, clanging, hissing, or buzzing coming from your air conditioner, know that it is not normal.
You may have a loose component, or you could even have a refrigerant leak. If repair needs have grown more common as your air conditioner has aged, it’s probably telling you it’s ready to call it quits.
Check Your Utility Bills
An air conditioner that receives routine preventive maintenance each year should retain 95% of its energy efficiency rating through its service life. When it reaches the end of that service life, the efficiency drops, and consequently, your utility bills will rise in the summertime.
Take a look at your cooling costs over the last few years. If there’s a steady upward trend but you haven’t used your air conditioner any more than you did years prior, you may have a failing air conditioner.
Assess Your Repair Costs
It’s very rare that your cooling system will escape requiring repairs at some point. It’s likely that you’ll have a repair need crop up during your maintenance session, or you’ll have to schedule a repair every couple years or so. What shouldn’t happen is your air conditioner needing a repair every few months.
If it’s an aging system, this is a definite sign that it’s wearing down and may need an upgrade soon. A general rule of thumb is that if your next AC repair or set of repairs is going to cost you over half of what the system is worth, it’s probably going to make more financial sense to replace the system altogether.