Your HVAC professional will help you decide which is worth the cost when deciding whether repairing or replacing air conditioner makes financial sense.

Our air conditioning is one appliance we can't live without. 

So what happens when it shuts down and needs repairs? Is repairing or replacing an air conditioner a better use of your money?



It depends on your unit. 
We've put together this guide to help you learn when you should repair your air conditioner and when you should give up and buy a new one. So let's get started! 

When to Replace Your Air Conditioner 
Trying to keep an air conditioning unit running after it's already given out will cost you much more money than it's worth. At some point, it becomes both easier and cheaper to buy and install a new unit. 

But it can be hard to recognize when you're at that point. 
Here are a few warning signs that mean you need to give up on your air conditioner and get something new. 

It's Over 10 Years Old
A well-maintained air conditioner can last up to 17 years, but most air conditioning units give out when they reach the 10-year mark. If your air conditioner is 10 years or older, it's a better idea to replace your unit instead of buying a new one. 

And there are a few reasons for this. 

First of all, the older your unit gets, the less energy efficient it becomes. That means it'll suck up more and more of your money to keep your house cool. 

Old air conditioners are also more expensive to repair than newer models. Why? Because many air conditioning companies will stop carrying the parts your unit needs. You might have to pay hundreds of extra dollars on top of the initial repair cost just to get the right parts. 

You can usually find the age of your air conditioner written somewhere on your unit. If you can't find the age, a professional AC technician can let you know. 

The Repair Is Too Expensive 
If your air conditioning unit needs repairs that are really expensive, it's worth shelling out a bit of extra money to buy a one. 

But determining what's "too expensive" can be somewhat challenging. 

If you have to spend more than $800 to repair your unit, you should start considering replacing it. But for a younger unit, say six years or under, $800 is worth the extra four to five years you'll get out of your air conditioning. 

There are a few "rules" that can help you figure out if the cost of the repairs is worthwhile. 

50% Rule
Any repair that costs more than 50% of the value of your unit is too much. But you have to do a bit of estimation with this rule. 

It's hard to put an exact value on a used air conditioning unit. So if your estimation is off, you might be spending more money on repairs than you should be. 

But If you have a good idea what the value of your unit is, this method can be helpful. 
$5,000 Rule
This rule gives you another easy way to find out if the repairs cost more money than they're worth—you don't have to rely on estimation. 

All you have to do is multiply the cost of the needed repairs by the age of your air conditioner. If the total is more than $5,000, you need to buy a new unit. 

You can take those $5,000 dollars and buy a decent air conditioner for the same price. 

Your Energy Bill Keeps Rising

Remember, old air conditioning units aren't energy efficient. 

If your energy bill keeps rising, there's a good chance your air conditioner is the culprit. And there's not much that can be done for an air conditioner that sucks up too much energy. 

The only way to fix the problem is to buy a new unit. 

If your air conditioner is still on the younger side and having this problem, it's worth talking to a professional about repairs. But again, follow one of the rules above to figure out of the cost of the repairs is worth it. 

Past Repairs Haven't Worked
Have you repaired your air conditioning unit in the past? 

Great. 

Do you need to make those same repairs again? 
Not so great. 

If you find yourself needing to repair your air conditioner over and over again, there's something going wrong inside your unit. Paying for the same repairs multiple times is a good way to lose money. 

You'll save money in the long run if you just go ahead and replace your unit. 

Your Unit Can't Keep Up
A unit that's too small for your house will have trouble keeping their air inside at the right temperature. This means it will stay on longer, which will cost you more money. 

Air conditioners on the older side, even if they are the perfect size for your home, can also develop this problem as they wear out. 

If your air conditioner can't keep up with your needs, it's time to start looking at newer models. 

When to Repair Your Air Conditioner 
Just because your air conditioner needs repairs doesn't mean you have to get rid of it. There are several circumstances where a simple repair will keep your unit running for another 10 years. 

Here are a few signs your air conditioner is still in good condition and is worth saving. 

It's Under 10 Years Old
In most cases, if your air conditioner is under 10 years old, it should still last you for another few years. repairs for young units should be affordable. 

It's certainly not worth replacing a young unit because of a single repair. As long as the repairs don't cost more than the 50% or $5,000 rules allow, you should save your unit. 

The Repair Is Minor or Affordable 
Let's say your eight-year-old air conditioner needs a repair. 

The unit might only last you another two years, but as long as the air conditioning repair is minor and affordable, the cost of the repair could be worth the extra two years of life. 

You Haven't Turned It on in Since Last Year
You should hire a professional to service your air conditioner at least once a year. And the best time to do this is during the cold season when you won't miss your air conditioning. 

So if you haven't turned your air conditioner on since last summer, it's a good idea to have someone come out and perform basic maintenance tasks. This will keep your unit in good condition and make it last longer. 

What to Look for in a New Air Conditioning Unit
If you do end up having to replace your air conditioning unit, you'll want to replace it with something that is energy efficient and that will last you a long time. 

Here are a few tips you should keep in mind when shopping for a new unit. 

High SEER Rating
The efficiency of an air conditioning unit is measured by a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating. The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit. 

The minimum SEER requirement is at the 13 to 14 mark. Make sure any air conditioner you get as a SEER rating of at least 14, but you should do your best to get a unit with a much higher rating, such as 22 or over. 

Energy Start Label
An ENERGY STAR label means the unit is a high-efficiency model. In other words, it will save you more energy (and more money on your energy bill) than other units. 
A unit like this will cost more money upfront, but the money it'll help you save in the long run can make up for the higher initial price. 

Proper Size
A unit that's too small won't be able to keep your house cool. A unit that's too big will suck up more energy than you need, costing you more money. 

So it's important to buy an air conditioning unit that's the proper size for your home. 
If you don't know what size you need, talk to an AC technician. They'll be able to tell you what size will be the most efficient for your needs. 

Fair Price
Buying and installing a new air conditioning unit can cost between $5,000 to $6,000. But it depends on the type of unit you're buying. If you're getting a high-efficiency model, the price might go up, but if you're getting something small and basic, the price can also be a lot lower. 

So do some research on the type of unit you want to ensure you're getting a fair price. 

Repairing or Replacing an Air Conditioner: Which Is Right for You?
When it comes to deciding between repairing or replacing an air conditioner, you have to consider several factors. 

How old is your unit? Have you spent a lot of money repairing it in the past? Is it making your energy bill rise?

As long as the air conditioner is under 10 years old and the repair isn't too expensive, you should be able to repair your unit without a problem. But if the cost of the repair is too high, it's worth investing in a new unit. 

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