Should You Replace Your Old AC Before Summer Arrives?

Making it through a hot summer without air conditioning can be a miserable experience, but what if your home already has a functional but aging air conditioning system? The high cost of installing a new system means many homeowners wait until the last second to replace a failing system. Unfortunately, this approach can come with its own set of potentially costly downsides.

Still, deciding to replace a system that's working well for the moment can be challenging. If you're mulling over the possibility of scheduling a replacement before the summer heat arrives, here are three questions that can help you determine if you should ditch your old system.

1. Are You Noticing Increasing Air Conditioning Costs?

If you can access your older utility bills, look at your year-to-year cooling costs over the last several summers. As air conditioning systems age, they can be noticeably less efficient. You may be able to address some efficiency issues with repairs, but many problems are too costly or challenging to fix. For example, the mechanical components of the compressor may become worn and less efficient.

Continually increasing cooling costs are one of the best indications that your system may be getting too old, especially if your costs keep increasing despite routine maintenance. Always schedule a thorough inspection to look for problems first, but don't be surprised if the technician can't find anything wrong with your system. For aging systems, a replacement may be the best way to bring down your utility bills.

2. Do You Need to Schedule Repairs Every Summer?

Decreased reliability is another common complaint with older air conditioning systems. Just as with an old car, there will come a point when maintaining and repairing your old air conditioner is no longer cost-effective. While there's no easy way to decide when you're past the point of no return, one option is to look at your repair costs for previous summers.

Since the hottest summer days are the hardest on your air conditioner, you can look at your repair costs over the past several summers. If you frequently need to schedule one or more repair visits every year, that pattern will likely continue to repeat in the future. Replacing your system now can save you from throwing more money into maintaining an aging and failing air conditioner.

3. Are You Unhappy With Your System's Cooling Performance?

In most cases, a well-maintained air conditioning system should continue to perform well throughout its service life. When your system's performance begins to fall off, there's often an underlying problem that you can repair. However, poorly maintained systems may develop issues that impact their cooling performance.

Common problems include everything from damaged fins on the evaporator or condenser coils to a worn-out compressor that may struggle to start. Addressing these issues can often be more expensive than a replacement and may not fully restore your system's performance. Once your AC can no longer keep your home cool, it's probably time to say goodbye and contact an air conditioning service to install a replacement.