When to Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System: Key Factors to Consider

Your air conditioning system can be costly, but it’s a huge investment in your home’s comfort and energy efficiency. Yet, with proper care and maintenance, your air conditioner can last a good 10 to 15 years, depending on the model.

However, as your system ages, it may develop problems ranging from minor repairs to components you need to replace. As the repair bills stack up, you may wonder if repairing or replacing your system is more cost-effective. Here are some key considerations to make the best decision for your home and wallet.

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Your AC Unit’s Age

With proper care, an air conditioner’s lifespan is between 10 and 15 years. Routine maintenance, at least once a year, can keep your unit running efficiently and maximize its lifespan. While you may have a warranty, they typically expire after two years.

However, your AC will age beyond what routine maintenance can fix at some point. If your unit is 11 years old or older and you’re experiencing frequent problems, it may be best to upgrade your system.

If your AC unit is less than 11 years old and well maintained, a repair may extend its life a few more years. 

The Extent of Repairs

No matter how well you care for your unit, it will experience some wear and tear over the course of a cooling season—particularly in hot climates like the Southwest. AC units that constantly run and sustain cooler temperatures throughout the day and night undergo more stress than units that are only used occasionally, leading to more frequent repairs. Some repairs are minor, while others may be extensive and pricey.

The repair is the best choice if you need minor repairs, such as loose, cracked, or broken ductwork, a clogged drain line, or an electrical problem like faulty wiring. You can enjoy your system for years to come for just a small investment.

However, major repairs, such as a damaged blower motor, compressor, or condenser coil, can quickly add up. Extensive repairs to these components may warrant an upgrade rather than a repair.

The Cost of Repairs

If you have a newer unit that needs repairs—even expensive ones—it doesn’t make financial sense to upgrade to a new one. For a few hundred dollars, you could fix the problem and enjoy your AC unit for the better part of a decade or longer.

However, some repairs can meet or exceed the cost of a new unit. That’s when it makes sense to evaluate your options. A good rule to follow is to get the repair if it is less than 50% of the cost of a new unit and still under warranty. If it’s more than 50% of the cost of a new unit, consider upgrading. 

If you’re a Goettl Smart Sadie member, you can maximize your repair investment by applying up to $2,500 of today’s repair costs to your future AC upgrade! Explore our membership plans.

The Efficiency of the Unit

The efficiency of your AC should be a major factor in your decision to repair or replace it. Older units are inefficient for several reasons, including outdated technology, the toll of age, and wear and tear. Even with unused units, the newer model will be much more energy efficient than an older model, leading to more savings on your energy costs.

How can you tell if an AC system is efficient? AC energy efficiency is measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating. As of 2023, new air conditioners must have a SEER rating of at least 14 in the northern states and a SEER rating of 15 in the southern states. If your older air conditioner has a SEER rating under 10, consider replacing it with something more efficient. An upgrade from SEER 9 to SEER 14 can reduce your energy consumption by more than 35%.

Another feature to look for is the ENERGY STAR® certification. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established this program in 1992 to promote more energy-efficient products, including air conditioning. If a product has the ENERGY STAR® logo, it’s recognized for its category’s highest level of efficiency.

The Frequency of Repairs

Repairs for an aging AC unit can be costly and frequent, disrupting your home routine and putting a dent in your wallet. If you’re dealing with a new problem seemingly every time you finish fixing another, there’s less expense and hassle if you spring for a new unit.

Generally, two or fewer repairs over the past 10 years are normal and reasonable. If you have experienced three or more repairs over the past 10 years, your system is rapidly declining and should be replaced.

The Size of the Unit

The size of your AC unit greatly impacts your home’s comfort and energy costs. Some homeowners mistakenly believe getting a bigger unit will keep their home cooler and more comfortable, but that’s far from the truth.

When you have an oversized AC unit, it has to cycle on and off more frequently to reach your desired temperature, called “short cycling.” This not only strains the system and increases your energy bills, but each cycle is incomplete. The unit can’t remove the humidity from the space, leading to condensation and a muggy feeling.

Conversely, an undersized unit has to work much harder than it should to cool your home. This increases the stress and wear and tear over time, leading to a shortened lifespan, frequent repairs, and a possible premature breakdown.

If your system isn’t the proper size for your home, it’s best to upgrade it. The upfront cost will pay off in better cooling, fewer repair bills, more efficiency, and lower energy costs over the unit’s lifetime.

Tax Incentives for Energy-Efficient AC Upgrades

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If you’re considering a new air-conditioning system, there’s no better time than now. Under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the federal government incentivizes energy-efficient home improvements by offering tax credits for qualifying upgrades under the 25C program.

While the tax credit can vary, you may be eligible for up to 30% of the project cost—up to $600 maximum—for high-efficiency air-conditioning upgrades. Be sure to discuss your eligibility and incentives with a tax professional.

Learn more about the IRA and 25C incentives.

Is It Time for an Upgrade?

It can be challenging to decide whether to upgrade your air-conditioning system instead of paying for repairs. While these guidelines can help, it’s best to consult a trusted HVAC technician to evaluate your system’s condition and walk you through all your options, including repair and replacement options that will work best for your home, family, and budget. 

Is it time for an AC upgrade or Rejuuuvenation®? Goettl can help! Contact us today to schedule your consultation!

Testimonials

What Our Customers Say About Us

Gonzalo CastilloGonzalo Castillo
17:20 13 Jul 24
Peter is very experienced and professional. He knows a lot and explains everything in detail.
John McCarreyJohn McCarrey
13:56 13 Jul 24
Excellent service!
Gary StapletonGary Stapleton
02:37 13 Jul 24
I called Goettl to get a second opinion on a/c repair options or replacement. Peter Medelez conducted a very thorough system check and confirmed all the same issues previously identified but found an additional issue; tipping the scale to full replacement. We appreciated his professionalism and knowledge: answering all our questions and explaining the issues and options. We ultimately chose Goettl for the replacement option due to their price and professionalism.
James KroppJames Kropp
17:19 09 Jul 24
It was great
Robert WilliamsRobert Williams
17:06 09 Jul 24
Peter was great! Explained every detail I needed and answered all my questions!
Gustavo EscobarGustavo Escobar
16:57 09 Jul 24
Jesus Gloria provided exceptional service as the Goettl Technician this past weekend. He demonstrated great attention to detail in addressing the issues with our air conditioning unit and resolved them quickly, within 30 minutes. Jesus has a strong dedication to his profession and the company he represents, as evidenced by his professional demeanor and the quality of his work. His customer service skills are top-notch, earning a 5-star rating from us. We were so impressed by his service that we have decided to become members of the Goettl service.
Jesse Vann, JrJesse Vann, Jr
15:19 09 Jul 24
Jehad and Cameron provided great recommendation and customer service for my AC replacement.
Reda MoxleyReda Moxley
15:08 09 Jul 24
markdruthmarkdruth
17:04 01 Jul 24
Got exactly what we needed with the service and had great customer service from Tyler for our plumbing and with Jehad for our AC work. They were awesome! Thanks!
Donna OwensDonna Owens
15:51 01 Jul 24
Rudy came out and was very professional and addressed our plumbing needs in a timely manner, highly recommended.
Neuro NerdNeuro Nerd
15:06 01 Jul 24
William and Cameron were knowledgeable, friendly, professional, respectful and put on plastic booties over their shoes when they came into the house. Our pets were comfortable with them and that says a lot. We will definitely ask for them again in the future if our AC has any issues.
Karen PardoKaren Pardo
14:55 01 Jul 24
Jehad did an amazing job after checking the entire unit he came down and thoroughly explained everything that needed to get done/replace.
Kelly MoserKelly Moser
17:01 27 Jun 24
Matthew was on time respectful and very curious. He explained everything I needed to know and I felt no pressure to buy additional things. Thank you Matt .
Dusengimana ErnestDusengimana Ernest
15:49 27 Jun 24
Jesus gloria did great. Wonderful
Nick LoprzNick Loprz
14:39 27 Jun 24
Charles JeterCharles Jeter
22:12 26 Jun 24
Kimberly FordKimberly Ford
21:34 26 Jun 24
EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE!! Jesus Gloria provided AC maintenance today providing with photos and video of his findings and a thorough explanation of any issues found. Richard Wenzlaff and Junior also came out today for the plumbing maintenance and also provided EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE. I have very clean water. They checked out my water heaters, water softener, osmosis, etc…no issues were noted! Three AWESOME, hard-working, thorough gentleman! Professional and courteous! Thanks guys! Appreciate your hard work and honesty!
Music by JuanMusic by Juan
17:47 19 Jun 24
Supreme service.
Erica RussellErica Russell
17:16 19 Jun 24
Awesome experience. Jesus Gloria was very friendly and informative and solved the problem quickly.
AudreyAudrey
16:06 19 Jun 24
Josh was amazing! He was personable, polite, professional, and he walked me through everything he was doing and looking at. If I could give him ten stars I would!
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