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Question DetailsAsked on 8/18/2011

How do you know when it is time to replace a central air conditioner? My unit still is working but is 15 years old.

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4 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Our way is to have a good repair company to tell you if anything's wrong and if it can be fixed if there is. Unfortunately, even the best will try to sell you a new unit anyway. The only reason to change it is if you have the money and want to have a more efficient unit to help the environment. We dropped our A rated AC company because they said we needed a new unit because of a leak which my husband couldn't find when all it needed was a small repair. The president of the company came out (see why they had the A rating?) and got the same leak signal. When my husband pointed out where it should be coming from, it no longer beeped. The owner said his instrument must have malfunctioned.

Our house is 40 years old and has the original furnace. It doesn't look as good as it did when we moved in 12 years ago because we added a humidifier, but it can and has been repaired for very little money.

Answered 9 years ago by keikosmom


Energy Start has a blog on when is a good time to replace your Air Conditioning unit. It with today’s technology it is recommended to replace an air conditioning unit if it is more than 10 years old. An air conditioner are just like cars they need to have routine maintenance to check safety, oil motors, and check electrical connections. Oh and yes replace the air filter. There will be a point where the cost of service repairs and energy savings will outweigh keeping the old unit.
Kappl Heating & Air Conditioning


Answered 9 years ago by cloughman


"There will be a point where the cost of service repairs and energy savings will outweigh keeping the old unit." -- Well put.

If the heat exchanger is cracked and you are potentially getting co into the house, I dont think that is something that you want to "keep putting a new coat of paint on." This can be tested.

Dont forget about "comfort." This is why we pay for energy to run the things. A new system if done well will greatly increase comfort and health. It should take into account the duct system, that is probably really leaky and causing presure problems and improper distribution of heat/cool.

When I replace a unit, I follow the Energy Star Quality Installation guidelines. In my climate when I follow this method I can save 50% on the cooling costs. That can be $400-$600 per year savings. That can offset the cost of the new system.

From a peer of mine: "I also give friends and family members what I believe is the most important advice of all -- do their homework BEFORE the AC dies. Few people are going to take time to interview potential contractors when it's 90 outside and their AC is broke."

That is good advice.

So much of HVAC is "out of sight out of mind" that you need to pick an HVAC contractor that uses the Energy Star Quality Installation guidelines, and has good reviews. Every day I look at AC systems and all too often I see new installs that I would give a "D" grade to. Mostly the installers get away with it because no one will ever see it anyhow. The Energy Star guidelines will include post installation testing and this testing goes a long way to getting the systems installed right before that testing happens.

Chris Cadwell
Efficient Air Conditioning
Las Vegas Nevada

Source: See:

Answered 9 years ago by chris


If your AC is properly maintained you may get a couple more years out of it.

But here's 3 good reasons to upgrade to a new system:

If your unit is over 10 years old you could be facing costly repairs in the near future.

A new energy efficient unit will save you 20% or more in cooling costs.

An older system that does not use the new environmentally safe refrigerant will become increasingly more expensive to service, and may be harming the ozone.


Answered 9 years ago by Sydk


You’ll know it's time to replace your central air conditioner if it fails all at once in the midst of a summer heat wave. That’s an easy call. But suppose it's slipping away gradually, one malfunction at a time? How do you know when you’re approaching the tipping point where an upgrade to a new, higher-efficiency unit is a matter of good timing? Better to jump the gun than wait too late, when you’ll have to decide on a replacement without time to research new models or comparison shop. Here are a few warning signs that the time to replace your air conditioner is drawing near:

If your unit is more than 10 years old, consider it already on borrowed time. A 12-year-old unit has major components at the end of their expected service life. Also, that unit incorporates 12-year-old technology. Its lower SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating means it’s using more electricity than a new unit. Essentially, you're wasting money every time it starts up.


Answered 8 years ago by Canaduct

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