Split System Air Conditioning – The Age Consideration – Should I Repair it Or Replace It?

One of the basic factors to consider when deciding to replace your old air conditioning system is that of Age. The old adage, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is not always the best, and in the case of older cooling systems that attitude can be costly. Let’s say your old cooling system, be it Air Conditioning or Heat Pump, is a 13 year old 8 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, the standard by which cooling systems are rated) system. Just because it is still running does not necessarily make it a good thing.

How can that be? Well, first off, let’s explore the efficiency. Today’s minimum standard is 13 SEER. Each numeric rise in SEER rating is equal to about an 8% increase in efficiency. So, replacing your 8 SEER system with a minimum 13 SEER will reward you with nearly a 40% efficiency increase. That means that you can potentially lower your cooling utility bill by 40%. A simple calculation will show you that every year that you keep your old system because it is running, is costing some pretty big money.

Then there is the issue of pure age. Are there units running today that are 20 years old? Sure. Is that normal? No! The fact is a 15 year life span for motor driven split cooling systems is about all that can be expected. As a matter of fact, the ARI (American Refrigeration Institute) reports to its HVAC professionals, that 13.72 years is the current average maximum life of residential cooling equipment built today (2006 report).

Just like people, an Air Conditioning System ages. And just like people, moving parts wear out, weather and time effect the structure, and the older they get the more expensive they are to maintain and repair. But, unlike people, they can be replaced and doing so before the time comes that maintenance and repair costs start eating into your pocket, can be a good financial decision. One of the hardest decisions that homeowners are faced with when it comes to their older cooling systems is “should I repair it or replace it”. Don’t waste too many brain cells on that decision. If your unit has given cost effective service, but is starting to require frequent repairs and is approaching the last quarter of its normal reasonable lifespan……Replace It!