This is a question often we hear from homeowners. They want their air conditioning systems to last as long as possible, but they also know that “possible” doesn’t include “forever.” At some point, the air conditioner will age past the point where it’s pragmatic to continue fixing it. It also develops a higher risk of permanently breaking down on a hot day—and nobody wants that to happen!
However, we can’t give you a definite answer about the age at which a central air conditioning system needs to be replaced. It differs depending on the system, how much use it has seen, and if it receives regular maintenance.
Setting Some Guidelines
We’re going to start with the assumption that your air conditioner has routine maintenance each spring. (If you aren’t doing this, it’s time to get started! We offer our HomeSavers Club to make this much easier. There are plenty of reasons to sign up aside from receiving care for your AC.) An annually maintained central air conditioner with 1.5 to 5 tons of cooling capacity (standard for homes) can last from 10 to 15 years in many cases. You can check on the system warranty to see how many years it covers; the warranty will list a system life expectancy. However, 15 years is usually the upper limit, and we recommend looking into replacing any system that’s older than that.
The “5000 Rule”
There’s a quick formula that some professionals use as a guideline for their customers to help them determine when a broken AC needs to be repaired: The 5000 Rule. It’s simple. Take the age of your air conditioner and then multiply the age by the cost of the repair. If the result is more than 5,000, the better option is to have it replaced. The cost is simply too much. So if you have an 11-year-old system that needs a $400 repair (400 X 11 = 4,400), then you’re coming up to the cusp and may still want to have the repair done. But that same repair job for a 15-year-old system (400 X 15 = 6,000) is too costly. You’d better have that 15-year-old system replaced.
The R-22 Factor
Do you have an older air conditioner built before 2010 that uses R-22 refrigerant? (You’ll find this information listed on the system’s cabinet.) If so, then you definitely should have the system replaced because of age. R-22 is being phased out in favor of a more environmentally friendly blend, R-410A. You can still get R-22 if your AC loses refrigerant from a leak, but it’s costly. Production of R-22 will cease in 2020, so we recommend putting in a new system soon.
For excellent air conditioning service in Warsaw, IN and throughout Northeastern Indiana, turn to a company with more than 30 years of history as a trusted HVAC contractor. We’ll always provide you with an honest assessment of your aging air conditioner and whether it’s more cost-effective for us to replace it or to continue with repairs. You can trust us with your family’s comfort.
Collier’s Heating & Air Conditioning: A Company You’ve Grown to Trust!