Replacing That Leaky, Clunky Old AC: What Homeowners Need to Know

Replacing That Leaky, Clunky Old AC: What Homeowners Need to Know
  • Opening Intro -

    Don't automatically rush out and buy the cheapest unit you can find. All A/C units have a seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) associated with them.

    These systems give you a ratio or number which indicates its energy efficiency. For example, a SEER of 13 is 30 percent more efficient than previous models.

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If you’ve had your A/C unit for more than 10 years, it’s probably showing its age. When it’s clunky, making a lot of noise, and no one seems to be able to fix it, it might be time to replace it. Here’s how to tell and what to do about it.

Make Sure It’s Hopeless

Before you replace anything, make sure that the situation really is hopeless. Maybe you’ve called 3 different repair companies. You should try these 24 Hour AC Repair techs, and then see if you can’t get a resolution. Sometimes, the problem is more complicated than changing filters, adjusting dampers, or tinkering with the refrigerant lines or the compressor. But, if you’ve gone through more than 5 different techs, and no one seems to be able to help, it’s probably time to get yourself geared up for a new A/C unit.

Check The SEER Of The New Unit

Don’t automatically rush out and buy the cheapest unit you can find. All A/C units have a seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) associated with them. These systems give you a ratio or number which indicates its energy efficiency. For example, a SEER of 13 is 30 percent more efficient than previous models.

When shopping for air conditioners, look for the Energy Star label and specifically at units with at least a SEER of 13. Systems that are at least 10 years old can’t remove humidity, even at peak performance, so these systems will never be as efficient as newer systems. Older systems also tend to leak refrigerant and create uneven temperatures throughout the home.

The higher the SEER, the more expensive it will be, but it will also be more efficient. It’s probably a good idea to sit down with a professional and go over the cost benefit or payback of the unit you’re about to buy. Even though many times it will work out in your favor, it doesn’t always, and it’s a good idea to know when it doesn’t.

Get a Professional To Install It For You

Getting a professional to install your new A/C is almost always the best move. Why? Because new systems tend to have pretty tight tolerances – especially if they are central air systems. Sizing in an important step. If it’s too large, it might not remove humidity well. If it’s too small, it won’t cool very efficiently on hot days.

YouTube is not a great place to learn about installation, even though there are no shortage of DIY’ers out there advertising how to install an A/C unit. But, beyond basic practical considerations, installing the system yourself can void the warranty, so if there is a manufacturer’s defect and the system fails within the warranty period, you’ll be out thousands of dollars.

At the same time, you don’t need to pick the most expensive installers, or the first people you meet. Shop around, ask about certifications, try to get references, and hop on forums and ask for a referral. Interview at least 5 companies, and compare prices and then take some time to think about who the best company is, regardless of the price they’re charging.

Mary T. Sims works as a home cooling contractor. She likes writing about home renovating on the web. Her posts appear on many home improvement and DIY blog sites.

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