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Is It Time To Replace vs. Repair My Air Conditioner?


“Seriously? My air conditioner has just broken down… again!?!”

If this sounds like you, you might be wondering whether to repair or replace your air conditioner at this time. And it’s a good question. Sometimes a minor repair is all it takes to get your AC working great again. On the other hand, new air conditioning might be worth the price in terms of comfort, convenience, and energy efficiency.

Here’s what you need to know to weigh your options and make the best decision.

1. How Old Is Your Air Conditioner?

Central air conditioning has a predictable lifespan, about 15 to 20 years. As your air conditioner gets close to this age, it might need more and more frequent repair just to keep going. But the cost to fix an ageing air conditioner often does not offer a good return on your investment.

Calculate whether AC repair is worth it: Multiply the estimated repair cost by your AC’s age. The result should be equal to or less than $3,000. Say you receive an estimate of $600 on an 8-year-old system. The formula will be: $600 X 8 = $4,800, which is greater than $3,000. In this case, air conditioning replacement probably makes better financial sense.

2. How Many Repairs Have You Had?

Another factor is the number of repairs you’ve had done on your AC so far. Once you get up to the third major repair, remember the old rule of baseball: “Three strikes, and you’re out.” Owning an air conditioner that needs frequent repair is not just expensive; it’s also annoying. Air conditioning that keeps breaking down is not doing what it’s supposed to — cooling your home in our hot Calgary summers.

3. How Does Your Energy Bill Look?

About those sky-high electricity bills you’ve been receiving lately, how much does your air conditioning really cost you per month? Cutting-edge technology has made this decade’s air conditioners much more energy-efficient than those of just a few years ago. That means replacing your air conditioner, rather than repairing it, is likely to save you money on energy. It’s also better for the planet.

4. Is Your Air Conditioner Not Cooling?

If your air conditioner is not cooling your house, you’ve got a problem. Once you’ve ruled out the most obvious sources — a clogged air filter or a thermostat that was set incorrectly (or accidentally switched off) — you’ll need to call an air conditioning professional to determine the cause. They’re the person to ask whether you will be better off with repair or complete replacement of your AC.

5.  Does Your Air Conditioner Smell Bad?

Occasionally an air conditioner may start smelling bad. If possible, take a minute to think about what kind of unpleasant odour is coming from your AC. It will give you a clue as to the nature and severity of your air conditioning issue. For example, the acrid smell of mould is different from (and less serious than) the scorched odour of an overheated fan motor.

Warning: A burning smell from your AC means you should shut off the system and call an expert. An odour of natural gas is even more urgent; leave your house and phone the gas company or 911 as soon as everyone is safely outside.

6. Does Your AC Use R-22 Refrigerant?

Freon™, technically known as R-22, was practically synonymous with “air conditioning refrigerant” for many years. However, that changed with the discovery that R-22 refrigerant causes depletion of Earth’s ozone layer.

The production and import of R-22 are now illegal in many countries, including Canada, which enforced a ban effective January 1, 2020. Recycled R-22 is still available for the moment, but it is becoming increasingly pricey and difficult to obtain.

If your older-model AC starts leaking refrigerant, the fix will be expensive and, in a few years, impossible. Replacement is probably a wiser choice than repair in this situation.

Keep Your Home Reliably Cool This Summer

When you’re faced with the question of air conditioning repair vs replacement, talk to us. Our professional HVAC team will give you the information you need to make the right choice.

Katherine S. was happy she chose Knight to install her air conditioner in Calgary. Read her Google Review:

Sean from Knight Plumbing and Heating came out yesterday to replace my old central air conditioner with a new Goodman AC. He did an excellent job. He ran all new pipes and vents. Sean was knowledgeable, friendly and very tidy. Knight Plumbing and Heating also gave me the lowest quote. I highly recommend this company.

Keep your Calgary home cool so you can enjoy the summer — with a little help from Knight!