It’s that time of year again when the weather warms up and you turn on your air conditioning unit. But if your system acts unusual once you turn it on, should you repair it or replace it?

Deciding when to replace your system isn’t an exact science. However, getting a new AC system does come with a number of benefits. In many cases, it’s better to replace your finicky unit before it causes a major problem.

If you’re unsure about when to replace your AC unit, here are a few signs you can look for.

1. If Your System Is Out of Date

Most air conditioning systems last 15 to 20 years. Once you have had your unit for 10 years, consider saving up money to replace it. Most homeowners find that when they have time to plan ahead, they can buy a newer system that runs more efficiently and saves them money.

If your unit experiences any kind of breakdown or doesn’t cool your home well, you should replace it with a newer, more updated system.

Manufacturers constantly incorporate better technology into AC units. For instance, since 2010, most manufacturers include an updated refrigerant that doesn’t release ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon. By installing a new system, you can take advantage of these updated features that will increase efficiency,
protect the environment, and use half the electricity.

Many times, you will save money on utility bills by running a more efficient system.

2. If Your System Requires Constant Repairs

When you consider what condition your equipment is in, ask yourself how often it needs repairs. If you find that you frequently need to repair the same problem or replace the same equipment, consider replacing the entire system.

In fact, when repairs cost you up to 50% of what a new system would cost you, it’s time to get a new system. Talk with an air conditioning technician or salesperson to figure out how much a new system would cost you. You can also talk with the salesperson about current promotions that could reduce the price.

3. If Replacing Your System Will Save You Money

Many homeowners don’t realize that they can save money by replacing their AC unit. Many states offer tax credits for homeowners who purchase high-efficiency systems. Some energy-efficient systems also qualify for a federal tax credit.

You should also check for utility rebates when purchasing a new unit. Some utility companies offer rebates when you upgrade to more efficient units.

Replacing your system with a more efficient one can help you take advantage of these credits and rebates as well as save you money on your monthly utility bill.

4. If Replacing Your System Will Increase Energy Efficiency

Every air conditioner has a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). This ratio depicts how efficient an AC unit is. All units must have a SEER rating of at least 13. However, there are many systems with higher SEER ratings. The higher the rating, the more efficient the system.

When you evaluate your current system or when you buy a new system, check the SEER score. You can also tell how efficient your system is by your utility bill. Older, less-efficient units often use twice the amount of electricity as newer systems.

5. If You’ve Tried Repairing Your Ductwork Already

Even if you have a brand-new AC unit, you could still feel uncomfortably hot in your home if your ductwork is leaky. Most homes’ ductwork will leak up to 30% of its air before the air reaches your living space.

Have a technician run a duct-leakage test to determine if you need repairs on your ductwork. If necessary, a technician can locate and seal gaps along your ducts to increase your AC unit’s efficiency. In cases of extreme ductwork damage, your technician may recommend replacing your ductwork with new pipes.

Fixing your ductwork may resolve your AC concerns. However, if you fix your ductwork but still can’t regulate the temperature in your home, your AC system is likely the problem.


Use these tips to determine when you should replace your AC unit. If you think it’s time for a replacement, call an air conditioner technician. He or she can help you assess the condition of your air conditioner and give you an estimated price for replacement.