What Is Your Old AC Unit Really Costing You?

An AC unit really is a vital part of modern life. We count on our AC units to get us through the worst of the blistering summer. A good AC unit can last for 20 or more years. More often than not, the strategy of most homeowners is to run the unit until it dies and then replace it.

Legacy Air would like for you to take a minute and think about what keeping your old AC unit running is really costing you? Here’s a hint: it’s a lot more than just your monthly electric bill.

Can We Talk About Your Utility Bill?

Modern AC units are marvels of efficiency. Part of that is due to legislation in the 1970s and 1980s that demanded a better energy efficiency in appliances. But, the other part is that AC technology continues to improve over time.

If you’re running an older AC unit, you probably aren’t even coming close to a modern efficiency. While you’re worrying about the cost of a new AC unit, that poor cooling efficiency is resulting in utility bills that are twice as high as they should be.

That’s right: installing a new AC unit can slice your cooling costs by almost half in some cases. Wouldn’t it be nice to save some money every month? You can cool down your utility bill along with your house!

Older Models Need More Costly Repairs

That’s correct: older AC units need more costly repairs, and those repairs will end up being more costly. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the older your AC system is, the more likely it is going to need some kind of repair work. By the time you have the repair technicians come out and make those costly repairs, you could have already bought yourself a new AC unit.

Buying a new AC unit is like buying a new car. You know it’s going to be in top-notch condition for a while, so you don’t have to worry about repairs. Since the unit is new, it’s also going to have a factory warranty in case something does happen.

Legacy Air wants to remind you that you think you’re saving money by keeping your old unit and making repairs, but, in reality, all that repair money would probably pay most of the cost of a new unit. Who wouldn’t want to save hundreds of dollars in repair costs?

Your Health Is Really Important

Older air conditioners make people sick. When air is not moving around your house like it should, and the air that is circulating isn’t being filtered very well, you have a recipe for disaster. Upper respiratory infections, severe allergic reactions, and even colds and flu can really take over a living space with an older AC unit.

It goes without saying that the more your health suffers, the more healthcare costs you’re going to see. Medical care isn’t cheap. New AC units have better filtration technology so that you stay healthy and the doctors get less of your hard-earned money. Breathe easier; stay healthy!

Legacy Air wants you to know that that old AC unit of yours may be eating up cash that you haven’t even thought of. An older AC unit can raise your utility bills, eat up cash in the form of repair bills, and make you sick. Replacing an old unit with a new AC unit (with an advanced filtration system) can put money in your pocket.

Repair or Replace: What to Do When Your AC Unit Stops Working

It is every homeowner’s worst nightmare. You’re sitting inside on a hot summer day, getting a nice reprieve from the heat thanks to your home air conditioner, when all of a sudden your AC unit stops working—and you are trapped in a sweltering, hot box.

While no one ever wants to find themselves in this scenario, it is a situation that can happen to virtually anyone with an AC unit, at any time. So, when your AC unit stops working, what should you do? Pay to have it repaired? Or replace it all together?

Unfortunately, there is no black and white answer to this common, and often annoying, dilemma.

While repairing usually costs less upfront, it typically doesn’t mean this is the best solution. Repairs often aren’t guaranteed, and spending a few hundred dollars in the moment for a repair, doesn’t mean you won’t have to cough up more money in the future.

So, Should I Replace My Broken AC Unit or Repair It?

When it comes to deciding whether or not you should repair or replace your unit, you need to look at your individual system to determine the best approach, not only in the moment, but in the future as well. These are the factors that will help you decide.

The Age of the AC Unit

Age is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding whether you should repair or replace your air conditioning unit. According to the Department of Energy, the average lifespan of an air conditioning unit is between 15-20 years.

If your AC unit is more than 10 years old, you should consider replacing your unit with a more efficient version.

Newer styles may cost more money, but they will be more efficient than your previous model and can save you money on a monthly basis when your energy bills come,

R-22 Refrigerant

Some air conditioning units require additional refrigerant. This is a sign of a coolant leak. However, not all refrigerants are the same. Most newer models have R-410a refrigerant, which is considered a more environmentally-friendly alternative for AC refrigerant. However, older models have what is known as R-22 refrigerant, which has become much more expensive as it gets phased out.

If your system needs a R-22 refrigerant, known as Freon, it can cost anywhere from $40-$175 more per pound, in addition to labor costs. This can add an extra $1,000 to your HVAC repairs.

R-22 refrigerant will not be legally available after 2020.  In most cases, a unit that requires R-22 and has a refrigerant leak, should be replaced, not repaired.

Energy Efficiency

If your energy bills keep going up, but the rates from your electric company are staying the same, then it might be time to repair your AC instead of replacing it. You can do the math yourself or use the Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick Tool to determine how efficient your home is.

Replacing an old AC unit, with a new energy efficient model may cost you more up front, but if you are planning on living in your home for 7-10 more years, the savings from your new unit can more than make up for the costs.

While according to HomeAdvisor, the average energy efficient central air conditioning unit will cost between $3,730-$7,154, according to EnergyStar, that unit can save you between 20-40 percent on home cooling costs.

The Cost of Repairs

air conditioner repair technician

When it comes to making HVAC decisions, cost is almost always at the forefront of every customers mind. Of course, one of the biggest factors in deciding between repairing and replacing the system all comes down to dollars and cents.

A good rule of thumb is, if you are going to be spending the next 10 years in your home, then you should replace your AC unit, if you are spending less than 10 years, it may be more cost-effective to repair.

The average lifespan of an AC unit is about 10-15 years. But remember, if the air conditioner is more than 15 years old, it is time to replace it. But, if you are on the edge about the financial commitment, you can do a little math to make the decision for yourself.

So, How Much is This All Going to Cost?

According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost the repair an AC Unit in the United States is $336. The typical range is between $163-$520 while the high end of repairs can be as high as $1100.

Certain types of repairs will also cost more than your average fix. For example, replacing a home air compressor can cost between $1350-$1800 while replacing an evaporator coil can be anywhere from $650-$1200.

Applying the $5,000 Rule

So, you know the cost of replacing your unit and the cost of repairs. How do you make the right decision?

Many HVAC technicians will apply the $5,000 rule to making this call. Simply multiply the repair costs by the age of the unit.

For example:

If your repairs are $500 and your unit is 5 years old, your total would = $2,500. In this case, it would make sense to repair your system.

If your repairs at $900 and your unit is 10 years old, your total would = $9,000. In this case, it would make sense to replace your system.

Finding a Professional for Your HVAC System

ac diagnosis and repair

No homeowner ever wants to make the difficult decision between repairing or replacing their system. While there is no way to guarantee your HVAC system will ever need to be repaired, or replaced, there are things that you can do to lessen your chances of having to make this decision. This includes finding a professional you can trust for your HVAC needs.

Regular maintenance should be done on your HVAC system every year. According to Fixr.com, the average cost of this annual maintenance is only between $100-$150 and it can help you spot small issues before they turn into big problems and make sure your HVAC system has everything it needs to run properly.

While all of the aforementioned guidelines are a good foundation for understanding of your HVAC system, the decision to repair or replace can be complicated. Every situation, and every system, is different. A professional HVAC technician can not only help you with things like regular maintenance, but with making the difficult decision on whether to repair or replace your system.

The team of professionals at Legacy Air can give you an informed opinion on the matter and helping you understand the costs and benefits associated with repairing or replacing your AC unit.

The Origins of Air Conditioning – The History of the Air Conditioner

Although Willis Haviland Carrier created the first version of the modern day air conditioner, methods of artificially creating cool air existed long before he was born.

To keep cool ancient Egyptians would dangle reeds in their windows and had a system where water would drip down the reeds.  As the wind blew across the reeds the water would evaporated and create cool air. You might recognize that this is the same concept behind today’s swamp coolers. Ancient Rome had a system of circulating cool aqueduct water behind the walls of the “Elites” houses. One Roman in particular, Emperor Elagabalus, would send slaves to the mountains to gather snow to lay in his personal gardens. Persians used wind towers and cisterns as ancient air conditioners.

In truth Mr. Carrier himself developed the air conditioner not to keep cool, but rather to help relieve the air of its moisture in his muggy printing office. Carrier later recognized the commercial value of his invention and created the first mass production of Air Conditioners.

While some of the richest Americans experienced air conditioning in their homes and high dollar hotels, for most Americans their first introduction to AC came via movie theatres. Las Vegas’ own El Portal theatre (still around today as an Indian and jewelry shop located downtown) became the first commercial building to have air conditioning

Retrofitting a R22 system with a higher efficiency R410A system

The big question for many homeowners is whether or not you should choose to do this. I am going to try and convince you that one you decide to do this, the bigger issue is making sure it gets done right. Don’t think that we are the only ones facing these issues. Check out what the owner of “Cool Your Air” in Miami has to say to his customers by clicking HERE. From east coast to west, we are all facing these problems.

In our opinion, it used to be cheaper to simply change out your old R22 system with a new R-22 system, but not anymore. The rising costs of the phasing out of the ozone depleting R-22 refrigerant has made the answer to the above question simple: Yes, if you are in need of a complete system change-out you should definitely upgrade your system to the R-410A system. Its higher efficiency ratings and lower operating temperatures, combined with the rising costs of R-22 make it a no brainer. In 2010 manufacturers discontinued making R-22 charged equipment (although they are allowed to sell “dry” equipment). In 2020 the manufacture of R-22 itself will be discontinued. R-22 refrigerant is skyrocketing in price due to government mandated reductions in production, and it is never going to get cheaper.

To help you understand why some things have to be done and why others can’t be done with the 410A retrofit…..​

To retrofit an R-22 system with R-410A system your line set must not be more than 25-50 feet in total distance. If the line set is longer than this, you will have to replace the line set with larger lines. If you are reusing the line set (not recommended if replacement is at all possible) you must flush your system to remove the mineral oil used with R-22 refrigerant as well as any other contaminants. After removing from the path of flow the old filter drier(s) and all existing old equipment (condenser and evaporator), the technician will crimp the outlet of the line set to allow flush to linger longer over the system contaminants.

Once the system has been flushed out with the proper chemical flush, the technician will purge the system with nitrogen, agitating any remaining flushing compound and system contaminants, and pushing them out of your system. The discharge coming from your line sets should eventually show clear.

Next the technician will reinstall your new equipment with new filter driers; they will evacuate the system to boil off any remaining flushing chemicals or nitrogen in the system. After evacuation the system is charged with R-410a refrigerant, and the system is checked for operational performance.

If the old line sets were reused an acid check should be performed before the technician leaves to ensure that there are no traces within your new system.