An air conditioner repair hardly ever comes at a “good” time – when exactly is a “good” time, anyway? – especially when you're the one who has to figure out how to foot the bill. Invariably, the issue becomes more complex because it's worthwhile to debate whether to spend some money to repair your air conditioning system or spend even more money to replace it with a newer, more efficient one.
If you've ever been in a position of having to decide whether it's time to repair or replace an older-model car, you'll recognize some similarities in this process. You have to find a trustworthy air conditioning company to assess your air conditioning system, explain the diagnosis, provide options and answer your questions.
Honest assessments can produce happy surprises
Some people face a different type of sticker shock when they learn they need neither a costly air conditioner repair nor a new air conditioning system – only a minor repair or adjustment. Often misled by a previous, unscrupulous contractor, these people discover their air conditioner broke down because the filter was choked with dust or that overgrown weeds had tangled the coils on their outdoor unit. Imagine their surprise when they learn that instead of facing a costly air conditioner repair or replacement bill, all they had to do was get an annual tune-up, run to the hardware store and purchase a new filter or pair of gardening clippers.
Some people are resigned to purchasing a new air conditioning system because they are at at their wits' end by their home not cooling down properly or a room or rooms not cooling down at all. They are interested in a bid for a new system to uncover other culprits. The two most common ones: leaky ducts and a lack of insulation. Fixing these types of problems costs more than a filter or pair of clippers but also considerably less than purchasing a new air conditioning system.
An expert air conditioning technician should do a thorough inspection to understand the full extent of the problem. While it would be nice if every consultation ended with a simple behest to change the filter, unfortunately, this isn't the case. So if you're facing a costly air conditioner repair, an expert technician will lead you through a series of factors and considerations so that you can make an educated decision that is in your best interests.
Factors to consider
- The age of your air conditioning system. While air conditioners are built to last between 15 and 20 years, many require frequent repairs after the 10-year mark, especially if they haven't been judiciously maintained with annual tune-ups.
- The efficiency rating of your current system. The year 2015 marks the nine-year anniversary of central air conditioning standards that went into effect on January 23, 2006 mandating that air conditioners must achieve a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating of 13 or higher. The previous minimum was 10, and many older systems have SEER ratings of six or less. Rigorous testing conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy shows that new Energy Star air conditioning systems can result in energy savings of up to 20 percent. So if your air conditioning system is nine or 10 years old, you could say that you have a financial incentive to replace it, if you can afford to do so. Unfortunately, tax rebates on energy efficient central air conditioning systems expired at the end of 2014.
- The frequency of repairs and the size of your energy bills. If both are escalating, this is a sure sign that your air conditioning system is not running as efficiently as it should. Keep in mind: a yearly maintenance tune-up does not “count” as an air conditioner repair. Think of tune-ups as an investment in the smooth operation of your system and its longevity; repairs fix operational problems.
- Your score on the department of energy's Home Energy Yardstick, which shouldn't register below five. You'll need to gather 12 months' worth of energy bills beforehand, but this nifty tool can be illuminating.
Of course, no two homes or situations are alike, so let an expert at The Hignell Companies investigate yours – with the personal touch and honest approach we've staked our reputation on during our nearly 70 years in business in Northern California. We serve Chico, CA & surrounding areas, and are here to help.