AC Repair

When is it time to replace your Air Conditioning Unit

By Robert Cozzi


In South Florida we have grown accustomed to the comforts of air conditioning. Long gone are the days of open windows and sitting on the porch to cool down. Architects no longer design homes with wind patterns or air flow efficiency. Today we look for efficiency in modern air conditioning units. We look for acronyms like SEER and words like ENERGYGUIDE.  The average life span of today’s air conditioning systems is between 12 and 15 years. Sucking as many years out of your unit depends highly on the use and maintenance it receives during its life.

Unfortunately most people start a maintenance plan when the unit is reaching the end of its life cycle and starts to have mechanical issues. As a result, starting a good maintenance program or routine as early as possible is good insurance and practice. Though a professional maintenance program is the best alternative, developing DIY habits will save you money in the long run. I would look into our other articles to help you start a maintenance program to stretch the life-cycle of you’re A/C unit.

Do you continue to spend money on repairs, or is it time to replace it? No matter how you treat your unit during its life-cycle, this is the question all home owners will eventually face. There are many aspects to consider when this moment arises. Here are the main factors to come to a final decision. The main one would be age. Any unit past 10 years of service should be looked at in more detail.

First, consideration is the unit’s ability to service the space.

If your unit was never up to the task, or you added rooms, this has created a life cycle of abuse. An over worked unit will age faster and will need more frequent repairs. Space is not the only contributor to excessive work load. Large windows or skylights that allow heat to filter through don’t help. The lack of a tight seal of your interior space will allow cool air to escape and therefore over exert your unit. Your habits also play a factor. Are you one who tends to leave the doors open. Maybe you entertain a lot and leave a sliding glass door open most of your Sunday afternoon. Yes, little things like this play into how hard your air conditioner pumps out cool air.

Have you maintained it properly?

The first killer is your filter. There are two extremes dependent on the type of filter you have used. A high pass, or no filter, throughout the years will allow your coils to grow dust, lint, and grime that will clog the air flow. This type of life will most definitely contribute to an early demise. Using a low pass filter will improve the air quality, but will stress less expensive parts of the unit. Have you regularly cleaned your evaporator drain line and pan? Have you cleaned the evaporator coil every year? Have you regularly cleaned the fins on your condenser/compressor?

Was your system installed properly?

One of the most overlooked items on any home owner’s list. Make sure all the components of you’re A/C units are leveled. Make sure the air ducts are all sealed and don’t have hard bends or are hung by sharp objects. Is your condenser/compressor clear from debris or foliage? Assert that gutters and drains don’t direct water over your outdoor units. Are return ducts big enough and located in the right place?


In Florida we are served with a multitude of storms. Lightning strikes wreak havoc on the electronics and motors of your system. If you do not have a surge protector and you have experienced several lightning strikes capacitors, relays, motors, and computer boards may have been compromised. Though many of these components keep working, they do suffer and use more energy, build more heat, or malfunction at times. Corrosive environments like a sea breeze or pool chemicals will corrode metals. Even drywall could contribute to impaired metals like copper, aluminum, and steel. All metals used in most units.

If you have regularly performed most or all of observations mentioned you can expect to get well past the ten year mark. If you reach the ten year mark and have a fan motor, capacitor, bad relay, clogged drain, or a coil cleaning a well maintained unit will be worth the expense. The exception would be if you have a unit with excessive rust or is simply too outdated and inefficient. The annual energy savings could play a factor on the decision. If you have not kept up with the maintenance, the last thing you want is to start with one costly repair around 10 years of age on an ill-treated unit. It is at this time we would suggest considering a new unit. Today you can finance most units and the energy savings are substantial. Spending a little extra on that more efficient unit will make a difference on your wallet.

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