How to Get Through Summer with a Struggling AC
You know your air conditioner is old. You know it’s time to replace it. But you’d really like to make it through one more summer before buying a new one. At Getzschman Heating and Air Conditioning, we understand. A new air conditioner is a big purchase and it may not be in the budget yet. To help you eek out one more season, here are five tips from the AC pros at Getzschman Heating and Air Conditioning to make it through the summer with a struggling air conditioner.
1. Expect to Pay More in Electric Bills
Older systems are less efficient than newer systems just because they were built 10 to 15 years ago before some of the newer technology was even available. Add to that the fact that an older system has wear and tear from running for more than a decade (think dirt and dust, worn parts, loose connections, etc.) and you can imagine how inefficient your old AC is. The harder your AC has to work, the longer it will have to run to reach the temperature on the thermostat and the higher your electric bills will be.
2. Change the Filter Monthly
One of the biggest things you can do to help your old system is to change the air filter monthly. A dirty filter will impede your system’s ability to push air through it, making it work harder and cost more.
3. Expect to Pay Dearly for Freon
If your AC is older, chances are it runs on Freon. As units age, the chances of a refrigerant leak increase. If your system is leaking Freon, it will cost you a lot of money every time you need to recharge it. Freon was banned by the EPA (because it damaged the ozone layer) and is no longer being manufactured. Because of this, the price has skyrocketed as demand has built and supply has decreased. It will cost you several hundred dollars each time you need to add Freon. Newer systems use R410a, an environmentally safe refrigerant that costs much less. Unfortunately, older units are not designed to use the newer refrigerants.
4. Be Ready to Be a Bit Too Warm
Your old AC may not be able to keep your home comfortable. Even new air conditioners are only designed to keep your home 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. If it’s 100 degrees, your home may stay in the upper 70s to 80 degrees. An older, inefficient unit will certainly not be able to do better than that. Expect to be on the warmer side especially when the temperatures soar.
5.Get a Tune-Up
A tune-up on an older system may be what gets your AC through the season. Not only will it help it run more efficiently, it will reduce the number of unwanted breakdowns and emergency service calls. A technician will replace any worn parts, check all electrical connections, lubricate any moving parts, clean your system and repair any broken parts. Simply cleaning your air conditioner will help it run more efficiently too.
Employ the $5,000 Rule with Repairs
If your air conditioner breaks down, the immediate question is: do you repair it again or do you replace it entirely? Thankfully, there’s a simple way to figure out which way to go. It’s called “the $5,000 rule”: It’s simple. Note the age of your AC and multiply the age by the amount of your most recent repair bill. If this results in a number less than $5,000, a repair is likely the best way to go! Of course, this is meant as a first step; a professional consultation from a trusted repair provider is another great data point to gather. But the decision is ultimately yours, and this is a great way to pin down what might be the best way to spend your money in the long run.
3 Signs That It’s Time to Replace Your AC
The formula above is a great rule of thumb, but there are a few signs that clearly signal you’d be better off replacing your system than repairing it:
- If you’ve repaired your AC more than three times over a three-year period, that implies that there is a larger issue that a fourth repair might not address fully.
- If you have your AC repaired and energy bills remain exceedingly high, that’s another major warning sign that the overall health of your AC system is ailing.
- And finally, refilling the Freon after multiple repairs means that patching it up and refilling it yet again will not solve the systemic issues with your AC.