When your air conditioning system begins to have issues, the inevitable
question arises. Should I repair or replace?
There have been many changes in the world of air conditioning over the
past few years that may make it better to replace than repair.
For example, most air conditioners manufactured prior to 2010 were
designed to use r-22 refrigerant. In 2010 the Federal government
mandated that all new air conditioners could no longer be shipped
containing r-22 refrigerant and the switch was made to r-410a
R-22 refrigerant contains chemicals that harm the ozone layer and is
therefore being phased out. The price of this refrigerant has
skyrocketed and will continue to rise which makes servicing even a
relatively new air conditioner impractical.
Aside from the refrigerant issue, efficiency is also a consideration.
In 2006 the Federal government increased the minimum efficiency standard
on air conditioners from 10 SEER to 13 SEER. Seer is the Seasonal Energy
Efficiency Rating. New air conditioners range between 13 and 20 SEER. If
you have an eight year old 10 SEER air conditioner and you replace it
with a 20 SEER model you will cut the cost of cooling your home in half.
Besides efficiency, you also might want to upgrade to a 2 stage or
variable speed air conditioner instead of the 100 year old technology of
the single stage air conditioner. These systems more accurately deliver
the exact amount of cooling for your home at all times regardless of the
outdoor temperature. Enhanced comfort and humidity control is the
Furnace technology is also changing at a rapid rate. In 1990 the
Federal government set the minimum efficiency of gas furnaces at 78%
AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). Most furnaces today are at
95% AFUE or higher. Furnaces are also available in single stage, two
stage and modulating configurations. A modulating gas furnace combined
with a variable speed air conditioner will deliver the utmost comfort
and efficiency available today.
If you find yourself in the position of needing to repair or replace
it is best to contact a heating and cooling specialist.
Ask to have your home evaluated. Several items need to be taken into
consideration. Is the air delivery system (ductwork) properly designed
and in good condition? Is the ductwork sealed to prevent air leakage. A
leaky duct system is not only costly to your wallet, it can be costly to
your health as well. If the supply air ductwork is leaking you are
throwing away tempered air (you paid to temper that air). If your return
air ductwork is leaking, you are sucking in unwanted air. Most return
air ductwork is located in attic spaces which are full of fiberglass and
many other harmful particulates. The air delivery system is critical to
a properly functioning system and is more often than not improperly
designed and installed. Many uncomfortable home issues can be remedied
by duct modification instead of system replacement or repair.
A professional will also measure many items in the home like doors,
windows, walls, ceilings, floors, insulation, etc. Using this
information and performing a heat loss-heat gain load calculation is the
only approved manner in which to determine what size furnace and air
conditioner is right for your home.
If it is time to replace your system, again, ask a professional. There
are tax credits and utility company rebates along with manufacturer
rebates to help offset the cost to upgrade to more efficient equipment
choices. Mike Childers