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David Brown Heating & Cooling, LLC Blog

Repair vs. Replace: What’s Best for Your Older Central Air Conditioner?


The average service life of a central air conditioning system is between 10 to 15 years. When your home’s AC is in this age range, you’ll want to weigh your options between continuing to repair it or replacing it when it malfunctions. 

There’s no simple answer to the “repair or replace?” question because every AC and home is in a different situation. Below, we’ll examine several factors that can affect when it’s time to get a new central air conditioning in Dickson, TN. For a professional opinion on “repair vs. replace,” call our technicians. We can help you make the best choice for your household’s cooling future.

Maintenance and AC Service Life

An air conditioning system that receives annual professional maintenance will have a better chance of getting to the upper limits of its service life. Show us a 15-year-old air conditioning system, and we’ll show you an AC that’s stayed current with maintenance! Lack of maintenance can contribute to an air conditioner needing an early replacement. In fact, this neglect may cut the AC’s system life in half. If you have an air conditioner that hasn’t received routine maintenance, 10 years might already be too old and it’s better to replace it. 

The Cost to Run the AC

When you’re debating whether to have a broken air conditioner repaired, take some time to analyze how much it has cost to run over the past few years. Have you started to pay more on your electric bills in summer, even though the price of electricity hasn’t changed and you haven’t altered the way you cool your home? Such a rise in costs is a warning the AC is running down and repairs may not be worth it. 

The Cost of Repairs

There are several ways you can gauge the cost of a repair for your AC to see if it’s a worthwhile investment or if that money should go toward a new system. One method is the “Rule of 5,000”: if the quoted cost of a repair, multiplied by the AC’s age in years, is greater than 5,000, the repair is too expensive. For example, a $300 repair for an 11-year-old AC isn’t too steep (11 x 300 = 3,300), while a $400 repair for a 14-year-old AC is too costly (14 x 400 = 5,600). 

Another metric is to compare the price of a repair to the cost of a new system: if the repair is more than half the cost of the new system, the new system is the better option. 

R-22 Air Conditioners

If your AC is older than 10 years, it may use a refrigerant blend called R-22 (Freon). This refrigerant blend has been phased-out as of 2020, and R-22 can no longer be used to repair leaking refrigerant. Because of this, we strongly recommend replacing any R-22 unit. Current ACs use R-410A refrigerant (Puron), which is less toxic and has greater cooling capacity. 

Rely on a Name You Can Trust

At David Brown Heating & Cooling, we stress honesty in all our dealings with customers. When you consult with us about whether you should have your AC repaired or replaced, you can trust you’ll receive the answers you need.

Call David Brown Heating & Cooling, LLC—“A Name You Can Trust!”

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