Have you ever had doubts about the efficiency of your AC unit?
Your air conditioner plays a vital role in keeping your home comfortable to live in. Without it, the summer months would be hellish to get through. But if you’re not a trained technician, it can be challenging to know when your unit is struggling or when it’s giving up.
Let’s dive in.
How Often Do You Need a New Air Conditioning Unit
Air conditioners can last for longer than you might think but they can also break at random. It’s one of those factors you can’t predict but the better you look after something the longer it lasts. You should expect an AC unit to last you 10-15 years unless you start getting chronic issues before then.
To extend the life of your unit, keep up with regular AC maintenance and checkups. You should have a technician come in for an annual or bi-annual check to make sure everything is working.
Where you store your AC unit is important too, it should be somewhere cool and dry. You don’t want it in a high-traffic area either. Repairing an AC unit will need the skills of an expert HVAC technician, you should try DIY. Before you commit to an air conditioner replacement, always seek professional advice.
Types of Air Conditioners You Might Have in Your Home
Not every air conditioner is the same and there is a variety on the market. Each one will have its own unique needs. We’ll take you through a few that you could expect to see in your home so you know you’re working with.
1. Central Air Conditioners
This type of air conditioner is common in larger homes that need more rooms cooled at one time. Central air units have a split system that takes the air through ducts around your home.
The split system means that it’s a combination of two units working together. The outdoor part handles the condenser and the compressor. The indoor part has evaporator coils and the air handler.
As any air conditioner does, central air conditioners use refrigerant. This is a cooling chemical that takes the heat out of the air inside your house. That heat gets sucked outside while the cool air moves through the ducts.
You can pair up a programmable thermostat with these air conditioners for a smart home. Here are a few more benefits of this system:
- Cools down all rooms with ducts for an even temperature
- As cool air moves through all rooms it reduces the humidity levels too
On the other hand, there are some cons to this type of unit. Here are a few:
- They need a large amount of energy meaning bills are higher
- If something goes wrong in the ducts it can lose efficiency
- The outdoor unit can look ugly if you can’t find a creative way to hide your AC unit
2. Ductless Mini-Splits
Ductless mini-splits offer better efficiency in certain situations that include:
- You don’t have existing ducting
- There isn’t the room to install ducting
- You don’t need the whole house cooled
- You want to remove excessive ducting
- You have a contemporary minimalist home
These units use an outdoor unit with a condenser and compressor. Then there are one or two indoor units that connect to it. These indoor units sit on the wall and use air blowers and tubing instead of ducts.
As they’re small, each room will get a unit that’s either for heating or cooling, not both. As such, they’re more energy-efficient so you shouldn’t see your bills soar.
Most units come with a remote control too but you can pair them with a smart controller. This gives you the ability to use your phone to control it from almost anywhere.
Here are a few more advantages of this AC unit type:
- You can install it anywhere without ducting
- It controls the temperature of every room separate from the others
And here are the cons that you should bear in mind:
- A single unit won’t be enough to keep the whole house cool
- These small units are wall-mounted so you’ll be able to see it
3. Window AC Units
There are a variety of sizes for window AC units. This means they can cool a small room or a small home so long as you have the right one. But where they excel the most is cooling smaller spaces.
They’re also considered one of the most common types of air conditioners in people’s homes. These ACs are a single box that has all the components in one place. It’ll eject the hot air outside and blow cool air through the room.
As you may imagine, these units get installed in a window or use a hole in the walls. They also have a filter that’s easy to slide out and clean or replace. The controls are on the air conditioner, though some do come with a separate controller.
Here are the advantages of window AC units:
- Easy to install
- Easy to look after
- Cheaper to run
- Won’t take up a lot of space on the floor
And here are the disadvantages:
- Can be loud when in use
- You can see it outside the home
- Could obstruct the window view
- Needs to be near a plug socket
- Not suitable for irregularly shaped windows
4. Floor-Mounted Air Conditioning Units
Floor-mounted units are well-liked for their convenience. Not everyone has the wall space for other types of units but that doesn’t mean you should suffer. The indoor unit sits on the floor and the outside unit goes through the wall.
It’s easy to install with no major prep work needed or any ductwork either. This is great for walls at an angle like in attics, or structures that are more fragile like glass.
You could install it up to 6 inches off the floor if you wanted to and a small hole connects the outside unit. The air filters are easy to access too, making them simple to change. This puts them at the top for people who have respiratory issues or allergies and need the air to be clean.
They also heat/cool the room faster than other types of AC units because it’s at your height. Those higher up the wall can struggle to get a uniform temperature. But remember floor units need the space around them to remain clear to get that air around the room.
Here are the benefits of a floor-mounted air conditioning unit:
- A great option for the elderly and disabled
- It’s easy to install with no major workers needed
- Great for small or unusual spaces as they’re not very large
And here are the cons that you need to consider:
- If you obstruct the unit then airflow won’t be as efficient
- It’s not suitable for large spaces as the cooling/heating is more localized
5. Smart Air Conditioning Units
Smart air conditioning units can be mini-split, window, or portable in form. The difference here is they’re IoT-enabled. They will connect to your Wi-Fit and have an app that you can install on a smart device.
Whether it’s a mobile phone or tablet you’ll have full control of the unit. Each unit is different but most will come with an array of features to make use of which include:
- Comfort mode
- Weekly schedules
- Temperature control
And much more. By doing these, you customize your comfort as well as make savings on your energy bills. It’s easy to control the unit and only use it when you need it.
There are also smart controllers on the market you can get. This will give you the functions of a smart AC unit for your ducted system. They’re like programable thermostats with more features.
The bonus about those controllers is they’re the cheaper option if you’re on a budget. Air conditioning replacement isn’t cheap and not everyone can afford a brand new smart AC.
So let’s break down the advantages here:
- It’s easy to track usage and save money on your utility bills
- The many features add convenience for optimal comfort
And here are the downsides of smart AC units:
- They’re one of the more expensive types of AC units on the market
- You need Wi-Fi to make full use of all the features on offer
6. Hybrid Air Conditioners
Hybrid AC units combine an electric air-source heat pump with a gas-fired furnace. This combines efficiency with cost-effectiveness to give you the best cooling and heating.
Depending on outside temperatures the unit will switch between electricity and fossil fuel. You can program the temperatures you want this process to happen, but you can also press a manual switch as well.
In the summer the heat pump will work as it’s supposed to pull the hot air out of your house. In the winter, this process reverses and that heat distributes through your home. When the temperature is too cold for the heat pump, the furnace will kick in to keep you warm.
Here are the advantages of a hybrid AC unit:
- Lowers your utility bills
- Maximizes the comfort of your indoor air in all temperatures
- Reduces your carbon footprint so better on the planet
Now let’s look at the downsides:
- There is a high cost to set these units up
- To see the financial savings you’ll have to wait for the long run
Signs You May Need to Replace an Air Conditioner
Now we’ve looked at how long an AC unit should run and the different types, let’s get into what you should watch for. There are clear signs that your AC can give to tell you it’s struggling and on its last legs. We’ll explore them below so you know what to look out for.
1. The AC Unit Isn’t Blowing Cold Air
It might seem obvious but if the AC unit isn’t blowing cold air, something isn’t right. This could be a broken compressor, low Freon levels, and more.
At this point, you’ll want to call a professional to diagnose the issue. It could be easy enough to fix, or you might need to replace the whole unit.
2. You’re Not Getting Good Airflow
You might get cool air by the outlets but you’re not feeling it flow throughout the house. Again, there could be a few factors at play like a broken compressor or damaged vents.
It is possible to have those issues repaired but the costs can soon stack up. It all depends on the extent of the damage and how old your system is. If the bill gets too high, it could be more cost-effective to replace the air conditioner.
3. There’s Leaking & Moisture Around the Unit
First off, it’s normal to find a little condensation on your air conditioner. What you shouldn’t see is excess moisture or active leaks, as these are a sign of major issues.
If there is a refrigerant leak, you’ll see large puddles of water around the unit. This could pose a serious health hazard so make sure you get this fixed asap. Even if it’s only water leaking out it’s still dangerous.
Over time, this water can seep into the structure of your home and compromise it. On top of that, you’re looking at potential mold growth too. Call in an HVAC technician to find the issue, or replace your unit.
4. You Can Hear Strange Noises
Air conditioners aren’t silent but some noises aren’t right. You want to listen for noises like:
If you hear any of these noises, turn off your air conditioner and call an expert. Most of the time, these noises represent a major issue.
The belt could be slipping or a motor bearing broke, which if you leave could lead to a costly unit replacement. These are fixable issues but if you notice they keep happening, it’s a sign your AC unit is at the end of its life.
5. Some Areas Are Being Cooled
Sometimes it’s not your actual air conditioner that’s the issue but the thermostat. If that breaks, it’ll prevent your unit from cooling your home as much as it could.
This is even more likely if you feel a difference in only one room or area. It’s best to call an HVAC technician to have a look. It could be a simple thermostat replacement that saves you from replacing the whole unit.
6. Your Unit Is Over 10-15 Years Old
Remember air conditioning units only have an average lifespan of 10-15 years. If your system is older than that, you must have done a good job looking after it. But it’s not going to last forever no matter well you do your maintenance.
There is also the factor of energy efficiency to consider. New models have newer tech behind them and get bet better results for less energy spent.
In the long run, upgrading to a new model could save you money on your energy bills. So, if your older air conditioner breaks down, you should consider upgrading it. Even if repairing it might be the cheaper option.
7. You’re Spending Out On Frequent Repairs
Over time, if you spend out on repairs every month you’ll spend the cost of a whole new unit. If you’re getting close to that situation, it’s time to admit that your unit has come to the end of its life.
At some point, you won’t be able to repair it anymore or keep putting band-aids on. It’s better to pull the band-aids off before you drain the bank. Replace your unit and enjoy efficient, functional cooling for a fraction of the cost.
The Benefits of Having Air Conditioning In Your Home
If you’re thinking of getting rid of your AC here are some reasons why you should reconsider. They’re well worth the expense of replacing the air conditioning unit.
1. Improves Home Security
One of the biggest benefits air conditioners bring is better home security. When you’re hot, you’re more inclined to leave your windows and doors open. With an AC unit, it’s better to keep them shut so the cool air doesn’t escape.
Keeping the windows and doors secure also helps protect your house more. There is no easy entry for burglars while you sleep at night. It also keeps out unwanted bugs and insects looking for their next meals. So, if you live in a humid climate or not-so-nice areas, it’s a good investment.
2. Helps Prevent a Sluggish Mind
On a hot day, it’s not unusual to see people being more destructive and quick to anger. Most of the time this is due to frustration over the hot temperature they have to endure with no relief. By having air conditioning, you help balance your mood and stop any heat aggression
3. Prevents Heat Exhaustion
As the weather heats up year after year, heat stroke becomes a larger risk. In fact, thousands of people around the world die because of the ever-increasing heat.
The weather is only getting worse, but air conditioning can help. It provides much-needed relief from the heat and prevents serious health issues. Unchecked, heatstroke and heat exhaustion are deadly no matter where you live.
4. You’ll Sleep Better
One thing you’ll struggle to do in the heat is getting a good night’s sleep. Even if you’re drained from a hard day’s work to the point of exhaustion it’s still hard to get that rest.
Even if you do drift off, you’ll wake often covered in sweat and your sleep will be restless. Over time, the poor level of sleep will start to affect your mental and physical health.
Air conditioning will keep the temperatures consistent and cool within your home. Because of this, it’ll be easier to fall asleep and stay asleep, getting a good night’s rest. You can wake up refreshed, in a good mood, and ready for each new day.
5. Stops Your Devices Overheating
Your body isn’t the only thing that can overheat, your devices can too. Electrical appliances are notorious for suffering in high temperatures. In fact, the heat can cause damage to items like:
- Mobile phones
And more. Not only will an AC unit keep you healthy, but it’ll also keep your electronics healthy too. You and your home can keep running and functioning as you all should.
6. Makes Your Indoor Air Quality Better
To try and cope with hit temperatures when you don’t have an AC you turn to open the windows as we stated before. While fresh air and ventilation are great, in a high-pollution area you could do yourself harm.
Pollutants and harmful chemicals can get into your home and bring down air quality. Remember, this is the air you’re breathing into your lungs!
Air conditioners filter out pollutants, keeping your air purer and safer to breathe. It’s the first major step anyone can take if they’re looking to improve indoor air quality. It’s especially important if you or someone you live with has allergies or asthma.
Replace Air Conditioning Units For a Comfortable Home
At some point, you need to replace air conditioning units if you want to keep your home comfortable. Some issues are fixable, but some are too major.
Either the cost will be more than a new unit, or it won’t be worth fixing as it could break again soon after. You need to realize when it’s time to make that call to get a new AC unit.