Repair or Replace? Cool Air Conditioning Facts

June 3, 2021

It’s that time of year. You’re relying on your air conditioner (A/C) every single day to keep you cool. As long as it keeps working, it tends to be one of those out-of-sight, out-of-mind items, right? Problem is, when it goes kaput, it becomes very much top of mind as you have to make the decision to repair or replace it. But how will you know?

Let’s walk through some common questions we hear from our customers. Of course, these are broad questions and answers. For answers to your specific issue or concern, feel free to reach out to us directly.

Should I repair or replace my A/C?

The industry has a rough rule of thumb: if your A/C is more than 10 years old and repairs will exceed more than $1,000, replace it.

How do I know if my A/C is broken?

If your house isn’t cool to the setpoint, it’s not working properly. In other words, if you have your thermostat set to 68° yet the thermostat reads 75°, you have an issue. Of course, it takes a bit to cool down your home if you just adjusted the setpoint -- it normally takes about an hour to lower the temperature 2° -- but if it’s been set for much longer than that without the temperature lowering, then you need to call a technician. Of course, there could be exceptions to this but that would be a much larger problem.

How much does it cost to repair an A/C?

This really depends on what the exact issue is and what part(s) broke. There are parts as cheap as $200 and as expensive as $2,600.

As far as labor cost, all HVAC companies we know of charge a diagnostic fee to visit your home and assess the issue plus the time it takes for the repair (a variable cost). Our diagnostic fee – $89 for a non-Simplified Service Plan (SSP) customer or $59 for an SSP customer. Our service calls and repairs are always clearly priced and quoted upfront, so you can expect transparency our entire visit in your home. And our day pricing is the same as nights or weekends – no extra charge! (Learn about our SSP here.)

How many years should an A/C last?

This depends on the type of unit, the use and care levels, and most importantly, if it was installed properly.

Assuming a regular split system with good use and care, you could expect a minimum of 10 years up to 18. Any longer than that and count yourself lucky!

How much does it cost to replace an A/C?

This depends on (1) the quality of the unit you select and (2) the company you hire.

According to the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute, “The efficiency of central air conditioning systems is rated by a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). In general, the higher the SEER, the less electricity the system needs to do its job.” As such, the higher the SEER, the more expensive the unit will be. We install units with SEER ratings from 14-20. 

Every house is different and that impacts the price. We provide a customized, free estimate specific to your needs. We always suggest getting at least three estimates to verify you are not going to be taken advantage of!

If you find an HVAC contractor that has a really low price, consider what corners they may cut. For example, will they not secure the permits, inspections and insurance that are required; will they leave a mess behind or drive vehicles that leak oil on your driveway; or not offer a solid warranty? Read about our 10-year warranty and policies regarding county inspections here.

If you find a contractor that has a really high price, it’s probably due to an extreme overhead from robust advertising. Billboards and radio and television commercials aren’t cheap.

We recommend finding an HVAC contractor right there in the middle. That’s typically where we at Charlotte Mechanical find ourselves when quoting against other companies. With regards to any service, including installation, we do things one way: the right way. This means it costs a bit more, but the difference is worth it. If you’re getting a new A/C installed, you want all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed, right? We check and double-check each step of the process so you can rest assured that your shiny new purchase will be installed 100% correctly.

We stand by our word and are proud to share what our customers have to say about us here.

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