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HVAC Buy vs Fix: Should I repair my air conditioner or is it time to buy a new one?

When it’s hot outside, we know folks in San Antonio, Converse, Schertz, Universal City, and all over our area, just want an air conditioner that works. And if your A/C isn’t working, you’d like to keep your costs a low as possible to be cool again.
Deciding whether to invest money in a repair or bite the bullet and buy a new AC unit can be a tough decision. Here are the top things to consider when deciding to fix or replace your air conditioner.

Avoid Doomsday Advice

There’s a common talking point in the industry that says if your HVAC system is more than 10 years old and in need of a repair that’s more than $500, that it’s time to replace. We hear that during trainings from manufacturers all the time. There’s a time and place where that advice may be true but in our experience, it’s just a high-pressure sales tactic. There are better ways to decide what’s right for you, so don’t give up hope.

If You’ve Tried A Band-aid Fix and Something New Arises, It Might Be Time To Buy

If you’ve had trouble with a major component before and it acts up again, that may be a sign that other problems are about to arise. Or, if you’ve repaired a major component before and a problem with another part comes up, it may mean you don’t want to put more money into your existing system.

Problems with The Indoor Coil

The indoor coil is the part of your HVAC system that air moves across to get chilled. (Then the fan motor pushes that cold air into your house). The coil is a major component and can be expensive to replace.
Let’s say you’ve managed problems with the coil in the past (maybe a leak where you have to keep adding refrigerant), and then a new problem arises with your fan motor. You may not want to bother putting $500 towards replacing the fan motor because you will have to spend a couple thousand on a new coil sometime soon down the road. It might be time to think about putting your money towards a new system.

Problems with The Compressor

The compressor is the heart of the unit. It’s the motor that pumps the refrigerant in your system. A tech can diagnose an aging compressor if it starts giving you trouble or making lots of noise. Something called a “Hard Start Kit” can help a compressor that’s having trouble starting. It may buy you a few additional years, but know it’s a solution that’s really a band-aid for something that’s coming apart internally.
If you’ve already taken steps to stretch out the life of your compressor, and then something else goes wrong — maybe a freon leak or trouble with a fan motor — it may not make sense to spend more money on your existing system.

Be Smart About Repairs To The Heat Exchanger in a Gas Furnace

Carbon monoxide is nothing to mess around with. It’s an odorless and potentially deadly gas. If you have a very old furnace or find yourself in need of a repair to your furnace, before you invest in new work make sure there’s not a carbon monoxide leak in your system. You wouldn’t want to invest in a minor repair if there’s a bigger safety and expense threat lurking.

The Final Word

Here’s the thing: anything can be fixed. But a fix may or may not be the best long-term use of your funds. We think it’s worth it to weigh all the factors so you can make the best decision about where to spend your money.
If you haven’t traditionally had any problems and a fan motor, for example, needs replacing, even if your unit is over ten years old? Replace the fan motor! Your unit may still have a lot of life. If you have a history of problems or other odd things have come up, you might have a harder choice to make.

Related Article:

If you have a 10+ year old system, here’s what else to factor into your repair vs buy decision.

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