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Dealing with a Broken AC Unit: Repair or Replace?

Imagine it's summer, with the weather forecast saying heat levels can reach or exceed the 90s. Since high temperatures can cause heat-related illnesses, experts recommend staying in air-conditioned places.

As a result, you decide to stay home, thinking your air conditioner has your back. But alas, you soon realize you've got a broken AC unit. Maybe it doesn't blow enough cold air even on its lowest setting, or it just doesn't turn on.

Does that mean you already need to replace your AC, or can you still get it fixed? 

This guide provides insights to help you make a wise decision, so read on.

Do Some HVAC Troubleshooting First

Poor maintenance (such as failure to replace air filters) is a top cause of air conditioner malfunction. Clogged filters can cause problems like poor airflow, insufficient cooling, and hot and cold spots. They can also contribute to overheating, often forcing the AC to shut down and not turn on.

So before deciding between replacing and fixing a malfunctioning AC, perform a cooling system assessment first. Inspect the air filters; if they're filthy, wash or change them. Then, run the AC to see if things improve.

If there's no change, it's time to involve the pros.

The System's Age 

Room air conditioners typically last 5 to 7 years, while central air conditioning systems can last 7 to 15 years. Well-maintained systems often reach the higher end of those ranges, sometimes even exceeding them.

Let's say you have a three-year-old central AC system that broke down for the first time. Since it hasn't reached half its estimated lifespan yet, it may be more practical to get it serviced by an HVAC repair professional. Plus, your system is likely still under the manufacturer's warranty, which covers the cost of defective parts.

But if your system is at least ten years old and has already had previous significant repairs, it may be better to replace it. Besides, replacing a 10-year-old system with a new, more efficient model can save you 20% to 40% of your cooling energy costs.

Overall Cost of Repairs 

Assessing AC unit damage is one of the first things a reliable HVAC technician will do once they get to your home. The pro will then discuss and break down the repair costs with you.

AC problems like worn belts, broken bearings, or tiny refrigerant leaks are usually easy to fix and won't cost much. However, you may have to pay hundreds, even thousands, if the assessment reveals the following issues:

  • Massive refrigerant leaks

  • A failed compressor

  • Severe coil corrosion

  • A broken fan motor

If your air conditioner is old and needs those costly repairs, it may be best just to replace it and upgrade to a newer, more energy-efficient model.

Get Help for a Broken AC Unit

Remember: It may be more practical to fix a broken AC unit if it's just a few years old or still under warranty. However, if it's old and repairing it would involve replacing its coils, motor, or compressor, it may be best to replace the entire system.

For more informative home guides like this, check out our latest news and blog articles!

1 Comment

Johnny Robinson
Johnny Robinson
May 22

Dealing with a broken AC in the middle of summer was stressful, but the HVAC Contractor Riviera Beach company's excellent customer service made it a lot easier. From the friendly staff on the phone to the knowledgeable technician who came out, every interaction was positive. They care about their customers.


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