Is Buying a New Air Conditioning Unit Worth It?
If you have an older air conditioning unit and have experienced any breakdowns in these hot days of summer, you have probably contemplated buying a new unit. Even if your problem was as simple as a Freon leak, your technician probably talked to you about the environmental damage linked to Freon leaks, the dwindling availability of Freon, and the high financial costs associated with continued repairs of a system that uses Freon. While this is mostly a problem for people with older systems, even newer systems can be at risk, since Freon-using systems were not phased out until 2010. Some buyers thought they were getting top-of-the-line systems that would last for a decade or more, only to find themselves with a unit that uses Freon and will become increasingly difficult to service and maintain as Freon availability continues to shrink. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are considering replacing your system.
Your Freon should not need recharging.
When many of us were growing up, routine air conditioning maintenance often involved a recharge of the Freon in the system. What you may not have realized is that, because the part of the air conditioner that uses Freon is a closed system, properly functioning air conditioners should not need their Freon recharged. Instead, the need for a recharge indicates a leak in the system. Often these are slow leaks, but the easy and cheap availability of Freon led many people to choose to continue to recharge their systems, instead of addressing the underlying leaks. Unfortunately, this hurts the environment and led to the use of different types of coolants in air conditioning systems. It also led to a different approach- techs can no longer simply recharge your system; they must repair leaks if they are going to recharge a system.
If you do have to recharge Freon, be prepared for the cost.
Even if a leak is small and easily fixed, many homeowners are shocked at the repair price when the repair involves recharging the Freon. However, Freon is becoming more expensive. Most air conditioners still use it as a coolant, but Freon manufacturing has declined. Moreover, the price is only expected to rise, since the available supply will shrink with usage. The expectation is that supply will shrink faster than demand, resulting in escalating prices. While a single recharge is unlikely to equal the cost of a new unit when you begin to examine the increased efficiency and greater reliability of new units, the decision of whether to buy or repair becomes more complicated.
The air conditioning techs at First Choice Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning can help explain the pros and cons of replacing your system, so that you can make the best decision, not only for your short-term physical comfort but also for your long-term financial comfort.