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Should I Repair or Replace My Central AC?

To repair or replace, that is the question.

When homeowners ask us whether they should replace or repair their old/broken central air conditioning system, this is what we tell them:

You should REPLACE (instead of repair) your AC if you notice 1 or more of these tell-tale signs:

  1. Your AC is 15+ years old
  2. The cost of the repair is very expensive
  3. You have high energy bills
  4. You’ve remodeled your home (or you plan on remodeling)

If you don’t notice any of those signs, then it’s probably best to just REPAIR your AC.

Let’s look at these signs in more detail...

When to replace (instead of repair) your AC

You should replace your air conditioner if you notice these 4 signs:

#1: Your AC is 15+ years old

Central air conditioners are built to last 15–20 years. After 15 years, ACs start to break down due to normal wear and tear.

So the older the air conditioner, the more likely it’s going to break down, like a car.

The bottom-line: If your air conditioner is 15+ years old, replace it. It’s more cost-effective in the long run, rather than constantly shelling out money for repairs.

#2: The cost of the repair is very expensive

As a general gauge to know if an AC repair is too costly, use the 50% rule.

The 50% rule is simple: If the cost of repairs is close to or exceeds 50% of the value of your AC system, it’s generally better to just replace your air conditioner.

For example, if your AC technician says you’ll need to replace your compressor and it costs $2,000, and you paid $4,000 for your air conditioner, then it may be best to just replace your air conditioner—especially if it’s old or you notice these other signs.

#3: You have high energy bills

If your utility company hasn’t raised any rates but your energy bills have increased over time, then your air conditioner may not be very energy-efficient, which means you may want a newer, more efficient AC.

AC energy efficiency is measured in SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). The higher the SEER number, the more energy efficient it will be.

Federal regulations require all new ACs to have a minimum of 13 SEER. Older air conditioners (10+ years old) often have 10 SEER or less, which means they aren’t very energy efficient.

So if you want to save money on your energy bills, consider replacing your old AC for a newer, more efficient model.

#4: You’ve remodeled your home (or you plan on remodeling)

Air conditioners are like shoes: they come in different sizes. And they need to be the right size to fit your home, or you’ll run into problems:

  • If your AC is too big, it could short cycle, which leads to early breakdowns.
  • If your AC is too small, it won’t properly cool your home.

So, if you’ve added a room to your home, you may need a bigger A/C to keep up with the new cooling demand.

A professional can perform a Manual J Load Calculation to let you know if you need a different size A/C.

So, how much does it cost to replace an AC?

Well, we can’t give you an exact quote because it depends on specifics of your home and your air conditioning system.

But, we can tell you the cost to replace an air conditioner in Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area ranges from $3,700 to $12,000+.

To get an accurate quote based on your specific needs, contact a licensed AC professional.

Need an AC repaired or replaced? Or want a professional’s opinion?

ScheduleContact MSP to schedule an AC repair or call (651) 315-8275 to speak with one of our customer service representatives.

MSP Plumbing, Heating and Air has served the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area since 1918.