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It's finally summer and the first real eye-catcher of the year is on your doorstep. To keep your home comfortable (and livable), do what anyone would do: reach for the thermostat for that dependable, cool relief from your air conditioner. However, you will be shocked to find your vents blowing warm air or no air at all!
A broken air conditioner is no joke and can make for a miserable home. Luckily, replacing your air conditioner is a manageable task once you know the steps to take. To guide you through the process, HomeLight consulted an HVAC expert and used his insights to create a simple checklist for restoring your cool air.
1. Be aware of common "red flags" that indicate a problem
Aside from hot air blowing out of your vents, there are a number of "red flags" that can give you early warning that you have a problem with your air conditioner. Mark Dawson, COO ofOne hour heating and air conditioning, share with us some warning signs to look out for:
- Rattle:If you hear something banging around in your air conditioner, something has probably slipped through the grille covering your outdoor condenser. Small objects can enter your system and lead to other problems later.
- Rattling or scratching:Sharp metal-on-metal noises often mean your air conditioner has loose parts, such as: For example, a fan blade that has fallen out of alignment or a loose tube that is scraping against another moving part of the system.
- Squeaks or knocks when starting up or shutting down:A good air conditioner is relatively quiet, and any noise they make should be consistent. Squeaks and knocks during startup or shutdown can indicate worn parts.
- Hiss:Loud hissing is often a sign that your system is leaking air where it shouldn't be. A hiss from inside your walls could indicate leaking ducts, while a hiss from your filter could mean the filter is not forming an adequate seal.
- bubbling:If you hear bubbling from your air conditioner, check the refrigerant line for leaks. A leak in the refrigerant line that lets air in can cause major problems with your unit. Call an HVAC professional immediately if you notice bubbling noises.
While not all of these problems mean you need a new AC unit, they all indicate that it is time for a unit service. Some of the warning signs that you need to completely replace your air conditioner include:
- Your air conditioner is getting old:This is reported by the US Department of EnergyAir conditioners have an average lifespan of around 15 to 20 years. Air conditioning systems in coastal areas only have an average lifespan of around 12 years due to the salty sea air.
- Your electricity bill increases:An aging AC unit will not operate as efficiently as a new one, meaning your energy bill will likely increase as your unit enters its twilight years.
- You have moisture problems:A faulty air conditioner can lead to poor humidity control in your home, which leads to dry indoor air in winter and humid indoor air in summer. Condensation on the inside of your windows, moisture around your vents and mold growth are all signs that your air conditioner is nearing the end of its life.
2. Start saving - quite a lot
HomeAdvisor, a company that connects clients with professionals and collects data from the resulting quotes, gives the average cost of installing a central air conditioneris about $3,811 to $7,480.
This price will vary depending on a few different factors, including the AC unit you choose, the difficulty of the installation, the cost of labor in your market, and any additional work needed such as duct repairs. To get the best deal, you need to learn more about your home's needs and the options available to you.
3. Hire a professional to inspect the system
HVAC systems are complicated, and unless you're an HVAC professional yourself, it's wise to seek out a professional who can inspect your system and home and let you know what you need to do to replace your unit successfully.
The average hourly rate for HVAC work is$90 bis $100. To find HVAC technicians in your area, visit sites likeInputconnecting people with professional service providers. Always ask professionals about their experience and licenses before hiring them. You can also read recent customer feedback onJauland other rating portals.
4. Check the health of related systems
In some cases, the air conditioning is not the main problem; Another faulty system in your home could be the cause of the problem. If this is the case, restoring your air conditioner could simply mean replacing your fuse box or thermostat.
Here are a few things to check before you pull the trigger to pay for a full AC replacement:
- fuse box
- door seals
- ventilation ducts
5. Research replacement options
Once you've exhausted all other options and confirmed that you need to replace your AC unit, it's time to review your options. Here are some popular options:
Split system units
In a split system central air conditioner, the condenser and compressor are located in an outdoor metal cabinet and the evaporator is located in an indoor cabinet.
The advantage of these systems is that they don't require ducts and have better zone control if you install multiple systems in your home.
Here are a few top notch options:
- Cooper & Hunter Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioning/Heating Systemfor $1,599 at Amazon
- Mr. Cool Gen-3 Ductless Mini Split Air Conditionerfor $1,400 from Home Depot
In a compact central air conditioner, the evaporator, condenser, and compressor are housed in a cabinet, usually located on a roof or on a concrete slab next to the house's foundation.
These systems are cheaper to install but offer less zone control - which usually results in higher energy costs.
Two bestsellers are:
- Goodman 5-ton multi-position air conditionerfor $3,440 from AC wholesalers
- ICP/EcoTemp Model 4 Ton Package AC Unitfor $2,700 from Budget Air Supply
Matching the size of your air conditioner to your home is also important. As Dawson points out:
“If your air conditioner is too small, it will run constantly without ever properly cooling your home, consuming excess electricity in the process. On the other hand, if you buy an oversized model, it will be cycled on and off too frequently, leading to excessive wear and tear and excessive bills to cover the cooling capacity you don't even need.”
6. Consider energy efficiency in your replacement system
One benefit of replacing your air conditioner? You'll likely upgrade to a more energy-efficient model that's kind to the earth and your electric bills.
Modern air conditioners significantly outperform older models. Using the best air conditioners on the market todayhalf as much energyto produce the same amount of cooling as 1970's models. Even compared to air conditioners from just a decade ago, newer models can save you 20% to 40% on your cooling energy costs.
Dawson points out that these savings are significant considering the average home spends 40% of its energy budget on heating and cooling.
7. Get your system installed and enjoy your fresh, cool air
Once you've done all your due diligence, it's time to pull the trigger. Find an experienced HVAC technician to install your new system. After the job is done, turn on your air conditioner, adjust the thermostat, and enjoy finally escaping the summer heat.
Header Image Source: (Bob Osias / Unsplash)