This question has been asked for nearly as long as air conditioning and furnaces have been around. Given the cost to repair my unit, am I better off replacing it?
Here are the tools to determine if you are better off repairing or replacing your A/C & Furnace. This decision is largely based on the repair costs + the age & efficiency of your existing A/C.
The same can be said for GAS furnaces. For ELECTRIC furnaces, tremendous heating costs savings can be achieved with a Heat Pump.
What Repair Is Needed And What Is The Charge?
Just because your air conditioner quits does not mean it must be replaced. Have it inspected by a licensed HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) technician to determine why it quit, and what it costs to repair it. The repair could be minor, and you won’t know until it’s inspected. The average cost to repair a central A/C in DFW is $375.00. *
Regardless of its age, one minor repair does not justify replacing the entire system. As the cost of the repair increases, however, the merit of replacing the system will too. Also, you should take into consideration both the A/C’s age and SEER Efficiency Rating.
What has been the repair history in the past 5 years? If the current repair is one of many, it’s pretty clear the A/C is nearly worn out. If it’s the first repair needed during the most recent 5 years, there is no evidence your existing A/C is worn out.
How Old Is Your Current A/C? In DFW A/C units last up to about 15 years. If your air conditioner’s age is more than 15 years, it is nearly worn out. If it has started needing frequent repairs, chances are it will simply stop working in the near future. This is most likely to happen when temps are high and it’s running a lot. If it’s worn out, it makes no sense to repair it, if it can even be repaired.
How Efficient Is Your A/C? The efficiency of the A/C is determined by its age. Given the amount of cooling needed during a DFW summer, it’s quite possible you can pay for the new A/C with the electricity savings of the new unit.
A new installation in DFW must have a minimum Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) of 14.
If your current A/C is a SEER 7 (built as late as 1991) — a SEER 14 will use 1/2 of the electricity. At 10 cents per kWh, a new 14 SEER will save around -$550 per year. Over 15 years, the savings = $8,250. That’s more than you will pay for the new A/C.
* Home Advisor says the average charge to repair a central air conditioner in DFW is $365.
FOR GAS FURNACES:
If your existing furnace has white plastic vent pipes, it’s at least 92% efficient.
If it has a smaller diameter metal vent pipe, it’s 80% efficient
Note: You can see smaller vent pipe going into the existing larger vent pipe in this older home.
If your furnace has a larger diameter metal vent pipe, it’s less than 80% efficient. Note: This could be 70% — It could be less than 60%, depending on the furnace’s age.
FOR ELECTRIC FURNACE:
If you have an electric furnace, your heating costs are Far Higher Than With An Electric Heat Pump.
- Cost=$1.03 A High-Efficiency Gas Furnace producing 100,000 BTU of heat.
- Cost=$1.18 A Standard-Efficiency (80%) Gas Furnace producing 100,000 BTU of heat.
- Cost=$1.16 A High-Efficiency Heat Pump (HSPF=10) producing 100,000 BTU of heat.
- Cost=$1.36 A Standard-Efficiency Heat Pump (HSPF – 8.3) producing 100,000 BTU of heat.
- Cost=$2.36 An Electric Furnace producing 100,000 BTU of heat.
- If you have natural gas service to your home, you would reduce heating costs by 60% with a new standard-efficiency (80%) gas furnace — as compared to your existing electric furnace.
- If you do not have natural gas service, you would reduce heating costs by 50% or more with a new standard-efficiency Heat Pump (8.3 HSPF) — as compared to your existing electric furnace.
- Note: The Heat Pump also replaces your existing Air Conditioner unit.