Replace vs Repair? What to do When Your Ducted AC Unit Breaks Down
You’ve owned your trusty ducted air-conditioning unit for over 7 years now. It has served you well but recently it has been playing up. Inconsistent temperatures, strange noises while running, and a leaky unit are just some of the problems. Your electricity bill has started to look expensive too.
You reach the final straw when the unit cuts out on a hot summer day with a record high temperature. After calling a technician, you get “sticker shock” when he quotes you $7000 to install a brand new ducted unit. Surely, it doesn’t cost that much?
Another technician quotes $1500 to repair the ducted unit. It’s cheaper than replacing it, but this is the 2nd repair within the last 5 months and the costs are piling up. So, what should you do?
Should I Replace or Repair?
If you’re questioning whether to replace or repair your ducted air conditioner, the answer is – it depends. In some cases, replacing your unit might be more economical in the long run, while others might find that a simple repair will do the trick.
In our experience from being in the industry for over 30 years, your decision will come down to the following 7 factors. Let’s look at each one in detail:
1. Does Your Unit Produce Hot or Cool Air Consistently According to Your Temperature Settings?
A common problem with older units is that they simply stop producing cool or hot air consistently. Although the unit does blow air through the ducts, the temperature doesn’t match your temperature settings. If your unit has stopped producing your desired temperature then it could be a sign that some parts may be damaged.
For example, if your temperature settings are set to cool but you receive warm air then the refrigerant levels in your unit may be low. The refrigerant absorbs the heat from your room to lower its temperature and it doesn’t diminish during this process. So low refrigerant levels indicate a potential leak that needs to be repaired.
However, if there is a problem with the ducted AC’s compressor, this could be very costly and you may be better off replacing the unit.
2. Does It Produce Strange Noises?
A good ducted air-conditioner should operate nearly silently. You’re likely familiar with the noises that it makes as it goes through its cooling cycles. So, if you start to hear any irregular noises you should investigate.
First, minor noise changes could mean that parts have become loose, the fan isn’t working properly, or debris might have clogged an internal part. In these cases, your unit just needs light maintenance or repairs.
However, the following noises could indicate a serious problem:
- Hissing or screaming sounds: excessive internal pressure and could be dangerous
- Clanking noises: loose parts inside the compressor
- Buzzing noises near the fan motor: your motor is failing and there could be arcing happening due to loose wiring or a failing relay switch.
These noises indicate problems with the compressor and it likely needs to be replaced. Since compressors are expensive, it may be better to buy a new air conditioner instead.
3. Does It Leak or Produce Excess Moisture?
A certain amount of moisture and condensation is normal for most air-conditioners. However, if you notice a leak or increased condensation you should act quickly. Firstly, contact a professional to check it for safety reasons. It’s hazardous to have electrical components mix with water.
Next, if there’s a refrigerant leak it’ll have to be handled by a professional due to the health risks of the chemical. In most cases, if the technician can identify the leak it may be cheaper to repair it. However, some technicians may try to push you into replacing your whole air-conditioner.
So, if you feel that they are not being 100% honest with you, get a second quote from another company/us.
4. Have Your Energy Bills Increased?
If your energy bills have increased but your supplier hasn’t increased their rates then your air conditioning unit is the culprit. As mentioned earlier, it might be the low refrigerant levels or, it may simply mean your air-conditioner is older and has become inefficient due to natural wear and tear.
If your electricity bills remain high, even after repairing and servicing your unit then it may be time to replace it.
If you use your air conditioner quite frequently then its worth doing some number crunching on electricity costs for the old AC and comparing it with electricity cost forecasts from the new AC’s. This will help with your decision making process.
5. Does Your Unit Require Frequent Repairs? (And is it Out of Warranty?)
Ideally, your ducted AC should be serviced just once a year for cleaning and maintenance. This ensures it runs smoothly and stays in good condition. But if it needs to be repaired several times a year then it’s better for your finances to replace it. This is especially true if it is out of warranty since you’ll be paying for these repairs out of your own pocket.
6. Is Your Ducted Air-conditioner More Than 10 Years Old?
In October 2012, the Australian government set standards for energy efficiency for products being sold in Australia. Older air-conditioners don’t meet the current standards for energy efficiency. Therefore, the cost of running them will be much higher than modern air conditioners.
Another thing to consider is that older units use a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) R-22 refrigerant that depletes the ozone layer. The Australian government is phasing out the bulk import of R-22 refrigerant meaning it will be more expensive to repair units that still use it.
You will have to factor this into your decision to repair or replace your ducted AC, especially if your unit is older and has broken down due to a refrigerant leak. It may be better to buy a new ducted air conditioner instead.
7. Are Your Ducts in Good Condition?
You could have the latest energy efficient ducted air-conditioner and still not produce a cool room temperature. This is because the condition of your ducting contributes to the efficiency of your cooling system. Energystar says, “Ducts that are in poor condition can reduce efficiency between 20 to 30 percent.”
Therefore, if your air-conditioner is not producing the temperature you want, but is otherwise in good condition, then maybe the problem is your ducts. Call a technician to inspect your air ducts for leaks and you won’t have to replace your air-conditioner.
An Ducted Air-conditioning Company You Can Trust
You now have a good idea on some of the main factors to help you determine whether to replace or repair your ducted air-conditioning unit, without being misled by an unscrupulous technician. However, if you still need help with checking the condition of your unit or just want some experts to access then we can help you.
We have been doing this for over 30 years now. Here’s what a customer said about us:
“I contacted Anrac because I felt I was being misguided by another company. Anrac and Pat in particular went out of his way to make sure that I felt at ease and comfortable with what needed to be done to fix my air conditioner. A pleasant surprise in our day and age. I would most definitely highly recommend Pat and the boys, they are helpful, friendly and know their work 100%. I’m never going anywhere but with Anrac 🙂 Thank you, Pat, for making our life bearable again in this horrible heat.” -Mira Healy
To find out if your ducted air-conditioner needs replacing, please contact us here.