The last thing you want to deal with is worrying about your air conditioner on a hot day. If it fails, though, you’re going to have to make a judgment call – is it time to repair the air conditioning unit, or does it need to be replaced? This is a big question that tends to stump homeowners, especially if they’ve never dealt with the process before. Fortunately, taking a close look at the costs of both choices can help you to figure out which one might be right for you.
The Initial Cost Factor
The best place to start is the place at which most homeowners start their own journeys – with a cost. Simply put, it often makes sense for the average individual to make whichever choice is going to be most financially reasonable for him or her at a given moment.
If you are a homeowner who doesn’t have much of an emergency fund, the most likely choice will be that you’ll choose to repair your air conditioner in almost any circumstance. The only time you’d really even be able to think about replacing the entire unit is if doing so would cost less than the up-front cost of repairs.
There are, of course, situations in which the raw cost of the repairs will end up being less than that of replacing the air conditioning unit. This is exceedingly common in older or rarer models, simply because getting replacement parts is far more difficult than might have been the case when those models were still in production. Older machines may also tend to require much more effort to repair, which in turn leads to more time spent on the job and higher prices for the consumer. In such cases, moving away from repair and towards replacement makes sense for the homeowner.
The truth, though, is that repairs will typically cost less than replacement. A new unit can run thousands of dollars, while repairs for simple jobs don’t come anywhere close to that amount. There’s a reason that most homeowners are going to look for repairs first, and the issue of cost will always be the most important factor that informs this choice. What consumers should remember, though, is that there are multiple ways to calculate cost and that the lower price tag of a repair may hide far higher costs in the future.
Calculating Maintenance Costs
If the price tag is the most important factor for most homeowners, it’s important that the price is actually calculated correctly. For the most part, homeowners will look at the up-front cost of repairs versus the up-front costs of replacement – and except in those situations listed above, the up-front cost of repairs will always be lower. As homeowners, though, individuals need to be aware of what it’s actually going to cost to maintain an older or ill-performing unit over the course of several years in order to figure out what the right choice might be.
As an AC unit gets older, the cost of repairs is naturally going to go up. To some degree, this is simply due to the fact that the moving parts of the machine are going to wear as time goes on, and eventually, parts are going to have to be replaced. Unfortunately, it’s rare to see the parts all go at once – instead, it can feel like the process is strung along to require more frequent and more expensive repairs over time. As such, it may be wise to start considering replacement as soon as the repairs start to become a bit more frequent.
It’s also a good idea to look at what maintenance costs might be based on other factors. If you own an older unit that uses an older type of coolant, you can expect the cost of refilling to the coolant to go up as that particular substance goes off the market. Likewise, a unit that uses an older type of technology is going to become more expensive to maintain simply because parts and expertise are harder to find. If you see that the unit is being outpaced by newer models, you might save money over the long run just by replacing that AC unit.
When choosing between repairing or replacing, it’s also a good idea to start looking at the costs of operating the unit. The common wisdom here is that older units tend to be more expensive to operate – they’re less efficient and thus require more energy to cool your home. There’s also the fact that there are still state and federal tax incentives for replacing AC units with more efficient models, which is something else that needs to be calculated into the actual cost of replacing the AC unit.
It may also be worthwhile to consider replacing even a newer unit if the unit you have is the wrong size for your home. An AC unit that is too large or too small will cost more to run, which will lead to higher energy bills and may end up costing you more than the cost of a new unit over the course of a few years. This is the point at which it’s necessary to do a little bit of math to determine exactly how much money repairing or replacement is actually going to cost you.
The Simple Math
You can make use of a simple equation to determine the real costs of repairs versus replacement. You’ll take the basic cost of repairs, plus the cost of running the unit, plus your expected maintenance costs for the near future as your first number. You’ll compare that to the cost of a new unit minus any incentives and then add the cost of operation that you might get from the new unit.
Your equation is going to look something like this:
Repair Cost + (Maintenance + (Operating Cost per Year x 3)) v (Replacement Cost – Incentives) + (Operating Cost x 3).
In the vast majority of cases, the lower number should give you a clear answer to which choice will make the most financial sense going forward.
There are plenty of good reasons to repair or replace your Huntington Beach air conditioningunit, so it’s wise to sit down and work the numbers a bit until you figure out which one really works for you. Repairs cost less in the short-term but have long-term consequences. Replacing a unit has a huge up-front cost, but it can save you money over time. Your financial situation and the condition of your AC unit will have to be factored into determining which step to take.