HVAC Hacks: Tips for Novices and New Homeowners

Using Performance To Determine When You Need A New Air Conditioner

Some people wait for their air conditioner to reach a certain age, such as 10 or 12, and then they just have it replaced. This is an okay approach to take. It does ensure you're never running an AC unit that's too old or inefficient. However, this approach ignores the fact that some air conditioners are sturdier and last longer than others. Your air conditioner might have many years of good use, and you won't know that if you just replace it when it reaches a decade. Therefore, you may consider an alternative approach: replacing your air conditioner when its performance decreases. 

Here are some key performance indicators to watch for. If you notice any of them, it's probably time for a replacement.

Higher Energy Costs

Keep track of your energy consumption over the years. If one summer your energy bills seem way higher than usual, take a closer look at the bill. If a higher energy cost does not explain the difference, then your air conditioner is probably losing efficiency and consuming more electricity. This usually happens once the parts develop a certain amount of wear and tear. If you don't replace the unit soon, parts will often start breaking.

Noisy Operation

Listen to your air conditioner as it runs. Pay attention to any sounds it makes when it turns on, and then while it is blowing air through the ducts. Air conditioners are pretty quiet when they're working well. If yours is making a hissing, whirring, bumping, or grinding noise, this is a sign that some parts are wearing out. There may be some worn ball bearings or a frayed fan belt, for instance. While you could have these parts fixed, if the AC unit is on the older side, replacement is often the better option in the long run.


Short-cycling is a pattern where an air conditioner kicks on and off, again and again, in short succession. Each time it kicks on, it only stays on for a few minutes. This usually happens when there is a refrigerant leak or some other problem causing the AC unit itself to get too hot or cold during operation. The temperature triggers a shut-off valve. Short-cycling usually means your AC unit is on the verge of failing completely and should be replaced.

Keep an eye on your AC unit's performance to determine when it needs to be replaced. When in doubt, have an HVAC contractor take a look. 

For more information about AC installation, contact a local company.