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Since 1977


Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioner?

Are you better off to invest in a new air conditioner or repair your old unit? A brand new unit can be a big expense, but so can the costs of continuing to repair and operate an aging, inefficient unit. Here are five questions that can help you make the decision that is right for you.

Take our Quiz!

1.) How old is your Air Conditioner?
  • Less than five years (1 point)
  • Five to 10 years (2 points)
  • I don’t know (3 points)
  • 10 to 15 years (4 points)
  • Older than 15 years (5 points)

The age of your equipment matters:
Most homeowners should expect a well-maintained air conditioner to last about 15 years. Note the words “well-maintained.” Equipment that has not been regularly maintained by a professional often can have half that expected length of service.

However, if you’re in need of expensive repairs and your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, it will often make more sense to replace it. This is especially true when you consider the advancements in efficiency we’ve seen with air conditioners in the past decade alone.

Another issue to consider is whether your air conditioner uses R22 Freon. Freon is being phased out by the federal government mandate. Eventually, everyone will be required to switch over to the new refrigerant (R410A). If you’re having problems with your air conditioner that involve the need for more Freon, it’s probably a good time to consider getting a new unit.

2.) What is the SEER rating of your heating/cooling system?
  • 20 SEER or above (1 point)
  • 16-19 SEER (2 points)
  • 14-15 SEER (3 points)
  • 11-13 SEER (4 points)
  • 10 SEER or below (5 points)

Efficiency matters, but there’s more to efficiency than a SEER rating. In general, the lower the SEER rating, the more it costs to operate it. Today, manufactured air conditioners must have a SEER rating of at least 13. To find out more about efficiency, ask your Russell & Abbott representative.

3.) How long to do you plan to stay in your current home?
  • I am not the homeowner (1 point)
  • Two years or less (2 points)
  • Five years or less (3 points)
  • Five to 10 years (4 points)
  • 10 years or longer (5 points)

It is smart to weigh the costs of a repair against the costs of a new unit. While the decision to buy a new system has many variables, in general, if you own and plan to live in your home for more than five years and the repair cost is close to half the cost of a new system, it probably makes more financial sense to replace it. Russell & Abbott has financing with approved credit in place for new systems and repairs costing more than $200, and you can qualify online at

4.) How often do you experience breakdowns in your equipment?
  • It’s reliable (1 point)
  • Infrequent, but irritating problems (2 points)
  • Neutral—frequency of repair is about what I’d expect (3 points)
  • Frequent issues (4 points)
  • I’m over it! (5 points)

Has it been necessary to call Russell & Abbott in addition to your bi-annual maintenance tune-ups that you get as a Comfort Club member? If you’ve called a couple of times, think about whether it makes sense for you to continue spending money on an older unit.

5.) How comfortable does your home feel?
  • My home is always comfortable (1 point)
  • My home is usually comfortable, except during extreme temperatures [below 32 or above 95 degrees] (2 points)
  • My home has uneven temperatures year around—some rooms are good, but others are uncomfortable (3 points)
  • I’m always cold in the winter, hot in the summer and/or I have humidity problems (4 points)
  • I don’t know. It costs too much to be “comfortable” (5 points)

Add points from the five questions to determine your total score.

22-25 Points A new system is definitely the right choice for you.

17-21 Points A new system is probably the best option. Your system is facing the inevitable.

10-16 Points The decision will ultimately depend on the problem. It is essential for homeowners whose scores are in this range, and who choose repair to keep your system regularly maintained by qualified technicians following the repair.

7-9 Points Repair is most likely your best option, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

6 points or fewer Fix it and forget it, but continue regular maintenance.

There are several reasons that your home may not be as comfortable as you’d like which range from an incorrectly-sized heating/cooling system to aging equipment. To find out more, call the experts at Russell & Abbott, 865.982.5133 or contact us here!

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