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Should You Repair or Replace a Leaking AC?

NexGen Should You Repair or Replace A Leaking AC

A refrigerant leak is a major problem and can leave you wondering whether to repair or replace your leaking AC. You’ll need an AC repair professional to help you decide. Refrigerant is a fluid that enables your air conditioner to cool down your home. Any AC unit can develop a leak, regardless of its age, due to corrosion, temperature extremes, and damage to coils. A leak should be considered an emergency; AC refrigerant is toxic and a loss of coolant can damage the system.

We’ll look at the following factors to help decide if a refrigerant leak warrants an AC repair or replacement:

Age of the System

Refrigerant leaks are more common in air conditioners that are five years old or more. Repair the issue if the system is relatively young. It probably has a fair amount of life left, especially if it’s less than 10 years old, so repairing a leak should be worthwhile. However, if you have an older AC, finding replacement parts may be prohibitively costly.

Cost of the Repair

A refrigerant leak can cause a considerable amount of damage. If it’s been occurring for a while, a lack of refrigerant has probably strained the system to the point major components like the compressor can fail. A compressor can be replaced. However, if your system is old and no longer under warranty, this approach is expensive.

Repairing a refrigerant leak can cost under $200 if the fix is simple. More complex jobs can cost $1,000 or more. If the job is complex and labor-intensive enough, it can cost nearly as much as replacing the entire system. As a general rule, choose a replacement if a repair estimate exceeds 50% of the price of a new unit. Or, multiply the repair cost by the unit’s age; if the result is $5,000+, replacement is more cost-effective.

Your Old AC Still Uses R-22

If your air conditioner is over 10 years old, it may use R-22 refrigerant. This product can no longer be produced legally in the U.S. Finding R-22 is extremely costly and most technicians won’t consider doing so. A more environmentally friendly refrigerant, R-410A, is readily available but can only be used in new ACs. You’re better off replacing an old AC that’s leaking.

The Cost of Your Energy Bills

How much do you spend on energy each month? Older ACs are generally less efficient than new units and even less so if there’s a leak. A technician can evaluate your system’s general efficiency rating and whether it’s properly sized for your home. If not, and several parts are worn out, and your energy bills keep going up, investing in a new AC can save you over time. 

Efficiency ratings have changed over the years. Older units have lower SEER ratings, but modern ones must be rated at least 14 SEER in the North and 15 SEER in the South (as of 2023). High-efficiency models are rated at 20 SEER or higher.

Are You Planning on Moving?

If an AC repair to fix a leak isn’t prohibitively expensive, and you plan on moving within the next few years, you may not want to invest in a replacement. However, think of the condition of the system. If it’s been poorly maintained and in disrepair, not replacing it can reduce the sale price of your home. Even if you’re not planning on leaving, replacing it can provide peace of mind and avoid dealing with the hassle later. 

Do the Indoor and Outdoor Units Match?

Indoor and outdoor AC units should be the same brand and model, but this isn’t always the case. If one component was replaced after the other, they may be incompatible, causing the system to run less smoothly and efficiently. And, if there’s a refrigerant leak, paying for a costly repair isn’t worth it. Installing a new, high-efficiency, perfectly matched system will save you energy and maintenance costs for many years.

Is It Still Under Warranty?

If the system is still under warranty, most repairs are worth it. But if the warranty has expired or is invalid, repairing a leak can be very expensive. Plus, if it’s out-of-warranty, chances are the unit has either been neglected or is too old to consider repairing. However, if you have an extended warranty and have properly maintained the system, that can delay your decision to replace it.

Contact NexGen for AC Repair or Replacement

NexGen provides AC repairs involving refrigerant leaks, condensate line clogs, and any other problems that arise. We also specialize in plumbing leak detection and repair. Our technicians are fully licensed and insured and available 24/7 for emergencies. They can diagnose and fix any problem and advise you on whether to replace an aging system. For high-quality AC repairs and free estimates in Southern California, call (805) 301-6788 today.



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