Three Signs It Might Be Time for AC Replacement

How To Tell When It’s Time To Replace Your Air Conditioner

Spring is here, which means it’s time to crank up the AC to try and beat the heat (not to mention that ever-present South Carolina humidity). But if the home’s AC is ancient, struggling, and ready to quit at any minute, homeowners may find themselves sweating it out on a hot and muggy day while they wait for the repair technician to arrive - only to be told that the unit is done for.

Fortunately, one can usually avoid that unpleasant scenario with a little awareness and vigilance. In most cases, an air conditioner on its way out will exhibit some key symptoms. By knowing what to look for, homeowners can spot trouble early and decide to replace that old clunker on their terms. So keep reading for a few telltale signs that it may be time to replace the AC!

Strange Sounds & Odd Odors


If the AC unit is making strange noises or the home fills with unusual odors when the AC is on, it may signify a doomed unit. Clanging, squealing, rattling, or grinding sounds coming from the unit could be caused by multiple issues, some of which only require basic repairs. But they could also indicate a failing compressor, burnt-out motor, or other major issues that require expensive repairs or necessitate replacing the entire component (as is the case with a faulty compressor).

A burning smell or smoke coming from the vents most likely indicates an exposed wire or fire inside the unit. Homeowners should immediately turn the system off and call for emergency repair if this happens. A musty odor may point to a mold infestation, either in the ductwork or the unit itself. If the unit is contaminated with mold, getting it out can be difficult. Depending on the age of the unit and the cost of fixing the problem, it may be better to install a new AC.

Unusually High Energy Bills


If the electricity bill has gone up recently - or has steadily been going up for the last few years - for no apparent reason, it may be the mark of an aging air conditioner. After years of wear and tear, an older unit simply won’t be able to perform as efficiently as it once did. And thanks to constant advancements in HVAC technology, many of today’s air conditioners are substantially more efficient than older models anyway.

Spikes in energy usage could also be due to leaky air ducts, a lack of maintenance, or other smaller issues. Homeowners should consult with an HVAC expert or professional energy auditor to determine the root cause before pulling the trigger on a new energy-efficient AC.

More Signs the Unit Is Failing

The age, performance, and condition of the AC unit can also give hints as to whether or not a full AC replacement is necessary. The average lifespan of an air conditioner is around 12 years, so if the unit was installed 10-15 years ago, it may be close to quitting. However, if it’s well maintained and still seems to be functioning just fine, it could last several more years.

On the other hand, if it constantly needs repairing or its performance is suffering, it’s probably not worth keeping around. Eventually, the cost of frequent repairs and replacement parts will eclipse the cost of an AC replacement! Many older units use R-22 refrigerant (aka Freon), which has been slowly phased out in favor of a more eco-friendly alternative, R-410A. Older units designed only for R-22 will grow more difficult and expensive to maintain and repair, so upgrading may make more sense. 

When in doubt, homeowners should always ask their trusted HVAC service provider to assess the state of their AC system and layout all the options to find the one that works best for the home!

About Carney & Son 72 Degrees

Carney & Son 72 Degrees has been proudly serving the Charleston community since 1984. As a family-owned local business, their commitment to safety, honesty, and outstanding service has earned them a fast-growing collection of awards, 5-star reviews, and satisfied customers. They offer free estimates, membership perks, 24/7 emergency service, and a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee - so there’s no one better to call for AC installation in Charleston, SC!