How often does air conditioning need to be replaced?
You'll hear a lot of variation on this question, however most modern air conditioning units will last between 10-15 years if they are properly maintained. That maintenance is the real key to reducing the costly expense of replacement. Keep in mind as well that newer systems designed to minimize work load and provide energy efficient cooling can last even longer if properly maintained. If you have your cooling unit serviced annually and check it yourself periodically, anywhere from 15-20 years is possible.
What are signs of wear and tear on an air conditioner?
If you notice that your air conditioner is starting to wear down, it doesn't always mean replacement is necessary. However, some issues are more severe than others. The first sign will be an increase in electricity use to run your air conditioner. You may also notice that the cooling unit starts to turn on and off frequently, cooling your house unevenly as it pumps different amounts of air into different parts of the house. If you have a newer model that is less than 5 years old, most issues should be handled through regular maintenance of your air conditioner. Have your coils cleaned, ducts vacuumed, and cooling units checked at least once a year. However, if you have a unit that's more than 10 years old, a replacement unit may serve to alleviate these problems and cut down on you energy use, as most new models are far more efficient than those made 10 or more years ago.
What type of air conditioner should I get?
There are a number of different types of air conditioners, though most homeowners will decide between ductless split units and a packaged air conditioning systems. A ductless split system allows you to use a single compressor and pipe the coolant into any room in your home with individual wall-mounted cooling units. For smaller homes or limited cooling needs, a split system is more cost effective and flexible. For larger homes a packaged system will be needed, which will require the installation of vents and ducts that pipe cool air from an outdoor compressor. The installation is more invasive, but combined with a zone control system you have far more control over the individual temperatures of each room in your house.
I want to use my AC less. How do I keep it off longer during the day?
To make sure your air conditioner comes on less often, set the thermostat to a higher temperature. For every degree you raise your thermostat above 72 degrees (up to 78), you will save 8% of your energy costs. Additionally, block direct sunlight from the east and west with awnings, keep the doors and windows sealed while the air conditioner is operational and do not use heat producing appliances during the day when ventilation is less available. By trapping the cool air and ensuring it remains in your home for longer, your machine won't need to work nearly as hard.
What is required with a new system installation?
When air conditioning technicians prepare to install a new air conditioner, the total work will depend on the type of system decided upon as well as the available components. Homes without installed duct work will need new duct work, often made with metal or fiberglass, installed. During the estimate period, trained technicians will determine the size and scope of duct work required and what, if any, additional work will be required. After installation of your duct work, the air conditioning unit can be installed and calibrated. Regular maintenance should also be scheduled at this time to keep your cooling unit in working order and your ducts clean.