Figuring out whether to repair or replace your air conditioner when problems arise can actually be quite a challenge. 

The issue is that it’s not always easy to do a cost-benefit analysis on repair versus replacement when you’re not an air conditioning and heating professional.

A simple internet search will yield all kinds of information. 

However, it can also be difficult to sort through all of this stuff to figure out what’s true and what isn’t. 

And besides—some of that information may not apply specifically to your situation, based on a range of different factors. 

So today, we’re going to help you understand how to know when it’s time to repair your air conditioner, versus when it’s time to just go ahead and replace the entire unit. 

Let’s dive in. 

Performing A Cost-Benefit Analysis

When you get down to it, the biggest reason for why you want to make an informed decision about repairing or replacing your air conditioner really comes down to a cost-benefit analysis.

You want to choose the option that’s going to keep your out-of-pocket expenses at a minimum while delivering the maximum amount of long-term value and benefit at the same time.

In other words, you want to get the best bang for your buck. 

So here are 4 specific things to look for that can help you identify when it’s time to repair your air conditioner versus when it’s time to go ahead and replace the entire thing.

1. If The Unit Is Over 10 Years Old, It’s Probably Time To Replace It

Nowadays, air conditioners last a lot longer than they used to.

However, most current air conditioners installed in the typical house or residence are going to have a life expectancy of about 10 to 15 years.

Now, if the air conditioner was properly maintained, it could last even longer than that. 

However, the fact of the matter is that you’re probably reading this blog post because you’ve experienced a problem. 

Hence, you need to make a decision about whether or not to repair the unit versus replacing it altogether. 

The truth of the matter is that air conditioners do have a finite lifespan. 

And if your unit is over 10 years old, then the likelihood that you’re going to experience recurring breakdowns is just going to increase.

So with units older than 10 years in age, we always recommend going ahead and opting for replacement.

2. If The Unit Has Suffered An Expensive Breakdown, You May Want To Consider A Replacement

Some air conditioner breakdowns are relatively cheap and easy to fix. 

In such cases, getting the unit repaired will definitely cost you less than replacing it. 

However, there are some mechanical and electrical breakdowns that can actually cost thousands of dollars to fix, especially on higher-end air conditioning units.

And when you start getting into repairs in that price range, it might make financial sense to at least entertain the idea of replacing the unit. 

Here’s how to do the calculation. 

You’ll want to multiply the age of the unit by the repair cost. And if you come up with a number that exceeds $5,000, it’s probably time to ditch the old unit and opt for a replacement.

Air conditioning and heating pros call this the 5000 rule, and it tends to work out pretty well.

3. Is This Your First Major Breakdown?

If this is the first time you’ve ever really had a problem with your air conditioner, and if the unit is either younger than 10 years old or riding right on that line, you may not necessarily need to replace the entire thing… even if it turns out to be a moderately expensive repair. 

If your unit has been well maintained and has a track record of working well, then this breakdown may be a one-off occurrence. 

A repair may get you back up and running for years to come—especially if you continue to maintain the unit (which will prolong its life expectancy and help it to run more efficiently).

4. Is The Unit Performing At A Satisfactory Level?

At the end of the day, the purpose of your air conditioner is to help keep the environment within your home comfortable and adjusted to your specific preferences

If your current air conditioner is suffering breakdowns, then you may be able to fix the problem quickly and easily with a simple repair. 

However, if the unit doesn’t tend to perform at a satisfactory level even when it’s functioning correctly (for example, if it simply fails to cool down your entire house on a really hot day), then you may want to consider spending the money required to get a new and updated unit that will be more up to the task of keeping your home cool in those hot summer months. 

Here in the Midwest, summers get hot and balmy. And to be honest, especially for larger houses, it can take a robust air conditioner to keep up.

Sometimes, it’s just a better option to replace the unit instead of continuing to pay for repairs on a unit that isn’t performing up to par anyway.


Now you know what to look for when considering repair versus replacement when you suffer an air conditioning problem or failure. 

If you need a second opinion, or if you need to ask for advice on a specific air conditioning problem, feel free to contact us and let us know what’s going on.

We’d love to help you get your air conditioning problems sorted out and get you back on the road to a comfortable living space.

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