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Does a Failed Compressor Mean I Need to Get a New Air Conditioner?

old-ac-unitOf the different ways a central AC system might malfunction, nothing is more terrifying than news of a dead compressor. It’s like being told the engine of a car is shot. But while someone who has a classic car may feel it’s worth it to put in a new engine, there’s no such thing as a “classic” air conditioning system! Nobody collects them, nobody holds vintage air conditioning shows. When the compressor dies, an owner must face the question whether it’s more cost-effective to replace the whole AC than just replacing the compressor.

And … is it? The answer is more complicated than “yes” or “no.”

The Four Different Options

There aren’t two choices for what to do when a compressor is beyond repair. There are four:

  • Replace the compressor only
  • Replace the condenser, i.e. all the parts in the outdoor cabinet, which includes the compressor, exhaust fan, and the condenser coil
  • Replace the air conditioning system, i.e. the condenser and indoor evaporator coil
  • Replace the air conditioning and heating system, which adds the furnace and the air handler to all of the above.

Replacing the Compressor

A compressor is expensive to replace, and if the air conditioning system is more than 12 years old, it’s probably not worth it. However, if the compressor is still covered by the warranty, then replacing the compressor is the best choice. As long as you’ve kept up with regular maintenance for the system, the warranty will be good for 10 or 12 years. (This is one of the many reasons to stay current with an annual air conditioning tune-up in Lebanon, OH for your AC.)

Replacing the Condenser

If the AC is no longer under warranty and you haven’t experienced any major malfunctions with it, replacing the condenser is an option. You must be careful about getting a mismatched system (indoor and outdoor components that don’t work well together) and there are benefits about replacing the entire AC to consider.

Replacing the Air Conditioner

This is a good choice for an older AC when the compressor fails. With a full new system, you’ll receive a new warranty that will protect you against system malfunctions for many years. The full replacement will have better efficiency, and you can choose from excellent new models with improved features. If your old AC used outdated R-22 refrigerant, we absolutely recommend a new system so you can make the switch to the new refrigerant blend.

Replacing the Air Conditioner and the Heater

The big restart—essentially replacing the whole HVAC system except for the ducts. For an HVAC system with an over-the-hill heater, this is often the best way to go. You can save money by having two large replacement jobs done at the same time, and you can also opt to have a heat pump put in, which is a single comfort system that works as both a heater and an air conditioner.

Please consult with our HVAC technicians before making a choice. They can help steer you toward the best long-term and short-term solution.

Bartels Heating & Cooling “For a Comfortable Way of Life.” Call us for your HVAC system services in Hamilton, OH and the surrounding area!

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