This is a post sponsored by Sears Home Services in exchange for providing my thoughts on whether it’s time to replace the air conditioner.

How to decide whether it's time to replace the air conditioner in your house. Tips and tricks to ensure you stay cool all summer long.

It’s hot here in Chicago. We get the “best” of both worlds – super hot and humid summers and bitterly cold winter to the point they cancel school because it isn’t safe to walk. Needless to say, that tests our homes’ HVAC systems as we attempt to stay comfortable indoors. Our house is a particular challenge as it was built as a one story bungalow in 1925 and had a second floor put on in 2005. It wasn’t a seamless transition, and we keep finding all sorts of interesting things as we spend more time in this (still somewhat) new to us house.

When the addition went on in 2005, the builder changed all the mechanicals. Our HVAC system is from 2005. The dishwasher that just broke and got replaced is from 2005. The oven with a bad seal that won’t self clean is from 2005. We have hail damage, and our roof needs replacing. The water softener that exploded Friday morning is from 2005 (ok, really a hose popped off the top during a cleaning cycle, but given the water spewing everywhere I’m allowed the exaggeration). You get the point.

As we live here longer, we’re slowly upgrading and replacing those fun things we discover. I replaced the washing machine last year. We built a garage that actually fits today’s cars in it last year. The dishwasher was replaced a month ago. After opening my electric bill from last month, now we’re debating whether it’s time to replace the air conditioner and furnace.

They were never as efficient as they were in our old (yet ironically much newer) house. The air conditioning runs – loudly – far too often even as warm as I keep the house. We’ve done the obvious fixes like replacing the filters and adjusting the vents and returns. Most HVAC systems last 10-14 years when serviced regularly, so we’re probably due.

The last thing we want is to end up with no A/C at all during the dog days of summer. August is a rough month in Chicago in terms of heat and humidity. The difference between my usual 76-78 degrees in the house and what it would be if our HVAC system broke is nightmarish. Needless to say, I scheduled a preventive check with Sears Home Improvement while we decide whether it’s time to replace the air conditioner (and furnace – because why not?).

On the plus side, if we do decide to replace our HVAC system, with Sears Home Improvement we can save up to $625 (including possible Federal Tax Credits) with this offer valid through 12/31/2016. Figuring out whether or not it’s time to replace the air conditioner is a big decision. Knowing I can save some money makes it a little less daunting. You can upgrade your home, get tax credits and companies like Sears make sure you are aware of these benefits and you can stack savings.

Tips to Decide if It’s Time to Replace the Air Conditioner

Schedule a tuneup. Regular maintenance is critical to ensuring your appliances last as long as possible. An ounce of prevention makes a huge difference. Let the experts take a look at your air conditioner and ensure it’s working as well as possible. They can tell you if it’s cooling properly, if your refrigerant level is correct, or if it’s time to replace the air conditioner.

Make sure your air conditioner is the right kind for your house. Air conditioners come in all shapes and sizes and styles. Do you live in Chicago where we have to worry about humidity in summer or Arizona where humidity doesn’t exist? Is your house tiny, or do you live in a large, rambling home that requires more cooling power? Air conditioning units are not one size fits all, and the wrong air conditioner in your home can be a costly mistake. You can schedule a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Improvement where they can determine what you need based on those factors, as well as budget and desire for efficiency.

Are your rooms comfortable? This is one of our biggest challenges. Our house doesn’t retain heat in the winter, and in the summer, it gets hot. Right now, the second floor is 10-15 degrees warmer than the first floor. We’re working through checking vents and plan to install a solar attic fan plus more insulation. That said, this is often the result of an air conditioner (and furnace!) that isn’t doing its job, too.

How old is your air conditioner? Just like cars, sometimes they may still run, but there have been so many improvements in the last 10 years. If your air conditioner is older than that, that alone may be a factor in deciding whether it’s time to replace the air conditioner. Freon is no longer the coolant of choice. Units run more efficiently and lose less cool air, which means they run less and save you money. The payback period for a more efficient HVAC unit is generally just 7-10 years.

Does it make strange noises? Air conditioners aren’t silent, but they shouldn’t make erratic banging or other strange noises. You know what your functioning air conditioner sounds like. Definitely call a repair technician. Often, the problem can be fixed, but the expert can let you for sure. This may be your clue that it’s time to replace the air conditioner.

How much will the repair cost? You can almost always fix something. But will your repair cost a good chunk of what a new air conditioner does? Your HVAC system is a major appliance and the cost reflects that, but at some point, the value of the repairs start to exceed the value of the system. Don’t forget to include the money you’d save with a more efficient unit. When your heating and cooling bills decrease, count that savings!I

How long will the repair last? Once major components start to fail, it feels like they go one after the other. Your Sears Home Improvement expert can let you know if other parts are on their last legs, leading to more costly repairs down the road. Sometimes, it’s best to bite the bullet before you sink too much money into a unit that won’t last.

Common air conditioner issues

Have you made sure your air conditioner will last through summer? Or are you deciding if it’s time to replace your air conditioner?

Time to replace your air conditioner How do you know


  • Sarah

    Wow. This is fantastic. I’m printing you list. We waited till ours broke the last time. Never again! Thanks for sharing.

    • Michelle

      Thanks, Sarah! I can’t imagine the panic of a broken a/c unit!

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