5 Common Signs That Your AC Unit's Life Is Coming to an End

When is it time to put your old system to rest? Here are some of the most common signs.

Time to replace A/C

Unfortunately for homeowners, even the best AC units won’t last forever. While a yearly AC tune-up can keep your unit functioning efficiently for as long as possible, even regular HVAC maintenance won’t make your system last forever. Eventually, you’re going to need to replace it.

But it can be hard to tell when it’s time to pull the trigger on a new AC unit, especially because replacing components of your HVAC system can generate some of the biggest home maintenance bills you’ll ever pay. When is it time to put your old system to rest? Here are some of the most common signs:

1. Your HVAC System Is Old

Most AC units seem to last about 20 years with proper maintenance. If your unit is reaching that age, or if it’s even older, it could be time to consider replacement. If something breaks in your aging HVAC system, then your home warranty may be able to cover the repair or replacement of it.

A home warranty can come in handy, especially if the broken part happens to be an expensive one. For example, if your home AC compressor needs to be replaced and the unit is 10 or more years old, you’re already looking at parts and labor costs that could equal or exceed the costs of replacing your AC unit entirely without a home warranty.

2. Your Energy Costs Are Going Up

If it’s getting more expensive to run your central air conditioning, rising energy costs may not necessarily be the culprit. As your HVAC system gets older, it won’t function as efficiently, and that can mean rising costs. As it ages, an AC unit loses its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) points, costing up to nine percent of its efficiency per point.

3.  It’s Getting Hot Inside

Perhaps the most obvious sign that your AC may be on its way out is that it’s simply not doing the job anymore. When you turn on your central air conditioning, cool air should come from the vents within a few minutes. If it doesn’t, this is a sign your AC is struggling to keep up, especially if the AC powers up but blows warm air.

Of course, a failure to cool your home properly doesn’t always indicate that you need to replace your unit. It can also be a sign that you have a clog in your ductwork. If your AC isn’t functioning at all, a contractor may be able to repair it. However, if your AC appears to be functioning but just isn’t cooling your home the way it once did, it may be time for an upgrade.

Tech checking A/C

4. You’re Getting Moisture Build-Up or Humidity Issues

One of the jobs of your AC is to remove humidity from the air inside your home. The evaporator coil does this by extracting warm air from the inside of your home, cooling it, and redirecting it back inside. The moisture it removes from the air during this process may leak out of your unit outside. A little water dripping from a home AC unit is normal.

However, as your AC ages and loses efficiently, or as issues develop with the evaporator coil, your unit will no longer be able to extract humidity from the air inside your home as efficiently as it once did. Your home will feel clammier, and you may even see fog on your windows or moisture around your vents or in your ductwork. Additionally, you may experience mold or mildew growth inside your unit or in your home.

5. Your AC Is Loud or Smells Weird

A properly functioning HVAC system should not be squealing, rattling, squeaking or grinding. Unusual or loud sounds during operation are a sign that your AC unit could be reaching the end of its life.

Similarly, weird smells coming out of your vents when you run your central air could be a sign that your AC unit is in need of replacement. The air coming out of your vents when your AC is operating should smell clean. It should never smell musty, moldy or smoky.

You rely on your AC to keep your home cool and comfortable in the summer, so while replacing a failing system can be expensive, it’s well worth the cost. Remember, you don’t have to assume the costs of repairing or replacing components of your HVAC alone. Your home warranty with American Home Shieldâ can help cover some of these expenses no matter the unit’s age. Learn more about our plans today.

If you’re already an AHS member with A/C coverage, we’re here for you when you need us. You can request service in MyAccount 24/7.

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AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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New Jersey Residents: The product being offered is a service contract and is separate and distinct from any product or service warranty which may be provided by the home builder or manufacturer.