A friend recently bought a condenser and fan coil for her home air conditioner. Not only was she unable to tell me what she purchased, but also her home is just under five years old. Summer in the south and air conditioning go together like peanut butter and jelly, wine and cheese, or in this case fan coil and condensing unit. If you find yourself with a cooling unit that is blowing more hot air than a politician seeking re-election, consider the following before making a purchasing decision.
- Warranty. Before purchasing a unit, explore what warranty is still available. If the unit is under five years, most major manufacturers warrant their coils for five years. You can replace a coil without the condensing unit, but you’ll want to consider the type Freon used and the advanced age of the equipment. Warranties have to be registered with the manufacturer in order to be valid. Depending on the manufacturer, you might still have to pay labor, but that’s only half the bill. In recent years, several of the manufacturers have been offering 10 year parts and labor on the entire system.
- Life of Equipment. The coil should last more than five years, but it is not uncommon to have a coil leaking at the five to seven year mark. The older the equipment, the more the scale will tip toward a decision to replace the entire unit. As equipment ages, it operates less efficiently. And, therefore, the more energy/money it takes to run the equipment. At 10 years of age, you are reaching useful life of the equipment. Consider if you want to change your equipment on your own schedule. In the heat of the season it can take several days or even weeks to replace your system, and the manufacturers rarely have good incentives for purchases in the summer. If you have more than one unit in your house, you may wait until the unit dies before replacing it. However, if you have only one unit, you may want to be a little proactive in your purchase. Of course, there are always window units and hotel rooms when the a/c stops blowing cool air.
- Freon (the gas that cools). Around 2015 government regulators forced manufacturers to cease making equipment using the refrigerant, R-22. Currently the standard Freon used in new equipment is R-410A. By the year 2020 the production of R-22 will cease. However, reclaimed Freon will still be available to use as equipment is phased out. No one is predicting the cost or availability of reclaimed refrigeration past 2020. Click here to read the EPA guidelines for HVAC sales/techs advice to consumers. In my friend’s case, the salesperson convinced her she had to replace the equipment because R-22 would not be available in 2020. As long as your equipment is not leaking in 2020, you don’t need additional Freon.
Air conditioners are a major purchase. Make sure you understand your options before replacing equipment. And, if you have questions in the Dallas and Fort Worth area, I’ll be happy to recommend honest, reliable, experienced HVAC/R companies.
May your home have cool air temperatures all summer long!