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Understanding the Hazards of Using an Old Air Conditioner

Cassie Pound, owner of Quality Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electric
Published by
Cassie Pound
March 20, 2023
Understanding the Hazards of Using an Old Air Conditioner

Does your old air conditioner in your home or business feel like a burden and an endless source of frustration? As your central air conditioning system or mini-split system gets older, it can develop quirks and lose the ability to perform as well as it used to. These problems can start out as mere inconveniences, but before long, they could seriously impact your quality of life.

The air conditioning professionals at Quality Heating Cooling & Plumbing, Tulsa’s AC installation service, want you to appreciate the risks of trying to get by with an old air conditioner. Before you decide to put off replacing your air conditioner for “just one more season,” learn about the potential downside and make an informed decision.

What Happens to Air Conditioners as They Age?

As air conditioners get older, components that once worked together seamlessly develop wear and damage that gradually degrade their ability to perform. Each worn-out or defective part changes the way the system operates, forcing other components to work harder. Eventually, a cascade of part failures or the catastrophic failure of one or more crucial components forces the property owner to pay for repairs.

How Does Age Affect an Air Conditioner’s Performance

Each part of your air conditioner carries out a different function, so different failure points will cause your air conditioner to break down in different ways. The following are the most common changes your air conditioning can undergo as it ages.

Reduced Airflow

Air conditioners cool the air inside your home and transfer the heat to the outside air by a cyclic flow of refrigerant through the refrigerant lines. For the refrigerant to do its job, it must be able to receive heat from the air and radiate it back to the air. Damage to the coils, ice, or debris can compromise the airflow.

If air cannot flow, the coils can freeze or overheat, causing further damage. The air conditioner will work harder to compensate for the reduction in efficiency, shortening the life of other essential air conditioner parts.

Refrigerant Leaks

The refrigerant lines or the air conditioning coils could develop leaks as they age. As leaks develop and worsen, the refrigerant levels drop, and the air conditioner will no longer be able to draw heat from the rooms of your home or business. 

Some types of refrigerants are harmful chemicals that impact the environment and cause health problems for people and pets. Building codes include rules for properly disposing of refrigerant.

Worn Out Motors

The air conditioner’s compressor and air handler rely on electric motors to do their work. If these motors break down, they work less efficiently, make noise, produce excess heat, and could start a fire. 

Electrical Issues

The thermostat, heat sensors, and wiring can fail in older air conditioners, particularly if insects or other animals are getting into hidden spaces in your home. If your old air conditioner cannot detect the temperature and respond to it, it might cool your house to the wrong temperature or fail to turn on at all. The wall panel for your thermostat might provide an alert about the status of your air conditioner if it develops electrical problems.

What Are the Downsides of Using an Air Conditioner That Is Past Its Prime?

Air conditioning systems become unreliable and inefficient as they age. Avoid the following risks by considering replacement of your older air conditioner. 

Inconsistent Cooling

If your air conditioner no longer has the cooling power to keep your home at the desired temperature, it could heat some rooms more than others. You might not be confident that your air conditioning will be able to maintain a comfortable temperature if you invite friends or family over for a social event. 

High Energy Bills

If your old air conditioner is running but failing to produce cool air, it will drive up your energy costs.

Unexpected Air Conditioner Failure

If critical parts of your air conditioner lose power or break suddenly, your AC might not work at all, or it might merely circulate hot air. If your air conditioner fails during a heat wave, you or members of your family might have to leave your home or run the risk of health problems caused by high heat and humidity levels.

Health Problems

In addition to heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and problems directly related to the heat, an aging air conditioner can cause or exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Old ductwork and dirty filters can become contaminated with mold, bacteria, and allergens such as pollen. If you or anyone else in your house experiences frequent coughing or congestion, your air conditioning system and ductwork could be a contributing factor.

Property Damage 

Some air conditioning problems can put your possessions at risk. For example, the condensate drain line conveys water condensation from your air conditioner out of your home. If the condensate drain line leaks or develops a blockage, it can back up onto the floor. The water could damage furniture, carpeting, and personal possessions, as well as accelerate corrosion of the air conditioning unit itself.

Don’t let your air conditioning problems ruin family memories or put your family’s health in jeopardy. Avoid these pitfalls by repairing or replacing your old air conditioning unit.

The Benefits of Upgrading Your Old Air Conditioner

You could benefit from replacing an older air conditioner even if it does not yet have significant problems. Today’s air conditioners are more economical, efficient, and effective compared to the models that were on the market fifteen years ago.

Replacing your air conditioner early means that you can enjoy the comfort of a new air conditioning unit without having to wait for your old one to become dirty, worn out, and unreliable. You can also start saving on your energy bills immediately.

Preparing for Air Conditioner Replacement

While air conditioner replacement is inevitable eventually, property owners can be proactive in managing their air conditioning system to improve its function and reduce the risk that air conditioning problems will affect your lifestyle.

  • Have a professional conduct regular maintenance on your air conditioner every year so that you can repair or replace your air conditioner before the weather warms up.
  • Be vigilant for any changes in how your air conditioner operates, including any unusual odors or sounds. 
  • Check your energy bill every month and contact an HVAC specialist if you see an increase in energy use that you can’t attribute to changes in your lifestyle.

Making the Choice to Repair or Replace

There is no one specific rule about when to replace your old air conditioner. When you call an air conditioner contractor for preventive maintenance or in response to an air conditioning problem, ask them to describe the pros and cons of buying a new air conditioning system. The technician should provide an honest assessment and explain your options in understandable terms without “upselling” you on services you do not need.

Choose Quality Heating Cooling & Plumbing for Your Air Conditioning Upgrade and Installation

Quality Heating Cooling & Plumbing is a locally owned business with deep ties to the Tulsa community. Our top-rated company provides professional air conditioning maintenance, installation, and repair. We want our neighbors to have dependable climate control at any time of year.

To replace your old air conditioner with a modern, energy-efficient AC unit, call Quality Heating Cooling & Plumbing at (918) 393-4204. Start the process of efficient, hassle-free air conditioning replacement today. Ask about tax rebates for new AC units.

Cassie Pound, owner of Quality Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electric
Published by
Cassie Pound

Cassie Pound is the Vice President of Quality Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electric with locations in Tulsa, Glenpool, and Bartlesville, Oklahoma.