A: HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. In a residential application, that’s going to include your air conditioner, which is your condensing unit outside and the evaporator coil up in the attic. The furnace is going to be more on the heating side, but also for air movement since it’s used for moving air whether you’re cooling or heating. For ventilation, it’s going to be anything like fresh air vents connected to your turn side to bring fresh air from outside in. Also, exhaust fans for utility rooms, restrooms or equipment rooms for video. So, anything having to do with moving air, conditioning air, as well as air filtration or indoor air quality.
As the trusted leader in Houston air conditioning, we get a lot of questions like this. Many people don’t stop to think about HVAC or what it means until their AC doesn’t work. They just know that HVAC is what keeps the house cool through the brutal Texas summers.
However, what happens when your Houston air conditioning unit breaks down in the middle of July when it’s 103° outside? We can almost guarantee you are googling for “Houston air conditioning repair,” or even trying to diagnose it yourself. You learn a lot when you realize—air conditioning in Houston is a commodity, not a luxury.
One of the other common questions we receive is, “When is the best time to replace or repair my old AC unit?”
Air Conditioning Replacement Is Best Done In Fall
The problem is, having to replace an AC unit is a significant expense. Also, doesn’t it seem like it never breaks down when it’s convenient or cool? It’s always when it’s the peak of summer, and when money is right, right?
There is a reason for that coincidence though—Texas summers work healthy AC units and kills failing ones. There’s no way to avoid it—you may get away with a couple of summers on an ailing unit, but that’s it.
So, since you can’t avoid replacing an ailing unit, at least you can do it when it’s easier on you.
If your unit is aging, you probably hit your knees and thank God when it makes it through another summer. But that’s no reason to put off having it replaced for another year. If you made it to this cooler weather, you should act now. Find a couple of Houston air conditioning companies and at least get some estimates or a diagnosis. You might even find out that your unit, while aging can be significantly improved with some maintenance. Or, you will find that it indeed is on the brink and needs to be replaced. Either way, you have an actionable path you can follow now.
Cooler Weather Makes For Easy Installs
The truth is, there’s no better season than fall to get your aging air conditioner issues in order. If it indeed needs replacement, you won’t feel pressured to act hastily since the weather is favorable. Summer makes people make hasty last-minute decisions on Houston air conditioning that they regret later. In addition, fall tends to be more friendly to your budget as well. Manufacturers want to make room for next year’s models and offer incentives. Also, there’s the availability of technicians—summer is so overloaded with service calls you might wait a while! Fall tends to be the slower season since Houston has mild winters—open install dates will be more plentiful.
Choosing To Repair Or Replace Your HVAC System
So, whether to repair or replace your unit is the next decision you need to make. However, thanks to the cooler weather, you have more time to think it over thoroughly. That, of course, begs the question, “How do you make that decision?”
Most likely if you are reading this Houston air conditioning blog, you have no HVAC experience. So then how can the average consumer know when the unit is not repairable? Making the wrong decision can go bad in both ways. You could spend thousands on a new unit you didn’t need when a $300.00 repair could buy you a few years. Conversely, you could do a cheap repair and still have to spend thousands a month later on a replacement anyway. Sure, there is the fact that newer units will be more energy-efficient and save money. However, what about the upfront costs of a new system installation?
The unavoidable truth is, there is no simple answer for all Houston air conditioning woes. However, you can make the best decision for your specific situation and circumstances. Simply follow these quick tips to ensure you get honest and fair solutions for your HVAC needs.
Research Houston Air Conditioning Companies
We’ll be the first to tell you that there are many service providers that are less than honest out there. Unfortunately, that does make honest provider’s jobs tougher due to consumer skepticism. At Airteam we go out of our way to make informed consumers—even if they don’t choose us.
It’s part of our code of ethics to treat every customer like family so we help where we can. So, that being said make sure you guard yourself and follow these two rules when choosing a Houston HVAC company.
Don’t Make Hasty Decisions
This is even more reason to handle your AC problems in the fall. Houston summers make people rush on decisions to end their misery and cool the house. Therefore, be very cautious of any service provider that rushes you into a decision. Statements like “this unit may not be in stock long,” or “I can’t guarantee this price tomorrow,” are scare tactics.
Any provider that uses these tactics is either dishonest or lacks confidence in their skills. Either way, it’s a bad sign. You should also be wary if they don’t offer a simple explanation for what’s wrong with your system. If they rush through the diagnosis and use a lot of jargon and ignore follow up questions—show them out. If you can’t understand the problem they are describing, how can you make an educated decision? At Airteam, we break down the diagnosis for you in laymen’s terms that anyone can understand.
Remember, under the pressure of the Texas heat or an aggressive salesperson, very bad financial decisions can be made. Be prudent, take your time to evaluate the options, if they won’t give you that time, they’re not worth yours.
Find An Unbiased Houston Air Conditioning Company
Always make sure to look for an HVAC company that specializes in both repair and new installations. Think about it—if they only do new installations, they’re more likely to steer you towards a new unit vs. repair. It’s not a guarantee that they would do that but better to err on the side of caution. You don’t want the company advising you to have ulterior motives in their assessment. At Airteam, you get an honest assessment based on what is best for your situation, not our profit margin.
Three Factors That Help Make A Smart Decision
Even with trusted advice, you need to comprehend the facts of your HVAC issues. Only then can you make a truly informed choice on whether to repair or replace your air conditioner. So, consider these three factors:
What Part Is Broken?
Some problems can seem serious on the surface but are actually and easy and inexpensive to repair. Most electrical problems fall under this umbrella, something as simple as a $2.00 capacitor can render a system unusable.
Often, the problems also sound bad—literally. Even if your unit is making a horrible noise that sounds like it’s done, it may not be that bad. It could be something like some dry bearings or something that has worn out.
However, the big one to worry about is the main component in your unit—the compressor. It’s the heart of your HVAC unit; if it’s beyond repair, it’s time to replace the unit in most cases. The reason is that many times, compressor failure is due to a secondary issue. The problem is that it’s often not discovered until you install a new compressor and could ruin the new one.
Some other issues can either be incredibly expensive to fix or quite affordable. It all depends on the severity and time it takes to fix. Coolant leaks, for example, might be an easy fix if it’s leaking from one spot. However, if it’s multiple leaks and corroded coils, it can be both expensive and a lot of labor costs. Leaks can also continue to develop as it’s almost like a disease the way corrosion spreads—so, better to replace.
Age Of Your Unit
Most residential air conditioning units in Houston are rated to last about 10-14 years in the grueling Texas heat. With the salty air blowing in from the gulf and the humidity Houston is known for, corrosion sets in quicker. Therefore, once your unit starts hitting those later years like 10-12 years of service you should prepare for replacement. It may not be worth the investment into major repairs if you might only get another summer out of it. The proactive solution is set a little extra aside on every monthly payment on your unit financing. This will offset the upfront cost of your next unit and make things easier down the road.
Unit Condition And Service History
At Airteam we cannot stress this enough: Preventative Maintenance Plans Extend The Life Of Your HVAC Unit—period.
Our Member Value Plus (MVP) scheduled maintenance plans help our customers extend the life of their unit. How hour equipment is maintained has a huge impact on the lifespan of the HVAC system. If you have a seven-year-old unit that has run since installation without being lubricated you are killing it. Conversely, a unit that has been serviced twice a year is more likely to have a long service life. You could easily have a unit that is 12 years old and still runs well if it’s taken care of.
Let Us Be Your Houston Air Conditioning Champions
There’s no reason to risk it on shady service providers and aging units. Contact Airteam today and we’ll give your unit a fair, full, and honest diagnosis. We’ll assess realistic options, make our recommendations and then let you decide—on your time. It’s how we do things at Airteam—with integrity, experience, and professionalism. Contact us today!