When your air conditioner stops working, there are some situations in which it makes more sense to have it repaired over having it completely replaced, even if it's old. Beyond just saving money, it can make sense if you need your air conditioner working as soon as possible, if you can save more money later, or if you won't live in your current home long enough to see the benefits of a new system.
You Need It Running Immediately
Having your air conditioner replaced can be a lengthy process, and if you need yours back up and running quickly—which can be the case if it's currently the height of summer—a repair makes more sense in the short term. Depending on the issue this can still take some time, but generally, repairs of individual components will be faster than replacing an entire system, which can include everything from the condenser unit to the ducts to your thermostat.
There are different things that can factor into this decision. For example, if the cost of renting a nearby hotel with air conditioning for a few days is less than the cost of repairs, this might end up being a better option instead. However, consider that having your system replaced will take longer than just the duration of the installation; your system should likely be inspected first to see if replacing it is necessary, a new system will have to be purchased, and an installation date will have to be set, which can all take more time during periods of peak demand.
You Can Benefit From Savings Later
If you plan to replace your air conditioning system in the near future when you can benefit from savings that may be available at different times of the year, getting temporary repairs to hold you over until then can be a good choice. Like with the previous situation, this can depend on how expensive the repair you need is, but the variety of savings available can still often be worth it.
You can save money on a new system in a variety of ways. One of the best ways to do this is to purchase during periods of low demand, such as the start of spring when the weather is typically mild. Not only will prices typically be lower during these times, both for products and labor, but the air conditioners and components themselves might also get special discounts when manufacturers need to sell more units. With more time to look, you can also search for rebates and tax credits offered by state and local governments and utility companies.
You'll Be Moving Out Soon
If you'll be leaving your home soon, it's often a better idea to front the cost of a repair rather than the cost of a brand new system. This usually ends up being a consideration when factoring in the cost of a new system, which often includes the savings you'll get over time with something much more energy efficient. If you'll be moving out, you won't have time to experience these savings, which makes it a tougher sell.
There are a few possible exceptions to this idea. One is if you plan to sell your house; a broken or old air conditioning system could decrease your home's value or make it harder to sell. Another is if your house is near its closing date and the air conditioner was working when you accepted the buyer's offer.
If these don't apply, and if the lack of new air conditioning won't affect you, you can likely just get what repairs are necessary to hold you over until it's time to move out. For more information on AC repair, contact a professional near you.