Replacement Air Conditioning Systems

While Air Conditioning is a long-term investment, there does come a time when you need to consider replacing your air conditioning system.  This could be due to a number of reasons including your air conditioning system has become inefficient or has stopped working altogether, replacement parts are no longer available to carry out the needed repairs to that unit, or that it is an R22 system that has become faulty and needs replacing.  Read more about air conditioning compliance and regulations.

It is wise, from a budgeting perspective, to always be thinking ahead to your next replacement system because air conditioning systems do have a lifetime and it is much better to plan in advance than to get caught out with sudden, large replacement costs.  Based on the usage of your system and the size/complexity of it, you can work out a simple amount that you should budget or set aside each year to ensure you are allowing for both the ongoing maintenance and repair costs as well as future replacement costs.

What is the typical lifetime of an Air Conditioning system?  How long should an air conditioning unit last?

 

There are a number of factors that influence the lifetime of air conditioning systems including both system usage and the environment in which it is installed.  Typically, we would expect a system to last between 8 and 15 years.  This is an average range and not to say a system cannot last longer than 15 years.  For example, an air conditioning unit installed in a meeting room has very little usage and could last around 20 years.

Another factor that significantly affects the life of an air conditioning system is whether or not it has had a regular maintenance routine during its lifetime.

An Air Conditioning System that hasn’t received the maintenance that it needed!

Does maintaining my Air Conditioning system extend its life?

 

The short answer is, Yes!  Regular maintenance ensures that your system is kept clean and running optimally, as well as giving you a warning of any problems developing within your system that might require repair.  Systems that are not maintained after installation will deteriorate over time and the equipment lifetime will be severely impacted.  This is because of the strain that the working parts are put under.  Take, for example, an air conditioning unit installed in a dusty environment, the filters will very quickly get caked with dirt, causing the fan to work much harder and putting it under excessive strain.  If this is left unchecked, it could cause the fan motor to fail, which could lead to further damage within the unit and a very expensive repair.

Putting in place a preventative maintenance contract is the single best advice that we can give, to minimise the long-term replacement cost of your air conditioning system.  While a maintenance contract costs money, it minimises the large and unexpected costs associated with system breakdown – not only the cost of the repair, but the downtime and the inconvenience caused.

It should also be noted that the equipment manufacturer will not replace parts under warranty if there has not been a maintenance programme in place.  Set up a maintenance programme with Salix or your chosen HVAC provider without delay, allowing you to take control of costs.

Air conditioning systems tend to be associated with modern office environments, but they are actually found installed in many different settings.  Probably the main two types of air conditioning usage are comfort cooling and process cooling.  Comfort cooling is, as it suggests, a method of cooling and heating to keep people comfortable in an indoor environment.  Process cooling is where air conditioning is used to control the temperature in manufacturing process areas and critical production environments.  IT cooling is a type of process cooling, used to keep server rooms and critical IT systems operating at a safe temperature.

There are some environments in which air conditioning is installed that will put much greater strain on the systems – this is due to both the pattern of usage, as well as the physical environment in which the units are installed.  For example, an air conditioning system used to cool a critical server room will be in operation continually, 365 days a year – understandably, this will not last as long as the same unit if it were installed in an office or meeting that has occasional use.

Air conditioning units that are installed in dusty or dirty environments will require more regular servicing and will be more susceptible to problems or breakdowns.  Examples of these environments could be condenser units located next to a busy street, or units installed within dusty manufacturing environments.

Is it straightforward to replace air conditioning systems?

 

In an ideal world, the replacement of an old air conditioning system with a new one is a relatively straightforward job – hopefully, you can re-use the existing refrigerant pipework and it is, therefore, a case of swapping out the old equipment with the new.  This does make it sound very simple, however, and there is a process that must be followed even in straightforward system replacements, especially relating to the handling of refrigerant.

Equipment manufacturers are continually updating and improving their systems which means that compatibility between old and new systems is a moving feast.  Replacing a faulty condenser unit for a 15-year-old system could have a number of challenges including pipe sizing, matching the cooling capacity as well as the footprint/size of the unit itself.

Salix engineers preparing a frame to house a new HVAC installation on a plant deck.

What does it cost to replace an air conditioning system?

 

It is difficult to put an exact number on this as there are many variables that will affect it – one of the main things being, whether or not you can re-use the existing refrigerant pipework.  If you can, then this removes an element of material and labour cost – as a guide, if the pipework can be re-used, you may save around 25% on the installation cost.

If you are planning on replacing your air conditioning system, we would recommend that you contact Salix or your chosen HVAC consultant well in advance of the actual requirement.  This will allow sufficient time for consultancy, checking the existing system and sourcing the correct parts and equipment for the new installation.

Rob Tuffin