Replacing Your Central Air Conditioner?

Couple happily reviews electricity bills that lowered since they replaced their HVAC system

Originally published on November 12, 2012

10 Things You Should Know about AC Units

Maybe your old central air conditioner has quit working, and you think you need a replacement.  Maybe you want to upgrade to a more energy-efficient or environmentally-friendly system. Maybe you’re not sure what to do.

Whatever the reason you’re considering a new air conditioner or furnace, you’ll want to go through this handy checklist to make sure you are shopping for the right equipment and asking contractors the right questions.

1.  How much time do I really have to replace my system?

Click here to learn how to put time on your side to get the right equipment for your needs.

2.  Do I really need to replace my entire system or can it be repaired?

Click here to see the many factors facing the repair vs. replace decision.

3.  How much space am I trying to cool (and has it changed since the old AC was installed)?

Click here to learn how you might need more or less cooling and heating power based on changes in your home or workspace.

4.  Do I want something more than “just cold air”?

Click here to read about how improvements in comfort, energy costs and the environment can make you feel better and save you money.

5.   Do I really need to cool the whole house all the time?

Click here to see how some common suggestions can actually lead to bigger problems.

6.  Is there really anything new in air conditioning?

Click here for an overview of new technologies available today and what they mean to you.

7.  Are there unique needs in my region of the country?

Click here to see how where you live might determine the type of equipment you should buy.

8.  Should I replace my furnace if I replace my air conditioner?

Click here to learn how your air conditioner and furnace work together… and apart.

9.  Should I invest in a programmable thermostat?

Click here to see how you can save 20-30% on your energy bill without changing your routine.

10.  How do I know which contractor to hire?

Click here for insights into how to ask the right questions and select the best contractor for your situation.


Was this helpful?

Vote This Post Up 580Loading...

80 thoughts on “Replacing Your Central Air Conditioner?

  1. I really like that you remind people to think about the space that they need cooled when they’re looking to replace their HVAC system. A lot of people tend to forget about that and it can really come back to bite them later. After all, if you don’t get an new system that fits the size of your home just right, you could see a rise in your energy bill.

  2. Does the dryer lent trap and vent have anything to do with my central Air Conditioner/ Freon? Sounds strange to me but my landlord is saying it does .My heat is electric. Thank you

    • Some homes have heat exchangers in the electric drier exhaust line to capture the waste heat and use it to help with heating spaces in the home. That is the only thing that comes to mind but you can ask the contractor for further clarification.

  3. Central air is very old, compressor went out, it used to use the now illegal freon. Is it impossible to get a modern compressor put into it?

    • The refrigerant restriction currently only covers new equipment. You can still repair an existing system and recharge it with the old refrigerant as long as it is still available. If your system is older thought it might be better to just replace the whole system. We recommend getting a few quotes from different contractors for both repairing and replacing before deciding.

  4. The refrigerant or ‘freon’ in the cooling system has nothing to do with whether or not the furnace is going to heat or not. If I’m understanding correctly, you want to heat up your house, not cool it down?

    • Hi Eric – we were assuming that Tonya’s system was a “heat pump” system which works as an AC system in the cooling season and runs in reverse (using refrigerant) in the heating season. There are many articles on this site about heat pump systems and you can search for that that term if you want to learn more about them. Heat pumps are commonly used in the southern US where the winters are mild. They are pretty efficient heating systems down to around 15F.

  5. Hello,
    My heating unit on the first floor isn’t heating. I’ve had multiple companies come out and say they can’t find anything wrong other than putting freon. As an example it’s 42 degrees outside and the indoor temp is 60 and I have the thermostat set to 80 (I replaced the thermostat a month ago) no heat is coming out. Can you provide any possible causes for the issue?

    • If the multiple companies have continued to add refrigerant, there is a good possibility that there is a leak in the system. The leak must be identified and repaired for the unit to operate properly.

  6. What a nice article, after reading again and again I followed a few tips that landed me at, the reviews here helped me pick on programmable thermostat and I don’t regret, apart from the silent performance of the gadgets, my energy bill reduced by half. Thank you so much

  7. I just had a new A/C unit installed. It wouldn’t cool the house properly initially. The installer found the insulation in the coil (which was not replaced) had fallen down and was blocking the air flow. It took an extra 4 hours for him to determine and fix the problem. He said he would have to charge me extra on top of the cost of the new A/C unit and its installation. Did he have an obligation to tell me in the quote or at least verbally before installation that he would charge extra if problems were encountered with the installation? Aren’t problems getting a new A/C unit to work with existing components to be expected?

    • Hi Lynn,

      Sorry to hear about your dissatisfaction with your service. We would encourage you to refer to the terms and conditions on the quote, if provided.

  8. My AC is not cooling the house as I think it should. We just moved in a house where the AC unit is located on the side of the house and unit that it is connect too is located in the basement. I had a friend look at it and he said that the HVAC unit in the basement is leaking air when the AC is on. Since the HVAC unit is located in the basement than all of the vents are under the floor on the main floor. I’m not sure what I need to replace or do to cool down the house. The house temperature is 75 degree with the AC on when the outside temperature is around 80 degree. Our house is 1,700 square feet with 4 rooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room, a family room and a kitchen.

    • Hi Jonathan,

      There could be multiple reasons for the lack of cooling, one of which was pointed out by your friend as air leakage around the coil and/or ductwork. Some other potential causes are refrigerant undercharge or leak, reduced airflow or blockage of indoor fan, faulty expansion valve and inefficient or faulty compressor. We would suggest finding a qualified contractor to have the unit and refrigerant system diagnosed properly. The ACCA – which is a national contractor organization have a contractor locator tool which may also help you find a qualified contractor in your area.

      Here’s the link:

  9. I hired 2 hvac guys from work to install a new 2 ton unit in my house. This was in addition to my 5 ton that was not sufficient cooling for my 4000 square foot house in FL. The duct lines were grabbed from the bedrooms and rerouted to the new unit. After 2 weeks of operation the unit shut down, the came out and said the would have to evacuate the lines but they don’t have a pump. Should they have done this at install?

Let us know your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *