As you’re getting ready for summer, you’ll want to make sure your air conditioning unit is ready too. That means, among other things, watching for warning signs that you may need to replace your unit, and better to do it now than wait until it breaks down on a particularly steamy day. Here are 10 things to watch for.

  1. Age. AC units have a finite life – around 15 years on average and less if you haven’t properly maintained it. If your unit is at or approaching that age, it’s living on borrowed time and you may want to invest in a new unit before the existing one fails. In fact, new units are much more energy efficient, so over time lower utility costs could offset the purchase of the unit.
  2. The air is not cold. If you must wait more than a few minutes for cooler air to kick in, that could be a sign your unit is failing. Reasons can vary from low refrigerant levels to a broken compressor to any number of other things.
  3. Poor air flow. While not directly related to the AC the furnace blower motor is responsible for pushing air through your system. Make sure your air filter is clean. If it is, you may have a problem with your ductwork. So if your unit is exhibiting no other problems, you might want to get the ductwork checked first.
  4. Uneven cooling. Another sign of potential system failure is if the AC unit is cooling some areas, but not others. This could also be a duct problem.
  5. High energy bills. Even if your AC unit is still cooling consistently and evenly, if your energy costs are going up, it’s a sign that your unit is not cooling as efficiently and effectively as it had been.
  6. Frequent repairs. If you are spending more frequently and increasingly greater amounts to repair your unit, that trend is likely to continue, and you can end up with a problem that can’t be fixed.
  7. Humidity. If you are noticing the humidity in your house is increasing, that could be an AC problem as well.
  8. Moisture around the unit. While some condensation is normal, if there is moisture or leakage around the indoor unit, that could signal either excessive water leakage or a refrigerant leak.
  9. Noise. Air conditioners should operate quietly. Unusual noises such as grinding, rattling, banging, squeaking or chattering are signals that there may be a significant problem.
  10. Smells. Similarly, the air your AC emits should be odorless. If there is a smoky or burning smell in the air, it requires immediate attention.