Should I Replace My Evaporator Coil Or The Whole AC Unit?
As a homeowner, the last thing you want is a major ac repair or replacement that costs time and money. It’s even worse when the problem affects your comfort or day-to-day life.
When a problem arises with your air conditioning or HVAC system, the first thing you notice is discomfort. The thermostat says one thing and your thermometer says another. You’re sweating. It’s humid. You haven’t even had a chance to look over your unit before your family starts complaining.
You jump online to see if you can diagnose your large, expensive air conditioning unit. You filter through videos and websites when finally you find the brand and model of your unit.
The internet says you may need to replace the evaporator coil.
Great! Where’s that? How much does it cost? You dive back into the internet, research how to purchase this illusive coil and how to replace it once it arrives at your door.
What Does the Evaporator Coil do Anyway?
Your evaporator coil is the mechanism(a copper coil) that absorbs the hot air from your house and “conditions” it before pushing it back into the home.
The evaporator coil is filled with refrigerant. This refrigerant saps the heat and moisture from the air absorbed from the home. Once cooled, it’s pushed back into the home as the heat and moisture is discarded outdoors.
When all the parts of your AC unit work properly, your AC should cycle air back into your home at the temperature you set on your thermostat. If your AC isn’t keeping up with your thermostat, then you likely have an AC coil problem.
A faulty evaporator coil can lead to uncomfortable temperatures, moisture buildup and possibly damage, and a higher-than-normal electricity bill.
Conclusion: it’s better to fix the thing than to deal with the problems in the long run.
Why would an evaporator coil need to be replaced?
As you’re scouring the internet for causes and solutions to your AC problems, remember this tip:
When it comes to automobiles, properties, and appliances, routine maintenance costs now to save later.
Like any other major appliance in a home, routine air conditioning service and maintenance is the best way to get the most life out of your AC. Over time the evaporator coil will become less efficient. When maintained regularly by a qualified HVAC professional however, the evaporator coil can and should last up to 20 years. That’s two decades and ⅔ of the standard home mortgage.
Because your air conditioning unit does such a good job at cooling and dehumidifying the air in your home, it is affected by the constant fluctuation of temperature. Inside the coils, the refrigerant expands and contracts at a near constant rate, leading to erosion inside the coils over time. Likewise, external factors affect the outside of the coils.
When they’re damaged, there are immediately noticeable problems. The AC may not cool the air at all or the system may struggle to reach the desired temperature and the electricity bill goes up for no other reason. These types of occurrences are important to note and investigate.
Replace the Entire AC Unit or Just the Evaporator Coil?
Perhaps your AC unit is new and the evaporator coil stopped working as some kind of fluke. That situation is quite different if your AC is the original from when your home was constructed in 1972.
When deciding whether to replace your evaporator coil or your AC unit, you should take a couple of things into consideration.
First, how old is your unit? If it is more than a decade old, the coil to be replaced is likely obsolete. Actually if it’s more than five years old, this is likely the case. Essentially, replacing the evaporator coil would be like changing out the engine in a car instead of buying a new one with all new parts and a warranty included!
Secondly, you’d have to consider the cost versus benefit of replacing just one coil in a system that has two different types of coils which work together to complete the job of conditioning the air in your home. The evaporator coil and the condenser coil work together and most effectively when both are at their best. Replacing the evaporator coil would make the AC work again, but it would be less efficient than before and cost you in the long run.
You Should Replace the Entire Unit When…
Like automobiles, properties, and appliances, it’s often better to rebuild or replace completely rather than repair. A “totaled” car is cheaper to replace than repair. A house badly damaged and structurally unsafe is cheaper for the homeowner and insurer to rebuild. Your appliances, including your AC are the same.
When you need a major repair like an evaporator coil, it is time to replace the unit.
If your AC isn’t working, this may not be bad news. There are many reasons for an AC to go out or become a drain on electricity. The thermostat may be damaged. The filter may need to be replaced. It may be as simple as too much debris on the condenser unit.
The most important thing to remember as a homeowner is that a professional will always know more about the system than you do. Troubleshoot all you can on your own (there are many resources available to you).
After you’ve exhausted all the possible problems that you can handle, make sure you call a trusted HVAC professional. We hope it’s an easy repair, but if not, you’ll get an honest recommendation about repairing versus replacing.
Replacing your AC unit is not as simple as shopping and comparing brands. Only a professional knows the brands and models that will best serve your home and your family, taking into account your home’s size, age, existing ventilation, and yes, your budget.