Did your air conditioner give you trouble all last summer? You were probably relieved when the hot weather was over, so you could stop worrying about your unreliable unit breaking down again at the worst possible time, and shelling out your hard-earned cash time and time again to fix it. Even though it’s hard to imagine with a foot of snow on the ground, it won’t be all that long before those hot days are back.
You probably don’t want to think about buying a new air conditioner just now. If you’re smart, though, this is exactly the right time to make a decision about your air conditioner. If you think it may be time to throw in the towel and buy a new air conditioner, now is the time to research your options and get the best price on a new unit that’s right for your needs.
Do you really need to buy a new air conditioner?
The first step is to get an unbiased evaluation of your unit’s condition. If the same vendor has been fixing it each time it breaks, it may be hard to tell if you can trust their advice. After all, they are making good money from your air conditioning problems. Especially if it’s a company that does most of its business on service rather than new installations, it’s probably worth calling in another air conditioning contractor for a second opinion about buying a new air conditioner. Look for one that’s MSCA or NATE certified, so you can be sure you’re getting someone reliable and knowledgeable.
A qualified HVAC professional will ask you for information as well as inspecting your equipment. Be prepared to tell them about the unit’s service history:
- What problems have you experienced and how were they addressed? For example, if your unit was low on refrigerant, was it just recharged or were the leaks found and fixed? How many times have leaks been found?
- When was the last time the unit was cleaned and tuned up? Be honest! The technician can tell if the unit has been neglected. Dirty equipment that has not been taken care of is more likely to be a poor condition and fail before its time.
- How’s it working now? Even when the unit is operating, is it cooling effectively? Do you have hot and cold zones and temperature fluctuation? Are there humidity issues?
The answers to these questions will help to determine if your air conditioner can be saved for another season, or if it’s past its useful life and the time has come for buying a new air conditioner. If you do decide that it’s time to invest in a new, reliable unit, take the time now to do your homework when you don’t need to make a quick decision.
How to choose the right unit for your business.
When you’re running a business, you need to carefully consider the comfort level of your establishment, both for your employees and your customers. That means buying a new air conditioner that works for your budget and is appropriately sized for the space.
Here’s where you’re going to need some help. It’s much more difficult to figure out the air conditioning requirements for a commercial space than a home. Why? In addition to calculating the square footage of the space that needs cooling, the following also needs to be taken into account:
- The number of people occupying various spaces, and at what times of day
- The heat given off by appliances and computers
- The design of the space and where the equipment can be placed (this is always a challenge in NYC!)
- Whether you also need heating equipment. If so, you may want to go with a combination system that provides both heating and cooling.
When it’s time for buying a new air conditioner, you’ll be glad you found that expert HVAC company to take care of this for you. The technician will perform what’s known as a Manual J load calculation to determine what size and type of system is best for your needs.
Take advantage of lower demand to get the best price
Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to shop for the best deal. Your contractor has relationships with various suppliers and can provide brand recommendations and pricing. Many suppliers will have equipment on hand that didn’t sell over the summer that they’re happy to sell for a discounted price to make room for new models.
Take your time and be patient when searching for the right equipment at the right price. But don’t wait until spring when these deals will no longer be available. Then you’ll be in line with everyone else who is buying a new air conditioner when those first hot days arrive, and you’ll be paying top dollar.
Want more information about how to decide between fixing your ailing air conditioner or buying a new air conditioner? Grab a copy of our helpful guide: Repair or Replace? A guide to making an informed choice when your HVAC system is down.