Air Conditioner

I have written before about the fact that I have a thirty-year-old house that has thirty-year-old house problems.  One of the problems is that the downstairs AC is the original AC for the house.

Problem 1 – January 2008

It was making a "banging" sound.

Diagnosis: Low on refrigerant – $75.

Problem 2 – May 2008

It was not cooling at all, and it was making a loud electrical "HUMMMMMMMM" sound.

Diagnosis: Condenser unit fan was not operating – $200+

Problem 3 – June 2008

It stopped cooling again.  It was a day before vacation so I decided to have it looked at when I got back home two weeks later.

Diagnosis:  Electrical wiring insulation had worn through and was shorting out the fan – $105

So we are back to enjoying the nice cool air conditioning in the dead-middle of a South Carolina summer.

I wonder when I will have to replace this unit?  Part of me wants to bury my head in the sand and hope that it runs another thirty years.  The realistic side of me says I should go ahead and start pricing out units.  Initial looks have shown a cost of $5K – $7K.  Just what I want to spend my money on …  an air conditioner.

Why do I bring all of this up?  Because it is so important to look ahead when preparing a financial plan.  Jenn and I could pretend that this issue does not exist and then have a financial "emergency" when this AC really does fail permanently.  In the past (when we were always broke), we would ignore this issue and then be surprised when it failed.  Now, we recognize it as a known, upcoming expense, and we plan for it.

I do hope that it lasts another thirty years, though. 

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  1. matt on July 22, 2008 at 6:39 am

    Air Conditioners are expensive. Where can I get one for cheap?

  2. Mike on July 22, 2008 at 6:55 am

    I’m surprised it lasted this long. Most

    I replaced my original with the house AC unit at 21 years. It was what I refer to as “construction grade”.

    If you run the AC much, you might also consider that you will save possibly considerable money on electricity.

    I could not justify a cost benefit to going with a very high SEER rating, the cost seems to rise faster than the benefit at that point. However, I did find considerable benefit with the 14 SEER that I had installed, versus what was probably a 5 or 6 SEER in the original 20 year old model.

    You can run some quick numbers at

    For instance, if you calculate a 1977 model (7.1 SEER), versus a variable speed 14 SEER replacement, using 10 cent electricity and 1400 cooling hours, you may see over $300 in savings per year. (Over your 30 years, thats $9000, )


  3. Kim on July 23, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    We are also having A/C issues. Ours is 15 years old and we’ve had several issues. I hit the ceiling when we received a $450 electric bill for June and our house is never nice and cool only tolerable. After adding freon, we were told that it really needed to be replaced because its only putting about 1 ton. We have been quoted around $5,000 from several people. However, I have found them online with a hefty discount. I priced the exact unit for $1600 and received a quote from a nice christian fella that said he would install for around $600 to $800. Here’s the downfall: when I called the manufacturer to see if the online company is legitimate, they confirmed that anyone that has a license can buy and resell but the manufacturer will not stand behind the warranty. I am very willing to take that gamble since it’s about 1/2 of the cost to install. If this would have happened last year, I wouldn’t have shopped around. I probably would’ve just handed over the credit card…

  4. John Boy on July 27, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Joe, I love this Post! IT WILL NOT LAST ANOTHER THIRTY YEARS! It’s great to get the word out about these types of items. They are the least thought of items until they break.When they do break it is usually a priority to get it repaired and your left deciding how to pay for it, not will we pay for it. If the dishwasher breaks we can use the kitchen sink to do the dishes. If the clothes dryer craps out we can go to the laundry mat. But if the air goes out on a cool 98 degree day in August, well that’s when you call me! Much Love Dude!

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