Can You Replace Just The Outside AC Unit?

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The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that homeowners get an HVAC system replacement every 10 to 15 years. Depending on your system’s quality and maintenance schedule, your HVAC unit can last for more than 15 years. If you want to extend the service life of your air conditioner or heater, make sure that your unit receives professional maintenance at least every six months. It is best to schedule these appointments before the summer and winter.

When your air conditioner has reached the end of its life expectancy, you will need to replace it. Some homeowners ask us “Can you replace just the outside AC unit?”. Read on to find more information about this.

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Can You Just Replace The Outside Air Conditioning Unit?

Simply put, the answer is no. HVAC experts recommend that you replace both the indoor unit and outside unit of the air conditioner in your home at the same time. This is still up to you, but failing to replace both air conditioning units at the same time can result in problems like reduced efficiency, increased cooling bills, and premature breakdowns. Some of the reasons you should replace both units at the same time are:

Air Conditioner’s Indoor And Outdoor Coils Need To Match

image of efficiency vs cost depicting air conditioner with high seer rating

The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) states that outdoor air conditioning units should match the indoor unit. This will ensure compatibility and optimum efficiency. Replacing only the outside unit will lead to a mismatched system that won’t meet your heating and cooling needs. Mismatched air conditioners will lead to high inefficiency and cause other problems, like reduced indoor comfort, high operating costs, and early system failure.

SEER Ratings

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is the AC’s cooling output in a cooling season compared to its yearly energy consumption. The SEER rating of an HVAC system is indicative of its efficiency. The US requires a minimum SEER rating of 13, as per the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). To achieve maximum efficiency, your air conditioner’s outdoor and indoor units should have the same SEER rating. Therefore, if you replace the outdoor unit only, its SEER rating may differ. You might end up with a mismatched system and experience all the issues that come with this.


R-22 Phaseout

More people are leaning towards having a more sustainable lifestyle. Therefore, HVAC manufacturers are also adopting environmentally-friendly designs and materials. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), old systems still use the R-22 refrigerant, a harmful chemical that depletes the ozone layer. Therefore, federal energy laws require that manufacturers utilize the R-410A refrigerant because it is the safer option. If you still have an HVAC system that uses R-22, consider upgrading to a new refrigerant. This will improve your home’s overall efficiency and safety. This means that if you replace the outdoor unit, it will be a mismatch with the indoor one.

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Air Conditioner Manufacturer Warranty

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New HVAC systems have factory or manufacturer warranties. This helps you when you need repairs or replacements on systems with defects or flaws with their factory-installed parts. However, the manufacturer or dealer can void the warranty if you have mismatched outdoor and indoor units.

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Premature Cooling System Failure & HVAC Repairs

An HVAC system that receives regular maintenance can last for more than 10 years. However, a mismatched HVAC system will strain to compensate for the unit’s inefficiency. This will considerably shorten its service life. The whole system becomes inefficient, which will lead to premature system failure and frequent repairs. Avoid these problems by ensuring that you replace the indoor and outdoor air conditioning units at the same time.

The Advantages Of Replacing An Air Conditioner’s Indoor And Outdoor Units

Here are a few of the benefits when you replace your indoor and outdoor AC units simultaneously:

  • Save Money: Even if it has a high SEER rating, a mismatched system will still operate at reduced efficiency. Therefore, it will overwork to ensure the system still achieves the target temperature. This leads to a spike in your energy consumption and cooling bills.
  • Achieve Better Home Comfort: A properly matched air conditioner will be highly efficient. Therefore, it can cool your home correctly and provide you with much-needed comfort.
  • Have A Valid HVAC Warranty: The manufacturer’s warranty will only be valid if the indoor and outdoor units match. You must replace both units to ensure that the warranty will not be void on your new air conditioner.
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Tips To Maintain Your Air Conditioner

Here are a few maintenance tips to prevent early air conditioner system failure and replacement:

  • Clean or replace the air filters at regular intervals.
  • Ensure that the fan is working as it should.
  • Consider installing a programmable thermostat.
  • Seek a professional HVAC technician’s help when you have a clogged condensate drain. They can also help unclog it if needed.
  • Make sure that the indoor and outdoor units of your air conditioner match.
  • Adjust and reduce the temperature settings of your HVAC unit when not in use.
  • Conduct HVAC checks regularly.
  • Schedule yearly air conditioner maintenance every spring.

Doing these tips might not stop your system from failing eventually. However, it will help increase your system’s longevity, improve its efficiency, and lower your cooling bills. When you need proper HVAC tune-ups and repairs, call your local, trusted HVAC technician who knows everything when it comes to your air conditioning unit and its maintenance.

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Some of the reasons you should replace the indoor and outdoor units of your air conditioner at the same time are listed above. Bear in mind that units made by different manufacturers are considered mismatched, even though they might have the same SEER rating. Hire a licensed HVAC contractor to ensure you get matching HVAC systems.

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te logoTownsend Energy offers high-quality HVAC services in Northeastern Massachusetts, Southern New Hampshire, and Maine. We only hire highly trained and professionally certified technicians who can conduct excellent heating and cooling maintenance, repairs, replacements, and installations. All our skilled techs have the knowledge and experience to service any HVAC make and model correctly.

Our company assures you that we have the most competitive HVAC service costs in the area. We can improve your comfort, indoor air quality, and energy efficiency through our maintenance services. If you need to get your HVAC repaired or replaced, we can recommend the best one that meets your needs and budget. Our work comes with a guarantee because your satisfaction is important to us. Book a service appointment and call Townsend Energy today. We provide free, in-home estimates.

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