Home Air Conditioner: Repair or Replace?

Home Air Conditioner: Repair or Replace?

When temperatures rise, your home air conditioner needs to be dependable. 

Staying comfortable is essential during the hottest months, so we teamed up with American Standard Heating and Air Conditioning to share these tips on whether to maintain or replace your AC.

Vine growing on top of an outside air conditioner unit
Plants growing on your AC’s condenser unit block airflow, which can lead to cooling problems. (TomSmith585, Getty Images Signature)

DIY Maintenance

If your air conditioner is less than 10 years old, then some do-it-yourself maintenance can help improve its efficiency.

These are some things you can do to keep your home air conditioner running smoothly.

  • Replace the air filter every month to avoid unnecessary calls to a heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician. After you remove the old filter, vacuum or wipe off the grill that holds the filter in place and insert the new filter. Then close the cover. 
  • Make sure the heating and cooling system’s ductwork is insulated. If your home and its ductwork are air-sealed properly, your home can cool much faster, and maintain that temperature much longer. 
  • Remove any debris and vegetation from around the outside condenser unit to maximize airflow. 

Couple speaks with a home air conditioner technician
If your best efforts to maintain your AC aren’t enough to keep your home cool, call a professional. (American Standard)

When to Call a Professional

If you’ve performed seasonal maintenance on your home’s air conditioner and it’s still not functioning properly, it’s time to call a professional.

Also, if your home air conditioner malfunctions, or has damaged ductwork or exposed electrical connections, don’t try to fix this yourself. 

These issues must be addressed by a trained technician who can evaluate your system and make the best recommendation based on your needs. 

Two workers move to install a home air conditioner
When the cost to repair exceeds the cost of a new home air conditioner, it’s time to replace it. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Time to Replace Your Home Air Conditioner

Choosing to repair or replace your home air conditioner both cost. By weighing the options, you can determine what gives you the biggest return on your investment. 

If you have an older system, it may cost more to operate and/or repair, because it is not as energy efficient, and manufacturing for some of its parts may have been discontinued.

Most older units use the outdated refrigerant Freon, so eventually, you’ll have to upgrade to equipment that uses the latest refrigerant.

Does your unit frequently break down? Does it make odd noises or take a long time to reach the cooling set point? If so, you may need to seriously consider a replacement.

A good rule of thumb for determining whether to repair or replace a home air conditioner is to use the $5,000 rule. Just multiply the age of your equipment by the estimated repair cost. If the number you get is more than $5,000, consider a replacement. If less, repair it. 

In the market for a new air conditioner? Local rebates or tax credits may be available for purchasing an energy-efficient system.

First, call a professional to do a free in-home visit and learn about your options. To find your local American Standard Customer Care Dealer, visit their website at americanstandardair.com

Further Reading

6 Practically Free Mini-Vacations to Take This Summer

6 Practically Free Mini-Vacations to Take This Summer

Summer is here, you’ve scheduled your vacations, and the kids are out of school. While you may be planning a week away for some R&R, there are plenty of micro-opportunities to take a vacation — mentally and physically — that don’t involve going far from home, taking a lot of time off, or committing to a substantial financial investment.

Think about rediscovering your hometown, tapping into your creativity (even if you don’t think you have any!), and going with the flow. Pair your sense of adventure with a bit of downtime, and you can have a short respite, even when you’ve run out of personal days. Here are six cheap or free mini-vacations you can take this summer, whether you have a day, a few hours, or a weekend.

Check your local parks and rec department.

Although you may be familiar with the bigger parks in your area, there are probably a few smaller ones you haven’t explored yet. So scour the website of your local parks and recreation department and seek out little-known green spaces you can explore. Another bonus of checking out their site is peeping the parks’ offerings: Most park services offer free or low-cost activities for kids and families, including things that focus on education, such as guided walks, and birdwatching experiences.

Schedule a day to create.

You don’t have to be an artist or maker to create. Channel your inner, uninhibited child and schedule a day to use your mind differently. Either raid your stash of unused DIY supplies or head to the craft or dollar store to purchase inexpensive materials. You can paint rocks, make a small mural, or use clay to form miniature creations. Begin with the mindset that the goal is to design something without stressing about the final product. What you come up with may surprise — or horrify — you, but the experience of being in the moment and creating can be a respite for the senses.

Volunteer your time to a cause.

At first, doing tasks for an organization may seem like work, but it doesn’t have to feel like it. Pick a meaningful nonprofit, and see how you can help for a day or two. Walk dogs for your local shelter, scour thrift stores and yard sales for inexpensive books to donate to a children’s charity, or use your talents to sing to nursing home residents. Volunteering does take effort, but the emotional benefits you’ll receive from doing good and focusing on others is a vacation for the mind. Plus, helping out may become part of your routine.

Plan a binge-watching day.

Days are typically filled with running from task to task, so downtime may be a luxury — or you may spend those precious, unfilled moments doing more tasks to pare down a never-ending to-do list. Whether you’ve been trying to catch up on a show or want to finally watch all of the “Harry Potter” movies, schedule a day to do so guilt-free. Turn your living room or bedroom into a haven of pillows and blankets, and spend the entire day sitting and watching whatever you want. Be sure to have snacks and drinks on hand (and stay in your PJs!), so you don’t have to leave the house.

Go tech-free for a day (or the weekend!).

Staying away from your devices may seem impossible, but disconnecting is highly beneficial. Of course, it will be tempting to scroll through social media, check email, and read the news, so be intentional about scheduling time to take a break. Allow texts and calls to come in from those who may have an emergency — such as your kids, partner, or parents — but otherwise, check out totally. Although, plan to fill your tech-free time with an activity to keep your mind off the desire to pick up your smartphone. 

Although you may know your city reasonably well, take a chance and explore a subway or rail stop you’ve never been to. Let your kids choose or leave it to fate — as in “let’s get off now” — and walk around the area. You can window shop, grab a coffee or quick lunch, and even sit on a bench and people watch for a while. Discovering a new stop is the perfect way to get to know your city better.

The Easiest Way to Keep Your Kids’ (Super Gross) Sleeping Bags Clean

The Easiest Way to Keep Your Kids’ (Super Gross) Sleeping Bags Clean

Shifrah Combiths


With five children, Shifrah is learning a thing or two about how to keep a fairly organized and pretty clean house with a grateful heart in a way that leaves plenty of time for the people who matter most. Shifrah grew up in San Francisco, but has come to appreciate smaller town life in Tallahassee, Florida, which she now calls home. She’s been writing professionally for twenty years and she loves lifestyle photography, memory keeping, gardening, reading, and going to the beach with her husband and children.

4th of July Popsicle Recipes, Two Ways: One for Kids and One for Adults!

4th of July Popsicle Recipes, Two Ways: One for Kids and One for Adults!

Recipe: 4th of July popsicles!

Here’s a summertime tip: Always make popsicles. And these popsicle recipes make it easy.

Summer is here, which means the Fourth of July is on the way and you probably have a barbeque to host. Whether you’re holding a kid-friendly summer party or an adults-only celebration, popsicles will make everyone happy, including you! That’s because they’re ridiculously easy to make, you can prep them far in advance, and nothing tastes better on a hot day than a refreshing popsicle.

We have two tasty recipes for you to prep this summer. The first popsicles are champagne-infused (adults only!), mimicking the colors in a bomb pop. The second are kid-friendly (but equally delicious) lemon-flavored fruity popsicles.        

Recipe 1: Adults-Only Champagne “Bomb Pops”

A couple of bananas sits on a surface with some berries and strawberries.


  • Champagne*
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Ripe bananas
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Simple syrup

*Use a champagne with an ABV below 12%. 

What you need to make fruity champagne popsicles
How to make champagne and fruit popsicles

Mash each fruit separately in a bowl, using a blender, food processor, or with a fork. Add a dash of simple syrup, and mix in some champagne. The ratio of champagne to fruit should be one to four. Too much champagne and the popsicles won’t freeze! 

Make your own popsicles at home - with champagne!

Layer the fruit mixes in a popsicle mold, and let freeze for at least 6 hours, or over-night. Enjoy!

Ice treats sit on a surface with berries.
Blueberries, strawberries, bananas, and CHAMPAGNE! Perfect popsicles for the Fourth of July
Blueberries, strawberries, bananas, and CHAMPAGNE! Perfect popsicles for the Fourth of July

Recipe 2: Kid-Friendly 4th of July Popsicles

Berry popsicles with lemon Italian soda


  • Fresh strawberries
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Lemon-flavored Italian soda*

*To cut back on sugar, you can substitute the Italian soda with lemonade

Strawberries and blueberries mix for a colorful Independence Day treat!
Strawberries and blueberries mix for a colorful Independence Day treat!

Cut the strawberries into slices. Set strawberries slices in the popsicle molds, then add a few blueberries until the molds are 75% full. Fill to the top with lemon-flavored Italian soda (you’ll probably need to pour a little bit first then wait for the fizzing to settle before filling to the top). Freeze for 6 hours or overnight.

Fresh and sweet 4th of July popsicles
How to make this cool treat for your 4th of July party
How to make refreshing popsicles for your upcoming 4th of July party!
Share this recipe on Pinterest! 

This Fourth of July, I’m glad I have a freezer stocked with popsicles ready for when the sun comes out. What’s your favorite way to stay cool in the heat?