Air Conditioners

8 Ways To Know It’s Time To Replace A Window Air Conditioner

Window Ac Unit

If you have been using the same window unit to keep one of your rooms cool for a very long period, you might consider replacing it. There are several different signs to look for when a window unit is coming to the end of its lifespan. But when do you know it is time to get a new one?

When it comes to knowing when to replace your window unit with a new one, you can inspect a few different things. The signs you are going to look for are as followed:

  1. The age of your window unit
  2. If your window unit has weak airflow
  3. Your window unit starts to smell bad
  4. When your window unit starts to make strange noises consistently
  5. If you notice a decrease in air quality like more dust or higher humidity
  6. If your window unit needs expensive repairs or has been repaired several times
  7. If you see a significant increase in energy bills
  8. If your window unit uses R-22 refrigerant

As you continue to read this article, it will go more in-depth about each of the reasons listed above. This article will also explain why noticing these signs is the perfect time to replace your window air conditioning unit.

When Should I Replace My Window A/C Unit?

There are many reasons why you would want to replace your window unit. You will want to stay nice and cool as the summer months get closer. When this comes to mind, you will want to know if your window unit is still good enough to keep you comfortable. 

There are plenty of signs to look for as you use your window unit that will let you know if it is time for a new one. 

1. The Age Of Your Window Unit

The overall age of your window unit will play a significant role in its general effectiveness. Like all things, the older it gets, the weaker it will likely perform. 

Window air conditioners are no exception to this. Therefore, even if you have been taking excellent care of your window unit, you can only expect them to last around ten years before they need to be replaced. 

Your home can also affect your window unit’s life span. For example, living in an exceptionally dry or even incredibly humid area can decrease the life span of your window unit by a few years. 

The fact is that older air conditioners do not stand up to the standards of more modern models. For instance, newer window units are more energy-efficient. As a result, they can produce better air quality than an older model. 

Your Window Unit Has A Weak Air Flow

If you turn on your window air conditioning unit and cold air does not start to come out of the vents in a few minutes, it has an issue that is causing it to have weak airflow. A window unit can have inadequate airflow due to a large number of reasons. 

All window units have tons of soft metal fins on the back. These fins can be easily bent. The more bent fins on the back of the device, the less air your window unit can take in. 

Your unit can also suffer from a blockage in its air ducts on the inside. Lastly, the compressor inside of the window unit might have stopped working. Even having electrical components go bad can cause a weak airflow.

While you can clean out a clog in your window unit’s air ducts, fixing the bent fins on the back is much more complicated. 

With that said, having bad electrical components or a bad compressor will be very expensive to replace. Especially if you have an older model, replacing these parts can be just as expensive as getting a new unit.

3. Your Window Unit Is Producing A Bad Smell

If your window unit works correctly, it will release cool air that carries no smell. However, if your window unit is releasing air that smells bad, an issue inside your unit is causing it. 

Suppose your window air conditioning unit is giving off a burnt smell. In that case, some of the electrical components or the wire insulation likely burnt out. 

Furthermore, suppose you are smelling a musty smell from your window unit. In that case, you probably have mold or mildew spreading inside the device.

While these issues can be fixed by replacing parts or cleaning, it might not be worth the effort. You might even end up damaging the device further, leading to you needing to buy a new window unit anyway.

4. Your Window Unit Is Making Lots Of Strange Noises

It is common for a window unit to make some clicks, bumps, or beeps when it first turns on. However, if your window unit starts to make squealing, grinding, or scraping noises, turn it off immediately; turning off the window unit when it makes these noises will prevent it from becoming more damaged. 

You will need to call a professional to inspect your window unit if you hear any of these sounds. There are a few reasons why these noises occur. 

The belt on the motor has slipped off or broken, or perhaps your device has loose or broken parts. The window unit could even be leaking refrigerant. 

All of these can cause your window unit to make unexpected noises. While these can be fixed, some might be just as expensive as getting a new window unit.

5. You Notice A Significant Decrease In Air Quality

If you notice more dust or humidity in the room where you are using your window unit, it might be time for a replacement. 

If a window unit decreases the air quality in a room, it is usually contributed to age. As previously stated, the older it gets, the less effective it will work. 

With that said, having broken parts inside of your window unit can also be a reason for the poor air quality. 

6. You Need To Repair Your Window Unit Repeatedly

The older your window unit gets, the more parts you will fix and need to be replaced. With that said, these parts can be pretty expensive depending on the age and model of your window unit. 

Not only that, but unless you know what you are doing, you will likely need to pay for a professional to fix or install these parts. 

If your window air conditioner needs a significant part replaced, like the condenser or the condenser coils, and if the warranty has expired, you will find that the cost to replace these parts is just as expensive as purchasing a new machine altogether. 

7. You Notice An Increase In Your Energy Bill

Are you finding that you’re spending a lot more on your energy? An old air conditioner might be at fault. Older air conditioners must work considerably more challenging to cool your house, resulting in greater energy consumption and a higher cost. 

Furthermore, older air conditioners frequently struggle to chill a room adequately. As a result, you may lower the thermostat more regularly, raising your energy expenses.

Newer air conditioners are incredibly energy-efficient, especially those with high seasonal energy efficiency ratios or SEER. In addition, many utility companies and government organizations provide tax credits and rebates to encourage homes to upgrade to more energy-efficient air conditioners. 

Replacing your outdated air conditioner with an energy-efficient model is an excellent way to reduce your energy expenses while also benefiting the environment.

8. If Your Window Unit Uses R-22 As Refrigerant

R-410A, also known as Puron, or R-22, commonly known as Freon, are the two most common refrigerants used in air conditioners. R-22 was phased out in 2010 as part of the EPA’s agreement to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. 

As a result, R-22 will no longer be imported or manufactured after 2020. On the other hand, newer air conditioners employ R-410A, which is more ecologically friendly.

All of this implies that if your air conditioner utilizes R-22 as a refrigerant, you have a narrow window for servicing it. Repairs using R-22 refrigerant are also more expensive since there is just less of it available. 

Therefore, replacing the entire unit with one that utilizes R-410A or another refrigerant that will be supported for many years is preferable. Suppose you are unsure about the type of refrigerant used by your air conditioner. In that case, a skilled technician can inform you when they examine it.

Midea Window Ac

Final Thoughts

Age is the main sign you need to look for when replacing a window air conditioning unit. The older your window unit gets, the more issues can occur. 

Issues like energy efficiency, wear and tear in parts, and decreased air quality. These issues can also be caused by misuse and broken parts. Overall, if you notice a few signs listed above, it may be time to replace your window unit.


Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.