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Much like a car, your air conditioning unit is made up of a bunch of moving parts that have to work together in order to get the intended result. Most of the time, it’s easy to tell which part has stopped working properly. You’ve probably heard that if one part stops working, you have to replace the whole system, but can you replace just the outside AC unit?
AC Unit 101: The Basics of the Inside and Outside Units
Let’s take a look at the basics of your AC unit. There are a lot of pieces and parts in there, some of which are probably unfamiliar.
There’s an outside AC unit, called the condensing unit. The compressor is the major piece inside the condensing unit. Inside the house, you have the evaporator coil, and the air handler, or fan unit.
Much like a car, the inside and the outside have to be compatible. Just as you wouldn’t put a 2020 Corvette engine in a 1992 Astro van body, it’s not advisable to connect an older inside unit to a brand new outside AC unit. There have been many updates and upgrades to AC unit technology in the past ten years, so you need to have parts that can work together.
So Can You Replace Just the Outside AC Unit?
Unfortunately, there’s no short answer to this, because there are a lot of factors to consider. However, there are some situations where it’s actually a good idea to replace just the outside AC unit:
- If you have recently replaced the entire system, and you can replace a non-functioning condensing unit with the exact same make and model
- If your outside AC unit is still under warranty
- If your compressor is the only part that doesn’t work, and it is under warranty
In each of the above scenarios, replacing just the outside AC unit is fine, because you are essentially replacing it with the same part, or very, very similar.
What Are the Benefits to Replacing Both Inside and Outside AC Units?
The best option is to replace both the inside and outside AC units at the same time. The main advantage of doing this is that you know for sure that all of the parts will be compatible. However, there are many reasons why replacing both units can actually save you money in the long run:
- Units purchased and installed at the same time will be under the same warranty
- Components that are designed to be compatible with each other will run at maximum efficiency
- Maximum efficiency means that your AC units will run better and for a longer time
- If you currently have an older AC unit, you’ll be thrilled to experience a more energy-efficient, cooler, humidity-controlled system
- No “waiting game” to see what stops working next- you’ll have one installation, one service call, and one major expense for a fully functional system
If your outside AC unit has recently stopped working, there are a few simple issues that might be the culprit. Before you consider replacing just the outside AC unit, call 844-962-2681 to consult with a trained HVAC professional in your area. A technician will be happy to inspect your current AC unit and provide you with a no-obligation quote for repairs or replacement as necessary.
When one part of your air conditioning system stops working, it might be tempting to fix only what’s broken. However, you may want to think twice before you replace just the outside AC unit.
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Frank is the chief editor and director at Specialty Air, where he oversees testing, research, and editing for all air quality-related articles. Frank is an expert in the air quality space with extensive experience testing, researching, and reviewing air purifiers, air conditioners, air filters, air fresheners, fans, and more. He also has over 4 years of experience with issues surrounding mold remediation, radon mitigation, moisture management, air duct systems, HVAC, and insulation.