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No. of Recommendations: 4
13-year-old Builder's Special finally gave up the ghost

My dad's 12-yr-old builder grade unit had never been cleaned, so it blew a capacitor recently. The compressor was still working, but rather than wait for that to fail, he went ahead and got a new furnace & A/C, for about $6k (small house). Also spent the $150/yr extra for the maintenance contract. Having the HVAC cleaned & serviced every spring & fall will make them last a lot longer. (I'll get a box of filters so the techs can change the filters when they're there to do the service.)

Even a builder-grade A/C can last if it's well maintained. My dad's neighbors' A/C's are all still chugging along. So if maintenance isn't in your budget, check online how you can at least clean the outside unit as a DIY project. And do change the filters every 6 months (min).

Newer A/C's are more efficient. Another thing I just discovered: if you set the fan to "on" instead of "auto," it'll run at low speed constantly (higher speed when the cooling kicks in), and that makes things comfortable enough that you can set the A/C at a higher temperature. A lot of times in my house the temperature would be OK, but the air would be stuffy, so I'd turn on heat or A/C just to get some air movement. Using the fan instead is more efficient.

And congrats. 3-steps-forward-2-steps-back is still progress.
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