If you’re reading this, you are likely facing moderately expensive repairs that must be made to a middle-aged or older Trane central air conditioner. The decision to repair a newer unit with minor issues is easy. So is the decision to replace a Trane AC on its last legs. It’s that middle ground where debating the Trane AC repair or replace dilemma exists, and we intend to help you settle it with clear information.
We’ve completed two other guides that might prove helpful in your situation:
- The AC/Heat Pump Troubleshooting Guide will help you determine what might be wrong with your unit before you pay a contractor’s service call fee
- The AC Repair Cost Guide gives current and accurate pricing for the most common and some unusual air conditioner repairs
Can you Trust the HVAC Guy?
When an AC technician suggests that we replace the central air conditioner rather than repair it, the thought might occur that, “he/she is just trying to sell me something expensive.” Yes, they are, but is it justified?
HVAC contractor Charles Greer was very forthcoming in a 2016 post in the online version of Contracting Business, an industry magazine for contractors, not homeowners. He first notes that HVAC repair technicians are reluctant to suggest replacement because, “Once you bring up…replacing the customer’s equipment, you stand the risk of the customer deciding to get bids, and you can wind up getting neither the repair nor the replacement sale.”
That’s one reason to push repairs.
Greer then says, “In the long run, you make more money when they [customers] opt for the repair. You get one repair now, possibly a few more down the road, and then a higher price when they ultimately replace it in the future.”
Eye-opening, isn’t it? To be fair, Greer goes on to suggest there are times it is proper to push for the replacement. But he gives us insight into the mind of an HVAC repair contractor that causes us to be skeptical of motive when they say, “No worries. We can repair this Trane AC, and it will run like new.”
We’re homeowners like you, and we don’t enjoy wasting money on home repairs any more than you do. We know both sides of the fence, so to speak, and we think the following advice is balanced and right on the money.
When to Repair a Trane AC
Here are reasons with explanations for when to repair vs. replace a Trane AC:
- When it is under warranty (with a warning): This is usually a no-brainer except for one fact many homeowners aren’t aware of. Your 10-year Trane parts warranty only covers labor for one year unless you purchased an extended warranty. The compressor and coil are labor-intensive parts to replace, so the labor portion of the repair in years two through ten could still be very costly even if the part is free.
- When the repair is minor and you are planning to move soon: When you’re moving in two years or less, keeping a unit going rather than replacing it makes sense in most cases.
- When the cost of the repair multiplied by the age of the old AC is less than the cost of a new AC: That’s a mouthful, and here’s what it means. Let’s say the repair is $350, the unit is 8 years old, and a replacement installed is $4,800. Using the formula, $350 x 8 = $2,800. That’s significantly less than the replacement cost. On a unit 8 years old, the break-even point would be a $600 repair. When the equation is even or close to even, choose replacement because the new unit will probably be more efficient and will definitely have longer warranty coverage. This rule offers general guidance when taken into consideration with the other factors outlined here.
Common Trane Air Conditioner Repairs and Parts Cost
Trane’s have about the same type and incidence of mechanical failure as most brands, and that’s where the two Guides mentioned earlier are worth reviewing. Here are common Trane AC repairs not listed in the guide and their repair cost for parts and labor:
- Leaking coil and refrigerant: $1,150-$1,750
- Thermostatic expansion valve (TXV): $275-$450
- Compressor and refrigerant (after ten years, typically): $1,150-$1,600
- Failed solder connection on refrigerant lines and refrigerant: $875-$1,220
4 notes are important:
- Trane’s service record is considered among the top ten by most independent testers including Consumer Reports. We agree with that assessment.
- In the last few years, Trane has begun using coils made with foreign steel, and they are simply not up to Trane historical standards. Many leak, often due to corrosion in seacoast climates. This is easily the most common major concern with current Trane ACs, and the company is in the process of addressing the issue.
- Failed solder connections and failed TXV valves are often the result of bad installation rather than poor-quality equipment.
- Repairs in which the system must be recharged with refrigerant are expensive because R-410A refrigerant costs start at more than $600 for small AC units.
Which Parts are Proper for DIY & Where to Buy Parts by Yourself?
If you are an experienced DIY homeowner with a solid collection of tools, making Trane AC repairs yourself instead of calling a technician is an option. These warnings apply:
1. Be sure you know which part has failed, or be willing to fix the problem through a “trial and error” process that might result in buying and installing one or more parts that don’t solve your Trane AC repair issue.
2. Doing DIY repair on any HVAC component will likely void your warranty, if one is still in effect. Frankly, since labor isn’t covered beyond the first year without an extended warranty, there’s little danger in attempting Trane AC repair yourself. If your repair doesn’t work, you can always call a Trane-certified technician.
When looking for parts for DIY Trane AC repair, these two websites offer the best selection with guidance on how to determine which parts will solve your AC’s problem:
Both sites have toll-free numbers, though the agents that take calls have experience ranging from novice to expert. In short, whether they can help you diagnose your Trane AC repair issue and the parts required might be hit or miss.
When to Replace a Broken Trane AC
These suggestions are based on our many years of experience with the Trane AC repair v. replace issue:
- When it is more than 15 years old: The repairs are likely to become more frequent and expensive, so money is better spent on a new, warranty-backed AC.
- When repair costs are 50% or more of the cost of a new unit: This is time-honored formula like the one given earlier. The two are usually in close agreement when you do the math.
- When minor repair issues continue to develop: Even if the repairs aren’t costly each time, they add up. If you keep track of repair costs, use the formulas given above with the cumulative cost of repairs. For example, if you get Trane AC estimates for a new unit for $5,000, and your total repair costs of your current unit have been $2,500, replace the unit. It has become a money pit!
- When you’re moving and want to market the home as having a new AC: We said earlier that it makes sense to repair if you’re moving soon – in most cases. These are the other cases. If you live in a hot, humid climate, a new AC with Energy Star efficiency will be expected by potential buyers.
When to Replace a Working Trane AC
Some experts would say there is never a time to replace a working AC. We disagree and think these points are reasonable:
- When it is wearing out and can’t keep up with cooling demands: ACs get worn, tired you might say, even if they don’t break down. While not common, if your AC keeps running but just not fast enough, consider replacing it before it fails in the middle of a stretch of muggy August weather.
- To lower energy bills: If summers are mild where you live, spending thousands to save a few dollars a month on AC bills isn’t wise. But if your AC season is long, hot and humid, and you’re paying $100-plus six months of the year, an efficient Trane AC might cut energy costs by 50% depending on the efficiencies of the old and replacement units.
- To reduce environmental impact: This is the other side of the coin to the last point. If you need AC but want it to be as environmentally friendly as possible, replace what you have with the most efficient AC you can afford.
- To improve climate control: Upgrading your Trane air conditioner, depending on the model you select, can improve dehumidification that allows you to be comfortable at a higher temperature for energy savings. Two-stage and modulating capacity ACs run more quietly and balance temperatures better than single-stage models. In short, an upgrade will make your home more comfortable.
- To take advantage of product rebates and energy credits from your power company: The federal energy efficiency tax credits in place a few years ago have expired. But Trane offers equipment rebates at various times of the year. Find Trane and energy company rebates on this Trane page.
Is it Time to Replace your AC Company Too?
It is important to rate Trane central air conditioners and compare them to other leading brands. But discussing installation is just as important. While Trane has a good service record, apart from the recent issue with leaking coils, bad installation can lead to poor performance and early mechanical failure.
The point is that if you’re having issues with a Trane or any other brand, it might be time to switch HVAC companies. Some simply do a better job of repairing and replacing equipment than others. Rather than call the same company you did last time, discuss your AC issues with several contractors in your area. Learn about each one’s track record for quality work, something that can be done at Yelp or the BBB site. If you’d like help locating pre-screened, experienced HVAC contractors where you live, we can help. There is no cost or obligation to you for using our Free Local Quote service that puts you in touch with three of the top HVAC repair and installation companies in your area.
Trane Old Model Replacement Cost
In order to offer an objective and equal comparison, we set the baseline below:
Each model includes: 2.5 ton outdoor condenser, 1300-1400 cfm air handler, programmable air conditioner thermostat.
Old Trane Models
Suggested New Trane Models
Cost with installation
|Trane XB10 XB1000 XE1000||Trane XR13/XR14||
|Trane XR11 XL1100 XE1100||Trane XR13/XR14||
|Trane XR12 XB12 XL1200 XE1200||Trane XR15/XL16i/XL18i||
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